Journal: 11 May 2018
If you put me on the spot, I’d have to say my favourite city is London. I was born just outside of East London, in Essex. School trips would often involve visits to London, one of my earliest memories was London Zoo. As I grew up, my dad and I would go and watch our beloved Spurs at White Hart Lane. I find London intoxicating. I love the hustle and bustle.
Usually we stay in East London but for this trip we stayed central, at the Mercure London Bridge and mixed in the more traditional tourist haunts with local hangs.
Watching Stanley walk around London, I soon realised he saw it as one big attraction or playground. Where I took the underground and overground as a given, for Stanley it was like being in a theme park. That really isn’t an exaggeration, he excitedly stopped pedestrians to point out the DLR!
As is a common theme for our trips, we visit galleries and museums. Top of Stanley’s list was the Natural History Museum, those with children will understand how significant the museum is, as it’s featured in a CBeebies series.
My advice is to either arrive towards the end of the day or at the start to avoid the queues.
Next door is the Science Museum but we visited the following day (to avoid stimulus overload). Thanks to a friend’s advice we made for the Wonder Lab which is a paid for exhibition but worth every penny. Stanley is 5 and was captivated by the experiments. His favourite was ‘making clouds.’
The Tate Modern is one of our favourite haunts in London. We could actually see the Tate from our roof terrace at the hotel!
We arrived for 10am when it opened which meant Stanley could enjoy running down the slope in the turbine hall. This was our first opportunity to explore the Blavatnik Building by Herzog & de Meuro.
I love utilitarian design so I was keen to see the concrete interiors, particularly the sweeping cast concrete staircase. I find something really comforting about concrete. There was a Picasso exhibition I missed but I’d like to return and see.
I highly recommend taking the lift to the roof or staircase if you’re feeling fit.
The roof terrace provides an epic view of the London skyline.
Flat Iron Square was a five minute walk from our hotel and it’s the perfect venue for families just as much as friends. It comprised a collective of in & outdoor independent eateries. We ate there on two nights and for one breakfast as there was so much choice.
We ate ‘just us’ the first night and then with friends the second night (and their three children). ‘Where The Pancakes Are’ came highly recommended and we arrived as it opened on the Sunday morning. The pancakes were out of this world, the interiors were beautiful and the staff friendly – they quickly handed us a notepad so Stanley was kept amused.
Borough Market is a huge bustling established market with so, so much choice. We grabbed ourselves a smoothie and a gelato. My only advice to families with smaller children (not in buggies) is they might find it a bit overcrowded/overwhelming. It was packed and Stanley was getting squished so Bobby put him on his shoulders.
We’d been meaning to try the cable cars in Greenwich for a couple of years and with the weather all weekend being grey and drizzly we went for it. As you may know, I’m not great with heights but it’s a reasonably quick trip and there was no queue. The ‘car’ also has a screen with a narrator so you can learn about the local area. Stanley thought it was fantastic.
The views were superb.
Our base for the weekend was the incredibly central and recently refurbished, Mercure London Bridge. Our room was the corner suite. We were very lucky to have a roof terrace that we could access from the window. Bobby and I commented it felt a lot like we were in an episode of Friends (very cool). The room was spacious and clean and, as is becoming customary for the trips, Stanley stayed in our room on the pull out sofa.
We are thoroughly enjoying our 8 UK cities in 8 months tour. We have just two to go now…
Words and photography by Fiona Burrage.