London Duck Tours

Back in February we visited Windsor Castle and S spotted a yellow “Duck”. The same ducks that were used during WWII have been restored and much like the amphibious creatures, they drive on land and sail in water.

Ever since, he’s been saying he wants to go on one and I promised we would when the weather got warmer. And that’s exactly what we did yesterday with my friend R and her gorgeous girl N (who S loves). It was a beautiful summers day and we met at our favourite spot in London….Southbank. We also ended up lunching at one of our favourite child friendly spots, Giraffe.

I’d booked our tour for 2:15pm and they’d asked us to get there about 15-20 minutes early to check in. We promptly arrived there at 2 but our duck didn’t arrive until 2:30. I understand there may be delays on the road, etc but these things should be factored in. Waiting half an hour in the heat with a restless 4 year old will give anyone’s patience levels a battering.

We finally set off on “Beatrice” at 2:35 and thankfully it was much cooler on the duck than it was standing on the street. Our tour guide who was Australian was absolutely brilliant and did a great job of keeping us entertained. 

We quacked at other ducks, took in all the sights and learnt a few new things about London. For example, did you know there are 42 capsules on the London Eye, to represent the 42 Boroughs of London? I didn’t! And because they thought people wouldn’t want to go on capsule 13, they are numbered 1-12 an 14-43. Fun fact! Here’s another one…all the Ducks are named after Shakespearen  characters. Except Elizabeth! They wanted to name her Ophelia except that character died by drowning. Not a good omen. She was restored during the Queen’s Jubilee year and so they named her after Her Majesty.

S absolutely loved it (apart from taking a 15 minute power nap because he was so tired!) Bless!

I enjoyed the tour because unlike the London bus tour, it’s short and sweet (the whole thing took about 75-80 minutes). However, you do pay for the novelty. Adult tickets were £26 and   child tickets are £18. I’m pretty sure the bus company are similarly priced except you get a lot more thrown in and your tickets are valid for 24 hours so you can see the sights over 2 days. The Duck Tour company are in the process of restoring some of their ducks so unfortunately we had to move from Beatrice to Elizabeth for the river part of our tour.

Of course 4 is on the young side to really learn anything on a tour like this but seeing the joy on S’s face made it worth it and I learned a few things about this glorious city myself. Win win!

You can book your tickets here. Another fabulous London day out!

Southbank over half term (Feb 2016)

As much as we love to travel, we decided to stay put in London this half term. However, I am on a mission to make the most of the week off. With S being in full time school now, we don’t get a lot of time to do much else. His days are quite long and we save the weekends for some much needed chill out time.

A few weeks ago my friend Ritu and I decided we’d meet with the kids at Westfield but given the nice weather (no rain!) we decided to take them down to Southbank instead. We met at Waterloo Station at midday and walked on over.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned before how much I love Southbank. It’s my favourite part of London. We walked passed an amazing array of street food on our way to the Southbank Centre but we’d already decided we’d take S and N to Giraffe for lunch.

The Southbank Centre are running a week of kids activities (The Imagine Children’s Festival) and lots of parents were making the most of the sunny weather.

Lunch at Giraffe was good as usual. We had to wait about 20 minutes for a table but given that we just showed up there, that wasn’t too bad. As we sat outside a waitress came to ask if we wanted anything to eat or drink while we waited so got some cappuccino’s for ourselves and chips for the kids. Once seated the waitress serving us was delightful. She made the kid’s day by giving them lots of coloured plastic giraffes.

After lunch we walked along the river, went on a carousel ride, popped into the playground, watched a magician and finally ended up in the Southbank Centre.

Although we didn’t explore the whole space, there were lots of children with their faces painted and as we were leaving, I glanced downstairs and spotted this awesome floor black board (wish I’d seen it earlier).

We stayed thinking there was a showing of Matilda 20 minutes later but instead we ended up watching a short 20 minute Nigerian Cartoon. I spent much of my life in Nigeria and even I struggled to understand it all.

Glancing at the timetable of events as we were leaving, I spotted a few things I think S might enjoy so we may pop back down there later in the week.

The other thing I spotted under the Hungerford bridge near the Southbank Centre was a small rollerskating tent named bump roller disco. S was totally fascinated by it and they had some 3 wheeler supports for less skilled skaters. I’m sure he’d manage it with one of those supports.

For a fun, activity filled afternoon with your kids this week, head on down to Southbank, you won’t be sorry!

Family Fever

London in the summer

London in the summer is one of the best places in the world! Scrap that, London any time is one of the best places in the world BUT the warmer weather and the lighter days sure make it a lot better to look at!

With the days getting warmer and this week being half term, I’ve put together a list of some of the great child friendly outdoor places this city has to offer.

1. The Diana Memorial Playground – set in the picturesque Hyde Park, this playground is a must visit on a warm day. It’s got a huge ship cast adrift on a massive sandpit as well as a sensory trail, tee pees and a play area. S is recently into pirates and so this is one place we’ll definitely be visiting this half term. It allows children to explore and follow their imaginations. All aboard?!

2. Bekonscot Model Village – Although we’ve never been here, it’s on my list of places to visit this summer. Only a short train ride from London, Bekonscot Model Village will appeal to all train (and history) lovers. As the name suggests, it’s a model village based on 1930’s England. Travel back in a time warp to see how the people of the time lived and got around.

3. London Zoo – I’m putting this on there because it’s THE London Zoo but I have to say, having been to Taronga Zoo in Sydney and a couple of other’s around the world, London Zoo is overpriced and doesn’t live up to the name. However, it’s lovely in the summer because you don’t just go for the animals, you go for the petting zoo, the water splash area and the scenery. If getting to Whipsnade is easy for you then I’d buy a years pass because not only do you get to visit London Zoo but a pass includes Whipsnade as well (which is meant to be much better). And what’s even better than that apparently is Chester Zoo (it’s on my list!).

4. Southbank –  I absolutely love it down by the river, it’s my favourite part of London. I don’t go there as often as I like but every time I do, I come back loving this city a little bit more. There’s lots to see and do along the river bank but if the weather changes and you need to dart in doors, there’s the London Aquarium, Tate Modern (which offers a range of free activities for families and children) and the Southbank Centre.

5. Regents Park – This is one of our summer favourites. It has a huge playground, massive sandpit and if you’re feeling adventurous you can take your little ones boating on the lake. If you walk along the edge of the park on the outer circle, you may catch glimpses of the giraffes at London Zoo if they’re out.

6. Belmont Farm – We’re heading up to Belmont Farm on Friday so I’ll be able to let you know what I think then but this has come highly recommended. With tractor rides, cow milking, lamb feeding and petting sessions, it’s bound to be an exciting day out.

From Kew Gardens in Richmond to Coram’s Fields near Holborn, London offers so much for kids to see and do but this is a good start.

Mums' Days