Our first day in London can be summed up as exhausted aimless wanderings. We did manage to buy some groceries, organise Oyster cards, and have a mild panic on the Underground.
The flights from Australia went much better than we could have expected. We’d spend several weeks worrying that they would be catastrophic. Four kids on a long haul flight is worthy of some anticipated stress. Fortunately, aside from a little travel sickness, the kids were amazing. We arrived in London in the evening, and after a decent sleep, we were ready to go exploring.
This wall is the edge of the Russian Embassy, with this amazing security feature. Each of these spikes rotates and is on the top of a six foot brick wall. Walking past here was an odd thrill, as one my ancestors was the Russian Consul in the 1890s, and I’d love to assume he stayed here then. We wandered around Kensington Gardens, past the palace and many embassy residences from a huge range of nations. It rained all morning, gifting us with perfect English weather, although the children soon found it tiresome. We’ve had a very dry winter in Sydney, so it has been an age since they’ve had to walk in actual rain. This annoyance was offset by seeing real squirrels in the park.
For lunch, we dropped into The Redan for beer, and traditional fish and chips. Who could resist eating a legendary meal on the first day in a new city? Delicious, and this pub even had the obligatory Australian joke – Fosters on tap. Fosters is an Australian beer that almost no Australians drink, but is exported to England where it has a reputation for being iconic!
With our stomachs replenished, we ventured to the Underground. We purchased Oyster cards, and went for a random train ride to Temple station. Why there? So the Harry Potter fans in the family (all of us) could visit Gringotts Bank. If you want to find this, this part of the films were shot at the Australian Embassy (coincidence only). We found a small park nearby to wander through. We found more squirrels (twelve according to No3), and a seat with a funny plaque.
Just because we could, we took a double decker bus for a short trip. The kids sat at the front on the top floor, talking the entire time about what they could see. A couple sitting next us thanked them for the entertainment! By now, everyone was nicely tired, so we navigated the tube to get us back to the hotel. Except only half of us (3/6) got on the train, and the rest of us were left on the crowded platform. The train whizzed off. I’d love to say that our family motto is ‘never panic in an emergency’. It’s almost true, we tend to be practical types, so having no phone contact didn’t matter. We decided we’d get on the next train on the assumption that those on the train would get off at the next station and wait for us, and that is precisely what they’d done. Only ten minutes later, we were reunited, and could get on the next train together. Tomorrow we shall sort out a sim card so we can text each other…
Let’s blame jet lag for that one!