Charlotte and I had a fun filled weekend in London.
After a lovely journey on Virgin Trains, we headed over to Bloomsbury Thistle Hotel. The last time we went to London we were a little disappointed in this hotel as the elevator and key lock stopped working. This time, they more than made up for it! The room was large, with all the amenities you expect and then some.
We barely put our bags in the gorgeous room before heading back out as we were meeting Laura Porter from GoLondon.about.com and her daughter A at the Science Museum to see the Hidden Heroes exhibition. The exhibition explores everyday items that we use almost everyday and invites you to think of where you’d be without them. Most of the items (if not all) have been mentioned in Justin Pollard’s book Boffinology (which is a brilliant book).
The cost seemed a bit steep £6 for adult / £3.50 child for this exhibition. Personally, £4 would have been more reasonable. While the artefacts were cleverly displayed, it was mainly a text based, non-interactive exhibition. It took us a bit to recognize we were setting the alarm off every time we went to point to a specific item within the display. It wasn’t very ‘Kids in Museums’ friendly exhibition and our kids (5 and 9 Years olds) got bored very quickly. However, we did learn that Lego means ‘Play well’ It’s definitely worth a visit as it was thought-provoking.
After the exhibition, we spent some time in the Science Museum – mainly in the Energy area where the games and activities kept the kids (and adults!) very happy. Having Laura show a group of teenage boys how un-scary the Shock Pole was very funny. Laura also kindly showed the same for Charlotte (because, I was too scared to try it!). I loved how this area, which really should scream ‘boring’ had all ages and gender laughing and getting interactive and most importantly – Learning!
We then headed over to the V&A Power of Making exhibition. This exhibition was free and was better received by our kids. The items were brilliantly displayed and all were interesting in a quirky way – such as Ghanaian lion coffin, ‘Spun’ chair and the ‘it’s not easy being green’ LEGO dissected frog.
After a quick bite in the V&A glorious café, we headed to our final destination – Tower of London Ice Skating! When we arrived, our shoes were replaced with ice skates and we were soon off to the ice… to hold on to the walls! Charlotte and I have been ice skating for the last two years but we’ve found starting off slow is always best. It was fortunate that we did too as we found the ice to be very wet and slippery (yes yes, it was ice but it was too slippery). This was probably due to the mild weather we had. There were some issues with the ice as the sides near the boards were very wet and sunk in a bit and we were advised to avoid the areas which was hard to do when you’re holding onto the walls for support. However, having the Tower of London for your background excused some of the issues. [Adults : £12.50/Peak £10.50/Unpeak Child (under 16) £8.50/peak £8.00. It cost £1 per item to store bags]
The next day we started with breakfast in the hotel. Again, Bloomsbury Thistle proved to be an exception hotel with the incredible selection of foods from fresh fruits, delicious eggs (scrambled or fried), 3-4 cereals, pastries, etc. This started our day off perfectly as first on the agenda was a #SaveLibraries meeting to discuss a National Save Libraries rally In London in the near future (watch this space) before heading over to the Natural History Museum. Was there another exhibition on? Nope. It was all about ice skating. Again.
This time, Charlotte was feeling more confident from all the practice from the night before. Unfortunately, the ice was very fast so much of the time she was like a deer on ice, but it was so much fun! One advantage that Natural History Museum ice skating has is a practice area for the novice. They also have cute little penguins you can rent to help the youngest ones with their balance. [Children (12 and under): £8.50 peak / £8 off-peak Adults: £13 peak / £11.50 off-peak. It cost £2 per item to store bags].
With aching legs, we made our way over to Leicester Square for M&M World. Never heard of M&M World? You’re not missing much. It’s very very fun and colourful but very expensive and gimmicky. Meet the character was having your picture next to big plastic mannequins. About the only fun part was the option to create your own M&M but the queue was so long it wasn’t worth the wait. Clearly it’s marketed to tourist which were there in the hundreds.
After, we got into the Christmas spirit in Covent Garden’s Christmas Market. Covent Garden is always a fun, fresh and funky and with the mothership David and Goliath store, it was THE place for Charlotte to be. Covent Gardens also has Seven Dials – an area that ‘offers a quirky mix of shops, entertainment and residences’. Seven Dials may be small, but they have social media down wonderfully as I was asked to ‘Check in’ to Facebook in order to receive a free gift in one of the shops.
We ended our packed time in London with a hearty meal from Ed’s Diner at Euston station. Ed’s combines typical greasy spoon café with kitsch atmosphere. The food is cooked to your preference and we have never been rushed out the door while there. Plus, unlimited soft drinks!
London always has a lot of activities and things to do for kids of all ages. If you’re planning on going to London, I suggest you check out my friend Laura’s site: Golondon.about.com and feel free to tweet her!