Follow by Email

Friday, January 3, 2014

Post Christmas Adventure

Ok, so after the Holidaze, we decided to cure our cabin fever and take a trip into London to check out the phenomena known as the Hyde Park Winter Wonderland. Our brilliant deduction was that now that Santa had officially made his Christmas run, the crowds would be manageable. Bean also had some Christmas money from his Grandparents so he was going to choose his own presents. This meant a run into Hamley's Toy Store.

Ah, the things you do for your child. I think 'crowded department store' is number four on my list of things I would rather take a poke to the eye with a sharp stick than do. This falls behind 'annual exam', 'eaten by shark', 'and death by inferno'. Going to said TOY store mere days after the biggest holiday of the year probably gives this a +1 point for sheer incomprehensible awfulness, but a -3 for stupidity. Meh, I can tick a few things off my bucket list.

The train to London was packed, but we had a  good time getting there. I played that awkward game of catching someone looking at you, then you look at them and they're looking at you, so you look at them to see if they're looking at you and then they catch you looking at them. I hate that game. I always imagine all the reasons they are staring at me and some of them include: she thinks I am someone famous (I get this all the time), my hair looks terrible, the amusing American accent, traveling companion to the man with the awesome white hair and the kid with the amazing red hair, and a myriad of other self-loathing (mostly) reasons.

Jumping off the train and into the station we stumbled upon one of the best sights in the Kings Cross station: 

Yes, that is the entrance to platform 9 3/4. There were people lined up to try and push the Harry Potter cart thru the wall to the Hogwarts platform. It was very amusing. Not so amusing was the line out the door for the newly opened Harry Potter Platform 9 3/4 gift shop. Maybe next time. I didn't pack my eye gouging stick on this adventure. We bought our oyster card for transportation and  jumped on the Piccadilly line headed for fun central.
Well, we exited the tube, only to discover that we had exited on the total wrong side of the park- and the wrong park all together. We had gotten off at Kensington Park where the Diana Memorial Park and the fantastic pirate ship playground are found. Ugh, we had to walk the 700 miles across the, over the Serpentine bridge, to catch up with the masses funneling towards the event area. If this was an 'off' day I would have imploded in the middle of the crowd when the event was truly banging. I am not a big fan of crowds, neither is the Bean or the Hubs. 

On our way to the mysterious and secretive location of the Wonderland, we met another young couple on a pilgrimage of  their own. They stopped us and asked if they were headed in the right direction - and we had to admit we didn't know quite where we were going, either.  Bean (always the charmer) had his eye on one of the doughnuts they brought with them. They tried to give him a doughnut, we politely refused. I certainly didn't want Bean to think that all he has to do is bat those fantastic eyelashes and he can get anything he wants. It may be close to true, but he certainly doesn't need to know that at 5 years old. The couple, who I believe were Muslim, were so gracious that they ended up insisting we take a can of Pringles. They refused to let us compensate them for the chips (or chip-flake wafers if you prefer) and I think the husband came very close to hugging the Hubs. We even ran back into them in the madness, and they still refused to take a few pounds from us. Faith in humanity- restored. It seems that with all the fighting and hatred in the world, we should remember that not all members of any particular culture are happy with the way they are portrayed on the world's stage. Quite frankly, there are any number of people I don't want waving their flag on my behalf. I just look at the others and mouth, "I'm not with them." 

It was a fantastic day to stroll. And to listen to the lime green parakeets screeching in the boughs above. Wait. What?

I must mention the green parakeets. They were the very definition of free range and cage free. I was stunned. You see one and you think maybe you're seeing things. The hubs thought he was imagining things. Pshhh! A parakeet in London!  Quick! Call the RSPCA! Someone's lost their beloved Polly! Apparently they have been 'native' for 50 years. This is not your Granny's Tweetie bird. These street smart birds have adapted quite nicely and have established their 'turf' in the madness of the bustling city.
We had a hot dog at the Winter Wonderland. The grill rotated as it cooked the dogs, brats, and burgers. It was quite the set up.
 We found a little bench to eat our lunch and take a look around at all the amusements. There were some scary rides. Throw in some animatronic yodelers singing from a four story amusement and you have yourself a Winter Wonderland fun extravaganza!
 The Ferris wheel that didn't seem to actually give rides, but instead seemed to just let people off and on.
 The Ferris wheel as we were leaving. Yea, I'm gonna get the hang of this photo opportunity thing someday.
 Here are the swings. I'm gonna tell Nana we rode this. She instilled in me the fear of these swings. 'Cause you know, the chains will break and you'll break your legs. Nope. Not for me thanks. It was too flamin' high and too bloody cold. (Geeze - I am getting old)
  We left promptly once the day warmed up and the masses started funneling into the park. The Bean was very overstimulated with all the crowd, flashing lights and quite frankly so was I. 
 Hee hee! He now wants to strike a pose when asked to stop for a photographic opportunity.
 OK. I have to comment about the kids below. (Yes, at my age I can call them kids - if I have been driving longer than you've been alive- you're a kid.) These kids were total posers. Most of the 'punks' today wear wigs instead of taking on the persona of the punk generation. Back in my day (Punk g-ma wraps her tattered shawl around her whilst standing in Doc Martins) we dyed our hair and dealt with the disappointed looks from our elders. There was no weekend punk ticket you could get to be cool for 48 hours. This is what's wrong with society today. No commitment.

I am disappointed in myself that I did not get a photo of the girl (that's debatable) who had, what I think was part of a wig, fashioned to appear like the bill on a ball cap. What gave the ruse away was the string holding the hair/bill in place. Go big or go home, but you get points for art and craft skills.

Here is the Marble Arch. And the masses we were bravely (stupidly?) headed straight into.

We finally made it to the famous toy store Hamley's. Oh what fresh hell is this? You know what's worse that a Holiday Fantastical in Hyde park? A seven (yes, 7) story toy store. The Bean's mouth was dropped open for a better part of two hours. If there was a toy or novelty you could think of, but didn't know where to find it (as long as you've got the money, honey) Hamley's will have it within its walls. You could easily spend an entire day here if you don't mind the pungent smell of poo and children screaming at the tops of their lungs. (By the way, the Hubs had recently been to an undisclosed location in Africa.  He described the stench there as 'burning poo poos and charcoal'. Still, he was mortified by the smelly clouds that encompassed you about every 10 feet in Hamley's.  Hubs says he's been to better smelling slums in Central America.)

 Here are a few of the fantastic Lego displays in Hamley's:

 Sorry, but this isn't my idea of 'Summer Fun'.
 Here is Bean with the Queen:
 I think he was asking the her for a doughnut.
 And the R2-D2 Lego set. Send me 400 bucks and I'll send you one. That covers the cost of the set, the postage to send it and the pain and suffering I have to go through in going back to the store to pick it up. Yep. People are nuts over Legos. The set was 190 pounds. (Current exchange rate of 1.635 is $310.75 plus s/h and the mental stress...)

 Life-size Lego phone booth.

 Yep, it's the royal wedding - in Legos.

 Here is Prince Charles...
 And for my Dr. Who is Union Jack Dalek. Sorry, I can't remember how much this little gem was, but send me 400 bucks and it's yours. They had sonic screwdrivers, too, but I didn't get a snap of them.
 I think my face tells you how ready I was for something cold and frosty, or maybe it was the kid with the two foot afro I was looking at...hard to say. We also discovered the Bean loves  hot wings. Score!

 Random Christmas decor

Well at this point it was probably 4:30 and we headed back to the tube station to make our connection back to our local stop. Many thanks to Grandparents that made this trip possible. I will make sure to bring all the noisy toys with me when the Bean and I make our trip to the states in the Spring. You've been warned. 

What toys did the Bean select? You maybe wondering. Well if you ask Bean, the best thing going is the Eddie Stobart truck set he received. This trucking company is so popular they have their own reality TV show. I have it saved on my DV-R. He also threw a Higher Education monster truck. I wonder if Lloyd's of London would insure the Bean's monster truck collection? He was just too overwhelmed with possibility.

Just a side note:

A lot of people ask me what type of home security system we have. I proudly tell them we have the LXC (Bean's initials). If you can get past the minefield of toys, plus waking up the Hubs (who is just itching to try our the Rungu  he brought back from the undisclosed location in Africa) wearing - most likely - Meerkat socks and questionable boxers -  said burglar can then attempt to carry out their nefarious activities. Good luck with that.  You may walk in, but you're limping out. I think we'll be OK. It's is customary here, when you go on Holiday,  that you leave your house pitch black. Not even the porch light is left on. In the states, we set things on timers, have people come by and check the mail and water the cats. Nope - here they might as well leave the key in the lock and hang a banner that reads: Hey! Nobody's home!!   Lucky for our neighbors, the Hubs is Mr. Community Watch.

But I digress. Christmas was fun this year. I really missed my family, but as families usually experience, this year everyone went their separate ways. Life has a way of throwing a wrench (or spanner) into your routine, whether you like it or not. It's ok, because this is temporary and there will come a time when we are all back together, again. Until then, we will forge our own traditions and look forward to 2014. (Which is here already, but I have lost a week somewhere around here...)

I leave you with this poem, by Bob Perks:

I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright.
I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun more.
I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive.
I wish you enough pain so that the smallest joys in life appear much bigger.
I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting.
I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess.
I wish you enough “Hello’s” to get you through the final “Goodbye.”

Happy New Year!

1 comment: