Thursday, 7 August 2014

A Capital Time - London Loveliness

My gorgeous family spent last weekend in London. It was a fairly last minute plan - two weeks ago Mr Wren and I sat down in his office, looked at his calendar and realised that if we didn't go away that weekend we would end up not going anywhere at all this holiday. Now the Little Wrens and I are getting along fine but we all needed a change of scenery. So a hotel was found, train tickets were booked and we all had something to look forward to.

My soft spot for my old adoptive city is well documented - it is where I feel most at home. But the children too just LOVE London. We have always spent time with them there - my sister in law lives there, so that always makes things easier - but there is nothing quite like staying in a hotel in the centre of a city to really give you a taste of the metropolis. 

Master Wren would in all honesty be happy to ride around on the tube all day, but his choice of London landmark was a visit to The British Museum. Having studied the Egyptians at school last year he was very excited to see all of the ancient Egyptian relics. We saw actual mummies and tombs, the Rosetta Stone (which I was vaguely aware of but my encyclopaedic son explained "was the key to unlocking the meaning of hieroglyphics" - so there you go!) and even a preserved two thousand year old body (complete with hair and skin intact). It's a very special place, although I couldn't help wondering quite what all of those wonderful exhibits from around the World were doing in dear old Blighty. All of it presumably acquired during the grand days of the British Empire. Fabulous as it was to see it all, it does feel a bit like a very large and impressive exhibition of all that we have plundered from other nations. 

Our hotel was near St James' Park, so for dinner on Saturday night we wandered out past Scotland Yard through the grounds of Westminster Abbey, crossed the road in front of Big Ben and walked alongside the Houses Of Parliament, crossing the Thames at Westminster Bridge to reach the South Bank. So pretty unremarkable really! The South Bank itself had, as it does every Summer, given itself over to The Southbank Festival which this year took the theme of 'Love'. So after stuffing ourselves silly in Canteen, the children took a spin on the carousel and we all threw ourselves down the enormous family slides they had dotted around (see photo, top), before treating ourselves to an ice cream and taking a sundown stroll back to our hotel. 

Maxi Dress - American Vintage

Sunday began with breakfast with a view of Buckingham Palace in St James' Park followed by a quick tube ride (oh, happy boy!) to South Kensington and a wander around Miss Wren's museum of choice, the V&A. I love this place and spent many lazy hours as a student gazing longingly at the vintage Dior and Balmain dresses on display. So beautiful. Both children were fascinated by the fashion through the ages and were hypnotised by the jewellery exhibit. The dizzying display of diamonds left me feeling slightly giddy. They really are a girl's best friend. Or would be, if she could ever get her mitts on any!! Breathtaking!

We spent our last few hours in the capital in sunny Hyde Park, before heading to Paddington on our last legs to begin our journey home. We had a wonderful family weekend. 

In order to have as full a weekend as possible we caught the early train to London on Saturday morning. So we were all up at 7am and out the door before 8. Breakfast needed to be eaten on the train so on Friday evening I baked some healthy and sustaining muffins for our railway picnic. They were also very delicious. Here's the recipe....

30g unsalted butter
60g (two heaped tablespoons) honey
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsps crunchy peanut butter
2 large ripe bananas
150g light spelt flour
1 heaped teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch of salt
Around 12 teaspoons raspberry jam.

12 hole muffin tin and cases

Preheat your oven to 190 degrees C/ gas mark 5

Put the butter, honey and vanilla in a pan on a low heat to melt, then set aside. Mash the bananas.

In a large bowl, measure out the flour, bicarb, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Mix the peanut butter and bananas with the melted butter mixture and combine with the dry ingredients.

Line the muffin tin with the cases and fill them about half full. Dollop a scant teaspoon of jam in the centre of each, then top with the remaining batter (making sure that all jam is covered).

Put in the oven and bake for about 25 minutes. Eat warm ideally. Train optional.

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