As some of you know the Cheltenham Famille is locked in a very special bubble of time whilst the Cheltenham Papa is between jobs, and with the clock ticking before he is back to the old grindstone we’re trying to make the most of every day, be spontaneous and create lots of memories.
This Monday we decided to drop the boys off at school and make a mad dash to London with the Bébé, whose favourite book at the moment is Peppa Pig Goes to London (it’s ridiculous – the Queen hijacks a London bus and does a stunt leap across Tower Bridge with 20 school children/animals in the back).
Now, we’ve done cities with little ones a few times and our experience has taught us that the best way to tackle it is by keeping things simple and definitely embracing the less is more mentality.
We left home at 8.30 and were home by 5.30, spent relatively little (a London day trip will never be free) and we all had a perfect day so if anyone is stuck for ideas I thought I’d write up what we did to give you all some half term or just early summer day trip inspo.
We could have got the train locally but wanted to have more flexibility to leave whenever we wanted to, rather than being constrained by the regular train times to Cheltenham. So we drove to Beaconsfield (takes about an hour and a half) and caught one of the very regular trains to Marylebone (every twenty minutes). Price for all three of us including a travel card for London was £45 and there is always abundant parking at the station.
We took a lightweight stroller as we knew her legs would fade and this was really easy to sling about on the train.
From Marylebone we took the Number 2 bus from stop L to Hyde Park Corner. It was a double decker and we sat top deck, front row. Bonus point.
At Hyde Park Corner we walked through Green Park around the back of Buckingham Palace (green space so good for children to have a toddle/snack stop) and emerged at Buckingham Palace in time to watch the Changing of the Guard. Bonus Point.
We then walked along Birdcage Walk (again borders St James’ Park) and emerged by the Houses of Parliament where we had a limited (it’s currently hidden by scaffolding) view of Big Ben which is also in the Peppa Pig book. Bonus Point.
From here we walked across Westminster Bridge and made our way to the London Eye. Now here’s a tip not many people know… If you walk into the London Eye ticket office (which isn’t generally something you would do unless you planned to go on the Eye itself – which we didn’t) you can follow the signs to the 4D viewing experience which is completely free, lasts about 5 minutes and I have been on six times and have NEVER had to queue. It’s a great cinema experience which takes in the London sites – you wear 3D glasses and are showered with bubbles – if you don’t fancy spending an hour in a glass bubble with a bored toddler this is perfect!
Now keep walking past the London Eye along the South Bank. We stopped and had a go on the Carousel – there’s plenty going on and lots to look at. After 50m or so you’ll come to the UnderBelly Festival which is taking place all through May and June. It looks from the outside as if you have to have a ticket to go in – but you don’t. If you just walk on in you’ll find yourself in a lovely little enclosed green space with lots of different street food vendors, a bar and safe space for your children to let of some steam while you have a bite. They also have free water bottle refill stations. Halloumi fries for me, burger for the Papa and fish and chips for Bébé – another Bonus Point!
We carried on a (very) short while along the Southbank and crossed back over the river (Waterloo Bridge) to Embankment Tube Station where we hopped on the Central Line to South Kensington. From here we walked the short distance to The Natural History Museum where we had ice cream, a pitt stop and saw the dinosaurs.
Back on the tube – Piccadilly Line, South Ken to Piccadilly Circus and then Bakerloo line back to Marleybone – straight on a train where the Bébé and the Papa succumbed to the inevitable danger nap, into the car and home in time for CBeebies bedtime hour.
The perfect day. Hope someone out there finds it a useful template for an equally perfect day! Wear comfy shoes!
Happy Half Term!