Tuesday, May 24, 2011

To the Tower with Him

We were coming into the homestretch on our trip and I was beginning to really miss home. Declan had a couple of nights where he was really tired and while we were laying in bed together he cried that he missed his Mummy and his Rhys and that he wanted to go home. I explained that we would be going home soon and he would calm down and eventually drift off to sleep.

Skype had been a lifesaver throughout the trip. Andrea and I talked almost every day online and Declan was able to see her and Andrea’s parents on more than one occasion which I am sure helped.

We had a big sleep in on Wednesday morning and eventually decided to get our day going. It was probably the crummiest day that we had, weather-wise, but we decided that we were going to go to Tower Bridge and the Tower of London for a few hours.

When we got out off the tube at Tower Hill we were able to see the Bridge as well as the Tower grounds. Declan was immediately impressed with the “Castle”. We walked along the Thames toward the bridge and up toward the bridge deck. The breeze on the bridge was pretty strong and a bit cool but we soldiered on toward the museum area. Before we arrived Declan saw the Tower again and looked like he really wanted to be there instead. I asked him which he would prefer; going up to the top of the bridge or going into the “Castle”? The castle it was.

It had been about 8 years since I had been to the Tower area and it has completely changed since I was there last. We made our way to the booking area to get our tickets and then went through the entrance gates.

I have to admit I never had a real desire to go into the Tower grounds as I didn’t really feel it would be that interesting. I was wrong. The Tower of London was incredibly impressive. My only complaint? Too many stairs! The place is a warren of stairs and passages and I swear that Declan wanted to climb every one of them. We were up and down throughout the whole grounds. He loved it! I loved it! I even got a picture of Declan sitting on Henry VIII’s garderobe!

We did a quick jaunt through the building that houses the Crown Jewels and Declan pretty much just ran through it all. He wasn’t interested in seeing tiaras and rings and baubles. That’s okay though we just ran around pretty much.

I love to see the history of things like the Traitor’s Gate (which to Declan was just a huge wishing well) and the graffiti that is on the walls inside some of the buildings. They house some intricate carvings that were made by some of the most famous political prisoners in history. It was great to get an up close look at these.

I actually found out later that my Grandfather used to take his lunch break strolling along the Thames the same way Declan and I did. When my Grandmother told me this I felt a connection to him that was really powerful. We were walking in his steps even if they were from 30 years ago. I don’t have a ton of memories of my Grandfather (Grumpies) but he was always a large presence in the background of my upbringing: Primarily when we were out of hand and his name was invoked to explain what would have been done if we were his kids.

In speaking of him with my Father and Uncles over the years there has always been a sense of wonder about him. This was a very human part of his life that my Grandmother shared with me. I was incredibly grateful for it.

Once we left the Tower it was a quick jaunt over to St. Paul's. I wanted Declan to see the Church as it is such an icon in the London skyline. It was spitting out slightly so we didn’t stay too long. We sat on the steps and had a quick drink and then I let Declan have a run around the Churchyard so that he could chase the pigeons. He was in heaven (excuse the expression) and I watched him actually chase the pigeons into a group of school kids which made me laugh.

We had an extremely full day and decided to call it a night a bit earlier than normal. This was primarily because we were going to have one more full day of fun before we had to pack up and get ready for the flight home.

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