A trip to London is certainly not a restful way to spend a day of your holidays. But it is fun. Not cheap either. Today we caught the train from Harlington to Kings Cross – quick and convenient, but for the five of us, off peak, it was £36 return. By the time we had added two modest meals and an afternoon snack, we had added another £50 or so. Our “entertainment” while in the city was free – we spent a few hours at the Natural History Museum, then caught a red double decker bus through the city to Picadilly Circus, from where we strolled up Regent Street to Hamley’s Toy Store (established in 1760 – the world’s oldest toystore, but with thoroughly modern toys!).
Our excuse for London was that Stephen was in town, having been on one of his European jaunts with Andrew. They were staying at the Covent Garden Hotel, a wonderful old place right in the centre of everything. We wandered up Monmouth Street, where the hotel is located, sometime around lunchtime, and were greeted by Stephen bounding down the street with outstretched arms. Andrew and his niece, Brangwyn, were sitting outside the hotel having a drink, about to head off to one of London’s many art galleries – the Tate Modern I think.
Stephen, meanwhile, joined us on our tour through the skeleton lined halls of the NHM, in South Kensington. The kids enjoyed our brief visit – it was uncomfortably hot in the Victorian edifice which houses the museum, so we enjoyed icecream and coffee on the grass outside after only an hour and a half of peering at exhibits of stuffed animals and life sized dinosaurs (we spent ages watching the full sized tyrannasaurus rex roaring as he tossed his head from side to side, baring his mouth full of jagged teeth).
The bus trip from outside the museum along Knightsbridge, past Harrods and countless enticing shopfronts under brightening skies, was enough to allow London to work its age old charm on us. How nice to spend a week in town we thought, quickly realising that It would probably be fairly non child-friendly. Not to mention bank breakingly expensive. Maybe one day.
We left Stephen to go off to a show and ate at Pizza Hut in Leicester Square before walking up Charing Cross Road to Tottenham Court Road, from where we caught a bus back to Kings Cross Station. The tube would have been quicker, but you see so much more from the bus. We just managed the 9.33 to Bedford, and climbed off the train in Harlington about 10.15. Its late, the kids are asleep, and my legs are aching. A happy day.