A DAY OUT IN LONDON WITH KIDS…
How to enjoy a family day out in London and keep everyone happy!
London has always been special to me. I studied there for two years before working there for four. I just love it. With last Saturday marking the 13th anniversary of the 7/7 terror attacks in London, I wanted to write a post about just how great London is. I wanted to celebrate the good and not the bad.
Recently as part of our big winter holiday, we planned to have two nights in London to break up all the flying. We had spent a wonderful week in Slovenia with friends and wanted to squeeze in a bit of time in London before flying the long 12 hours back to Cape Town.
We stayed at the Courtyard Marriot Hotel near Gatwick Airport. Our first night was very lazy and we got to bed nice and early ready for our full day in London.
If you ever do something similar and stay near your transit London airport, I would highly recommend getting the Off-Peak Family Travelcard. We got zones 1-6, excluding the Gatwick Express option. The Adult card cost £14.30 and the Child card cost £2.00. Crazy good value! We were able to travel on the mainline railways into London, the underground and use the buses, all on the same card. Fab!
The train ride into London Victoria was quick and the kids definitely enjoyed it as we don’t travel on the trains in South Africa. When we got off at Victoria I got chills. I loved being back in The Big Smoke! This was going to be a great day, I just knew it!
Our first stop was Buckingham Palace
Our two pickles are quite fascinated by the fact that England has a Queen so we thought it would be nice to take them to see ‘where she lived’. The Union Jack was flying at the time, which meant the Queen was not in residence. If she had been there, the Royal Standard flag would have been flying. I didn’t go into all those details with the kids though. We waved at Queenie and they were perfectly happy.
The plan had been to walk through Green Park to Piccadilly Circus as it was about the same distance as that which we had just walked from Victoria Station to Buckingham Palace. Instead, we jumped on a bus and took in some of the sights from the top of the double decker. Another tick on the kids’ happy list. A bus! Cool!
Next stop, Hamleys. We had been looking forward to this for so long. I had even convinced the kids to save some of their Christmas money so that they could buy themselves something from their wish list that Father Christmas had maybe forgotten. The smiles on their faces were huge when we eventually reached the famous red awning on Regent Street. Six floors of toy heaven. Sadly, and I’m not sure if this was just because all the good stuff had been sold over Christmas, but it was more like six floors of ‘meh’. We couldn’t find anything that we had been waiting/saving to purchase, but nonetheless, the kids still enjoyed it. The Lego displays were pretty cool and maybe the best part of the whole store, along with the Magician giving a demonstration of a magic trick set.
With weary legs and hungry bellies, we went in search of lunch. As this was the end of a very expensive couple of weeks in Europe, we opted for McDonalds. Don’t judge us. It was fast and we knew it and it did the job. Besides, we didn’t have time to spend two hours sitting in a restaurant enjoying a lazy lunch.
After refueling, we went to the Lego Store in Leicester Square. Now this was awesome. We were all in heaven. Despite it being packed to the rafters, we still spent a good hour or more browsing the shelves and my daughter made her own three characters from the main display on the second level of the store. You pay for a pack of three characters and you create your own by selecting a bottom, a top, a head, hair/hat, and two accessories. An absolutely wonderful idea! Due to the Hamleys flop, each kid left with a new big Lego set each and big smiles.
Now it was my turn
We trotted off towards Covent Garden in search of the Superdry store. I left Hubbie and the kids happily sipping a hot chocolate in M&S and had a glorious half an hour shopping on my own.
Last stop, Covent Garden market, the humongous Christmas Tree, and some street entertainers. It was only 4pm but the sun had officially gone to bed, so we got to marvel at the Christmas lights and savour the atmosphere. It was everything I had hoped for our whirlwind few hours in London.
Hubbie was happy that we were all happy (plus he’s not much of a shopper) so we opted for taking the Underground back to Victoria, another new experience for the kids to enjoy.
All in all, and according to the health app on my iPhone, we’d walked just over 10km. Not bad for two middle-agers, a seven year old and a five year old hey? We were quite content with our day out. You may be thinking we didn’t do a lot, but we did, and saw, everything that we had on our list. We don’t plan on this being our last visit to London so we thought it would be best to leave the museum trips and the like for when the kids are a bit older.
We finished the day with a wonderful dinner at Giraffe in Gatwick Airport. Absolutely scrummy food and our waitress was wonderful. Stuffed and happy, we walked back to the hotel and got to bed nice and early ready for our looooooooong flight home in the morning.
I hope this inspires you to have your perfect day out in London. You don’t have to conform to the ‘must do in London’ lists. Do what makes your family happy and you will all remember the experience for so much longer.
P.S. If you like what you read, please share this post so others can enjoy too and I can keep the ‘wine’ flowing!