After arriving home from our travels, we had just enough time to unpack and get ourselves sorted out when Charlie and Oscar came to stay. They were with us for a week, while Claire did a work trip to Sydney. Unfortunately, it was a horrible week weather-wise. We had only one day with no rain at all, and it was generally quite chilly. Hard to believe it was late July – the height of the British summer!
Still, we found plenty of things to do. When confined to the flat we spent some happy hours reading, playing games or watching videos. We had ‘indoor’ excursions to the swimming pool and the cinema. When there were breaks in the clouds the boys often played outside (on the green just below our flat), and made some new friends. We also paid a nostalgic visit to the adventure playground at the Rye, which the boys used to visit frequently when they lived in Wycombe.
Before the boys arrived, we had a special request for a visit to Legoland, near Windsor. According to the weather forecast, Tuesday was going to be the best day, and luckily it was right for once. No rain at all! We enjoyed our day there, going on some familiar rides and trying out some new ones. The new Ninjago ride was especially popular, and the SQUID Surfer was great fun. We thought it was a shame that the park closed at 6, as by then the sun was shining, and it was definitely the best part of the day.
On Thursday it was cloudy but fine, and according to the forecast the rain would not start until the afternoon. So we decided that we would chance a morning excursion, and went to Virginia Water, a beauty spot we know well, although we hadn’t been there for several years. We didn’t realise that the boys had been there fairly recently, with Ian’s sister. They hadn’t remembered the name, but as soon as we arrived they remembered the place, and even a particular tree which they were keen to climb again.
After visiting the Totem Pole, we located the tree, one of several hidden away among the rhododendrons. We then walked round the lake (about four miles). But the weathermen got it wrong this time. After an unexpected brief period of sunshine, there was some heavy rain, and this pattern was repeated. Luckily we’d brought waterproofs, so it was not too bad.
We wanted to have a day in London, and kept checking the forecast in order to decide which day would be best. But the forecast kept changing. On Thursday it looked as if Saturday would be our best bet. However, when Ian got up on Friday, the latest forecast suggested that it would be the better day. So… everybody up, breakfast, and off by 9am.
We drove to Hillingdon, and took the tube to Green Park. We’d realised that Charlie and Oscar had never seen many of the main tourist sites, and decided to put that right. So we went first to Buckingham Palace – unfortunately, there was no changing of the guards that day, but we did see some mounted guards coming down Constitution Hill – in fact we had to wait for them to pass before we could cross the road.
We went through St James’s Park, and across to Horse Guards’ Parade, where we saw the sentries on horseback. On to Parliament Square (passing Downing Street on the way): there we saw Westminster Abbey, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament.
Our next goal was the London Eye. We’d been on it three times previously, but the last time was several years ago, and the boys had not been on it at all. We saw the 4D presentation, and then queued for the Eye itself. Earlier we’d had some sun and it was quite warm, but by the time we reached the Eye there was light rain. So the views from the top were not very colourful! But when we came off, the rain had just about stopped, so we did not get wet.
We crossed the Hungerford Bridge, walked up to Trafalgar Square (past the new sculpture of the giant thumb), and into the National Gallery. Charlie had learned about Monet and Van Gogh at school, so he was able to see some of their paintings. It also got us out of the rain, which by then had started again.
Next we took the tube to Hammersmith, part of the way home. After an early pub dinner, we went to the Lyric Theatre to see a musical version of Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr Fox. It was an excellent production, with some really good acting and enthusiastic singing and dancing. We arrived home at 10.45, and two tired little boys went straight to bed.