London and Rebel Girls

Last week the girls had a week long fall break from school (a side benefit of having no Thanksgiving in Norway is that the first fall break is a reasonable distance from the winter holiday break) So, we took the opportunity as a family to visit London. This was the first time I’d been to London and the first time John was able to visit for a long period of time (having had an 8 hour layover in London last March.) We had a wonderful visit which was unexpectedly themed to include quite a few extraordinary girls and women we call “Rebel Girls” because of the incredible “Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls” books by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo.

The first rebel girl we saw was a fictional one- Matilda. Last spring we read Matilda as a family because Maddie’s dance recital in Middletown was choreographed to the song “Sometimes you have to be a little bit naughty” from the Matilda musical. As a belated birthday present to Maddie, my parents bought us tickets to see Matilda the musical in London the day after we arrived. The show was very entertaining, the sets were fantastic and of course we loved the moral of the story. Even Ada enjoyed it (and lately has been playing with a toy lizard and imitating Ms. Trunchbull by shouting- “There’s a newt in my knickers!”)

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This fall Maddie has continued to be obsessed with books like Matilda because her class has been reading books by Roald Dahl (like Esio Trot and Fantastic Mr. Fox) in class. Also, because Maddie’s class is visiting the Freia chocolate factory this winter, Maddie was excited to read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at home. So, at the end of our trip, at Maddie’s request, we visited the Roald Dahl museum in Great Missenden, England (according to a parent at OiS who lives 10 minutes from the town, it is nicknamed “Great Miss”) which is just outside London. There we got to see the chair where Roald Dahl wrote his books, learn about Roald Dahl’s life and where he got inspiration for his books and we got to see the Matilda vs Donald Trump statue which was unveiled in October to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Matilda. Isn’t Trump the perfect modern day enemy of Matilda (at least that’s what 42% of respondent’s to a survey by The Roald Dahl story thought)?

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On Monday the day after Matilda, we toured Cambridge with Elena Sakkalou a friend of mine from Davidson. She is a rebel girl of her own sort, working at the University College of London researching vision and cognition in infants while raising two adorable kids in Cambridge.

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In Cambridge we got to take a break at “The Eagle” pub where Watson and Crick lunched while they were researching DNA and later we got to see Rosalind Franklin’s bio, another rebel girl, at the King’s College London where she did her work on x-ray crystallography which led to the discovery of DNA.

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Tuesday the girls played at Princess Diana’s memorial playground which had this incredible sculpture:

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We also had high tea at the restaurant next to Kensington Palace (where Prince Harry, Meghan Markle, Prince William, Kate and their children have their official residence):

and saw a statue of another rebel girl, Queen Victoria.

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Wednesday while seeing Parliament, we saw the new (as of last Spring) statue of Millicent Fawcett who campaigned for women’s right to vote in the early 20th century and was one of the most influential feminists in the past 100 years:

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Of course a few parts of our trip had nothing to do with rebel girls- we saw the changing of the guard’s a the royal palace,

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We went to the Natural History Museum in London where Maddie and Ada had a ton of fun investigating natural specimen’s by measuring them, weighting them, and looking at them under magnifying glasses:


We also got to tour the Science Museum and Museum of Childhood. We also went to Hamley’s, the world’s largest toy store, where Maddie bought a present (a mechanical dog that looks like Bonnie) with birthday money from Grandma and Aunt Susanne. (sorry I was too busy chasing kids to take a good pic!)

We also loved riding the double decker buses and taking the London Underground everywhere. The London Underground has 11 lines which is pretty incredible to me since it is way more than other cities I’ve lived in (DC has 6 lines, Oslo has 5 lines and Atlanta has only 2)! Maddie wants me to mention that the Jubilee line and our first train to Great Missenden were not running when we needed them. Maddie’s favorite line was the Victoria line. 

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And here are a few bonus photos of our trip- At the Roald Dahl museum we found out that Maddie is just as tall as Matilda and Ada loved sitting in Roald Dahl’s writing chair.

A few more pics from the natural history museum. Maddie wanted to show the Turtle shell to Zoey because she and Zoey (with the eco-kids club) are trying to convince others to save sea turtles by skipping the straw.

A few pics from Cambridge- John and I next to the mathematical bridge, the Corpus Clock unveiled in 2008 by Stephen Hawking featuring a beast called the “chronophage” or time eater, and punting down the River Cam.

Maddie and Ada having a blast with Lida and Andrew, Elena’s husband and daughter, at one of Jamie Oliver’s restaurants in Cambridge.

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A pic of an egyptian Pharaoh at our Airbnb which Maddie and Ada made into a shrine- offering him presents such as chocolate, jelly beans, berries and leaves they found around London. Also, a pic of me in the ever present London telephone booths.

Finally, the creative way Maddie and Ada decided to ride to our gate in the London Stansted Airport:

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