England and France through a three-year-old's eyes

Many of you know that I recently took my son along on a two-week trip to England and France. A close friend from college had extracted a promise to come to his wedding almost a year ago. Despite the economic downturn, the state of my bank account and the thought of bringing a kiddo along, I decided to go. 

Jamie had three things on his list of must-dos: Buckingham Palace, double decker buses and a real castle. Buckingham Palace came about from reading A. A. Milne at bedtimes ("They're changing guards at Buckingham Palace . . ."). The castle came from playing with toy castles at friends' houses and at his grandmother's house. I don't know where the double decker bus fixation came from, but it figured on his list.

You have not experienced cabin fever until you are contained in a hotel (a proper, English environment) with a bored, jet-lagged three-year-old at bedtime. My son is used to running off steam by singing, break-dancing, pounding things (construction worker), putting out pretend fires, and generally making a lot of noise. This is not possible in a public place that has people trying to sleep on all sides, thin walls, and no space to move.

However, after a few days, we adjusted to the new situation and had a GREAT time. Jamie added to his list of favorites over the days and weeks. He got to try on fake armor at the castle and discovered a coat of armor at the Maritime Museum. He rode two carousels in Paris. He watched and then participated in break dancing at the Trocadero metro stop, in view of the Eiffel Tower, and then ate the world's largest cone of gelato. He rode on: a boat, the Metro, the Underground, the Eurostar (train from London to Paris), double decker buses, a taxi, friends' cars, and the train to Cambridge. He walked through Buckingham Palace. He played at the Museum of the Docklands and at the Maritime Museum (both of which have a lot of exhibits that appeal to kids). He visited the Princess Diana Memorial Playground in Kensington Gardens, where he pretended to be a pirate on the pirate ship, climbed around on a fort, played in teepees, and dug in the sand for hours.

On top of that, he had a fabulous third birthday at my friend Samantha's house, with her sons and a neighbor. A Bob the Builder card, a cake with construction tools on top, Thomas the Train presents, four boys under five, and we were set for a rocking party. The mothers drank tea, talked about work, knitting, sons, village life vs. the city--and had fun. The boys ran around, ate too much sugar, and shrieked--and had fun. A great party!

After a few weeks home, we have readjusted to the USA. Jamie started preschool this week. I am job hunting, blogging and teaching dance. If you'd like to see ten of the three hundred pictures I took, the travel photo album has our trip from Jamie's list of high points.