First, let me say that if it weren’t for Jessica’s perfectly manageable itinerary and tolerance for pain/discomfort, our London visit could easily have been a dud. Instead, it was everything I could have hoped for. Although I’ve been to the UK before, I’ve always wanted to visit London, mostly out of my love for its history and 007. In fact, one of the first sights I saw in our taxi cab ride to the hotel from the airport was MI6 HQ located along the Thames. I thought it was cool, even though no one else seemed to appreciate it.
The best part of the trip was my chance to spend some one-on-one time with the kids. On our first full day, while Charlotte and Jessica were resting after a rough night, Henry and I ventured out. He couldn’t have been a better sidekick. Perched most of the time on my shoulders, we figured out the Tube together and hit up the Imperial War Museum which was awesome. Each floor was dedicated to a major conflict in the 20th century and Henry loved all the different tanks and fighters. Then we went over to Westminster and, even though we didn’t go into any of the main sights (long lines and tours aren’t Henry’s thing), it was still fun to see 10 Downing Street, Parliament, and Westminster Abbey from the outside. The best part, and the most favorite place Henry and I found in London, was the Horse Guards barracks and stables - ceremonial home of the Household Cavalry. Just by chance, we were able to watch the changing of the guard and tour an awesome museum where Henry got to carry on with one of his favorite past times – soldier dress-up!
We finished our busy morning with a good British lunch (fish and chips) on a posh river boat and headed back to the hotel to collect the others.
The next day was Charlotte’s turn. After a family visit to the Tower of London that morning, Charlotte and I ventured out and visited the HMS Belfast. Moored pierside in the heart of London, the Belfast is a light cruiser that served in World War II and the Korean War. It’s well preserved and really well done. Most of the ship was open to visit; including the engine room which Charlotte loved (making her father, grandfather, and great-grandfather very proud)! After a long walk around the ship, Charlotte and I grabbed hot chocolate/coffee and some pastries in the galley onboard. It was a grey London day, but a perfect one for taking my daughter onboard a warship.
And who could forget Cora Louise. On the last night, after a busy day visiting Kensington Palace, the Peter Pan inspired park, and riding the London Eye (yikes), Cora and I went for a lovely walk near our hotel. Although she slept, nestled in her carrier most of the time, we visited St. Paul’s Cathedral (again, just the outside) and walked over the River Thames on London’s Millennium Bridge together.
Despite Jessica’s sweats and chills at night, Charlotte vomiting in the hotel bathroom, and Henry vomiting in Cora’s book bag from getting carsick on the way to the airport, it was a wonderfully happy visit to what is now one of my favorite places.