That's us back from London. I enjoyed sleeping in my own bed.
Do you take your kids on city breaks? This was our first city break with four kids, the last time we visited a city was before James and Alistair lived with us.
I like visiting cities. There is something for everybody, particularly in a huge city such as London. Two parent families can split up and do different things with different kids, which is good if one set of siblings loves dinosaur bones and the other doesn't, or when teenagers need a lie-in and little ones need to burn off energy. On the whole however we explored London as a family. We try to do things that we all like but we don't shy away from doing things that maybe just some of us like. Inevitably, there was moaning and minor uprisings but life is not always kind and being reminded of that in a gentle way is ok, yes? Learning to cope with boredom is essential for future grown-ups. We try keep activities short and sweet so nobody has to suffer for an unbearably long time, if somebody is suffering that is. There is always a treat in store to break up the days. For us, this is usually food. I am no different from the children, my boredom threshold is pretty low. In a museum we would maybe restrict our visit to one level and then leave. Long walks can be interrupted by a bus ride or a quick run around at a playground.
It is always surprising to see which of our children likes what. This is not entirely predictable.
James surprised us more than once. We knew he would like the National History Museum because most children do. He also liked the Science Museum, which is full of entertaining exhibits. But he also enjoyed the Tate Modern and the National Portrait Gallery. Generally James approach to museum visits is comparable to that of a bee trying to sample lots of flowers, somewhat erratically and without stopping. He likes to press buttons but doesn't like to wait and see what happens. He was amazed at the art installations at the Tate and he was keen to find out how and when people died at the National Portrait Gallery.
Sam loved the virtual reality stuff at the Science Museum and he is still quite happy to see the dinosaur bones. He liked the Tate Modern in his own way, shaking his head in wonder at the 'scribbles and piles of rubbish', quite possiblly planning his own career in modern art (after all it is easy to throw a few pots of paints against a wall...). I think Sam was quite interested in the lives of some of the individuals shown at the National Portrait Gallery but expressed disdain for some of the people he 'doesn't approve of' (in that quaint, black and white teenage way).
Annie enjoyed the shoe exhibition at the V &A and Alistair liked the dinosaurs at the National History Museum but on the whole for them, museums are not a great pass-time. Annie prefers the shops, Alistair his sisters smart phone. They are good at keeping each other company whilst waiting on a bench for the rest of the family to finish with their educational enjoyment.
They all loved the Wellcome Collection, which we visited before travelling back to Glasgow (instead of stuffing ourselves at Nando's outside Euston). It is a good place for kids with plenty of weird and wonderful exhibits and we could leave our luggage in the cloak room. Have you been? The shop and cafe are excellent, too.
You may now think we dashed from museum to museum but of course we didn't. We visited the zoo, played at playgrounds, visited markets, explored Chinatown and Covent Gardens and we did a good deal of people watching. We also visited Hamleys. Richard and I sat it out at the cafe on the top floor whilst Sam and Annie took a little one each and explored the millions of toys. We spent a lot of time riding buses. Buses are cheaper than the tube and more entertaining, once the novelty of underground trains has worn off. We went to books shops and Paperchase and old fashioned sweet shops. We allowed plenty of time for street entertainers and we even briefly ventured into the M&M shop. (I will never to go back. Dante would have added another circle of hell if he'd known about the M&M shop).
We also like doing things on the cheap. For this reason we did not go on the London Eye and other 'must dos', nor did we go to see a show.
We didn't skimp on food because we all enjoy food. Richard and I were determined not to cook and I am pleased to say that we didn't. We ate dinner in a different country every day. Well sort of. We enjoyed Italian, Chinese, Thai, Mexican, Indian and Eritrean. The last one was a first for me, it was an interesting experience, picking up food with pieces of sourdough pancakes of sorts rather than cutlery. The pancakes were not that great but the rest was delicious.
James is the most adventurous eater of all, followed by Annie. Sam was complaining continuously because we couldn't just have 'normal' food (pizza and pasta). Alistair is not a great eater but usually eats what he is given. For lunch we generally opted for street food, for example at the Lower Marsh market, or Brixton market. Usually we ate different things from different stalls, for example one day Alistair polished off a great big Hungarian sausage, James opted for Pad Thai, Richard had a Korean BBQ, Annie and Sam got pizza frog Greggs and I had samosas.
Staying in a Air B&B house was great, so much better than staying in a hotel, and much more relaxed, and cheaper, too. We'll do that again. In a different city of course. We don't really agree on where we want to go but there is time to discuss. Any suggestions?
Finally, our favourite parts of the holiday:
Alistair: the time when he could say hello to a dog and his lego man
James: noodles and the zoo
Annie: the shoe exhibition and a souvlaki lunch
Sam: the virtual reality experience and Borough market
Richard: the Korean BBQ roll, the oyster and the Eritrean food
Me: watching the world go by on the bus and the fabric shops
Have a great week! Cxx