On Friday evening we hit the M1 to London, the little ones slept all the way, leaving Leeds by night and waking up the next morning in North London. ‘Magic’ Xander exclaimed!
We always find it’s best to drive at night, Peter doesn’t mind it (I would no doubt battle staying awake at the wheel), the motorway tends to be quieter, late on, and the kids literally fall asleep as soon as we hit the motorway. Good times.
…With almost tropical temperatures (for autumn anyway)-shades were firmly on, the kids behaved impeccably well and it was a weekend of fun, fun, fun.
I’m not sure we’ve had a greater family weekend together, yet!
The kids were wide-mouthed amazed by the crowds, the electric London buzz, that overwhelming, intoxicating excitement you can only find in the capital. We love our lazy, country life in Yorkshire, we really do but equally we crave our Big Smoke hit and weekends like this satisfy us no end.
I loved the way the boys clung to us on the Tube and made zooming noises as we rattled through tunnels, Oliver tracing the stops above his head.
They watched in wonder at bendy red buses (‘why don’t our buses, bend in Leeds Mummy?’) navigated winding roads, shiny black cabs swished by, and the London landmarks came alive by nightfall: The Eye, Charing Cross Bridge, Big Ben…
We started (and ended) our day at the Southbank, playing in the park overlooking the river-
Thank you to St Bert’s for the cooler than cool clobber perfect for our break. Bright, vibrant, multi coloured, unisex clothes that suit my boys down to a ‘tee’.
The Sherpa Hoodies in dazzling blue and poppy red were sherpa lined meaning the kids didn’t need coats and get warm when the sun went in.
The tracksuit bottoms too were beautifully well made (I’d ordered the wrong size for O) so he wears jeans here.
Long sleeved tees are perfect transitional pieces and the timeless super cool surfer style with a nod to the 70’s is sublime. I want one for myself!
…It was lunch at Feng Sushi for the boys’ favourite cucumber maki and Japanese fish and chips-the ideal pick me up pre theatre.
Dark in parts, it’s perfectly pitched at 5+. Alexander, just 3 who we ambitiously brought with us (under 3’s are not allowed), left 10 minutes in, rather bored but enjoyed returning to the park with Daddy.
Oliver on the other hand, a mature 5 going on 15, was utterly captivated by what was most definitely, a world of pure imagination. Crucially where Tim Burton failed to muster in his film adaptation, the musical hinged the narrative rightly so, on the tender relationship between Charlie, Grandad Joe and of course Willy Wonker.
The musical felt much closer to the text and undoubtedly Roald Dahl would have approved
Charlie was more humane and 3D than the recent film, and with stand out performances from all, (Willy Wonker had the right amount of crazy but wasn’t frightening) and I was brought to tears several times.
A spectacle too: the special effects, flying glass elevator, electronic squirrels and streamers and sequins strewn into the audience made for jumping, happy little ones all round.
My only tiny concern was a few too many references to death or dying throughout which meant battling the odd awkward question in the break I managed to brush off.
I didn’t feel the closing scene of the narrator losing his head was necessary though and would advise they lose that. It should have ended on the uplifting note it was headed for moments earlier.
Nonetheless a 5 star show and one we’d return to again, we left incredibly moved, uplifted and in dire need of ‘real life’ as Oliver calls it, actual chocolate!
Thank goodness for the sweet treats in the foyer!
Brothers reunited, it was back to the Southbank for fun in an art installation, running through vibrant plastic old school door flaps, the boys couldn’t get enough of.
Oliver loved this street busker, a little too much and nearly took away her CD accidentally when he left some change for her!
…An outdoor market, open until 9pm meant sampling cocktails (us), sizzling sausages (them) and white chocolate cookies (everyone of course).
Pizza Express was smiling at us from the street lights so it was salad nicoise and pizza for the boys (and man) before Peter captured the prettiest of sunsets.
The following day, was glorious sunshine again so this time we drove to Cambridge, somewhere we’ve not visited for years, happily stumbling updon a Mid-Autumn Chinese Festival with mooncakes and dancing a-plenty plus a bouncy castle for the boys.
Enjoying the open parks there, a quick stop in John Lewis (hurry up and open in Leeds please), purchasing new boots, trainers and clothes for the little ones as we move into Autumn/Winter, it was a deliciously lazy, sunny Sunday.
-What was so wonderfully restorative about this weekend was how fully present we all were, simply enjoying one another’s company, no rushing, running, arranging, working, checking phones/ clocks, dashing for school runs, getting homework done, meeting deadlines and being caught up in the general day to day madness that is week life-we were simply a family in the moment, basking in the sun, taking in the sights, relaxed and happy as can be.
Total and utter bliss.
The most perfect weekend away.
It’s Monday and I’m missing it already!
*Charlie and the Chocolate Factory press photos.
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