Thursday, 31 March 2011

Out on the town

I love London. But I do hate braving the city with toddlers in tow as our capital is far from child friendly. But this morning I was greeted by gloomy rain and the prospect of entertaining testy twins for the day.

My preference would have been to loll in front of daytime TV while they raised merry hell around me, only rousing myself to fetch a fresh beaker of app juice when decibel level of the request threatened to rupture my eardrums. But the cleaner was in and I find that someone buzzing about tidying up around you takes all the joy out of indolence. So I had to come up with a Plan B to entertain us.

There is always soft play. But I am convinced that if I have been a really bad girl in this life I will awaken from my death bed to an after life spent in a draughty warehouse filled with hyped up toddlers diving into pools of multicoloured balls and bouncing maniacally into each other on a sticky-to-the-touch inflatable castle. Forget wine and honey, in my purgatory I will be sustained by juice cartons, soggy chips and cardboard chicken nuggets for all eternity.

This is probably why I lighted on another plan that could only have been born out of desperation. I decided that, with the sterling assistance of grandma, I would take the boys into London to the Roar Roar Museum (aka the Natural History Museum). The twins signalled their approval of this madcap scheme by dancing a strange bobbing jig whilst simultaneously roaring at the top of their little lungs. This in contrast to the reaction when I revealed our destination to my mum, who went white. I decided to take her silence as acquiescence, rather than her being struck mute with shock.

Taking one toddler into London is rash. There are such myriad ways in which you can lose, maim or even kill a small child on the streets of the city, from dropping him down that gap on the Tube platform we are all warned so assiduously to mind, to him being ground to a pulp by the chomping black jaws of an escalator, to him dashing under the wheels of a passing black cab or being scalped by a passing tourist's backpack.

But taking two is nothing more than a fool's errand. The first, and probably most serious, problem is that you cannot take a pushchair with you as double buggies and public transport mix about as well as a surfeit of tequila shots followed by an early breakfast meeting the next day.

This means your toddlers have to walk, or be carried. Which really means they have to be carried, for after one or two steps on unfamiliar pavements, both twins decided that this walking lark really wasn't for them and both stood, arms outstretched above their heads demanding 'Carry, carry'.

Despite all my best efforts, which involved lots of shouting and pretending to walk off without them, they would not budge. Instead they simply made me look bad by standing sobbing noisily, parting the crowds of commuters, whose hardened hearts were clearly touched by the rivers of tears pouring down their chubby little cheeks.

Eventually we reached the museum, by which time both me and my mother were ready to drop, backs screaming in protest at carrying our heavy burdens. I was all for turning round and going home, but grandma is made of sterner stuff. She marched up to the information desk and, waving her Freedom Pass aloft, demanded a wheelchair.

Like an OAP Boudica there was no stopping her and the twins were soon nestled on her lap as I wheeled them all off in state. 'It's a taste of things to come', cackled grandma evilly, so I turfed her out and made her walk. We got quite a few strange looks as the twins endlessly climbed in and out of their transportation making it quite clear that it was entirely unnecessary for health reasons, unless you count their carers' sanity, but our wheeled chariot saved the day.

A good time was had by all, Jonah was introduced to the blue whale, which being made of fibreglass didn't gobble him up, Zach fell in love with many a stuffed bear, bear, and they were both terrified into silence by the animatronic T-Rex (I am thinking of investing in one for home).

When we left I was sad to leave our wheelchair behind, but the twins were a lot easier to handle on the homewards journey as they both fell asleep, lolling on their upholstered Underground seats like two drunks sleeping it off on last tube home.

Although I would caution anyone not to try it on their own, our day out on the town with the twins was a triumph, after all we all made it back in one piece and there was not a multicoloured ball or bouncy castle in sight. If that's not a result, I don't know what is.


  1. Glad you had a good time - and isn't your mum clever?

    Do you remember our trip to the Tate Modern? x

  2. How could I forget? London and children really aren't a great combination. Is NY any better?

  3. NY is just as difficult to get around with a buggy. The difference here is that everyone is quite child-friendly - no-one minds kids in restaurants etc.

  4. I bet you're secretly wishing you'd had triplets!

  5. Helen - have just stopped wetting myself.