Major Sites, Minor Muntiny

by Jessica on March 3, 2009

When I am planning my itineraries, I try to strike a balance between activities that are educational (but maybe stiff), and things that allow kids to be kids with a good fun factor. I knew as the day started that we would be pushing the limits of stiff and educational, but there was no way to tweak it. So we just had to go with it.

Our first stop was Buckingham Palace to watch the Changing of the Guards. We were early enough to get a viewpoint that was right on the gate so that the boys could have a front row seat. It was about 30 minutes of waiting before the guard changing began. If you have had the opportunity to see the Changing of the Guard ,you know that it is full of pomp and ceremony. It can also be a little monotonous.

So, a group of guards march through the gates and into the courtyard with a band playing a jaunty little tune. At this point, the boys were tolerating the experience fairly well. Then, the exchange of guards begins with a series of marching back and forth. This is where they began to contemplate mutiny. “Moooom, this is boring!” “Can we go?” We looked around to see if we could escape, but the crowd was pressed all around us, so we were stuck.

I tried to explain the purpose of the Guard Mounting, but it was too late. After 30 minutes of waiting and another 15 minutes of marching they were d.o.n.e. So, I stooped as low as I could go: little boy body humor. Desperate to salvage the situation I began a running commentary a la Mystery Science Theatre on the ceremony in front of us. As the guards marched back and forth, I made comments about bad breathe, body odor, and at one point made up a very rousing little ditty involving dog’s sniffing each other’s hind ends. With chagrin, I must admit that it worked because the boys giggled their way through the rest of the ceremony.

From there, we enjoyed our picnic lunch in the park next to Buckingham Palace and then we walked to Westminster Abbey. With great fortune, we arrived at Westminster Abbey just as Big Ben was chiming 12 noon. Although that was enjoyable, Westminster Abbey was the nail in the coffin for the day. I had printed out a trail to follow like the ones that had been so popular at the British Museum, but today it was a no go. The older boys completed the trail, but they did it with a sideways glare towards me the whole time. They were unimpressed with the coin that the gift shop presented them as a reward for completing the trail. Luckily, they both smiled nicely and said thank you.

Outside the Abbey, the boys let their true feelings out. “This is the worst day ever, Mom” “This is so boring.” I figured I could give them a lecture about how everything doesn’t have to be entertainment all the time and they needed to be grateful for the experience, blah, blah, blah. Instead, I just smiled and said, “Well, boys Dad and I decided that we were going to try to bore you to death, and since you haven’t died yet, we’re just going to have to keep trying. What shall we do next? Do you want to go back to the Changing of the Guards? Maybe we could do another trail at Westminster Abbey?” As we walked in the shadow of Parliament, we all broke into peals of laughter, and once again we heard the chiming of Big Ben. 

P.S. We ended the day with a swim in the hotel swimming pool and I am pleased to announce that no one in this story was harmed by boredom.

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