June 24, 2014

Sunday Bus Surprise

Last weekend I went to Britmum's Live, which is the biggest Mummy-Blogger convention in the UK (though now they also have food, style and dads. So maybe they should find a different description), which was what I intended to write about originally, and was also what I had plan on my "living life to the fullest" agenda. 
But since I had issues with the event, and not all of them were about the lack of cake (but seriously - not enough cakes is just... Mean), and since Sunday was one of those gorgeous sunny days you just know are too good to be true (and sure enough it did rain on Monday), we decided to forsake the original plan of staying at home lazying around, and started looking for something fun to do with the kids. Contrary to popular opinion, London isn't a very child friendly city, and it is not very easy to find something new to do with children in London every weekend, and if you want it to be cheap (or free, but nothing in London is ever free), it becomes almost impossible.
But this week we were lucky and it only took us less than an hour to find an adventure - the Bus Cavalcade on Regent Street. As it turns out, this is the year of the bus (seriously) and they have decided to close down Regent Street to traffic and put about 50 buses ranging in age around it for people to appreciate how far buses have come.
Year of the bus
We found it through Londonist, which is the best website I know to what's going on in London if you are a "young professional", or as we call them - children over the age of 25. We didn't find out about it through the TFL, who sends me five emails a week about the state of Hammersmith Station (don't care, not even close to here) or the Transport Museum, who sends me an email every time there is an open day at one of their garages. No, amazingly enough none of them thought that it was a good idea to advertise their own cavalcade.
Though the chronological order of the buses was intended for people to start walking from Piccadilly, we decided to go the other way - from Oxford Circus to Piccadilly Circus because chronological order or not, as far as I'm concerned there is one simple rule to walking outside - going down the hill is better than climbing up. So we went back in time, but we did it while rolling gently down Regent Street. 
Our first bus - in the future
Last bus - a carriage from 1829
So what do you do in a bus cavalcade?

First of all, you get a map, or five, because maps are an all important tool when you want to know where you are going, or when you want to distract an annoyed (or annoying) child. 

Then you stop for a snack, because the map thing didn't work.
Then you shout "go stand by that red bus" and see them look at you in confusion (we didn't really do that one, we told them the number of the bus we wanted to take a photo of). It is a known thing, after all, that photos of buses are boring and annoying. But photos of buses with kids next to them? Now that is interesting. I took over 250 photos on Sunday. Of buses with kids.

Then you let them drive the bus. Because they really really wanted to, and not at all because you want to drive the bus. Hmmm.

You make them do weird facial expressions and activities, so you can take even more photos (and embarrass them. After all, that is what parents are for).

Then you send them up and down the bus, because it is important to let kids enjoy themselves and experience the world through play. Not at all because you hope they get tired enough when you get home they'll forget you promised them a game of Snakes & Ladders.
Then you regret everything you just did because the "I'm hungry", "I'm tired" and "I want to go home" whining marathon begins.
That is when Pret and lunch came to our rescue, and we used this lunch to let Ron go buy his sandwich by himself (picking, paying and eating all by himself). In a busy Pret in the middle of Regent street, I am not sure who was more nervous about that (Hidai. Hidai was).
After lunch (a short affair, about thirty minutes for eating a sandwich) you have another short grace period in which you could do all of the above steps again...
And if you are lucky you'd get a not-so-grumpy-family-photo
And a selfie
And even a nice sibling one

Then you quickly try and take a photo of a bus stop made out of lego, because it's just so cute.

It took us four hours to go through Regent street, and for the first time ever we did it without buying anything (it did help that the queue in front of the gift shop was huge and that we flatly refused going in to Hamley's).
And yes, they did forget about the Snakes & Ladders. 
We watched Men In Black instead.

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