So, here’s to my first holiday with children. Six months ago, I was resolutely single and child-free. then Santa brought me a new boyfriend and three perfect children. Let’s start this in style, so lets start in London. First, accommodation for a week (the beloved had paid for the flights and had transported the kids over to Heathrow from where I would take charge of arrangements). Let’s see, what options have we got here:
Cheap and cheerful hostel: Out. Imagine three children in a mixed dorm with 24/7 comings and goings.
Any old last-minute hotel room: Out. Catering options severely limited, plus trying to accommodate three children is a bit of a challenge for most hotels.
Ex-boyfriends couch: Out. How could I even mention it.
I had to discard all single-girl options and find something really family friendly. Enter Air BnB. We did a little trial run in Rome (more about that later) and found something perfectly family-friendly, seen on the right, in Woolwich. Own terrace overlooking the Thames? Check. Okay, it’s a bit of a trip down the Thames into town, a multi-change affair on the DLR, or a very long non-stop ride on the 53.
Here’s the Woolwich Arsenal Pier. The impressive sailing boat is from Holland.
What’s even better, children to the age of 11 travel free on buses, the tube and some trains.
FREE! In an expensive city like London, free travel for children is a huge bonus. Add to that that many attraactions are free.
Catering and Entertainment: There was a huge supermarket by Woolwich DLR. Cue lots of shopping, self-made breakfasts and DIY dinners. Mostly salads with new and exotic ingredients. And there were loads of new foodstuffs to explore. Different cereals. Bagels and crumpets. A different brand chocolate mousse. Smoothies, So far, so good. The apartment had Wifi. A huge bonus.
It helps to get some ideas across and make a rough plan for the week – I left this to my boyfriend and the children, only supplying a London Map for Kids and the German version of “Not for Parents London” by Lonely Planet.
So, the Rough Plan was like this:
Thurs, 17.04. Arrive. Check out our neighbourhood
Fri, 18.04. Church (it was Good Friday, after all), REgents Canal, London Zoo (in retrospect, totally ambitious)
Sat, 19.04. Tower, Tower Bridge, London Eye, Big Ben
Sun, 20.04. Easter Eggs, Greenwich, Royal Observatory and Meridian
Mo, 21.04. Bus-Tour, Buckingham Palace, Science Museum
Wed, 23.04. Shepherds Market, Natural History Museum
And yes, reader, we managed most of these things in a very leisurely, un-stressy manner.
But it looked more like this:
Thurs, 17.04. Job interview for me in the morning. Arrive. Nando’s in Hammersmith. A long trek to Woolwich and a taxi ride. Shopping at a humongous Tesco’s
Fri, 18.04. Clipper Ride. A very crowded London Eye (skipped). Lost one of the twins by Big Ben. Big Ben. Whitehall, Trafalgr Square, Pall Mall, Buckingham Palace. Marvelling at M&S Foood inside Green Park Station. Home quite early to play Minecraft
Sat, 19.04. Visiting relatives in Stepney Green
Sun, 20.04. Easter Eggs skipped. Terrible weather. A longish Bus 53 ride through Sarf London. Natural History Museum for La Famiglia, Glamour of Italian Fashion at the V&A for me. Dinner Khan’s of Kensington (http://www.khansofkensington.co.uk/)
Mo, 21.04. Greenwich, Royal Observatory, London Eye and a longish walk in the rain to Millennium Bridge and the Tower: I learned some children to be extremely resilient to rain
Tue, 22.04. Tower of London. Spitalfields Market. Dinner at Poppies Fish and Chips, a walk along Brick Lane, Brick Lane Bagel Bake. Then a bus ride and an impromptu architectural tour to Leadenhall, St Mary’s Axe and Lloyds of London.
Wed, 23.04. Perhaps the most intense day – first, London Zoo. Then, bit of cramming to see and do everything that needed doing and that La Famiglia could not possibly miss before returning to Berlin: a walk through Mayfair, dinner at Kulu Kulu Sushi, walk through Chinatown, King’s Cross to visit Platform 9 3/4 (a unashamed commercial enterprise but fun nevertheless).
Thursday: Only slightly exhausted singleton drops off La Famiglia in Heathrow and secretly wishes the next family holiday to come.