Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Friday 23rd December

Today we headed off to the Tower of London. We had saved up our Grandparents babysitting options in order to not take the kids to the tower with us. Its a long day there and in all honestly its just not interesting to 2 small children. While they have done their best to be wheelchair accessible (aka pram friendly) its an ancient castle with cobbled roads and lots of stairs and narrow halls. Sadly, Grandma called around 7am (waking us up) to tell us that Grandad wasn't feeling well so they wouldn't be able to have the kids. I will admit I did entertain the thought of telling Adam to go to the tower alone with his sister as the kids were just going to ruin the day for us anyway, but I wanted to see the Crown Jewels too.

Having to pack for the kids for the day at short notice meant that we were a bit later than expected not to mention the stairs that Adam had to carry the pram up and down from trains. It was surprisingly busy there, its the first time we have had to actually line up to buy tickets to anywhere. A free tour with a Beef Eater is included in the entry price, however, there were about 40+ people on each tour and the kids were just going to be noisy and disruptive so we decided we would just wander at our leisure.

The kids were whiney, as expected and Adam spent a great deal of the day like this;
Daddy is a pack horse
Stella was rather interested in the guard with the machine gun who was guarding the door to the jewels, so we headed over to have a look at him. Clearly not only does my daughter have a calling to spin around every single pole she sees (she is in her element on all the trains here) but now she also has a fascination for men who carry weapons *sigh*
I cannot begin to imagine how boring and annoying that job must be
The crown jewels are pretty much the only place you cant take photos at the Tower. But I will admit I did roll my eyes when on the train Adam came out with "Are you going to enjoy checking out the diamonds in the crown jewels? Some are the size of your ball sack." charming hey? The hilarious bit is that he wasn't wrong. There are some freaking HUGE diamonds in those crowns.

The ravens at the Tower are huge. There is the belief that if the ravens ever leave the tower then the monarchy will collapse. It appears that feeding them fresh meat, including the odd rabbit, isn't enough to ensure they stay. They also clip their wings so that they cant fly away. I also read that raven's mate for life. I always get a little kick out of animals that seem to fall in love and hang together forever.

There is the massive central building at the site, that was once a palace but there are also areas all around that look like your general suburban street. We discovered that they actually are regular houses where the Beefeater's and their families live. Pretty cool I think. I wonder what their addresses are. 13 Offwithherhead lane, Tower of London? The Beefeater's are actually pretty cool. I expected them to be more like the guards, just wandering around being all stern and serious, but they are really great at chatting to the kids, stopping for photos and one tried his best to humour Stella out of a foul mood. It didn't work.
The White Tour (original palace)
Xavier was slightly interested in the canons, so we talked a bit about how they worked (thank god for his knowledge of the result of a bouncy ball into a lego house which made it all much easier) and he really seemed to enjoy the armour. He made everyone around him laugh when he asked in that bumpy bit was to protect the man's doodle (it was a pretty over exaggerated cod piece to be honest).
Xavier was rather taken with this dragon
Adam wanted to do the walk around the top of the outer walls, it was starting to rain, it was cold and the kids were driving me nuts. I suggested that Adam take a child with him and I would take the other one to have a coffee. Naturally, as soon as they were separated, they were both the picture of perfection. Stella and I had a hot chocolate each and despite me buying a muffin to share, Stella pretty much inhaled the entire thing.
Adam took a photo from the top wall of Stella & I sharing coffee.
By the time we were ready to go the rain really started to pick up. We took refuge in the gift shop and bought a few small items then made a run for it to an undercover area. Adam commented on facebook that it was pouring with rain in the following photo, and a friend commented that he had imagined that it was raining in all our photos. However, it was the first real rain we have had since we have been here. There have been patches of light rain for 10 min at a time, and even this rain was all over and done with within half an hour.
Photo by Xavier
Pouring with rain
I have no doubt that Adam really enjoyed the Tower and had we been kid free, he would have spent a whole lot more time there. Personally, it was just one more lot of old stuff for me. The Crown Jewels were cool but the rest of it I could have left and been fine. I have said several times since we have been here though that I really need to get a better understanding of the history of the royals to perhaps understand the significance of it all more. I was tempted to buy a royal history children's book to get up to speed. lol.

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