On October 25 we took our son trick-or-treating at the embassy. Halloween isn’t as big of a deal over here as it is in the States, which surprised me a bit. They had a few decorations up here and there. And a few neighborhoods were more into it than others…probably the ones with lots of Americans.

But the embassy put on a good show. Almost every office or major hallway was decorated for the occasion, and there were probably about 75 kids under 10 when the festivities kicked off. It was a little disorganized, but that’ll happen when you have to get 75 kids into a bank of elevators. We lost our Marine escort in about two seconds, but we knew our way around, so we just continued on.

Trick-or-treating at the embassy.

Trick-or-treating at the embassy.

At one point I actually had to take a break though because I got so upset. One particular jerk from the political section was handing out candy in front of one of the offices, but he was wearing a ghoul mask and jumping and snarling at the kids whenever they came close. It’d be one thing if they were older kids, but these were toddlers and preschoolers.

My son was absolutely terrified and started to cry. I’ve never wanted to hit a coworker so much in my life. And it didn’t help that the next room we took him to was full of giant fake spiders, and the floor was covered with balloons that kept popping when stopped on. I’d finally had enough when I saw him just standing in the middle of the floor shaking like a leaf. So we called an end to the trick-or-treating and went back to my office to recuperate and eat some candy.

Once I, I mean he, had finally recovered, we took him to one of the activity points, and he put stickers on a little pumpkin to make a face, and followed it up with some face painting. I was amazed that he actually held still long enough for the girl to paint a little pumpkin on him. But it sure was cute, until he wiped it off on my shirt on the bus home.

So emotional meltdowns aside, he seemed to have had a pretty good time. And everyone seemed to love his astronaut costume. All the Brits referred to him as a “spaceman” instead of an astronaut, which I thought was interesting until my hubby pointed out the fact that the Brits never had much of a space program. They had one, but it was unmanned for the most part and concentrated on satellites.

Our son got to break out the astronaut costume again the following week at nursery school and almost insisted on wearing it on the bus home as well as to the embassy the next time he came to visit.

We also continued the Halloween theme into the London Zoo. I wanted to make sure we visited the zoo at least once before it got cold, since we went through all the trouble to get our annual passes, which pay for themselves in three trips. There were a few decorations up and activity stations here and there, but the best part was the cafeteria!

They had all kinds of Halloween-themed cookies and cupcakes. And I even got to have a pumpkin tart that was like a mini pumpkin pie, which is not a common thing in the UK. I remember the Kiwis in Antarctica thought the fact that we were putting a vegetable in a dessert was one of the weirdest things.

Halloween cupcakes, yum!

Halloween cupcakes, yum!

The zoo itself was interesting and had some areas created just for kids. Our son was more interested in those than in the animals. But there was also a petting zoo, which he enjoyed, and a carousel and coin-operated rides. We also popped into the famous reptile house that was built in 1927 and used in one of the snake scenes in Harry Potter.

Kids' adventure area.

Kids’ adventure area.

Reptile House.

Reptile House.

So the jury’s still out on whether or not we’ll do the embassy again next year, which is unfortunate. I’d like to think that’s the one place that you can count on your child having a safe and pleasant time. At least now that we know how things run, we can be a bit more decisive on which areas we visit. And he did still have a good time, which is the important part.

Happy Halloween everybody!

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