Monthly Archives: June 2014

Winnie The Pooh Day: Mom Camp Day 14

Today was all about leaving London and exploring the 100 Acre Woods. Throughout the whole trip The Princess had a constant refrain:

When is it going to be Winnie the Pooh Day?

She loves the stories and the all characters. She has seen many of the Disney movies, as well. However, I am pretty sure she likes the stories better. And, really who doesn’t like A. A. Milne better?

Before we hit the 100 Acre Woods we had to say goodbye to Queen Gram. She snuck out of the flat and left for Las Vegas before any of us were awake. The Captain got our rental car, we loaded up and drove out of town to start the second leg of our amazing journey.

Per my crazy planning, I printed out door-to-door directions for all our destinations. However, 90% of the time The Captain preferred to use good old Google Maps on his iphone. That was all well and good, until it wasn’t and then my pages and pages of print outs came in handy… However, we made it out of London driving on the opposite side of the road and using those crazy round abouts.

We stuck mainly to small side roads once we escaped London…slow, small and snakey.

Leaving London we encountered some weather.  The Captain faced a down pour as he went to get the rental car.  This was not good as Pooh Day was all about being in the great outdoors!

Pooh CornerThe first stop was a little placed called Pooh Corner which a small tea room attached to a shop.  The Princess was dying to go the tea room because it was called Piglet’s Tea Room.  We went in and lucky for us the rain had stopped and turned to sunshine.  So, we were able to sit in the small garden at the back of the building. The kids ordered Winnie the Pooh shaped honey toast and I had a scone and coffee.

Then it was off to the Pooh Sticks Bridge. For those you who have read the stories, you know exactly what I am talking about. For those of you who haven’t, I’ll explain. In the books, they play Pooh Sticks.  Everyone gets a twig or small stick and at the same time drops it off a bridge.  The person who’s stick pops out on the other side of bridge first wins!  The Pooh Sticks Bridge is the original bridge from the stories.

Pooh Bridge

To get to the bridge you walk along a rather short wooded path which provides ample opportunity to find good Pooh Sticks.  We, of course, played several rounds of Pooh Sticks.  (Although we had to explain the rules to The Captain.)

Eore's house

Eore’s House

Walking back on the path we noticed Eore’s house!  (Okay, it’s not really Eore’s house– but I looked just as you would imagine and the kids we thrilled!)

Our third stop was the 100 Acre Woods, it’s real name is the 500 Acre Woods, but Milne changed it for the book. I found a specific walking tour that featured different places from the map at the start of the book. We walked by the Heffalump Trap and Roo’s sandy pit. The kids also thought they found Pooh’s House and The Six Pine Trees (Although by my count there were seven. But lets not let that get in the way of imagination and excitement!)

All in all the kids had a blast!

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The Family Fang: Easy Summer Reading…

The Family FangThe Family Fang by Kevin Wilson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Family Fang features a family of four. The parents Caleb and Camille engage in a strange type of performance art where they attempt to disrupt the world around them by acting in bizarre and unexpected ways. The “art” is based on how normal people react to their chaotic stirring up of reality. Almost from birth, the parents force the children into being a part of the strange scenes they create. They begin recording the “art” and submitting it for grants and other awards. In the “art” pieces the kids are referred to by A and B.

We join the story once A and B have grown up and both move back home after life’s normal chaos takes over their lives. Shortly after returning home, Caleb and Camille disappear. The police contact A and B because they suspect that Caleb and Camille have been killed. The kids think it’s another performance art piece.

I won’t tell you any more to avoid spoilers. But, as you can already tell the story is about issues of self and parental control.

It is a snappy quick book that thrives on the quirky and absurd. The book entertains and compels the reader forward with the desire to know if they parents are dead or crazy. A fun, light, book read perfect for summer.

View all my reviews

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The Captain Arrives! Mom Camp Day 13

Today was the day the Captain joined us in London! Of course, his flight didn’t arrive until the afternoon so there was the opportunity for some quick touring before his arrival.

2014 06 06_England 2014_0758_edited-1 It was off to see Westminster Abbey! Yet again, The Princess was digging the Abbey and Cinco was ready to had to pretty quick.

The Abbey provided a children’s scavenger hunt which lead the kids around the place and kept them engaged. However, a few of questions could only be answered by listening to the audio guide. That was something of a challenge as the kids were going through the Abbey pretty quickly.

I did get the opportunity to see a few of the royal from the Plantagenets. But, the tomb of Edward the Confessor was closed because it is so old and delicate.

The Princess was dead set on seeing the tombs of Queen Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scotts! She also loved The Chapter House.

The Abbey offered a prize when the scavenger hunt was over– a chocolate gold coin. Both Queen Gram and I figured it would be a small coin. Oh no! They received a giant chocolate coin and promptly ate all of it!

Then it was back to the flat to wait for The Captain’s arrival!!! The kids were understandable excited to see their dad.

He said he wanted to check out The British Museum. So we made a second tour of the place. We saw a few of the Egyptian items this time and I got to see some of the carvings from the Tomb of Halicarnassus, one of the 7 Wonders of the Ancient world! But, mainly Cinco wanted to show The Captain all things he saw on his visit. He was very excited to show his dad all the items he liked and I thought it was rather adorable.

Cinco also managed to hold off spending his money so he did get the mini Lewis Chessmen set!!!

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Tower Power: Cod Pieces, Beheadings and Trebuchets…Mom Camp Day 12

Today, I was mom on a mission! We were off to see the Tower of London and FINALLY, drum roll please, TEMPLE CHURCH.

Having thoroughly consulted my guidebooks before leaving for London, I decided the family must arrive at the Tower of London promptly at 9 am.  This was to avoid the crowds.  Queen Gram was less than pleased with the plan because it meant battling the Tube during morning rush hour! I would not be dissuaded.

Why was I so insistent about beating the crowds?  Well, I have a very vivid memory of going to the Tower with Queen Gram, The Duke (AKA my father) and my best friend in high school.  We were in London in April for Spring Break and the line was a NIGHTMARE.  There was no way I was going to re-live the line experience with two cranky kids in tow.  So rush hour or no, we were going to be there when the Tower opened!

And, thanks to my stubbornness, we arrived at the Tower Tube stop roughly at 9:10 am, which was good enough.  We took a quick detour to examine the remains of the old Roman wall and snap a few photos and then strolled into the Tower.  (No Line!)

The Tower Ravens...Or should I say Raven?

The Tower Ravens…Or should I say Raven?

Based on my research, we scooted off to the see the Crown Jewels first thing.  The lines for the Crown Jewels can get long and again, I wanted to avoid them.  We had a great experience looking at the jewels and I even went through the moving walkway to stare at the jewels twice without any problem.

The Princess liked looking at the jewel and particularly the Orb:

“Elsa from Frozen has an Orb mom!”– The Princess

Child's Armor--- Cinco Loved Looking at it!

Child’s Armor— Cinco Loved Looking at it!

After accomplishing this by 9:45, it was off to the White Tower and the Armor! We arrived here early enough that there were not very many tourists here either.  We saw lots of shiny metal and Cinco was loving every minute of it!  He was especially fond of the armor for the young kings and princes of England.

One of my favorite Tower memories, was seeing Henry VIII’s armor get bigger and bigger as he aged and added more weight.  I saw his armor again.

But, I now have a new memory to add!  The Princess did NOT react well when she saw Henry VIII’s cod piece… gulp.  Speaking in a loud and innocent voice she asked why the cod piece was so HUGE!   She  also near about had a fit when she saw how large it was in his final set of armor!Knight in Shining Armor

Still Cinco had a blast walking around and looking at all the armor.  I, of course, was attempting to explain the features of the White Tower to the kids.  Explaining it belonged to William the Conqueror (Look for a book on him from me soon!) And, on and on… I am not sure I made much head way with the kids given the distraction of exciting polished armor…  A mom can only do so much…

Then it was off to tour the rest of the Tower.  We hit Traitor’s Gate, the site where Queen Elizabeth I was brought into the Tower during her imprisonment by Queen Mary.  Plus we stopped by the site of all those famous beheadings…2014 06 05_England 2014_0895  These were highlight for The Princess.  She really got into the story of the Tudor family.  I must have told her the story of King Henry VIII and his wives 100 times before we left for England.  She was very interested in Queen Elizabeth’s treatment of Mary Queen of Scotts (I’ll write more on that later…)

We managed to finish with the Tower by lunch time! And, then it was off to Temple Church–site of the Marshal’s burial. (Shameless Plug: My William Marshal Book!)

Now, you may recall the previous day I attempted to find the church without much success and then we had to run off to the Wonka Show. However, there was NO way I was leaving London without a visit to the Marshal!  No Way.

2014 06 05_England 2014_0919_edited-1We went back to the Temple Bar area and I must say the church is rather hidden on small back streets.  After asking some locals for directions, I finally found it.  (It seems the church is featured in the movie the Da Vinci Code– I didn’t know that until I visited and now of course I need to rent the movie).

The Marshal

The Marshal

Cinco and I were the most excited to make to the Marshal’s burial-place.  We were both rather quite and spent a good deal of time looking at his effigy and those of his sons.

The church was also very lovely and had a lot of interesting features.  The Templars are known for their faces carved around the churches and this church did not disappoint in that regard!  The church also had a lot of displays about the Magna Carta.

When we got back to the flat I loved what Cinco wrote in his memory book:

Today we stopped by to say hi to Great-Great-Grandpa.

It really does not get any cuter than that.

After a rest at the flat, it was time for the London Eye!  Personally, I would have skipped the Eye.  But, it was one of the activities Queen Gram requested.

Approaching the Eye, both Cinco and The Princess had a small panic attack.  Neither child wanted to go on the ride.  The Princess thought perhaps the pods on the wheel might dislodge and fall into the Thames.  In one of my silly mom moments, I told the kids if a pod did fall into the river, Queen Gram and I would link arms and become a human raft.  The children could board the raft and sail us to shore.  This got them laughing and being rather silly and it calmed The Princess.

Cinco’s anxiety was another matter.  Still, we went forward with the ride.  Once he got on board, it was smooth sailing.  Cinco discovered it was completely safe and no big deal.  He started having a good time and took over my phone and began taking pictures of the scenery.  He really enjoyed looking at some of the places we had previously visited.

Now, Cinco says the Eye was his favorite part of the trip AND he’s trying to get me to take him on The Las Vegas High Roller!

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June 27, 2014 · 2:34 pm

Let’s Wonka-brate with Dragons: Mom Camp 11

This mom camp day was all about going to see the London Dragons and the new Charlie and the Chocolate Factory musical.

In preparation for the trip, I went to the local library and checked out some travel videos. One of them being, Rick Steves’. Cinco watched his tour of London and wanted to see all the places he covered.  I didn’t realize he was ACTUALLY paying attention to the show…

One of the things Rick pointed out were the London Dragons.  They are statues that demarcate the official medieval boundaries of The City.  Historically, it is important because the people of London had special privileges and rights they wrestled away from the kings over the years. Today, it’s not so important.

The London Dragon on Embankment

The London Dragon on Embankment

Still, Cinco wanted to find and photo the dragons.  First, we found the pair of dragons along the Victoria Embankment. But, Cinco also wanted to find the older dragon near temple bar.

20140624-193116.jpg I was running around looking for Temple Church (site of the Marshal’s effigy), not paying one ounce of attention to finding dragons. Low and behold, I look up and there is a dragon! Needless-to-say, Cinco was very pleased with our discovery!




After that we walked over to the West End.  Stage DoorThe show was playing at the Theatre Royal on Drury Lane.  There has been a theatre on the spot ever since the mid-1600’s.  Although, the current building dates from the early 1800’s.  Why is this exciting?  Well, before coming to London we read the second Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place book.  In the book, the kids go to the very same theatre to see a silly play called Pirates on Holiday!  Cinco and The Princess were very happy to find out our show was playing there as well!

2014 06 04_England 2014_0952Queen Gram really did her homework and discovered that some kids do not like being too close to the stage. It seems they use “pyrotechnics”. Let me say this: it’s more like a fog machine than pyrotechnics. Maybe I am jaded coming from Vegas. But, I don’t think the production needed a disclaimer. After speaking to the box office, Queen Gram somehow ended up with seats in the balcony far away from the oh so scary stage. Ugh!

Of course, there were Wonka Bars for sale.  They were huge!  We bought two and shared them.  Again, the kids were in hog heaven.

We attended the matinée along with every school child in London! But, once the show started, everything was fine. The kids liked to show. I thought it was only OK. I am real follower of the original Wonka movie!!! Plus, I love the song Pure Imagination… Childhood memories. The best part of the show was the end when Wonka sang that song! In fact, a few of the school boys seated near us began singing along! It warmed my heart that they were fans of the old song as well!

And, don’t worry Bookymom made Cinco read Dahl’s book while we were in London. As if, I’d let him get way without reading!

After the show it was off to the market at Covent Garden.  This was a challenge for Cinco.  He was saving his money for the Lewis Chessmen set at the British Museum.  However, there were tons of little items to buy, tempting a young heart.  He did well and stayed on track for the Chessmen.

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Mom Camp Day 10: On to Room 41!!!!!

This day was ALL over the map!

I’ve been to London several times and never made it to the changing of the guards. The idea of fighting through the crowds to see it simply does not appeal to me! Still, it is so quintessentially British how could I deny the kids the opportunity? Well, I did deny them!

2014 06 03_England 2014_0963But, I discovered that there is a less well attended ceremony at The Horse Guard. Cinco also wanted to check out the Horse Guard Museum so I figured I could kill two birds with on stone!

2014 06 03_England 2014_0965Sadly, it was one of our less than fantastic weather days and we suffered through a rainy start. We saw it pretty close up. But, I think the horses were a little startling for Cinco.

He did love the Museum!  They have a great exhibit where you try on the uniforms of the Horse Guards.  We all took a turn.  Cinco forgot to take off his own shoes before trying on the boots.  He promptly got his foot stuck in the huge boot.  Poor Queen Gram tried like H-E-L-L to pull the boot off.  Then, I got in the act trying to help get the boy out.  He started to cry maybe out of fear and maybe out of pain.  Queen Gram started to panic and actually thought we might need to call someone from the museum to CUT him out of the boot.  OMG!  Thankfully at the last minute Cinco was freed from the boot!   Still both he and The Princess were adorable in the outfits.

Booky Mom at the Horse Guards!

Booky Mom at the Horse Guards!

Our next stop was Buckingham Palace by way of St. James Park.  Being a pair of desert rats, the kids loved the chance to stroll through along the pond in the rain.  We spent quite a lot of time with the birds in the park.  (For those you who recall my trip to Belize sans kids with The Captain, we did some bird watching.  And, spent a lot of time making fun of the serious “birders”.  But, I am kinda getting into seeing different types of birds—  does this mean I am getting old?) We also enjoyed some hot chocolates and a huge cookie at the park!

Then we took the typical pictures at the Palace.  It’s another place I have never toured.  I’ve seen if before.  But, I’ve never to London when it was actually open!

You may recall the kids were having a tough time finding food they liked in London.  So we made a stop by Hard Rock Café.  It is the original Hard Rock and was started by two American’s who couldn’t find good food in England!  Perfect for the kids, right?

Next it was off to The British Museum.

We have a great time there.  Cinco loved seeing the remains from Xanthos.  I also enjoyed that because I have been to Xanthos in Turkey!  The ancient city is interesting to see, but everywhere you go there are explanations that all the statues are at the British Museum.

Cinco’s favorite part were the Lewis Chessmen.  He desperately wanted a small replica chess set for sale in the gift shop.  He had spending money from Queen Gram.  But, he had already spent some of it and didn’t have enough for the set.  We planed to go back to the museum when The Captain arrived.  So, I told Cinco if could resist the impulse to spend his money until we returned to the museum, I would make up the difference…

SuttonHooI also very much wanted to look at the Sutton Hoo findings…ON TO ROOM 41.  Cinco and I were in heaven–  Geeks of a Feather!

Queen Gram and The Princess were not excited with The British Museum and kept staring at us from the side line….


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Mom Camp Goes Sideways: Day 9

Even the best planning can be undermined by good ol’ public transit. Our third day in London, the Tube’s Green line stopped working and our plans to head off to Hampton Court via Wimbledon were ruined! This sent me running sideways to figure out our next plan.

Going with the flow, we hopped a cab to Southwark to see the new Globe. Meanwhile the kids were holding a hunger strike because they didn’t like any of the British food. Priority number one was finding lunch. Based on their love of breakfast we opted to have breakfast for lunch– which satisfied my wild beasts for the time being.

MBridgeSadly, by the time we got to the Globe, the tours for the day were over! Ugh. I however, paid too much for the airplane tickets to be defeated so easily!

Pulling a page from the Harry Potter movies, I took the kids across Millenium Bridge.

Once across the bridge we went to St. Paul’s Cathedral.  I’ve been to England four times before this trip and not once did I ever make it to St. Paul’s.  I am rather surprised I never checked out the dome before.  I love a dome–St. Peter’s in Rome, The US Capitol Building in Washington, DC, Haigia Sophia Dome in Istanbul.dome

We all went in and headed straight to the Whispering Gallery.  It is located about half-way up the dome and you can whisper on one side of the gallery and be heard on the other side.  I resorted to asking a guard exactly how it worked because we had a little trouble figuring it out on our own.  Once we got if figured it out, the kids really had fun playing with acoustics over an over.

We kept climbing the dome and made it to the first outdoor level.  I tried to get Cinco to climb all the way to the top, but it wasn’t for him.  He stayed on level 2 with Queen Gram and The Princess and I went to the top!  She started to get nervous as the stairs got tighter and higher, but she made it.  Only 5 years old and she made it.  We took a few cute pictures and headed back down to Cinco.

London StoneBefore we left for England, Cinco and I studied some of the foundation myths of London.  One dated back to the story of Aeneas.  One of his sailors, Brutus, founded the city and this is the foundation stone. It’s in the old city and we walked by after the Cathedral.

Then it was off to bed!

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Welcome Fairies: Mom Camp’s Summer Solstice Celebrations Mom Camp Day 8

What does mid-summer mean to you? For Cinco and The Princess it means: Fairies, Fairies and more Fairies!


The longest day of the year is traditionally thought of as a night when the fairies come out to make mischief. But, it also includes bonfires, BBQ and eating lots of that favorite summer fruit, Strawberries. For the kids it’s all about the fairies!

They loved making fairy houses for mid-summer last year and insisted on revisiting that activity this year. In fact, The Princess told me to cancel the trip to England if we didn’t do our mid-summer activities! Thankfully, the trip was planned so that we would be home in time to make fairy houses and celebrate the longest day of the year!

20140619-140638.jpgThis year we spent time making the houses. The kids changed it up a bit. They decided to add a movie theater for the fairies and The Princess even painted a fairy on the movie screen. What’s even better is that The Princess decided it should be an old-fashioned silent movie. (Thanks to Jillian for the cigar box donation!) Another new addition is the grand entrance hall, complete with guards! It is a bit garish, but hey they are kids.

20140619-140716.jpgThe old stand-by throne room is prominently featured in the fairy compound. Cinco out did himself on the room– red walls and fake wooden floors. Plus, his chair is pretty blinged-out. The Princess also decided some of the important rooms needed chandeliers ~ooh-la-la!

20140619-140653.jpgThe Princess designed the bedroom as well. I actually found last year’s bed from the queen’s bedroom. The Princess did not want use it again. We reused the pillows and then made a new bed. This year, the king fairy will also have a bed in the queen’s room ~ how racy!

We had a dinning room table last year and cute food. But, I think the table and food presentation have improved over last year! Cinco decided to use beads to make a number of fruits. My favorite were the grapes!20140619-140727.jpg

The solstice is also traditionally celebrated with bonfires. Our summer solstice celebrations also included making our own edible fires. If you want to make and eat your own, here’s how:


  • Graham Crackers
  • Nutella
  • Tiny Pretzel Sticks
  • Reese’ Pieces
  • Tiny marshmallows
  • Butterscotch or Peanut Butter Chips (Optional)


  1. Spread the Nutella on the graham cracker
  2. Arrange the tiny pretzels on the cracker in the shape of bonfire logs.
  3. Use the brown Reese’ as stones to surround the tiny pretzels.
  4. Place a small dot of Nutella on the bottom of the yellow and orange Reese’. Arrange them in between and on top of the pretzels to look like the fire. (Add a few of the butterscotch or peanut butter chips to the fire as flames).
  5. Place one of the tiny marshmallows on the end of a tiny pretzel and prop it up against the “fire”.
  6. EAT

We also grilled on the BBQ for dinner and had strawberry shortcake for dinner. After we played with a few sparklers to reinforce the fire aspect of the day!

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London’s Natural History Museum: Mom Camp Day 7


Our second day in London was spent at the famous Natural History Museum. We arrived and went straight to the dino exhibit.  It fills up fast and I wanted the kids to get a good view of everything!

Pictures by Cinco!

Pictures by Cinco!

Cinco and The Princess LOVED it! Cinco even asked to borrow my phone and used it to take photo’s of the dino bones. I think he must have taken over 100 photos. Everything was interesting to him and everything needed to be examined and documented.

At the end of the dino exhibit is an animatronic T-Rex. Everyone bottle necks in the room and watches it for quite sometime. What was rather funny about the T-Rex, is that our local Natural History Museum in Las Vegas has an almost identical T-Rex. We went all the way to London and stood in a big crowd to see something we could see at home any old time… haha..20140617-131835.jpg

We got one of the explorer backpacks for kids from the main desk. Our was about Mammals.20140617-150047.jpg Based on clues in the backpack, we had to play detective and figure out our mammal. The choice was quickly narrowed down to either a wolf or a bear. We had a claw, a set of teeth and a patch of fur. Cinco got it right off the bat and The Princess needed all three clues before she figured it was the polar bear.

Then it was time for another great museum lunch! The kids were less than happy.

Having read the Ashton Place novels–particularly the third one (Review Available Here)–, the kids were very interested in the birds. The were most interested in the ostreages and dodos which are prominently featured in books 3 and 4. We made it to the bird area and everything was going well. We saw the dodo and the ostreages.

Then things took a turn for the worse…we happened upon a series of glass cases displaying only the bird’s head– mainly humming birds. This did NOT sit well with The Princess. She quickly figured out that these little creatures had been decapitated in LARGE numbers. There was no crying but rather an uncomfortable horror at the notion that anyone would think cutting the heads off these beings was acsetpable. I think it hit her hard because we have many humming birds that come to visit us in out backyard and they are very small and rather harmless.

After hightailing it out of there, we explored the museum’s amazing earth science section. The area is accessed through an escalator that goes into a structure meant to be the center of the earth. This was somewhat unsettling for the kids after the bird experience. By the time we reached the earthquake none of the kids would do the simulation. So, I went ahead and did it without them! It lasts a lot longer than I thought it would.

The Princess never really recovered from the bird incedent so we left the museum and went out into the nature garden behind the building. The weather we lovely and the museum was sponsoring a Ladybug hunt. Amazingly, we found quite a few. Most of them were young bugs that had not transformed into the bright red, spotted bugs we all know and love.





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Landing in London, V&A Museum–William Marshal Connection Begins: Mom Camp Day 6

Landing in London was a breeze. I was actually amazed at how well the kids did on the plane. They were also great once we hit the ground. They carried their own backpacks and made it through customs and passport control without an issue! Our driver meet us and we were off…

We hit London about 1pm. After settling in we decided to walk over to the Victoria and Albert Museum. I’ve been to England several times and even spent two summers there, but some how I never went to the V and A.

We were hungry and went straight to their famous cafeteria. In case you don’t know, the Morris, Gamble and Poynter Rooms are the first museum restaurant! (It started and carries on the tradition of not so good, overpriced food.) It was a lovely LOOKING facility, but the food was horrible. The kids refused to eat and that was the start of some eating challenges with the kids in London.

The V&A offers some great programs to introduce children to the collection. You can check them out here! We picked up a children’s scavenger hunt and went from room to room in search of the various items. The Princess LOVED the scavenger hunt. She was running from place to place declaring that she discovered the items! I am not sure the typically understated British really appreciated that–we got quite a few disapproving looks. (We were living up to the stereotype of being loud Americans.) But The Princess was having a great time and we really engaged with the museum, so as far as I am concerned it was mission accomplished!

The kids really loved the Court of Casts. We took some time to look at the copy of Trajan’s Column. But, what we focused on were the casts of William Marshal and his sons effigies. The real Marshal effigy suffered some damage during the WWII bombings. The casts were made prior to the war and therefore depicts the effigy intact.

The architecture room was also a favorite with Cinco. And, we spent a lot of time in the outdoor garden. There were a number of British children playing the wading pool so the Princess kicked off her shoes and joined in… running wild in the water.

Jet Lag caught up with us soon enough and we went off to bed.


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