A Complex Day

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Remember that Google location map I mentioned, that while my children were poxed rather creepily followed me from room to room? Well, today will have made it go nuts. As I’m writing this, I’m sitting on a rush hour district line train towards Gunnersbury, which is almost as far from our new house as you can get while still technically being in London. Why am I off to Chiswick? Well, that’s a whole other post and that’s coming up. But first, the story of how I managed to drag two children round almost all of London and do some work at the same time.
I have many jobs right now. One of them involves going to various places and seeing various people and today I was doing that job. With both kids. Reuben left school when we moved house so he is currently out of education. If the thought of that panics you, imagine how I feel. So they both came with me, bumping the buggy down the steps at Hackney Downs, because I had entirely forgotten that it had them and eating their chorizo wraps in my office. Reuben deemed this all unfun, so  it got to the point where I had done as much work as I possibly could, with copious amounts of bribes and other people playing peekaboo with Eva and finding Pixar trailers for them to watch. It was park time. But we were in Soho, which has long been established as a no-park zone, in many ways.So we jumped on a bus to Green Park, which was handily on the Jubilee Line…An essential part of phase 56765 of the day’s plan.

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If you know anything about Roo, you might doubt that Green Park would be the kind of park that he would think of as fun. There are ancient trees and daffodils but not an awful lot else. He asked for a playground but the nearest one was the other side of St James Park, which was tediously far away. We’d hang out in Green Park instead. We did some romping through the daffodils (and left them all intact…phew!) and some roly-polys and had a snack and I was beginning to think we could comfortably waste as much time as we needed to, right there next to the tube. And then those fateful words. You can imagine what they were, but the short version is it involved some rapid googling to confirm that no, Green Park did not have toilets. Looks like we were heading to St James Park after all.

Now, I’m fond of St James Park. It’s very pretty in the springtime but there was no time to stop and take photos when we had urgent business to attend to. I remembered from a previous visit that there were toilets next to the playground, so we headed there, much to Roo’s satisfaction. But disaster! They are closed until March 31st! So, it was back over the lake towards Marlborough Gate and it was there that we finally found some. Job done.

It was definitely time for the first ice cream of the year. We have plenty still stuck to Eva that’ll last us till autumn:

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And then a jaunt to the playground – it would have been a mean mummy that allowed them a glimpse of it but didn’t let them play. I am a mean mummy, but not that mean. They played happily, while I chatted to a Kennington mum who just happened to be there too.

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We could have stayed for a while, but rush hour was looming and we needed to get to that Jubilee Line to get to London Bridge. So I peeled Eva off the slide, quite literally kicking and screaming and we walked back uphill towards Green Park tube, stopping only to pull some faces in front of Buckingham Palace:

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Again, if you know anything about Roo you might guess that he’d be a little whiney by now. We’d been out since 9, it was almost 5, we’d got a train, three buses and a walk so far and he was flagging. Even the sight of the horse-top “knights” failed to chirp him up much. Luckily, we could just hop on the tube at step-free Green Park and be on our way.

Or could we? It certainly was step-free, but hopping on the tube seemed unlikely, given there was another mile’s worth of walking once you got inside. OK, so a mile might be an exaggeration but every few metres feels like miles when you’re a tired 4-year-old. It was a long, long walk. The Jubilee line is pretty far down, so we had to get two lifts, with a slog between the two. I wouldn’t recommend it for end-of-day tube-hopping. But we got to London Bridge, and a few false starts saw us bagging the only two seats and the only two sausage sandwiches in the world’s smallest Starbucks. Where they were playing “B-List Indie Hits of ’96” and that made me absurdly happy. When was the last time you heard the Longpigs in a coffee shop? Or Hurricane#1? Or Dodgy? Shed Seven?! We were quite happy then until Reuben made another game-changing announcement. Naturally, Tinybucks had no toilet so it was next door to pret where I promised to buy something in exchange for using the facilities. And we would have, except it was near the end of the day and the lovely man decided to give the kids gingerbread men for free. Score! Now, it was time to hand them over to Nathan (the kids, not the gingerbread men) and head to Gunnersbury for the next stage of the day….

To be continued!

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