So we are complete novices at the family city break thing…give us a tent and a pitch in a French campsite and we’re quite at home but London was a different thing for us this year.
My brother and his wife and family live in North London and we were staying at theirs while they were away. Although relatively close to the city, it still involved a bit of a commute.
I have to say the thought of the busyness of London and manoeuvring 3 kids around the sites and the tube was overwhelming for me before we left. But…the older 2 girls completely rose to the occasion; on and off buses, trains and tubes and carried their suitcases up and down stairs with not the hint of a grumble.
They loved the tube.
They loved London.
Until the tube strike…and then they endured the mayhem of a 5 hour return trip on the bus and an hour and a half walk to Hamleys! Despite this, I was so impressed with their attitudes and ability to go with the flow.
Our one panic was losing Maddie at the London Eye; she is our little wanderer, so we had been on high alert, but she still managed to give us the slip. It led to a couple of good conversations about what to do when you’re lost and meant she wore this for the rest of our trip!!! No escape!
These were definitely the highlights:
*the ‘Original Bus Tour‘ was fab and a great way to see the sights at a relatively quick speed. You were able to hop on and off which was a great way to see Buckingham Palace without walking a great deal out of your way.
*Sealife…our girls loved this. We used our Tesco tokens which saved the big price tag so I don’t know if I’d have felt differently if I’d paid a big ticket. The glass floor on entry was wow factor in itself!
*The London Eye…a bit of a must-do. Quite expensive but is such a great vantage point for Westminster and seeing where a lot of the sights ‘sit’ in relation to each other. We loved the area beneath the eye; a play park, a carousel, ice cream street artists and a wander to the South bank…it was a lovely way to spend a bit of time soaking in the atmosphere.
*The London Rib Voyages…a highlight for Johnny and Abi but not quite as high on my list – too scary for Maddie and probably a bit for Annie too. I would say great for over 8s. The historical side of the tour was excellent though and the guide was brilliant. You’d love it if you were thrill seekers and definitely a side to London you don’t ever get to see!
*Hamleys was great as it was the tube strike day and was really quiet so the girls were able to wander and play without hoards of people. Expensive compared to other toy shops!
*The Tower of London was fab…we all enjoyed a bit of history and a bit of bling whilst seeing the crown jewels (our littlest announcing at high volume that she wanted to buy all the jewels for her wedding – let’s hope her expensive taste lessens a little!) We could have spent a lot longer here.
*Covent Garden was so lovely to have a coffee and wander around the stalls. There were musicians playing and a great atmosphere…it felt like a bit of adult time in the midst of a family holiday so a high recommendation on my list!!
* The Natural History Museum was great and although it was a flying visit, they loved the dinosaurs and looking at the photographs in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year. Sitting outside on a scorching day for a picnic lunch was pretty lovely too. My only regret was that I had wanted to visit the V&A and let the girls paddle in the pool on recommendation of a friend, but we ran out of time.
I would have also loved to have spent time in Hyde Park letting the girls rollerblade, play in the fountains and see Kensington Palace.
Our few days flew in, and although a bit of a taster for us…it was a really great ‘exploration’ holiday as a family. Our best trip to London yet.
The fact that we left things undone, means we look forward to coming back for more.
Let’s hope there’s not a tube strike though!!!