Tuesday, June 17, 2008
We arrived a little late in Rye. We decided perhaps it would be better to feed the kids and ourselves (McDonald's) once we had arrived at the airport, before starting the 2 hour train ride. The motel was 2 blocks from the train station and we were soon settled in. We walked around the town for an hour or so, finding the pub where the reception would be. We investigated one of the old Mortello towers on the south side of Rye, previously integral to the defense of this coastal town (the French raided it around 3 times during the 100 year war). We found a grocery store and got supplies for breakfast the next morning and the always important juice and snack supply. We found a restaurant displaying a "Kids welcome" sign out front and a menu that didn't seem too outrageously priced and had dinner. Or should I say that the kids alternated between asking to go to the bathroom and refusing to sit/eat/stop yelling while C and I tried to enjoy our meals. The only item on the kid's menu that looked at all like something the kids might eat was fish cakes. Basically like chicken nuggets, only one big patty instead of several nuggets, and fish instead of chicken. L tried it, declared it good, but refused to eat a second bite. M decided that the chips (fries) were too hot, while L objected to their wedge shape. Much crying and complaining ensued. To be fair, they had been traveling much of the day and it was now an hour past their normal bedtime. We scurried out of the restaurant with much embarrassment and retreated to the motel room. We flipped on the tv, played musical beds (it was a "family room" with 4 single beds, and of course both boys wanted the same one) and snuggled in. M fell asleep while we watched "Britain's got more Talent" (one of my guilty youtube indulgences), but L was captivated by the British talent show. He commented on the vocal abilities of some of the contestants. The next morning we were in search of A) where the wedding ceremony would be, B) a chemist (pharmacist) to get something for M's so-called chicken pox, C) gift wrap paper for the wedding gift, and D) a barber for C's rather long hair. We did a little more exploration of Rye and then got ready for the wedding. L decided that he HATED his "wedding clothes". There was a massive battle of wills to get him into his dress shirt and pants. Once we got out again, all was fine. The wedding was at the city hall and we were welcomed by the Town Crier. L was fascinated. Up in the room where the ceremony was to take place there were plenty of friendly adult faces for L to talk to and entertain, so he was fine. During the ceremony M started to get upset so I pulled out the emergency lollipops. Instead of a whining sound though, there was now a rather loud sucking sound and M is well known for his rapturous method of enjoying his treats. At the wedding reception the boys were full of energy running around the parking lot chasing each other. Eventually I convinced them to join the other kids, about 5 in total, all about the same age. Dinner again turned into a mix of bathroom breaks and tantrums. The kids wouldn't even eat dessert. M was so incredibly tired that he was beside himself with emotion. I was tired and beside myself with emotion that my poor baby was so upset. I took him outside several times and eventually took him upstairs to a room where shortly babysitters were to arrive, to see if he would sleep. After a few minutes, the sitters and all the other kids arrived....no sleeping! I left both boys watching a portable DVD player and was able to enjoy the wedding speeches. We had a good 45 minutes before M started to lose it again and I headed back to the motel room while C enjoyed the rest of the reception. It is odd, since it was my friend's wedding, but to be honest, I was tired and upset that my kids were upset, and C had apparently made some very good friends during the bachelor party in Amsterdam the previous weekend. The next day we took the train to Canterbury. We arrived just before lunch. Again I looked for a restaurant with a children's menu. The Foundry. We went inside. The children's menu, it turned out, is actually the same as the adult's menu, they would just give a half portion for half price. We ordered the kids a bowl each of chips (fries). It was then that we read that all the food was purchased locally. Cool, I like to support initiatives like that. Also, food was not prepared in advance, the food preparation would only begin after you ordered, so please be patient. Cool in theory, please be patient with two preschoolers who have been traveling all weekend? Not so cool. They did okay though, we convinced L that the cranberry juice was a special kind of grape juice since he was adamant that he NEEDED grape juice. M started to throw a major fit when the chips arrived and were still hot. I picked him up after the very first high pitched scream, said very firmly "That is not appropriate behaviour, you will NOT scream in a restaurant" and took him down the stairs and out the door and sat on a bench until he calmed down. I made sure he understood that if he were to scream again or get upset, we would be right back outside again. The rest of the lunch went great. I think L was even better since he saw that we meant business. We got to the hostel, dumped off the bags and then went to explore St. Augustine's abbey. All four of us got the personal audio guides. L was in 7th heaven, he loved programing in the different audio tracks, telling me which number he had finished and which number he was now listening to. We actually got to enjoy exploring the whole site until closing time. We then grabbed dinner at the evil McDonald's, but it was just so much easier when there was something that the kids will eat. We walked over to Canterbury cathedral and walked around the outside as it was past closing time for tours. We then explored an old Norman keep/castle. That was really cool. We got back to the hostel and fell asleep almost instantly. Well, the troupe of Russian kids playing in the backyard right outside our window kept me up for a while, but I was in a semi-conscious state of mind. The next morning we packed up our gear and headed back to the cathedral. We explored the inside this time and made it out with an hour and a half to spare before our train. We decided that it wasn't enough time to see the "Canterbury Tales" exhibit and instead caught an earlier train back to the airport. I paid an astronomical amount of money for 2 Thomas the tank engine sticker/activity books whilst L was screaming that he wanted a different present. In the end though the sticker books occupied the boys for most of the 90 minute flight back to Geneva. It was a busy, expensive trip, but it was fun to have done it. The wedding was beautiful and I was really happy to have been able to be there for my friend (even if we didn't really ever get to chat). WOW, this is a long post, but it WAS a pretty busy weekend!