We have just returned from a week away as a family, the first weekend of which we spent in London. Martin and I have both lived in London for a good few years and have very fond memories of ‘the big smoke’. Elizabeth has been once before with her dad but she was only 2 so really doesn’t remember much about it, while Georgina has never been. I haven’t been for a visit since before both girls were born so had, for a while, had a longing to feel the hustle and bustle of the Capital.We decided that we’d travel down on the train from Norwich (leaving the hound with Granny, lucky her!), have one night in a hotel, then return the following evening.
Which is how we ended up pulling the girls out of their beds at the crack of a Saturday dawn, raiding the station shop for pastries, dumping our bags at the hotel and arriving at the Natural History Museum bright-eyed (ish) and bushy-tailed by midmorning. I used to live around the corner of the NHM when I was a student and used to love popping in for a wander around the beautiful halls. But I suppose that I used to be able to visit at the most off-peak times, we were hitting it at half ten on a Saturday… I hate to think what it is like during the height of the summer but it was pretty packed, especially the dinosaur exhibition which we gave a miss altogether. Plus the hall with the Blue Whale was closed, sigh. We did have a bit of a wander, and the girls enjoyed the animals sections but I was a bit disappointed to be honest. We decided to nip next door to the Science Museum and thankfully that was much more successful. The girls had a blast in the Launchpad and we had a struggle to pull them away to get something to eat.
After a quick wander up Knightsbridge and through Harrods we headed for the South Bank and a trip on the eye. Despite the extortionate cost it was a great way for the girls (and Elsa) to see all the famous landmarks, although I have to admit to taking a seat in the centre of the pod and distracting myself by taking comedy selfies when we started to sway slightly at the top of our trip, sweaty palms? Me?! A quick play in the park to let off steam was followed by a lovely evening drinky for Mum and Dad and yummy street food listening to some pretty good DJs. I think M and I felt 21 again, well until the cries for candy floss broke through our nostalgia, so we headed back for a bit of the X Factor in our family room.
Day 2 and a few more famous sites to see. As we wandered from Westminster to Trafalgar Square we realised that we’d probably be able to catch a bit of the Tour of Britain Cycle Race.
As we still had a few hours before it started we headed to our final planned destination, Hamley’s Toy Store. With purses full of pocket money we let our children loose on this child’s paradise. The cuddly toy floor was the biggest hit, and because we don’t have nearly enough cuddlies at home (yeah right!) we emerged an hour or so later with a Toothless dragon and a Princess Cadence My-Little-Pony.
Back to Trafalgar Square we headed with our new friends to collect some cycling freebies and wave our flags noisily as the cyclists sped past.
Martin was extremely chuffed to have a great view of Bradley Wiggins speed past at the head of the peloton, I was impressed that they all stayed on as they whizzed around the bends. And so back to Norwich, four very weary but happy travellers, with the grime of London on our skin and the buzz of it in our hearts.