Last month for T’s birthday we decided to hop on the train and head to London for an overnight stay. It was bliss. Not just because we got a change of scenery. No, because we didn’t have a child complaining after 3 minutes of walking that her legs hurt. And we got to spend some quality time together without being prised apart or interrupted. And how often does that happen as a parent?
Travelling in style
We headed down to London on an early Friday morning train courtesy of Virgin Trains (#gifted) in their first class carriage. It was a stress free, comfy journey and thankfully, despite the wind, we got exactly where we were going almost on time! We were treated to brekkie and as two of around six people in our carriage it was a nice peaceful journey.
Once we landed in London we jumped on the tube and made our way to the V&A museum in Souith Kensington. One of the reasons I chose London for our trip was because the V&A had a special exhibition on dedicated to Video Games. I knew that T would love it, so it made for the ideal birthday treat. Plus it gave us a reason to really enjoy some culture.
Video games and coffee
The V&A is an astonishing building. I absolutely loved it from the second I entered the courtyard. We headed for a pick me up in the cafe first before going to the exhibition and wow. What a stunning part of the building! I could have stayed there all day. But T said it was a bit much for him! Hah. We headed along the the exhibition room and found awe in a completely different medium.
Video games from the 21st Century
The video games featured in ‘Videogames: DesignPlayDisrupt’ were all contemporary games. They were the games that have featured heavily throughout mine and T’s relationship. From The Last of Us and Journey, which I played too, to Splatoon and the more obscure PC and phone games I’d not heard to it was all amazing to read about. The exhibit showed off behind the scenes artwork and information about the teams blood sweat and tears that went into it all and it was outstanding to read about.
Teaching and playing
Following the amazing artwork and things from games that have been really prominent in the last few years, we headed to an area dedicated to the social messaging that video games play a part in. This was a really interesting part of the exhibit and featured a video real of writers, designers, players and advocates that were providing commentary on the more controversial elements of video games and their messaging. It was fascintating and I could have stayed there for ages watching it… Alas though, we noticed a really cool looking arcade and swung in there to have a play before heading to our next stop.
Discovering books and the science museum
We headed to the Science Museum next door to take a look in there for a little while. It was fun but I have a soft spot for Manchesters Museum of Science and Industry and prefer it there so we didn’t stay long. T got to see in person one of the first Apple Computers so he was happy. Then we headed over the road in search for some food. I tracked down an awesome Indy bookshop with a fantastic sale on while T grabbed a bite and we headed back to the tube station to make our way to our hotel.
Our hotel and amazing food
We found our way to our fantastic hotel to ditch our bags and then to grab some tea. And by the way, if you haven’t heard of the Hub Hotels by Premier Inn, you need to. It was amazing! And cheap! I’d done a search for restaurants near the hotel and found a decent looking pub called The Feathers which did food and It turns out it was directly behind our hotel. That was so handy. Signing up to the mailing list got me a 20% off code too! And we enjoyed some gin with our meal and my dessert! It was so lush, the food was great and although the pub was heaving with people having after work drinks on a Friday night, it was quiet upstairs where the food was served
And on to the Comedy
Another treat for T for his birthday was a trip to Ruby Blue bar for their 99 Comedy Club evening. In Leicester Square the bar is so easy to get to and find, and their comedy clubs run nearly every night. The night we went we were treated to 3 comedians, 2 of which I recognised from stints on Live at the Apollo and other shows. They were all really good and really funny. And that wasn’t just all the gin talking!! It was so much fun!
Saturday playing tourist
We went back to the hotel for our kip and woke up early as we had 10:30am tickets for the London Eye. With it being so close, just over the river, to the hotel we walked there and spotted a few tourist sights on the way. From The Houses of Parliament to Westminster Cathedral and Big Ben, even relatively early on a Saturday this part of London was heaving with people. We went on the Eye and saw the incredible views for ourselves and I was really impressed with how smooth the ride was. I used to be afraid of heights but jumping out a plane kinda conquered that for me. But the Eye didn’t feel all that high – despite being able to see so much!
Shrek’s Adventures, Buckingham Palace and St Jame’s Park
We went from the Eye to the gift shop of Shrek’s Adventures – which looks amazing – because I wanted a gigantic Toothless teddy. T wouldn’t let me have it though. And then wandered up through St Jame’s Park to Buckingham Palace. The park was amazing and I could image its the ideal spot to go and chill out on a summer’s day if you’re from that part of London. There are loads of tourists about but also lots of wildlife, beautiful flowers and the most amazing Pelicans. Buckingham Palace was kinda just a building, I don’t really do the Royals and that but it was ok. The guards marched round a little when we were there too.
From there we headed to the tube station to jump on the tube to try and find Brick Lane. This was recommended to me by Keeley from Vibes Life Us who knew after my Berlin adventures that I’d love the art and the shops. As soon as I googled I knew I needed to go and I was in heaven as soon as we stumbled upon our first alleyway of art. I could write an entire blog post about this part of London (and I still might!) but it was just everything I love. The art, the vintage shops, the street food, the market. We got a lunch of Lithuanian food and headed to the coolest of places, the Nomadic Community Gardens. I loved it in there, it was full of art and a sense of community and I thought it was an amazing place for people to have to relax with their friends. The whole area blew me away and I just kept thinking about how talented the people creating this art was. I even saw a couple of art pieces that were obviously done by the same artist as ones I saw in Berlin… and a real life Banksy!
A trip to the Hummingbird Cafe and a mooch round the shops
Following our adventure in Brick Lane we thought it was time to head back into the city centre as we didn’t want to be too far from the station for our train home. We headed back, visited the Apple store in Convent Garden, grabbed some traditional sweets for our journey home and headed up through China Town (during Chinese New Year prep!) and took a pit stop at the Hummingbird Cafe. It was just as yummy as I thought it would be! On the way up to the Cafe we spotted an arcade, and we just had to stop there for a nosey and for me to whoop T’s ass on Mariokart…. though he says he let me win! Haha! Then it was homeward bound.
Home sweet Home
We jumped aboard the train home, found our first class seats and relaxed for our journey. After a tiring two days fitting everything in we mainly slept and read without talking but we both agreed it was a fantastic two days away! It’s amazing what 48 hours away from your little one can do for you and I definitely recommend childfree time if you can manage it every now and then! It’s great to get to feel yourself again!