Day 2 of our London Citybreak with Kids.
After the very long day of travelling and visiting the London Eye and clocking up 16km walking we vowed to walk a little less on Day 2, to give the kids (and their parents) a chance to rest.
We took the train to London Bridge this time, much to the kids’ amusement. Grandad had told Laoise to be careful if she went there and to look for the “Fair Lady” to fix it as it was falling down, so she needed reassurance before crossing it. She also needed to get a photo for Grandad.
The Shard is right beside London Bridge Rail Station, and the sign next to the station told us that it’s one of Europe’s tallest buildings (Europe, not EU, which is good, because Brexit). We had spotted it from the London Eye the day before so it was good to see it in context too and we spent the rest of the weekend spotting it and remembering that we had been there.
We had a stern conversation on the far side of the bridge about people in general (ie our children) being safe and not running ahead and we (OK I) threatened to go home. Calm was mostly restored.
Then we proceeded to walk (run) along the river towards the Tower. Our kids are country kids, we live in an estate in town but they don’t get access to the urban landscape that much really, so they really enjoyed checking out the concrete jungle so to speak and racing around all the pavements and kerbs, hopping and skipping along. We were asked to wait while they did one more circuit. The River STANK. The kids complained about it, LOUDLY.
We arrived down to the ticket collection area to a much happier sight than the previous day at the London Eye. Ticket Collections were from the Group Ticket Office and we queued for no more than 5 minutes before collecting the tickets that we bought with our Discount London that we had booked already.
We then joined another big queue which was really just people walking to get in, so far, so painless.
When we entered the tower we saw a sign for free Yeoman Warder tours leaving from the Moat in 15 minutes’ time so we decided to join one. This gave us 15 minutes to have a Pringles and Jellies picnic and run races in the moat. Happy Days.
The Yeoman Warder Tour Guide, in full red Yeoman uniform (the man in the red dress as Laoise called him) was a real showman. He had audience engagement down, apologising for Brexit, slagging off Americans and Londoners and anyone really. We lapped it up and roared laughing. He told tales from history, mostly gruesome bloody ones about executions and murders in such an entertaining fashion that we hung on every word. He involved the (massive) audience in roleplays. My eldest son may never forgive me for having the Yeoman call his name out when he went missing but in my defence (a) he was the loudest person there (the guide, not my son) (b) he went missing (my son not the guide( (c) I was worried and (d) I was pretty embarrassed at having lost him and being known as the woman who lost her kid for the rest of the tour.
The tour lasted an hour, and like I said, was mostly about murders and queens. Laoise liked the queen bits. The boys liked the murder bits. I liked it all. Happy Family.
After the tour we missed queuing so we joined 45 minute long queue to see the Crown Jewels (thanks to their prominence in the Ant and Dec show this year the boys were very keen to see them). We finished our Pringles and Cathal practised his gymnastics on every available railing, with strangers intervening to catch him when they got nervous that he was wobbling a bit. Amazing parenting.
The Crown Jewels exhibition (no extra charge) walks you through the history of the jewels on large wall panels with pictures of various monarchs and then on to the exhibitions, the coronation robes, the crowns. maces and “the egg thing” aka the Orb. There’s even a coronation spoon which is used for the anointing oil at the coronation ceremony and a massive punchbowl. I wondered at the kids really wanting to see the crown jewels but Laoise’s eyes were out on sticks when she saw the crowns, all that sparkliness and the boys were fascinated by how old they were and were busy trying to figure out how robbers could break in (Thanks David Walliams and Gangsta Granny for that)
By the time we left that exhibit and learned that the ravens at the tour are fed meat and blood it was getting late and we were getting hungry. Not one to miss a view I insisted that we go went up on the battlements, mostly to see the views, when we happened upon an exhibition room of animals in the tower. There were interactive displays in the small room and the kids didn’t want to leave. When we did leave the next room was deemed boring by the small girl who took off at breakneck speed through the next two exhibition rooms and we had to chase her, missing the exhibits. At that stage we cut our losses and decided our time at the Tower was up and we headed towards the exit via two more toilet breaks. As we were leaving we happened upon another tour which was acted out by actors who were roleplaying attacks on the tower over the years and how they started, if I was going again I would seek out that tour too, it seemed like a lot of fun.
After all that queuing we combined a long and late lunch with an early dinner (and a big glass of wine each for the adults) and headed back to the hotel for a nightcap from the hotel bar, with sides of sprite and colouring.
I’d definitely go back to the Tower of London, there was so much to see and do, it’s like a little village in there, you could spend most of the day exploring. Check out its website here for more informaton and to plan your visit. It was very busy when we were there, and we did lose one child once, but it was well organised and the tour guides weren’t fazed by the crowds and had everything under control. Tickets for our family of 2 adults and 3 children would have cost £53.20 if booked online but we had bought a combined ticket which included them. There’s certainly enough to do to keep you busy for most of a day so the price represents good value. We didn’t eat in the tower, but there is a cafe on site.
The Kids loved the tower, they got bored towards the end of the tour which was in the chapel and they couldn’t hear very well but they got a lot out of the exhibits, tales of gruesome murders and the tales of kings and queens.
To read about Day One of our London Adventure click Here.
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