Sunday, July 15, 2007

Memories of London, or, Mary Poppins and the Order of the Phoenix

The alternate title above indicate the kinderfocus of what follows. We did two entertainment events that centered upon age appropriate fantasies of a London and England that never were: a Mary Poppins musical in the West End for Kid #2 and the debut of the new HP movie for Kid #1. I drove both progeny crazy by speaking of "Harry Poppins" and "Mary Potter" but it makes sense: both figures do the same work. OK, here is the sojourn in brief:

This was the trip on which Kid #1 finally (according to him) overcame his lifelong fear of heights. He'd been dreading our whirl around the London Eye, but halfway up this giant wheel of rotating tourists he pronounced himself cured. A panorama of London that in the past was reserved only to the gods probably helped.

In London Kid #1 also discovered a new flavor: malt vinegar. Unlike normal children, Kid #1 has never been a fan of french fries. Chips with malt vinegar, however, are something else entirely. Sadly, our local Whole Foods does not stock this elixir so I regret not bringing some back. Notice in the picture, by the way, we were eating at the cafe of the Tate Modern, a playground of art that is an effective antidote to the stodginess of the National Gallery.

Speaking of what London tastes like, favorite restaurants for adults and kiddies alike included Masala Zone (where you can get a vegetarian thali as a kids meal!) and Yo!Sushi (the latter is a chain; we went to the one in Bloomsbury and were wowed by the food as much as the decor. And what can be more fun than having your dinner travel by you on a conveyor belt as if it were a small but delectable train?)

Punting on the Cam was something we'll all remember for a looong time. Thanks Liza!

Like many young tourists, our children became entrapped in a London phone booth. We rescued them several hours later, after a quiet dinner and drinks at a nearby pub. No need to use a babysitter or nanny when you are in London.

Behold the merriest decapitation scene ever witnessed. This was Kid #2's visit to the London Dungeon. Please don't tell her it was an advertisement near Tower Bridge rather than the real thing.

Is it abusive to command your progeny to pose next every Roman statue you come across, especially if it is Trajan before a REAL ROMAN WALL?

In the Museum of Docklands, Kid #2 guessed that the Great Stink was caused by flatulence. She bared her tummy to show what happens when you keep too much gas inside you.

Touching the stones at Avebury was quite a moving experience. See here if you missed my brief comment on why Kid #1 and I raced to the Barber Stone.

My family had tea with Jude Law at Salisbury Cathedral. Only he didn't know it. I can report that he talks with scones in his mouth and that he dresses his blonde-haired daughter in a tight T-shirt that says "JUICY."

In a shocking case of misnomerism, the Tour de France began in London. Some bike company set up a play area. Behold Kid #1 practicing to be a recumbent version of Lance Armstrong.

Kid #2 forced a Tower Guard to pose with her. She also made him promise to protect her should Henry VIII attempt to lop off her noggin.

Nothing invites quiet meditation more than perching one's bottom atop a medieval loo.

This portrait inspired a romp through the White Tower screaming "Don't let Henry VIII chop my head off!" As I mentioned previously, decapitation was a dominant theme of this trip. Even the Pearl Poet manuscript was open to this page in the British Library.

At the Museum of London, Kid #1 got to dress as a Saxon warrior for a dramatic retelling of the Battle of London Bridge. Next to the recreation of an English home c.1000 where the story was told was a display of Viking weapons (mostly axes) recovered from the Thames and dating to the fall of the bridge.

Behold a spiny tailed Moroccan lizard at the London Zoo. Spotting this adorable little bundle of prickles reminded Kid #1 of his own spiny tailed Moroccan lizard, Spike. After two weeks of London, he finally -- and quite suddenly -- became homesick.

Here Kid #1 points to the spot in Hyde Park where he unearthed a neolithic flint arrowhead.

Here Kid #2 poses in front of the Peter Pan statue that she had spent long nights dreaming of. Note the leaf placed upon her head to make her better resemble Tinker Bell.

Moments like this one not only made London utterly worth the visit, they make life worth the living.


Eileen Joy said...

The last picture is worth a frame--I hope you buy one soon and place that, plus photo, in your office. Looking at it will always make you happy.

Dr. Virago said...

I couldn't see Jude Law because I was too mesmerized by the man with the unnerving stare in front of him. :)

And that last picture is not only awesome but authentic. In my brief meeting with them, I was struck by how playful and loving the kids were with each other. My niece and nephew are the same number of years apart and they fought like crazy until they were adults. So yeah, that picture and the kids in it are awesome.

Karl Steel said...

Lovely photos. And a rare treat, a photo of JJC himself. You still have your soul?

I want to share just one from my latest vacation. Be sure to read the caption.

Jeffrey Cohen said...

Eileen and Dr V: thanks! Pictures like that justify my doting on those two imps, I think.

Karl: alas, I seem never to have had the soul to lose, so why not be photographed. And as to photos: you look oddly chipper considering what is going on in your own!!

Karl Steel said...


How about: Resigned. Philosophical. Comparativist ("could be worse").

Another Damned Medievalist said...

What great pictures! I got some wonderful ones of the niece and nephew at Regent's Park and Battle -- but shall not be posting, as the family don't really want their kids' pix all over the intrawebs.

I think Wegman's and World Market both carry Sarcen's malt vinegar (as well as PG Tips and sometimes even Branston pickle). If not, you can always take a family drive up route 50 to the British Pantry ...

Anonymous said...

Interesting that so many American medievalists make the pilgrimage to Battle. I have never been (or at least not since I was about six). What am I missing?

Jeffrey Cohen said...

ADM: you know, I actually have a World Market within walking distance of my house. I should have thought of that -- thanks!

SRJ: I always like to visit the places I've written about (or am writing about). There's something about walking on the land that I've so far only envisioned from reading medieval texts that gives me pleasure -- especially when a place is not at all as I imagined. And I do think that touching the past with your shoes and hands helps to keep the scholar embodied (instead of the Abstract Thinker we can all become).

Anonymous said...

Ah yes - contact relics - I have been thinking about those (and the flow of blood, by a certain JJC) a lot recently.

Do you think you can turn into a relic yourself if you stay in contact for too long? Maybe the academic tourists escape that fate?

Jeffrey Cohen said...

According to my son, srj, I turned into a relic long ago. He's just waiting to drop me into the Assisted Living Facility.

Mandy said...

awesome memories! Thanks for sharing!