A first taste of London for the little ones started on Friday night with a trip down on the train after school to meet me at Liverpool Street Station. We went out for a meal at Pizza Express round the corner from the Premier Inn we were staying at. By then the little ones were starting to feel tired so we got an early night in for tomorrow which was sure to be a long one…
Up, breakfast and out by just after 9.30 was a pretty slick manoeuvre for Team GB. We headed south to the Thames and walked along til we got to Embankment Along the way we saw a few different memorials and statues and got our first glimpses of Big Ben and the London Eye. At Embankment we headed up Northumberland Avenue to get to Trafalger Square where a Japanese concert/festival was being hosted. Unfortunately it meant we couldn’t explore it properly but obviosuly we couldn;t miss the huge monument to Norfolks favourite son, Admiral Nelson.
From there we headed through Admiralty Arch onto the Mall and our first sight of Buckingham Palace. The idea was that we would be outside ready for the Changing of the Guard for 11.30. It was a lovely gentle stroll down the Mall with statues and memorials to stop and admire. We even saw the Blue & Royals heading back to Horse Guards as we got close. The crowds were starting to form outside and around the Victoria monument. I had unfortunately underesitmated the number of people so we were left with only a view at the bottom of thre Mall. We still saw the comings and goings but couldn;t get close enough to see the ceremony outside Buckingham Palace.
We passed through the crowds and back through St James Park where we encountered some very friendly pigeons and squirrels although we couldn’t see any pelicans despite the frequent warnings that they shouldn’t be fed!! On the other side of the back we weaved our way through onto Whitehall and then Westminster bridge. Big Ben looked very big indeed when you are stood underneath it! We grabbed a quick lunch from Boots and then headed over Westminster bridge (past another Norfolk celebrity from history; Boudica) to head towards the London Eye.
The crowds were very busy but we managed to get tickets, queue up and get on the Eye without losing either of the little ones which was quite an achievement! Despite the cloudy skies we enjoyed some wonderful views of London. The little ones loved in. Kieran thought getting on and off as the capsule moved was very exciting!!
Afterwards, after missing the Thames Clipper we decided to walk back along the South Bank to HMS Belfast, stopping for a Team GB favourite (hot drinks and cake) on the way. We got to the Belfast and the after quick walk over the gang plank we were on board the WW2 cruiser. The daunting thing once we got on was where to go. You could go almost anywhere and we did. Right up to the Flag Deck at the top and right down to the Shell room in the bowels of the ship. We had to navigate some steep steps and while the little ones were excited and loved it the older members were less comfortable. Suffice to say it was nice to get deck side one we had finished clambering about.
Tiredness was starting to kick in with tired legs and feet starting to take their toll. We headed back to the Millenium Bridge and headed across to St Pauls then back to the hotel. Unfortunately Saturday in Blackfriars meant the Wagamamas and Pizz Express were both closed so we had a lovely meal in the Premier Inn restuarant before heading to bed and a well deserved rest!!
We headed home on Sunday and it was a cracking weekend that we all enjoyed… One for the memory banks… The biggest decision will be what to do next time Team GB decide to descend upon the capital.