Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Week 7 Back in London

We arrived back in London on Monday evening after the weekend visit to Munich and Cologne.  We took the train from Cologne to Lille, got our luggage and headed back to London, that trip wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, considering we had all our luggage. 
Tuesday morning it was back to work for me.  The kids also had to get to work because my sister was coming on Thursday wither her son, Braden, who is about their age, so not a lot of school work would be happening at the end of the week.  The kids worked in the morning and then took an exciting trip to Tesco, a large grocery store.  The Tesco isn’t within walking distance like our little local place, so they had to take a bus.  They got home about the time I did from the Tesco and we were well stocked.    As we put stuff away, we figured out about 1000 things we forgot, so we went back Wednesday after work.  It was raining Wednesday afternoon.  Originally we were going to meet at (a different) Tesco, but then I just came home because of the rain.  After dinner it stopped raining, so we went ahead.  We rode the bus to Uxbridge (passed several groceries on the way).  We thought there was a large store in Uxbridge, but it was a smaller one, so we got back on the bus and rode it back to the passed Tesco and proceeded to shop.  It is really fun for me to shop in a large store and see the difference in food etc.  They had cut green beans as a snack and raw peas.  Those were yummy. 
So Tuesday and Wednesday were about working, and shopping, and then Thursday morning my sister came.  Mom and Dad and the kids met her at the airport.  Then the came home, dropped off the luggage, freshened up and went to Legoland.  The Legoland is close by and we had bought season tickets.  Thursdays was bring a friend day.  They got home about when I did and we all had dinner.  Friday I worked while they went to London.  I met them at Hyde Park (at the Princess Diana Memorial Garden).  After playing we decided to head off to Harrods.  That place is big.  I had to buy a Heidi Pie again so Heidi could try one.  We bought some other food, but mostly waited to eat till we got home.  (If you wait till the store is almost closing a lot of the food is ½ off).  On the way  home, Paul, Jacob and I stopped at a little market that we pass, and everyone else went to McDonalds.  We got bread, fruit and frozen pizzas.  We had run out of bread and fruit for lunch on Saturday.  We ate at McDonald’s, they finally talked me into it.  It pretty much tastes the same anywhere, the only difference here was the ice cream treats.  They had Cadbury Caramel Milkshakes (and some other local candy blizzards).  We went home and went to sleep.
The next morning we were trying to get up and get going to see the changing of the guards.  Everything took much longer than we wished, but we got there just in time.  We had an ok view, at least I am tall and people were very nice letting the kids push to the front.  I had 120 pictures left on my camera which I thought would be enough.  Since I didn’t have a great view, and Jacob was in front and Elizabeth was on my sholders for a lot of it, I had them take pictures.   We were out of pictures before the end of the changing.  Don’t tell them, I am going to have to delete some of those.  There was a band that played music like Michael Jackson, so that was cracking me up (I thought it was supposed to be this formal ceremony).  So we saw that.
After the changing of the guard we went up to the subway and went to the Tower of London.  When we got there we ate our packed lunch.  Then we went for a tour.  It was very interesting by a older warden.  The adults enjoyed it a lot, he was very entertaining.  The boys sit in the back and played hand games.  Libby paid attention.  The nice thing was that I had seen on the brochure or somewhere that they had some kids activities, so when we checked in at the visitors center we asked about it.  They got a button, (I think they called it a badge) and a pencil saying “practicing princess” or “knight in training” and a booklet.  The book had things for them to look for and to do along the tour which really seemed to help them have a purpose when we were walking through looking at the rooms and the crown jewels.  Hopefully, they learned something.  They had to do things like count the maces in the mace room, or look for answers of questions in the exhibit.  They kids really like doing those. We spent most of the afternoon in the Tower of London.
After that we decided to go to the London Eye (this huge Ferris Wheel type thing).  We stood in line and bought tickets and went up.  The views were amazing and it wasn’t too scary.  It was a clear day.  After that they had a 4D movie which we all went to.  I think the kids liked that best.  We had to wear 3D glasses and they had smells, and bubbles and things coming at you.  It was pretty fun. 
After the London Eye, we decided to go home.  Keep in mind, since we are on the edge of the city, going home is a long process, maybe 1 and a half hours.  We had our frozen pizzas (it was Saturday night after all) and we went to bed. 
Sunday we got up and went to church.  We packed other clothes and a lunch and went straight from church (which is conveniently located next to the bus stop) straight to Windsor.  We ate lunch on a bench when we got there.  It was really windy.  We didn’t have a lot of choices since we didn’t want to carry it all, but we had meat, cheese, and Nutella.  (only my Dad ate all of those together).    We had these delicious little oranges, like clemintines, only they tasted like mandarine oranges.  They were very juicy.  Yum.  I also bought some candy, called Turkish Delight.  Now, if you have read “The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe” you will know why I had to buy these.  I was especially pleased because this Turkish Delight was rose flavored.  Britian is one of the few places in the world with use flower flavors in candy.  So eating rose flavored candy was an interesting experience.  Libby liked it, the boys didn’t.  I was pleased with the experience.
After lunch we went to Windsor Castle.  Again they had these books for kids to do.  The boys got one about armor and Libby got one about Castles of the Past.  It was really nice again, because it explained some things in and easier way and it gave them things to look for.  The Queen was at home, as you can tell from the large tower.  If it has her standard flying from it, she is there, if it has Union Jack, she isn’t home.  It was fun she was there, of course, we did not see her.  The boys learned about the colors of armor, how HUGE Henry VIII’s armor was and some of the weapons (lances etc).  Libby learned about the battlements and set up of the castle, and how that helped in defense etc.  This kids programme even came with a parents guide with extra facts (and the answers!).  That was nice. 
I really enjoyed Queen Mary’s dollhouse.  It was very elaborate and even had running water.  I would like to go back and spend more time looking at it, it was hard because there were so many people in line, you couldn’t take as long as you wanted.  Of course it also didn’t help that the boys were bored and running ahead, that had to keep you moving as well.  The state apartments were very impressive.  One interesting thing to me was that in other of the older castles we have seen in Europe they always had ceramic heaters in every room, these have a fire in them and they are fed by a secret passage in the walls by servants so as not to disturb the inhabitants.  Windsor castle did not have these, they had vents along the floor that had blowing air.  A warden told us that there is one air system for the entire castle and when the Queen is there, it is much warmer than when she is not (the Queen likes it warmer).  The warden was even saying it gets too hot.  I thought that was kinda cute.  Just like an old lady, eh?
After the castle, we went home.  I gotta tell you, the train platforms are SCARY.  You stand there and these trains come zipping by so fast.  It is a wonder more people aren’t zipped away.  Just a warning if you come and ride the local trains.
We got home in time to decompress a little.  We got to talk to the kids grandparents who are coming this week, play chess with a cousin (we like Skype) and talk to Dad.  Then it was time for bed to be ready for another fun week.
Monday the kids went to Greenwich England and stood on the dividing line.  They took a boat from downtown London to Greenwich.  They went to several of the museums there, which they reported were very good, and very hands on. They took a tour and had a very nice time. 
I finally had a reasonable day at work, so I didn’t come home a grouch.  We had delicious skillet lasagna and worked on the blog, our journals, and postcards.  Of course, as always there was lots of Lego playing.  Legos was the one toy we brought along.  Libby brought some other little figure animal type things, and stuffed animals and a doll, but the one thing they play nearly every day, is Legos.
We went to bed a little early, people seemed to be dragging from the hectic pace.  And that gets us through Monday May 23.  This week we are all looking forward to the arrival of Matt’s parents and Matt himself whom we haven’t seen since April 3.  The time we have left in Europe will go quickly.  After this week in London, we have 2 weeks in Lubeck Germany, and then 3 weeks back in London, and our time will be done.  We are really having fun and getting to do lots of really neat things.  I can’t believe we get this opportunity, and I hope I am appreciating it, being appropriately thankful and enjoying it all I can.  I sure am trying!

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