Published: November 2nd 2010October 5th 2010
Bright and early in the morning, John took Cocky to hand the hire car back, while Goanna tried to round up the last bits of our luggage. Finally we were ready to set off on the leg of our adventure to which we were really looking forward to (London, Paris and Disneyland), but also which Cocky & I were quietly dreading. This day marked the start of the leg of our journey in which we would be entirely reliant on public transport. It also marked the start of the time were we felt that would be really on our own for the first time since leaving home. The next time we saw a familiar face would be five weeks away when we arrived back home in Melbourne. As we prepared to set off that morning, both of us felt the weight of responsibility and also a little apprehension at the thought of getting our little family safely through the next few weeks, despite the anticipation in the air of the adventures to come. Telling ourselves that it was one of those times to “Suck it up, Princess”, we did just that and set off.
John & Margery’s neighbour, Sue, was
roped in to help get us and all our junk to Twyford Station. Before long we had said our goodbyes and thanks to John & Margery and to Sue, were on the train and on our way to London. Always ones to love riding on trains, we all enjoyed the chance to travel on a different kind of train network.
Our journey took us on the regional rail to Paddington Station, where we had to change to the London underground (Tube) to King’s Cross St Pancras Station. Thankfully we’d heeded advice from those in the know and made sure to time our journey to be out of peak-hours. We would never have managed to get on and off trains and between platforms with all our stuff if we had to move in the busiest times of the day.
With London’s train system being as old as it is, there were no lifts or escalators at Paddington, and only some functioning lifts at King’s Cross-St Pancras, necessitating us to adopt a “three-point bag shuffle”, a maneuver with which we were to become only too familiar with over the next week. This involved Little Cocky waiting at one end of a
staircase with some bags, with Goanna with Possy in the stroller at the other end with the rest while Cocky hoiked everything up or down in between us. Last thing to be moved would be Possy in her pram, with the both of us carrying her in it between us.
As if the bag shuffle wasn’t enough “fun” for all of us, Little Cocky got a hell of a fright (as did us) when we tried to get onto the Tube for the first time. When the train pulled in, a whole load of people got off, delaying us getting on with all our bags. Little Cocky jumped in ahead of us, just as we were about to start putting the bags on. At the same time, the door alarms rang that they were going to close. Cocky roared at him to get out, just as the doors started to close. He threw his whole weight behind the door to hold it open, giving Little Cocky just enough space and time to get out as the doors crashed shut and the train left. It was a lesson that he didn’t forget. We haven’t had to remind him not to
get onto a train until told to by one of us again. Needless to say, the whole experience only amplified the feelings of apprehension that we’d been feeling all morning, jangling all our nerves for quite a while after that.
Three sets of stairs, one hell of a fright, and a long walk with all our kit later, we arrived at our hotel, hot, hungry, tired, quietly cursing all the crap we’d brought with us, and not-so-quietly cursing at each other. Not the best start to our London adventures, however knowing that it could only get better from here we set out in search of food and a bit of a not-too-taxing look at the city. We crashed into the nearest food outlet to our hotel, which happened to be a set of Golden Arches (McDonald’s). Little Cocky was thrilled. We were happy just to be fed and watered without us having to fork out the national debt to do so. Funny how differently adults and kids see things.
Bellies full and feeling a lot happier with each other and the world, we decided to brave the Tube again and go down to Oxford Circus and walk along
the posh and beautiful shops in Regent St. Unbeknown to Little Cocky, we’d also planned to hunt out Hamley’s Toy Store along the way. His eyes just about popped out of his head, when he saw Hamley’s and realised that it was seven floors of nothing but toys. It was like entering Mr Macgorium’s Wonder Emporium, a truly wonderful and magical experience for all of us. We started at the top and spent a happy couple of hours working our way right back down to the basement through each level. In each department there were staff and entertainers there just to play and have fun with the kids. It was hard to drag ourselves away, and Little Cocky had a tough time settling on a toy to take home, eventually deciding on a Hamley’s teddy each for both himself and Possy.
We continued our stroll along Regent St, ending in Piccadilly Circus, from where we caught the Tube back to the hotel (in peak hour by this time). Our afternoon walk had felt a bit like walking along the Monopoly board, and it all seemed a bit surreal that we were actually in London seeing so many famous landmarks
and places just in the space of a short afternoon stroll.
LITTLE COCKY’S COMMENTS: We went on two trains to London, first a country train, then we got onto the London underground, which they call the Tube. It was very busy and tiring carrying everything up and down the stairs, and dragging our luggage around. In the afternoon we went to Hamley’s toy shop, which is one of the biggest and oldest toy shops in the world. It is their 250th birthday this year and has seven floors of toys. My sister and I got a teddy bear each to take home.
There are more photos below