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Muddy goes wild in London

Think a family trip into London is more hassle than it's worth? Think again! Here's how I nailed 9 hours in London with my kids and made it the best day out we've had in ages.

IN PARTNERSHIP WITH

OOPS TOO LATE!  GIVEAWAY NOW CLOSED – BUT READ ON FOR FANTASTIC IDEAS ON WHERE TO GO IN LONDON.

Wondering what to do over Easter that a) the kids will love and b) won’t send you over the edge? I’ve come back from taking my children into London and it was an amazing day – a super-easy way to make the most of the city and be back for bedtime. (Not theirs, mine – I was asleep by 9pm).

If you haven’t checked out Chiltern Railways’ London Family Travelcard now’s the time, because it’s such bonkerly good value – two adults and two kids with return train travel and unlimited bus/tube for £50 (seriously!), plus 2FOR1 entry into loads of potential attractions.

Want to see what I got up to when I took the Muddy midgets for a nine-hour blast of London life? Check out the vid below, or read on for my take on the day AND the chance to WIN one of these Family Travelcards and a complimentary meal for four at any Carluccio’s restaurant in the city.

9.42am : Hopped on the first non-peak train from Haddenham & Thame parkway. Piled up the croissants, knocked back a coffee, painted my nails, read the newspaper. Basically ignored my children for 34 minutes. Bliss! I mean, you can’t buy memories like that.

10.35am: Into Marylebone train station, and lucky me, W1 is now my oyster.

It would be rude not to make the most of this most gorgeous postcode, so we take an early jaunt down Marylebone High St. Luckily my kids love to shop (I’ve taught them well) so it’s no bother to mooch Skandium, Anthropologie and Cologne & Cotton. Stop for a quick coffee at 31 Below

… before hopping on the tube (free with my pass) to enjoy Regent’s Park in the sunshine while the kids run around the flower beds like lunatics.

London Zoo is our destination – way improved since my last visit, admittedly some years ago now, with more space, better viewing platforms and some very cool, well-thought through additions like the Sasan Gir Asiatic lion area (and my rail ticket qualifies me for 2FOR1 Zoo tickets – quite a saving actually).

I lose the will to live in zoos after about 3 hours – it becomes a bit of an endurance event, doesn’t it? –  so I made the kids choose the 6 things they most wanted to see, which were: African hunting dogs, giraffes, sealife, penguins, butterflies and tigers …

 

 

… all DONE! And to top it off, very cool graffiti animals at the exit, which felt very ‘London’ and modern.

1.30pm Take the tube to Southwark (yup, free again). The Tate Modern is my destination but you can’t march the Muddy troops around galleries on an empty stomach without fearing for your life. So there’s only one thing for it – provisions.

There are several cafés at Tate Modern, including the one on the 5th floor with those amazing views, but I always find museum cafes strangely stressful and canteeny. My tip? Carluccio’s restaurant is directly opposite the Tate Modern entrance, very family-friendly, with indoor and outdoor seating, beautifully styled inside with beribboned panetonne and stacked raspberry swirl meringues. Everything looked so good we ended up knocking back three courses there, and it was delicious. My fussy kids loved it too.

2.30pm Wander, ooooh, around 50 metres across to Tate Modern! Such an exciting space, but if I ask my daughter her highlight of this world-renowned gallery today I know she’ll say ‘sliding down the Turbine Hall on my bum’.  My son is blown away by the fact he can irritate countless adults by running up and down five flights of escalators. Up and down. Up and down. Up and down. Up and… (where did I put my hip flask?).

I’ve done my Tate Modern homework and as a big fan of Jenny Holzer’s work I head straight for her (somewhat limited) exhibition. The kids love it too, it’s bright, funky and deceptively ‘easy’.

Then we wander outside around what my son calls the ‘giant intestine’ and ‘yellow pooh’ papier mâché of Franz West – a surprisingly accurate description, in fact. And the Dorothea Tanning exhibition is mind-blowing, though I think small kids might find that one a bit disturbing in parts. Give yourself 15 minutes to enjoy the Tate Modern shop too – enough books and posters to interest adults and a whole area of toys and knick-knacks for tiring children.

4pmhalf tinker with the idea of catching the boat down to sister gallery Tate Britain to see the Van Gogh exhibition that’s just opened, but the kids are utterly arted-out, and want to wrestle down the nearest ice-cream van. So instead we walk along the river past the Globe theatre, the skateboarders in the underpass (mesmerising)…

… the National Theatre and the outdoor bookshop – a surprise hit, its eclectic tomes, perfect for lazy browsing, that have the kids entranced for ages. We eventually crash out in the green space behind the Eye, with Big Ben in the background, cocooned in scaffolding from the craziness in parliament.

6pm My original plan includes a trip to the Royal Festival Hall (free activities all day for kids at the Clore ballroom) but we’re all crackered. So we tube it straight from Waterloo to Marylebone station, where I zip into the station M&S for a cheeky vino, ignore my daughters plea to go into Oliver Bonas (though it must be said, a browse to OB is never a wasted trip),  and indulge a sudden urge to play the upright public piano in the train concourse.

Luckily there are no return restrictions on our off peak train ticket so we can hop on whichever train we like – good eh? Cue a collapse in a heap on the train home where I look at my Fitbit – 24,000 steps today. No wonder the kids are sitting still and shhhhhhh, so quiet. And no wonder I am knocking back wine in a plastic cup like it’s water in the desert.

6.45pm: Home. Literally 9 hours from top to tail and it’s been a brilliant day. The thought of going into London is way more effort than actually doing it – it was crazily easy. I’m definitely going in again with the fam over the Easter hols. I’m thinking Hyde Park/Kensington Gardens and the Science Museum and maybe a hop over to Notting Hill to give the kids a flavour of the market there. Or I might take them into Soho, China Town, Green Park and theatre land.

Let me know if you try any of my suggestions and don’t be shy about recommending places you love in the Smoke for a family day out. And just to throw it into the mix, here’s my Insider Guide to London this Easter- your ultimate Muddy city inspo on the new exhibitions, coolest spaces and happy places.

 

Fancy a day in London? Hey, be our guest!

We’ve teamed up with Chiltern Railways and Carluccio’s restaurants to win the perfect family day in London with a London Family Travelcard for 2 adults and 2 childen. PLUS a food voucher for a 3 course meal for 4 at any Carluccio’s restaurant across the city. Check out our full terms and conditions here.

8 comments on “Muddy goes wild in London”

  • Maddy April 10, 2019

    Great post, Hero! I was inspired by your London article last week and took my 10 year old daughter in this week. Tube from Marylebone to Embankment, walked across the Golden Jubilee Bridge to South Bank, enjoyed seeing the sights on the river and did the Shrek Experience with our 2FOR1 ticket (thanks to your suggestion!). Lunch at nearby Pizza Express, walked over Waterloo Bridge and on to Covent Garden. After enjoying the street performers and a few shops and an ice cream we walked to Leicester Square, then Piccadilly Circus, along Piccadilly and through Green Park to Buckingham Palace before heading back to Marylebone from Green Park tube. A great day together- thank you for being such an inspiration. I can’t wait to go back!

    Reply
    • muddystiletto April 10, 2019

      Hi Maddy, thanks so much, I’m thrilled you enjoyed it! We’re going in again on Saturday, Buck Palace and Green Park is a great call! Hero x

      Reply
  • Alison Burns April 10, 2019

    What a fabulous family adventure this would be all done

    Reply
    • muddystiletto April 10, 2019

      Go on, do it, do it! x

      Reply
  • Doove April 10, 2019

    brilliant, this website is such a find. and useful for those of us with slightly older kids now too… (11+14) keep up the great work.

    Reply
    • muddystiletto April 10, 2019

      Hi, thanks so much. I have 9 – 16 year olds so I very much have an eye on that demographic but really pleased you find it useful. x

      Reply
  • Grannie Annie April 10, 2019

    Very interesting day and well written. I have just had Day in London, today, with 10year old granddaughter.
    Noticed the Horse Guards heading to The Mall before we got off coach. Sprinted down Buckingham Palace Road to front of Palace. Saw The Gurkhas March into Palace forecourt. Entertained by brilliant policeman as we waited. On way down Mall the Horse Guards were coming back. Such a thrill and so close you could almost see your face in their shiny black coats! Laughed at the Horse pooper scooper. Does it go on Queen’s roses?
    Quick food break at Pret in Trafalgar Square before The National Gallery.
    We discovered that Olive could take part in an art exploration day. All materials provided and lots of ideas. Absolutely brilliant and such great young staff who knew about art and helping young ones explore different mediums.
    Granny sat on floor as work progressed surrounded by interesting and busy children.
    Bus down Whitehall, round Parliament Square and back to Victoria.
    Such wonderful memories and a phone full of pictures to go in the bank of life..

    Reply
    • muddystiletto April 10, 2019

      Sounds amazing, you have real energy! Good question on the pooper scooper, I will investigate! Hero x

      Reply

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