This weekend our schedule in London went like this: kids cinema at the Barbican at 11, followed by lunch outside at the Cheese & Wine Festival at the Southbank Centre and ending in the Damian Hirst exhibition at the Tate Modern. What could go wrong? The gods of buses, weather and tourists conspired against us and we had a totally different day out than expected.
The cinema fail starts with the misconception that the Barbican was the BFI, and therefore on the Southbank. Diverted buses (this is Weasel below wondering if we’d ever get moving again), meant a late arrival at the Barbican. Given you can’t really be 20 minutes late to a 65 minute kids film, especially when your kid has decided to forgo the normal nap on the train and fall asleep exactly before the film for her has started. Complete cinema fail. Grabbing a tea at the fake Costa in the hall instead (coffee machine broken), we got to admire what I am sure is an amazing example of 1950’s brutalist architecture whilst Weasel slept and I ate her shortbread that she would never see. It does seem a good place for a toddler to run riot out of the rain, as Weasel’s friend Roo demonstrated and again is another example of a fantastic, if not a little dated, public space in London. Will I trek there again to
not see a film? No. It will have to be something more unique than that to get me to make that trek again.
Onto the cheese & wine! Although dreams of sitting in the sunshine with Weasel eating lovely cheese and chatting away were washed away with the weather, we could still pick up some nice food for lunch and hang out at the always-amazing Royal Festival Hall. It’s a public space, it’s warm, it has sofas, it allows you to eat your body weight in cheese whilst your toddler runs in circles on the sunken in ballroom area. This place is pure genius and it makes me happy the my tax money pays for such a cool place that’s open to the public that you’d actually want to hang out in. The festival itself was a lot bigger than I remember the last food festival I went to there being, although running between downpours to get lunch and buy some compte, I didn’t really hang around much!
Food, unsurprisingly, was pretty cheese heavy. The cunning plan was to both get raclette on potatoes, sausages and bacon (ah yes, sausages AND bacon) and share with Weasel. Apart from a few bites of sausage, she really couldn’t have been less interested in food for wanting to run round like a crazed toddler. Oh well.
And to the 3rd party of our exciting journey – the Tate Modern. I should have listened to that tiny voice in my head that said “book tickets in advance”, but instead listened to that other loud screechy voice that says “what’s the chances of having to bail because someone is being stroppy?”. So not being able to get into the Damian Hirst exhibition, we decided to do the free bits instead. On a Saturday. With two prams and a seriously grumpy toddler. Half of London’s tourists seemed to be sheltering from the impending flood in the Tate, most of which were unable to read the sign that says if you can walk up the stairs you should, you know, have common sense and take the stairs, and stop jumping in front of me at the friggin lifts!!! Changing facilities were difficult to find (only sign-posted on one floor) and no one was keen on letting a pram through. I’ll never go back with a pram on a weekend; this place is going to be firmly reserved for weekdays or sunny days when everyone is frying outside. I’ll eventually give a verdict on Hirst’s work for a toddler once we manage to get in. It’s full of animals (ok, dead ones) so I reckon it will be awesome. Watch this space.