We recently were lucky enough to spend a few days in London. We haven’t been for ages and the kids have only ever been once when they were very little and we only did the Natural History Museum on a day trip.
On the Wednesday we got the Megabus down to London. The trip was fairly uneventful, it was late setting off which stressed the kids but actually we arrived only about 10 minutes later than we expected anyway. We decided to get oyster cards for being there so we headed into Victoria train station to get them.
Instead of using lots of transport the first day I thought it would be nice to walk towards the Imperial War museum. It was a bit of a walk, but meant we’d be able to see Buckingham Palace, Westminster, Big Ben and the London Eye while doing it. The kids loved seeing everything and we had a very enjoyable hour or so being very touristy
We were glad to get to the IWM though as feet were aching a bit by then. We’d decided to carry all our stuff on the first day rather than try to check in to the hotel (in Docklands) and go back to the centre as it wouldn’t have left much time. The kids were really good at carrying all their stuff though. Hooray for older kids! The IWM was great, as we expected. We didn’t do the War stories exhibition though due to time and the fact it will be coming to the IWM North next year I think. The trenches were quite scary and thought provoking, the blitz experience was quite good but I loved the Children’s War exhibition the best. I love all the home front stuff. Was also pleased to see the 1940’s house which I think was a tv series there. We got the book from the library a while ago and loved that. Would love to see the actual series too one day.
The day before we realised that the Manor Borns would be in London the same day and not too far away so we thought it would be nice to meet up with them. The kids were excited once we told them as we hadn’t seen C for ages due to her being on a french exchange. Her new french sister had just arrived as well. They were at the London Eye so we headed to see them and then decided to go to a Pizza Express for tea. Bit of a long walk to get there, but a lovely one being able to catch up, seeing London along the riverside, there was a funny thing going on outside the theatre with lots of fire which we stopped to watch for a little while. The Pizza Express was at St Pauls and we had a lovely view of the cathedral from where we sat, it felt a bit like being in Rome with all the columns! We had a fab dinner, we really enjoyed catching up with them. We then got a bus to the Travelodge, with me wondering if they had a last check in time before they gave our room away, and finally got there about 10pm ish! We were sooooo tired!
We had a late morning on the Thursday as we didn’t need to be anywhere and we knew they next 2 mornings were likely to be early ones. So we headed out about 11am via the supermarket for breakfast. We realised how close we were to the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) so got that in to the centre. It’s last stop was at the tower which was perfect so we could see the Tower bridge, the tower and also HMS Belfast in the distance.
We then got the tube to somewhere so we could visit the Museum of the Order of St John, which was A’s idea. A lovely small museum (once we found it) and A loved doing the little trail worksheet thing and getting a certificate once done.
We then walked to the British Museum, we probably should have worked out a bus as it was a bit too far. We needed lunch supplies too so popped in a sainsburys to get that and we eventually ate it all on the museum steps. It’s a breathtaking museum, I’d never been before, but the architecture is fantastic! We were a bit overwhelmed and didn’t quite know where to start. A wanted to see DumDum (aka the Easter Island statue) at least so we found him.
We also went into the egyptian area but really I was a bit grumpy and tired at this point so we didn’t do too much more and we headed to Ed’s Diner for a milkshake as we’d promised the kids. M has always wanted to go in a milk bar like what was on that Shepton Mallet programme so we thought this place would be good and Grandad had given us some money towards a treat. It was mush smaller than we imagined but they had nice milkshakes I was told (I had a much needed tea!).
After that was more walking, we said we’d go to Hamleys which wasn’t *that* far. We walked through Chinatown, and M was pleased that we also made it past Piccadilly Circus as he had that on his list of places he wanted to see. None of us were that impressed with Hamleys once there though - just a bit expensive really. I nabbed J’s phone and worked out which bus to get to the London Eye and we eventually caught one right at rush hour! Not so clever (but probably better than the tube at rush hour).
We’d arranged to meet Barbara at the London Eye as we’d both wanted to do it and thought if we could get on together that would be good. She texted me just as we got off the bus saying she was walking over Westminster Bridge so we’d probably passed her on the bus. We headed down to the Eye and it was so windy, but we managed to pick up our tickets, do the 4D show and we even got on the eye a bit early. Which was just perfect as it meant we could see London at dusk as we started and as it finished it was getting dark so we got that too. Expensive, but nice to have done it I think.
(we were all a bit windswept!!)
We had a McDonalds for tea and then left Barbara and co and wandered back along the river and across a footbridge towards a tube we could then use to hook back up with the DLR. Late when we got back but we popped along to see the Beans who were also staying in the same hotel.
Friday was the reason we came to London in the first place -The Big Bang Science fair. We had breakfast and met with the Beans and too the DLR to the Excel. Only a few stops away but saved the feet! We started with watching the Brainiac show which I thought was quite fun and matched the kids sense of humour! We then had a bit of time before our next workshop to look round the stalls. James wanted to head to the McLaren stand first as did M so they did that and A and I looked round a few others. We met them back there and did a quiz that meant they got a free hat that they were VERY pleased with and haven’t taken off since!
(the camera died at this point as I’d forgotten the charger so no more pics )
We had lunch, looked round more and then did a physics workshop which had lots of similar things to the Brainiac show, but explained more and as it was much smaller just felt nicer for me anyway. Then we had ages to explore and so we split up a bit with James taking one child for a bit and me the other. We had fun doing lots and lots! Way too much to mention really.
Last was a Wallace and Gromit workshop thing which was quite good, but the best bit was the goody bag at the end with a motorised ‘invention’ to make. All in all a fab day, we’d definitely try and do it again next year although I think it’s planning to be in Birmingham then.
Back at the hotel we sent the blokes out for food and they came back with pizza So we had a very enjoyable evening with the Beans chatting and chilling
Saturday we needed to have everything packed in a sensible way so we could carry it with us. We should have thought this through when picking up freebies the day before Eventually we sorted it and had a nice ‘eat all you can’ breakfast which M took very literally! Made a change from croissants from the supermarket! Then we picked all our stuff up, checked out and headed to the DLR again, this time to go to Greenwich. Loved the journey through Canary Wharf. It’s like a mini american city (I imagine!), I’d love to walk around there one time.
On arrival in Greenwich we decided that the Observatory and the hill to get up it would be sensible to do first so off we went. We had such fantastic weather that day, just perfect. I’d never been to Greenwich before and loved it, such a pretty area. I can see why it’s a world heritage site. The observatory was a lovely little museum, not too much going on but enough to do it all.
We had lunch and then headed down to the National Maritime Museum where we also met with some of the Portico. I enjoyed that museum, the kids loved it as there was lots that was hands on and they all got stuck in. My feet were hurting by this point though! After we all got a cuppa and let the kids run riot outside and then it was time to get going.
We’d decided to get the River Bus back into london as it seemed the most sensible way of including it on the trip. Things started to go wrong then though as it was very busy, delayed and as we’d bought the tickets before realising the delay figured we’d manage it and so waited. The kids and J were very grumpy waiting which just puts a dampener on things and when we finally got on we just were so tired and feet were so aching we just sat down and didn’t enjoy it as much as I’d hoped we’d do. The end bit as we got into the centre was good though. We had a hugely busy tube connection to get us to Victoria, and when we got there we thought we had enough time to grab some food and go to the coach station but it took us ages to find the right place to go to. But eventually we got there and arrived just in time. Phew!! It felt like a long journey home, but wasn’t too bad.
I loved our trip, but what made it really special was being able to share lots of different times with friends throughout.