Monday, 27 January 2014

Decorating Isaac's bedroom furniture

Isaac and Oliver have had real basic pine bedroom furniture from ikea (Fjellse bed frame) since we moved here.  It is cheap and functional.  Paul sprayed Oliver's table red about a year ago (you can just see it in the picture below), but nothing had been done with Isaac's.

Thanks to Pinterest, I became interested in covering Isaac's bed with contact paper.  I originally sourced some on amazon, but Paul persuaded me to take a trip to Hobby Lobby instead.  I wanted to cover the wood in sticky back contact paper, and pad and cover his head board.

One trip to Hobby Lobby discovered that they do not sell contact paper.  So I decided to get some duck tape and use that instead.  

So the bed started looking like this.....

I began with the end of the bed, and cut off stips of duck tape to cover the edge top and bottom.  The legs were a bit trickier, but not too hard.  I made holes where the screws go.

The legs 

The next day, we started on the head board.  I had purchased 2 large bits of upholstery foam and was going to cut them down.  But they only came to an inch around the edge of the headboard, so we decided not to cut them.  We taped them together

Then attempted to tape them to the headboard.  This didn't work, so we just carried the foam and head board on to the fabric which was laid out on the floor.

I then stapled the edge of the fabric to the head board after wrapping the sides round.  We brought the top of the tfabric over the top of the headboard, lined it up so it was neat, and tacked it into place.  This was more for decorative purposes, but also had a practicable purpose in holding fabric in place.

We tacked both sides, after neatening them up.  I then stapled the bottom of the fabric under the foam at the front, and cut off the excess.

One finished headboard! Ok, the edges are not the neatest, but these are covered up by the rails at the  side.  I then continued on the rest of the wood on the bed, by wrapping it in more duck tape.  Unfortunately I ran out with about 50cm still to wrap, so had to go back to Hobby Lobby.

Here is the completed bed.  I am very pleased with it.  One of the best things is if Isaac doesn't like it, we can just unwrap it and do something else.  You can just about see the tape holding the foam together under the fabric of the head board, d'oh!

Sebastian getting in on the action

Following on with the success of the bed, I decided to do his side table.  Again, this is cheap furniture from ikea.  I wiped it down with a Clorox wipe first, then left it to try.

I decided to do stripes on the top.  First strip of tape I pulled got twisted, so I cut it.  This made for an unusual pattern in the tape, so I decided to continue it.  I decided to leave the sides as wood for contrast, and cos I couldn't be bothered to tape round the edges (lazy Clare!!!)

I am really pleased with the finished project.  Kinda reminds me of something that would have been in my Grans house.

Next up....Oliver's bed….

Here is a list of what we used, with rough costs
2 yards fleece fabric $10
2 foam upholstery blocks $10
Pinking shears $10 
Light weight staple gun $6
Duct tape x3 (1 white, 2 green) $5 each 
Silver color tacks $2 pack of 48 (Only used 10, the rest will be used for something else)

The tools like the shears and staple gun will come in handy for other things, so were an investment.

This took about 4 hours all in, and has inspired me to do other things….. Watch this space!!!

********I promise I will do a catch up blog soon********

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Medical hoops

So Sebastian had his 3 year check yesterday.  The doctor is more than happy with him, and he began his course of immunizations of hepatitis ready for school.  He also needs an individual tetanus shot too, so they gave me the number of of Greenville health department.  The doctors give a 3 in one which includes diphtheria and pertussis, which he does not need.  The doc said it would be too expensive for them to do it individually.  

I called the health department this morning, and the lady was adamant he needed the three in one (I had forgotten he had the other 2).  I called our doctor back, and they suggested I called them again.  I did, and explained the situation a little clearer.  They gave me the number of the appointments department.

I called for an appointment, they began taking details.  Then they asked if we are on Medicare.  I said no, we are privatly insured.  Greenville Health Department do not give individual tetanus shots to those with private health insurance, I need to go through a private provider.  

I am currently waiting for my doctor to call me back.


Oliver had his follow up appointment with Dr Cooter this morning.  Although his ear is better, ther is still some inflammation, and some fluid.  He thinks there may be some behind the ear drum.  The next step is a CAT scan on Monday morning (7.40 for an 8am scan, I must be mad), then a follow up to the scan with a different doctor, Dr Alexander.  It is highly likely he is going to end up with tubes fitted in his ear to help the fluid drain, and a chance he may have his adenoids removed.  

I can see us getting very familiar with Greenville Hospital....

Monday, 20 January 2014

Sebastians 3rd birthday implosion and Cowpens.....

Today is Sebastian's 3rd birthday.  The boys have been very good about it.  Just goes to show how much their relationships have changed in the last six months or so.  Seb did well, he loves the box of wooden track, his scooter and his new car garage.  

Here is Seb with his garage and wooden track, just before we got dressed to go out for the day.

Amazingly we left the house before 9am on a Sunday!! We had word of a scheduled building implosion in Greenville.  We have never seen one of these in the flesh before, so we could not miss the opportunity.  We gave the boys a quick snack and headed out the door with directions in the sat nav.  We didn't really need them.  As we got nearer we started seeing people on the bridges in town.  Scott Towers has been home to low income seniors for decades.  Recently some significant structural problems with the building were discovered, so it was decided to bring it down.  We arrived at a junction off Church Street, where people were gathering.  It was hard not to miss the 14 story building against the line of low level housing surrounding it.  We parked up, and walked to a better vantage point.

We heard a series of explosions, and seconds later, the building began to fall

The building came down in about 14 seconds.  I am going to try and upload the video of it, Isaac's commentry is just too cute. In fact, here it is  They were plenty of people watching, the last time a building was imploded in Greenville was in 1997.  Not sure we will ever see another of these in the flesh, it was so worth leaving the house early.

This gave us the opportunity to try and eat at IHOP.  We normally try and go between 10.30-11.30, and it has always been too busy before.  Not today.  We got there about 10, and managed to get a parking space, despite how busy it was.  We walked in, Paul gave our name at the door, and we only had to wait 10 minutes for a table.  It was well worth the wait.....  Everyone (except Isaac) cleared their plates.  While we were eating, we were toying with what to do with the rest of the beautiful day.  I had read somewhere that it was the 233rd anniversary of the Battle of Cowpens.  We looked it up and discovered they had lots of things happening.  So we jumped in the car and headed up the interstate.

45 minutes later, we arrived at Cowpens National Battlefield.  We parked up and headed towards the visitor centre, past the memorial.  There were people dressed in clothing from the time of the revolutionary war.  We were lucky enough to arrive in time for a guided tour.  It was absolutely fascinating, and was one of the decisive battles in the South.  This was such a good guided tour, and we learnt much about the battle.  We were on the tour for about an hour, double the time the actual battle took place! If you want more info, please check out the link here.

There were people of all ages participating in reenacting the battle, and the lives of the people who played a part.  Once the tour was over, a couple of young lads invited us to see the cavalry horses, all kitted up I the gear they would have carried at the battle

This was not exactly the boys idea of fun, but they were very good.  They didn't really listen, but I think they enjoyed seeing the people all dressed up and the tents that were set up as the camps.  It was such a beautiful day, and so lovely to be outside

We drove home, with Seb having a sleep on the way.  He then skyped with various grandparents, so they could see him open his presents.  Thanks guys, he loves all of them (apart from the remote control car thing mum, seems to freak him out!!!!)

The boys had dinner (Paul and I were still full from breakfast!), and we sung happy birthday to Sebastian, and he attempted to blow out his candle.  He did a fairly good job, with a bit of help and encouragement. He looks scared of it here, but honestly, he loved it.

See, here he is tucking in!

I think he had a good day.  He has certainly gone to bed happy.......

Saturday, 18 January 2014


This week feels like it has been crazy busy...

Monday I went and looked at another school for Sebastian.  This one I loved.  It was a good cross between the other 2 I have looked at.  I don't know if Seb has just got used to seeing classrooms, but he was very comfortable.  They were having a story when we looked at his classroom, and he went and sat on the mat and listened.  He doesn't even do this at Gymboree!  I felt very happy that this was the right place for Seb, that I didn't even look outside at the playground!  Plus he gets football included in the price.  He is all signed up, and starts on the 10th February.  We then headed to Gymboree, then met Paul for lunch.  I was even able to get Seb down for a sleep......

Tuesday I had to pull Oliver out of school to take him for his hearing test.  Not good.  They checked if the bones in both ears were oscillating.  They were, but not very much.  Then they checked his hearing using beeps and words.  He has slight loss in his left ear (the good one!), and significant loss in his right one.  The audiologist said he should be able to get it back with the right therapy and treatment, but there may be some permenant residual loss.  We are back to see Dr Cooter on Wednesday.  I have asked Paul to come with me, as I am not sure what he is going to suggest.  I reckon a CAT scan, then possibly some tubes fitted, but I don't know.  The antibiotics and drops don't seem to have cleared it completely, so I guess we will find out the treatment regime on Wednesday....  Feel like a bad parent on this.  Should have taken him to the doctors sooner, but the ear infections have never given him any pain.  Tuesday night I went and got the rest of Sebastian's birthday presents.  Me lose in Toys r us, not good.....

Wednesday morning I took it slightly easy, and had a morning at home.  I did decide to give Seb some nappy off time, and lots of drinks.  It would appear he is not ready for potty training. He does not know when he needs to go, but is more than happy to sit on the potty.  I will try again next month, once he has settled into school.  We went out to Buffalo Wild Wings for dinner, it wasn't very tasty, quite a let down in fact.  At least we took advantage of kids eating for $1.99....

Thursday morning we headed to Acrosmith Gymnastics again.  Seb didn't seem to enjoy it as much this time, but I managed to keep him amused by doing running races on the mat.  We met up with Christy and Edmund at Conastee Park in the afternoon.  It was cold, but the sun was shining, so it was just about warm enough, and all the kids had a great time.  Sebastian even decided to try something's on the play equipment that was just too big for him.  Thanks for the heart attacks Seb...I was able to head to Zumba in the evening for my second class of the week.

Friday Seb and I headed to Anna's.  I haven't seen her since before Christmas so it was good to catch up, and meet her good friend Heidi.  We took it easy in the afternoon, Seb refused to nap again.  I think he may be giving them up, though on the days he has not napped, he has fallen asleep on the school run....  We met Paul at the DMV after school.  It would appear our licenses are about our run out, but the place was so busy that we have decided to go mid morning next week instead.  Paul fell asleep on the sofa last night (as I said, it's been hectic), so I had control of the tv.  I just love HGTV, and found a new program called Renovation Realities.  This is real people (supposedly) doing their own renovations on their houses.  Hilarious and very cringeworthy 

Today we are having a pajama day, in preparation for Sebastian's birthday tomorrow.  Can't believe my baby is going to be 3!  I have even managed to get him to say 'I eee' for 'I'm three'.  So cute... I need to pop out shortly and get his last birthday present and his cake.  I could not be bothered to make one this time, so he has a Lightning McQueen one coming from BiLo. 

We have also booked our first holiday of the year, thanks too a Living Social deal.  Two nights on Hilton Head island for $85.  That's for all of us in a suite room with 2 queen size beds and a cot.  We have also pencilled in the rest of our travel dates for the year. I so cannot wait to start planning our 2 big drives!

Sunday, 12 January 2014

*Home school* number and color trays

This is not overly interesting, but it is the first thing I have made for home schooling in a while.

So we went to Costco yesterday and brought a tray full of apples.  Once we got home, I put the empty tray in the 'resources/recyclable' cupboards.

I had nothing better to do today (other than washing, make bread, play with the boys, change the beds, make dinner), so I thought I would use the trays.

Excuse my toes.....

So the first one.  I colored squares of different colors with Sharpie permenant markers (I got a pack of 10 for a bargain price of $2 in Family Dollar recently).  I then added some beads, so Seb can match the colors.  Admittedly, I am missing black, but I will do something about that soon....

The other one, I wrote the numbers 1-11 in the domes, then added the correct amount of pasta shapes.  This can be used for Seb for counting, or expanded for Isaac for addition and subtraction.

The items in the trays are small, so will be good for fine motor skills.  These trays have extended learning potential, as I mentioned, addition/subtraction, and finding different colored things around the house.

That's if the get used......they may just gather dust like a lot of the other things in the learning room!

Back in to routine

It has been so nice to be home.....

Monday, Isaac was back at school. Oliver and I took Seb to Gymboree, as Mondays usual routine.  It got very cold on Monday, to the point that Greenville school district put a delay on schools starting 2 hours later on the Tuesday.  Oliver's wise headmaster sent an email Monday afternoon saying that school would begin as usual on Tuesday.  The school district encompasses such a large area......Isaac's however decided to start 3 hours later on the Tuesday.  Monday night the temperature went down to -13 centigrade.  It was cold, very cold.  The water in the boys water table froze solid, 3 inches thick

Tuesday, I took Oliver to school.  It was most noticeably icy on the roads near the house, but once you go on to the main highways it wasn't too bad.  Traffic was fairly light, and he got to school early.  Isaac, Seb and I returned home and played till it was time to take Isaac to school.  If Isaac had not been doing lunch and learn, he would not have been going in.  It was cold again on Tuesday night, but only about -7....

Wednesday Oliver had an ENT appointment at Greenville Hospital.  This is the first time we have been to one of the main hospital buildings, and it went well.  We were seen fairly quickly by Dr Cooter. Turns out he has 3 kids in the upper school of Oliver's school, he recognized the uniform straight away.  He took a swab from Oliver's recurring ear infection to send away to be cultured.  He then proceeded to vacuum Oliver's ear.  All is can say is yuck, there were some big chunks of disgustingness coming out. How it has not been causing him pain, I do not know. He has been given drops and an oral antibiotic (it tastes disgusting), to try and fight the infection. Dr Cooter wanted Oliver to get his hearing checked ASAP, but we were only able to get an appointment over in Greer next week.  We also have to see Dr Cooter again in 10 days time.  I dropped Oliver back at school, and headed home.  The afternoon was spent with Isaac not really knowing what to do with himself....

Thursday morning, I went and looked at a preschool for Seb.  I have spent the week sending emails and arranging visits to local day care/ preschools.  I started with a list of about 8, whittled it down to about 5 using their websites.  Only 3 got back to me, 1 I called and left a message, the other I called and arranged a visit for Monday.  One didn't do a half day program for Sebs age.  
So the first one I saw on Thursday I quite liked.  It is convenient, the room is nice and spacious, they have a good out door area and water play area.  Seb freaked when he first went in, but settled eventually.  We took a little tour to the gym, where Soccer Shots was taking place.  Seb went and joined in, with no instruction from anyone.  He loved it!!!  I took him back to what would be his room, and he was fine, and even went off to play.  We spent longer than anticipated here, and were late for a meet up group.  We met at Acrosmiths Gymnastics.  This is a cheerleading/gym place where they had a big springy mat, a running trampoline, beams and lots of other equipment laid out for kids to play.  Seb loved it.  It was good fun, and there were loads of mums with kids all different ages.  I spoke to lots of different people, which was nice.

Friday I checked out another day care.  This one is located on Woodruff Road, so a little further than I would like to travel.  It was laid out quite similar to the preschool the boys went to in England.  The rooms are all open, and they also have a play area, half of which Sebs age is not allowed on.  They make all their meals on site, and there were plenty of staff.  But it just didn't feel right......  From there we went to Rachel's house.  So nice to catch up with a good friend, while the kids played nicely.  
As it was the second Friday of the month, it was Free Community Zumba at the Kroc Centre in Greenville.  I was supposed to be meeting some friends, but I was the only one from our group who showed up.  Didn't matter, I love these sessions, it is a good work out and lots of fun, just how zumba should be.

Today we did the costco shop (ouch), then went to the mall for some lunch, and to return some Christmas presents.   The rest of the day had been spent at home relaxing, and enjoying our time together.

I have decided to take January off from drinking.  I had my last alcohol on Sunday night, and have not touched a drop since.  I am proud of myself.  My drinking was not out of hand, but after a heavy trip back to England, and the run up to Christmas, I think my body needed a break.  So far so good.  One thing I am noticing is how tired I am, but I am putting this down to recovering from travelling, and sorting out things here.  I feel like I have done so much paper work and general family up keep this week.  I have also made a start on my course, which doesn't start till next month.

So that's the catch up..... Sorry for the lack of photos, but we have not taken any this week!  
Next week will be spent seeing friends, getting Oliver's hearing tested (the culture grew a bacterial infection, just in case you were wondering), and doing at least 2 maybe even 3 Zumba sessions.....

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Traveling Home for a second Christmas

We awoke slightly after 5am on the friday morning.  Dad was already up, so Paul and I got dressed, washed, and shoved some coffee down our neck.  We got the kids up and dressed, not an easy feat, given they were used to waking up around 8.  Paul loaded the suitcases into the car in the pouring rain (a running theme for our trip).  I decided to check the status of our flight.  Delayed till 14.45, we were supposed to fly at 9.55!  hmmmm, not a huge delay, but a bare able one.

Because of this, we took it slightly easy on our drive to Heathrow in the rain.  We got to the car hire place just after 6am.  They hand over was quick and efficient.  I cannot fault Sixt car hire for our trip.  They were courteous and polite in wall our dealings with them.  I would choose to use them again.  We jumped in their van and headed to Heathrow.  

We checked in, using the self check in.  Shame you can't check the kids this way, so we had to go to the desk for them.  The man behind the counter was really feeling the fact it was 6.30!  He was a little dense to put it politely…. After about 15 minutes we were all checked in, and the bags despatched.  We headed through security.  Heathrow security is pretty good, as soon as they saw the kids, they sent us to a side aisle.  I remembered this from our big move, seems to be the aisle for families. Very convenient.  Out the other side, we checked the departure board.  Boarding delayed till……..15.30

So we tried to make the best of it.  We headed for some breakfast.  Not overly expensive (but not as cheap as Beefeater), good service, tasty food, happy boys.  There was not much left over. Then for one of our many walks around the terminal. Terminal 1 has had a makeover in the last few years.  We did not really explore it last time, but it has gone quite upmarket.  Not a fast food restaurant in sight.  There was however a children's play area, which killed a good 45 minutes.


We had a lighter lunch, and again, there was not much food left over.  We sat and waited for our gate, while the boys got on with playing their kindles/iPods/leap pads.  Thank goodness we got them before the trip.  They did manage to drain the batteries, but again, there are charging places in and around the terminal.

15.30 came and went, and still no sign of a gate…..  Eventually it was put up about 15.50, so we took a nice leisurely stroll in that direction.  There were a lot of disgruntled looking people waiting.  We eventually began boarding at about 17.00, and took off about 20 minutes later.  The captain was most apologetic.  There were maintenance issues with the plane (just what you want to hear when you are about to taxi down the run way), then there was a weather delay.  I later discovered that the flight had not left Charlotte for Heathrow till about 3am.  

The flight itself was not too bad.  The boys ate some of their meals, then had some computer time.  But they were tired, dog tired.  Sebastian fell asleep with a kindle in his hand, before they had even dimmed the lights.  Oliver and Isaac fell asleep shortly after.  Half the battle with the boys on the plane is getting them to sleep.  As they had all done it, I was able to watch a film in peace.  I watched Rush, and absolutely loved it.  I even had a tear in my eye towards the end.  Such an awesome film.

About an hour and a half before we were due to land, they put the lights back on.  It took the boys a while to wake up.  It was about 20.30 US time, making it 1.30 am UK time….  We touched down, and had a wait for the buggy.  Great I thought, by the time we get through Immigration, our bags should be out.  But no.  Despite the fact we were the last through Immigration, we had to wait 30 minutes for the bags to appear on the carousel.  Then another 20 minutes to get them all.  By now it was past 11pm US time.  We walked out of the airport, and found the bus to the long stay car park.  From here in, it was relatively plain sailing.

I really felt for the other people on the flight who had to catch connecting flights.  Many of them missed their flight due to the delay in getting their baggage.  That delay, and the general incompetence of US Airways, and Charlotte Airport will have cost them a fair whack in compensation, hotel fees and new flights.  It is only since getting home I have realized that we were lucky to have flown when we did.  Another 2 days and our flight may have been cancelled……

We eventually got home at 1.30 am US time.  We put the boys straight up to bed, and despite them all sleeping on the plane and in the car, they went straight to sleep, bypassing the massive pile of presents Father Christmas had left them.  We thought they would sleep till at least 10am.

But no.  Isaac was up at 7.45am.  We managed to get them to stay upstairs till 8.  Then we headed down to open their Christmas presents.

They were all pretty pleased with what they received.  Sebastian even managed to open some of his, before discovering the awesome presents his brothers had received.  Then he lost interest….

We eventually got him to open them all.  Isaac was the first finished unwrapping, Seb the last

Once all the presents had been unwrapped and opened, we got down to the serious business of taking down the Christmas stuff.  It was nice to go back to the UK, but very hectic. We never spent longer than 2 nights in a row in one place.  But thats what you have to do when you are short on time with lots of people to see…..

New Years and Old Friends

We headed back to the Goslings for New Years Eve.  We arrived early afternoon to give the boys a chance to spend some quality time with nanny and granddad.  They began with some Xbox.  Here is Sebastian trying out Granddads steering wheel.

Then it was on to making dinner. Granddad had spent the time before we arrived beginning to make dinner.  Now he just needed an Isaac to help make the pasta.  He had great fun flattening it in Granddads pasta maker.  He also helped in laying it out to dry.

Typical Isaac.  As soon as his dinner was in front of him, he didn't want it.  Oliver loved it though. Uncle Tony arrived, and we ate our delicious pasta dinner.  We packed the boys off to bed a little later than usual, and got down to the serious duty of drinking.  We skyped with Jenny and Tariq a little before midnight to wish all a happy new year.  We toasted the new year, the the drinking got a little messy with too many shots.....

We travelled to my mums the next day, feeling a little worse for wear.  We had a Papa Johns for dinner, perfect, as it was buy one get one free on the pizzas.  Plus Isaac got his chicken pops which meant he actually ate something.  We chose to spend the night as my mums, as it was Granddad Lees birthday the next day.  He had to get up for work unfortunately.  Luckily for us he did not wake the boys, and they slept till nearly 8.

We spent a leisurely morning at my mums, drinking coffee, while the boys had too much computer time,again.  We had plans to go to our friends the Tatums that afternoon.  Paul Tatum is Paul's oldest friend, they have known each other for nearly 30 years.  Lucky for us, they live a 5 minute drive from my mum, so we headed there just before lunch.  They have recently had an extension done to their house, and it is amazing.  They have doubled the size of their kitchen/dining area, and added a playroom.  The boys were all pleased to see each other.  They have 2 boys, their oldest being a year younger than Oliver and their youngest 6 days older than Isaac.  Ethan (the youngest) made me laugh before I had even entered the house, by doing a typical Isaac gesture of a shrug, with a 'I don't know'

We had a lovely night.  The boys all ate their dinners and went to bed with no issues.  As part of their extension, the Tatums have made their loft room more accessible.  It is a large room with more than enough space for a double bed, a double air bed and a travel cot.  Once the boys were in bed we had a few drinks, lots of chats, and bored them to death with our photos.  We were very lucky. As the loft has black out blinds, our boys slept till 8am.  We had a delicious breakfast, and the kids played some more while we continued catching up.

We left shortly after 10, and headed back to my mums to say a final goodbye and have some lunch before going back to my dads to pack.  We were quite methodical in this, Paul broke up the lego while I spread the clothes and presents around the 5 suitcases.  Granddad kept an eye on the boys while we did this.  It only took a couple of hours to get our selves packed and ready.  Paul and dad headed out to get our dinner of fish and chips, it was delicious.  We got the boys of to bed at a reasonable time of 7.30 for the younger 2 (they were me than ready, Sebastian pretty much asked to go to bed) and 8 for Oliver.  We headed up at 11, after watching the beginning of Celebrity Big Brother.  Good job we are still not in the UK, or I would be watching it......

The alarms were set ready for the off in the morning.......

Monday, 6 January 2014

Friends and London

We left my dads fairly early on Saturday morning, and headed for the coast.  We stopped at a Harvester on the way down for some lunch.  It was tasty, and the service was very good.  Here is Oliver posing as an artist.

We had plans to meet some friends at the Flying Fortress, a soft play area in Ford.  Oliver had his 6th birthday party there.  Typically it was raining.  That did not stop many of our friends coming out.  It was so nice to catch up with Laura and Daniel, Philippa with Russell and Michael, Claire and Jack, Jane and Brandon, Emma and Connor, and Angela with Aaron, Kieran and baby Tate.  So adorable, nothing like a new born.... Paul disappeared for an hour to drive some Rolls Royce's, leaving me on my own with the monkeys,  never easy, especially when I wanted to catch up with my friends.  I still managed it, and we were one of the last left in the Flying Fortress.

We left and travelled towards Arundel to check into our hotel.  We had booked at room at Premier Inn at Crossbush for under 40 quid.  A bargain for a family room.  It is located next to a Beefeater, where we had planned to meet some more friends for some drinks.  We headed in at 6pm, found a good seat by the bar and ordered some more food.  We very rarely eat out twice in one day, so we ordered the boys a meal each, and we had some nachos to share.  The whole thing was very tasty, the service was prompt and accommodating.  Once we had finished eating, we gave the boys their various devices, and awaited our friends.  It was so lovely for me to catch up with Faye and Laura.  The whole time I spent with my friends felt like I had never been away.  Paul's friends turned up a little later.  Again, it was great to catch up with them.  

We left the bar about 9.15pm, with 3 tired and wired boys, and attempted to get them to sleep.  Thanks to the bribery of a prize, Oliver and Isaac fell asleep quite early, with Seb not far behind.  Paul and I sat up, drank more beer, and played monopoly on my pad.

We went back to the Beefeater for breakfast.  Apart from the staff messing up our bill, all went smoothly.  The boys ate free, and really pigged out on croissants, fruit, toast and yogurts.  Paul and I had big fry ups, with plenty of coffee, and the whole thing came to 16 pounds.

Again, we had planned to meet friends on the seafront for a morning stroll, and we certainly got the weather for it.  There were 6 boys in all, and they all had a great time.  Here they are on the beach

Here are Oliver, Isaac and Daniel on the longest bench.

We strolled down to Lions Den park, where they all played so beautifully together.  On the walk back towards the car, we bumped into Debbie and Sandra.  So nice to unexpectedly see these lovely people, and have a very brief catch up.  Beautiful to see all the children are doing so well.

We left our friends and headed into the smoke.  We had initially arranged to meet Paul's sister on the Monday, then his brother said he was about on the Sunday and suggested Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park, so we went with this.  Then Paul's parents said they would also be joining us.  On the way in, we received messages from all of them, canceling.  We were on our own in the big city....

We drove in through the south, passing Harrods

We had initially intended on doing an open top bus tour.  By the time we had parked, walked through Winter Wonderland (won't be doing that again....) and found the Open topped bus tour stop, it was nearly 4pm.  When we discovered that the tours last at least 2 hours, and are more hop on/hop off things, we changed our mind.  We grabbed a route map, and decided to head off on our own.  We headed out of the car park (right under Hyde Park, off Park Lane, where they store the cars for the showrooms opposite) paying the 10 quid, and joining the traffic.  Luckily for us, the boys only really wanted to see Big Ben.  We headed in that general direction.

First we passed Westminister Abbey

By now we were well in to twilight, which made the sights look beautiful.  I have never really seen them at this time, and they were so pretty.  We drove past Big Ben, over the river, and came back over Westminister Bridge.  Here i got great photos of Big Ben and the Houses of Parliment

We drove out of London to the west, passing Battersea power station.  It was nice to see this before it get developed into houses and commercial areas.

It didn't take long to get out of London to my dads.  Luckily for us, the boys did not sleep on this journey.  Something about the lights seems to keep them well stimulated and awake.  We stopped for a McDonald's before heading back to my dads for a night of rest.