Friday, August 23, 2013

London with young kids is possible but, if you can, leave the buggy behind!

On the 14th August, Beth and I went to London to stay with a friend of mine. We met almost ten years ago when he joined Ryanair and started on the same shift pattern as me. With all that has gone on since I left Ryanair I haven't had a chance to visit so this was a really welcome holiday.

We left Dundalk on the Wednesday morning and arrived in my friend's flat that evening after a bus, a plane and three trains. We were not too tired. Beth was great, she's a seasoned traveler at this stage. 

On Thursday, we got up late (9am is late for us) and didn't leave the flat till around midday. My friend and his partner were both at work from early morning and had left a spare set of keys for us. The nearest tube station was three minutes walk and on the Piccadilly Line. For those of you who don't know London, the tube is the underground rail system. Each of the train lines has a different name and a particular colour. Luckily, the Piccadilly Line (purple) runs through all the major sightseeing areas. We just rode the one line the whole time. 

Our first day, we spent at the Natural History Museum. It is a free attraction and has more things to see than you would get to in a few days! We also went on Saturday to visit the live butterfly exhibit and the dinosaur exhibit inside. Watch out for crazy queues, have snacks and distractions for young kids. We play eye-spy with colours instead of first letters.

We saw lots of bones here

She loved these phones. They were giving info about the stuff you could see in front. I think this one was about plankton

She cracked up with this one

Beth hates tigers, really terrified of them and this guy was so life like. We didn't stand here too long

Main hall of the museum

Elephant's foot

Life size replica of a blue wall. I couldn't fit it all in the one picture!

Can't remember what this guy is

Watching a video on perception 
On the Friday, we went to Buckingham Palace, St. James' Park, Piccadilly Circus and, of course, Hamley's Toy Shop! The palace was a bit boring for Beth. There was no changing of the guard that day as it only happens alternate days in August. Beth loves animals so St. James's Park was a must see. They've something like 50 types of water fowl and even grey squirrels. I had my anti-bacterial gel for little hands after feeding the squirrels! Piccadilly Circus wasn't a hit for Beth but then we went to Hamley's. Word of advice... Don't visit Hamley's unless you plan to buy something (be warned, it's expensive!)
War Memorial for Canadians who fought in the World Wars

Buckingham Palace in the background

The gates facing Buckingham Palace

Friendly ducks

The squirrels

Beth chatting to the Hello Kitty rep in Hamley's
On the Saturday, we went to the live butterfly exhibit, the dinosaurs and the Science Museum. We left the last place around 5.30pm. Try not to do this. The crowds in the tube were crazy! In fact, try not to travel in rush hour at all (8-9.30am and 4.30-6.30pm). The tube is an awful crush and I wouldn't suggest it if you have young kids with you. 
Natural History Museum

Butterfly exhibit
Life size robot T-Rex
And again, this guy was fantastic!
Beth's favourite part of the whole trip. Looked like it was floating and spinning by itself. It had recent images from space projected onto it.
Look at the planes!
The cars were cool too. Beth taking a break
This was the length of the huge room. It had little circles of different colours floating around and then joining together to form words and pictures
Sunday, we went for a lovely picnic in a nearby park. The English love their parks and they are very well kept with fantastic features. In London, the majority of parks have toilets. Brilliant if you've a little one not long out of nappies!

Monday, we traveled into the city early to meet my step sister and two of her kids. We walked down through Kensington Gardens to the Princess Diana Memorial Playground. If you are going to London with kids and the weather is even half decent this playground is a requirement. It has everything. We waited twenty minutes in the queue to get in! It's free and the staff and security is second to none. They have first aid people on all the time. You can't access the playground unless you have at least one child under 12 with you. Inside, there are swings, slides, log play houses, outdoor eatery, but the best bit of all is the pirate ship in the middle of the biggest sandpit you've ever seen. They've also got water and rock features. So many things for little ones to explore and play with.

The Albert Memorial. Beth and her step cousins, Angel and Jaeden

Four of us on the carousel

The pirate ship!!

She didn't know what to play with first

Treasure chest

Crocodile on the right

Making sand angels

Even tractors 

More water fun
It was a fabulous trip. Can't wait to do it again!! London can be expensive but kids have free travel and if you get an Oyster Card for yourself it can work out much cheaper than buying a ticket everyday. I felt sorry for anyone with a buggy. London is so busy it's hard to get down a footpath with one and you can forget about lifts in every station! Handling a buggy and Beth on those steep escalators with people running past you on the left hand side would have been a nightmare!!

Oh London... I miss you already xxx

No comments:

Post a Comment