Way in advance, I came up with the perfect present for Jules's birthday in October, a trip to London. He had mentioned wanting to visit several times, since he'd only been once on a school trip before, and then I came across somewhere the fact that an Escher exhibition was opening up the day before his birthday, so it was fate. Eurostar tickets booked, hotel picked, all that remained was to wait and not spill the beans to him on our surprise destination.
Until, that is, my parents were visiting Brussels in August and suggested that we might want to come over to London at the end of September to celebrate their 45th wedding annversary. 45 years, that is definitely an achievement worth celebrating! So I buttoned my lip and figured that, while I may not have planned to take two trips to London within three weeks in normal circumstances, we would probably still get a lot out of it.
Amazingly, even though all my family and friends that we hung out with in September knew that we were coming back again a few weeks later, no-one said a word. My parents even said a final goodbye, "see you in New Zealand" that was evidently very convincing. I managed to keep Jules in the dark right up until we went through the check-in for the Eurostar. It was quite funny, we had a little time before getting on the train, so I encouraged him to sit and drink his coffee just outside the Eurostar terminal, and right up until the last minute he couldn't make up his mind whether I had brought him to the Eurostar bit as a trick or if we were really going to London again.
Since Jules hadn't really done the big London sights, we tried to pack in several of the big museums, including the British Museum, National Gallery, and the Natural History Museum. As well as the Escher exhibition of course, which was out in the middle of nowhere in the Dulwich Picture Gallery. I would probably describe myself as indifferent to Escher, but it was a really good exhibition. Seeing the original prints up close, you could really see the artistry and skill. It was amazing to see the different techniques he mastered, from using different methods to create the prints (engraving, carving etc.) and the different kinds of optical illusions and artifices he employed. I definitely came away with a greater appreciation of his work.
|Egyptian art at the British Museum|
|Cute medieval hunting scene, seems to be a jolly jape for all involved|
|Jules and a pharaonic friend|
|Scary Aztec mask|
|People crossing the Millennium Bridge|
|In front of the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square (we had beautiful weather by the way)|
|A bit windy crossing the Thames|
For their anniversary dinner, we went out to a Michelin-starred Peruvian restaurant, Lima. I suppose if you're going to try Peruvian cuisine, it makes sense to start with the best! The vibe was quite different from other starred restaurants I've been to, more casual service and even oontsy oontsy background music! It was actually quite nice for a family dinner as opposed to the more formal French fine dining tradition. The menu was quite eclectic, featuring cactus desserts and blue potato chocolate mousse (which I had) amongst other exotic fare. I don't know how representative it is of your average Peruvian cuisine, but it was good!
|Guess that lady in the background really didn't want to be in our photo|
|We walked through Hyde Park from our hotel to the Natural History Museum (full of cute dogs!)|
|Jules and the T-Rex|
|Seems this T-Rex had to be put down|
|Outside the museum|
|They had special Rugby World Cup-themed cocktails. Jules betrayed us all by going for South Africa|
|Main course cod, polenta and pea puree|