Monday, March 25, 2013

London + Snow = Almost Didn't Happen

My mommy was just in town! She's currently in Vienna spending the Easter holiday with my little sister, but until Sunday morning she was staying with us. It was great. We hung out, watched movies, relaxed, visited my in-laws...oh yeah, and took a trip into London.

Momma had asked ages before if we could head into London to hit up the Fashion and Textile Museum in Bermondsey on the off chance of getting into their Kaffe Fassett exhibition. I thought it looked pretty interesting, and I'm always up for an excuse to go to London, so I set up the whole trip. We'd use this site a friend recommended to get parking on the cheap that wouldn't require going through the congestion zone (or expensive train tickets). Then we'd walk to the conveniently close Fashion and Textile Museum, go from there on to lunch, and from lunch on to the Tate Modern. After that, we'd scuttle on over the Thames to take a lovely tour of the Tower of London before heading back to the car and home.

Erm...that didn't happen.

We woke up on Saturday morning ready to make track and get out the door early for our planned excursion into London for the day. I walked into the kitchen, drew up the blinds, and was shocked to see an inch of snow sitting on the ground and the sky thick with fat falling flakes.

'You've got to be kidding me!' I shouted from the kitchen.
'What's up?' asked the Husband. I told him to look out the window. Snow. Lots and lots of snow.

By this point, Momma and E were up as well and both expressing their respective surprise and indifference at the snow that was quickly carpeting every available surface. It took us some hemming and hawing - and the Husband doing some due diligence by checking the live traffic cam feeds on the BBC - but in the end we decided to give London a go anyway. With all the fun we'd planned, it wasn't worth letting a disturbingly forceful snowfall stop us.

As expected, the roads were absolutely fine once we were out of our close. And unexpectedly, we got to our parking spot in Bermondsey in about 90 minutes. Winning. We'd already adjusted our plans to include some shopping at the exclusion of the Tower of London. In the cold and wind and what, in London at any rate, were flurries by now, it wasn't worth all of the time we'd spend outside freezing our extremities and trying to entertain a cold and whinging baby. Shopping at least meant more time inside.

So with our plans changed that much already, it wasn't much more of a hassle to adjust them further to hit up the Tate Modern first. See...we'd neglected to check when the Fashion and Textile Museum opened, so it was still closed when we got there. Oops.

The Tate Modern was brilliant. We all had a fantastic time that included some raucous laughter in the galleries (me and Momma), some ecstatic running around (Ethan), and a bit of posing for pictures (the Husband).
Playing with string in the children's area

By this point, we'd worked up an appetite, so it was on to lunch at the first place I ate in London: the Founder's Arms. This little pub is adorable. Sure, it's part of a larger chain of pubs, and it's bound to be a bit tourist-tastic since it's right on the Southbank right next to the Tate Modern, but I love it. And the food was fantastic. And we had a great view of St. Paul's right across the Millennium Bridge. Did I mention the food was fantastic?

Having our first Capri Sun
Now was decision time. It seemed less efficient to go back to the museum and then head up to Oxford Street, so it was on to the shopping. We wandered in and out of several stores, the most memorable of which was Selfridges. When Momma said she hadn't gone in there in 30 years, that pretty much settled matters for me: we were going in. I got some lovely make-up (deets to follow!) and we all just enjoyed being in such a huge and posh department store.

After a bit more wandering and shopping, we made our way back on the Tube. This trip included a lot of firsts for E: his first time in London, his first fish & chips at a pub, and his first ride on the Tube! Considering the Husband and I both spent at least part of our uni years in London, these firsts all felt really cool to me.

We did some sightseeing of Tower Bridge and City Hall on our way back to the car. Alas, the whole catalyst for our trip - the Kaffe Fassett exhibition - got lost in the shuffle of the day's schedule. I wish we'd had the time to see it, but even having missed out the day was chock full as it was, and plenty of fun besides.

The whole day may not have gone according to plan, but it was all fantastic. We had a quick trip in and brilliant, cheap parking. Even in the rubbish wintery weather, all the walking we did was manageable, and generally through fun parts of London to see. I'm currently missing Borough Market and Southwark Cathedral. We had loads of fun in the Tate Modern and got some goodies from the Gift Shop (cue angelic music). Lunch was in a nice warm pub with a Thameside view, and then we went on to do shopping on Oxford Street. Sure, any sightseeing was done in between locations and was relatively incidental, but we enjoyed what we got to see and had a fantastic time doing it. The snow may have thrown us for six, but this trip to London is one of the best we've had. When do I get to go back!?

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