Today has been the last day of the half term holiday (the kids had an extra day as it was a training day at school today), although the ‘holiday’ still continues for Boy Lacer tomorrow as he has another chest infection, a chest infection that hasn’t stopped him going to Kew, the cinema or into central London, over the last week mind you, as apart from the most horrible sounding cough ever (which is particularly prevalent after he’s been running or at 4am in the morning), he is perfectly fine within himself. Anyway he’s on antibiotics now, so hopefully he’ll get better soon because despite Boy Lacer being perfectly well to do all the half term activities he’s done over the last week, if I send him to school, one coughing fit and they’ll send him straight back again.
Anyway, today’s pry my kids away from a screen activity was a promised trip into central London, I have decided to try and find different places to go to, as I’m certainly not doing the queues outside the Natural History Museum / Science Museum again, not until we leave a long enough gap of time anyway, in the hope they might actually change some exhibits (they never do, as I think I said when I blogged about my last visit to the Natural History Museum, when we went to see the Human Body exhibit, it was unchanged since when I was a kid visiting it, now I know the Human Body doesn’t exactly change, but I think there’s been some advances in museum display in the 20+ years since I was a kid (oh god, am I that old?) ). We’ve also done Tate Modern and V&A a bit too much (for the kids anyway, I could happily spend much more time in just the medieval gallery of the V&A). So today’s trip was yes, Tate Modern (but only a quick pop in to see the Sunflower Seeds, which we hadn’t seen), followed by The Museum of London, which the kids have never been to and I’ve only been to once, years ago and whilst I was still recovering from a foot operation, so as I spent most of that visit walking round the museum in pain, I don’t think I took that much in.
Now normally if you’re going to The Museum of London, there are loads of nearby tube stations, but none of the nearby ones were particularly accessible for Boy Lacer and his buggy, so we had to walk from Southwark tube station, which is accessible (as long as you pray to the god of working lifts). Southwark tube station is across the river from the museum and is about a 25 minute walk, but it’s a nice walk and you can detour via Tate Modern and walk across the Millennium Bridge, with it’s stunning approach to St. Pauls.
Guess who’s got an iPhone again? (After 5 months of having lost my phone and still never finding it, a combination of some very good fortune (which at the same time makes me feel a little sad, as once again an older relative has helped us out in way that I can personally never see myself being in a position to do when I’m one of the ‘older generation’) and some very nice people at O2, let me upgrade early, so I now have an iPhone 4 and I am extremely paranoid about losing it.) I had planned on taking more photos with my actual camera, but the weather has been very foul today and I think the kids would have garroted me with my camera strap if I even dared make them stop so I could faff about with my camera, so a quick snap with the Hipstamatic app on my iPhone, which I missed so much (both the app and the phone), had to do. I can see a solo photography trip into London coming up for me when I’ve got some time to spare and some nice(r) weather.
Anyway, by showing you my St. Pauls photo I’m getting ahead of myself, it should be the photos of Al Weiwei’s Sunflower Seeds first.
My opinion? Now I normally love any of the Tate Modern Turbine Hall exhibits, they’re fun, mostly exciting and engage people in art who may never normally get engaged in other more traditional forms, so I always think the vast sums of money that get spent on these things are worth it but (you could so hear the ‘but’ coming couldn’t you?), I am not sure about this one. I think if we had been allowed to do what the artist had intended for this piece (walk on it, touch it, roll around in it even), it would have been a lot better, but as it is, it really is just a lot of porcelain sunflower seeds, I still liked it, but I’ve seen a lot better in the Turbine Hall. (And I couldn’t help but think surely couldn’t they have tested the seeds beforehand, maybe make a smaller batch, get loads of people to walk on them and check what happened, before completing the project? – For those that don’t know, it turned out walking on them created dangerous levels of dust).
Then, via the Tate Modern shop which I never can resist, this time the kids got two beautiful books, I tried to psychically push Girl Lacer into choosing Neil Gaiman’s The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish, but I don’t think my psychic powers were quite up to scratch, she didn’t even glance at it, the quite dark art work (literally dark) in it is not yet to her taste I think, I think I may have to buy it for myself one of these days. Girl Lacer ended up buying A Walk in New York, which admittedly looks a pretty cool book to, we have a family fascination with New York, me and Mr. Lacer both adored our visit there and we have a giant picture of the Flatiron building on our living room wall, so it’s somewhere the kids are very aware of to. Boy Lacer chose another one of those books where you have to find something that’s hidden in the picture somewhere, like Where’s Wally? (which both kids adore), but this one is looking for cake. Boy Lacer also has another similar book (also from the Tate Modern shop) where you have to look for Eric, who has gone missing in a seaside resort (sorry for being totally useless and not saying what the names of the books are, both are in the kids’ room and they’re both asleep). And whereas I have to admit Boy Lacer approaching me with a Where’s Wally? book in his hand leaves me a bit cold (in fact me and Mr. Lacer have banned Where’s Wally? as a bedtime book, as it makes bedtime too long, the only book(s – we have more than one in the series) to have reached that distinction, I love the finding Eric at the seaside story (not the title by the way), as it has way more story in it (even though only one or two words a page) than a Where’s Wally? book.
Anyway, sorry I got distracted by the mental memory of all those gorgeous picture books, we then went on the The Museum of London, via a quick “Oh look, that’s St Paul’s cathedral”, as we walked past. We had a nice lunch at a very nice, but extremely eye wateringly expensive cafe there and then went and explored. My favourite was the London before London exhibit, but then again I am really loving A History of Ancient Britain on TV at the moment. The Roman section was also good with some lovely tiny models of Roman buildings, full of people doing Roman stuff, which the kids adored. The Medieval section had a medieval house whose real purpose seemed to be to let the kids going round the museum to let off steam as they reached the approximate half way mark. The newer stuff (1800s onwards) was less interesting but that was very probably just me, although the shopping street with mocked up shops was fantastic. And all free to, I approve of free (for museums anyway)! (Sorry, no photos, it wasn’t the best of places to get a decent photograph).
We then walked a very cold and very wet, more direct route back to Southwark tube, this time we walked over Blackfriars Bridge, which is a hive of industrious activity at the moment, with the building of the new station. I fact nearly all of that part of London, both sides of the river, seemed like a busy building site (plus with the already very impressive looking Shard in the distance – check out the video in that link, it’s like a building from a sci-fi movie has been transplanted into London). So we had fun looking at all the cranes and all the great big shiny new buildings (Boy Lacer said in awe at this point “It’s like a great adventure” awwwww).