We are nearly at the end of our one month jam-packed travels in England, visiting London,Sheffield and Norwich. Whilst Sheffield has mostly been work for me, (trying to finish up PhD) it has also been lovely to see old friends, visit the kids schools, visit our old home and our favourite pub…sometimes it felt like we had never left for New Zealand 5 months ago!
Whilst in London, in between catching up with friends, family and hospital appointments we managed to squeeze in sightseeing, and even managed to go to new places – as opposed to revisiting our old favourites – mainly Natural History Museum, Spitalfield market, Camden, Hyde Park, Regents Park, South Bank, Covent Garden, Hamstead Heath and so many other places we have been to the last 10 years we had lived in England!
We did visit one old favourite, British Museum, as it has become an extension to Great Ormond Street Hospital for us being located few minutes walk from the hospital. Between all the tests and waiting around, we managed to go here three times over the two weeks. Best part of museums in London, they are FREE! Kids and adults both can enjoy this museum as there are so many things of interest – for our kids the Egyptian, Chinese and Greek sections were their favourite.
As always, I find British Museum a very controversial place to visit as so many of the world treasures here were looted during periods of war and British colonization and also acquired through other unscrupulous means. However, having visited priceless artefacts, ruins and historical monuments in many other countries, you really can’t argue how well-preserved they are here. Irrespective of how I feel about the issue, I cannot deny how much we have enjoyed our visits here, each time we always find new things to see on world history.
New ones for the kids – Hamleys!
We are not big on shopping so Oxford Circus never really holds any appeal to us. This time we were meeting some friends for dinner at Pho – amazing Vietnamese Restaurant, highly recommend – and the bigger branch is located near Oxford Circus. Shahaar had been to smaller Hamley chain shops at other locations and wanted to go the most famous toy store in England, Shama had never heard of it. Needless to say they were in awe when we got there. Four floors of toys and all kinds of toy demonstrations. The staff are trained to look like the most cheerful and happiest people on the planet, even though the crazy hustle and bustle of the place would hardly be a place to be so happy. First thing Shama said was – Why have we never been here before 🙂
It was easy enough to convince the kids to visit an art gallery this time as opposed to our usual science and history museums. Shama loves Van Gogh – he is her favourite artist and his famous painting Starry Nights is the basis for several of her art. Shahaar was happy enough to go along with it, he needed something to write about for his school assignment. Both kids enjoyed the museum even though we spent far less time there than I would have liked to. We mostly looked at the works of Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir and of course Vincent Van Gogh. The kids learnt about impressionist style and what made these unique artists work so famous. Shama was disappointed that Starry Nights was not here but she recognized the famous Sunflower painting. Very centrally located and easy to get to from different tube stations and once again completely free for all.
We loved our time in this vibrant open space, just chilling by the fountain, having ice cream, climbing the lion statue, watching all the entertainment – musicians, artists, people in movie characters. I haven’t been here in 15 years and it was the kids first time. Touristy – yes – most of our London friends pretty jaded by it and don’t see the appeal, but we really enjoyed our day visiting the National Gallery and spending time at Trafalgar Square before and after the Museum.
Located just 10 minutes away from Hammersmith Tube station – you take the 283 bus from the station to get the Centre – the London wetland centre is a wildlife reserve with rare birds across the world and a family of otters. It is a wonderful nature oasis and refreshing change from the hustle and bustle of the city. Great for birdwatching, walking on nature trails and enjoying a relaxing day out, the park is well designed and constructed with excellent hides and lots of informative signs. The kids saw otters, many different species of birds, played in the fantastic play area and had a really lovely day enjoying the natural outdoors. Unfortunately I couldn’t go as I was working and am still waiting to get otters and bird pictures from friends who took the kids here 🙂 From all that the kids described, would definitely recommend to others – with families or otherwise. It costs £35 for a family of four.
This was London sightseeing round up one from the first few weeks in England. Now we are on our last week in London and have done some fun activities in the southwest region – Streatham commons and Tooting Bec, tomorrow we have Camden and Hamstead Heath in central north and day after we cover some fun places west of London. Posts to follow on those soon. There is just no end to all the fun things one can do – with kids – in London!
After this we are off to Singapore and onwards to New Zealand, and I can honestly say I look forward to a break from travels, just for a little while 🙂