The first weekend of the half-term, we spent mostly been in London.

TW had been frantically searching for a reasonably-priced hotel for one night, so that she could take the girls up to London. She had some harebrained idea that she “needed” to take the girls to London. I thought the idea was that we could crash in London and avoid the children whingeing on the way home, but as it turned out, I was wrong (more on that below). Any way, she wasn’t having much luck. All the places she found which were affordable looked a bit dingy and a bit sub-par. I dare say that after a day trudging around London, any room could look inviting, but I was of the opinion that we should wait to get the right accommodation before arranging to go to the Big Smoke. But sitting in the comfort of our living room, the hotels she was looking at didn’t seem to be that appealing. 
Then, on the Friday night, as we were discussing what alternatives there were, a friend of hers phoned and told her that he’d seen her trials and tribulations on Facebook, and why hadn’t she phoned him? We could all stay at his, he said. TW replied that he lived in Essex, so why would she call him? Au contraire, he responded, we’re on the Central Line and quite easy to get to on the Tube… So we had a quick chat and decided to take him up on his offer. On Saturday morning we came down to see the girls lounging in front of the TV as normal, and told them of our plans. They were pleased and excited, to say the least. Since TW’s friend is godfather to The Youngest, and has visited recently and played with the kids, it may have been that seeing him was the bit they were looking forward to the most. 
We had breakfast, got dressed and ready, TW made some sandwiches and boxed up the left over chilli, and we headed to the train station. We bought the tickets, and had a few minutes to wait, so I popped to the Co-Op and picked up some pastries and a newspaper. We caught the 10am train up to London, and we were on the way. 
Once we arrived in Victoria, we headed east towards the Houses of Parliament, and then TW remembered her nephew was in Halls near Victoria Station. So she called him and miraculously he was in. In reality, I should say miraculously he answered, as he’d obviously had a big night out on Friday, but if you’re in your early twenties and living in SW1 why wouldn’t you take advantage of that? The girls were surprised and pleased to see him. We talked for a few minutes and then headed on, across the river and left (north) on to the South Bank. The route was crowded, as you would expect on a Saturday lunchtime. Not only with tourists, but locals getting about their business. In addition, there were “street entertainers” on the bridge, blocking up the pavement. There was one bagpiper, which was fine, but the rest were con-artists “playing” Find The Ball”, with wads of £20 notes in their hands. It was a bit depressing. In addition the other annoying people taking up street space for no apparent reason were Christians. There were Born Agains, Jehovahs, and probably some others I didn’t recognise. They were hawking their irrelevant wares, so many of them that you probably couldn’t spit without hitting one of them (not that I tried it, natch). 
The hordes didn’t start to thin out until after we got past the London Eye, which is an attraction we need to visit at some point in the future. We sat and had a sandwich, and watched a couple of street acts. There was a woman juggling knives while balancing precariously on some wobbly stuff which the girls watched, and then we saw some Jamaican acrobats. The Middle One actually got picked to be in the show, but she became embarrassed and didn’t participate, which was a shame because her finale would have been being picked up and whirled around by the acrobats. Then we walked on.
Part of the reason for visiting London was to go to Shakespeare’s Globe, because The Eldest is studying the Tudors in school and Shakespeare is a big part of that. It was more expensive than we would normally spend, the tour of the Globe was £36 – there are much cheaper ways to be entertained in London (as well as much more expensive ways!) – but the tour was led by a jobbing actor who made the whole thing very entertaining and enjoyable. It was well worth the money. And the Eldest learnt a lot; she came back from school and told us that she’d shared a lot of the facts with her class. In fact, she had remembered quite a lot of things which I’d forgotten.
After the Globe, we went to the Tate Modern for a short time. I’m always amazed at the works of art one can see there for free; there are works by Picasso among others which are just there within touching distance. Walking around the rooms with three small children is not the best way to appreciate the art on display, but I was very impressed with some of the pieces.
We weren’t there for very long, as we were all getting a little tired, and then we headed to the Tube and aimed to meet up with TW’s mate in Gants Hill.
Onthe Sunday we headed back into London and saw Covent Garden, then made it to Hamleys. By that point though the girls were tired and so we caught the 38 bus to Victoria. We headed homewards and made it back to Worthing at about 4pm (as I recall). What a weekend.

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