London Thu Dec 6 - Day 6

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

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Flag of United Kingdom  , England,
Thursday, December 6, 2012

Fiona's Comments:
We are all still tired and jet lagged and I have given up trying to make the kids wash daily. It has proved too hard. However finally this morning we had a plumbing breakthrough. The apartment manager now wants to charge us for the the cost of calling in the plumber because s/he did not find any problem when pulling on the cord and pressing the button to start the shower. So things are tetchy. I went in to tackle the shower and still it didn't work. In frustration I thumped the delicate plastic unit and sort of just furiously shoved the button instead of press and hold for 3 seconds and lo and behold, it worked. Water came out scalding but hey what's a bit of a scald to no running water. Zed was skeptical when I told him how to make the shower work but it did when he tackled it as well.

Clean and happy we walked along the Thames, past the Globe and Tate Modern to the London Eye. We had a hilarious ride on the London Eye and it will forever be one of the humorous highlights of our trip. We all just still burst out laughing when we remember that little experience.We got a bus to Buckingham Palace just in time to see the changing of the guard. Initially we saw some guards walk in front of the palace and we all thought 'Hmmm that was it'? But then a row of guards, resplendent in hats and capes and on horseback rode past us. It was magnificent. Zed wandered off to take photos, the girls posed in front of the fountain for me to take photos and Nik wandered off to catch pigeons. Happy family times. We walked past St James Guards where the band was playing and onto a cute little building selling toy soldiers. We ended up spending over an hour in this tiny shop examining all the miniature soldiers. Other customers came and went and we remained. We met one customer who has about 100 models and only collects one brand because of their detailed work and reasonable pricing. He was just checking the soldiers out during his lunchtime. Wealthy Russians have become avid collectors and the retired lawyer who volunteers in the shop told us how one guy came in and spent 1,400 GBP on a couple of collections in just one visit.

Westminster Abbey was our next stop and again remarkable, overwhelming and a tad lost on the kids. I loved it but was a bit distracted trying to keep Bella going. Bella was struggling with a cold and all the kids are tired. Our meals are all over the place and when we finally left Westminster Abbey we stopped at a mobile food place at about 4pm and bought lunch. All a bit hit and miss. Bella perked up after our food stop. We made our way back to the apartment to rest before our evening outing. A school friend of Bella's loaned her the Smallville set of DVDs which she brought against my advice. TG (and I hope she doesn't read this) she ignored me and still brought the set along with her. It has proved a godsend as we just put on an episode and the kids zone out and rest.

A couple of episodes later we went out into the London nightlife and made our way back to Covent Gardens. We had splurged and bought tickets to The Lion King which is now the longest running West End musical. Remarkably for us, we got to the theatre well before time. To kill time we went to get a drink - toss up between a London pub and Starbucks next door and unfortunately Starbucks won as kids all wanted hot drinks rather than soft drinks. We were fortunate we ended up in Starbucks though as we met the two very proud mums of the two child actors in The Lion King. Both families came from Zimbabwe about eight years ago and love the UK and all the opportunities. They have their kids sitting scholarships to attend public (our private) schools and one had a son who was a bit of a whizz on the soccer field. The boy who plays the child Simba has also appeared as an extra in Captain America the movie. They were lovely mums so proud of their kids and every night take their kids into the theatre and then take them home after they have finished their parts. On Friday and Saturday night, the kids are allowed to stay to the end and take their curtain call. On weeknights they have to get home as soon as they finish on stage so they are not too tired for school the next day. The kids' schools have not made a big deal of these two remarkable kids winning a role in the musical - the mums said the schools want to keep the kids grounded. The kids have the roles for about 8 months and then new auditions for new kids.

That night Starbucks was crowded but over the last few days everyone has been encouraged to boycott Starbucks for not paying tax - and people have been avoiding Starbucks in droves. Through some tax loophole, it and other mulitnationals have been 'outed' for avoiding paying millions in tax. The joke is that the head of Starbucks UK said they would start paying the tax whilst other multinationals have said they have no legal obligation to pay this tax. If only tax payments could be as discretionary for all of us.

We were all on a bit of a high after meeting The Lion King mums, and then we went to the musical. It was stunning and when the giant elephant walked down the aisle at the start the wow factor just continued. In one scene, dancers came up wearing grass hat heads and swirling grass skirts and the fluidity of the costumes with their movements was breathtaking. It was a great finale to our time in London.

Zoran Comments: 

The apartment manager was audacious suggesting I should pay for their faulty shower.  Later on in this blog the mystery of the shower is solved but more on that later.  In the meantime I was tempted to do my block but held fast and kept things calm.

Fi mentioned the abbey, yes it is lost on the kids but not on me, this is the sort of thing that I can't see in Australia, it is what I looked forward to in London.  I constantly find myself trying to figure out how these places were built before machines, before cranes, before anything but man and muscle. Some serious architectural study is to be had when we get back home.
I fell asleep during the lion king.
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