Longest blog title. EVER. What it should have said was “we wandered around Central London a bit in the cold”. But in doing so, we both watched “The Christmas Pudding Race” and visited a winter playground in Leicester Square. I may have mentioned that it’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas and this was our first family Advent activity.
We were meeting C and his family at Waterloo, so we started off with a walk along the river in the early morning mist. It was very scenic. Just look at these seagulls:
That was a gratuitous photo if ever I saw one. Anyway, it was a nice wander down to Waterloo, and Nathan stopped for a coffee at Magic Coffee Man, which made him happy. When we met C’s family, C’s Dad hadn’t had a coffee, which made him unhappy. Through this, Reuben learnt the simple rule that”coffee makes men happy!” That’ll serve you well, small man.
Luckily there was a Starbucks on the walk to Covent Garden (who knew?!) so we could sort out that particular situation. There was also a “funny tree” outside the Southbank Centre that caused some hilarity for Roo and C. The funny tree has been for some time (I thought it was part of the Festival of the World but it seems to have outlived it) and Roo has both seen it and climbed on it before, but when he saw it with C it was as if for the first time….and it was hilarious. The whole walk across Waterloo Bridge was punctuated by shrieks of “that’s a FUNNY TREE!”.
We got to Covent Garden and the location of the Christmas Pudding Race wasn’t immediately obvious. They had a Christmas tree made out of Jack Daniels barrels and a giant reindeer, both of which I wanted to get a photo of, but we were in a bit of a rush to get to the race before it started and I thought we may have missed it in the ten minutes that we were late.
I’ve never been quite so wrong.
We did find the race course – at the Punch and Judy end of the Plaza and we seemed to be in time. We found places near the giant inflatable slide and we waited.
And some more. Bear in mind the situation we had here – temperature hovering around zero degrees, two overtired babies, two 3-year-olds, four grumpy parents. Half an hour seemed like a long time. Roo ran off and lost our space. He and C waited at the fence, getting colder and grumpier. They bought badges to wear on their hats:
C’s Dad was despatched to buy child-size hot chocolates to warm them up. We could hear something going on down the other end but didn’t know what. C and Roo both climbed into their buggies. C snuggled under his mother’s Oscha wrap and went quiet. Roo’s mother doesn’t own an Oscha, so he sobbed hysterically; “I’m cold! I don’t want to see a funny race!”. Eventually, I asked one of the race elfs when the race was starting and she said 12:00. That was another 20 minutes away. To kill time, I took Roo for a pee and paid 50p for the privilege. C’s Dad was still missing. Roo resumed sobbing. I think the novelty of watching the funny race had worn off and he wanted to either go home or have a go on the funny race-track himself. Nathan darted off to have a look at the giant Advent Calendar:
At around 12:10, the race started. Hooray! For a few minutes, Roo forgot his tears as he watched elves, cats, Santas and a Christmas tree struggle round the inflatable course. He giggled as the elves got stuck on the slide, and was most excited to see a man dressed as a dinosaur. That was only one of the heats though. There was more to come, apparently. But we’d all had enough of the cold by this point, and Eva was squealing for milk so we headed to Benito’s Hat for lunch and some warmth.
Did Roo and C behave over lunch? How would you expect 2 recently thawed-out small boys to behave when they get hugely overexcited by each other’s company? Let’s skim over that bit and move onto the “Rise of the Guardians” Funland in Leicester Square.
As you may have discerned, this was a marketing exercise to promote a new Dreamworks film, and yes, both boys are now clamouring to see it even though it looks a bit dark-side for them. But hey, it was free! There was a huge “Jack Frost” slide, with rubber rings to sit in as you went down, but the boys were too small for it (minimum height 110cm). We quickly moved them on to the “Easter Bunny” maze, with a giant egg in the middle.
We never did make it to the middle – Roo was too busy running round the maze and shrieking “Dead end! There’s another dead end!” (I later found out that he’d learnt what a dead end was from “Octonauts and the Great Christmas Rescue”). He found the way back out, which he thought was the aim of it all. C and his mum made it to the middle though.
What else was there? The “Tooth Fairy” bungee was closed – just as well, seeing as Roo would probably have been too small for that too. We all got our photos taken with the Sandman (see above) but we weren’t allowed to linger or play in the sand. So we went to write a letter to Santa and post it.
Oh, and play in the fake snow. Did I mention the fake snow? Scratchy stuff with an authentic London yellowness to it? Roo spent a loooong time playing with it, picking up handfuls and chucking at me (not really allowed) and hiding behind the fake rocks with C (definitely not allowed). After we left, he was still wailing to go back and play with the snow some more. He was momentarily distracted by the glockenspiel performance at what used to be the Swiss Centre (but is now a Swiss pole). He was interested in the noisy cows, but by the time we got home all he wanted was to go back to the snow. Sadly for Roo it’s only on till 9th Dec. Maybe if it gets any colder we’ll have real snow!
VERDICT: The Christmas Pudding Race was fun, but next year we’ll arrive an hour later and wrapped up a lot warmer. Funland was good for amusing them for an hour or so and not too crowded, but be aware of height restrictions.