Go Down to Kew in Lilac-time

Despite having lived in London for 18 years now (!!!!) there are still a lot of things that I have yet to do.There is SO much to see and do in London. SO. MUCH. A lot of it is free too, or you can find great offers, like the 2for1 if you travel by train.

I’ve done a lot of the major tourist attractions, such as the London Eye, Tower of London, London Zoo, The London Aquarium, London Dungeons, The Natural History Museum, Science Museum, British Museum, and I’ll be here all day if I list them all.

But, despite living in South West London for the last 6 years, I have never ever visited Kew Gardens. It is right on my door step. I’ve been to Kew of course, we went there one year to go ice skating, but it was pitch black and you couldn’t see anything at all, so I don’t count that time. Also, it wasn’t great fun for me, because I’m no good at ice skating. Some days its a challenge to stay upright, much less stay upright on slippery ice wearing boots with blades on the bottom.

After 18 years of living in London, I have finally paid a visit to Kew Gardens. It. Was. MAGNIFICENT. It is one of my new favourite places.

  
My grandmother, Emma and I picked a brilliant sunny day to visit, the weather was glorious. We used a 2for1 travel by rail voucher, so we only paid £16.50 to visit, instead of £33 and children 3 and under go free. (more money for cake and coffee)

Kew Gardens is HUGE. We got there at 10am and left at 4 pm and we hadn’t done everything there was to do. Which of course means that we need to go back.

Seriously contemplating looking at an annual family pass which is £109 (its almost Christmas to be fair, so maybe Santa will leave an annual Kew pass under the tree)

Might have to plan a few autumn days at Kew, for Emma to run through the leaves, and pick conkers and leave with pink flushed cheeks, whilst I drink copious amounts of coffee!

Imagination Play

When I was little, I had a healthy imagination. Well, I say healthy, it was in fact, pretty vivid and artistic. At the age of 2 I had not one, but two, imaginary friends. Masha and Pompy. I saw monkeys swinging on the ceiling fans, I used to explore the back garden vegetation pretending it was a lost world. I once even excavated the garden looking for dinosaurs! Didn’t find any dinosaurs, but I did find the bones of a few chickens.

I played outside. A lot. It was a time when you could let your kids out at dawn and let them roam the neighbourhood until sundown, without much fear of them going missing.

I’d spend days in the library, reading and expanding my imagination.
I’d spend days at the swimming pools and beach, pretending to be a mermaid, or a life guard (yeah, baywatch was an inspiration!)

I’d spend afternoons, on the jungle gyms, pretending they were pirate ships, or space ships, or tree houses.

Make believe was a large part of my childhood. I often wish I was still a child. God I’d love to spend a day pretending to be a pirate exploring the seven seas rather than going to work every day!

But sometimes, I wonder where imagination ended. Where it ends for children.

I was walking home today, when two young girls appeared. Maybe 8 or 9 years old. They had a couple of sheets and a couple of sofa cushions. They wrapped themselves up and then put the cushions down and laid down on the floor. On the edge of the pavement nearest the road. I was perplexed.
When I got to them, I stopped and looked down and I said to them;
“This is a bit of an interesting sight. What kind of game are you playing?”
They giggled and one leaned up a little and she said to me.
“Homeless people”

I looked at them both, a little lost for words, and replied “oh! Right. Ok!” And carried on.

The two young girls went back to laying on the floor. With their sheets and cushions.

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I’m still a little lost for words. What else do you say to something like that?

Childhood Dreams

When I was a child I loved to read. Everything and anything. My mom would drop me off at the town library with money for lunch and I’d spend the whole day reading. Every day in the summers that was where you could find me.

As I grew up it didn’t change. I still love to read, although I’ve moved on from Nancy Drew Mysteries, the Babysitters Club and Sweet Valley!

I have a number of childhood favourites. Heidi, Little Women, Little Men and Jo’s Boys.

The last two really struck a chord with me. Ever since I read them I wanted to have a big house with lots of kids to look after.

A childhood dream, which maybe one day may actually become an adult reality (if I ever win the big bucks on the Euromillions or lottery!)

The plan?

To have a huge great big house with lots of land in the country. Stables with horses. A play area for the smaller kids.

A huge great big kitchen to cook meals and to teach kids how to cook.

A huge dining area where we can all eat meals together.

A big living area where we can all watch films together.

A den/library filled with books an comfy chairs so that everyone can curl up with a good book.

Lots of bedrooms and bathrooms so that kids can have a nice safe environment of their own.

A small set of buildings on the property to act as a kind of school, with teachers for each of the core subjects. That way the kids can get a great education and one on one dedicated help should they need it.

An area for sports. An area for music and art.

A home for children who have been hurt, abused, broken. A home where they can be loved and helped to be the best they can be and encouraged to pursue their dreams and goals.

A place where no one is turned away.

A small dedicated team of child therapists and counsellors.

A place where kids can be safe, feel save, be loved and feel loved.

A charity of sorts to ensure the establishment can remain open.

That is my childhood dream.

To be a modern day Jo March.

One day, I hope.