My plan for Friday morning was to get up and go to the Wellcome Collection on Euston Road (Euston Road tube or indeed Euston Station – Wellcome Collection is free to get into). Then I found out that most of the exhibits are now shut because major renovations are taking place.
Then I had a genius idea.
Food is always a winner, as you know, and we are only a few stops from Borough Market, which is entirely made of food, and open on a Friday. (Top tip. For Borough Market, do not get off at Borough tube station. Get off at London Bridge and save yourself a ten minute walk).
We dragged Jason, who is not really very food oriented, along, sat him on a bench, poked a cup of coffee in one hand and a croissant in the other, and then ran off amongst all the food stalls, shouting with glee.
He was happy. We were happy. We tested lots of things. Constant testing is important, as you will know, if you spend any time with us at all. We also did some serious cake eating. I was particularly enamoured of a very fine salted caramel eclair which I managed to shove into my face in a matter of seconds.
We walked off the eclairs in the surrounding vicinity. I bought some very nice hand wash in a ridiculously posh shop called Aesop. I bought it because, despite the shop being ridiculously posh, i.e. having fourteen products in a shop the size of my house, and no prices on anything, the man in charge was nice to me, and nice to my children, and the hand wash stuff makes me smell like carrot cake.
Which is good.
After that we headed back over the river to see The Grant Museum of Zoology. Long term readers might recall that we attempted to get in here three times last year, and every time we went, it was shut. I began to feel that this was a sign that might be an omen. I did not want to be beaten though.
I’m glad I persevered. The museum rocks. It is only small, and it is mostly just full of pickled animals and skeletons, but it is very old fashioned and extremely brilliant. I loved everything about it. The children loved everything about it. We spent ages in there, poking around the exhibits and thoroughly enjoying ourselves. Cool things about the Grant Museum of Zoology are as follows:
- It is free to get into
- It is part of University College London so it is housed in an very cool building, and is full of students, doing research and actually working, so it feels useful and alive.
- Someone has knitted woollen entrails for some of the animals. This is beyond cool.
- They have some very weird animals that you probably never knew existed before.
- They have a balcony of books above you, and some skeletons hanging out in the book stacks, just for fun. You have to admit that’s pretty cool.
- You can adopt one of the pickled animals for a year. It’s £20 for a family or £15 for an individual, and you get your name on a little plaque next to the animal. YAY!
If you want to go and find all this out for yourself you can visit from Monday to Friday 1-5 p.m. (Euston Square tube).
After we were done with the pickled animals we went round the corner to the Petrie Museum, also part of UCL, also free, also open Monday to Friday 1-5 p.m.
The Petrie Museum holds the Egyptology collection of Flinders Petrie, one of the big names in Egyptian exploration and archaeology back in the hey day of pyramid fever. Unlike the British Museum, which is rammed to the rafters with people taking photos of mummies, the Petrie Museum is rather quiet, and rather lovely, and full of equally impressive things.
It is tiny, but we still spent a good hour in there. If you are interested in jewellery finds I would recommend it highly. They have some suitably shiny cases of glorious beads and the most stunning circlet in gold and silver with shiny leaves and such delicate work you can hardly believe it’s thousands of years old.
As we were round the corner, we also popped into the Wellcome Collection, even though it was mostly shut, because the tea room is excellent, the gift shop is even excellenter, and we wanted to use the loo.
Next stop was lunch. We revisited the fantastic Italian restaurant we found last year with our friends Keith and Noreen on Lambs Conduit Street; Ciao Bella. Even Jason, who is incredibly hard to please in the food line, said this was lovely, and that he would be happy to eat there again. You heard it here first guys.
It’s delicious. And it’s real and proper Italian food, cooked and served by real and proper Italians.
I popped into Persephone Books, because you know I have to. This time I bought; Lady Rose and Mrs. Memmary by Ruby Ferguson, on the recommendation of a blogging friend, Alex, over at Odd Socks and Pretty Frocks. I am so looking forward to reading it. Getting a new book is always an excitement. Getting a new Persephone book is even more thrilling.
Because yes, I am that sad.
We rolled down the road to Coram Fields and let the children run around in the late afternoon sunshine. Jason pushed them on the swings and hurled them down the zip wire, while I dozed off my lunch.
After an hour we decided to head on over to the South Bank, because we really hadn’t done enough in one day.
We let the children run around in the water sculpture outside the Southbank Centre. It’s called ‘Appearing Rooms’ by a Danish artist called Jeppe Hein. The jets of water shoot up to form walls and rooms which appear and disappear in sequence and you are totally allowed to get drenched and run through it to your heart’s desire.
The children and I go there quite often, so I had packed towels in case we headed that way. Other people weren’t so lucky and there were a lot of squishy foot prints leading from it, and quite a lot of shrieks as brave but stupid people stood in the wrong places when the jets shot up. Jason and I enjoyed watching them quite a lot.
We visited Beanotown after this, a new thing for Summer 2013, it’s under the Queen Elizabeth Hall on the South Bank. It was a bit tatty when we went, and although there were things to do, it didn’t hold the children’s attention for too long. It certainly isn’t worth a revisit this week, although the door mat that makes fart noises kept us entertained for a good ten minutes.
If you want to visit the South Bank in the next week or two, the summer beach is still there, and there is a new installation, which is a series of small gardens in which the various businesses and organisations on the South Bank are growing fruit and veg in gardens improvised from recycled doors and windows, which was fun to wander about in. There is also a play area outside the Hayward Gallery which we had fun in.
Finally we stopped at the Real Food Market at the back of the Royal Festival Hall and got freshly made crepes drizzled with Nutella and/or maple syrup.
It was a sticky end.
In the best way.