This post is the seventeenth in our England 2015 series.
Months before we packed our bags, I started researching rain gear: boots, raincoats, umbrellas. Despite the reassuring data categorizing May as one of the least-damp months in England, I felt we should be prepared for any eventuality. And so, on the one rainy day we experienced in London, we did stay relatively dry.
We decided that the damp conditions called for a visit to an art museum. The Tate Modern became our object of interest, chosen for the rumors we had heard of a piano hanging upside-down from the ceiling, as well as the statement in our travel guide that “kids eat free at the Tate’s restaurant.”
We arrived just in time for lunch in the cafe. The girls had fish and chips; Jon and I split a big burger and a beet-cucumber-watercress salad. And although the children did, indeed, eat free, it still ended up being an expensive lunch. But it was worth it, both due to the quality of the food and the legendary illustration that came into being as we awaited our meal:
Rosie’s summary of English history: “Nice Queen Elizabeth. Nice Queen Victoria. Bad King Henry VIII.”
After lunch, I began searching for the legendary upside-down piano while Jon and the girls wandered over to the entrance hall. The Tate’s entrance hall hosts a special, frequently rotated exhibit. Much to our delight, the girls were enthralled by the offering that day: “Musée de la danse.” Live dancers moved slowly in the huge space, exploring their surroundings to a bass-heavy, atmospheric soundtrack, breaking down barriers between visual art and dance. When I came back ten minutes later, Lucy and Rosie were still studying the dancers intently, carefully recording their movements on scraps of paper. It was an unexpected — and very memorable — way to introduce them to modern dance, for sure!
From one perspective, the visit was a bust: we didn’t see that piano (it had been taken down) or anything else in the Tate Modern’s collection. Our experience of the museum consisted of lunch at the cafe and an extended period in the entrance hall. And yet, this is one of our fondest memories of the trip. We braved the elements, we enjoyed the experiences set before us, and we made a memory. Before we ventured back out into the rain to walk across Millenium Bridge to St. Paul’s Cathedral, we donned our (very un-English) brightly-colored rain gear — and took one of the iconic photos of our trip. Who knew a rainy day could be so much fun?