London Mon Dec 3 - Day 3

Trip Start Nov 30, 2012
Trip End Jan 31, 2013

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Flag of United Kingdom  , England,
Monday, December 3, 2012

Fiona's Comments:
Can't remember what time we all awoke but having Marks & Sparks just down the road means I duck out, get fresh pastries, fresh raspberries and blueberries, really amazing chocolate milk and have it all ready when the little muffins cheerily awaken and come hopping and skipping to the breakfast table. Everyone still suffering jet lag so replace the word 'cheerily' with grumpily and 'hopping and skipping' with lumbering and lurching.

Our issue with the main shower in the apartment continues. It is an electric shower so the theory is we press a button on the unit in the shower recess and it is meant to turn the water on. Zed keeps perservering with the shower which means holding the button down as he showers. I'm using the second bathroom with a handheld shower but it is set up in a bathtub with a shower curtain. I have forbidden the kids to use this second shower as you can only imagine how much water would end up over the entire bathroom. So the kids are having baths and of course all have to run individual baths so getting out in the morning is proving challenging.

Monday morning once everyone has showered, bathed, cleaned teeth in the kitchen because the bathrooms are taken up with someone holding a button down or running a bath, we FINALLY get out of the apartment and make our way to the London Bridge Experience. The London Bridge Experience is a combination of the London Bridge history and all the horrors and awful things that have occurred in London during the ages. We just couldn't find it - it was meant to be at London Bridge so that's where we headed. We walked down, along, round, found the exit, then the entrance and went in. It's an interactive experience and started with us walking down a dark corridor. There was a loud train noise and the front of a train lit up - and made us all jump. Not sure what that was about but then we moved into a room that charted the 2000 year history of the bridge. A really good display including a piece of timber thought to be from one of the first structures built by the Romans. Apparently it had been found in someone's attic which initially seems like quite a dubious claim but after having visited the Baths in Bath which were buried and built upon for nearly 1000 years I am thinking that anything is possible in this country. All too soon we were herded from the history room into a workshop with a cadaver laid out on a bench. The guide then chopped the head off the cadaver which made us all jump. He talked about heads being out on pikes and then placed on London Bridge. We heard about the Great Plague and the curse of the rats and saw a live rat in a giant cage in the workshop. The rat was absolutely huge. We next had to run - run along a wobbly bridge with buildings on either side 'burning', audio of fire roaring, people screaming and we were experiencing one of the many fires on London Bridge. For hundreds of years the Bridge had many timber buildings on it and seem to regularly go up in fire - one fire started at either end and killed 3000. We ended up in a new setting which was a London street frequented by Jack the Ripper - Zed and I were looking at each other trying to work out this thin tenuous link with the Bridge.

Stage 2 of London Experience was experiencing the horrors and evils that have occurred throughout London's history. Basically any excuse to come up with a reason to scare paying customers. It was a combination of wax models and people in character delighting in scaring us. There were things grabbing us, hitting us - and all through strobe lighting. We had to walk single file holding onto the shoulders of the person in front of us. We went past cages where people lunged at us, past someone wielding a chainsaw, through a mental hospital setting, a WWII setting. We also had to walk through two really narrow padded corridors. Because I had a backpack, side satchel, my handbag and a camera I actually wedged in the corridor and hand to re-arrange the bags to move through. I was in front of Sof which was a bonus as everyone eased up on the scare factor when she came along which worked in my favour. At one stage Bella had some ghoul grab her ankle which meant she let go of the person in front of her. She very politely said to the hand, "Sorry I have to go now" and the hand let go. She wasn't scared at all.

It was all a bit crazy and scary and the kids loved it. One of the ghouls with white face, black eyes and red dripping out of her mouth was outside having a fag and another 'ghoul' walked back in with a takeway drink - what a job, huh? I think the people who run it are very proud of it. The woman in the gift shop was keen to get our feedback and the manager came out and asked us what we thought of it all and what we thought of the new audio kits they had. Even the loo was designed to scare - the 'Jaws' theme playing - ho ho ho.

We walked outside and the kids wanted to go across the road to the 'London Dungeon' Experience. I put the kybosh on that and took them all down the road to the Winston Churchill WWII experience. After MT and the London Experience it was very low key. Watched a film about kids being evacuated during WWII and then went into the room filled with war memorabilia. Had a bunker and kids could play dress ups with gas masks, war uniforms, etc. My dad was a kid during WWII and it was a profound experience for him. Firstly being a boy in London during the war was a Grand Adventure - he told me one time he was leaning out the front window of his home counting all the German planes roaring above in the skies and counting the bombs they were dropping when his mum dragged him kicking and screaming into their backyard bunker. He and all the other boys from the Upminster Boys Choir were evacuated to a village in Devon. Fortunately it wasn't the Catholic Church so he and his fellow unattended minors had a safe, wonderful time. They lived in a farmhouse owned by a school teacher and it was a continuation of the Grand Adventure. The village had an orchard, butter, milk, food - basics that they just hadn't had in London.

After WWII we made our way along the Thames up to the new Globe Theatre. London city was established within walls but theatres were not allowed to exist within the city walls. Theatre and entertainment moved across the Thames to the other side and that's where the Globe was first established. The first one where our apartment is, burnt down. It was re-built, only to be destroyed years later by Puritans who thought theatre, music and general entertainment were the work of the devil. The current Globe, the third reincarnation, is the result of the efforts of an American actor. Going into this new Globe Theatre was unbelieveable. They have tried to be as faithful as possible to the original construction. This includes using timber nails, building the walls of lathe and plaster which includes goat hair. Because it is an open roofed theatre, they only have plays in the summer season. Zed and I would love to go to a play here. In keeping with the authenticity, where theatre was accessible for all, cheap standing room only tickets were available and today these can be purchased for just 5 pounds. Zed and Bella had a panorama app they were mucking around with. We went into the gift shop whilst a guide took them back into the theater to try and get the app to work. We waited and waited for Zed and Bella only to be told by the guide that they had left about 20 mins ago.

Waited a bit more and then went back to the apartment. No Zed but Bella and Sebastian were there. Sebastian was the shower guru and was trying to explain to me how I had to pull down a cord to re-set the shower and then press the button. I wasn't really paying attention as I was a bit worried about where Zed might be. Sebastian on a shower explanation roll tried explaining the reset and three second rule to the kids. I was trying to find out from Bella where Zed was when he turned up. He and Bella had come out of the Globe, didn't see us and assumed I had taken the kids next door to the Tate Modern. If only. Anyway we had all found each other and had our specific shower instructions. Day three in London and we are all in love with this beautiful city (except for its plumbing).

Zoran's Comments:

One of the things that becomes quickly apparent in London is the international nature of this city.  As we walk around it I hear Italian, Spanish, lots of French, American (or maybe Canadian), I see many people of Asian nations etc.  This is a city that the world comes to see and I can understand why.  Not only is it physically beautiful but its influence in the history of the world makes me think that it will remain one of the major tourist destinations for a very long time yet.

As an aside, whilst we were in London there were news reports that something like 55% of London's residents were born outside of the UK.  Perhaps a lot of the travellers I was noticing were in fact locals, no way to know for sure.
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Helen barker on

oh fee I'm loving your amazing blogs how much fun are you having !! the Harrods things was so normal,still don t trade on a sun til noon..haa then the queues are sooo long at the tills !! normal London life that .
I look fwd to see all the other blogs and appreciate all the work you re doing to keep us all informed ..happy travels sweetheart x x x

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