Tube stop: Liverpool Street
Destination: The Geffrye Museum, a converted 18th century almshouse devoted entirely to English domestic interiors. Living rooms, to be exact. It's widely hailed as one of London's most loved museums, and I couldn't wait to visit it.
If you're wondering how I was going to get The Little Prince to accompany me there whine-free, the answer is that I had done a little groundwork back in Los Angeles. A visit to The Geffrye Museum website revealed a wonderful interactive quiz which leads a child through a Victorian house in search of a lost dog. Complete it and you can print out your very own award.
Once Luca had his official certificate in his hot little hands, it was all he could do to count the days until we went there. That, and ask me incessantly about chamber pots.
We walked through a series of living rooms laid out in chronological order, each dedicated to a specific period in interior design.
The 1880's room (below) is a beautiful example of the Arts and Crafts movement. Followers of this movement rejected the "soulless" mass production of the Victorian era in favor of a return to simplicity, good craftsmanship and appreciation for decorative arts.
The William Morris wallpaper was to die for.
The room below showcases a glamorous apartment in 1930's London.
I can just envision the imaginary couple who own it. This is their town flat; they have a massive estate in Kent that they motor to on weekends. Tonight, they're hosting a small cocktail party to celebrate the husband's newest play in the West End called "She Suffers Fools Gladly." At this moment, they're in the kitchen mixing up a trendy new cocktail called "Angel's Wing", an exotic menage of creme de cacao, prunelle brandy and double cream.
This next room represents the 1950's, of course.
I love how this room so gracefully expresses the democratic ideals of midcentury modernism: simple organic shapes with a strong nod to the Scandinavian ideal of functional beauty.
Apologies for the glare spots on the painting below, but I couldn't not photograph it. I find it so wonderfully emblematic of the glamour of 1920's London, peopled with the young and decadent "Bright Young Things" that Evelyn Waugh wrote about in his novel, Vile Bodies.
After leaving the Geffrye, we walked down Commercial Street and passed this lovely church, of which I have been unable as yet to discover the name.
(Note: Claire from the UK has informed me that it's Christ Church Spitalfield's, which I discovered was designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor in 1714. Thank you, Claire!)
Next Tube stop: Tower Hill
Destination: Tower of London. I have been there many times before, but it was Luca's inaugural visit and I was excited to take him there.
I had prepped him on some features of Tudor times that I thought might interest him and my strategy paid off -- he was eager to visit the palace where so many people were reluctantly parted from their heads.
Once inside the main gate, we passed by this lovely Tudor-era building that still houses the ceremonial guardians of the Tower, the Yeoman Warders (also known as "Beefeaters"). I love the turqoise doors.
My next manoeuvre was to immediately whisk Luca to the gift shop. He picked out some gruesome souvenirs and I told him if he was well-behaved during his time here, as soon as we exited the museum, they would officially be his.
Ravens were everywhere. Legend has it that if they ever leave the Tower, the kingdom will fall. Today, the government takes no chances and clips their wings to prevent them flying off...just in case.
The torturous rack in The White Tower proved an endless source of fascination to my son...
...as did the executioner's axe and chopping block.
He was also quite pleased to discover that he was officially taller than a dwarf.
Next Tube stop: Piccadilly Circus
Destination: Waterstone's. Housed in the former Simpson's department store, a 1930's Art Deco landmark, it now boasts 5 enormous floors of books, books, books.
As it was dinner time, we took the lift to their chic restaurant on the top floor, but unfortunately The Little Prince's palate doesn't run to coriander hummus, chorizo kebabs or smoked haddock. So we walked around the corner to Benihana's...
...where he was served served plain chicken and rice in a manner very well-suited to a seven year old.
Afterwards, we returned to Waterstone's and spent a good hour and a half there, emerging victorious as night fell.
My purchases ran from "Voices from Dickens' London" to "The Garden Wit and Wisdom of Beverley Nichols." Luca's ran to "Beast Quest" and "Scream Street: Fangs of the Vampire." (As long as he's reading, I withhold all comments on his literary choices. For now.)
Then it was home again, home again, jiggety-jig. I handed Luca the Underground map and informed him that from now on, he was the trip navigator. His first challenge was to get us through the labyrinth of tunnels to the correct train platform that would take us back to the hotel.
Next stops: Russell Square/Oxford Circus.