I hate ( I know it’s too strong a word but I really do hate ) finishing any project or work in the last minutes before the deadline. I like knowing I have enough time and I am most creative when not under pressure.

Since we returned yesterday from our vacation ( Read here why I chose to fly a zillion mile when I don’t like flights anymore ), I have been sitting with my 9-year-old to finish his last homework for the summer holidays – a travelogue about the trip. The last 24 hours have been filled with whines of ” I am tired”, “I don’t want to write it” and “may I miss school on Tuesday?”. And yes, I have the most impatient irritable mother during this time. I know I have been adding to the negativity by saying ” I am exhausted”, ” I hate it when you do your work last minute”  and “Next time you better listen to me when I ask you to do your homework on time!”

However, when I sat down to read what he had written, I was so touched by his efforts and the part where he talks about the family as his best part of the trip. I realised that this was indeed a good chance to go through the memories of the trip, document it, get photographs printed etc. So something that started with “I hate it” is now turned into ” I love it”. So much and more changes for the better if you allow yourself to see things differently. Sharing Bir’s trip report below …

BEFORE THE TRIP

My family likes to travel a lot and we do lots of unplanned short trips often. This summer we had no plans of long holidays in Europe and then we did!

MY GRANDFATHER’S 85TH BIRTHDAY!

This summer, my maternal grandfather had his 85th birthday and we all wanted to make this a very special celebration. We did not want to celebrate with going out for lunches and dinners. Instead, we wanted to gift him the best holiday of his life! Though we all have been to various parts of Europe in the last 10 years, London has been my grandfather’s dream holiday. Even though I had been to London as a child, I do not remember anything about that trip. So, the family decided to go to London to celebrate.

ALL THE PLANNING FOR THE TRIP

By the time, we decided we really wanted to go for the trip this summer, it was already mid-May.  We had to anxiously wait for the Visa (which finally came 5 days before our journey date). There was a mad rush of packing, finding places to stay and organising all things. All four of us were super excited. Also, I had to make plans of the places to see and maintain the schedule of each day of the trip. This was a very important role as I had a to read up on websites and travel books to make these choices.

MY MUST DO THINGS IN LONDON

  1. Visit Big Ben
  2. See changing of guards and Buckingham Palace
  3. See animals in the London Zoo.
  4. See interesting things in the science museum
  5. Do cycling in Hyde Park
  6. Seeing the whole of London view in the Shard
  7. See the famous Lion King
  8. Visit LEGOLAND.
  9. Visit the National History Museum.
  10. See the Hampton Court

 

DURING THE TRIP

We reached London on June 21 2017evening and left on July 1 night. 

OUR THREE AMAZING HOME STAYS IN LONDON

As a family, we mostly stay in apartments and not hotels on our trips. Though I like the TV and ordering food in hotels, I also love making new temporary homes in these rented apartments. We always unpack the minute we reach also cook food and put our things in the apartment – as if we live there always. We also make meals sometimes and usually at night I stay with my Grandfather and be lazy while my parents go out to walk around the new city. Over the ten days in London, we stayed in three apartments in different parts of the city. The plan was to experience living in each area and also explore close by spots.

The first apartment was walking distance to the Queen’s home! However, it was the worst one. I don’t mean that it was an untidy house. It was very posh and luxurious. But, it wasn’t very nice. It lacked the feeling of a nice, bustling house. There was Big Ben to see, its bell ringing at each hour, then also there was the Changing of The Guards, which of course means Buckingham Palace, where the Queen lives.

The second apartment was very nice. It was next to the Hyde Park and the amazing Science Museum. It was simple but nicely arranged. It was very nice to hear and smell the food cook, and in the night, pull the sofa to make the sofa bed. The homeowner also had some interesting board games like “Dinner Games” which I enjoyed playing with my family. The first morning there we went walking to Hyde Park and had planned to hire tandem cycles but we were not able to get any cycle shop for tandems and also for kids. I was very disappointed. Anyways, I had lots of fun. Then, there was the science museum, in which there was a science shop, sections like WHO AM I and WONDERLAB. Wonderlab was very interesting. There were machines that had strings that could go faster and faster, and slower and slower. A mirror that showed you upside down! I enjoyed the science museum very much.

The third apartment was my favourite one. It was a bit grand but had a feeling that made you feel warm inside. I just loved it and hope I will come over there again. This is because

  1. I got to sleep alone in the drawing room [ to sneakily eat junk in the night]
  2. There was a chair I could rock up and down. It was very soothing.
  3. That is where my mother bought me the fidget spinners.
  4. I got a magical snow globe too.
  5. It was next to the Battersea Park where they had cycles for my height. Unfortunately, I found the cycle shop only on the last day.

SIGHTS WE SAW

 Since the first apartment was in Westminster, we walked to the Big Ben, Buckingham Palace and the St. James Park. The very first morning we saw the ceremony called the “Change of Guards” at the Palace. First, the Queen’s guards dressed in red would march around to Buckingham Palace and behind them, guards dressed in black followed. They would play the drums etc. and I think they exchanged guns. Buckingham palace was very beautiful though I did not go inside. We lazed around at the St. James Park and relished the sunny days in London. I went to the London zoo where there were tigers from India and giraffes. Then there was a hippopotamus, baby gorillas, lions, birds, penguins and lot others.

I went to the science museum twice! I saw lots of interesting things. On the ground floor, there was a shop that had all sorts of scientific things. For example, there was a telescope, bubbles that don’t burst and others. Further ahead there was lunch place and even further away, there is a place where they show the first car, spaceship, motor, train. On the first floor, there was a section about energy. Also, there was something called “WHO AM I”.In it, it showed the only white peacock in the world, our brain, a chimpanzee’s brain, even a rats! On the second floor, I did not really explore, though it did have another café and a place where you get to guess about metals. On the third floor, there was a section call WONDERLAB, which was totally amazing. It told you how electricity works, there was a mirror that showed upside down and lots of more interesting things. I did see National History Museum next to it. It was huge and we only saw the dinosaur section in detail. That was awesome – they looked very real and the place had a lot of information.

 I had wanted to do cycling in Hyde Park but was not able to do so. I did get to do cycling, but that was in the Battersea Park. But the thing was I only got to know that on the last day!

 I also went to the Shard, from which I could quite see the whole of London. It is a 95-storey skyscraper in London. There were free telescopes-high quality ones and helped me see the amazing views better. The interesting part was when you went in the lift, because of the speed, pressure would go into your ears!

I also saw famous musical, The Lion King, at the Lyceum Theatre.  People dress up in animal costumes and puppets and it was amazing. It attracted many people, and even though it was expensive, the money was worth it. Unfortunately, I was unable to see Legoland.

 FOOD WE ATE

In London, I did have lots of gelatos, and it was delicious. I knew London is close to Italy and there were trucks filled with gelato coming from there. Sometimes, I would have just one scoop, other times two scoops, and if lucky three scoops.

I also enjoyed eating a hot dog in St. James Park when we went to see the palace and meal at Nandos.

Most of the days we would eat at home as my Mom and Dad made something for us. The best was the frozen ready-to-bake Pizzas from Pizza Express and the Maggi Masala we carried from India. I ate that Pizza four times and it delicious, or I should say scrumptious! We also ate the famous Fish and Chips at the Borough market. 

PEOPLE WE MET

During this trip, we also visited two my mother’s friends. One of them was Pawan Uncle whom I have met many times. He has a small 4-year-old boy called Alex.I played a little with him and then had fun playing cricket with Pawan Uncle. He is very funny.

Then we met Deb uncle who lives in Wembley. I had never met him before. His son Diganta is 10 years old and very good at soccer. I had a lot of fun in their home. I was mostly goalkeeping, and the number of bruises I had after those…… groan. But I had lots of fun playing with Diganta’s fidget spinner, also playing a bit of cricket (though we had to give up when the balls got lost) and a teeny bit of badminton, though we stopped because it was getting dark and windy. But I still had sore arms and legs. 

FUN SHOPPING DAYS AND COOL GIFTS I GOT

Before leaving for London, I had bought some Pounds with my money (I always save when I get money from elders on birthday and festivals). I used that to splurge on shopping and I had lots of fun. I bought lots of nice things. One was a snow globe of the Eiffel tower, then there were three fidget spinners and a Smiggle scented sketch pen set too. We got a pranks box from Waterstones. And I also was allowed to buy 6 books during the trip. Diganta’s parents gave me some awesome chocolate boxes and amazing gifts like a toy car which climbs on the wall etc.

WHAT I ENJOYED MOST

In London, I enjoyed many things. But the thing I really liked was walking around to different places with my family. Otherwise, at home, my father is working, my mother is working too, and my grandfather reads the newspaper. This time in London I got to spend time with my family and enjoy their company throughout the day. That is what I enjoyed most. And I also loved the long hours of sunshine- the sunsets late around 10 pm and rises again at 4:30 a.m.!

AFTER THE TRIP

We came back home on July 2 morning. I am jetlagged and my body is exhausted with all the fun I had. However, all I have done since then is prepare this travelogue and give it the finishing touches. Hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed sharing it with you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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