Half-term: Buses, lions and board games

Chinatown Chinese New Year 2015-2

So that was the week that was. Everyone is back to normal this week but this was as stress-free a half-term week as we have ever had.

The boys had a whale of a time. After spending Monday with Heather, they were packed off to my parents’ for four nights – a stay they had been looking forward to ever since Christmas – where they went out on day trips and were generally spoiled rotten by their grandparents and uncle. In the meantime, Heather, Kara and I had a spookily quiet house to ourselves.

For me, though, half-term was all about the three-day weekend.

Friday: Buses and trains (and gadgets)

I took Friday off work to meet my parents and the boys in London to go to the London Transport Museum, via a small detour to the Apple store where we agreed that I really need an iMac. (I really, really do.)

We had a great couple of hours at the museum. The boys loved climbing in and out of the exhibits, although they were most taken by the gift shop where their father may have over-indulged them slightly. (Like me, the boys have a heightened sense of retail therapy.)

Afterwards we went for lunch at Pizza Hut in Leicester Square (a boys’ day out tradition) and took a long double-decker bus ride (another ritual) before they headed back to their grandparents’ and I made my way home.

Saturday: Celebrating Chinese New Year

On Saturday I was back in London as the entire family – all eight of us – went in to Chinatown to have a dim sum lunch and watch the lion dances that were taking place around the local area.

As she does, Kara was wide-eyed all the way in on the tube, charming fellow passengers with her antics – which included arm-waving that suspiciously resembled the moves to YMCA – and was generally no trouble at all. Now that she’s nearly three, fully toilet-trained and doesn’t require a daytime nap, she’s much easier to manage on these day trips into the city and she’s starting to absorb and talk about so much of what she sees.

Isaac and Toby spent much of the day wandering round snapping photos of everything with their cameras – there’s no shortage of interesting subject matter in Chinatown at New Year – and memorising the tube map. Other kids play ‘I Spy’. Oh no, not ours. They insist on playing a game where you have to name a letter and they race each other to come up with Underground station names that start with that letter. For good measure, Isaac will then tell you which lines they’re on. His memory is terrifying. I keep expecting him to tell me he’s memorised pi to one thousand decimal places.

Sunday: Babyccinos and board games

We brought the boys home with us on Saturday evening, and not surprisingly Sunday was more of a day of recovery.

With Heather off visiting her mum, I had the kids on my own for the first half of the day with no firm plans. I’m pretty relaxed about that these days. They’re a bit older and much easier to look after and I’m also more confident about my ability to cope.

First we tidied up the boys’ bomb site bedroom after their frankly pathetic attempts to unpack their suitcases the night before. Then I bundled them all into the car to go out for babyccinos and muffins – anyone who follows me on Facebook will know this is standard operating procedure at weekends – and to pick up stuff for lunch.

Back at home, with rain scuppering a half-formed plan to head out to the park, we settled down in the playroom where Kara watched Gnomeo and Juliet and did jigsaws while the boys and I cracked open the London Travel Game I had bought at the museum two days previously. It was no surprise that a board game based around the Underground proved to be a hit with the boys, who quickly discovered that they could gang up on me, which only made the game that much more fun (for them, at least).

By the time Heather returned, we were firmly ensconced in an afternoon of games, nail-painting and adding some more touches to the boys’ new bedroom.

It was a quiet end to a busy half-term but in many ways it was my favourite part of the week. All five of us together, having fun as a family. You don’t need much more than that, do you?

The London Transport Museum is located in Covent Garden. Kids under 18 are free and adults £16 each – not cheap, but tickets are valid for a year.