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Archive for November, 2015

  I recently took my three-and-a-half-year-old to London for two weeks, which might seem like a crazy thing to do. But we took him to India over a year ago, so whatever. Herewith, the highlights.

I took my kid to London. He once again surpassed all my expectations for being a great traveler. Case in point: He sang to himself every time he was in the stroller — which he hadn’t sat in for at least a year — even when it was raining on him. 

I adored staying in a hotel for the first few days. I don’t get to do that much, and I reveled in the break from all the cooking, cleaning and house stuff I usually do. 

I loved taking my kid to places he’d enjoy, but in all honesty I enjoyed the times I got away by myself even more. I went to museums, met my brother for lunch, and just got lost in amazing old streets and lanes. 

I watched the series finale of Downton Abbey. Spoiler alert: There’s drama! And fabulous clothes! And a yellow lab’s butt at the beginning!

I cried at the Princess Diana Memorial Playground (that’s part of it behind me, above). That thoughtfully designed, sprawling, quiet-and-noisy chunk of Kensington Gardens is magical, y’all.

I was reminded how much I enjoy the car-free lifestyle. Not sure I could hack it now with a little kid in tow, but man I’d love to go back to that one day.

I did not enjoy negotiating the Tube with a stroller, but I was grateful for stations with escalators and elevators, the ease of the Oyster Card system, and the kindness of the few strangers who helped me carry the stroller up or down stairs. And my kid’s enjoyment of being on the trains (mostly) made up for my travails.

I loved Camden Market as much as I did 25 years ago. Or was it 27… yikes.

I left my iPhone on Airplane Mode for two solid weeks, and used a candy bar phone for local calls and texting. (I believe the kids call it a “burner.”) Turns out I’m happier when I’m less connected, so now I’m more thoughtful about picking up my phone to text or check the weather or find out when a store opens or recheck the weather… I’m also researching time-limiting apps because I am weak and need help. 

I was amazed by how great the London Eye was. Just… worth the 20 pounds. We went at dusk on a Monday, so all the lights were just coming on but we could still see everything, and it was not even remotely crowded. 

I was in London during the attacks on Beirut and Paris. When I came back, many people asked me if that impacted my experience. I had to say that I had no idea since London, no stranger to terrorist attacks, has some of the most heavily surveilled streets in the world. But I also feel that, like 9/11, the attacks last week reminded us that the world has changed in a radical way: Nobody is safe, anywhere, ever. And maybe we never were.

I have the best idea ever: make bigger security scanners so we can walk through them without sequestering our liquids and taking off our shoes. Or taking exhausted kids out of strollers so they can be folded up and scanned while the kid is made to walk through a metal detector.

I took my kid to London, and I can’t wait to take him back when he’s old enough to enjoy it even more — and walk everywhere by himself. 

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  We recently took the Boo to London, which might seem like a crazy thing to do with a three-and-a-half-year-old. But we took him to India over a year ago, so whatever. Herewith, the highlights.

You went to London for two weeks. 

You were an angel on the flights there and back despite not sleeping much/very well/at all. (Thanks, group of guys on the way to Vegas who started the party as soon as the seatbelt sign was turned off… You were truly awesome in your dedication to the loud enjoyment of free booze.)

You loved playing “light engineer” at the hotel where we stayed for the first few days. (Read: So many switches! So many lights! It’s Boo heaven!)

You were happy to ride in the stroller despite not having been it for about a year. Maybe that was because we kept plying you with potato chips and chocolate-covered digestive biscuits.

You loved riding the Tube and the buses, and got really good at listening for the station we needed. You are now the happy owner of a decommissioned Oyster card, which you use to play “riding the Tube.”

You asked to go back to the London Transport Museum almost as soon as we left it. Your favorite parts were the play train, model elevators, and real buses you could pretend to drive. We went twice, and you would have been thrilled to go every day. (That’s it in the photo above.)

You enjoyed the amazing Princess Diana Memorial Playground — most especially the pirate ship and the secluded winding pathways.

You discovered a love of shortbread, English-style pub chips and a fruit snack you named “mango snails.” Your aunt got you to try a bite of sausage, which was truly astonishing to your Mama.

You played with your older cousins quite a bit, and got into playing with Legos for the first time. 

You were captivated by the earthquake simulator at the Natural History Museum, and that night you were very concerned about whether there was an earthquake simulator under your bed. 

You were pretty good about sleeping on the floor at your cousins’ flat. There were several nights it took you ages to fall asleep, but we figured that was because you knew there were good times being had after your bedtime.

You dealt with jet lag in London better than in the U.S., where you woke up at 2 or 3 a.m. for the first few nights. And stayed up for hours and hours until Mama finally gave in and set you up with cartoons at 5 a.m., and let you watch whatever you wanted all day because that’s what cartoons are for.

You said, “I don’t know” when Mama asked “What was your favorite thing about London?” When pressed, you said, “it’s a secret,” which is also what you say when pressed about things that happen at school.

You went to London for two weeks, and you’re already asking when we can go back. 

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