Pomp, Ceremony & Ducks- Changing of the Guard

We’ve gone London Loopy!The Tower of London one day and now a trip out to Westminster past Downing Street, through St James’ park to Buckingham Palace to see the daily Changing of the Guard Ceremony!

The sun was out but still chilly being April, but the Queen’s Guard are out every day from now until the end of Summer strutting their stuff, so why not join the masses of tourists to see them – for FREE? The expensive option being a visit to Buckingham palace itself but the rooms aren’t open until July and we’ll be gone by then!

Little man was made up to see horses and ducks in one day. St James’ park is great for feeding the ducks and there is a restaurant and toilets (20p public loos) within the park.  If you’re lucky you might also see a pelican.

Continuing through the park toward the palace you hear the sound of a marching band at around 11am. Crowds walk alongside them down the Mall and there is a little bottle neck as you get to Constitution Hill but nothing too distressing and this was with a stroller.

As we didn’t want to get into the scrum at the palace gates we had plenty of breathing room on the path, but sacrificed our view somewhat. We didn’t hang  around for the whole ceremony which takes about 45 minutes as we heard an old veteran giving some tourists from the States the low-down on what would happen next and it was more of the same, so we headed up to Green Park station (completely STEP-FREE- joy!) past the daffodils, to have lunch at home.

Time for some reflection next…

Back in time at The Tower of London

We were off to see the Beefeaters and the crown jewels at the Tower of London for free (!) with some complimentary staff passes thanks to the generosity of another SE16 mum and dad.

We made a day of it playing at the Archbishop’s Park in Waterloo in the morning before walking over the bridge to catch to tube along the river to Tower Hill and having lunch at Bodean’s with FREE kids’ meals.

 

Entry to the Tower of London was effortless and step-free with only a quick backpack search before we were in. In to the world of the Tower back in time with historical characters roaming the grounds, some happier to have a chat and photo than others, but all adding to the ambiance.

The Tower itself is the central building surrounded by several layers of walls and buildings, some where the Yeoman Warders (Beefeaters) and their families live so there is a mixed atmosphere of it being a tourist attraction crossed with a village.

The baby-friendly nature is mixed as there are several buggy parks and baby changing facilities but only the Waterloo Block (crown jewel house), restaurant and one shop had step-free access if you needed to take your buggy with you.

While nap time was in progress we joined the queue to enter the Waterloo Block and see the Crown Jewels. The procession of people through the block finally led to the jewels themselves where the moving walkways made sure you didn’t block the view of them for too long! My favourite was the tiny crown made for Queen Victoria when she wore her mourning veil.

We did manage to get into The White Tower via the steps once little man had woke up from his nap, to see some of the displays of armour as well as walk along some of the tower walls, but didn’t explore every exhibit as our busy day had tired me out and the grim clouds were rolling in.

So all in all a good day out soaking in some London history- can’t believe it’s taken us 15 years of living in London to see this one!

some more royal locations up soon.

 

Getting High in the City- Sky Garden

So Bank isn’t the most buggy friendly tube station but a kind  helping-hand up the exit flight of stairs and we were on our way up to London’s highest public garden at Sky Garden for the third time in a year.

There are a plethora of places to lunch around the city if you head in early (around midday) you’ll beat the rush and can make more of your trip into town. Nandos were super friendly and accommodating as usual (and had a lift!).

Unfortunately I timed our trip slightly poorly on this occasion so little man ended up falling asleep as we exited the lift on the 35th floor but did get a glimpse of the sights after I’d had a chance to roam the 3 levels of the tropical flower beds and enjoy a surprisingly reasonably priced tea and scone on the higher level terrace.

There were plenty of buggies up there besides us despite the FAQ’s saying you might be asked to leave your buggy at reception at busy times.

The view is epic and even a seasoned Londoner will feel excited and proud at the marvellous landmarks London has to offer. No, you’re not at the top of the Shard, but the Shard is PART of the panorama, which in my view, is even better. The best bit of all is that it’s FREE, just book a ticket online at least a week in advance, and further ahead if you want a weekend ticket.

We popped to St Dunstan in the East ruined-church gardens after as these are known for being a green haven of tranquility in the hustle and bustle of the city, but we weren’t overly impressed- not enough green, but still nice to be able to sit down for a minute before grabbing the bus home.

Transport me away – please!

Early wake up, hungry crying before breakfast, cold & windy weather. The day ahead wasn’t looking good and I longed to be transported away to a happier place- well, we were! To the London Transport museum in Covent Garden 🙂

For £15 your ticket you get an annual pass and so we were back here again today to meet up with one of our favourite mum and baby combos. After a brisk wind-swept march over Waterloo bridge we were inside saying hello to early 20th century passengers on carriages, driving pretend buses and running wild around the museum with a toy buggy (standard). There was happily a sing-song & story session for under 5’s while we were there which we managed about 5 minutes of before JJ had to take the toy buggy for another spin, but a nice touch nonetheless.

The café space was fairly limited but we swooped into a booth, once some other mums and bubs had finished, to enjoy a £5 panini and a £1 soft drink can and have a catch up. Us mums also enjoyed the gift shop- perfect for stocking up on London memorabilia.

There were lots of school groups there making the play areas slightly frantic, but once they’d headed back to school you had free reign of the play areas (2 large role-play areas on the ground & first floors).

A great cold/wet weather activity, again with plenty to do in the area with covent garden shops, restaurants, leicester square, trafalgar square and Waterloo all fairly close-by.

I’ve had a request for some info on city farms, so we’ll try and get that coming your way by the weekend. Thanks for the suggestion!

Walking on water at Tower Bridge

We’re not too far from Tower Bridge (30 minute walk) but why would we go up the towers? It’s a tourist trap, over-priced, busy and probably a let down. Right?

It was £9 per adult, under 5’s were free and 9.30am on a Sunday morning- guess what? It was pretty empty. We did fall into the honey trap that is the gift shop though, spending £40 on die-cast toys, tea-towels, themed cupcake cases and canvas bags- but the souvenir guides were only £1! The staff were friendly and there was a lift for buggies but we tired JJ out on the stairs.

The highlight was the view from the walkways between the towers, mainly the one through the floor! Little man showed us what he was made of walking along the toughened glass floor over the road and river below pointing out all the cars, while others skirted around the edges.

Tower Bridge Toddler from sarah price on Vimeo.

It was a nice Sunday activity with plenty more to do nearby (City hall, the Scoop, Butlers Wharf restaurants, Design Museum, Tower of London, HMS Belfast, St Katherine’s dock).

See you for some more London fun soon.