I love London. With it’s glorious architecture, vibrant personality and diversity. I can’t say I miss commuting up to London every day, but that means that when I do go, it’s always a pleasure (and never a chore!)
Last weekend, I was invited to spend the weekend in London as a guest of Travelodge, to enjoy a family break, and to go on a bit of a literary tour, except … my family (aka Dexter), didn’t want to go, so I took my new man-friend instead! Win/win. Ben was home, so the boys got to spend some time together, and I got to have a wonderful mini break in one of my favourite cities.
So here was the plan. My ahem, guest (oh God, this is so awkward, but we haven’t really had The Chat yet, so I still don’t know what to officially call him), so my guest travelled up to London from where he lives, and I did the same. The plan was we’d meet at Temple tube station (awfully romantic) where we were going to pick up a Harry Potter Bus Tour, courtesy of Brit Movie Tours. How random is that though? I had asked him if he wanted to come along a few weeks ago and I’m pretty sure he thought I was drunk, but then I explained the life of a blogger and he was like, “Ah. I see. OK. Cool.” I arrived early, as per, and he arrived late, as per. Well, not officially late, but the whole HP contingent were waiting for him as he was the last to arrive, and they were going whether he was there or not.
Bless him. I saw him running up the stairs to the tube station at 1.59pm – the bus left at 2pm. Phew! I also had the slightly awkwardness of realising that one of my very lovely blogging friends, T from Mummy Barrow, was there with her husband Bruce. It was so lovely to see them, but I realised this was the first time he and I had actually met real-life friends. It made it all seem … rather real. It was lovely.
Anyway, I digress. We got on the bus, and set off.
I thought the tour would be an hour for some reason, but you should know that it actually took three hours. Not that it was boring, but take snacks, that’s all I’m saying. The wonderful thing about this tour is that you get to get off the bus and look around, so you’re not cooped up for that whole time, and our first stop was St Paul’s Cathedral.
We were blessed with the weather – warm, yet slightly crisp, blue skies you only dream of and, although I may have had heart shaped glasses on that day, London looked beautiful. Each stop on the tour obviously had a Harry Potter relevance, and Amber, our tour guide, was warm, knowledgeable and funny – the perfect combination. No-one else really talked to each other on the tour, because well, we were mostly British, and we just don’t do that, but it was a nice mixture of ages and nationalities, and everyone got on.
From St Paul’s Cathedral, we walked down the road to the Millennium Bridge and I managed to capture this shot:
I admit we were like naughty school children, not really listening and just taking in the view – of the London Eye, not each other! (Well, maybe each other.) But I did hear her say how Daniel Radcliffe was a student of the City of London School, at one end of the bridge, and then she mentioned something about the little coloured badges that you can see on the floor of the bridge if you look closely. But that’s as much as I heard I’m afraid – you’ll have to do the tour to find out what they are!
We were treated to short clips from different Harry Potter films on the bus as we made our way to our next destination and not only did we stop at Leadenhall Market to see the entrance to The Leaky Cauldron, but Borough Market (although I got a bit distracted by T going cheese shopping, to know why we were there.) There were a few other stops, but I don’t want to spoil it, but we ended up at Kings Cross station, where you had the opportunity to see Platform 9¾.
We said our goodbyes to the rest of the tour at that point, but if you’re a big nerd like me, you’d love it. It’s quite long for little ones, but if your children are that little bit older like mine, it’s perfect. But again, SNACKS.
We were lucky enough to be staying in a Travelodge hotel for the night by Euston station so we had a quick food pit-stop before checking in. And then went out for more food later on. Basically, we just spent the evening eating, drinking, talking and watching a lottery related show (I think) on BBC, and commenting on how much Nick Knowles has dyed his hair.
Breakfast the next morning was great, firstly because it’s open until 12pm, but also good sausages. And Nutella. A few hiccups – the orange juice machine was jammed and the only eggs served were scrambled but first world problems right? Every member of staff we met during our stay was friendly and helpful and the check-in and out process was smooth – you can’t ask for more than that.
It was now Mother’s Day and as much as I wanted to rush home, I wanted to enjoy my time away from the family just a little bit more so on our way back to St Pancras station, we stopped into the British Library, as I had never been, and had the most wonderful potter.
A big thank you to Travelodge for inviting us and if you ever need family breaks inspo, you can check out their page by clicking on the link.