The first time N went to London he was under two and slept through most of the day, and the reason we went was mostly to meet friends. This summer, I’d managed to get tickets for Kidsweek, ie free children’s tickets to see the show The Tiger who Came to Tea at the Lyric Theatre.
It was a long wait after buying the tickets to wait for the day to come round, but eventually it did last week. We were going with N’s friend L and his mum, a friend of mine. Both the children were looking forward to it, although that was probably to do with going to London on the train! I’d also managed to book a table for lunch at The Rainforest Café so it was a bit of a themed day.
After getting annoyed at the new and rubbish car park ticket machines and confused about which platform the train we were going to get was going from, we were ensconced on the train before alighting at Marylebone.
Off to the tube – it was a relief that everything we’d planned to do was off the Bakerloo line so nice and easy for jumping on and off with two 3 year olds. As we didn’t have much time before our lunch booking, I’d proposed a quick run round Trafalgar Square to give the boys chance to look at the lions and stretch their legs.
We were so lucky with the weather which was beautiful. Great for a day out in the capital, and lovely to see the London sights looking gorgeous in the sunlight.
The boys almost got involved in an ice bucket challenge that was happening by one of the fountains, and then I think, were quite surprised to watch it! They loved trying to catch the water, running from fountain to fountain.
And chase the pigeons
Me being strict, said no to climbing on the lions, but they didn’t seem too worried that others were allowed to climb on them.
Then it was back on the tube a stop to the Rainforest Café. We’d never been before but it’s definitely a good place to go for a special treat. If you’ve a birthday, the staff get everyone to sing happy birthday to you, and there were several tables receiving that treatment while we were there.
I’d definitely recommend booking as I don’t know how many tables they leave for walk ins. We queued for our slot which was likely the earliest at 11.30, never a problem as the children loved watching the talking tree and playing with the toys on sale.
We got the tour on the way to the table, explaining where everything was (saves asking where the toilets are!) and shown all the animals in the trees and next to our table. The children also had a placemat/colouring sheet and crayons. If you wanted to pay a higher price, there’s a full activity pack included (presumably for older children).
The food in general is more expensive than I’d usually pay – higher than what I would class quite pricy pubs near us – but for a treat day out, it’s perfect. The menus are great as not only do they take any allergy information as you go in, in case you need help choosing, but the menus themselves have easy to understand notes saying dairy/nut/egg free, veggie etc. There was enough choice – and for children you weren’t stuck with only one high sugar drink. I was glad to see the Fruit Shoot was the My5 option. The only hard thing was the dim lighting making it hard to read the menus.
The service was efficient, if our waitress was elsewhere, someone else covered us. It really was a well-oiled machine, although we didn’t feel particularly rushed. I was relieved about that, as you can never tell how long children are going to take to eat their food.
The boys loved it when Zsa Zsa the frog came round to each table. I didn’t think N would be keen, but he was straight up to have a hug and have a photo taken.
After lunch we mooched through the shop, stopping to see the crocodile in the window. Of course we had to supply some change for the boys to try and throw into its mouth.
The theatre wasn’t far so we joined the others making their way in. I love being in theatres, I think they’re such magical places, and N was certainly interested in having a look round at the different seating levels and the stage. We didn’t have long to wait before the cast appeared on stage and the magic begun. Typically N wanted to sit on my knee (good job we didn’t pay for his seat!), but sitting in the dress circle in the middle, second row was perfect for viewing.
I definitely recommend the show. It’s really interactive and kept N’s attention throughout. He even joined in with the Tiger-aerobics, and (kind of) the singing. We did wonder how they’d be able to drag the story out to the full 55 minutes, but it was well done, and mostly in keeping with the book. Afterwards, we had to buy them a soft toy tiger which was a reasonably priced souvenir compared to the very cool but extortionately priced Tiger banners/flags.
I’d wanted to make the most of being in London, so down to Waterloo on the tube, and we were in Jubilee Gardens and Southbank.
We didn’t really find the activities suitable for the children, but saw the Love Festival displays along with some of the street artists.
The boys were getting tired, so after a quick look at the boats
Then it was time to head home again, having a M&S picnic on the train home. The boys were stars, they really enjoyed themselves, and N’s still talking about the trip now. I shall definitely be taking him each year to see a different place each time.
Where did you take your children for their first visit to London? Or another capital city?