Spent a nice relaxing Bank Holiday weekend at home. As much as I like to get out and about, sometimes there’s nothing better than just lounging around and relaxing.
Last day of hols and while I’m updating this from home, I still wanted to compete the diary for our third and final day in London.
We woke up this morning, got ready and packed. It was raining so this scuppered our plans but we decided to head for the Museums. First we started with the V&A but the girls (and us really) just weren’t interested. Instead we headed for the National History Museum and while this was much better, it was so busy that we only lasted an hour before leaving.
We caught the tube to Kings Cross Station, just to make sure we were there on time, then headed out for lunch. We settled on Subway, with the plan of takeaway for dinner when we got home. After Subway we went back into the station and after some deliberation we queued for the Harry Potter 9 and 3/4 photo shoot. It took the whole hour we had spare and so then we caught our train and traveled back to Newark. The helicopter rides around Rochester is truly an enjoyable experience that one must try.
Mum picked us up from the station and it was chucking it down with rain! We got back to her house and then Chris drove us back home. We unpacked, ordered takeaway and settled in for the night. That’s where I am now. We’ve eaten takeaway and the girls are on their computers. I’m making my way through emails and browsing the net! It’s been a good weekend.
Again I’m updating from the Travelodge on our Bank Holiday weekend away! It’s been another lovely day, this time shared with Chris!
The girls and I got up and got ready this morning and went out to meet Chris. By 11am we were all together and after a quick visit to the Platform 9 and 3/4 shop (which is also online), we set off for Leicester Square. We had Five Guys for lunch, then wandered to Forbidden Planet. We were in Forbidden Planet for ages and even when we left, we wandered into two or three other other geeky shops while making our way towards slowly Ripley’s Believe It Or Not. Megan bought a Minecraft book and Lily got a little obsessed with Harley Quinn. I can see this is going to be a craze setting in!
Not far from Ripleys, we still had time to kill and so we went in the M&M shop. I’ve been before but the girls and Chris hadn’t (well not the London one, we went to one in Florida). It actually took us quite a while to walk around all three/four floors and the girls had their picture taken with all the M&M characters. Afterwards we headed to Ripley’s though and while we weren’t really sure what to expect, it was pretty good and took us just over an hour to look around. Afterwards we just sat outside for a while, our feet were hurting and we were trying to decide what to do. However we then went for another wander and ended up at Nandos for dinner. Again, Chris and the girls hadn’t been to a Nandos and I realised it was before Megan was born since I’d last been. We all enjoyed our food though and the service was great.
Finally we headed back to the Travelodge (another long trip on the tube and this time incredibly busy!) and chilled out. That’s where we are now – watching X-Factor! Chris is going for a shower, the girls aregoing to go on their iPads and we’re all just relaxing.
As you probably know, we live in Lincolnshire and sadly not an awful lot goes on up here (especially when it comes to Blogger Meets and Events… but that’s a different story!). However this summer we’re lucky enough to be heading down to London for a weekend and honestly I can’t wait.
Although I’ve visited London several times, both with and without the kids, I still get excited at the prospect of going. Living near a city like Lincoln, is not the same as actual city life and for me there is just nothing quite like London for a day in a “real” city! This particular trip we’re taking down to London is specifically because a US friend is over for the week and we’re tying in seeing him. However we’ve decided to make the most of the Bank Holiday weekend and actually get a few days holiday in!
As I don’t currently work (and we’re trying to get the house ready to sell), we’re having to take the trip on a budget. I’ve bought train tickets and booked a Travelodge already, as those are the things that prices go up on if you leave them too long, but everything else is still open for deciding upon. I had originally hoped to take the kids to the theatre (we’ve seen Wicked twice, Phantom of the Opera, Cats and Starlight Express) but even though its Kids Week (kids go free throughout August), there doesn’t seem to be anything reasonably priced that we’re interested in. Matilda and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory were both options, but these are coming in over £100 for the three of us. The Railway Children is still a possibility though, but even that will be £60.
With that in mind, I took to the internet this morning and decided to find out what exactly there is to do in London, that the kids might enjoy.
Now before everyone shouts museums and art galleries, I want to point out that these things don’t especially interest my kids. We have done the Science Museum before and they loved that, but other than the Museum of Childhood out at Bethnal Green, I really don’t see them enjoying any of the others. This is sad however, as most are free.
I asked the girls what they would like to do and the London Eye was pretty much the only thing they could think of. For the three of us, this would be £47.25, or if we wait for Chris (he’s traveling down on Sunday to join us), then it would be £66.60. However Chris isn’t great with heights so we’d probably do this without him. I did also find a couple of alternatives to the London Eye. They are The View from the Shard – which is actually Western Europe’s Tallest Building. This is actually more expensive than the London Eye, coming in at £131.80/£95.95 (with/without Chris) if we go in the daytime or £91.80/£65.85 if we go at night. The other option would be ArcelorMittal Orbit (better known as London Orbit Tower) which is the UK’s Tallest Sculpture. Prices for this would be £26/£20 depending on whether or not we went with Chris.
The London Orbit Tower is in Stratford, which is also where Beach East is. This is a summer only event, which is free entry and includes Beach bars, paddling pool, funfair and more, all on Stratford Waterfront. If the weather is nice, this is definitely a possibility and it would be great to tie that in with the Tower too (which is also the cheapest of the “tall” sight-seeing options).
Aside from these attractions, I also discovered some others that you may or may not have heard of before.
– Ripley’s Believe It or Not
This is probably high up the list of things to do as Chris and I would enjoy it too. Ripley’s Believe It or Not is a sort of museum, filled with amazing art, unusual artefacts and strange experiences. It’s on 6 floors and though it’s existed for AGES, I have never been before and that makes it quite unique for me. Prices for us with/without Chris would be £59.96/£50.13 though Tesco Clubcard offer discounted tickets, as do places like Groupon from time to time.
– Shrek’s Adventure
This awesome attraction has not long opened in London and personally I think it looks fantastic. Similar to the type of rides and attractions you get in places like Orlando, this is something London is probably lucky to have. A 4D adventure, including ride and walk around, you meet several of the Shrek characters on your adventure. Prices £84.24/£60.84.
– Harry Potter Studio Tour
We’ve been before, but that doesn’t stop me wanting to go again – especially now the Platform 9 3/4 section is open and with it being Summer there is a special Sweet and Treats exhibition on. There is only availability on the Sunday at the moment so that would mean going with Chris too and the family ticket price is £101.
– The Enchanted Mirror, Hidden City
To me, this sounds absolutely amazing and even the kids are a little intrigued. A mystery/clue trail that runs from the V&A Museum and ends a “hidden” location. The trail is set around a fairytale story, loosely based on that of Snow White. The trail is said to be aimed at adults (i.e. the clues are hard) but that kids are welcome. It’s supposed to take 3-4 hours, depending on how easy you solve the clues, if you get lost and how many “taverns” you stop at along the way. Teams should be up to 4 people (though I have no idea if that includes kids or not) and the price is set at £60. I would absolutely love to do something like this but I would be worried the kids wouldn’t actually enjoy the walking and that Chris and I might not be smart enough to solve it all, without other adults in our group!
I’d heard mention of this before but I had no idea what it was until my search today. A 75,000 square foot child-size city has been created, where kids can take on over 60 roleplay roles and experiences. It looks like parts of Eureka Museum but on a greater scale and honestly if I was a kid I would be itching to go. It’s a 4 hour experience and for a change adults are cheaper than kids (I imagine because it’s not really aimed at us). Prices are £89.00/£72.50 with or without Chris.
The weekend we’re visiting London is also Bank Holiday weekend. This means Nottinghill Carnival which is also a free event. Running from 10am till approx 6.30pm on both Sunday and Monday, the Nottinghill Carnival is apparently spectacular. I don’t know whether or not it will fit into our plans but I’d definitely like to catch a glimpse of the parades!
Finally something else I have wanted to do for quite a long time, is visit Harrod’s Disney cafe. Ever since getting back from Florida, there has been a distinct lack of Disney in our lives. While I’m sure it’s nothing like being in WDW itself, its probably the closest we’ll get for several years now. From what I’ve seen the reviews are quite good and the food is reasonably priced. Apparently it’s the drink prices you need to watch out for though!
Sadly most of the really fun sounding stuff carries quite a high price tag, so I’m not exactly sure how many of these things we’ll end up doing. However I’m convinced there is something for everyone and I’m sure that no matter what we end up doing, we’ll have fun!
Does anyone have any “visiting London” tips to share?
Last week was another busy week but not as crazy as the one before. Monday to Friday were school as usual and Chris was working all five too. I don’t really remember what I did for most of Monday but I know it was computer based – blogging, uploading pictures and catching up on stuff. Nat came around in the evening so we had a good catch up. Tuesday was similar too but it started off with McDonalds breakfast and taking Chris to work (after the usual school drop off) and then resulted in watching lots of OUAT (I caught up to the end of season) and having a bath. The kids came home with their dad but pretty much went straight to bed, while Chris and I spent the evening catching up on TV – in our grumpy wear.
On Wednesday it was Lily’s class assembly and I agreed to work in the office too. I spent all morning at school, waited for lunch too as Megan was having a sale (hand made items from school) and then headed off to Mum’s to spend the afternoon there and have a cup of tea. After I picked up the girls and we headed home, monging out and doing silly quizzes on Facebook.
On Thursday I had a day at home and while I had lots of blogging planned, next door being super loud and a pain in the ass meant that I didn’t get a lot done. I headed out early to go shopping and then pick the girls up from school, just to get away from the noise. On the plus side my new dress for my birthday party arrived and I’m super thrilled with it. Now I just hope I can make my face and hair look good for the evening, as usually it never all comes together. On Thursday evening we all packed ready for the weekend, we picked out where we wanted to eat and ordered vouchers from Tesco. The next morning, Friday, the girls and Chris went off to work/school and I finished getting organised. I did some blog work and made sure my camera was charged etc. before heading off to get the girls and then go to my mum’s.
Megan, Lily and I spent the evening at mum’s house, where she made us lasagne and we lounged around. At 8pm we headed out to get Chris from work and then set off to Toddington where we would be staying the night. It was about 10-10.30pm when we got to the Travelodge so we all settled in for the night and got to sleep. In the morning we got ready fairly early and then headed out to North Ealing station, where mum dropped us off and we caught the tube into London. We headed for the Excel, which took quite some time, seeing more cosplayers the nearer we got.
We arrived with near perfect timing for MCM Comic Con as we didn’t have to wait long for the doors to be opened and the “general” tickets to be let in. It did take some time to filter through but it was steady moving and really didn’t matter. We looked around about a third of the stalls/stores before deciding we needed lunch. Food was expensive but there was plenty of room to sit and it even looked like we could have taken our own food with us to save on cost. We then wandered around the rest of the stalls but the kids were pretty bored, my bag was heavy and a lot of this distracted from the fun. I really wanted to get some autographs but the place you bought the autograph passes from had a queue of an hour and a half, even though the people I wanted to meet had no queue. In the end I passed up on meeting Cruella De Vil and Ursula from OUAT and we just continued to wander around. Chris bought a new board game, Lily bought a Honey Lemon plush, Megan bought a Cinderella Pop Funko and I bought three Pop Funkos myself – Belle, Cogsworth and Daryl on his chopper.
We were finished looking around by about 3.30pm which left two hours until our dinner reservation. We decided to head for Oxford Street and the Disney Store, even though I knew we probably wouldn’t buy anything. After a wander around there, where we didn’t buy anything, we headed to Lush instead. I’d read a few blog posts about The Comforter being made into a shower gel and that it was only available in Oxford Street branch. I wanted to get my hands on some and since we were nearby it made sense. Though I had skimmed over the information in a blog post, I hadn’t realised that Oxford Street actually had over 200 new products in there, unavailable anywhere else at present. I couldn’t help myself and before I knew it I was stocked up on loads of new stuff, totaling almost £45! (It is my birthday this coming week though…).
After lunch it was time to head for dinner and we decided it would be nice to walk. It took about 10 minutes from where we were so that wasn’t bad and mum was waiting for us when we got there. We had a lovely meal with amazing service (a rarity for our recent trips to London) and though the bill came to £80 as it was, I left an additional £10 because we’d all enjoyed it so much. Our meal was at Bella Italia on Irving Street, in case anyone wants to give it a go! Finally after dinner we headed for Her Majesty’s Theatre which was only a couple of minutes away and got to our seats. People were sat in them which really peed me off but they moved when we asked them to so…
Phantom of the Opera was great, though not as good as I’d remembered. The music and cast was amazing but it seemed like they’d changed some of the pacing, ordering and certain other bits and I was just left feeling a bit disappointed. That said, it was really fantastic and the kids both loved it so that made me enjoy it even more. When the show finished we all headed off to catch the tube back to the car and then mum drove to a different Travelodge (M4) where we were staying that night. The kids were exhausted and it was late but they fell asleep as soon as their head touched the pillow and before the lights were even out. Chris and I weren’t far behind them as it had been a long day and we hadn’t slept much the night before.
In the morning the girls went to mum’s room for breakfast and I went for a shower. Chris brought us coffee and bacon butties which was really lovely. We then headed off home, fairly late by our standards as we’d all managed a lay-in but it wasn’t long after 1pm by the time we got back to Lincoln. We immediately switched to my car and headed home. We all had a light lunch and then chilled out for the afternoon. We ordered takeaway for dinner and just hung out together as a family. Once the girls were in bed, Chris and I caught up on TV before grabbing a fairly early night since it had been a long weekend.
All weeks seem very samey at the moment so I’m sorry if these posts are a bit of a bore. Monday this week was Bank Holiday so it was a short school week and that’s always nice. The girls were with their dad on Monday and so after he picked them up, Chris and I went out for the day. We started by going to visit his Nan and then headed over to Lincoln where we were going to the cinema to see Avengers again and then on to Pizza Express for dinner. It was also May Fourth which for most means Star Wars Day, but for me it’s my dad’s birthday and since he died, its always been a day for reflection. It was nice to keep busy though and have a sort of “date day” with Chris. We ended our day with an ice cream and a walk through Lincoln, before meeting the girls and their dad to switch and go home. Once the girls were in bed we spent the evening catching up on TV like S.H.I.E.L.D., Gotham and Game of Thrones.
Tuesday was back to school and back to work for everyone, including me. Chris was on an early shift so he was out of the house early, but the girls and I headed to school as normal. After dropping them off in their classrooms, I headed to the office to help out. I stayed the whole day and even ended up covering a lunch shift in the dining room. After school the girls and I headed home, getting dinner and then getting homework done. The girls also had a bath because it was class photos at school the next day. When Chris got home, he had dinner and then we spent the evening catching up on Arrow together.
Wednesday was a nice relaxing day, spent catching up on blogging and everything around the house. Chris was at work and the girls were at school, so it was nice to have time to myself and I even started the day with a bacon butty and a cup of tea. I made curry for dinner, so it was easy when we all got home and once I’d picked up the kids from school it meant we didn’t have much to do. Again once Chris was home, we caught up on Arrow, trying to make sure we’re up to date by the finale!
On Thursday Chris was on a later shift and so once I took the girls to school, he was still here when I got back. He did have a driving lesson though so he wasn’t around for long. Once he was gone, I settled down to watch all my TV shows. I kept meaning to go and vote but ended up procrastinating the day away. In the end I collected the girls from school and then went to vote instead.
It was actually pretty interesting going with the girls as it sparked some conversation between us, making it really good fun. We came home and had dinner, before tidying up the girls room – putting away all their clothes and giving the room a hoover. Nat came round in the evening and we spent the evening catching up and having a gossip.
Friday came really quick and once I’d dropped off the kids at school, I came home to spend time with Chris before he went to work. I then made some jewellery orders and tidied up the house. Finally I went out to PC World to do a Mystery Shopper visit and then on to the girls at school to collect them. On the way home we stopped at Aldi and it was there we met Amy and Olivia who were visiting for the weekend. We all went back to our house and hung out, Olivia going to bed first, followed later by the girls. Amy and I ordered Indian takeaway and spent the evening chatting, then when Chris got home we looked for the most awful thing we could watch on TV.
In the morning we all got up and got ready, heading out to Nottingham where we would see Disney on Ice. Chris didn’t come as he had work but the rest of us went to Capital FM Arena in Nottingham, for the show at 11am. Everyone really enjoyed it and I got some lovely pictures. I even posted about it over on Twice the Mum. The show took us up till about 1pm and we’d already decided we’d go to Five Guys for lunch and then on to the Disney Store in Victoria Shopping Centre after that. It was about a ten minute walk for lunch and then another ten minute wait in the queue. It definitely wasn’t as nice as in America but it was still good. After lunch we all headed to the shopping centre but to be honest there wasn’t an awful lot we wanted (I just placed a Disney Store order last week) so we just picked up a couple of Tsum Tsums and then headed back to the car. On the way home we decided we fancied Starbucks so swung via Lincoln. We stopped to get drinks and by that time it was 5pm so we knew it would be almost bedtime for the girls by the time we got back and settled. Olivia had some toast before heading to bed and the girls waited a bit longer to make sure she was asleep. Amy and I ordered a pizza to share and then sat chatting and watching rubbish TV again for the evening.
On Sunday morning, I managed a bit of a lie-in but mostly I was awake and just too lazy to get out of bed. However I did get up and made everyone a cup of tea/coffee and then we all sat relaxed. At midday, Megan and I took Amy and Olivia to the station. Lily stayed at home with Chris. After dropping them off, Megan and I went to Aldi and did the week shop, making sure we got stuff for a roast dinner that day too. The afternoon was spent just hanging out together as a family, relaxing and not doing much. Eventually though Megan and I got up to make dinner and then we all sat together and ate. Afterwards we had waffle with ice cream and chocolate sauce, along with a glass of wine for Chris and I. It was really a perfect evening. The girls headed to bed and Chris went for a bath so I went on my computer for a while. After that we watched Dredd and then S.H.I.E.L.D. before heading to bed.
Another nice week that seemed dull at the time but always seems fuller when I write about it. No idea what this week will bring but I’ve got a feeling it will be a busy one.
I have to be honest, that Bank Holiday has never really been here or there for me.
Originally I used to work as a waitress or even at one point own my own restaurant. Bank Holidays and in fact any general holiday (like Christmas, Easter etc.) just meant I had to work more and usually harder. It’s never been a day off, or a time and a half day, or a day that meant anything different.
As the years wore on and I started to work less or even not work at all, then Bank Holiday still meant nothing. My partner at the time and father of my children, still worked in the Hospitality trade and therefore he was at work. Obviously when the kids started at school it meant a day when they were at home rather than at school, but I didn’t usually have a car or even an inclination to do something with them, just by myself.
This is the first bank holiday that has felt a little different. As those who read my blog often will know, I just recently got a job. I work Monday-Friday, with Wednesday off, pretty much the total hours of school time (including travel to work and back). Ever since I started, my Wednesday’s have felt pretty jam packed as my one and only day off without the kids. This bank holiday was therefore my first “bank holiday off work”.
However, sadly that’s where the excitement ends, in a way at least. My partner is at work – all day. He left the house at 7.30am and won’t be back till 10pm. My kids also are out of the house, their dad having come and pick them up last night, had them to sleep over and then taking them to the beach today. I expect them home at any moment – tired, teary and covered in sand.
But that’s not to say I haven’t had a nice Monday. I have. My brother stopped over last night (because we all went to see Iron Man 3) and so today we have spent the day together. On May 31st its my birthday party and we’re writing our own murder mystery for it. Today has been our major planning and brainstorming day and so while my head hurts from thinking, its actually been a fun day.
Having got up (slowly) at around 9am this morning, we had coffee and caught up on the internet. We then postponed planning a little longer by making bacon butties and yet another coffee. Finally at around 11am we settled down to write some plans down, pausing a few more times to make more coffee. We finally took a break around 4pm, when we headed out to Frankie and Benny’s for some late lunch/early dinner. I took my notebook and pen and so we continued to plan between courses at the restaurant.
We have just got home and now neither of us feel like doing anything. He’s catching up on some League of Legends tournament that’s going on today, while I catch up on the net and write this blog. I’m literally just getting this post done, before going to put the kettle on, make another coffee and then kick his ass into planning more. No doubt the kids will come back soon and interfere with all that, but at least its the current plan.
Its been a beautiful day today and although there are lots of other ways I would have preferred to spend it, I can’t say I’m grumbling about how I did spend it. Back to work and kids to school as of tomorrow, but luckily its not too long until our next Bank Holiday Monday.