After our amazing week in Paris we caught the Eurostar to London. When booking our seats on the train I took a gamble and it paid off. There were 3 travel categories – standard, standard premier and business premier. Children under 4 travel free if on an adults lap. Alternatively, child tickets can be purchased at a discounted price. Considering what fidgets the girls are at the best of times, the thought of them on our laps for two and a half hours was not a pleasant one. So I compared the price of 3 adult and 2 child standard seats with just 3 adult standard premier seats. The latter was cheaper, had much comfier seats, came with a meal, and as they came in a section of four seats (2 opposite each other), I figured our chances of the fourth seat being empty were pretty good. So we booked 3 seats in standard premier and it was definitely the right choice. Not only was the fourth seat free the cabin was so empty we also used the four adjacent seats to spread out on.
The train ride was fantastic. As we sped along, going faster than any of us had expected (up to 300kph), we marvelled at little snow covered French towns and were super excited to enter the dark tunnel, knowing the next place we would see would be England. Mum and I did some puzzles and colouring with the girls while Peter slept. I don’t think he’s capable of riding a train without falling asleep, must have been rocked a lot as a baby……..!
Disembarking the train was as exciting as arriving in Paris. We were in London. London baby! As we rode through the city on a double-decker bus I couldn’t stop smiling. I had grown up hearing stories of England from my mother and always dreamed of one day visiting. And now here I was!
We stayed in a lovely old terraced apartment, 3 doors down from where Winston Churchill had once lived. Our time in the city was short but we packed a lot in. We saw Buckingham Palace, St Pauls Cathedral and Big Ben. We had hoped to go on the London Eye but it was Valentine’s Day and so had ten thousand other people so instead we walked along the Thames where Anna and Elyssa danced with the buskers and rode a carousel that went way too fast for my liking. We went on a little shopping spree in Harrods, played at Regent’s Park and posed with the statues at Trafalgar Square. At 10 Downing Street I got some puzzled looks from tourists when I asked Pete loudly “Is this where Hugh Grant lives?” (I have a warped sense of humour, if you’ve seen the movie ‘Love Actually’ you’ll know what I’m on about).
After 3 nights in London we headed off on another road trip. On the first day we visited Bath in the South West, a UNESCO World Heritage listed site. The town is like no other with its grand Georgian architecture, scattered with sophisticated boutiques and quaint eateries, and of course, what the town is named after, the famous Roman Baths. Our one day exploring this town was such fun, but not nearly long enough.
After Bath we headed north to Chester where we stayed in a pub in the city centre for 2 nights. Included in our accommodation was a massive, hearty pub meal each night and the biggest full English breakfast I’ve ever seen, complete with blood sausages and Toad in the Hole! Chester is considered to be architecturally the richest town in Britain and the town centre is surrounded by walls built by the Romans between 70 and 80 AD. The highlight of our day in Chester for the girls was seeing a squirrel for the first time as we walked along the path at the top of the walls.
We took a day trip to Liverpool and visited The Beatles Museum. For three huge Beatles fans (Peter, Anna and Nanna), this was amazing! It was filled with so much memorabilia and information. We spent so long in there we had no time to see any of Liverpool itself, but it was totally worth it.
On the second evening we drove over to Wales to visit my Grandmothers brother and his wife. On the way we tuned into a Welsh radio station, and hearing that, combined with trying to pronounce the Welsh street signs had us in hysterics.
On our next day we visited Warwick Castle. This was awesome! The castle, partially covered in snow, was absolutely gorgeous and all the people in character, so friendly, entertaining and full of information, really brought the place to life. In fact they were so believable, Anna had nightmares on and off for weeks after our visit, thanks to a very loud and dirty town crier. We walked through the castle, so elegant and grand, and in one area Anna and Elyssa got to dress as Princesses and have their photo taken on a throne.
Before returning to London we visited Stonehenge. I guess I hadn’t done my research as I was pretty disappointed to find it entirely roped off from quite a fair distance away. Still, it was beyond amazing, another real ‘pinch me’ experience.
Our drive back into London was certainly a memorable one. What is one thing you really don’t want to do on the M4 in peak hour? Run out of petrol!!!! After what felt like an eternity, the car was towed to a petrol station with Peter while the rest of us caught a taxi to our hotel.
Early the next morning we caught the Eurostar back to Paris. We visited the Louvre, which at the time offered free entry on Sundays, and lucky for us it was a Sunday! We saw the Mona Lisa and the girls had a giggle over the many naked sculptures. We also had one last visit to the Eiffel Tower before heading to our hotel for the very last night of our trip.
We flew home early the next day after an absolutely incredible 17 days.