A Doris Day

As I mentioned the other day, I was blessed with a couple of half-term houseguests last week, one of which tested my ability to be a properly responsible adult and be in sole charge of an eleven year old for over 24 hours. I was surprised that I actually felt daunted by the prospect, given as I’ve known the child since birth and have looked after her countless times. In fact, 10 years ago, my sister and I were responsible for her for an entire weekend.

As the eleven year old is called Doris, days spent looking after her have been known as ‘Doris Days’ since she was tiny (though I assume the pun is still completely lost on her). This lent itself well to hashtagging – if only really for the benefit of my mother and sister. [The rest of the Twitter world either didn’t care or wondered how I’d suddenly acquired an 11yr old child!] I won’t bore you with the intricacies of our day out, but I will share a few things I discovered along the way…

Evening Stroll Evening stroll fun in the sun.

London can be terrifying when you have responsibility for a child.
I collected Doris from her 23yr old sister on the South Bank and, as the sun was not forecast to shine much longer, we made the most of it and walked home via a few classic London sights. (Parliament, Trafalgar Square, a frozen yoghurt shop – the essentials.) However, I’d forgotten that some football thing had been happening, and as we all know, sun + football + alcohol = interesting conditions. As we crossed the Strand, someone threw a glass bottle behind us and something began to kick off. I ignored it and walked quickly towards the safer environment of Covent Garden. I think Doe was oblivious, but when you’re in loco parentis, these things are way scarier…

The London Transport Museum just keeps getting better and better!
Ever since April’s inaugural visit, this had been top of my list for Doris Day – it’s free for under 16’s and my ticket lasts a year. Plus, it was raining cats and dogs, so indoor entertainment was the order of the day. There was a long queue when we arrived, and I resigned myself to getting a bit wet. However, we’d been there barely 2 minutes when a call went out for anyone with annual passes. To my delight, we were escorted from the queue and led straight into the museum, pausing only to pick up an activity book and stamper card. Awesome.

Even better, they had special half-term activities taking place, so Doe and I got to work with a lump of clay and a challenge to re-create something from the LT posters around the walls. I was rather proud of our results. (Apparently most of the other kids just made animals.)

Doris & the smiles

Never underestimate the excitement of a simple tube journey.
Well, strictly speaking not the tube, but the DLR. Having driving tubes and buses at the museum, we then positioned ourselves for the driver seat position on the trains with no drivers. It may have been raining and docklands may not be hugely attractive, but it was certainly fun.

The Emirates Skyline seems fairly pointless, but it is fun.
Have you ever been to Royal Victoria DLR station? No, me either. I’m not sure who would want to travel between it and the O2, but I guess someone must, else they wouldn’t have built this rather cute cable car over the river. Its got to be said that, on a grey and wet Tuesday, our glimpse of the glowing London City airport runway was a highlight.

Doe + Skyline She was happy, honest. 

The O2 is a brilliant location for an indoor picnic.
Wet days are a nightmare as far as picnics are concerned. Yes, we ate some lunch (aka a lot of Pringles) on the train, but what we were really in need of was a good sit down after a busy morning. The O2 proved to be perfect. Yes, it’s full of over-priced eating establishments, but it also possesses many benches that are ideal for sitting on and pretending you’re outside. I marvelled at the genius of my idea.

Catching the boat home from Greenwich is always a good idea.
Yes, it takes an hour and the tube would be quicker, but the river! The bridges! The opportunities to correct other people’s inaccurate London knowledge… [To explain: a father near us was telling his daughter all about ‘London Bridge’ – only snag was that the bridge in question was Tower Bridge. I didn’t correct him, I just told Doris the story of the American who thought they’d bought it instead.]

London from the river Quintessential London, from the boat. 

11 year old girls can eat – especially when it comes to cake! 
Hot chocolate and a huge slice of chocolate fudge cake demolished in mere minutes. I was impressed.

Doris Day cake Thank-you Caffe Nero loyalty cards…

You can NEVER have too much London Transport in one day.
Not only did we visit the LT museum, we also took a tube, two DLR’s, the Skyline, a Thames Clipper and a bus. The only Oyster card accessible transportation we didn’t use was the Overground and the tram. (There was no way we were going all the way to Croydon for the sake of a tram!) Doris wasn’t entirely satisfied though. She felt we ought to have been able to take a plane…

Doe & LT

Fake bus &  fake tube driving; in the driver’s seat of the DLR; on the Skyline; aboard the Clipper; and finally, on a bus back home. 

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