Sometimes organising your diary within an inch of it’s life is dull and joy-sapping, and sometimes it leads to the most awesome of days. Yesterday was one of those days. We’d organised some childcare for our seven month old boy, and took just our three year old daughter for a visit to London to have some pre Christmas chaos (I mean, fun).
We got into Waterloo on the train and took the tube to Oxford Circus. Don’t kids just love transport! Every escalator, every weird hair style, every smell has them asking questions, and usually way too loudly. But I was pumped full of London’s finest coffee blends and so was reasonably careless.
It felt strange arriving at Oxford Circus tube with my daughter. I used to commute there daily and I have so many memories, but it was lovely to be back. We walked down Carnaby Street, one of my favourite streets in London. It’s got that stylish flair to it, and it helps that Libertys sits on the corner. The Christmas lights were fantastic. The theme was carnival and so there were giant flying parrots and fluttering tinsel overhead. Bloody magical. The shop fronts were packed full of bold design and punky attitude. We popped into Pret and got gifted a free cake. We were off to a flying start.
I managed to make it to Hamleys without stepping foot in any clothes stores (that was the agreement with my husband, believe me it was hard). But once at Hamleys we agreed to buy our daughter one (reasonably priced) toy (jeez, aren’t we boring!). We had visions of her going nuts for all the stuff on display. But she did us proud in those seven floors of toy madness – Paddington Bear, Paw Patrol, glitter, and play doh. All sorts of noisy toys on display by the over enthusiastic staff whilst toy helicopters buzz past your ear. She loved it. She fell for a little hamster in a plastic ball that was all of a tenner. It seems we lucked out.
A good hour spent in Hamleys we hailed a cab outside. So good to feel the pulse of London roaring through my veins again. The ability to stick your arm out and have a beautiful black cab slide up next to, ‘where to Madam?’ Errrr…. Paris maybe? Or Tokyo? The best gallery in town? Obviously this time we have a three year old with us so it went more like, ‘to China Town please, dim sum await’. Out the cab our daughter running ahead along the streets harassing pigeons. She’s the perfect age. No nappies, high chairs or speaking slowly. Everything is gleeful surprise and wonder.
We found a dim sum restaurant that is one of my husbands favourites. My husband’s love for Asian food is something he hopes to pass to our kids. We always like ordering dim sum for our daughter, we love that she can try the tiny parcels of food and that they look and smell so different to what she gets a home makes it a real experience.
A belly full of prawn dumplings we headed to Southbank Christmas markets. We chose to walk over the Charing Cross bridge to see the sights of London. It’s one of my favourite views and even on this grey day it didn’t disappoint. To get a photo of the three of us on the bridge meant a lot to me, and seeing our daughter walk ahead where my husband and I had walked many times in the past was very special.
We were getting into the parenting swing of things by this time and so grabbed some mulled wine at the Christmas markets and jumped on the horses at the merry go round. We lazed on some bean bags in a Tipi tent and had a look at the stalls of glittering jewellery. I found some cool street art of tiny people and when we walked past the waffle stand and couldn’t manage to ignore the Nutella filled pillows of heaven.
As the nights are drawing in early we decided we were all reasonably exhausted and headed back to Waterloo.
Sometimes parenting is endless days of saying ‘no’. What utter relief to spend a day saying ‘yes’, and ‘sure’. Chase that pigeon, eat that lollipop, buy that toy, jump on that train. I don’t know whether my daughter is old enough to hold memories like that for very long but I know for sure that I won’t ever forget this day.
You can buy all the toys and treats you want but packing away the laptop and making a day of things as a family is where the magic spot is. It’s not easy to find the time or energy, and real life often gets in the way, but if you can manage to miss the crowds and afford to buy some tasty street food I’m sure you’ll treasure those memories just like we have.