As you all know the Easter break was a bit of a mixed bag for me, swapping form fun days out with the kid to funerals. What kept me going was the knowledge that we had a mini break in London booked, a stress free break with no driving and lots of fun.
We travelled by train from Diss to London with Greater Anglia. It’s a great route for us as it means no changes. We could go from Wymondham Station but would have to change in Norwich, which is silly as it’s 15 minutes from Wymondham to Norwich. So off we popped to Diss, it’s a lovely station with nice facilities and they’ve just revamped the parking so you can pay multiple ways and it uses number plate recognition so you don’t have to guess how long you’ll be or worry about change, you can sort it all out afterwards.
Travelling by rail is always half the fun with L. He loves it, he gets to watch what is happening, play with his toys, colour, listen to music, eat snacks, whatever he wants. I don’t have to twist my back or hurt my neck turning round to try and sort him out like I do if he’s in the back of the car and best of all we don’t have to worry about finding somewhere to stop if he needs the bathroom. It’s fun, it’s exciting, it’s different.
Under two hours after sitting down on our train we were in London, we hopped on the tube to get to our hotel and drop our bags off. I had converted a chunk of our Tesco Clubcard vouchers to book us into the Doubletree by Hilton, London Victoria. It is central, it is well appointed, you can walk to Westminster, the London Eye, Buckingham Palace. I’m so glad we went for that hotel. The location was perfect, the room was comfortable and the staff were amazing and they looked after us so well. Plus it’s a Doubletree, so cookies on arrival, mmmm.
Bags dropped off we headed for lunch, a short walk past Westminster Cathedral had us at a Pizza Express and after a good feed we were back on the tube and heading for the Natural History Museum. It’s a great museum for kids and adults, it is free, as are most the big London museums, and we hadn’t been since L was really little so it was essentially all new to him. We watched his face fill with wonder from the second he walked through the doors and we spent the rest of the afternoon exploring.
The first thing L saw as we walked through the doors was a giraffe and a giraffe skeleton. He had to get Gerry out for a photo opp, then it was off to see the dinosaurs, the blue whale with it’s skin on, find more giraffes, a snack stop, planets and a long stop at the volcano and earthquake section which really interested him and sparked a lot of questions and a long Google session later that evening. Then it was back to the dinosaurs which were a lot quieter later in the day.
We popped back to our hotel for a bit, found our room and got settled. L played a bit and enjoyed the kids pack the front desk had given us. Then we headed round the corner, literally round the corner, to Giraffe for our dinner. Back at the hotel the kid had a bath and we had the joy of getting an absolutely exhausted and very excited child to sleep in the same room as us. Thankfully I’d packed some gin in a tin and the room had a fridge. It was needed!
The next morning after a good breakfast we checked out and left our bags with the concierge and took a stroll to the Shrek’s Adventure! London. We went back past Westminster Cathedral and popped in to look around, it’s fabulous! So worth a look, honestly it’s stunning, a hidden gem. Everybody loves Westminster Abbey, but the Cathedral, now that’s where it’s at.
Shrek’s Adventure! Is brilliant, we had visited Christmas time, but it was great to be back and fun to do something really special for L. Out of everything we did whilst we were in London it was the only paid attraction we visited, and it is one of the Greater Anglia London 2for1 offers! People seem to think a weekend away in London is going to be super expensive, but it’s really not! PS I’ll be writing about Shrek in more detail over the weekend.
Bus rides taken, adventures had and finding Donkey and Shrek was tiring work. It was lunch time when we left and we had seen a farmer’s market across the road outside St Thomas Hospital where there is a little park, so we sat and had a little picnic and enjoyed some epic street food.
Next on our list was Buckingham Palace, L had been asking to see where the Queen lives, he wanted to show her his new haircut, and Husb had never seen it. Never. I’m not sure how that could have actually happened, but yet it had. So we walked back over Westminster Bridge and took a stroll through St James Park.
We saw the Pelicans and walked alongside the lake. We got up close with a Heron, enjoyed the views and peacefulness of it. It’s such a pretty park with plenty to see and do, the weather was glorious too, which certainly helped. Then we had a look at the palace, L marvelled at the guards and we broke it to him that the Queen would not be popping out to say hi or see his new haircut, that in fact she had many homes and wasn’t even at the palace that day.
After a good look round and a nice rest by the fountain we took a stroll back to the hotel, via a couple of the smaller parks and taking in the fabulous Wellington Arch, whilst we didn’t go in it’s also part of Greater Anglia’s London 2for1 offer. We grabbed our bags and headed back to Liverpool Street for our train home.
The train was busy, a coach short and it was a struggle to get seats for many. Though we were lucky and a few people moved so we could sit together instead of being split up, the thought of which was really upsetting L so I couldn’t be more grateful to the lovely ladies who moved so we could have two seats next to each other instead of being split across the aisle. Thank you!
As we were on the train and L was happily amusing himself looking out of the window and playing with his London Bus on the seat tray I’ll admit I had a little nap. It was lush. I don’t get to do that if we’re driving, even if I’m not the one behind the wheel I’ve got keep an eye out for where we’re going and be on near constant snack duty. The nap was very welcome, very welcome indeed.
It was a great little break and just what I needed. Thanks to all the free attractions and the clubcard vouchers it didn’t cost us too much either. Meerkat Meals helped us out a fair bit too!
If you’re clever about the train, that’s not expensive either especially if you use their overnight deal. It’s only £23 for an London Overnight Return and you can travel from 9:30 – 12 on weekdays and any train till 12 on weekends. Or, if that doesn’t work for you it’s worth knowing that accompanied children travel for just £2 return on any off peak journey on Greater Anglia’s network. You just turn up and buy them from the station on the day.
We loved our Rail Adventure so much, if you could take a quick second to fill out a super quick survey to let me know if you feel inspired about taking your own Rail Adventure I’d really appreciate it! You can find the survey here.
Disclosure – our rail tickets were complimentary in exchange for my thoughts and opinions. Our tickets to Shrek were also complimentary, though not via Great Anglia. Everything else was paid for by us. All thoughts, opinions and images are my own.