We’ve hit on a particularly successful theme to get in the good books of our children – a trip to London.
And so we set off on what is now becoming a familiar journey on East Coast’s excellent service from Doncaster to King’s Cross.
As a treat we travelled first class – lunch provided, and it also ensures an eight and a four-year-old will be almost always be connected to the train’s Wi-Fi.
We’re not sure how they’d cope without it...
After a quick taxi ride across the city we settled into our hotel. Located on the River Thames, near London’s South Bank, Plaza on the River – www.plazaontheriver.co.uk – is a great choice if you’re looking for somewhere luxurious and tranquil, whilst still being close to the city’s main attractions.
Our first afternoon should have just been a nice stroll to the Houses of Parliament, but noticing there was no queue outside Westminster Abbey we ventured in.
Since the 11th Century the monarchs of England and Britain have had their coronations in the Abbey.
If it’s British history you’re after then this is the place to visit. The sheer volume of information can be a bit much – especially if you have youngsters – but by following the children’s map of places to see we were able to learn a lot and not spend too long meandering around.
Walking back through Victoria Tower Gardens on the north bank and across Lambeth Bridge we were able to build up even more of an appetite for our evening meal in Plaza on the River’s Chino Latino restaurant.
The meal didn’t let us down. Once we’d swapped our chop sticks for a knife and fork we got stuck in to gorgeous sushi, tempura and sashimi. After a couple of cocktails for the grown ups in the bar we settled the children down and enjoyed the views from our suite’s balcony of Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament.
Room service breakfast was followed by a trip down the river to the Tower of London. Our daughter delighted in seeing the “Queen’s Jewels” and our son was captivated by the story of the Princes in the Tower – Edward and Richard, who historians say disappeared in 1483 under the hand of their uncle, the future King Richard III.
The Tower, much like Westminster Abbey, is a brilliant way to step back in time and soak up some British history complete with Traitors Gate, the famous ravens and a visit to the torture chamber.
With a train to catch home the next afternoon our final attraction was Tate Britain, which we could see across the river from our hotel. Tate Britain is the national gallery of British art from 1500 to the present day.
We could have done with extra time to explore it fully but it’s a great place to visit to for real work by artists that you may have only read about before.
A cruise down the river
London is a big place to get around so it’s worth making the journey between places part of the fun.
We’ve done taxis, we’ve been on the underground and we’ve carried tired little legs for many miles when the walking has become too much. So this time we decided to keep with the Middle Ages theme and use a boat to navigate up and down the Thames.
Of course the vessels are lot more comfortable these days. There are a few options but we went for the Daily River Roamer ticket on the Thames Clipper for £36, which is for two adults and up to three kids.
The route can take you from Putney in the west through to Royal Arsenal Woolwich but we went from the London Eye to the Tower of London.
It’s a pleasant trip and you see the city from an entirely different perspective. Seeing HMS Belfast at close quarters on the way to the Tower emphasises the size and power of the river. www.thamesclippers.com
*East Coast operates three trains each hour on weekdays between Doncaster and King’s Cross, with connections from rail stations across South Yorkshire. Standard advance returns from Doncaster to London, booked online at www.eastcoast.co.uk, start from £20.