Day 8 was Thursday. We brought a few boxes to the post office, to ship ahead some of our accumulated 'stuff' to Italy. We hopped on the tube and met friends at the British Museum. It was a great glimpse of Egyptian Mummies, the Rosetta stone and a plethora of Greek artifacts (many from the Parthenon). A quick cafe lunch at the museum, then to a nearby park for some ice cream, keep away with the soccer ball, and nestling our bare feet into the grass. We walked and shopped a bit, then landed at a Pizza Express for dinner (pretty typical chain in London, but not bad for a light meal and a bottle of red).
That night was very special: we went to watch Billy Elliot (a favorite); the boys loved it. We all loved it. And will never forget running through the rain---with newspapers over our heads---to get there. Anthony held my hand to make sure I didn't fall over, because my shoes were so slippery! It made for great memories.
Day 9 was our last day in London. When it is our 'last day' in a big city we usually take inventory: what does everyone want to do on the last day? What haven't we done yet? Is there anything we missed? Is there a favorite place you want to re-visit? Or something you still need to buy? In Paris we finished our week with a dinner picnic on a bridge (right near the Louvre and Notre Dame), enjoying the sunset and people-watching. I remember in Maastricht, last day requests included Belgian waffles, visiting the candy shop and trying on wooden shoes before we exited Holland (I almost bought some but they were so big and uncomfortable!).
Our last day in London was all about following our noses. We deliberately walked about town with this plan: to walk across the infamous Millennium foot bridge (the one that is destroyed at the beginning of Harry Potter 6), to peek inside the Tate Modern (south side of bridge) and walk toward Saint Paul's (north side of bridge).
We took the Underground to the London Bridge. And lucky me: tucked on the south side of the bridge is my favorite outdoor food market in the city: Borough Market. It was my 'last day' request, and an unexpected delight that we were able to stroll through it without agenda. We grabbed grass-fed burgers and just-grilled chorizo sandwiches for lunch. The boys tried some dandelion & burdock soda and ate shortbread. We tasted olives and cured meats, and hovered in a shop that boasted aprons and tea towels with motifs from an impressive artist. I couldn't resist.... I bought an apron with a rainbow trout (artist Richard Bramble). We chatted about drawing and being artists, found some coffee and exited the market.
A few blocks later, we walked by the Clink Museum, a prison museum that beheld and explained torture devices. Of course we went in. We were adequately mortified, rightly grateful for our ease of circumstance, and took token pictures of Caleb chopping off James' head.
Next we went into the Tate to peek at some of the modern art---quite a fun contrast to the Louvre, Van Gogh and even the British Museum. We saw a handful of Picasso's works and some art by Andy Warhol. Then, we walked over the Millennium bridge over to Saint Paul's cathedral---and directly to our favorite, readily found and ironically named patisserie: PAUL's. We landed happily at an outdoor table and munched our pastries and stirred our tea, while Anthony and Caleb juggled the soccer ball back and forth for an hour... right by the cathedral. (Yes, we are careful it is low pedestrian and free of windows before the ball comes out of the bag). When we had sat long enough for even the pigeons to give up on our residual crumbs, we picked up and hailed a cab.
I almost forgot: climbing into one of those fabulous London Taxi cabs was an experience we meant to fit in. So we did. We snagged a ride in a pristine cab across London, landing at a sport shop (to buy a few more pairs of soccer socks), shopping our way from Oxford Street back to Covent Garden, and landing deliberately at the TinTin store. Caleb spent some of his well earned dollars (or euros or pounds...) on a TinTin sheet set and classic book.
By this time we were hungry, again. So we popped into an Italian joint for an early dinner; Caleb read his new book, Anthony worked on Sudoku (from the daily paper handed out en route to the TUBE) and James and I chatted over glasses of vino. It was a good moment, a fine way to wrap up our visit to London.
The next morning, Day 10, we packed up all of our belongings, slung them onto the back of our bikes and headed for the train station. James had reserved spots for our bikes, so we hurdled all of our bags into the train car, the bikes into a separate car and rode to Manchester.