It took me a long time to write my post about a trip to London with a 6 year-old. Fortunately lessons learned meant this time around, taking the boys to London for Kids Week was a far better experience with lots to make us all happy.
It’s fair to say that there were times during our time in London when I thought “Let’s just cut to the chase, go to Hamley’s and go home.”
But, whilst there was a great deal of focus on the pinnacle of their plans, the memories which the boys now regale anyone who’ll listen include the best bits of the theatre productions, Covent Garden, and B hailing a black cab.
My learning from taking with CM was to not over-plan, to take things at a relaxed pace. This is what we’re used to at home during the summer so to suddenly add to the intensity of London by doing too much can be really overwhelming.
We stayed at the Premier Inn, Old Street again. And whilst it’s a little too far out for my liking, it’s familiar territory for the boys. They bounced on the bed and let of the excess energy of the train journey.
As we were seeing Gangsta Granny that evening, I thought we’d head out towards Leicester Square to explore. On a whim I thought we’d leave the underground at Covent Garden. The boys weren’t pleased about this but it was such a good choice.We spent ages milling around enjoying the street entertainment. The boys were absolutely in awe at the magic and art. Admittedly I promised we’d come back the following day which we didn’t get around to. Fortunately there’s a positive, I’ve had to commit to another trip to London. After more mooching, we made our way across to Leicester Square, again this included taking in a lot more street entertainment. For the boys there were two goals- the Lego Store and the M&M Store.
We had lots of fun browsing the Lego Store, which seems to have a really good system of queuing. This was compared to the M&M Store which was overwhelming chaos and far too intense. Both were everything the boys wanted them to be which was the main thing. Whilst I had grand plans for a dinner out, the boys I think were feeling a little in need of normality. And asked for sandwiches. It made for a cheap meal at the Pret opposite the Garrick and allowed me to save my pennies for them to enjoy ice-creams during the interval. And fortunately the boys loved Gangsta Granny. It was such a good production and one which has caused great obstination from CM that she missed out (she was invited but declined), which of course, for the boys, means it’s even better.
Interestingly, it was a late finish, and on the underground found ourselves in the company of some rather ‘raucous’ men. They were absolutely lovely, but it made me realise the boys have never been around drunk people.
This, accompanied by the number of homeless people, made for lots of interesting conversations over the weekend. Which really did add so many layers to our time.
I realised how protected we keep our children, whilst encouraging them to show generosity. We’ve helped them to understand food banks, various charity events.
So, it was a real dilemma as we walked around London that they wanted to offer every homeless person money. I struggled, trying to talk about the differences in begging. But they’re six. We made use of a lot of pound coins over the weekend because I couldn’t explain a good enough reason otherwise.The next day we made our way back to the Garrick for Horrible Histories. A favourite CBBC series for the boys (and hopefully books too one day), it was every bit of funny and gory as hoped.We meandered from the Garrick towards Westminster Pier. This included a stroll across Trafalgar Square and the ultimate occasion of meeting Yoda.
We were fortunate to see the changing of a guard (long story involving a misbehaving horse) as well as hearing Big Ben. We were then fortunate to see the best of London on the Thames with City Cruises.
The boys more than content to understand what mummy actually does in London were happy to disembark at Tower Bridge, knowing that this is one of my favourite places. But neatly negotiated this with bringing forward a trip to Hamley’s by a day.And Hamley’s, in appearance, didn’t fail in it’s ability to draw in my Star Wars obsessed children.It did fail to impress their mum with the price-point. The unfortunate joy of the internet meant it quickly became apparent that there was a mark up on the Nerf guns. And whilst my words fail to make any impression, the kind words of a friendly boy from the US made their mark.
With this we managed to achieve one of B’s hopes of travelling in a black cab. And I was giving up, he hailed. The friendly taxi driver looked for my nod, and there we were. Off in the hope of better priced Nerf guns.Nerf guns sorted, we decided on an early dinner in anticipation of a trip to an open air theatre. We stumbled on the Pizza Express, which oddly was the same branch CM and I had also stumbled upon. And whilst the boys thought they were really enjoying coffee, I was really enjoying the Hugo St Germain (and real Prosecco).Knowing me so well, the boys spent the meal convincing me that rather than go to the theatre, they would like to find a bookshop for me. I could buy a book, we could go back to the hotel. They could have a Nerf war where my bed was ‘cree’ and I could read. I love my boys.
We left, and it started raining. They won. I love Google Maps. We found the nearest Waterstone’s. With shopping for all of us (and a stop off for snacks) we headed back to our hotel.
With me thinking “We’ll do this again when they’re a few years older”.
With the boys telling me about everything we’re going to do when we return at Christmas.