Thursday, March 29, 2012

34 things to do in London with Kids (when school is on strike!) - Part 1

Well, since the school was on strike today, I agreed to take Duncan and Kaseem from Finchley into central London for a day of 'educational activities' (actually, we were going off to the arcade to play video games and bumper cars.... but that is pretty educational, right?)

There were of course other adventures on the way there! (to make sure my own brain got fed)...and on the tube coming home (8 hours later), Kaseem counted something like 30 things we did today.  Let's see if I can remember them all. 

eating treats beside the post office

1. We took a stroll down the High Road from our place to Mr. Simm's Sweetshop for a bit of nutritional sustenance. 

Duncan went for the Rocky Road Chocolate Bar, Kaseem got a monstrous lollypop that ended up in most of our photos for the day (keep looking for it!).
2. Then we headed off to the post office to mail some letters using the groovy automated machine.

That was followed by adventures in public transport:

Sitting at the front of the bus
  3. We caught the 125 bus at Tallyho Corner (what a great name!) and got seats at the top of the front deck ......

4. ......then we picked up the Northern Line at Central Finchley......

waiting for the tube in the sun

blow dry, anyone?

5.then transfered to the Central Line, which meant wandering through a maze of tunnels.

The boys discovered that parts of some of those tunnels are so windy that you could blowdry your hair just standing there!  It made us think about people hiding out in the tube stations during the war.

6. We exited the underworld at Holborn Station, and spent some time looking at miniature guitars replicas in a shop window. 

Here the question was whether the best guitar was from Kiss, Slayer, or the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
7. Investigated some public art.  We saw the "Chain of Events" by Peter Randall-Page... which is the thing that looks like painting on the wall behind the boys.  It is two kinds of stone, inlaid!  ...Portland Stone and Black African Granite. They are sitting on another piece of art:  I thought it looked like some kind of larvae, but the boys nickenamed it "The Dumpling".... one block away we walked past a restaurant with the same name.  how wierd was that?!  (later, i found out it is by the same artist and called "Beneath the Skin")

8. Saw a lot of nude scultpures in a shop window across from the museum, and discovered that greek athletes did their sports while naked.  Duncan and Kaseem think it would be safer to do wrestling with your clothes on! 

9. Admired the front of the British Museum, and noticed all the gold leaf at the top

drinking horn, anyone?
 10. We looked at the giant drinking horns from the Sutton Hoo exhibit.

 11. We went to a 'Hands On' exhibit, where the boys got to touch objects that were over 800 years old! 

touching 800 year old objects

They saw part of an old purse, a floor tile with a fleur-de-lys on it, and got to hold the front part of an enameled chalice Reliquary (for putting parts of old dead saints in).  It was a flat piece of metal decorated with vivid colours and gold. We learned that to get the gold parts, they mixed gold flakes with mercury, then fired it in a kiln. The mercury evaporated leaving the gold (and poison to breath for the people doing the job).  Because the job was so dangerous, and people doing it were likely to die, the curator told us that they gave the job to women.  Yikes!  The boys said they were glad they were boys (even though they also remembered that the boys sometimes had to go to war).  I said patriarchy was replicating itself before my eyes! :-)

Kaseem loves the dragon statue

12. (well really #12 to #22, because we saw so much stuff next!).  The boys noticed the portrait of King George overhead, so we headed over to his library (the Enlightenment Room) to see the kinds of things a King looks at when he 'goes to school'.

The boys made a big list of things the cool things they they saw. It included a marble head of Hercules (found at the base of Mount Vesuvius), stuffed animals (even a platypus!), the jaw of a mastadon, shark teeth, an elephant's foot, a huge amonite, crystals, egyptian statues, and more.

Duncan loves the bowl

I told them each to pick one thing in the room to get a photo with:  here are two of their choices.

I will say I had fun watching the boys run through the room trying to identify (or guess) the names of the Greek Statues.  I was impressed with their knowledge of Greek mythology... i don't remember knowing the stories as well when I was  a kid!  

23. The Enlightenment room also has a replica the copy of the rosetta stone, the one you can put your hands on. Even if it is not 'the real thing', the copy was made in 1801, so it is still pretty cool to get your hand on it!

....more from our Strike Day in the next post.... [click here]

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