I’ve just returned from one of the most satisfying short-breaks I’ve ever had.
I didn’t go far, I didn’t spend much either and my carbon footprint almost had a halo on it.
I swapped houses with a great friend (who also has 3 children) and it was fab! No money changed hands, we had no faff or palaver with check in and out times, no flight to catch or be delayed with, we had a fridge and cupboards full of ‘normal’ food and there wasn’t a disposable sachet of shampoo or shower gel in sight and no individual tea-bags wrapped in bizarre paper overcoats either.
It really was ‘a home from home’ with all the comforts that come with it and the simple fact that it was a different set of walls to knock around in made it feel like a proper holiday.
My family and I took the train into our gorgeous capital London, where the children travelled on the tubes and busses for free and when we took a riverboat trip up the Thames, we even got a 1/3 off that too by presenting our travel card.
We took a selection of sarnies and fruit and filled our drink bottles with good old-fashioned tap water, which was abundantly available when we ran out.
We visited the Natural History Museum, which the children thought was incredible and even the 30 minute wait to get to the dinosaur exhibit was worth it, because the queue ran above the exhibit itself, giving us a birds eye view of the bony inhabitants.
A trip to Trafalgar Square had to be done and there were tourists and Londoners alike enjoying the frivolity of the huge screen at the bottom of Nelson’s Column showing off our growing accomplishments at the Beijing Olympics.
There was so much art and culture, so many great musicians and performers to watch, beautiful architecture, horrible history and more to take in and enjoy free of charge, the one or two things we paid to do just put a bit of icing on the cake.
We paid a visit to the birthplace of time itself, Greenwich, which has sadly seen diminished numbers of tourists since the awful fire that befell the stunning clipper, the Cutty Sark, during her restoration work in May 1997.
With the peaceful gardens around the Royal Naval College, various exhibitions, the observatory, the National Maritime Museum and of course the stunning views across to the metropolis, in my view, Greenwich has a great deal to offer to casual day trippers.
And if you are lucky enough to visit before the 28th September, you’ll have a chance to see it all from above on a visiting attraction, the colossal Greenwich Wheel. It stands 60 metres high, weighs 365 tonnes and is fully self-supporting with 36 glass capsules seating up to six adults and two children each. I must admit, when it started moving, the feeling was a little unsettling, but it was quickly replaced by awe as the incredible 360-degree view came into focus. It was amazing and the kids loved it too, once they’d got over the fact that they were sat in a glass pod that was being gently swung by a prevailing wind.
From the pod ride, we took a riverboat upstream to the Tower of London, which offered breathtaking views of the bridge; a real ‘must do’ if you have half an hour to sit back and appreciate the ride.
Don’t be fooled by those who say London will cost you a small fortune. With some savvy shopping, sarnie making and by selecting sensible venues for entertainment, you can keep the whole family happy.