I do hope that you had a lovely Valentines weekend, whether you chose to celebrate the day or ignore it. We don’t tend to make a huge deal of the event in our household, although it’s against our very natures to ever turn down an opportunity to eat chocolate and snuggle up to watch a movie together.
Whilst on the subject of love, this post happens to celebrate two big loves of my life: my family, and my original hometown. You know what they say: you can take the girl out of London, but you can never take take the bright lights, strong tea, and corner shops out of the girl.
We visited London at Christmas to see my parents. It was a particularly difficult trip for us, plagued by illnesses and ending with a loved one placed in hospital, and a horribly convoluted trip back home.
However, looking back at our photos from the trip, I realized that we did actually manage to have some lovely experiences before we started dropping like flies. We just forgot to remember the good along with the terrible, and it is so very important to always remember the good.
Here are some moments of loveliness to remember from our vacation:
That Walk in West London
We visited Paddington Station because my son loves the Paddington films. The station did not disappoint with it’s beautiful arches and many nods to it’s lovable namesake, including a Paddington trail and gift shop. It was a lovely sunny day, so we decided to wander around for a while. Armed with our phone GPS, we walked from Paddington to Hyde Park and happened upon so many idyllic ice cream colored mews tucked away off the main streets. One of the most picturesque walks I have ever been on, it was a great place for the teenager and I to play a game of “which house would you live in?” Our walk ended at the Diana Memorial Playground, so everyone was very happy without spending much.
Regents Street, Oxford St, and Carnaby Street are all so lovely over the winter Holidays. We particularly loved the Carnaby Street lights, but it did get ridiculously crowded so we didn’t hang out for long. This was also the afternoon that we had tea at the ice cream parlor in Fortnum & Masons (a cheaper experience with kids than having tea in their actual tea salon) and realized that Fortnum’s ice cream may be the best in the whole wide world. Yum!
That Day in South Kensington
London Museums are great for families, and they tend to be free! We visited the Science Museum and the V&A in one day. It seemed practically impossible to get into the Natural History museum during the Christmas holidays, so we gave that a wide berth. The Science Museum is one of the best places I have found for hands on kids activities. However, the V&A is my own personal favorite by far and I have never managed to fully do it justice with the kids around. There is just so much to see! It’s cafe was decorated like a glittering Victorian Christmas wonderland, and had the best cakes at teatime (although the tea itself was, sadly, disappointing). Overall, a very happy experience though.
That Afternoon in Covent Garden
To be honest, it could have been a better afternoon. My son loves the (excellent) Transport Museum, but he was home sick with the flu so we didn’t visit it out of respect for his feelings. However, joined by an old friend from art college, I revisited old student haunts such as Neale’s Yard with it’s crunchy vegan eateries and vibrant street art, and the maze of tiny streets surrounding it. We ended up at the London Graphic Centre, a mecca for artists, and the place where I finally found a bag big enough to fit my eldest child in. This was our last semi healthy day in London.
The Walls of Tottenham Court Station
I will never tire of looking at the Eduardo Paolozzi mosaics that cover the station’s walls. Absolutely gorgeous, even when you are feeling a bit woozy and fluey. Especially when you are feeling woozy and fluey.
These were all lovely experiences, but to be honest London mostly means one thing to me, and that is seeing my parents. Despite the stress and illnesses, it is the one facet of my trip that I always value and enjoy above every other. It is also the reason that will have me running back to London at every opportunity I get (Just when is apparation going to become a reality? Any idea, JK Rowling?) I’m already planning my next visit, so stay tuned.