Taken last Thursday night, walking back through the grounds of the old "Victorian Model Asylum" ("The Royal Earlswood Hospital Asylum for Idiots and Imbeciles" (as it was called - not terribly PC) on the hill - the first director is still famous - Dr. John Langdon Down; he who first identified Downs Syndrome)...
This is about as bright as it's going to be from now on during my walk home, we are firmly heading towards winter fog and chills...going to need to dig out my torch...!
Used to walk past this all the time but never really paid much attention to the site itself, wandering round it looks like it's an initiative by Bankside Open Spaces Trust to get all the local kids involved in outdoor activities, the site itself was set aside (all the way back) in 1919 by the Duchess of Marlborough purely for kids to play in (but until recently it was just a large tarmac square)...now, however -
- it's got beach volleyball -
- a very nice 5-a-side football pitch (didn't take pics but) - basketball hoops, a few objects to grind off if you like skateboarding, a very large bag stand (presumably for kickboxing) and this -
- a "Growup box" (complete with "Shutterpatch") -
- looking at the BOST website, it's been *extremely* successful (like 3000 users successful)...the Duchess would be proud... ;)
You have got to be kidding me...this - £14(!) - appears to be the cheapest price (within a mile of where I work) to get a dry buzz cut (yes, exactly the kind of hair cut that takes about 90 seconds and very little skill - it's barely worth sitting down for!)...the average price, shopping around, was £18! I just don't understand why people pay that sort of money - Well, I'm not going to...my hair will just have to stay long until the weekend (when I can get it done in Surrey for under a tenner), so there...!
That is, unless anyone knows where the *normal* folk of Wapping go when they need a quick barnet chicker (trust me, it isn't anywhere near the robdogs of St Katherine docks)...
Update - Flyingpops is out in Crawley buying some clippers...
You *couldn't* ask for a much more clichéd shot of London, quite frankly... ;) The guy actually slowed down when he spotted me struggling to frame the shot and waved! I gave him a big thumbs up back... ;)
So (after only one -very minor- sat-nav hiccough) we found ourselves (the very last) parking space, grabbed (or rode - in Thomas' case) our overnight bags and headed into reception at the Hilton Hotel Southampton -
- which had a jolly nice fish tank (to keep the kids amused while we checked in)...our room was on the ground floor (great!), so we quickly booked a table at the restaurant, dumped our things, freshened up a little and then ran straight for food - an excellent burger and chunky chips for me, veggie risotto for Flyingpops and the kids had a quite extensive buffet to choose from (the fried chicken from which was absolutely amazing - I must confess to actually eating about a portion-worth myself as I was helping them to theirs)...pudding was profiteroles for Flyingpops, lemon and blackberry sorbet for me and watermelon (for the little ones - although Thomas did help out with my sorbet)...during dinner Flyingpops broke the news to Thomas that we would be going back to Peppa Pig World the next day (to great joy) and everything was topped off by our lovely waitress delivering helium balloons (their choice of colour) and free activity packs (Pirate themed for Thomas and Princess themed for Poppy) - it really couldn't have been any better! As you can imagine we all slept like logs, got up early for breakfast (which was a *stunning* spread - I think Thomas had about 4 platefuls in the end)! Then we were checking out and heading off into the bright sunshine, our plan being to be *right* at the front of the queue come park opening time to make the very most of day 2 of our adventure! ;)
So after an (unavoidably) getaway-free holiday break from work (just gone) -once Thomas was firmly back on his feet and eating and drinking properly- we actually did manage to book a mini break (to make up for it) - a buy-one-get-one-free couple of days at Paulton's Park (home of Peppa Pig World - to which Thomas had long been promised a trip)...in the intervening time his interest in actually watching Peppa Pig had (admittedly) greatly diminished, but the trip away was announced to the family as simply a "trip to stay in a hotel" (with which he was quite excited enough)...we were up early (to try and avoid the worst of the traffic) and at our scheduled stop for breakfast at Fleet services (quite unplanned) he spotted a *huge* poster covered in Peppa Pig World logos and pointed it out to Flyingpops and I...Flyingpops said "Yes, that poster is for Peppa Pig World which actually isn't too far from here" (terribly nonchalantly) to which Thomas thought for a second and then replied hopefully "I've never been to Peppa Pig World, Mummy...can we go there?"...the *huge* smile when Flyingpops said "Yes Thomas, why not?" was (as they say) - priceless... ;)
Actually getting into the park once we arrived wasn't as easy as it could have been, the confirmation email on Flyingpops 'phone didn't have the right details on it (apparently) so we had to wait around while she found some customer service person at another entrance to give her a scrap of paper with the secret codes required for entry-
Before long, however, we were walking through the main park, heading to the "other" entrance arch (it's very much a park-within-a-park and pretty much *everyone* was heading in the same direction)...
Thomas (once inside) was running from one amazing sight to the next and all was going just wonderfully until it came time to queue up for the first ride -
- Poppy really wasn't interested in standing in a queue (at all) and Thomas thought that we had waited quite long enough and it was our turn after about 3 minutes and was most displeased at the prospect of waiting for "all these rude people who won't let us go next" -
- anyway, he loved it when he got *on* the ride, but frankly there are two issues here that didn't have to exist-
The problem of keeping kids (of a certain age) perfectly amused and content in (even very long) queues has already been solved -it is heaps of Duplo- see Legoland (which I have just realised I never wrote about on here) - in fact, there were times when we almost couldn't get Thomas to proceed *along* the queues at Legoland because he was too absorbed with what he was building - there is *nothing* to keep kids amused in these queues at all
At opening time *everyone* rushes to the Peppa Pig World and most don't leave which means the queues in this popular part of the park are always much longer than they need to be - thankfully this is simple to solve too (assuming your kid isn't in a position with you to strop and refuse) - go on one of the almost identical (but non-Peppa Pig) equivalents in the main park - e.g. take the Viking Boat ride instead of Grandpa Pig's Boat ride -no joke- the queue is 15 minutes quicker and ride is much better - but everyone insists on going to the Grandpa Pig ride (and waiting and waiting and waiting)...once we figured this out things went much better...spreading the Peppa Pig rides around the main park would have meant this would have been much less of an issue overall, but there you go...it's probably a bit late to change things now... ;)
Anyway, we met Peppa and George (who are incredibly hard working, putting in personal appearances all day long)-
- saw Mr Potato (who had quite a good outdoor play area)-
-saw a nice pancake breakfast being cooked and eaten in Peppa's house (kind-of)-
-and went on a Dinosaur ride (the first ride Thomas found he had to go on by himself, as he was too big to be accompanied by an adult (bit of a milestone)! Shame the queue was so soul-destroyingly lengthy...
Next we queued up (yawn) for the boat ride (won't be doing that again!) then stopped for a spot of packed lunch before a long play in the excellent indoor soft play-
- complete with rocket (and exit slide)-
-and recycling centre...next up -
- the big balloon ride (which made Flyingpops feel a bit sick) -
- a studio-style photo shoot in the School building -
- a nice relaxing train ride (around the whole of the outside of Peppa Pig World)-
- a cheeky ice cream -
- and then Thomas and I took a (roughly five storey) bumpy ride in a rubber dingy down a massive water slide - it was *fast* - couldn't quite believe someone of Thomas' age was allowed to go on something like this...! And then of course we found the next ride he was perfectly okay to go on...the park's main Log Flume(!) -
Yeah (a properly big adult log flume)...he loved it...we spent the rest of the day (pretty much) rejoining the queue for that so he could get even more soaked (laughing manically) - these queues, even when they were completely full - took about 10-15 minutes (compared to 45 minutes for the simplest attraction in Peppa Pig World - just crazy)-
- anyway, somehow we managed to tear Thomas away from the log flume and broke (very briefly) for him to go on a couple of nearby rides (that were actually designed for kids his age - the ramp on the seal ride was just laughable compared to what he had been doing five minutes earlier, but he enjoyed it as he was doing it on his own)...before long the park was shutting and it was time to head off to the hotel (Thomas still unaware that we had another full day of this to come tomorrow) - although (to be honest) I was absolutely exhausted after that lot! ;)
Speaking of odd TFL things...these new spray painted feet (every other step) on the escalators at London Bridge are a bit strange too...at face value they would seem to indicate that the right hand side is for going down the escalator and the left hand side is for going up it (a bit of a tough ask as, obviously, the escalators only go in one direction at a time)...! Were they a misguided official addition or are they a bit of street "art"? One thing is for certain, it's not going to help the tourists navigate the station any quicker...I'm thinking prank...