Our half-term visit to London was approached with a small amount of apprehension to say the least. A five-year-old desperate to see Buckingham Palace and go on a red London bus and a two-year-old... well, not.
The other reason for the trip was to see the phenomenal spectacle that is the poppy installation, the First World War tribute that has so far received more than four million visitors and is set to raise over £11.2m. for charity.
Despite pleas last week for the public to postpone their visits for at least a week, tens of thousands still poured into the small area of the city’s Tower Hill to witness for themselves the breath-taking display, entitled Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red.
Armistice Day will see the last of the ceramic poppies set into place, the 888,246th, representing each of the Colonial and British soldiers, sailors and airmen who perished in the Great War.
The millions who have taken time to visit pay testament to the nation’s will to remember and pay our respects. In a typically British fashion, none of the fears regarding crowd surges and possible crushing have come to fruition. Instead, visitors have respectfully queued to see the display in a dignified and patient fashion, sometimes for hours.
Little did we know as we set off on our London adventure that we would be showing our children not just a beautiful example of art, with the most meaningful of messages, but inadvertently giving them a taste of the best in human nature too.
As parents, we often underestimate their perception and ability to cope with what is seemingly beyond their years. Our five-year-old’s awe on seeing the display and realising the correlation between the poppies and the number of people who gave their lives was really moving.
Her thirst for knowledge as we explored London was also really impressive. Again, trying to spare her the grisly details, our answer on what happened to Guy Fawkes after he was caught was somewhat vague. “Ask Miss Harper.” we said, safe in the knowledge an expert would take charge of the horrid history lesson and soften the shock to her five-year-old brain.
“I know what happened to Guy now.” Matilda relayed on her first day back at school. “He was chopped to pieces and his head hung on the railings of Parliament to tell all the other naughty people what would happen if they tried to kill the King.”
Needless to say, she didn’t bat an eyelid.