Here we were. In the sprawling, enchanting, enthralling capital of England. A city full of packed out markets, starry-eyed theatrical productions, world famous buildings, renowned museums…
…and it was raining.
‘We’re getting the genuine London experience!’ Sam kept smiling at me from under a soaking wet hood. ‘We can’t ask for more than that!’
‘Yes, we could,’ I snapped. ‘We could ask for some sunshine. A sunny London experience.’
It was midday and we had tried the Natural History Museum, the Science Museum, the Aquarium, AND the London Dungeons, but everywhere we tried had capped queues. We couldn’t get in anywhere, each place having been sought out by excited families on half term trying to escape from the rain.
While we were huddled underneath the shelter provided by some public toilets.
I consider that one of the low points of the trip.
It took some convincing a disheartened and thoroughly moody Ellie to get up the energy to tackle Oxford Street instead, but luckily, Sam prevailed. We trudged across the Jubilee Bridge and began our dripping journey on the underground to the Marble Arch.
I’ve always loved Oxford Street growing up. I love all the shops and the jostle of giant double decker buses nudging past each other in the street. I love the people you see there – such a wide range, from the super fashionable and pristine to the excitable child splashing through the rain, running for Hamleys. But most of all, I love the Disney Store.
For anyone, of any age, I believe the Disney store can bring a smile. The particular store on this street is my favourite however, with a walk through coral reef packed full of Finding Nemo merchandise, and countless shelves stuffed with cuddly toys, characters you couldn’t find anywhere else.
I have an embarrassingly intense obsession with Beauty and the Beast, as I may have mentioned before. (Ahem…here maybe?) But just LOOK AT WHAT I FOUND!
Needless to say, the shopping eventually cheered me up somewhat. We dipped in and out of shops and coffee houses, and bought a fluorescent pink umbrella for some protection. Of course, we had a peek around Hamleys, (but quite frankly were scared off by all the tiny humans) and then continued down to Leicester Square for M&M World, which friends of ours insisted we simply HAD to go in to.
Despite the weather, it had been a good day. We laughed together more than we had in a long time, and cuddled up as we walked along the street for warmth. It doesn’t sound like the smoothest of days, or the most pleasant, but I loved it. Our plans had fallen through and we were left to simply explore, buoying each other up and gripping on to each others’ hand, a silent message that none of this mattered.
That evening we left the hotel (taking yet more pictures of Tower Bridge as we passed) and went for a whizz around the London Eye. Sam loved this. He was taking picture after picture, scurrying from one end of the pod to the other, mouth open as I pointed out Buckingham Palace and Trafalgar Square; delighted at the perfect snaps of Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament.
Afterwards we walked back over the Jubilee Bridge, having come full circle for the day. We ambled towards Trafalgar Square and enjoyed a nice meal at Garfunkel’s…
…before finishing the night in a giggly rush, running around Trafalgar Square, posing in front of statues of lions and scaring the occasional tourist as we whipped past the National Gallery.
Sam was right. It wasn’t the day we had expected; not a single plan had gone right; our toes would never de-prune from the rain.
But that day was the true London experience. And I couldn’t have asked for more