So after such a long build up – I think Rayne started the countdown at 100 days, the kids have been and gone. What a whirlwind time we had! Not sure where to start … so many dimensions to this trip. The touristy stuff combined with the emotional stuff. Being together for two solid weeks made me realise just how connected we all still are. After living such separate lives generally – Nic at boarding school, the girls leading their grown up, working lives, we integrated and gelled so completely well again – like we were never apart. Don’t get me wrong, that doesn’t mean we didn’t get irritated with each other. The normal sibling stuff was there but it was not bad at all – Nic had two mothers the entire trip. His cool mom and his irritating mom. I am the cool mom. I will say no more. 🙂 Because this is not a travel or adventure blog and because my blog is about being in London away from my children, I want to focus more on the emotional aspect of them being here. It’s been almost a week since they left and already it feels like a dream, yet while they were here it felt so real and solid and right.
I got to give my son some of the best experiences of his life so far. He went to a football game on New Year’s Eve and watched a really good game of football. Chelsea vs Stoke (4-2). We went on a stadium tour of Arsenal stadium which is where I got to watch him chat to the tour attendant and realise that my son is a vibrant, interesting and interested boy who gets on well with people and is becoming a mature, solid guy. Affection was not taken well by him on this trip but I can live with that. ‘Don’t touch me’ often came out of his lips when I wanted to get all demonstrative.
Their first day was an adventure in itself. First of all I thought I would be late to the airport because I had under-calculated how long it would take me to get to the airport. I knew they had managed to get OUT of South Africa because Rayne had messaged me – the reason why this was so important is because we had been hearing horror stories about kids not being allowed out of the country at customs due to not having the correct paperwork. Rayne had already asked permission to leave her brother at customs if this happened!!!! (I said NO!) After all that, the only bad thing that happened was a really long queue at customs (not one question asked) so I ended up being there in plenty of time and then obsessing about why they were taking so long. I had cried three times before they eventually came out of arrivals and wondered how it would be to see them – maybe it’s because the break from seeing them hadn’t actually been THAT long but it was just like, OK we all together now, let’s go!!! And go we did. These kids did not know what hit them. Got them on a tube, then on a bus, then home, then back on a bus, then a tube, hit Winter Wonderland, did some crazy rides, ate some crazy food, then back on a tube, then a bus, then a walk home.
My biggest coup of the whole holiday was taking them to see a play in the West End – The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time. Nic was in no way happy to have to go and see a play. That is SO not cool! I chose this one specifically because I thought the storyline would appeal to him. And it did. He was blown away and loved it and was not afraid to say so! In fact, it was number 3 on his list of best to least favourite things we did on the trip. Here is his list:
1 The Chelsea vs Stoke Football match at Stanford Bridge Stadium
2 Camden Market
3 Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time
4 Winter Wonderland
5 Madam Tussaurds
6 Arsenal Tour
7 The London Dungeon
8 The Science Museum
9 The Tate Modern Art Museum (this was expected but needless to say Khaya insisted on staying when we needed to leave because she was enjoying it so much and Rayne loved it too, much to her surprise!)
The funniest part of the trip was when Khaya vomited at Winter Wonderland. She went on two extremely crazy rides one after the other and after the second one got off, green, and gesticulated wildly that she needed to hurl. Luckily we were close to about the only grass patch in the whole place and I said just go for it. And go for it she did! Was hilarious! We had such fun that day, went on so many rides, drank wintery mulled wine and cider, ate roasted chestnuts and churros … and that was just Day 1.
Rayne and Khaya did not like the transport system and they did not like the weather. But they shopped till they dropped. After the first disaster when I sent them off shopping and told them to just catch the same bus back from the bus station and they got lost because that bus actually left from a different area of the bus station that I did not know about. The unfortunate thing about me being a relative newby to London is that half the time it was the blind leading the blind and I feel like we took some very long routes at times. LOL. Nicholas did his best to annoy his sisters and did very well most days, especially the day we went to Madam Tussauds and went on an automated tour in little buggies. The people in the buggy are meant to tune it to the language of choice and Nic thought it would be funny to change the language. Unfortunately once chosen it could not be unchosen, so Rayne and Nic listened to that whole tour in French!!
Both the girls have their own blogs and so I am sure they will share more of how they experienced the trip. It was the trip of a lifetime, because it was so fantastic and because we will probably never have a holiday with just the four of us again. It was so special because I shared it with the most special human beings in my life. I am so lucky and honoured to have given birth to such awesome people! Only 115 days until I see you all again, let the countdown begin!