Sunday 23 October 2016

A Day trip to London

Hello Lovelies,
for the past year or so Eldest (who is one of our 16 year old twins) has been asking to go to London.  

Having only been a few times myself, and those always having been with somebody who knew more about the city than myself, I was a little hesitant.

Then there was the cost, for five of us to go anywhere involving public transport is scarily expensive. I could not see it happening anytime soon. 
This year Eldest has left school to take up a full time college course and has different term dates to his two brothers. I was going to get him to do some Derbyshire walks with me, but then I remembered his London requests.
Researching Train options I was rather dismayed by the prices...even if you were booking several months in advance.
Then I remembered there is another option...a Coach...and to my surprise and delight it was super cheap ( £5 each, each way...£21 total, including the £1 booking fee). I hastily booked for the two of us and then though Yikes, what have I done?

But eldest was thrilled and I knew I would have to be brave.

In the week before we went I did loads of planning. I felt I could easily cope with walking through London, but not the underground...and I was not sure about buses either.
 I used THIS site to plan out a route that took in many attractions on foot, without being too ambitious. And as the travel to the capital was so reasonable I felt happy to book a couple of treats for us advance, online, to get a discount :0)

The day (last Thursday) started well when hubby dropped us off at the Coach station on his way to work. The Coach was on time and the driver was very friendly.

Oh look, the on-board magazine says Knitting is a good way to pass the journey ( but there's a picture of a crochet hook) .........

So as we passed a steam train ( on the back of a lorry) .....

I spent the journey happily sewing in ends on the squares I've been making for youngest's blanket.....

The traffic was light and we arrived a little earlier than planned, and hopped off the coach at Marble arch.... then it was straight down Oxford street.
 Thankfully the wide pavements felt quite quiet and we soon got to this impressive building...Selfridges......

I fancied buying a small souvenir so we whizzed up the escalators to the top floor...

saw some great London themed Christmas decorations, then saw the price and decided just to use the loo instead :0).

We found London is very tourist friendly. We were looking at one of the many lamp post maps when a kind chap in a bowler hat offered to give us directions. It was obviously his job to help anybody who looked a bit lost.

With his help we soon found Bond Street and wandered past increasingly expensive looking shops. I knew it would be posh because it's expensive to buy in Monopoly :0)

I'm sorry about the bad reflections in this photo but I had to share this great shop window ( I think it was a Hermes store) There's a fallen tree, a stream, mossy banks and a woodland backdrop, all made from yarn. It was really gorgeous.......

Loved the hill in another window too........

Here we were passing loads of expensive Jewellery shops, all with burly security guards standing in the doorway. Eldest asked "do you this they would let us in?"
 I was fairly sure they would not :0)

Then it was a shot stroll down Picadilly, past the Ritz Hotel and into Green Park.......

We were headed for the big house behind this beautiful gate........

Eldest told me this is the Canada Gate ( how did he know?)

Yay Buckingham Palace, we had missed the changing of the guard but I was happy to see a couple of guards in their wonderful uniforms......

It was quiet busy by the palace but certainly not packed. Eldest told me that  the flag was flying to show the queen was in residence ( how did he know? :0)  )......

In front of the palace stands The Victoria Memorial

It was the gilded "winged victory" on top which really caught my eye as it shone brightly in the sunshine.........

We didn't hang around too long as we had a boat to catch, so we started walking down the Mall, glancing back at the palace........

and at the beautiful Canada Gate. Won't this look a pretty picture when all the Wall flowers are in bloom next spring......

Then we were passing more Royal residences ( Clarence house I think)........

Here we came to some statues of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth ( the Queen's mother) ...

I realised this much loved royal of my own childhood was unknown to Eldest.

I particularly liked this panel showing how the Royal couple did not leave London in the war, but stayed to show their support for the people of London, regularly visiting survivors of the Blitz......

The sun was still shining as we passed the Duke of York's column ... I do like writing a blog post for making you look stuff up...I had no idea what this was :0)

Next we passed admiralty arch......

Where a workman was enjoying the view.........

Then we arrived at Trafalgar square........

Ooooh, afternoon tea on an old London bus. Sounds great fun.

The Lions at the base of Nelson's column were getting a shower.......

Don't they look smart.....

And the square it's self didn't feel too busy .......

We had a very quick visit to the National Gallery , where the gift shop had very similar ( if not the same) Christmas tree decorations as Selfridges, for less than half the price...yay.

I did like the fun they have had with the many pedestrian crossing signs here. This was just one of several variations........

Next our route took us down Whitehall and past Horse-guards Parade........

Further along we noticed the monument to the women of world war two.......

There's a much clearer photo of it HERE

Then the instantly recognisable Cenotaph.........

Rounding a corner and coming across this sight was very impressive, despite the gathering cloud

And then we were at the mighty Thames...looking a bit murky under the grey skies, but still great to see........

All sorts of vehicles were crossing Westminster bridge.......

But we were here to board a cruise boat at the Westminster pier.
I loved having this little map in my pocket to check where we should be heading throughout the day..........

There was a long queue to get on the boat, but plenty of room and soon we were travelling up the river and looking back on the palace of Westminster.....

A crew member gave an interesting and amusing commentary on the sights we passed.......

Cleopatra's Needle ( older than London it's self) 

The tide was coming in and I think you can get an impression of the speed of the water here.....

St Paul's Cathedral, Sir Christopher Wren's masterpiece. 365 feet tall, a foot for every day of the year.

The "Wibbly Wobbly" Millenium footbridge....thankfully it's been stabilised since it's fateful opening day when people were nearly falling off it........

On the left here is the Express newspaper headquarters ( or the school for window cleaners as our guide called it), next to the old Billingsgate fish market, with 20 Fenchurch street ( or "The Walkie Talkie" building) behind.

We were told that you can visit the top of this impressive building for free ( it costs £30 to go up the Shard)
I've since found a link HERE...I'd love to visit one day

It was warm and cosy in the boat and I could have sailed further but this was our destination....

The Tower of London

We got off at Tower Pier, and were treated to the sight of Tower Bridge opening to let a beautiful old paddle steamer through.........

Now that's an impressive bridge. I'd love to take a closer look at that one day too.

This little cottage in the city made me smile. There were lots of birds in it's neat garden......

Maybe you can see one on the gate if you enlarge the photo by clicking on it.

Entrance to the Tower of London is not cheap, but eldest got a concession as he is a full time student and a free guided tour is included in the price.

And what a great tour it was. The Yeoman warders (who are all ex servicemen with a long service award) lead the tours and do an excellent job of bringing history to life. We followed this chap around various locations in the tower grounds and were laughing one minute and sombre the next. It really was an impressive performance and a fun way to learn so much.......

After the tour we had a little time to explore by ourselves and headed straight for the Crown Jewels .

Just behind the door there was quiet a long queuing zone, which thankfully was empty on Thursday. We saw lots of ceremonial maces and jewelled swords. But the highlight for me  had to be the various crowns.

And the Most STUNNING crown had to be our own Queen Elizabeth's  crown.

No photography was allowed so I've borrowed this image with a link below to it's source......

The London skyline from the walls of the tower... left to right, the  Walkie Talkie, the Cheese Grater and the Gherkin :0)

 The Tower grounds and Tower Green in the distance, where a couple of Henry the eighth's wives lost their head......gulp

All too soon it was time to leave...bye bye White Tower.....

We  picked up a small gift for middle and youngest in the gift shop. Then  caught the last boat back to Westminster.....

This boat had an open upper deck which gave great views of the landmarks we know this one :0)

The Shard and the Museum ship, HMS Belfast......

The lord Mayor of London's offices...which has various nicknames...the Onion or Darth Vader's helmet being a couple of them.....

I just loved being on the river. Seeing the sights from a distance and noticing what a busy working area the water is too.......

The only disappointment was the weather, but at least we had a little blue sky occasionally.....

And you could see how the Shard reflected the sky......

Some lights were coming on too.......

notice the tall ship in this photo, a working replica of Sir Francis Drakes ship, the Golden Hinde. It has been sailed around the world twice!

We passed under many bridges and, as it was a particularly high tide on Thursday, you felt like your could reach up and touch them, they were so close.......

There were interesting sights to see continually. Can you tell I loved it :0).
This is the replica of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre......

Which is right next to the (infamous maybe) Tate Modern art gallery....which is another free attraction........

Here you can see our guide doing his commentary...and just how close we were to those bridges.....


The OXO building which was once owned by the OXO company and when they were refused advertising they just built a tower with windows in the OXO shape :0).....

Another Bridge, maybe not the prettiest but Waterloo bridge was built during World War two and is also known as "Ladies Bridge", as it was largely built by women, when the men were away fighting.....

Ah, here we are back at the London Eye.........

Everybody stand up to get a good picture of Big Ben :0)

Well it certainly is photogenic as well as iconic......

By the time we got off the boat it was 6pm and the lovely twilight was getting better. I would have loved to hang around for a while soaking up the atmosphere but Eldest was cold and hungry ( we had only snacked throughout the day), so we said goodbye to the river......

and Westminster........

It seemed wise to walk straight to the coach station and get something to eat near there.  In the end it was quiet a long walk and we got a little lost so I was glad we had plenty of time.
A burger meal in the coach station was convenient, cheap and filling. Our transport home was pristine, punctual and less than half full. We nodded throughout the 3 and a half hour journey back home to the midlands.

In the end we had walked eight and a half miles but we both felt it seemed less. I asked Eldest what he thought to London and he said in was "interesting". A man of many words :0)
It was lovely to see how confident he was throughout the day and what a good team we made navigating our way around, with only the odd slip.
This one-to-one time and big city adventure made me realise how mature my 16 year old is. I knew this of course, but it still kind of took me by surprise if that makes sense.

I do hope you enjoyed our "postcards" from London lovelies.
Jacquie x


  1. Thank you for sharing your London trip with your son. It's something you will always remember. I took my son on several trips one being Paris when he was thirteen and we have such happy memories.

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  3. I'm guessing this might not be your last London trip. Making use of the coach transport is a wise way to travel I've been told by other UK friends who travel to London occasionally.

    Thanks for reminding me of a city I love. xo

  4. Loved your photos of London and your notes of your trip.
    My husband and I were there in September and we can't get enough of seeing photos of London, it is truly a fascinating place. xx
    P.S. Love the first photo, is that from the train station where you live?

  5. What a day!You fitted so much in.OH and I had been talking this morning about having a trip to London.Seeing your photos has recalled whetted my appetite.OH is on the iPad at the moment looking up train prices from N Wales .As we are retired and so very flexible about times it looks as though we could get tickets cheaply.Watch this space.

    1. Hope it all works out and you have a great time xxx

  6. Wow how did you manage to fit so much in? Looks like an amazing visit. My son also loves trips to London. Your photos are as beautiful as ever.

  7. What a great tour. Thank you for sharing it. I'm sure this will be a wonderful memory for you and your son. I remember my first trip to Washington D.C., Philadelphia to see the Liberty Bell and the meeting place of the first Constitutional Congress and then on to NYC. It was such a thrill and I was 16, like your son. It was a school sponsored trip and there was a coach full of high school students; and it was back in the day when young ladies still wore gloves and our nylons had seams and the boys were required to tuck their shirts in and the shirts had collars. It was quite expensive for my single mother but she managed to provide the money for me to go. I've never forgotten. Your son will always treasure the fact that you made this happen for him.

    1. That's such a lovely story Dina,
      thank you for sharing

  8. Great post. We had a trip to London last month. We went to meet up with family visiting from Australia and I must admit I wasn't looking forward to it. Turns out I really enjoyed it. We also went by coach from Derbyshire and also got lost on the way back to the coach station.

    1. Yes, I was won over...glad you had a great time too.

  9. Thank you so much for sharing your day! It really was fascinating and yes, you did make me want to research the places I'd never heard about!

  10. thanks for all the pictures Jacqui! very atmospheric x

  11. Thank you for sharing your adventure, it brought back memories of places we used to visit regularly from out home in Essex before we moved to Yorkshire earlier this year. I'm glad you enjoyed your day.
    Jackie x

  12. Bang on time Jaqui, I am taking my country mice to London on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday at aged 7 and 9 I doubt we will make it 8 miles but if I get in and out of the Natural History museum and wander round Covent garden for an hour I will be happy. From Shropshire to London is a big thing in this house. I have been many times before but always on my own. Keep you posted. xx

  13. Thanks for sharing your trip, Jacquie! It was "interesting"! It also reminded me of the plan of attack that my husband and I made for touring NYC. We took a boat ride around the island from which we saw many important sites, and it also helped orient us for further explorations on foot in the city. xx

  14. I totally loved going along with you on your trip to London.. I will likely never get to visit so it means a lot to me to have you share it with your readers. I descend from English ancestors, so it's nice to see where my people are from. ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

  15. well done! loved all the pics and great memories with your son;)

  16. Thank you for sharing your trip and what a lot you packed in. A special adventure with your son. I occasional go to London to meet up with friends but your post has reminded me I should explore 'the sights' more often.

  17. Waou I love your pics and telling :-)
    Nearly like being in London myself.
    Have a love week.

  18. We have just come back tonight from a weekend in London, Greenwich this time for us. I'm glad you had a good time, we love it there and go whenever we get a chance. I am surprised you couldn't find a cheap train deal though, we got 2 returns for £25 this time, i've never paid more than £6 one way.

  19. What an amazing trip you and your son had. I am a frequent visitor to London living close to Heathrow airport and can travel free to London. It is a must for me nearer Christmas to see the wonderful shop windows and Canaby street. You really gave a wonderful description of your trip and certainly deserved your sleep on the way home.
    BTW I recently went up the walker talkie building and it was a wonderful view of parts of London and the garden was different.
    So pkeased you both had a wonderful time and created some lovely memories of the day you want to London with your son, reminded me of the poem "Christopher Robin"
    Thank you Jacquiie.
    Hazel c uk

  20. Hi Jacquie,
    Wow, London still looks the same to me. I went there with school 4 years ago and I still miss the busy city. What a beautiful pictures and what a nice day you have had. Thank you for sharing all your beautiful pictures.
    Have a nice week.

    Sweet greetings from the Netherlands,

  21. A memorable trip that the two of you will never forget. I enjoyed seeing the sights with you.

  22. Lovely trip! And, as your son said.. interesting. It's something to walk inside something like the Tower and think of the history and the things that have taken place in the very spot you're standing. And, truly, you're quite blessed to have your 16 yr old son still want to spend time with you. So many at that age don't want to be caught seen with mum!

  23. I had SO much fun going to London with you! I live in Washington State but have been to London twice...I think to all of those places except the boat ride. Loved all of it, but especially the Tower of London. I had never been on a subway system before, but London's is easily mastered. One of my trips was with our eldest when she graduated from nursing school. It was a fantastic mother/daughter trip and we also went to Bath as she is a great fan of Jane Austin. Thank you for the memories.

  24. It's a spring day in New Zealand, but I really enjoyed this autumn excursion to London - thanks for taking me! I love this city and have been on the river trip twice - down to Greenwich, I think it is great value and amazing history. I always tell friends heading to the UK to do that trip too x

  25. How I loved this day trip now! I've visitedLondon twice and would love to come back, but heck, the visa fees :-0 (not even mentioned flights etc)

  26. Precious time together. Thanks for sharing, really enjoyed "seeing the sites." Fingers-cross, our youngest is working hard toward the Rhodes scholarship. It would be nice to see these sites in person.x

  27. Well, Jacquie, you certainly crammed a lot in. But many of London's main attractions are relatively close to one another and, if you plan it well - which you obviously did - you can see a lot. I reckon that the Tower is one of, if not the, best paid attractions in London - so much to see. Next time, walk a little along Bankside - very interesting, lots to see!

  28. PS - great post - sorry, meant to say!

  29. It was lovely to see all you did and the wonderful photo's Jacquie!! I have just returned from Europe, UK, Scotland and LOVED it all, no London though but here it is ☺☺

  30. Another recent convert to coach travel here, a quarter of the price or less and so much less bother and fuss🙂

  31. This was such a great article. I really think it should be in a newspaper travel section or in a family magazine! Well done. JanF

  32. wow,another awesome post.So well planned,what a lot you packed in well done.Loved your Tour of London.Thanks for sharing.Huggles xx

  33. Brilliant post of my home town! You seem to have taken the routine walk that I do when I visit with my teen so I could smell the different places. If ever you wanted to do the train in future, you can get rail cards which cost £30 for the year but there are various types to choose from. Thanks for taking us round xx


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