For James' birthday, I wanted to take him to see Book of Mormon. And I did, but it wasn't on for the day itself (a Sunday), so I managed to find something else I thought he'd love - EXTREME AQUA SPLASH.
I work near the Olympic Park, which opened to the public in April this year, but I'd still never been. I only really wanted to see the swimming pool, since it was designed by Zaha Hadid and looked incredibly cool, and I thought maybe we could have a go of the iconic diving boards. As it turns out, you can't, unless you book a diving course, and I wasn't feeling that committed.
Through my travails, I found they had an event called Extreme Aqua Splash, which I thought would be for kids... but thankfully it was not. Which is how we ended up sliding about on a giant inflatable assault course in a pool that is three metres deep, the whole way along. AND it only cost £7.50 each. Fair play, London Aquatics Centre, fair play. If you go, take change for the lockers - they won't give you any, there are no cash machine inside, and the staff aren't all that helpful really. It's part of the Better scheme (where you can be a member of any gym in the scheme, mostly local authority leisure centres) so if you're a member you may get a discount, but exclusions apply because it's part of the Olympic Park.
We still had a bit of energy left after swimming, so we went on a London Walk. They are fantastic, and if you've never been on one, you're missing out! They're £9 for two hours, and there are loads to chose from - we went on a ghost walk around the City. We didn't see any ghosts, obvers (it was way too bright to be spooky anyway) but we did find some cool places to go, including Leadenhall Market (famous from the Harry Potter films as part of Diagon Alley I believe). If you're only in London for a short time but want to get a sense of place and history, these walks are brilliant - the Jack the Ripper one is really quite exciting too. Perfect for the nearly-autumn weather we're having!
Near the Walky Talky building is this old building, which apparently had a terrible mouse problem while it was being built because the builders used to leave their food behind. To commemorate this annoyance, the decorators left a little detail on the outside of the building - see if you can spot it.
Near the Royal Exchange, down maybe the most Dickensian-looking street I've ever seen, is this little restaurant called Simpsons. It was opened in 1757, and looks as though it has never been modernised - to very mixed reviews on TripAdvisor. I may pop in for a coffee on one of my days off, just for the atmosphere. It looks like a good place to hang out in the winter, because of all the old lamp lights. The street just around the corner is where Scrooge's counting house was based in A Christmas Carol (I'm sure I've mentioned before that I am obsessed with Dickens, haven't I?) Sometimes at work these days I feel like I identify more and more with pre-breakthrough Ebenezer Scrooge, which is quite sad really. I am going to have to find a way to quell my cynicism and get the Christmas spirit back in my heart.
This is the view from the corner of the Bank Of England - I get the feeling that they will never be finished building London. Maybe I should encourage that trend in hopes of one day buying an affordable house.
Our day was a weird mixture of old and new, a bit like London itself really.