We go into London at least once a week and often twice for a mommy school adventure. We have seen and done so much. I never take my big camera and have tried to always snap a picture or two with my phone. I love these days. Emmeline is at school from 9 to 3 on Wednesdays so we try to schedule our field trips then. I love being able to just concentrate on the big kids (with little mellow peter tagging along in the stroller or beco). We learn so much together. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I don’t think I’d enjoy going to these places as much on my own as I do going with these kids. Sure, there are moments when no one is happy, but mostly I feel like because they’re with me and I’m “teaching” them things I pay so much more attention. Their curiosity and wonder at the world rubs off on me as we all soak in the world around us.
Here we are a the tower of London. We paid to go to the Tower Bridge Experience (ohhh, impressive name) which meant that we could walk along the top part of the bridge (with pretty obstructed views) and learn about bridges from all over the world. It was pretty cool but I'm not sure if it was wroth the money. Our walk aback over the bridge with the rest of the pedestrians had a much better view and beautiful fresh air. The “experience” did get us into the engine room where we learned about how they lower and raise the bridge. Charlie was in heaven walking through this exhibit. He has really been listening to all of Jeff's explanations of engines and motors. He was a great little tour guide through the place. I didn’t really trust what he was telling me about pistons and hydraulic force and the suck squeeze bang blow of the engines to be totally accurate, but then I read the little plaques and he was mostly spot on. I still have a hard time wrapping my head around all that, but his brain is built like his dads. I loved seeing him get so excited about it all. Hazel really started to get it once there was a hands on little model of how it worked and she could work it manually. I love learning about how my children learn and what they are interested in. That same day we also climbed the 313 steps to the top of the London Monument built to commemorate the Great Fire of London in 1666 which started right on the street where the monument now stands. The view from the top was spectacular. Especially now that London feels so familiar to us. It’s always nice to see things from above. These pictures were taken at the V&A Museum of Childhood. It’s an awesome museum full of toys from throughout the ages and some cook hands on stuff. It’s super easy and quick to get there from our house, and it’s free, so we’ve been a few times. They always have some fun story times going on, or crafts that the kids get into. It’s always so nice not to do those kinds of crafts in a place where you don’t have to set up or clean up, just participate with your kids and enjoy. I think one of my favorite field trips so far was visiting the Foundling Museum in London. I think I might have written about it in another post, but boy, that was a perfect little museum. Super heart wrenching to read about all those penniless women who had to give up their children in order to survive. They have all kinds of papers and artifacts and letters that really make the crisis of orphans and street children in Victorian England come to life. Amy (my best friend from childhood) met up with us this day and she and I were in tears as we went through most of the exhibit. I think what really did me in were the tokens left with abandoned children by their mothers who hoped that one day, when they were back on their feet, the token would help them be reunited. There was also a letter there that children were given when they left the Foundling Hospital at the age of 12 to go and work. I want to find a copy of that letter to give to my kids, it was awesome. All about how they should work hard and say their prayers and be grateful.
The museum was set up in a way that it was interesting for adults, but also captivating for children. The kids had little trails to help them stay engaged and upstairs there was a beautiful room full of huge paintings (the Foundling Hospital was the first public art gallery in London) and a whole rack of dress up clothes so that children can act out the foundling stories they had just heard. And, on the third floor was a quiet room where you could read about and listen to the music of Handel. He was a big political and financial supporter of the Foundling Hospital. I highly recommend this museum if you’re in London. I want to go back. We’ve taken quite a few mommy school field trips into the woods by our house. Knighton Wood is just around the corner from us is part of the Epping Forest and it’s a classroom in itself. We’ve gone there with sketch books in hand to try to identify plants and trees and wildlife (ok, we only did that once, I wish we’d do it more often) and we’ve been there a lot to collect things. Signs of spring, symbols of Easter, leaves to sort and classify, worms and snails to observe and dissect. I love that place. Peter is pretty content to watch these crazy kids from his buggy. One day we went into Trafalgar Square and visited St Martin in the Fields. The organ was even being played while we were there so we sat to listen for a little bit before going into the crypt to make brass rubbings. The kids were really into it. I thought it was sort of a rip off….6 pounds for a piece of black paper and the use of a gold crayon and a raised brass picture to rub? The kids sure thought it was worth it though, and because they knew it was pricey, they took it very seriously and did a really great job. Here we are at the Museum of Childhood again. Above the kids were delighted to find the Narnia room (we’ve been reading through the Narnia chronicles). And below, the kids were acting out a very involved drama where they were witches and warlocks and Peter was an important ingredient in their magic brew.
What I don’t have pictured in this post are all the moments where everyone is melting down at once - Charlie is freaking out about getting on or off the train at just the right time (we had one kind of scary experience where the stroller got caught in the tube door and ever since then he has been overly vigilant and seriously anxious anytime we get on the tube), no one has had lunch because we’ve been so wrapped up in what we are seeing, Hazel is whining being too hot, the kids are fighting over who gets to rid the scooter and poor Peter whimpers every once in a while because he has been deprived of sleep and food and a nappy change.
But , while it’s not always a pretty picture, I’m happy that I have the Eyre curse of having to make the most of every minute, because there is so much to see and do here, and so little time! I know one day (soon) I will look back on these field trips and long for them. I learn so much with my kids around, they help me see the world with new eyes and I love that.