The family didn’t spend as much time as I would have liked to in London but we certainly packed in quite a bit before they headed off to Paris to start their European adventures. We made sure that we tried to complete as many interesting things they would have appreciated including:
Breakfast at Simpsons on the Strand – One of the poshest places to have breakfast, this restaurant serves breakfast for the … hotel and has a very classic selection including kippers on toast (something you don’t see everyday). The poshness of this place is also reflected in the price – their full English breakfast (including liver, black pudding, etc) costing a hefty portion. I decided to go for something a little bit different and chose the banana pancakes served with creme friache and maple syrup.
Changing of the Guards – Being in the area, we walked through St James Park to witness the well known ceremony, the Changing of the Guards. It seemed like huge number of tourists also waited in line to see the marching band, and the colourful troops go through their rituals to swap in the old for the new.
Buckhingham Palace – We pre-booked tickets to be able to walkthrough the palace grounds. Unfortunately you’re not allowed to take any photographs inside so nothing visual to remember but it was certainly an impressive lot. The audio guide kept us busy right to the very end although it was sometimes a squeeze in some areas. The Queen is very popular!
London Duck Tours – The British used these amphibious vehicles during the second world war and now they take tourists around and into the Thames on a very well guided tour. I felt a little sorry for our tour guide who constantly cracked jokes but unfortunately our group didn’t seem to respond very well to him. We learned lots of tidbits of information such as where the Earl of Sandwich first created his well known sarnie and the location for the Queen’s very own pharmacist. Definitely fun and entertaining.
Tierra Brindisa – I wanted to give our parents a true taste of spain, so one of the Brindisa restaurants it had to be. We feasted on plenty of tapas and especially enjoyed their speciality picante chorizo, rocket and roasted peppers on toasted bread. The family was well fed and well chuffed after visiting this place.
Westminster Abbey, Big Ben – We got here first thing one morning to ensure we could join the English guided tour around the abbey rather than simply take the audio guide that everyone else does. Doing so gave us access to parts of the Abbey you wouldn’t normally see including getting to sit where the choir sits during one of their services. It was my first time inside here and I hadn’t realised exactly how many famous people had been buried here, or at least there were monuments too. It seems like they’re running out of room for them all!
Harrods – A trip down to Knightsbridge of course requires a visit to this well known institute. Although we didn’t really come here to buy expensive goods, the family enjoyed wandering the grounds, even visiting the tiny little pet shop they have on their top floor.
Afternoon tea at the Berkeley – My sister organised this trip where we indulged in many different types of sandwiches and overdosed on extremely decadent cakes, slices and other desserts all while enjoying tea served on Paul Smith designed crockery. The Berkeley is very well known for adapting their afternoon tea experience to current fashion trends, even providing pictures for you to understand the inspiration for the various plates that stand before you. A very impressive selection and well worth its high price.
West End Musical – Sister Act – My mum really wanted to see a musical and so my sister organised to see Sister Act. It was actually a very entertaining and well produced musical although the hectic schedule, extremely chilly exteriors and warmth led to a couple of people napping during the show!
BBC Television Centre Tour – As part of the service to the public, the BBC conduct tours of their television centre and they’re definitely worthwhile. Our two tour guides, part time actors for various shows in the BBC provided a wealth of entertainment as they took us around the history of the buildings, the sets where they film various shows and hosted us for a little bit of mock news and weather reading using some of the technology they would for the TV.
Mum even got to face off against a dalek (though I wouldn’t be smiling as much as she is if I met one for real).
Westfield Visit – Seeing as were in the area, we thought we should take them to the new Westfield Shopping centre, just to see how the shopping experience changes being in a different country.
Tower Bridge – We made sure that we visited the well known Tower Bridge (often mistaken as the London Bridge which isn’t really that special) where we also took in the City Hall.
Dinner at the Bleeding Heart Tavern with my flatmate – Finally before the rest of the family headed off to continental Europe I made sure that they got to meet my flatmate, Tom, who they’d all heard about but yet hadn’t had the chance to meet. We dined at the cosy Bleeding Heart Tavern where everyone really enjoyed their hearty British meal.