Although we are at home, and going no further than my parents' for the long weekend, I have had a couple of very different and interesting days.
Yesterday, I had arranged to have my grandson, known to Blogland as The Boy, to spend the night as his parents wanted to go out to dinner and his bedroom is currently uninhabitable due to being re-plastered. So my daughter suggested we met at the Horniman museum in Forest Hill which, despite living in the area for over 30 years, I had never visited. I always thought it was awkward to get to, but in fact it is on a direct bus route from Brixton. For my daughter, it is a fairly direct journey on the Overground, although it takes quite a long time. In fact, it took longer than she thought, and I ended up drinking coffee in the café there and rather wishing I hadn't had lunch as the "Healthy Eating" dishes - mostly falafel, hummus and salad - sounded so delicious.
The Horniman Museum is very splendid. There are a couple of wonderfully old-fashioned nature galleries, full of stuffed animals and birds, and wonderful for small boys to run around in. Then there is a music gallery, and a room designed for "hands on" music-making, also lovely for small boys. The gardens, too, looked as if they would be glorious, but, alas, it was far too cold to want to walk around in them. So we came home on the bus.
Today was, if anything, even more interesting. My daughter had scored free tickets to the ArcelorMittal Orbit, the odd sculpture in the middle of the Olympic Park, so the Swan Whisperer, the Boy and I set out fairly early, braving the overcrowded northbound Northern Line and changing at Bank to the DLR, and then changing again at Poplar. I do like the DLR, and we were lucky enough to get front seats on both trains - the Boy loved this, needless to say. When we arrived at Pudding Mill Lane, it was only a short walk to the site office, where we picked up our tickets and waited for the Daughter to join us. She was a few minutes late as it was a longer walk from the centre of Stratford than she'd realised, but that didn't matter.
The tour was a preview of what the public will be able to pay quite a lot of money to see from tomorrow! A bus tour takes you around what will eventually be the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, and then you go up the ArcelorMittal Orbit. You start off on the ground, and then a high-speed lift whisks you up to the top of it. Where there are splendid views all over London. Then you were supposed to go outside, but it was bitterly cold, and the floor was the kind I hate, with little holes in it so you could see the immense drop below. Thanks, but no thanks. So the Boy and I went down in the lift- we should really have stopped off on the floor below, where I gather there are fun things to do - and the other two WALKED all the way down. My knee would not have survived that.
The Boy and I caught a bus into Stratford, while the other two walked, and we were happily ensconced with our coffee and babycino in Costa when they arrived. After a couple of errands, my daughter and the Boy went off, the Swan Whisperer having already left, and I did a bit of shopping, and then treated myself to lunch in the Moroccan place in Westfield - falafel wrap, yum - and a kulfi ice-cream in the Indian sweetshop opposite. I then walked to Stratford International DLR station - I had some thought of treating myself to a ride on the Javelin to St Pancras, but I was just about to miss one and then next was not for another half an hour, so not worth it - and got the DLR to Canning Town, then the Jubilee Line to Canada Water, the Overground to Peckham Rye and the 37 bus home! Which took a long time, but was fun. What I ought to have done was to have stayed on the DLR one more stop, to Royal Victoria and then the Emirates to North Greenwich, but I didn't think of that in time!
Then home, and 30 minutes' work, and then out again in the early evening to a pamper evening at l'Occitane en Provence, where I was VERY strong-minded and managed not to buy anything, but had champagne, a hand massage (which would have been much nicer if she'd taken off her ring), chocolates and a facial, and came away with some free samples!
All in all, I shall be glad of a few days' break in Sussex over the Easter weekend.