Posts Tagged Legoland
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.
We left Sarasota on Monday 11th August. We had what proved to be a slow journey home, and a busy time when we were back. Apparently they’d had great weather in the UK until we got home, and then it turned back into the usual rubbish English summer.
Home again – eventually
We had to change planes in Washington, and were concerned that the gap between flights was only 40 minutes. So when we landed at Dulles we hurried to our next gate. Almost there, we heard an announcement that our gate had been changed to one at the opposite end of a very long concourse! We made it there in time, and boarded the plane, but did not take off.
We were told there was a problem with the aircon, but it would be fixed in 15 minutes. Then it was 30 minutes. Next we were told we could get off the plane while waiting. Finally we backed away from the gate – but after 30 minutes we returned, because another problem had emerged. We had a long wait before the flight was finally cancelled – then an even longer wait to be rebooked and given hotel vouchers. We ended up cooling our heels in a hotel which was nice, but miles from anywhere – we did not even have the opportunity to visit DC, which we would have enjoyed. The delights of air travel!
We landed at Heathrow on Wednesday 13th, exactly 24 hours later than scheduled. Claire and the boys came to meet us, and it was great to see them again. We were quite busy over the next couple of weeks. There were the usual medical/dental appointments, which seem to accumulate every time we return to the UK. There was also work. Ian did some analysis for Newcastle University, and was in discussion with NFER (involving a meeting in Slough) about work that had been done and further work that might be required in the future. We had a meeting with our ERA partners, during which we celebrated the first birthday of our consortium. Sandie prepared an EOI to register our interest in a possible future project (sadly, this was unsuccessful).
Time with our grandsons
A lot of our time was spent with the family. Claire was off to Dubai the weekend after our return, and again the Thursday after that. Both times Charlie and Oscar stayed with us. On the first Saturday we got the bus to Bourne End and then walked east along the Thames Path (continuing to encourage the boys to share our love of walking by the river). We planned to walk to Cookham – but we were there in no time, and remembered that there is a good playground near Boulter’s Lock, so decided to continue. On the way we had a picnic, and ice creams. The boys really loved the zipwire at the playground. We ended up walking into Maidenhead, and getting the bus back from there. We estimated that we walked six miles in total – not bad considering that Oscar is not yet three!
Another day we went to Windsor, and had a day out which included a picnic by the river, and a boat trip along the Thames. A lot of our time was spent playing football or cricket. Since the World Cup, Charlie has become a real football enthusiast. Early in the summer holidays he attended a week’s football school, and enjoyed it so much that he returned for another week at the end of August. Ian introduced him to cricket as well, and we are fortunate in having a suitable playing area just outside our flat, as well as a large park not far away.
While Ian was working, Sandie went with Claire and the boys swimming one morning, and to Legoland another day. The queues were horrendous, but the boys enjoyed the rides and especially the pirate stunt show, which Charlie insisted on watching twice.
On Monday 25th, all five of us drove through ghastly rain (typical Bank Holiday weather!) to visit Ian’s sister Maggi in Gloucestershire. After a lovely lunch we went for a walk in the woods with Jack the dog, but were soon back again because of the rain.
Two new Schagens!
Monday 18th August was an important day for the Schagen family. Andrew and Ellie celebrated their 13th wedding anniversary; Paul and Alexa got the keys to their new house. The High Wycombe contingent went to Slough, and Ian took Charlie and Oscar to Langley Park while Sandie accompanied Claire to the County Court, for the second hearing of her application to change the boys’ surname. This time there was no real argument, as Raf had signed papers agreeing to the change. The court order arrived a few days later, so Charlie and Oscar are now officially Schagens!
Two weeks have passed since we returned from France. During that time we’ve enjoyed visits from family members and friends who have come to see our new flat. We’ve also done more babysitting, looking after Charlie and Oscar while Claire was on one of her Dubai trips. And we’ve had some good days out.
From Marlow to Maidenhead
We woke one morning to find the sun was shining and realised it was one of the (comparatively few) days when we had nothing at all planned! So we decided to take off and walk a stretch of the Thames Path (again). That’s the great thing about being retired – being able to do just as you please.
We got the bus to Marlow, had coffee and a brief look round the charity shops, then set off to walk to Maidenhead Bridge, about 7.5 miles away. We know this stretch of the Thames well, as it’s quite close to where we now live, as well as where we used to live in Langley. We love walking by the river – it’s easy (being flat!) and there’s always something to see.
We stopped for a drink in Cookham and a snack at Boulter’s Lock. From Maidenhead Bridge we walked into the town and had time for a look round the shops before getting the bus back to Wycombe. We stopped off on the way, and had dinner in a pub before walking home.
London with the boys
Like many young children, Charlie is interested in dinosaurs, so we promised to take him and Oscar to the Natural History Museum while Claire was in Dubai. We also thought about having a day in London ourselves, in order to visit Stanfords, the travel bookshop. Since time was short, we decided to kill two birds with the proverbial single stone.
We drove to Amersham and went by train to Charing Cross. Charlie was really excited about this, particularly the prospect of going underground! We had a stroll around Trafalgar Square (noting the bright blue chicken now residing on the ‘spare’ plinth!) and then walked to Stanfords, where we bought a guide to Botswana (that’s a clue to our next trip).
After lunch in Leicester Square we walked through to Piccadilly Circus and took the tube to South Kensington. We knew the Natural History Museum would be busy, but had not expected to queue for almost an hour to get in! And once in, we had to queue again for the dinosaur gallery. The museum has changed a lot since our last visit, and perhaps it has improved, but the new design seemed ill able to cope with the number of children (and buggies) that visit in the school holidays. Still, Charlie enjoyed seeing the dinosaurs, and the blue whale.
From the museum we walked to Kensington Gardens, and eventually managed to locate the Princess of Wales Memorial Playground, where the boys enjoyed themselves for half an hour before we began the journey home.
The following morning we took the boys over to Langley Park, and they enjoyed the playground there and exploring the trails through the park.
Legoland with the family
Last Sunday Andrew, Ellie, Hope and Bel came to Wycombe to see our flat and meet Bruce (Claire’s cat). They stayed overnight in Burnham (with Ellie’s mother) so that we could have a family outing to Legoland the next day.
Negotiating the park with a group of five adults and four children of varying ages was not always easy – inevitably there were different views about the best rides to try, as well as limitations due to height restrictions. Like the Natural History Museum, Legoland was crowded, and some of the queues were horrendous. Nevertheless, we all enjoyed the day, and it was great to be together, especially as it was our last opportunity to do so for a while.
Getting ready to go
On 15th August Ian had another carcinoma removed, this time from his shoulder. He opted to have it done privately, as there would have been a long wait for NHS treatment. The consultant diagnosed it as a squamous cell carcinoma, which is potentially nasty, but as it was caught very early there should not be a problem.
Just as well, because… on 20th August we are off on our travels again, heading for Southern Africa (not South Africa) this time. We hope to have wifi in some places, and to continue our blogs. But we begin with a fortnight’s camping tour of Namibia, so you may need to wait a while for the first instalment!