I can’t stop sneezing today. There was never a surer sign of spring. I look around me at the budding trees and colorful gardens and my eyes see the beauty but my nose feels twitchy. I still love spring – it’s impossible not to, isn’t it? There is a glow of such pure, clean light – a light that we haven’t seen for months and it is a welcomed sight indeed. The last couple of days have brought a happy heat wave. Lucky us!
The girls went back to school this week, after two weeks off. We hosted some of our favorite people here in London. Their vacation became our “stay-cation” and it was a wonderful 10 days of lots of hugs, laughter and catching up. It’s not always easy to live far from those we love, but when we do come together, it’s like a big party of non-stop fun and activity. We had a few bumps along the road. But it wouldn’t be real, family travel if someone didn’t come away with a few airplane germs.
Even with the sniffles (and a precautionary trip to urgent care – oh my!) we managed to do A LOT! Here are a few of the highlights from Easter day at Ham House and our visits into London. At the end, I’ve included a few tips for visiting London with kids, if you are interested. I’ll save Hampton Court Palace and our trip to Brighton for future posts.
On Easter Sunday we went to church and then walked through Marble Hill Park to catch the small ferry across to Ham House, for an Easter Scavenger hunt (a.k.a. National Trust Cadbury Trail).
Twice we went into “London City” (as the kids were calling it). On our daughter’s 9th birthday, we rode the London Eye for the first time. It was a special treat for all of us and we were fortunate to have a clear day, for spectacular views over the Thames.
The Tower of London proves to be a hit for all ages. I guess you can’t go wrong with stories of historical turmoil and gruesome tales of deception and executions. Or perhaps you might go just to see the crown jewels? They are pretty spectacular.
Some tips for visiting London with kids:
- Avoid peak holiday times if possible, but don’t let the crowds put you off too much. A crowded London is a fun, lively place!
- Buy tickets to main attractions online, in advance, if you are visiting in the summer.
- Walk the South Bank in the evening and enjoy the carousel and street performers.
- Unless it is really on your bucket list, I don’t recommend viewing the Change of Guards at Buckingham Palace, with kids, unless it is low season. During the summer, the crowds are so thick that there is no way for kids to get a good view and it can get chaotic to get out of the area. You might be stuck there for a while! Go any other time of day and you can usually still see the guards marching about.
- Our kids love the Diana Memorial Playground in Kensington Gardens. There is usually a queue to get in, but we’ve never waited more than about 20 minutes. As an alternative, there is a great adventure playground nearby in Holland Park, near the beautiful Kyoto Garden. Well worth a visit!
- Don’t try to do too much in one day and
- Buy ice cream. Frequently.