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!)
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
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!
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… 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.
We 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).
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!