So after 12 bad filter coffees, 5 powdered egg omelettes, 45 episodes of friends on the in-flight entertainment (and before you snigger at least I wasn't the only person on the airplane actually watching the 'Emirates' channel so I could learn about the company and its fleet...Marco), 13 scowls from fellow passengers directed at one hyperactive Oscar, 8 arguments over whose turn it was to change the nappy in the tiny airplane bathroom (I lost every one of them)...we arrived in London!
Love London. Nothing else really needs to be said other than I would move here in an instant - particularly if there was a nice townhouse in Kensington somewhere for me within walking distance from the stunning gardens - equipped with a town car to take me shopping at a moment's notice and a never ending supply of Tanquery gin and tonic to get me through the cold winter months.
Keep dreaming Sal...this is a holiday after all.
Now for the people who told me that babies don't get jetlag so it was a good thing I am travelling with a one year old...I did think of you fondly at both 3am and 430am respectively the past two mornings as Oscar jumped around with the conviction of a rap dancer. And it is probably sick of me to get some pleasure out of the knowledge than in our tiny B&B the bloke staying in the room next door also would feel like he was in a 'Jump around' film clip as our son has most definitely inherited my vocal cords. But whatever works, right?
All that aside, we are staying in a fantastic area of London - right in the heart of Paddington just north of Central London where the stunning white Jane Austen-esque (my new favourite "Sal-ism") buildings seems to wrap themselves around the street corners with the elegance of a lacy white handkerchief and you can close your eyes and just imagine you are in an old English classic and Hugh Grant is about to bump into you and in a bumbling sort of way ask if you would like to come in for a cup of tea. While there is some regret my life isn't indeed a movie I guess a big burley Portuguese husband asking me if I want to have a pint out the front of the closest pub (as we can't go inside with...god forgive us...a BABY!)...does come in a close second.
Highlights have definitely been the Tower of London (ok, so its my 4th visit but I still get goose bumps at the stories of the 'Beef Eaters' who with great animation tell tales of those who have met their doom inside the walls of this landmark). Also enjoyed Westminster Abbey - possibly my 3rd visit).
Gotta love a good old fashioned 'Changing of the Guards' ceremony too...although I spent the majority of the time wrestling vegemite sandwiches out of Oscar's hands as he opened up the slices and decided it would be a great idea to smear butter and vegemite all over his face while screaming 'Dog! Dog!' at the horses as the Horse Guards unit rode past us in perfect splendour. I am so glad punishment by death for disrespecting the royal family has been abolished although I am pretty sure HRM would have not been amused...
Now to add insult to injury (and just a warning I did promise myself I would be brutally honest in this blog)...Oscar decided that the changing of the guards was also the perfect time to not only cover himself in vegemite but to fill his nappy in his own 'Changing of the nappy ceremony' with the direction and fortitude of the most accomplished of soldiers...so much so that it became a potential mass casualty evacuation. Now for those who have never been to Buckingham Palace during the COG ceremony there are 1000's of people...a lot of police...and not a hell of a lot else, particularly not a nappy change facility. So following our fearless leader through the crowds towards St James Park we passed a man kneeling down to propose to his unsuspecting girlfriend as he produced a ring box. Now I love a good grand gesture proposal as you well know but there was no time to even see if she said yes as we were bee lining towards any tree that would suffice. Finally we found the perfect tree and just as we had a screaming baby in some sort of nappy-changeable position out of the corner of my eye I spied a squirrel. Now every other squirrel I have seen in London so far has high tailed it the minute he saw us looking at him. Not this squirrel - who decided not only was Oscar the most fascinating creature he had ever seen but that inspecting what we were doing was a high priority on his agenda and while I was screaming at him to go away he just came closer and closer. We must have looked quite the sight as then a group of kids saw that there was a squirrel in close proximity who wasn't running away from cameras or little hands so they all started at our tree as well! Oh Oscar I am sorry the indignity of the situation...certainly one I am sure you will curse me for writing down in future years.
Like any good parent to make up for this low point we then decided to go and check out the red light district of Soho where I had a lapse in clear thinking as a result of too much Tequila about 15 years ago and ended up with a tattoo on my ankle. So 15 years later it was a weird kind of déjà vu to be walking down those same streets pushing a baby in a pram with a very uncomfortable looking husband in tow as we passed numerous bars advertising an 'Adam and Steve' festival...
Apart from Soho (!!)) Oscar's two main highlights have been my allowing him to have an entire soft serve ice cream cone to keep him quiet after a veeeeery long day walking around London (oh yeah and I have now officially broken pretty much every single 'I will never feed my child *&&%@@^' promise as a mother now)...and a trip to Hamley's toy store which is a famous 250 year old, 5 floor parent's nightmare on Regent Street. Bought him the most divine puppet which I am hoping will come in handy over the coming weeks, while Marco seems to be horrified at my puppet character voices my prelude to a car-puppet show inside the store went down a treat with the little man!
It's needless to say I am not holding much hope that he will be savouring much of the trip.
So as I write this its 830pm on a Thursday night, Oscar is asleep and Marco is drinking warm G&T and watching bad British TV. Oh how life changes when you travel with a baby!
Tomorrow we leave London and head to Southern England, first to Stonehenge (and I quote Marco..."Why the hell are we driving all the way down there to visit a bunch of old rocks?" followed by the guard we got chatting to at Westminster Abbey who said "Why the hell does anyone drive all the way down there to visit a bunch of old rocks?") - and then onto Bath. Adios!