Tuesday 25 October 2022


Obligatory tourist shots from the nation's capital. I took the two younger urchins who were quite frankly rather snappish at times. We went to the Tower of London where we had the option of a guided tour. The middle boy said we had a guide book and didn't need such a thing, then proceeded to hurtle round it at the speed of light, not opening the book once. 

After we left an argument broke out and I had a Moment, explaining how, as I normally work most of the weekend I had mistakenly thought it would be wonderful to finally have a day off and go somewhere lovely with my wonderful children BUT IN FACT IT WAS ALL COMPLETE HORROR. Then we all settled down for a bit and went in search of the boat I had booked us on to. 

We ended up at the wrong quay, but in some quite miraculous way the littlest boy led us through a couple of marinas, past fancy boats and fancy restaurants in a most unpromising direction and, presto, we were at the right one.

Then after the boat, we walked for about three hours without stopping. The middle boy, whose legs are very long, strode off, directing us here, there and all over the shop. The littlest boy and I stomped along behind with me weakly suggesting coffee or a cake or AT LEAST A SIT DOWN FOR TWO MINUTES. The middle boy said that he had sat down all the way there and would sit down all the way back and he most certainly did not need to sit down while he was there.

In the end I forced him to sit down on a bench type thing (maybe a planter...) outside of the Ivy Market Grill in Covent Garden. There was lovely violin music drifting over from the market and we had sandwiches and it was almost like we were actually in the Ivy for the three and a half minutes we were there.

My best bit was when we popped into the National Gallery to use the loos and one of their staff asked us if we were looking for a particular painting. I said in fact, we were just looking for the exit. He pointed us in the right direction but said that as we were there, we could just look at a particularly wonderful painting. He described where it was, and then (maybe saw me looking a bit vague, I honestly can't find things, ever) he said he would take us himself. 

He proceeded to show us Leonardo da Vinci's the Virgin of the Rocks and talked about it with such knowledge and passion. It honestly made my day and I'll remember it for a very long time. 

The littlest boy's best bit was the hot dog I bought him right at the end when I realised that I had actually managed to go the whole day without buying him a tacky souvenir. To be honest, I think he had just lost the energy to campaign for one.

On the coach home in the dark, two women and a man, probably in their sixties, sat at the back rather loudly gossiping the whole way home. It was utterly fascinating and completely impossible not to listen, with nothing to look at and no energy for conversation of my own. Later on, the littlest boy said to me, 'There was a woman on the coach who said such and such.' It made me laugh that he had listened to it all as well. I said, 'I know. And what was Desmond thinking???' I suspect half the coach was wondering that too. Made all the more delicious because everyone was local. 

How are tricks at your end? All good I hope. CJ xx


  1. It sounds like a wonderful family day out. Hurrah for the National Gallery staff; it's such a wonderful place to visit. I love the Tower of London too - all that history makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Well done for avoiding the tacky souvenirs; no mean feat! :O) xx

  2. Glad to see that apart from one or two hiccups you had an enjoyable day and good weather.
    The 'entertainment' for the journey home was a bit different!
    Still okay here, and plotting on as usual. xx

  3. Oh that coach journey must have been hysterical and glad it made you laugh after a curious day. One I’m sure you will laugh about in years to come even if you felt like crowning eldest at the time. Oh The Virgin of The Rocks. My that takes me back many many years ago to an art appreciation class I had at the age of fifteen. I can still smell the aroma of the art classroom with the curtains closed and the slide projector whirring. We had a wonderful teacher at the time that brought art alive. He did a session on renaissance painters in particular Leonardo. He spent ages talking about The Virgin Of The Rocks. When I saw it for real at the National Gallery it gave me goosebumps. B x

  4. Oooh I do love to listen in to a loud and interesting conversation, it is so hard isn't it. It sounds like it made the journey much more interesting. I love that it was all local people, hope you bump in to some of those mentioned soon!

    It sounds like it was a whirlwind visit around London, it is so hard to meet everyones needs as our children grow and have very definite minds of their own. It looks like you had wonderful weather.

  5. Loving your Big City news. I honestly welled up a bit at the guy in the gallery - there are some lovely people out there! Jo xx

  6. Travelling with teenagers! I felt I was almost there with you, and shared that Moment with you. And Desmond, I wonder what he is up to now. The joys of "shared" conversations, a window into other people's lives. I am glad that you got away for a bit, even though it was somewhat challenging. The museum guard sounds like a wonderful kind of man. Have a lovely, lovely rest of the week xx

  7. Hmmm, Desmond? 🤭 I really like the top photo and the I had to zoom in on the monkeys to check if they were real. I’d like to see a few of those around Hungerford

  8. Sounds like an exhausting day - I wonder why people talk so loudly maybe a hearing issue. Iy is amazing what you hear though. Even more intriguing is when someone is speaking loudly into a mobile and you only hear half the converstaion.

  9. I loved your stories about the Big Apple. To be honest, the man in the gallery made me feel a little bit sad.