I debated scrapping this post, because it’s all about London, and only a few days ago our capital city was subjected to a terror attack. I thought my post might seem a bit glib, or insensitive. Then I re-read it, and I remembered the lovely day out that we had. Because London is glorious, and always will be. We should not live in fear. So, here it is! 

Do you know what I did this week, dear reader? I went on not one, but TWO DATES. WITH MY HUSBAND! I know. It’s like the old days, but better because our house is nicer.

We’ve been finding it really to hard to get any time to ourselves lately. We’re both training for marathons / half marathons, and juggling very busy jobs, as well as two girls who seem to be increasingly demanding. I know, I know – developed world problems….but sometimes, life is really bloody full on.

We have two evenings together a week that aren’t polluted by training, and even those come with the offset of a very early morning the next day. Saturdays, he’s up and out at 7am to run 20 miles or something insane. Sunday, I’m up and out at 7.30am to spend the morning in the gym. Leisure time doesn’t seem to exist for us. Yeah, that’s because of the choices that we’ve made, but it does kind of suck.

One of my friends suggested that we both book a day’s holiday from work, when the girls are in nursery, and just take ourselves off out for the day. So that’s what we did. Best idea ever. We live 15 minutes walk from Southampton Central, so we dropped the girls off bang on 8am and trotted down to the train station. It takes just over an hour to get to London, so we mooched about and had breakfast in a generic coffee outlet before it was officially off-peak, and we hopped on board.

We’d planned to go to Madame Tussauds with a BOGOF voucher I’d got off a Rice Krispies box. When we got there, there was an almighty great queue, which we politely joined. “It’ll move quickly,” we said. “We’ll be in by 11.15am.” At 11.35am, we’d shuffled forward precisely half a meter. “Fuck this,” I said. “It’s 16 degrees and sunny, shall we just do the London Eye then have a massive lunch?”

“Yeah, good idea. Let’s do that.” came the reply. SEE HOW EASY IT IS, to change plans when you don’t have children around? Just like that. No consulting of maps or hastily delivered snacks or nappies to change. We nipped on the Underground and headed back to Waterloo, incorporating a 30p wee and a £1.90 bottle of water in the process. Only in London. I made sure it was a really good wee, don’t worry.

We got to the Eye, and after a spot of medium to heavy queuing (seriously, it was a Wednesday in term time, who the hell were all these people) we skipped into our pod. My husband has vertigo but, like the good sporting wife I am, I completely neglected to acknowledge this and regularly invited him to look down at the scuzzy, murky Thames as it got further from our feet. He did very well and only had to sit down once.

We played Spot the Gherkin and Spot the Shard and generally had a marvellous time. After that, we headed off in search of somewhere to eat, and quickly settled on a Chinese Dim Sum place where we gorged ourselves on crispy chili squid and char sui, whilst earwigging on a bizarre three-way job interview / first date power lunch at the next table.

It then all fell down slightly as I’d decided I fancied some form of posh ice cream, and could we find a gelato place on the South Bank? Could we bollocks. We did an enormous two-mile loop around Waterloo, over the wobbly bridge and back over the non-wobbly bridge. Then conveniently (almost like he’d planned it), we happened upon a craft beer pub under an archway near the station. But, owing to the vertigo / London Eye thing, I let beer beat ice cream and in we went.

The beery trade-off was two London-priced hunks of sponge from Lola’s Cupcakes, washed down with a 1 foot tall vat of takeaway coffee. On the train home, he dozed while I eavesdropped again, this time on a couple of ladz extolling the virtues of having a girlfriend who, despite her ex being a cokehead, is a really nice gal with her head screwed on right.

We ambled from the station back to nursery and bustled up the girls in a swathe of cardigans, bags, and borrowed books. Ce sera, we had a shitty night with both of them awake coughing until the early hours, a phantom bed wetting incident, and some monsters under the bed. Back to the real world.

But – oh my god – the ten hours were brilliant. Even with all the queues.

-SJW March 2017