Back in Britain

It was risky flying solo with the four boys, but they did surprisingly great.  We left Seattle around 11 am and flew direct to arrive the next morning at 9 am.  The boys didn’t sleep a wink again so they were all messed up.  We attempted to take a little nap once we reached the apartment.  I thought surely one of us would wake up in three hours time, but no.  We all slept nine hours and woke at 5 pm, right in time for Lynn to come home and crash from his jet lag from Asia.  We felt like walking zombies, taking nearly all week to get back on the time zone here, but eventually we got caught up.

How strange it felt to be back.  Familiar yet foreign.  My focus was getting the kids’ schoolwork back to normal.  It’s been so sporadic fitting it in when we can.  We still need our daily outings and made it to a few playgrounds and museums throughout the week.

Princess Diana Memorial Playground

The weather was surprisingly wonderful for this time of year so we ventured out to the parks daily to burn off the boys’ energy.  They love Hyde Park and the Princess Diana playground.


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My eye caught a familiar face, even though she didn’t have any makeup on–and sure enough we saw Adele and her little boy playing right next to us.  It was clear she didn’t want to be bothered.  Her body guard shooed away a curious man so we didn’t try.  But Tyler snuck a picture.  She was really sweet sitting right in the sand with her little boy.


Holland Park Adventure Playground

Our other favorite park is Holland Park because they have a unique playground for all ages.  No celebrity sightings here, but it was packed with plenty of people wanting to enjoy the outdoors.

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Tyler was excited to be back with his buddy here.  They discovered a ladder outside our front door in the ceiling that takes them up to the building’s rooftop.  They felt like James Bond, climbing across the building tops.  He and Cade had some friends over to play guitars up there one night under the stars and looking out at the city lights.

British Library

On Saturday, we decided to check out the British Library.  I was hoping we could get library cards and check out some books for the kids.  Little did we know, it was more like a museum.  I don’t even think they have children’s books here.  And the process to get a card is much more intense, I don’t think we’ll bother.  Hopefully we can find a more usable library, however this one was interesting to see.  They liked checking out the rare stamp collection, old books, and vintage printing presses.



Along the way we were impressed with the St. Pancras  Renaissance Hotel.  Wow!  I’m astounded how many times we’re surprised by such architecture, many times in the least expected places.



Cutty Sark Tea Clipper

We finished off our first week with a field trip to Greenwich.  What a beautiful area!  We will definitely go back since we couldn’t fit everything in we wanted to.  First up was a tour of the world’s only surviving tea clipper, the Cutty Sark.  The boys were anxious to tour the ship and learn its history.  It was originally built in 1869 to transport tea to China and there were many exhibits showing exactly what it would have been like, including a seat that swayed like sea motion.  It was the fastest sailing clipper in its time, transporting all sorts of cargo, including wool to Australia.  She eventually was retired to the faster steamships that were more reliable.  The boys liked seeing what the crew ate and pretending to be captain for a day.













The ship has been preserved and restored as a museum ship for visitors now.  Suspended 3 meters above the ground, you can see the entire hull of the ship and view the world’s largest collection of ships’ figureheads in the gallery below.



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National Maritime Museum

Next up was a tour of the National Maritime Museum which happens to be the world’s largest.  We explored the vast collections of British history at sea.



The little boys pretended to be explorers on the high seas in all the different boats.  Through the icebergs and the battles, they imagined grand voyages afloat.





The older boys learned all about Admiral Lord Nelson and the Battle at Trafalgar viewing many of his personal items that brought to life what happened so long ago.  Of course Tyler loved learning about all the warships and seeing the battle displays.




The museums here are so incredible and geared towards hands on learning for kids.  We love them.  It’s been a wonderful way to enrich their learning and education this year beyond what they could have learned in a classroom.   




Driving the ship simulator and making it successfully to port was everyone’s favorite.

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What beautifully intricate replicas of various vessels throughout the museum.  Truly impressive!




Happy are we to be back to continue our journey in this great land.  Still so much more to see and do…

Museums & Parks

It’s amazing what we can see and do in a week’s time here.  I think it’s because we don’t have the distractions of real life and can just go and do whatever we want.  I love it.  It’s not all rosy (trust me), but I’m so grateful for this rare opportunity to be this involved and present with my kids to go and see the world through their eyes.  It’s priceless really.

We’re finding it’s necessary to get out of the apartment every day or we’ll go insane.  We stayed home once.  Not a good idea.

We’ve been checking out a lot of museums and parks lately.  I’m pretty sure my kids will be “museumed” out by the time we’re done with this adventure.  There’s just so many fascinating things to see, they really have the best of the best here.  I love that most of them are free too so we can visit often or just go for a shorter visit, not trying to see everything in one day.

British Museum


We checked out the British Museum which is enormous.  The main display the boys wanted to see was the ancient Egyptian mummies–they were intrigued by what they saw.  They even had mummified animals.  There were x-ray pictures showing what was inside.  Fascinating and creepy. There’s so much more to see here, but we made it a quick trip so we could hit the park while it’s sunny.

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Museum of Childhood

We ventured over to the Museum of Childhood.  Displayed are toys European children played with dating back to the 1600s to the present time.  As you enter, there’s a wall of items children had expelled from school over the years, which the boys found quite interesting.

Jace loved the Star Wars collection, even though they didn’t have General Grievous.  Nathan was hoping for a big Lego display, but they only had a tiny one.  Guess they’re not as popular here.  Cade liked the big robot on display that requires you to put the pieces of the clockwork correctly on his back to make it come alive.  Tyler’s favorite things were the retro video games and army toys.  It was eye-opening to see some of the games they required German kids to play in school during Hitler’s reign.  I was amazed at the intricate doll houses, having loved mine as a child.  The little boys were freaked out by all the baby dolls—they’re still getting over a scary story they read a year ago and seeing some of the creepy dolls here might make for some new nightmares!

  Confiscated toys from school


I think Tyler’s about done with my picture taking


They all liked the war games and reinacting battles


Incredibly detailed army toys – not quite the same as the green ones we’re used to


This was the largest make-a-funny-face with magnetic hair table


Jace loved the rocking horses


Tyler’s checking out the vintage videogames


Jace found the Star Wars exhibit


There were so many amazing dollhouses



Another cool park we found just down the street was Holland Park.  They have an adventure playground with really cool toys that would never pass code in America.  The park is huge.  The grounds used to be part of a 500 acre historic home renamed the Holland House.  It was bombed by the Germans in 1940 and most of it was destroyed.  The only section still standing is used as a youth hostel.  Tyler tried to find an opening to explore, but it’s all tightly boarded up.  There is so much history here, it’s haunting almost to imagine what occurred…at this beautiful place that entertained royalty to what it is today.

Holland Park

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Holland House in the early 1900s


Holland House after being bombed 22 times in WWII


They all loved the adventure playground.  So glad this is a short walk from our apartment!

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We daringly circled the peaceful Japanese gardens and saw huge goldfish and colorful peacocks.  If I had the ability, I’d come here and read a good book—it was like a postcard.

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The boys begged to go back to feed the birds at Kensington Gardens, but it was pretty packed and there were several loose dogs running around.  I’ve noticed they don’t have leash laws here like the US.  And there are so many dogs everywhere! Seeing the dogs made the boys miss Lily even more than they do, and they started feeding the dog bread instead.  When the dog’s owner arrived, she was yelling in her British accent “You naughty, naughty little dog!” over and over and the boys felt bad for it.  They found the cutest 10-week old puppy on its first adventure out and got to play with him for twenty minutes.  They’re missing their dog a lot.  I’m kind of enjoying the break, honestly.

Kensington Garden Pond

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