I Love London Town

Jul 31 2011

We’d been in contact with the wonderful Make a Wish charity for some time about giving Camille that wonderful experience that would help get over the last two years of hurt and fear. Last weekend was the day where she finally got to meet …….”Oh Mr Tumble!”


Earlier in the week we’d held the charities AGM and I feel that we’re really moving the charity in the right direction. With the extra layer of support we’ve managed to build into our organisational structure, I feel that we’ll be able to spend more time on the things that are most important, making money.


On the Friday, I had been in London all day in meetings so Hayley took on the responsibility of getting the girls from Ipswich into Liverpool Street station by herself. I had taken our case in to the city that morning so she didn’t have to worry about that but she still had two excited girls a buggy and a couple of bags to tackle; oh yes, and an ever expanding bump. The girls behaved beautifully on the train and as I stood by the entrance to the platform, I could see three beaming smiles coming towards me from the Lord Nelson train.


For those of you who have wondered what a Make a Wish weekend involves, it’s worth just touching on how well we were looked after. Make a Wish had paid for everything: the train fares, the taxis, meals and of course the entertainment. All we needed to do was to turn up and let the weekend take us. They had even giving a little bit of money for Camille to buy herself something. So, as soon as the girls had crossed the barriers at the station it was time for only one thing; a stop at Hamley’s. It was of course the last day of the school year and the amount of people swarming around Liverpool Street at rush hour was gargantuan. We managed to find our way to the haven of the lift and out to Liverpool Street itself to find a taxi and after twenty minutes or more sitting in a stationary taxi we were contemplating tackling the Central Line to make our way to the five storeys of toy heaven. We eventually made it, but it wasn’t without the risk of severe dehydration or the build up of excess lactic acid in our legs. Last time we’d been to Hamley’s it was really, really busy. So to find the shopping bag “giver outers” on the front door looking bored was a welcome surprise. We couldn’t leave Lucia out so she was allowed to pick something as well. Camille was extra quick, a fourth “Hello Kitty” teddy bear of the year and she was happy, but all Lucia could see was this princess dress that may as well have been laced with gold for the price that stood proud from the dangling price tag. That girl has got a worrying penchant for the pricey and nothing would shake her from this sparkly forbidden fruit. So, we did what any parent would do when their child was wailing at a million decibels because they couldn’t have what they wanted; we just let her carry on and found something a fair amount cheaper that eventually brought a smile to her face.


Soon after, we were rushing through a Pizza Express outside BBC’s television centre and realised that the time had ticked past eight o’clock and our girls were getting really tired. It was time for the hotel and time for bed.

In the morning we had to get up and ready fairly early and breakfast up before we were due to be picked up at 9.15am from reception. The hotel was familiar to Hayley and I as we had stayed there when Hayley was pregnant the first time and we had gone to the wonderful Live 8 concert in Hyde Park. This time, we had two rooms linked, with little kitchen area, two bathrooms and a pretty good feel about it. For central London, it was quiet and even with the predictable tube line running a stones through from our window; I didn’t hear a thing all night.


So, we waited in reception for the arrival of our grand limousine to take us to Bagshot to meet Mr Tumble. It wasn’t until I heard a yelp from Hayley that I realised that the car had already arrived. I’ve never been in a bright pink limo before and I’m pretty sure that it won’t happen again, but it was the girl’s weekend and the pink Lincoln was a truly wonderful experience for ones so young. I was pretty relieved that the windows were blacked out as every London tourist took the stops in traffic as an opportunity to have their picture taken in front of Katie Price’s car.


We arrived in Bagshot at a hotel that could be the nicest hotel I have ever seen (if only I could remember the name) and we were greeted by the Make a Wish people. We were first to arrive so we waited in the reception area for just a few minutes chatting and over Camille’s shoulder we saw Mr Tumble in full “Tumble wear” walking past. It was surreal as Camille was facing the opposite direction and missed him only seeing the face of Lucia drop like she’d seen a ghost. It wasn’t long before we were in a beautiful room with a few other families being entertained by Just Fletcher dressed as his favourite character Mr Tumble. It was lovely; he was so good with all of the kids and the smile on Camille’s face as she danced to the Okey Cokey and the infectious laugh that emanated from her little mouth when Mummy ballsed up Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes was priceless. Justin went through impersonations of nearly all of his Gigglebiz characters before having photos with everyone.


After our time with Justin we hopped and skipped back to the pink wagon and hot footed it back into the people filled streets of the west end and the Haymarket where we settled down for a bite to eat at Planet Hollywood. If you’ve been to Planet Hollywood and liked it, well, you’re probably lying. The food was pretty good, but the place was really noisy and my back was constantly being nudged by international parties of a hundred kids all wearing the same backpacks that were magnetised to my shoulder blades. Looking at Lucia was slightly unnerving as Freddie Krueger’s glove perched over her head. I will note that the food was actually pretty good, but the Kryton (from Red Dwarf) lookalike who served us was pretty poor.


A quick stroll around the corner and we were at our second event of the day, Mamma Mia. The girls loved it, but Camille whose favourite song by a mile is Honey, Honey, wanted to go as soon as she’d heard it. Unfortunately, Honey, Honey is the second song of the show.  Soon enough we were back out on Piccadilly and Camille dosed off in her buggy, so we took the opportunity to stroll down the Mall so Lucia could see Buckingham Palace and then round to Victoria so she could see where Will and Kate got married. She loved it; she could just see herself being a princess I think.


Sunday was another day crammed with activities. We managed to walk around to the Natural History Museum so the girls could see the dinosaur bones before heading Saaarrrrrrfffffff of the river to take a trip on the Thames as well as going up in the London Eye. After another packed day, we got back on the train to come back to Ipswich with little or no energy. The girls were fine; it was just me and Hayley.


A fine weekend. Lovely memories. Thank you Make a Wish.