Last proper day of the half term holiday today and we went to Tate Modern. I’ve been meaning to take Girl Lacer for a while, I’d always thought she’d like it. So I braved public transport, with two small children on my own. Now I’m not foolish, although I count myself extremely lucky to live in London with all these wonderful things to do, I am not the sort of person who tries to lug my pushchair and small children everywhere, I always take into account accessibility for four wheels (my pushchair) which thankfully has improved in recent years, courtesy to improvements for wheelchair access, although it’s still not brilliant, so consequently there are some things we just don’t do, although it is easier with the muscles of Mr. Lacer in tow. However, one of my local train stations has recently improved it’s access (and they’re working on the other), so that and the fact that our trains go to Waterloo, which goes straight onto the disabled friendly Jubilee extension which is the nearest line to Tate Modern, meant I could do Tate Modern, on my own, with two kids, reasonably easily.
In practice the journey wasn’t too bad, I’d forgotten the ‘challenges’ of trying to get a pushchair on and off a train and was reliant on strangers for help. We opted to go via London Bridge, although I think Southwark is nearer, as the walk from London Bridge to Tate Modern is along the river which is nicer. We had to retrace our route several times as we came across steps, but it was great to show the kids the river, with the Gherkin (which Girl Lacer knew as Dr. Juno’s hospital from Me Too), St. Pauls, Golden Hinde, The Globe and the
Wobbly BridgeMillennium Bridge.
Once we got to Tate Modern (after a quick detour for a quick photo opportunity on a very windy Wobbly Bridge), we went straight to check out the crack
Girl Lacer was fascinated (as was every other child in the place), staring down deep into the crack and declaring there was “fluff in there” (which there was, quite a lot), she then made me go and read the notice so “see how it was made”.
At lunch, which was shortly afterwards, me and Girl Lacer had an interesting conversation, led by her about “what art is”, I gave the uber broad definition (considering where we were and what we’d just seen) as “art is something you like”. So we discussed whether In the Night Garden was ‘art’ as they liked that (I said yes, I think it is in a way) and Finley the Fire Engine (which I also said yes, as it’s a cartoon). We then talked about people who’s job was to draw things (artists) to which both Girl and Boy Lacer pointed to the group of art students sitting at the other end of the sofa “Like them you mean?” said Girl Lacer, I nodded, Girl and Boy Lacer spend the next 5 minutes staring at them. We then talked about my mum who was an artist and was questioned whether she’d been at the ‘art gallery’, I said no, they hadn’t made it then, but she spent alot of time painting people with no clothes on.
So after an enlightening, philosophical lunch we went to check out the art galleries and it felt like I was taking around my own little piece of performance art, as I followed Girl Lacer around the galleries, watching with interest which pieces she was attracted to and her pointing at each (or in some cases everything in the whole room) “That’s art, that’s art, that’s art that is”. I think it was enlightening to her to see these pictures on the wall, some of which to the untrained eye looked like she (a 4 year old) could have done them.
I think our family favourite (other than the crack) was ‘The Colour Box’ by Len Lye, a GPO film where they painted directly onto the film, creating a musical riot of colour, we watched that several times.
When we finally saw everything (that was free anyway), we popped into the shop there (which I’ve always loved and has an absolutely fantastic kids section, with fantastic kids books and art stuff). Girl Lacer got a collection of different scraps of paper for her art work, Boy Lacer got an Eric Carle book, the kids both got to choose a lovely printed melamine plate (we like collecting melamine plates) and I got a new craft book.
Going home, even though I told Girl Lacer that if we returned via Southwark it was probably shorter (she was the ‘map reader’, I showed her on the map), she wanted to go via London Bridge as long as we were ‘careful’ and didn’t get lost this time. We detoured this time through Borough Market which I miss terribly as it’s a fantastic foodie market which I used to go to regularly when I lived closer to the centre of London. The smells from that market are amazing and we stopped off at Flour Power City’s stall, who do the most sinful chocolate brownies (which I had to have, I start a diet tomorrow after all ) and I let Girl Lacer choose a loaf of bread from their mouthwatering variety, she of course chose a plain white loaf, which was still absolutely divine, as testified as there being now ‘not much left’.
Once home Girl Lacer settled herself immediately to make ‘stickers’ with her new collection of paper and some sticky tabs (the result a really nice layered collage) and Boy Lacer busied himself with his current favourite activity of Hama beads. So that’s half term over and done with and I’ve had two lovely children (specially today) all week and we’ve done lots of nice activities (unlike one of my friends I bumped into who seemed to have spent the entire holiday in a coffee bar). It’s been an expensive week, even though I’ve deliberately gone for free activities, just unrushed shopping, lunches and travel expenses, I can get now why our finances have improved in recent months, before Girl Lacer started nursery and after playgroup closed (May to September, it was like one long holiday as we had nothing to do), even though we tried to stick to free activities and cheap lunches (slightly embarrassing moment of the week, a play date in the morning with a friend, followed by a joint walk into town, friend and her children were heading for lunch at a cafe, just a plain old sandwich / salad type cafe, where I made the mistake of going into once and when I took my tray of three sandwiches and drinks to the till felt literally weak kneed at the cost of it, I haven’t been in there since, honestly the big chain coffee shops are cheaper, so anyway I did not have the money to go there, so we said our goodbyes and went to the supermarket and then onto M&S foodhall for some bits for an inside the shopping mall picnic lunch, so there we were sitting on the floor (everyone else had had the same idea) eating our M&S cocktail sausages, bread rolls, crisps and mango and there walked past my friend fresh from the cafe). So, I’m already looking forward to future holidays, Easter we’re at my dad’s (which is what counts as a ‘holiday’), then there will be the next half term where hopefully the weather will be a bit better and then there is the summer holidays and then school, it’s getting sooo close. It seems a shame that just as they’re getting interesting they have to go to school, I can sort of see that as one of the attractions of homeschooling (which I would never consider for Girl Lacer, she’s too sociable but I would possibly Boy Lacer). Girl Lacer has already asked when are we going to the art gallery again. I think when Girl Lacer is at school, me and Boy Lacer will have a chance to do more things like museums etc., I think he will be very keen on the Natural History Museum (he’s mad on dinosaurs) and although I’ll feel a little guilty that Girl Lacer won’t be there, I sort of see it as a trade off, Girl Lacer had me to herself as a baby, so when Boy Lacer did not have the same as baby I always knew that when he was 3 – 4 he would have me to himself during the school day, one of the reasons why although I am broody for a third (Girl Lacer is broody to, she said yesterday she wanted me to have ‘hundreds of babies’), there is going to be a large gap between no.2 and no.3.