Friday saw us back in London. This time with friends, we managed to nearly fill a carriage as there were 20 of us on our train (and to Sam’s delight, although vastly outnumbered he did have male company).
The venue this time was a video introduction to and a tour of Parliament.
We’d done a tour last year and it was completely different, I knew they varied depending on what was going on that day but it didn’t overlap at all. The big difference was that the House’s weren’t sitting so we were able to go onto the floor of the Commons (might rank as one of the most exciting things ever for me 🙂 ).
We saw the old debating chamber full of statues of ex-prime ministers and the Members Library and one of the Division lobbys as well as the Commons chamber. Not allowed to sit down or take photos in the chamber unfortunately. So here are a few in the debating chamber and Westminster hall.
I had vague plans to try and go to the O’Keeffe exhibition after but we were a lot later out than I expected so it was picnic, park and catch the train home with friends.
A lovely end to a fabulous week.
Wednesday was one of those days that you know will stick with you as one of the great home ed days when you look back.
As you have probably gathered I love days out. Sam given the choice would rarely leave the house but with only very rare exceptions is very good at embracing and throwing himself into things, particularly when there is just us to please, and does obviously enjoy it.
I am a firm advocate of learning by doing and seeing, so where better to start a study of Queen Victoria than at the palace where she was born.
We had a look at a interesting take on a timeline of kings and queens.
We started from the early days of the Palace as a royal palace, in the Kings and Queen’s apartments of Mary II and William III.
Then we moved on to the Victoria Revealed exhibition. It was lovely done with quotes taken from her numerous letters and diaries. For some reason instead of having information boards on things they had books in each room that had the floor plan and info in. We didn’t like that, Sam devours information boards normally. Was fascinating to see exactly how small she was – we reckon about 2 inches taller than Sam.
Sam agrees with me that Prince Albert is a bit of a hero. Until I read a biography recently I hadn’t realised that the whole museum quarter of Kensington and the cultural institutions around them were his brainchild and were funded from the revenues of the Great Exhibition. What a gift to the Nation!
Although it didn’t interest Sam he humoured me enough to come and look at the fashion galleries. Remember this one so clearly. I loved the sketches.
After the museum we picnicked and explored the grounds. Spent a long time in the Diana Memorial Playground and ended up walking back through Kensington Gardens, Hyde Park and Green Park catching Pokemon on the way.
As this blog shows I get to do a lot with Sam. Not so much with Jack whose life is far too busy to accommodate much time with me. The slightly ironic thing is our interests overlap much more. Theatre and musicals in particular being one.
We simply had to go and see the new musical for Disney’s Aladdin, to this day we are all word-perfect on the songs (and much of the dialogue) it has been watched so often. Sam wasn’t bothered either way so decided to leave him home with Pete.
Lovely couple of days shopping and exploring the West End (including a little detour down Charing Cross Road to restock book shelves). Although it was far too HOT!!!!
Oh should have said Aladdin was amazing! Really, really fabulous. So colourful and the staging was brilliant!
The photos below are from M&Ms World. A shop dedicated to M&M merchandise, we simply couldn’t resist.
I almost feel guilty writing this as I am going to be saying ‘it was fabulous you should go’ and it closes on Sunday. It was though. We had no idea what to expect and I’m still not sure how to describe it really. This was how the website put it “this multi-sensory journey takes you through seven immersive worlds each exploring a different aspect of Roald Dahl’s life, discovering the secrets of a writer beloved by gazillions of children along the way.”
Back in February a friend and I were walking along Southbank and saw a poster for it and said ‘ooh!’ Looked at the costs and it wasn’t cheap but if we had 12 of us (we were already 5) and I could get us a schools tour. Turned out a lot of friends fancied it and we were actually 42 of us and needed 3 tours :). Most of us traveled up together on the train too which was nice.
It was a guided tour and much of it was in the presentation rather than the actual sets. We went through a room filled with cardboard boxes, more into it (not sure on the reason I think it was about archiving), into a school room to talk about his early life, the Libyan desert for his RAF days, a bedroom for dreams, a woodland to talk about some of his books, a library with a real hidden door in a bookcase and finally the inventing room. At this point Sam decided to be sick! Luckily we got out of the room and into the toilets first. Was fine after so must have been the stuffiness.
Could only take photos in the inventing room unfortunately so you will just have to take my word for it being good.
As we’d broken down already into groups and families we then spread out to do our own thing after. For us that meant going for lunch with a couple of other families and then going to the park. We then headed home on an early train as the boys (had Oscar, Sam’s best friend in tow) had Minecraft and DVD plans. If you forget the vomiting it was a very pleasant day.
Have I ever mentioned I love home ed? One of the major selling points is the trips and opportunities on offer, at prices we couldn’t afford full price and at times when places are quieter. If you are prepared to do a bit of organising or find a friend that is ;).
Some of these trips (such as this one) I suspect appeal far more to the adults but we hope they build memories and experiences for the children. We did get a small demonstration of this on Monday, when shown the organ at St Paul’s the children were able to relate it to a workshop about 18 months ago in a local church where they’d been allowed to play the organ and see the pipes. Plus the talk of Nelson when we went to see his tomb is obviously something very familiar to them.
St Paul’s was amazing; really, really amazing! We had a tour, looked at some of the tombs (Wren, Nelson, Wellington), marvelled at the ceilings, heard how it was built, which bits were damaged and rebuilt etc. Then we climbed the 500+ steps to the three galleries. The Whispering Gallery where you could hear the voice of someone speaking into the wall reverberate to the other side of the gallery was I suspect one of the kid’s highpoints. The views from the external galleries were the best bit to me though.
The only photo we were allowed to take inside was the children in the choir seats.
So lots of outside!
Plans for the morning went a bit pear-shaped as they have a habit of doing. Meant rather than travelling as a group we ended up all making our own way. Actually as much as we enjoyed the time with friends, it was lovely to have a chilled morning. Seems ages since we’ve been up just us. Entertained ourselves on the train with the puzzles in the newspaper, spent some time playing in puddles and had a leisurely early lunch while we dried out a bit.
With time to waste we popped in to the Tate Modern. Not my cup of tea but Sam is getting surprisingly good at interpreting modern art. Was hoping to catch the popart exhibition as seeing how much he enjoyed doing surrealism last term I thought the more modern playful stuff is the way to go and had picked popart for this term but exhibition closed last week. We did, however, find a gallery with works by artists we recognised.
Mondrian’s Picasso DaliPlus plenty of ‘what on earth is that?’ stuff. Sam could recognise a human body in this :/Quite liked this one.
This one is just someone trying to wash the wall after a child has been scribbling really. I have a patch like this under my stairs to show how often I decorate.
We had a trip to London on Weds. The focus was an exhibition on Celts: Art and Identity. I wasn’t able to take photos in there so you’ll have to settle for the programme and Sam’s entry into his Book of Centuries. It was a fantastic exhibition, the intricate nature of some of the metalwork is breathtaking.
We were accompanied by some friends and the children managed a very respectable level of concentration. We decided not to push our luck and try for more of the British Museum, instead we took a long walk through the city down to the Tate Modern.
I’ve said before that the best thing about the Tate are the views back across the river to the city and the turbine hall. I love the architecture and Sam loves to play there.
I haven’t changed my mind! I just don’t get most of the exhibits, many look like randomly abandoned bits or children’s scribble, and then you get stuff like this…
It is supposed to represent exactly what it looks like apparently! How is that art?
I’m not totally against modern art. Sam and I are looking at Surrealism this half term and while not something I would put on my wall, I can see the artistic merit.
This week’s focus was on dreams. We looked at Paul Nash’s Landscape from a Dream and I gave Sam the task of a piece of artwork based on one of his own dreams using any medium he liked. He chose sketchwork and coloured pencils,