Though it feels like we are still playing catch up from our trip to the US, we’ve been home for a few weeks, and I’ve been feeling a bit claustrophobic in our lovely little neighborhood. SO! Troy, E and I spent Sunday afternoon wandering…literally – I don’t know the last time I back tracked that many times…through London Town. It was an organic sort of adventure as we sat at lunch in Soho, unsure of what our next stop would be. Shopping on Oxford Street? A walk along the river to Somerset House? One of the world-famous museums this city has to offer? Hm, we either needed to see something new or find a new way to see the places we’ve already discovered. It was a (cold) beautiful day, and Troy and I didn’t feel the need to have a firm destination in place or to be inside, so we went with Option B and decided to let E be our guide.
Sitting happily on the bar, sipping lemonade and leaning back against the big picture window, she giggled at our dilemma and said: “Paddi.”
The girl is smart. This is what she says when she sees her little stuffed bear with a blue duffle coat and a red hat across the room or when she lugs her big board book around the house desperate for someone to read with her – it’s E’s name for Paddington Bear. And it just so happens, that London has created quite a stir with Paddington in the last few weeks! She and her friends must have been discussing kids’ activities in London recently…
…Paddington the Bear has been a part of my family for quite a while now, but for those of you unfamiliar with his story:
Paddington, at first name-less, has been sent to London from Darkest Peru by his caretaker, Aunt Lucy, who has just been moved to a Home for Retired Bears in Lima. With nothing but marmalade in his suitcase and a tag reading “Please take care of this bear,” he arrives at Paddington Station and is found at the lost luggage desk by a kind couple waiting for their daughter. Long story short – they name him Paddington after the train station at which they found him and take him home as a new member of the family. Many adventures follow.
Well, all of the stories are based on a bear the author bought his wife on December 24, 1956 at Selfridges in London. A number of stories have been published and radio shows produced, but last week, after almost 60 years of Paddington, the very first movie was released…
In honor of the movie, the city of London has enlisted 50 famous, important and/or interesting people to help celebrate the big event by creating their own Paddington Bears for charity. The bears are temporarily on display all around the city, allowing for a sort of bear hunt for children and adults alike. The city has even generated trails and maps for optimal bear viewing, however, we decided to make our own way through town.
It was quite a back and forth (daddy, errr, umm, our “navigator” wasn’t so hot on realizing we walked RIGHT PAST 3 bears without stopping…good thing we were up for wandering. In his defence, the bears were not quite as tall or easy to spot as we had imagined they might be…).
It was a peaceful afternoon of trekking through London, and after a few hours and roughly 4 miles of walking, we managed to see 9 of the 50 bears. E was asleep by the time we discovered the first bear, but she slowly warmed up to our bear hunt as the afternoon went on!
Efficiencies would have certainly yielded a higher number of bears seen, but we wouldn’t have changed this adventure for anything. If you’re spending the holidays in London, this is a great activity for the family! And as the day grew darker, we even got to sip coffee and enjoy the many Christmas light displays around town!