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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.

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. 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.

Graphics from Laurie's Free Web Graphics.