Ahhhhh! Our first day in London. What a treat! It was worth all the stress of traveling yesterday with all the kids by myself. We are staying at a friend's flat in a nice part of the city. There are lots of cafes, pubs and restaurants right out side the door. As I sit here near the window writing this, it is pretty quiet which is nice. The flat is in a building that is kind of tucked away off the main street (Goodge). There is an Underground stop a short walk away.
We have quite a list of sights to see while we are here. It is great to be able to take things at a leisurely pace, especially with 5 kids in tow. They are pretty good travelers, I must admit and I catch many people smiling at one of the kids or the whole crazy scene of us. Elise seems to make friends wherever we go. One sweet foreign lady asked in broken English if all the kids were mine. When I answered yes, she smiled and said, "Oh, very nice!".
This morning, after a rough night, we took it easy. There is one double bed and a futon for the seven of us. Elise curled up on a chair. Hey, free is rarely the lap of luxury. :-) Anyway, we headed for the Museum of Childhood which I had read about on a website of free London attractions. It is a small museum filled with toys and other things relating to childhood. What a find! We stayed there about 3 hours and only left because we were hungry. We could have stayed even longer. It is a small museum with very nicely arranged displays that captivate children and adults alike. There were amazing examples of antique toys, some dating from as early as the 1600's. Riding toys, wind-up toys, dolls, board games, costumes, you name it, they had it! There were several toys from the seventies that brought back memories to me and Mark.
After our museum visit, we headed to Trafalgar Square and grabbed a quick lunch at a street vendor advertising "American hot dogs". The kids have been missing them so it was a treat. The weather was gorgeous- sunny and about 70 degrees. We ate in the courtyard of a famous church- St. Martin-in-the-Fields. The original church on the site dates from the 13th century but the current structure was built around 1726. Charles II's mistress is buried here and many Londoners waited out bombings during WW II in the crypt.
We made our way home via Charing Cross Road. One of my favorite books is 84 Charing Cross Road. If you haven't read it, pick up a copy. It is a quick read and such a charming book. When you finish the book, rent the movie with Ann Bancroft and Anthony Hopkins(I think). It is one of the first times, I saw a movie after reading the book and wasn't disappointed. We window shopped at several charming bookstores like the one talked about in the book. The exact address is now a Pizza Hut, I am sad to report. Now really sure how much of the book is fact or fiction, anyway.
This evening we watched cable TV, which is a treat because we don't have it at home. We walked to a pizzeria and then to bed early to catch up on the sleep we missed last night. As a matter of fact, I am keeping Elise awake because I am blogging in her bed- remember the chair I mentioned earlier.
There is SO much more I could say but I guess I will have to save it for another day. Hope you are enjoying the tour of London. Tomorrow we are off to the Tower of London, home of many executions as well as the Crown Jewels. St. Thomas More was imprisoned and killed here. Hey! There's another book and movie recommendation- A Man for all Seasons. Now get reading. Quick, because we are looking at a rail trip to Stratford-upon-Avon and the reading I suggest after visiting Shakespeare's home will not be light!
I'll leave you with a quote displayed at the Museum of Childhood: "We don't stop playing because we grow old. We grow old because we stop playing." George Bernard Shaw