London - Days 2 & 3 | En
Updated: Sep 9, 2018
On our second day in London we decided to take a wander around a couple of the Royal parks in the morning before it got too hot (Jean was surprised that excessive heat could be a factor in England :-)).
We started in Green Park where there are lots of deckchairs if you feel like sitting for a while and watching the world go by - although you do have to pay for the privilege. We then spent some time outside Buckingham Palace where there was a celebration for the RAF which Jude enjoyed as there was, amongst other things, a marching band, a horse and carriage and he was able to glimpse some of the soldiers and their beautiful horses.
From there we made our way to St James Park which I think is one of my favourites. We enjoyed a gentle stroll while admiring the gardens and trying to spot pelicans (apparently there have been pelicans in the park for nearly 400 years — the first one arrived as a gift from a Russian ambassador in 1664). I always like seeing Duck Island Cottage and there is a nice cafe in the park too and a small play area for children.
By that time we were hungry so we decided to head over to where we were having lunch. We looked for the best rated restaurants for families in central London and were pleasantly surprised when Masala Zone came up amongst the top as we LOVE Indian food. The restaurant has a few different locations, but we chose the Covent Garden one as we planned to spend some time in the area afterwards. The restaurant looks very smart from the outside and it’s warmly decorated in jewel colours inside with Indian style dolls adorning the ceiling. It was quiet when we arrived, and we began to doubt the wisdom of our choice with our noisy circus in tow so we were really relieved by the greeting and service we received. The place quickly filled up and the noise of other diners soon drowned out any noise from our tribe.
They gave us a nice big table where we could easily park Elio, and a high chair for Alba whose excited waves and chatterings were this time graciously received. They had a children’s menu with a mild curry and accompaniments which Jude delighted us by enjoying with gusto. We were mainly looked after by a lovely waiter called Thiago who deserves a special mention for his genuine hospitality and welcoming attitude to us all, but especially the children - he brought Alba some papadums and took the time to ask us where we were from and make the children feel special. It was really appreciated and Alba came away with a bit of a crush ;-).
After a post-lunch walk around Covent Garden market we stopped at the London Transport Museum. We hadn’t planned to go there but when we passed the door, the lure of the red buses proved too strong for Jude so we decided to go inside, and we were so glad we did!! The visit is really well laid out and the children were given numbered cards to punch or stamp as they passed through the corresponding zone of the tour. They were able to hop onto old style trains and buses and there were plenty of displays to look at as well as things to press and pull. There was a little area where they could "drive" a model bus as well as dress up in overalls and take care of some bus maintenance with plastic tools.
At the end is a great play area for children where they can climb around freely and there's a space with tables to stop and eat. The toilets are really friendly for children, the sinks are designed as one long undulating river which was a nice touch, AND there was a really spacious, clean and well-equipped unisex baby change room which was brilliant. For adults it is really interesting too and an easy way to discover the history of transport in the city from the early sedan chairs to the mammoth construction undertaking of the first tube and details of the plans for the future. It was money well spent and everyone came out happy.
The following morning we stopped at Kensington Gardens and made our way to the Princess Diana Memorial Park. It's such a wonderful place for children, it's hard to know where to start but let’s begin with the huge pirate ship in an enormous sand pit (wear flip-flops or something easy to remove while chasing after little ones) which the children were delighted to climb aboard, then we saw swings, teepees, elaborate climbing frames, and a lovely area of musical toys which we all loved. We really loved the fact that each narrow path around the park revealed a different and unexpected delight and the children were racing ahead to discover the next treasure. There is also a good picnic area near the entrance and a little cafe and toilets. It's really a perfect spot to keep the children busy for a couple of hours in the middle of the city.
"We asked Jude what had been his favourite part of the trip, and he said “everything”.
It was a wonderful experience going back to London with the children, and we really discovered the family-friendly side of the city that I hadn’t really been aware of before. We asked Jude what had been his favourite part of the trip, and he said “everything”. Needless to say we’ll be back soon as we didn't cover a fraction of the things we would like to have seen.
As a footnote, we have to give a huge shoutout to the wonderful Mohamed who looked after us on the Easyjet flight from Gatwick to Geneva. This wonderful man who volunteers for a charity helping the sick asked the passengers flanking Jean with Elio if they would like to move to more peaceful rows so that our sweet boy could have space to lie flat on the seats...Elio slept almost the whole way (whereas across the aisle Jude and Alba's reign of terror kept me busy apologising to other passengers whilst trying to occupy the little rascals with food)!