Category Archives: Flirting with London

Alex: an adventure

Alex has been petitioning me to go visit London and see the London Eye ever since I sent him a postcard of it while on a course. We finally agreed that we would go in October, when he was settled into school.

So on October 6 – 8, we did. I picked him up from school on a Friday afternoon and took him home for lunch and a change of clothes. Then we took a taxi to the airport and flew down (British Midland to Heathrow). We took the Heathrow Express into Paddington, then the Tube to Victoria, where we stayed at the Comfort Inn.

Best moment of the journey down, for me: we bought some crisps and some apples in Heathrow, because we were going to be a long time getting our dinners. I was going to be flexible about food on the journey, figuring that any blood sugar was better than none, and offered to open the crisps for him. I got a five-star telling off, because apples are “real food” and crisps are not, and you do not eat junk food until you’ve eaten your real food. He harped on it throughout the trip.

Best moment of the journey down, for Alex: after school, taxis, planes, trains, tubes, and shops, walking hand in hand through the darkness at Victoria, the baggage trailing behind me, he was still cheerful and stable. I said, “You are such a good travelling companion. It’s a real pleasure to be with you right now.” It seemed to strike him deeply that I should feel that way.

We got up the next morning and took a photo of ourselves in the mirror. Here we are, getting ready for adventures:



(He’s being a squirrel in the second of these shots.)

We set out for the Eye before 9, on foot to burn off some of the excess energy. There was some running on the deserted pavements, the odd shot with Big Ben, all that sort of thing.


We got to the Eye before it opened, and queued for tickets in the sharp breeze. By 10:00, we were on board. Alex is a little nervous of heights these days, and nearly funked out a couple of times, but when he got on board, he wasn’t as scared. It reminded him of a space ship.


Although he would only go to the window when I asked him to for photos, he enjoyed the ride.


By the time we were at the top, he was pretty much reconciled to the trip.


He still did his fair share of scowling.


Still, he was glad to get down.


Then we had ice cream (his idea, not mine) and watched the people who paint themselves metallic colours and pretend to be statues. I bought us onto an open-top bus tour for a bit of a rest, and we rode around London for a while, playing with the headphones and the pre-recorded narratives. We got off near Regent Street, with the intention of going to Hamley’s. A bit of lunch restored our energy, and off we went. I let Alex take the lead through the shop. This meant that we saw a lot of Lego.


He wanted to buy himself a toy, and quickly settled on a dragon in its own egg. Then he wanted to make sure we got one for Fiona, at which time I silently decided that we weren’t going to use his pocket money for any of these purchases. (Generosity is rewarded.) We found a cuddly puppy for her, then walked up a staircase themed after the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Alex enjoyed sitting in High King Peter’s throne at the end.


After watching some older kids play with Scalextric, we added a green light sabre to our stash and left. By then, Alex was beat. We went back to the hotel and found a documentary on people who base jump with peregrine falcons (I am not making this up). He watched that, surrounded by his toys, then came out for dinner. We went home and crashed.

We woke the next morning in a silly mood (Well, one of us did, but he was silly enough for two.)


We packed up the room, checked out, and headed for Hyde Park to play about before our flight home. The park was crowded with runners in some sort of footrace, but we soon found an activity more suited to us: a tree that reminded Alex of Yoda’s house on Dagobah. So we did a little Star Wars playing.


Then we headed for the Tube, dodging through the endless stream of runners. We stopped at Paddington for lunch, took the Express back to Heathrow, and flew home at last.

It was an inexpressibly wonderful weekend, with an inexpressibly wonderful boy.

(There’s a Flickr photoset with more pictures as well.)

Photos from London

I’ve been down in London a good deal over the last few weeks, studying for an exam. I brought my phone, of course, which means I brought my camera.

I rarely find the classic London landmarks inspirational for photography. They’re too…well…big.

But the pavement by Tower Bridge really got my interest.


Taken 17 May 2006


Taken 17 May 2006


Taken 17 May 2006

The leaves of an ornamental plant near the Tower also caught my eye.


Taken 13 June 2006

On one of my visits, I walked by the crew setting up for a concert on the Tower grounds. The ironmongery was interesting.


Taken 23 May 2006


Taken 23 May 2006

I was also fascinated by the bright yellow locks on the gates to Trinity Square, a tiny park dedicated to naval war dead near the course hotel.


Taken 24 May 2006

Rainbow over the Thames


Taken 23 May 2006

Overall, though, London does not appeal to me photographically. I guess my heart is in Edinburgh.