Wednesday, 9 September 2009

The Past (#1)

When I first got divorced, one of the most important things to me was to maintain an air of normality for D, my son. He was little, only 4, but he'd try really hard to understand what was going on, why his mum and dad lived in different houses and why toys were always at the wrong house. The first year I was on my own, I decided it was really important to take D on holiday, but that left me with a bit of a dilemma. I don't drive, I didn't have very much money, and I needed to find somewhere that would be able to keep a 4 year old child occupied. I'm sure there were lots of places to choose from, but my brain was a bit fuddled at best, and I decided to take him to London for five days.

We had the most fabulous time ever.

I chose London because there's a direct rail link to Euston from where I live, and then I chose the hotel based on which one could I safely haul a small child and a large suitcase. Oh, and which was in my price range,  had a roof, and I didn't need to share with three other families. I'd very rarely been to London before, and was petrified of getting lost, losing my son or being mugged/stabbed/sold into slavery so I decided that we'd eat in the hotel to reduce any or all of those opportunities.

Having survived the first night remarkably well (a family room is surprisingly spacious when there's only two of you, and most hotels seem a bit sniffy about offering single parents anything smaller), we decided to hit the tourist trail. And I have nothing but admiration for London after that. We got our little book of tube tickets (note to single mothers - if you try to get through the turnstile without buying a ticket for your child, pick them up and carry them. Don't squeeze them through first then try to get through yourself - your child will spend the remainder of the journey convulsed with laughter at mummy's bottom being jammed). We visited the Natural History Museum, the London Eye, we did a river boat cruise, we saw Buckingham Palace. We had a great time at London Zoo, went to see the Lion King, wandered round Covent Garden and St James Park. We packed so much into those five days that all my plans for catching up on my reading when D went to bed disappeared into the ether and I tumbled into bed about half an hour after he did every night.

Of course, it cost more money than I'd anticipated. Any mother knows that even when you take your child to a free attraction, the payoff arrives in the gift shop when your child has to have a pencil, a keyring, a postcard or a packet of sweets in the shape of the Tower of London. But the museums are free, the walks in the park cost nothing, and the sheer fun of spending time together is absolutely priceless.

Compare this if you will, to what I like to think of as my brand new family. Of course, D isn't brand new, but it's a new experience for all of us. This year we went in a car (!), stayed in a cottage and played on the beach. This year I went in different gift shops, attractions that charged an entrance fee, and didn't get my bottom jammed in anything.

It was very, very different, but this time I shared the holiday with the two people I love most, and watched them get to know each other. And it was even more priceless.


  1. What a wonderful holiday. I think it's just nice to be somewhere different. Out main "holiday" is staying with my parents in California.

  2. This is such a great post! I have total admiration that you went to scary London on your own with your small one - when I was a single parent with my (then) 6 and 8 year olds I would have been terrified! I went last year to see Joseph with fiance and the two (now older) kids and it was planned like a military operation. This year's holiday sounds great though, and reminds me of a very early weekend away where by some miracle my lovely boyfriend wasn't put off us by spending 24 hours a day with the kids!

  3. Hello there - I think this maybe my first visit - BMB is now up and running again! Good on you for taking on London. We live here but I did exactly the same when Miniminx was three and I was also newly single. We did the open top bus, the London Eye (VIP tickets mean you jump the queue and are escorted by stewards to the front - people thought we were famous), queued to get limited edition Birkenstocks for my daughter, posh lunch etc. etc. I'm a Londoner but I'll always love it. Hoping to catch the Butterfly House at the Natural History Museum tomorrow and then window shopping at Harvey Nichols - lush xxx

  4. Contrary to popular belief, London is the place to go with young children, and I love the way you can just 'stumble' across things happening. Last time we were there we saw a giant eyeball being rolled along the road and a guard change (with plenty of shouting) at Horseguards. Charlie loved it!


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