Formerly - A look at the ups and downs of life with a double pushchair!

Saturday, 13 August 2011

A day out fit for Princesses

We embarked on a family day out to Hampton Court Palace yesterday.  With my 11 year old niece visiting from abroad we thought we should do something cultural plus eldest daughter had studied the Tudor times in school this year and she was keen to go.

Now that A&E have turned into running toddlers just getting everyone loaded into the car at the start of the day was an achievement. Having packed the picnic and sourced a rain mac for everyone I tried to persuade the eldest kids off the trampoline and into the car. A&E were so excited to see the picnic bag that whilst I wasn't looking they took the opportunity of opening it and emptying the contents onto the hall floor.

Finally we did leave home only 50 minutes later than planned and with little traffic on the roads we reached Hampton Court Palace all set for a fun packed day. We purchased our tickets and the kids were all intrigued to be greeted by Henry VIII's courtiers at the gate. We then headed to the information area so that all of us could collect our velour jackets and cloaks (to ensure we felt the part) and audio commentary guides. Of course whilst all the children and indeed DH and I were rather keen to start our visit, the two younger members of our party reminded everyone around Hampton Court by their loud screaming that they needed lunch.  In search of the picnic area we headed towards the main gate where we had to de-robe and put our audio guides back as they couldn't leave the main palace area!

Having satisfied everyones lunch requirements we tried to lose the 3 eldest children in the maze but they all make their way back out and we re-grouped and headed back to start the tour of the palace. With less enthusiasm for the velour jackets we just picked up a couple of audio guides this time.

Persuading A&E into their stroller we headed round the Tudor Kitchens only to find that we could only go so far until the doorway was too narrow for us to fit through. Hesitant to take the girls out when they were actually sitting still, I reversed and then spent 10 minutes trying to find another way to get  back through to the other side of the kitchens and re-join the others.

Of course we couldn't keep them in their stroller for long especially as much of the living quarters of the palace are on the first floor, up large flights of stone steps. The stroller just fitted through the doorway of the buggy park room and so parked it and ran after A&E as they enjoyed their freedom.  The vast rooms were too exciting for A who ran as fast as she could down the corridors. E, feeling a little under the weather and tired preferred to be carried - by me. Thankfully DH and I could both be in charge of one toddler each which meant we were less likely to lose one of them.

As I entered one of Henry VIII's rooms carrying E and explaining to eldest daughter what the room was, out of the corner of my eye I noticed A run into the room, dash under the rope cordon and head towards the priceless antique table. Thankfully we called her and she ran back to us. The guide in the room explained that if she had touched the table the alarms would have all gone off and in fact she was quite surprised that she hadn't set off the alarms but then she realised she must have been too short and was under the height of the beam! I felt rather thankful for that.

As much as A&E had a great time picking up stones, trampling on flowers in the garden and crumbling crackers all over the palace, the three older children had a great day. They were thrilled to meet Henry VIII and Catherine Parr and they took part in a live historical theatre show about their lives and followed the story as to whether the King would order her arrest. They were all relieved when the King forgave her.

It was a fun packed exhausting day out and as we were in Henry VIII's bedroom I took the opportunity to sit down on a bench in front of the window. Both girls clambered up and peeked through the blind into the garden. It was clear the blinds were down to stop the sun from shining on the very well preserved preiceless tapestries. All of a sudden the girls took hold of the cords to the blinds, climbed down from the bench and were heading across the room with them. DH and I quickly picked up a girl each, removed the cords that they were both clutching and swiftly left the room.

As we headed out from the Palace to retrieve our stroller we saw a plaque commemorating the re-opening of part of the palace by the Queen following a fire some years earlier. Nervously smiling at each other we hoped there would be no further plaques needed following our visit.

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