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MARCH 12-17

Sunday 12 March 2000

Sloane Square and Chelsea

Somehow we all managed to sleep in until 11am, even Sophie who had to sleep on the floor. She had to catch a coach back to her school at 2pm so that didn't really give us time to do anything as so we decided to take it easy. Anthony went and got some bread for breakfast and we had showers and got dressed. After breakfast we decided that we would walk to Victoria Coach Station via Chelsea and Sloane Square. It was a sunny yet brisk day and so it was nice to be out and walking. There were plenty of people about in Chelsea enjoying the sunshine and sitting in the trendy cafés. When we got to Sloane Sq it was already 140pm so we had to start almost jogging to get to Victoria on time. We arrived with a couple of minutes to spare and saw Sophie off back to Bury St Edmonds.

We walked back towards Kensington and after dropping into Waitrose to pick up some dinner we went home. We decided that we wouldn't try to do anything else and had a rest day instead.

Monday 13 March 2000

British Museum and National Gallery

Jetlag had well and truly worn off and we managed to sleep late again. After breakfast we took the Tube to Russell Sq so that we could revisit the British Museum and see some more of the exhibits. It was still full of people and school excursion groups. This time we only looked at things on the ground floor but it turned out that this was where many of the major exhibitions were located anyway.

The first thing that we looked at was the Assyrian collections which are carvings from temples. There are several rooms full of the wall carvings which are intricate and well preserved. We then went in to see the Elgin Marbles which are in a huge room. I was surprised to see that most of them are missing features as they had either been vandalised or blown up in the 1600s. After leaving that collection we looked at the Egyptian material. I like the sculpture of the Egyptian cat the best. I was then talking to Anthony about the Rosetta Stone and asked him where it was held. He said he thought it was in the museum but it wasn't mentioned in our guide book which is strange because it is such a famous object. Anyway Anthony asked some old women who were manning a "Friends of the British Museum" booth and they pointed to a group of people behind us! I had a look at it but it was hard to get a good look as there were many people gathered around it. We then went to the museum shop where I bought a pencil, pen and a scarab for me and one for Elizabeth. Anthony bought a Rosetta Stone paperweight.

We left the museum in search of some food and went into a sandwich shop nearby. We ordered some sandwiches and coffee and muffins and took them back to Russell Sq to eat. We then walked to the National Gallery to see some more paintings as we had had to leave last time. Of course Liam became fussy straight away so I took him to the baby room and fed and changed him. We then looked at some of the paintings. I got into trouble from a guard for not keeping the stroller next to me and most of the guards gave Liam disapproving looks which annoyed me somewhat. In the end Anthony and I took turns looking at the paintings.

After we left the Gallery we decided to catch a bus home instead of the Tube. After much searching we eventually found the busstop and caught the bus. The conductor put the stroller in a storage area for us which was good. I liked the bus as you get more of a sense of the geography of the city when you travel above ground. We got off the bus at the Albert Hall and walked up to the outside of Kensington Palace before going home via Sainsburys. Liam had been sneezing all day and was a bit upset that night.

Tuesday 14 March 2000

Kensington and Natural History Museum

Liam had developed a cold and had a runny nose. He wasn't very happy so we decided to take it easy. We walked up to Kensington High St where I went to the Internet café to check my email (and the Babycenter boards!!). Anthony took Liam for a walk to look at the shops. We then went to McDonalds for lunch and back to the flat.

In the afternoon we went to the Natural History Museum for the free entry. We had a look at some of the older exhibits like the minerals room and the Darwin exhibition but they are pretty oldfashioned and somewhat boring and didn't hold our attention for long. So we went into the newer part of the building which is a bit more whizzbang. We took the long escalator upstairs. It passes through a giant model of the earth which flahing lights and music and so Liam was a bit overwhelmed by it. The exhibits were much more interesting and interactive in this section. They had a whole section dedicated to earthquakes and volcanoes which included a full size model of a Kobe supermarket which reinacted the Kobe earthquake. The floor moved and things went flying. Anthony had Liam in the pouch and I was a bit worried that they might fall over but Anthony kept a hold of the guardrail while Liam looked around wondering what was going on. We were running out of time by now as the museum closed at 550pm and didn't get a chance to see anything else. We left the museum saying that we would pop in to see the ecology display the next day and went back to the flat. I phoned Trish and arranged to have dinner on Wednesday night at her house but it wasn't until later that I realised that Anthony wanted to watch the ManU vs Fiorentina match and so I decided to call her in the morning to try to change the date.

Wednesday 15 March 2000

Hampton Court

The day dawned bright and sunny with blue skies for once. This was lucky as we had decided to visit Hampton Court Palace. We were a bit slow in getting moving as usual. I tried to call Trish but all I got was her answering machine at work and so I left a message explaining about not being able to come to dinner but I really wanted to talk to her about it and told her I would call again later. At the Tube station Liam was again the star of the show when Anthony went to get us tickets. He ended up getting a Family Travelcard for us all but I don't think that we really were entitled to it. We caught the Tube to Waterloo Station and arrived with 10 minutes to spare till the next train. We bought some coffee and croissants to eat on the train from a woman who thought that Liam was adorable.

The train took about half an hour. Liam got a bit restless but we sat him in his stroller and gave him a cold piece of toast which kept him happy and quiet. Once we arrived and got off the train we walked the short distance to Hampton Court. We bought tickets to visit the palace and the maze and went into the complex past the guards who were all dressed in top hats and bottle-green morning coats. In the courtyard we paused while Anthony went inside the info centre and booked us tickets to a guided tour later in the day. We spoke with one of the guards who was busy trying to watch (yet another!) group of French school students and he suggested that we first visit the Tudor Kitchens. We went inside and watch a presentation and then decided to get some headphones for the audio tour which I went and got from the info centre. The tour was good but it was progessing a bit too slowly and with Liam you can't really take your time examining things as he gets cranky. We had him in and out of the stroller and he enjoyed squealing at people while being carried. We toured the Tudor kitchens and then had a break while I changed and fed the baby before looking at the Georgian apartments.

It was past lunchtime but we had only another 10 minutes to spare until our prebooked tour so we wandered around the courtyard. The tour was taken by a young guide dressed in tights and a cape. We went up into the Henry VIII section but Liam was chatting away quite loudly so Anthony took him for a little walk. He then put the baby back in the stroller and by some miracle he fell asleep and left us to enjoy the rest of the interesting tour in peace. After the tour we went to find a phone booth so I could call Trish. I talked to her and we arranged to meet on Thursday night instead. We then walked back to the coffee shop and had tea and scones for a late lunch. It was getting late and so we decided to see some more of the rooms of the palace before they closed at 430pm. We whizzed through these sections and then went out into the gardens. Liam was awake again and Anthony showed him the ducks, swans and geese which he quite liked. We noticed some deer in the ajoining park but they had run away by the time we got to the gate. A strange older woman was surreptiously feeding the birds and scampering around which was funny to watch.

The gardens were immaculate and the crocuses and daffodils were in full bloom. It was quite beautiful. We went up to the maze but it had closed as it was now after 5pm. I fed Liam while sitting on a park bench and then we decided to try to catch the 539pm train and had to almost sprint to the station where we boarded the train at 538pm just before the whistle! We went straight home via the supermarket.

Thursday 16 March 2000

Tate Gallery

We had thought that we might go to the Millenium Dome today but didn't get organised in time. Plus at 20 pounds each it was a bit pricey! Anyway we decided to go to the Tate Gallery instead. So we caught the Tube to Pimlico and walked to the Tate. It was cold and rainy again and very windy down by the Thames. The Tate is being reorganised and moved so it was a bit of a shambles when we got there. We went in via the disabled entrance. There were lots of schoolkids there and alot of the collection was not on display so it's a good thing that it was free!! After changing and feeding the baby and eating our own sandwiches in the baby change room we went for a walk across the Thames. We walked up to the London Eye to see how big the queues were but it was packed so we had a coffee instead. Then we headed home to Kensington to have a rest before going out again.

Anthony and Liam had a sleep so we were late leaving to get to Canary Wharf. We arrived about 1/2 hour late and I called Trish to let her know we were there. She said she would pick us up so we went outside into the freezing windy night to wait. She arrived not too long after in her huge van. We put Liam in Keon's baby seat but he cried all the way back to her house. Once there we met her husband Dave and I put Liam down to play but he took one look at Keon and started crying!! This set Keon off and both babies were crying which didn't bode well for the evening. They eventually quitened down and we sat down for dinner. I gave Liam some nectarine which he managed to get all over his white suit and then Trish cut up some orange and both babies had a great time munching away. After dinner we put the babies down to play. Liam just didn't know where to start with all of Keon's toys and was having a lovely time. We took some photos and then it was time to head home. Dave drove us back to Canary Wharf and we caught the Tube home.

Friday 17 March 2000

Our Last Day in London!!!

It was our last day which was somewhat sad. We started packing our bags, never an easy or enjoyable task. Then we walked to Harrod's to get a present for Liam. We stopped at Boots where I bought some cream for Maggie White. We ended up buying some tea for Liz and Esther in the Harrod's Food Hall and were given an extra box free which we kept for ourselves. We went up into the toy section where Liam was entranced by the mountains of teddy bears. After alot of deliberation we bought him a soft bug and worm. Anthony wanted to buy him a Harrod's Humpty Dumpty but it was too expensive. I changed Liam in the fancy babychange room while Anthony had a discussion about strollers with an American woman!

We left Harrods and headed back to the flat. We stopped in at the Brompton Oratory to have a look and bought some curry from Waitrose for lunch. After a rest we cleaned up and packed the rest of our bags. I had booked a car for 5pm but at 440pm they rang the doorbell. We had only just finished packing and so this put us out a bit. Plus we had booked a van with a babyseat but that car had broken down and they sent a replacement instead. It was a smaller car without a babyseat but somehow all the luggage fitted in. The car was packed by 5pm but the manageress was nowhere to be found even though we had told her that we would be leaving. Anthony ended up putting the keys in a plastic bag with a note. I put Liam in the Kapoochi and we set off for the airport.

The driver was a chatty bloke who didn't like Americans very much. It didn't take as long as I thought to get to the airport so we arrived with about 3 hours to spare! We checked in our luggage and then went through to airside. We went and got a coffee at the first café we came to but there was no carpet and so we took turns at carrying Liam around the Harrod's duty free store. We managed to find different places to sit where Liam could lie on the floor but it was very busy and the seats were all squashed together. Eventually they announced our gate and we went down to be close. There was a small playgym there and I was playing with Liam on it when they announced preboarding for infants etc. I went and got Anthony and we were allowed down the ramp. But when we got to the bottom the crew were still boarding and so we stood and talked to the woman at the gate who fell in love with Liam. Meanwhile they had made a general boarding call which meant that there ended up being a huge queue of people behind us. Eventually they let us on and we took our seats near the front of the plane. We were seated next to a couple who were about 6 months pregnant. Then four "lager louts" came and sat in the seats behind us. We were late leaving London and Liam was getting hysterical until he finally fell asleep. I stayed awake for dinner and to watch the movie "Sleepy Hollow" and then tried to sleep. But the louts behind us were intent on drinking their way to Bangkok and they kept me awake. The guy next to us told them to quieten down and they did for a while but then they started again. Just our luck!!

Saturday 18 March 2000

Back to Thailand

Due to the time difference we landed in Bangkok in the late afternoon. As we were getting ready to leave the plane they called out my name "that's Curr, C-U-R-R" and told me to see the ground staff. So I went ahead with Liam and saw this woman from BA who was all confused about our accomodation. She kept saying that the booking was for me and a baby and seemed to act as if I had just picked up Anthony on the plane! In the end she looked at our hotel voucher and said that there had been a misunderstanding. We still have no idea what she was on about! We headed towards immigration. It was about 35 degrees so I stopped in the toilets and changed Liam into a summer suit. I was pondering how I would change my shirt when some Swedish women just stripped theirs off to change so I followed suit and then Anthony went in to get changed while Liam entertained some Chinese travellers and some Thai cleaners. Once we reached the immigration queues we were taken aside and through the fast track counter and ended up beating the lager louts which made me feel good! We collected our baggage and went out to the arrivals hall only to find that our hotel bus wasn't there and we had to wait about 15 minutes. We got to the Ebina House Hotel and checked in. This time we were given a normal room which was a bit of a comedown after the previous occassion! I gave Liam a bath and then put him to bed. Anthony ordered room service but they had no hamburger buns so we ended up having grilled sandwiches and fries. I went to have a hot bath but Liam woke up gasping and coughing so I got a bit worried about him and fed him and put him to bed with me. We watched Melrose Place to keep awake and Anthony stayed awake to watch ManU live on Thai cable TV but I slept. We had a fitful night's sleep as Liam kept waking up.

Sunday 19 and Monday 20 March 2000

Homeward Bound

We were awoken by the ringing of the telephone which Anthony answered. It was the front desk asking if we wanted our room made up. We thought this was a bit rude until we turned on the light and looked at the clock and saw that it was midday!! We had showers and ate some cereal that I had brought with us. We then ordered a sandwich for lunch and packed our bags. By this time it was nearly 3pm and time to go. Of course Liam did a big leaky dirty nappy just as we were leaving so I had to change my shirt. We were driven to the airport by the hotel bus. We were pulled out of the economy class queue and put into the business class queue thanks once again to Liam! We then went through to passport control where we were once again taken through to the fast track counter. Travelling with a baby does have its advantages sometimes!! We went to the gate only to find that the plane was out on the tarmac and we would need to catch a bus. The plane was delayed and we sat and talked to a couple who had just been holidaying in Thailand. We caught the bus out to the plane and boarded still carrying the stroller which went into an overhead locker in business class. We were seated next to a single guy but he didn't seem too bothered by the prospect of sitting next to a baby. We took off and Liam went to sleep. Just after meal service it got bumpy and so I had to hold Liam in my arms. I watched two movies: "Ride with the Devil" and a French film called "Est-Oeust". I couldn't sleep and neither could Anthony. Liam was up and down too so we all had an unsettled flight.

We arrived in Sydney to a warm but rainy day. We caught a taxi which was a minibus and got home around 830am. The house was all musty as it had been raining for weeks. Kaboobie was happy to see us and sooked around all day.

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Last updated: early 2000
© Andrea Curr 2000
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