Monday, January 14, 2013

Boxing Day in London and Other Tales

I started this post last Tuesday in the hopes of posting it on Wednesday. The germs in my house had other ideas. First, we had that nasty, hang-on-forever, "I'm going to make you wish you had bought stock in Kleenex and NyQuil" cold. At 5 AM on Wednesday, Brittany called to say that Emma awoke with a headache, fever, and vomiting and that she was staying home with her. My cold declared war on my head, so I spent the day doing a whole lot of nothing. By Thursday morning, Emma was feeling better but she stayed home with me. By late morning, her fever, headache, and nausea returned. I could not convince her to leave the bathroom. There she was, feeling awful, and all she cared about was not vomiting anywhere else in the house because she knew I was sick and she didn't want me to clean up a mess. I know! Say it with me: aaaaawwwwwwwww!!!! She's such a little sweetheart! (Not that she can't be a stinker, too~but this was the sweetheart side. Besides, grandmas, Giffys in particular, are supposed to act like the stinker side doesn't exist.) So what's a smitten Giffy to do in a situation like this? Exactly what I should have done. I sat on the bathroom floor with her on my lap and rocked her and rubbed her back until she fell asleep on me. And there I sat for over an hour until Brittany was able to come home. I'm old and stiff and not so good at sitting on the hardwood floor for any length of time. Let's just say that my bum was numb. The creaky circus act that followed as I tried to get up off the floor was worthy of a YouTube post. Thank God no one but Emma witnessed it! Emma, of course, felt fine that afternoon; but her fever returned the next morning. And so it has gone for all of us, minus the vomiting part. And I sincerely thank the Lord for sparing me from that. If I had to get up off the bathroom floor again, I may have been wobbly enough to fall face first into a really yucky swirly. Blech.

Today we are all feeling much better. We still have some cold symptoms, but nothing compared to last week. But while I was drying my hair this morning, Emma used the bathroom and felt that her visit necessitated the use of bathroom spray. The only problem was that she sprayed it right into her eyes. I have never heard her scream like that. It broke my heart! I washed her eyes well, read the label on the product and followed its instructions, and looked up what else to do. Bottom line is she's fine. When I dropped her off at school, I took her to the school nurse to let her know that Emma's eyes are pink because of the spray and the washing, not because she's getting pink eye. Emma was fine and wanted to stay at school. Giffy was so not fine. Giffy was "I want to sob and inhale an entire carton of Ben & Jerry's Coffee Heath Bar Crunch" not fine. Instead of face planting into a carton of ice cream, I decided to blog instead. Let's return to London, shall we?

Boxing Day (December 26th) is a huge deal in Great Britain. And by huge deal I mean HUGE deal. Museums and churches aren't open on Boxing Day, so we couldn't hit any of the big stuff we wanted to see. However, every retail store under the sun is open on Boxing Day. And, much to our delight, so was London's annual Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park, which was just a short walk from our hotel. Since the Burns clan is always up for roller coaster rides, Miss Emma included, we headed there first. Check out the brilliant statue at the park's entrance. 
Brilliant is another word the Brits love to use. In fact, I lost count of the number of times I heard it used. Trust me when I say that whatever it was being described sounded even more brilliant than brilliant simply because of the way in which brilliant was brilliantly enunciated. Brilliantly breathtaking, I tell you! But I digress. Back to the brilliant Winter Wonderland.

Take a look at the sky. This was the same sky we saw every single day except for one. Not only did this sky look like rain, but later in the afternoon it dumped rain, too. Lots of rain. Lots and lots and lots of rain. We decided that being in London in the pouring rain was still better than not being in London at all.
Emma was dying to ride the ferris wheel, but none of us wanted to be stuck on it if it poured. Or if I needed to go to the bathroom. You can't get off this thing quickly. And I'm at that age when hearing water makes me want to go. Although no one would have suspected anything other than my jeans had been rained upon, I decided to spare spectators on the ground any unexpected bursts from above. It would have been nice had they thanked me. A polite, "Well done!" (which is another phrase the Brits say quite brilliantly) would have sufficed. Oh well. 
So we hit the roller coasters instead. Uncle Brennan took her on this one.
See? Those are their feet dangling from the car.
Next it was Mommy's turn on the other roller coaster.
Miss Emma's opinion of the ride?
Uncle Keaton took her on the swings. Brittany couldn't bear to watch!
At home, Emma and Rick play a silly game. Emma always wants him to play with Barbies because she thinks it's funny to make him play with girly stuff. He does, but he brings along his Lego Pirate Ship and pirates (the Black Pearl from Pirates of the Caribbean) and steals Barbie's stuff. It's actually pretty fun to watch. Anyway, Papa convinced Emma to accompany him on this pirate ride.
Miss Emma so did not like the pirates! If there's ever a Barbie theme park (God forbid), Emma's going to make her Papa take her there, ha ha! After a little hot chocolate and a hug from her Giffy, all was well.
I seriously thought that my children~my adult children~were smarter than this. Apparently I was wrong.
Yeah. Not so smart, huh? At least not for the old geezers. My kids, however, had a blast. Go figure. 

We'd been told that Harrod's is THE store in London. Harrod's Boxing Day Sales Event is legendary. We had to check it out. See that store on the left side? That's Harrod's.
In addition to their phenomenal Boxing Day sale, Harrod's is also known for their stunning window displays. They were each decorated to portray a Disney princess. I only got a few photos as it started to pour and I couldn't get clear shots.
The windows were the best part. Not that Harrod's isn't nice or anything, it's brilliant. It's also a complete nuthouse on Boxing Day! It was sooooooooo crowded that it was impossible to walk through the store. We saw a lot of good sales, but the queues were anything but brilliant. Brittany braved one queue so that Emma could get a Harrod's teddy bear and a tree ornament with her own spend money. Then we got out as quickly as we could. Talk about claustrophobic! That, combined with the 20% sales tax rate, kept us from doing much shopping.

The rain had stopped, at least temporarily, so we headed back to Hyde Park. This arch reminded me of the ones we had seen in Rome and Paris.
We came across a few prestigious landmarks in the park.
Then we headed off to see Buckingham Palace.
You can see how hard it was raining~I couldn't keep my camera lens dry.
And there are my favorite peeps getting drenched in front of the palace. Brittany was the only one wearing wellies. In English, the real version of English, wellies are rainboots. 
As we headed back to grab some dinner, we enjoyed more city holiday lights.
This is my favorite shot just becuae I think the double decker bus looks cool. Emma was delighted because we rode the upper deck of one for a few blocks.
Over the course of this day, I literally asked three Brits to enlighten me as to the meaning of Boxing Day. Not one of them actually knew anything other than it's their best sale day of the year. Hmm. I felt like I was on the British version of Jay Leno's Jaywalking segment. (If you've never seen a Jaywalking segment, you simply must click here. It's hilarious...and disturbing. But mostly hilarious.

I finally found a very sweet woman who explained Boxing Day. Apparently, "quite some time ago, the squiahs and landownahs began the tradition of boxing up gifts for theah servants and hiahed help. They would hand delivah the boxes the day aftah Christmas. It was known as Boxing Day. Now it's all about hunting and shopping."

So there you have it. Boxing Day in London 2012.

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