Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Of Riots and Trains and Wonderful Days

Day 2

An early morning for us both as we slept from around 9:00pm until 8 in the morning. The day before had worn us down significantly. Saturday was going to be an exciting day for two reasons. One was that we were going on the London Eye and the second big deal was Declan was going to meet his Great-Grandma for the first time.

Heading to the tube at Victoria Station Declan stated to get excited about the idea of being on trains. We quickly developed a strategy for getting us both through the gates since they required me to carry him through. I would give him the Oyster Card and he would scan us through. It was great teamwork and he was so happy to be helping. A quick jaunt to Embankment and we got out to a large crowd with placards, flags and buttons. Apparently we had just found ourselves in the middle of the largest protest to hit London since 2003.

We naively continued on our way across the bridge to the Eye amidst loud groups of people and roving bands with drums shouting slogans. We arrived at the Eye, checked in and thankfully there was not a terribly long line. Once on the Eye we stood at the one end of the pod and watch London rise before our eyes. It was gloomy out which we expected and all of our pictures show the fog that was in effect that day, but we really enjoyed the half hour just watching out the windows. Declan even said at one point, “I can see the whole world Daddy!”. Not the first time he would say it on the trip but definitely one of the cutest.

Once we were done it was time to make our way to Charing Cross Station so that we head to Sidcup. However, once we arrived at the footbridge to cross the Thames we were met with a police barricade and the information that the bridge was closed and that we would have to walk to Waterloo Bridge to get across. It wasn’t worth the extra walk so I decided that we could just go to Waterloo Station and get on the train from there. In hindsight I am glad that I did. I saw some pictures of the Victoria Embankment on the news and it was absolute bedlam. I don’t know how Declan would have handled that.

I have been to Sidcup for three stays over the past 10 years and it hasn’t changed at all in that time. The walk from the Station to my Grandmother’s took about 20 minutes and Declan just spent that time walking on grass and low garden walls.

Upon arrival at my Grandmother’s she was waiting at her door at the end of the hallway and Declan ran to her and gave her a hug. Probably the most heartwarming part of the whole trip. This trip was originally planned as an opportunity for Declan to meet her and he was amazing with her. We also were joined by my cousin Rhiannon who I met once when she was about 3 months old. It was truly great to be able to catch up with my Grandmother and meet Rhiannon as an adult. Declan took to them both immediately and spent a good portion of the time exploring “Great-Grandma’s flat”.

I have only really seen my Grandparents on a handful off occasions over my life as they have lived either in England or Australia for the entirety of it, but I can honestly say that I have always felt calm around my Grandmother. I find that she exudes calm and even when she is cross never really raises her voice. I have always found her presence to be comforting and I see that my son picked this up immediately as well. I will always treasure that afternoon.

We had a nice light lunch and spent the afternoon in conversation. I was able to log into Skype and have a call with Andrea at her parent’s house and Grandma was able to see Rhys sleeping in his bed there which she seemed to really enjoy.

It had been a long day and we decided to head home around 5ish. We had watched the news and found out that parts of the West End had actually experienced some good old fashioned rioting so we decided to forgo the regular route and had Rhiannon drive us to Dartford so that we could take a train directly to Victoria Station. Good idea in the end I think.

We ended the night at a restaurant called Giraffe where we had a short meal because Declan was so incredibly tired. He started to get a bit fussy, which I can’t blame him for and decided that he was not happy with the pasta that they brought him. We ate a bit and then just went home and crawled into bed. We watched Wall-E for about 5 minutes and he was out like a light. What a great day.

TOMORROW: Bluewater Mall to meet more family.

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