Today’s post has been written by my wonderful wife (mother of my children, light of my life etc etc). She wrote it off her own back (no begging from me!) so I jumped at the opportunity to post it here – the mood doesn’t take her very often, so I’m making the most of it! Here goes…
We’re going on a bear hunt. We’re going to catch a big one. What a beautiful day. We’re a little bit scared…
Today I took the children to London on the train (and underground!) for Freddie’s first theatre experience – and Robert’s third (his previous two were Christmas pantomimes, so hardly ‘theatre, darhling’). We were going to watch ‘We’re going on a bear hunt’ (suitable for 3 years and up) at the Lyric Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue. This was part of the brilliant initiative of Kids Week where during August (i.e. summer holidays for kids) kids go free when an adult pays full price to most West End productions. So much choice to be had but I think mine could be too young for some of the ones I wanted to go to see.
In preparation for the trip we had been reading the book every other night for a while. This had varying degrees of success. Robert had studied the book at school, but was still a little wary at first, until he realised he could read it to Freddie himself and show off. Freddie, on the other hand, cried and pushed the book away before we had even got opened the first page. But we battled on and by the end of the book he was alright, I wouldn’t say enjoying it, but at least he was quietly attentive. So it was with much trepidation that we set off this morning. How on earth was I going to let Robert enjoy the show but take Freddie outside and calm him down?
The train journey went well; I am always surprised at how much fun can be had with the pull-down table on the chair in front! We played I-Spy and had some good wholesome arguments over who was to sit next to the window. After last week’s trip with the buggy, I decided to use the LittleLife carrier leant to us by Aunty Lucy and Uncle Neil. Freddie is heavy but it was much easier to navigate the underground, although I did look a bit of a tit carrying Freddie on my back and a rucksack on my front. Robert now knows his left and right from standing on escalators as commuters coughed behind him when he strayed to the ‘wrong side’. We were doing so well, we exited through the Bakerloo underground ‘Shaftesbury Avenue’ sign. And then promptly got lost. The underground could do with a signpost immediately out of them so that harried parents can see them, rather than relying on finding the street signs and turning in circles annoying everyone around them. I had to ask for directions (Henry will know how hard that was for me!). Luckily we were just on a parallel street so we arrived quickly at the theatre.
Theatres look horribly unimpressive during the day from the outside. There was an element of ‘vintage chic’ about the Lyric. There was a massive queue for the buggy park so I smugly walked passed and straight into the theatre. Once inside the grandeur of the theatre was evident. Having been brought up going to see plays, musicals and operas for my music studies I had booked seats in the dress circle, bang in the middle. And I was right – we had the best seats in the house. Much entertainment was had by the flippy seat (see pull-down table reference earlier). Eventually the lights go down and we’re off. Freddie is on my lap by now and his mouth is open. We can hear the action, but the actors are walking up through the stalls, which was the one downside of the dress circle. But once on stage, we are in perfect position to see all the action, even with tall mummies in front of us. The show is brilliant, catchy songs, water fights, mud painting and a snowstorm to boot. Freddie didn’t cry once, he sat still and enjoyed every minute of it. He only wanted a cuddle twice, other than that he was happy watching this live TV show. Robert got involved. He never gets involved, he always waits to see what other children are doing before doing it himself. But that’s how good this show is, he was immediately at ease. I wondered how they were going to make this short book into a 55 minute performance, but they managed it with a lot of repetition and audience participation. I would say that children up to the age of 8 or 9 would enjoy this show.
To make a day of it we headed across the road to the Rainforest Cafe for lunch. There was unsurprisingly a massive queue but we got a table right next to two elephants which Freddie kept pointing to throughout the meal. It’s quite expensive; you are definitely paying for the scenery and decoration and not the food. Every 30 minutes a thunderstorm occurs, there is an aquarium and frog called ChaCha which comes around your table to get a picture taken with your kids. Lots of kids were there and many were enjoying the experience. Robert decided on meatballs and spaghetti, so Freddie had to have the same. When it arrived, Robert decided he didn’t like the tomato sauce, I can’t say I blame him, it wasn’t great and the spaghetti was congealed on the plate. The meatballs were alright but doused in sauce. Freddie ate the meatballs only and that was hard work. He’s at THAT stage. I had a chicken caesar salad, which consisted of romaine lettuce, croutons and parmesan cheese with caesar dressing. Luckily I added chicken or it would’ve been the most boring salad ever. Robert had jelly, ice cream and smarties and Freddie had a banana and icecream concoction for dessert. All this for 50 squid – London prices, London prices. I wish I’d taken a packed lunch or gone across the road to Jamie’s Diner at least I’d have gotten good food for London prices.
Things I have learnt today:
1. Trains are fun and there’s lots to spy.
2. We will go back to the theatre again when another age appropriate show is on.
3. London is expensive.
4. London is tiring.
5. I can take my children for a day out and we can have fun together BY MYSELF and we SURVIVED and NO ONE GOT LOST …well only slightly…