After a week basking in the glory of nature in Snowdonia, it was now time to hit the urban experience with the prince. Not having played in central London for well over 15 years it was a little daunting to make sure the prince had fun.
London is huge, and with around 18-20 million tourists visiting each year there is so much to do for all age groups. However with being cost conscious after splurging at LEGOLAND for the past two days, I really did not want to spend more money doing things especially when the 6 year old brat may or may not enjoy it. After all this is all to build that smile and memories for him.
We didn’t have the best of starts, but probably the most typical. Stuck on the M25 for over 5 hours was not how we intended to kick things off. Nonetheless it was an experience, the prince was entertained with the iPad and I took some photos whilst standing in the middle of a 4 lane freeway. Cool. So cool. Lesson of the day avoid the M25, do the A406 instead.
Eventually we arrived at our residence, Moxy Hotel Excel Docklands. I purposely chose this hotel over many others purely because of the lobby area. It was large and open with a plethora of games and little cool interesting things to explore. Great way to entertain kids. He was fascinated by it, as was I. The only downside, he didn’t want to leave! Price wise the stay was extremely reasonable, less than a hundred per night, even comparable to Premier Inn and Travelodge, also less than a 5 minute walk to the underground and was nice to be in the east side of London for a change.
Starting our budget tourist experience, we headed to South Kensington for the Natural History Museum. This place is awesome. Although, the prince got bored after seeing just two exhibits Dinosaurs and History of the Earth. Maybe I wasn’t engaging enough, maybe he just wasn’t into it, maybe it was just boring. In any case, I think it’s a great way to kill an hour or so.
Next up, Covent Garden. Being loathed to go to Oxford Street and it’s huge crowds, Covent Garden is a bit more pleasant to walk around the squares and grab a bit of lunch. There’s a great little vintage toy store to check out, as well as some live performances.
The king desperately needed some coffee and the only place worth going is Monmouth Coffee. After picking up my macchiato we walked around the corner into Neals Yard to sit down and rest in this secluded trendy spot, soaking up the atmosphere. Loved it here, such a great place to people watch; models getting their photos taken and using the yard as their changing room, young girls posing for their Instagram shots, patrons at the bars having a cheeky drink, an entrepreneur being shown the potential of having her business here, families walking through looking upwards smiling at the cute buildings and of course my own prince fascinated by the silly putty I got him from the vintage toy store.
After our rest and our share of pics, we headed to Chinatown. Post the experience of Ninjago at LEGOLAND, of course the prince thought he was in the urban Ninjago land and progressively sang the tune while walking through the area swinging his sword around. Didn’t have the heart to explain to him yet that China and Japan are different countries. We checked out the numerous restaurants and shops, loved seeing the crispy whole ducks hanging in view for me to salivate and the boy to go “ewww what’s that!”.
For a some indoor entertainment I thought Namco Funscape would be the perfect little hyper fun for us, not before walking along Westminster Bridge and admiring the London Eye. Inside the arcades we did the bumper cars, air hockey, arcade shooters with the highlight being the Star Wars booth. Awesome!
Coming out the sun was a little lower now, we had slushes in our hands and walked down the embankment past the huge queues for the Eye, and chilled in the popular Jubilee Gardens making our respective tongues blue and red. Even though one of the main tourist spots it is relatively relaxing in the park.
I spotted a traditional merry go round, and my mind wandered to when I first took the prince on one of these 3 years ago and just knew we had to do it. He enjoyed it just as much but this time with more commentary and yee haa! So, so cute!
So far we have avoided all the usual London tourist haunts, and was definitely not going to start now. For our last adventure of the day we headed towards Shoreditch, Brick Lane. I heard now it was a trendy hipster area but still has the rich Bengali community. Although now quite touristy and commercialised, it is safer. I wouldn’t have taken the prince here at this time of the evening 15 years ago. Funnily enough though he did seem like the only kid walking around. What I love about my boy is that he is not phased by his surroundings, he soaks everything up and feels at home wherever he is. He was just as loud as the locals there, singing away, walking up the awesome street art adorning the walls, shaking his cute ass to the loud electric guitar and making friends with all the restaurant touts. To me this is his education.
Of course we had a curry! You cannot go to Brick Lane and not have a curry! We picked the first one we saw, City Spice, as ultimately I don’t care what anyone says, all of them will be the same. They all claim to be the best, have won awards and have a master chef amongst them. Having been in the trade myself the difference will be decor and service. Our waiter was lovely and even more so soon as he found out we were Bengali. Conversing in our mother tongue, talking about life with kids and how London has changed, was a great way to spend the evening. Two doors down there was Dark Sugars, where we had such a giggle with the staff there enjoying some chocolate and coffee as our nightcap. It all started with me catching the last word of a conversation between the lady of my age with the younger staff member. That word was fornication. I’ll leave the rest up to your active minds of how that conversation went.
Heading back to our hotel finally, not quite ready for bed, I taught the boy chess. He fell in love and impressed me a lot when we played. Eventually getting sleepy heady we retired for the night. Taking my wallet out of my trousers I realised I hardly spent any money just food and travel. Next year will do the same exploring in a similar fashion. I love London such an awesome city to play in, not so much to work and live, there are so many hidden gems to find. Heading off into dream land my wallet was happy, and the prince slept shattered but with a smile. Which is what it’s all about. Love to hear about any other places to check out with your kids in London. Peace & Love.