Wednesday, 19 February 2014

London (and some trains)

Its difficult to decide what the most important aspect of this last few days has been - seeing Auntie Nimmy and Uncle James, visiting London, or transport. I suspect that it is the latter.

The excitement began early (Thea asked hopefully "Grandpa Beard downstairs?" as she got up. It seems that London and Grandpa Beard now belong together), as we set off from York in bright sunshine and Nathaniel agreed to walk all the way to the station. No, its not that far, but he'd always rather go on a bike or scooter.

The train was just as exciting as they hoped and at least an hour of the journey was used looking out of the window and being generally excited and happy!

And then we were in the wonderful place that is the new, improved Kings Cross in the sun, and then Nimmy and James were there. Lots of happiness!

And onto train 2 - a national rail train starting from an underground platform at St Pancras.

We explored Nim and James' house, and wandered the local streets, played in a park and ate ice creams, and generally made ourselves at home.

James cooked the most amazing roast pork, butchered by his own hands, and almost burnt to within an inch of its life! Fortunately it was saved just in the nick of time, and was mighty tasty!

James set off for work at the crack of dawn, but we had a more leisurely start before a wander to West Hampstead tube station (station 5 for those who are counting), and a trip on the Jubilee Line. The first tube train!

Green Park station was sucessfully navigated, and everyone enjoyed the long, wide tunnels.

Our destination was the Natural History Museum, and we had carefully ordered tickets (free) for the dinosaur gallery, as we were aware that it was going to be busy, it being half-term. But we hadn't really appreciated just how busy. When we arrived at about 11, the queue just to get into the museum was about 1hr30m long, and that was with them letting in 30 people every minute! The queue snaked away from the door through tight doglegged barriers all the way through the front courtyard on to the road and then several minutes walk down the road. It didn't look fun. So we bailed out and joined the smaller, faster moving queue to the Science Museum, moved down it faster than Thea could walk and had a good morning looking at steam engines, examining titan landers and exploring an antarctic expedition tank. It was pretty busy, but bearable, and when we when up to the first floor to find a spot to eat our lunch, it almost entirely emptied out. Both kids had museum fatigue by then, and were keen for some more underground trains, but we still got waylaid by the agriculture gallery, and Thea (and Ivy) had fun in the material science section.

We headed to Covent Garden for buskers and afternoon tea, and Thea was so exhausted that she wimpered until I picked her up (the carrier was all wrong!) and then promptly fell asleep on me.

Our journey home was slightly lengthened by a rather long walk along West Hampstead tube platform (do you know that you can see four distinct styles of train from there within 5 minutes?), and a brief detour back to Finchley Road and back just to up the number of trains travelled on (9 by now. And 9 different stations visited).

There was much umming and ahing about what to do on day 2. Having done the science muesum already, it made sense to try the natural history museum again, but there were no tickets left for the dinosaur gallery and we were rather put off by the queues. But Nathaniel was keen to try, so we braved the late rush hour trains, and were waiting at the museum, ~150 down the line, when it opened. It all payed off. We marched straight to the dinosaurs and walked straight in with no queue!

It was interesting, but would be a million times better without the swarms of people. Nathaniel almost missed his chance to see half of it after stopping to look carefully at a dinosaur and getting overtaken by the world! Thea was non-plussed. She enjoyed the animatronic dinosaurs, epecially the giant T-Rex, but she was keen to get back to the Earth Zone, where she had espied a long escalator disappearing into a giant glowing globe!

We progressed to mammals and found a cheetah and the great blue whale;

and then Thea led us back through the winding corridors (her sense of direction is scary!) to the Earth Zone. Nathaniel thought it was too scary, but me and Thea went up the escalator and back down the stairs three times!

Lunch beckoned, and we found a fine french-style cafe and sat outside under a canopy (it was really rather warm) and munched while the rain pelted down. It was fun!

And we were having so much fun that we had to have pudding - tarte au citron and a pavlova to share!

More trains (they were still excited by this prospect), and then did a little switching around so that we could try a new station (Baker Street), a new tube line (Metropolitan), and a new type of train. Did you know that each line has a different style of train? The metropolitan ones are amazing - they are totally open between carriages so it is just like a long moving corridor hurtling down a tunnel. I was surprisingly excited about watching down the train as it wound round corners!

Higlary came for supper and then we all went to bed - exhausted!

So, if you are keeping count, during this trip we visited 10 different stations and travelled on 17 trains and 4 buses! Not bad!

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