London’s Calling – Return to the City

London, possibly the greatest city in the world and the capital of my adult life! I love it. Everything about London makes my heart sing. I love how it smells, that rush of hot air as you step off the train. The hustle and bustle of people and the knowledge that this is City that never sleeps. I completed my nurse training in London, had my first job here afterwards and met Mr Pud. Together we had our first child here and negotiated parenting round a city hosting the Olympics! London lives in our souls and courses through our veins. So this weekend we brought both the kids back to our old stomping ground.


We were pretty lucky to be able to stay in a house for the weekend. No trying to cram the 4 of us in a tiny hotel room. I had had visions of watching tv with subtitles while two little ones slept! Instead we stayed in a house smack bang in the centre of London. Having a base certainly helped because crikey it was hot. Sweltering and humid, poor Pudding was not impressed! 


Despite being smack in the centre of Town we decided with Pies little legs that a travel card would be best. This meant that during the course of the weekend we travelled by bus, tube, DLR and had a go on the Thames Clipper. Transport is one of the things I love about London. As a Londoner I used to moan about it. But having lived outside of London now, I realise how fantastic it actually is! I have to say the kids thought the Thames Clipper was ace, I found it a bit vomit-inducing….


We had a great few days sight seeing. It was pretty cool to ‘do’ London from a more tourist point of view. We took the kids to see the changing of the guard at Whithall. Pie got chatting to a police officer at Downing Street. We walked right across Waterloo Bridge to show him Big Ben and the hospital Mummy completed her nurse training at. Then we hit the South Bank. More of an assault on the senses than usual due to the heat and the crowds. It was so busy but we managed a spot of lunch and to meet a friend!


We had promised a trip to Hamleys. It was the one thing about the trip that had Pie really excited. Again it was sweltering! But his eyes were like saucers. Taking in everything. I thought he would morph into ‘I want, I want’ mode. But he didn’t. He wanted a green light sabre – his only desire and once we had found them he was quite happy to buy it and get out! 


Sunday was a trip to Greenwich to meet Nana and Grandad. Thankfully it was much cooler there! We headed to the Maritime Museum to checkout the new space exhibition, Above and Beyond. It was pretty cool and had lots of interactive things to get involved with. Pie enjoyed building his spaceship and flying it. But there was quite a queue for stuff, not great for a four year olds patience. Lunch was had down by the river, enjoying a lovely breeze. The boys managed to get down to the river and lobbed a few stones in – before almost getting caught out by the tide. Grandad treated us all to a rather fabulous ice cream before we headed back off up river on the Clipper.


We chose not to do that expensive London based entertainment. We kind of felt with two kids under 5 it was waste of money to do the London Dungeons, or The Zoo. I think because we know London so well that definitely helped. Although I imagine in the future Pie will want to do some of the more expensive attractions. But this time he was happy to hear about Mummy & Daddy’s life in Town.

What a World We are Bringing Our Children Into

I woke this morning to read of the horrific events in Nice. Yet more death and destruction. People wiped out, not due to a natural disaster, but an unmitigated act of evil perpetrated by man. I look at my children this morning and I can’t help but wonder what a world I have brought them into.

I still remember exactly where I was when the planes hit the Twin Towers. I know what I was doing when the tube was bombed in London. I can still feel that twist in my stomach reading about the shooting in Paris. The level of utter disbelief, the overwhelming empathy for the families. And the question. Why? Why would anyone do this to some one else?

tpsdave / Pixabay

I have heard it said that this is a ‘religious war’. I have to profess that I know nothing of religion. I have a basic understanding of the different faiths and cultures. But for me religion has never been part of my life. Therefore I can’t understand why anyone could believe that their ‘God’ would want to kill others. Surely religion is there to guide people to a better way of life. How can that possibly lead people to want to murder innocent people in the name of faith?

If this is a war fought on ‘religious ideology’ who is the enemy? The attacks are not specifically targeted. But aimed at maximum impact. Not the sharp point of a blade. But a brutal massacre of men, women and children.

Of course I understand that these individuals are not the majority. That religion can be a force for good. But as an individual who doesn’t feel the need to turn to faith it’s difficult to understand the fervour that drives extremism. Yet our young people are risking everything to travel to ISIS regions and join them. Maybe we are failing to teach our children morality. Perhaps we have instilled this ideology unknowingly.

History doesn’t appear to have taught us anything. The human race continues to destroy itself. Thousands of wars fought in the name of one ‘God’ or another. Each more violent than the last. All the fighters believing they are on the side of the righteous. Ready to die for a cause that they believe in.

Can we teach our children to learn from our mistakes? Unlikely it seems. We didn’t learn from our fathers and grandfathers. The generation that lived through 2 world wars are fading fast. Unable to impart the wisdom first hand. I doubt it would even help. How far the world has moved on since WWII. With technology the world now feels smaller than ever. Yet more dangerous in many respects. Thousands of threats to our children every day. Various factions plotting against each other. Bringing about the downfall of innocent people going about everyday life.

I don’t know how to protect my children. I can’t even protect myself. The word terrorism is apt. I know we shouldn’t let them scare us into holding back. It’s what they want. To stamp us into submission by these grotesque acts. But I can’t help it. I find myself thinking twice about attending crowded places. Stepping on the Tube with my two beautiful children makes my pulse quicken.

bykst / Pixabay

 

I don’t want to live like this. Pretending to the terrorists that I am not living in fear. Because I am. One crazy act of violence could strip away everything I hold dear. Just like 9/11, London 7/7, Paris and now Nice. How many times do we have to stand up, square our shoulders and tell these people we are not scared? It is harder each time.

We can’t let this war on terror destroy everything we cherish. I can only hope that people cleverer than me have a battle plan. Because at the moment terrorism is tearing us down piece by piece. I don’t want to imagine a world where my children are no longer free to be who they want to be. Afraid to speak out, afraid to gather in communities, to travel and to experience life. Living in fear of a constant invisible threat. That is not the world I want them to live in.

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I left my Heart…

So here we are sat in 1st class en route from Birmingham back to the Mother Lands (Aka London) for our first grown up weekend since the Pudding arrived.


Some mixed emotions as we leave both kids where their more than capable but slightly crazy grandparents. I have made lists, organised food, shown them how to make milk and work the pram – in all honesty it felt a bit like leaving the dogs at kennels – ‘yes 6 scoops for 6 ounces…’ Luckily they are used to my control freak nature and humour me by listening intently and nodding along, giving only the occasional dig that they have actually raised two children themselves. Of course they know babies, but they don’t necessarily know my baby, all her quirks and peculiarities, her preferences and cues. But then does it matter? Do they have to do exactly what Mummy does? No, they don’t, as long as she sleeps and eats and is reasonably content then that’s fine. I mean it’s not like I want them to upstage me!

I am not worried that the kids won’t survive one night without me, I can’t quite put my finger on what gives me that little knot in my stomach. My rational brain is screaming just relax woman, you have two days of quiet, hot meals and a lie in. Two days of uninterrupted adult time with your amazing husband who has planned and executed this trip with laser precision. (He is already looking at pictures of the kids…) When did we become these people? 5 years ago we would have been on this train, prosecco in hand and not a care in the world!

I know it will be fantastic when we get there and that all our old haunts will soon bring back those fabulous memories of being young and childless – but in the back of my mind I know that I will have left a piece of my heart in Birmingham, even if it is just for one night.

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Monday, Monday

Screaming Seagull Face
It would appear that Pudding & Pie didn’t get the memo about today being a bank holiday. In fact I would go so far as to say they got the memo, ripped it into tiny pieces and then promptly ate it. I do kinda blame our neighbour who slammed the door so hard at 6.30am that it rattled through every house in the row. I guess they figured that as they had to be up for work on the bank holiday then the rest of us should suffer too, after all misery loves company right? If that is the case I  am quite tempted to go over and ring their door bell at 5am every morning until the end of time, But I digress…

So Pudding HQ is awake, even Mr Pudding couldn’t sleep through the noise this morning! Before leaping out of bed to deal with the situations in the room next door we take 2 minutes to hold conversation, uninterrupted:

Mr P: ‘Morning’

Me: ‘Clearly..’

(Snuggle in for a quick cuddle, making sure no one gets a mouthful of morning breath)

*Noise Level Rising*

(Sounds of Pie swipping a ‘wand’ through the air shouting ‘expelliarmus’, this later turns out to be an orange felt tip with no lid….)

Me: ‘We need a plan for today…’

Mr P: ‘I thought we could wander to the pub, have a few ciders, maybe play some pool….’

Me: ‘Oh that sounds great, we could grab some lunch, sit in the garden. Oooh and I quite fancy a game of darts’

*Noise starting to reach crescendo*

Me: Are you making coffee or dealing with wee?


Mr P: I will make coffee….

Me: Good choice, nobody would ever choose wee…

(Lay still for a minute listening to noise)

Me: Remember that pub in Whitechapel with the beer garden?

Mr P: The one where The Krays shot Jack the Hat?

Me: Ha ha Jack the Hat, only in the East End would somebody be called Jack the Hat! What was that pub called?

Mr P: The Blind Beggar – we had our first kiss there…


*wistful glances*

(Noise reaches defcon 4… With accompanying air raid siren howl)

Me: I miss London


*collective sigh*

The day has begun, two tired and slightly disgruntled parents slide out of bed…

Hope everyone enjoys their bank holiday!!

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