What busy bees we've been! The kids have two weeks off here for Easter (which is too long if you're not going away anywhere this time of year, in my opinion) so we've been filling our days with fun. I totally admit that I choose activities and places to eat based on things I like; you won't find me suffering in silence at a Chuck E. Cheese. So this break, we had days out in London and Cambridge, and a trip to the safari park. And quite a lot of eating.
The fun started in London with a trip to the museums. I was going to start with the Tate Modern, but I took us to the wrong tube station. I'm sorry, but Mansion House and Manor House are too similarly named for my liking. Anyway, we skipped Tate and went straight to lunch to Benihana's, which is one of Jack's favourites. I haven't been for years - probably since I introduced Paul to the concept on a business trip to Florida before we were married - and it was good fun. It was very quiet and we pretty much had the place to ourselves. The onion volcano was awesome.
The next stop was the Science Museum (fun, but the kids got bored fairly quickly) then the Natural History Museum (more fun, couldn't pull the kids away.) Museums are free in London, all the time. How amazing is that? You do have to pay for special exhibitions, like the David Bowie one at the V&A, but it's free to wander around the rest of the museums. I love that they're accessible to everyone. All museums should be like this.
Our day ended with a trip to Hamley's toy shop (overcrowded and overrated, and not at all like the toy shop in "Big" which is what all toy shops should be like) and supper at Mother Mash. It's a great concept but the food is not as great. Don't get me wrong, it's tasty but could be done so much better. I think it's a good place to go if you're not English and not used to getting pie and sausages that are well made - it's certainly better than your standard pub fare - but the food suffers from precooking and reheating. Needless to say, the kids absolutely loved it, service was excellent, and it was a fair price for all the food we ate.
I took the girls to Cambridge while Paul took Jack to a rugby match at Twickenham with other friends. As always, my first priority was food, so we had lunch at Jamie's Italian. I signed up to their mailing list ages ago and was recently sent a "gold card". I wasn't sure what it entailed, but knew that it got me £10 off our first visit using the card. Much to my delight, not only did I get a discount, I got a free "taster" (fresh mozzarella with basil and oil), free pudding, and because it was my birthday the week before, a free bottle of prosecco. BEST DAY EVER.
I've been meaning to check out the new science centre since it opened and it was well worth a visit. Don't be put off by its size, which is about as big as the ground floor of our house. Which isn't big at all. I thought the girls would look around for 5 minutes and want to leave, but they were transfixed by all the hands-on activities. We made maple tree "helicopter" seeds out of paper and flew them in a wind tunnel, listened to demonstrations about things like static electricity, and examined giant plastic eyeballs. As we looked at the exhibits, staff came around to tell us interesting facts about what we were looking at. We were there for almost two hours, before I lured them away with the promise of cake at Patisserie Valerie. It's a great little place, and cost us a grand total of £6.
Our final fun day out (before I had to go back to work, boooo) was at Woburn Safari Park, which is very expensive if you forget to order Tesco vouchers far enough in advance. Seriously, don't go unless you're doing it on vouchers. It's stupid expensive for what it is. The first part is a driving safari, which is pretty much the same concept anywhere in the world. You drive around, try to spot animals, then monkeys poo on your car and rip off the antenna. The other part of the park has bird shows, play areas, and a few more animals.
As always, the day involved food. We had supper at Wagamama, a Japanese-inspired chain restaurant with long bench seating and a lot of noodles. It's good, but it won't put any authentic places out of business. They have a varied and interesting kid's menu, and the portions are massive, much to Jack's delight. The food is fresh, nicely cooked, and full of flavour. I had a humungous bowl of udon noodles with steak and veggies, and the girls had little cod balls with curry sauce and rice. Jack started to complain about having a child's portion of chicken ramen soup, until it arrived and was bigger than his head.
It's been a fun, tiring break. I hope the kids got something out of it (other than big bellies) and I'm grateful that I have the opportunity to take them on days out like this. And now, after a long two weeks and a tough work schedule, I'm off to Ragdale Hall with a couple of friends to do nothing. I may be some time.