err, let me start with Friday, so I don't interrupt myself.
Friday Bob went to the Dr for a checkup. He was told that his heart rate/blood pressure is normal, but he has a named medical condition that causes his heart rate to drop (sometimes dangerously) when he has abdominal pain (usually caused by needing to use the toilet), and this is why he has passed out in the bathroom a few times. It also explains why he cannot think any sort of logical thoughts when he needs a toilet - there just isn't the blood flowing to his brain.
Sunday night we decided we would try to get to the science museum in London. We'd tried to get down there on a weekday before, so we were a little better prepared this time - I'd looked up directions to 2 other tube stations on our side of town, with parking lots. We checked Epping first, and the lot there was full and barricaded. Knowing from past experience that there was no other parking in town, we went on to the next town - Loughton. It's tube station parking lot was full and barricaded, too, but it was right next door to a grocery store with a "pay and display" lot, with many empty spots. So we went in there and checked the rates. For over 3 hours, the charge was 9 GBP - about $13. Crazy. But we were committed to going, so swallowed hard, went in the store for change, and paid and displayed.
Got on the tube with no trouble and headed in. I happened to discover (that morning) that the most logical station for us to change at was closed for repairs, so I found another option, and that worked out okay. (Carry the double stroller up the stairs, cross the hall, carry the stroller down the stairs.) As we got closer in to town, the tube got more and more full, as it has on previous trips. But I started to notice children. Lots of them. And I began to wonder if this was the "half-term break" I'd heard once, in passing, that was coming up.
We got off at South Kensington station, which has a pedestrian subway right to the front door of the science museum. We followed the signs easily enough, as did all the other massive hordes of people that poured out of various trains at SK station. We shoved and herded and mooed for a good 1/2 mile, including two flights of stairs. The first flight actually had a line - a mob, really - standing at the foot waiting for a chance to get up the stairs. There was a man directing traffic flow, so that some people could get down the stairs, too. I had to help Bob carry the stroller, so I got the older children to hold hands, two and two, and told them to stay together no matter what. At the top of the stairs Naysha and Riah were right behind me, but Taryn and Cedwryck had fallen behind a bit, so I stopped there and waited for them and they made it.
When we came out of the tunnel we turned left (the crowd going right) and stopped to catch our breath. After an hour in the car and another in the tube, we all, including Bob, needed the toilet. Which, as you now know, means he was having a hard time mentally. But we pulled it together a bit and took stock of our surroundings. The entrance was, as advertised, right next to the entrance of the pedestrian subway. However, there was a barricade up there, and two uniformed people waving the crowd down the street. It took a while to figure, just because of the massive number of people, but the line to get in actually began a block away. Not a single file block-long line, but about 4 wide. We said, "This is nuts" and began looking for a way out. There wasn't a street crossing there, so we walked down the street past the line. At the corner, there was another line, headed the other way. It went down one block and around another corner and halfway down that block to the entrance to the Natural History museum. And there was another line coming from the other side of that one, also going into the NHM. NUTS!!!
We crossed the street at the corner and began to wander aimlessly, longing for a toilet. Somehow we ended up back at the main exit/entrance to SK station, and we thought to look in there, but no luck. I asked a man in a shop, and he said go out and turn right. There is a toilet there - a single toilet about the size of a phone booth, but it was closed for construction going on there. So Bob asked another place and they didn't know. Cedwryck was getting desperate, and as he did have an accident in London before... I hate to admit it, but I told him to just go. He was between two trash bins, out of sight, and where no one would step in it. We peed and peed and peed. I thought sure I would get arrested before he got done, but he finally finished up and we went on. I'd seen a hotel and suggested we look there. They might even have a restaurant. But no. So we kept looking.
Surprisingly, the area there had several restaurants/cafes. After trying two or three, I spotted a "gentlemen" sign through a window of one. Bob and Riah went in while I read the menu in the window. Sounded good. So when the boys were done we all went in and sat down - there was a table for 8 open. It was an Italian coffee shop, but they had some hot dishes too. We all got bacon sandwiches; Bob had his with egg, on a croissant; the rest of us had wheat bread. They were really good, the waitress filled our water pitcher twice in spite of being busy, and we all got to use the toilet. Yay!
After lunch we all felt much better and Bob had brain function once again. I got to thinking - Kensington: Kensington Gardens: children run and play: Bob take pictures: everybody happy. I figured it would be close, but didn't know which way, so we went back to the station and bought a map. Of the 4 or 5 styles of map, this was the only one that was both close in enough to see the street names, and big enough to tell how to get from one street to the other. We also got some cookies for the children. Named "melts" but they were very hard and crunchy.
So we headed over toward the park. Kensington Gardens are actually just across the street from Hyde park, and we ended up being on the Hyde side, so we actually went through Hyde park instead of KG. Saw the water, ducks, Diana's memorial "fountain," and walked through and up to H.P. corner - there was no one speaking - and got onto the tube there to head back home.
So yeah, we spent probably a total of $70 to walk through a park. But I enjoyed just being there, and the children think the tube is exciting. Bob is the only one who really didn't enjoy the day at all.
We did stop at Epping on the way home and had dinner at McDonald's while the children played in the indoor playplace. Bob and I have sore legs, and Bob's shoulders were stiff from carrying his camera backpack all over. Taryn hasn't complained from carrying the diaper bag.
Next time we will definitely check the school schedule first, somehow. And take the map. Ah, next time! I'm glad we aren't just here for a week.