9 hours with the kids in London
Looking for London inspo with the kids? Muddy founder Hero Brown took her Muddy midgets for a nine-hour blast of city life. Fancy trying it too?
Tired of London, tired of life, right?! It’s a really easy train ride into the city from Cambs, landing into King’s Cross. Here’s how Muddy founder Hero Brown whipped her kids around London for nine delicious hours and still made it home for the news! Over to you Hero…
First destination for us? Regent’s Park in the sunshine – I used to come here all the time when I lived in London, so it was a welcome return, remembering how beautiful it is. The kids ran around the flower beds like lunatics.
London Zoo was our ultimate destination – way improved since my last visit, admittedly some years ago now, with more space, better viewing platforms and some very cool, well-thought through additions like the Sasan Gir Asiatic lion area (and my rail ticket qualifies me for 2FOR1 Zoo tickets – quite a saving actually).
I lose the will to live in zoos after about 3 hours – it becomes a bit of an endurance event, doesn’t it? – so I made the kids choose the 6 things they most wanted to see, which were: African hunting dogs, giraffes, sealife, penguins, butterflies and tigers …
… all DONE! And to top it off, very cool graffiti animals at the exit, which felt very ‘London’ and modern.
1.30pm Took the tube to Southwark. The Tate Modern was in my sights but you can’t march the Muddy troops around galleries on an empty stomach without fearing for your life. So there was only one thing for it – provisions.
There are several cafés at Tate Modern, including the one on the 5th floor with those amazing views, but I always find museum cafes strangely stressful and canteeny. My tip? Carluccio’s restaurant is directly opposite the Tate Modern entrance, very family-friendly, with indoor and outdoor seating, beautifully styled inside with beribboned panetonne and stacked raspberry swirl meringues. Everything looked so good we ended up knocking back three courses there, and it was delicious. My fussy kids loved it too.
2.30pm Wandered, ooooh, around 50 metres across to Tate Modern! Such an exciting space, but if I asked my daughter her highlight of this world-renowned gallery she’d say ‘sliding down the Turbine Hall on my bum’. My son was blown away by the fact he could irritate countless adults by running up and down five flights of escalators. Up and down. Up and down. Up and down. Up and… (where did I put my hip flask?).
I’d done my Tate Modern homework and as a big fan of Jenny Holzer’s work I headed straight for her (somewhat limited) exhibition. The kids loved it too, it’s bright, funky and deceptively ‘easy’.
Then we wandered outside around what my son called the ‘giant intestine’ and ‘yellow pooh’ papier mâché of Franz West – a surprisingly accurate description, in fact. And the Dorothea Tanning exhibition was mind-blowing, though I think small kids might find that one a bit disturbing in parts. Give yourself 15 minutes to enjoy the Tate Modern shop too – enough books and posters to interest adults and a whole area of toys and knick-knacks for tiring children.
4pm I half tinkered with the idea of catching the boat down to sister gallery Tate Britain to see the new Van Gogh exhibition but the kids were utterly arted-out, and wanted to wrestle down the nearest ice-cream van. So instead we walked along the river past the Globe theatre, the skateboarders in the underpass (mesmerising)…
… the National Theatre and the outdoor bookshop – a surprise hit, its eclectic tomes, perfect for lazy browsing, that had the kids entranced for ages. We eventually crash outed in the green space behind the Eye, with Big Ben in the background, cocooned in scaffolding from the craziness in parliament.
6pm My original plan included a trip to the Royal Festival Hall but we were all crackered by this point so legged it back to the train station, and knocking back a large wine in a plastic cup like it was water in the desert.
6.45pm: Home. Literally 9 hours from top to tail and it was a brilliant day. The thought of going into London is way more effort than actually doing it – it was crazily easy. I’m definitely going in again with the fam soon, and am thinking Hyde Park/Kensington Gardens and the Science Museum and maybe a hop over to Notting Hill to give the kids a flavour of the market there. Or I might take them into Soho, China Town, Green Park and theatre land.
Let me know if you try any of my suggestions and don’t be shy about recommending places you love in the Smoke for a family day out. And just to throw it into the mix, here’s my Insider Guide to London – your ultimate Muddy city inspo on the new exhibitions, coolest spaces and happy places.