We took the children to London at the weekend to meet my cousins for brunch. (Brunch is not something we do regularly, it’s always fun but by its very nature involves missing a meal, and I tend to prefer having both breakfast and lunch as two separate meals. Needless to say we each had an early morning Greggs on the train there.)
We walked around the streets of Bermondsey in the sunshine before realising we were over a mile away from the restaurant and Leo’s fervent desire to walk everywhere would mean brunch might be more like dinner. Ubers were ordered.
Dining in public with a toddler is a challenge of epic proportions. It’s no small undertaking. The key is having something to occupy them in all the moments they’re not eating. Of course they’re rarely interested in any of the distractions you’ve bought with you. Leo got bored of his book and ball in under three minutes. He much preferred sticking a very metal fork into the nearby electric socket then climbing down from his chair to squeeze behind another chair and getting painfully stuck with his face pressed up against the wicker.
Every component of the fruit bowl we ordered him was thrown back at me. We were all grateful when, after offering him everything else on my plate, he finally helped himself to a giant chunk of halloumi. It took him about four minutes to chew through. Four glorious minutes where he didn’t attempt to leave the table.
It’s often hard to relax into my meal with the toddler in tow so I tend to just wolf it down as quickly as possible so I can focus my attention on his every move. Mainly blocking his path to any readily available drinks to knock over. He was soon adamant it was time to leave so we each took it in turns to accompany him outside during the meal.
After a delicious brunch we wandered through Borough market before each going our separate ways; Maia and I headed to Harrods. I remember being in awe of the place when I first visited as a child, so thought it would be fun to stop by. She loved it. All the ridiculous opulence. I made the mistake of taking her to the toy section (just for a peek) where after careful consideration she selected a toy phone she wanted. No harm in asking…
I shook my head before even checking the price. £155. And you couldn’t actually contact anyone on it.
“We’ll er, go to the gift shop, I’ll get you something in there..” I said, praying she’d fall for something, perhaps a keyring, within my price range.
She did, and £12 later I felt very relieved.
After getting our fill of all things unaffordable, we walked down to the V&A, one of my favourite museums.
“Do you want to go inside?”
“Is there a shop?” she replied. (Oh dear, taking her to Harrods did not help my daughter’s already perpetual love of shopping.)
We spent our entire visit to the V&A in their gift shop, which I was assured by the store assistant is actually quite common.
“Some people just come here for the shop!”. How odd, I thought.
I left with a William Morris tea-towel and a V&A tote. Not everyone understood the role of the towel.
“It’s a display towel Joel!!” I said that evening when he tried to use it.
If we’d had more time I might have dragged Maia round the actual museum, but it was closing. She was content with her new kaleidoscope.
To end our day we met my cousins once again for a quick run around the Natural History Museum. No gift shops this time.
A Saturday well spent.