Half Term ‘holiday’ in South London

The phrase, “It’s Half Term!” holds different connotations for children and parents. For the former, “Hoorah, I don’t have to get up and go to school!” For the latter, “Oh ‘eck – which of us takes holiday? How are we going to occupy them?” Time to summon The Cavalry from Yorkshire for three days.

Presently it’s just Sam who’s at school. Grace goes to nursery some days, but this continues throughout the year. However, rather  than being considered a baby, she’s now a fully qualified little girl, enjoying all the freedom of walking and the pleasure of squawking out her first words. So on our second day, she was included in our visit to the Horniman Museum where our daughter-in-law Rachel has a family membership.

Down to the basement aquarium we went, parking our pushchair alongside a thousand similar ones. Grace toddled about happily amongst the swarms of families, casting a glancing eye at the finely displayed tanks of fish and frogs. She remained largely oblivious to the brilliant recreations of mangrove swamps, tropical forests and coral reefs. Sam, at least, took a cursory interest during his random perambulations around the cavernous interia.

Grace needed to be home for her afternoon nap, so Jane strapped her into her contraption and headed back on the bus. Sam and I stayed so he could take advantage of the Lego Dinosaur Exhibition, for which we’d booked a time slot at 1:15. Meanwhile we had a go on the outdoor musical instruments (gongs and percussion), visited the butterfly house, and somehow bought lunch thanks to a convenient kiosk. It’s a fabulous place in South London to take a family; that’s why it was heaving by midday.

No area of life remains untouched by Lego. We entered the display hall where there were dinosaur models of great complexity, some as large as Sam! I was looking forward to he and I building our own model, at which he’s normally adept, but firstly needed to excuse myself for a call of nature. On my return I sought him amongst the hoards of creative children. Where could he have gone?

After five minutes, panic began to rise. Just then a green object with a long tail bumped against me and, with a cheerful “Hello, Grandpa!” drew back its hood. In true Sam fashion, he’d made a young friend; together they’d donned costumes and were zooming around the room. Not for him the complexities of fastening bricks together!

Back at the house, Jane introduced Grace to the pull-along dog she’d bought, using the long corridor downstairs. After two or three goes, Grace cried, “Quack!” and pulled her duck-on-a-handle from behind a cupboard. There followed a hilarious 20 minutes in which I took videos of Jane and Grace toddling along in turn, with bow-wows and quacks, before Grace exploded in squeals of delight as she took a gentle tumble.

I enjoyed a quieter hour making a plasticine robot with Sam. This was followed by supper time, bathtime and storytime, which featured Jane more than me. And then…we set off to walk to Melrose House, our overnight sanctuary where we enjoyed a shower, a peaceful sleep in a four-poster bed, and a very tasty breakfast. This small family-run hotel is excellent value for money.

The following day, we took Sam to London’s splendid Science Museum, along with (so it seemed) half the other families in London. Sam never ceases to gaze with amazement at the huge globe in the Planet Science gallery that lights up in the colours of Earth, Mercury, the sun, moon, Mars, a theoretical exo-planet, Jupiter and its moon Io. Then we went to the Pattern Pod, hoping Sam’s creativity would manifest itself in a beautiful floral design. For the second time in two days I lost sight of him. To our great relief we found him, this time in a cabin where body shapes were projected onto a screen, once again romping around with a new friend…

He’s back at school now, doing the Three R’s, I presume…And what did we do on returning to Brighouse? The next day we took our 8-year-old house guest and her mum to the zoo!

4 thoughts on “Half Term ‘holiday’ in South London

  1. Nothing compares with the joys of grandparenting especially when they’re the ages your grandchildren are. Sounds like an exhausting few days though.



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