Woke the kids at 300am to walk to the air coach for our 45-minute bus ride to the airport. The night before during tuck-in I asked the kids how they wanted to be woken up. Mila said she wanted me to sneak into her room on the floor put my one hand up the side of her bed like a zombie and scream at her. I asked a few times if she was sure and she said she was sure. I figured 50/50 this could go well or blow up tremendously. So as requested, I crept into her room put my hand directly in front of her face and screamed.
Mila giggled a bit. That went surprisingly well. As did the rest of the morning getting on the bus. Kids were all in high spirits excited for the trip to London. Much better than last time when everyone had a fever and we canceled the trip. Luck and brilliant spirits ended on the bus. Roxi was tired and came to my seat to snuggle on my chest. I pack a single pair of shorts, two shirts, some undies and shorts for 4 nights. Roxi vomited all over my shorts and shirt and we’re only an hour away from home into the journey.
The flight was nice and simple Khaleesi, Roxi and I in row 26 and Maddex, Mila and mom in front in row 25. We landed at Stansted airport right on time. From the plane rode a bus into the terminal where we waited about 20 minutes for our luggage to Arrive. Michelle looked and the train into the city advertised 7£ per head online. The signs said the same thing. The ticket machine came back at more like 27£ per person. We ended up on a bus Into the city for 30£. The bus ride is longer than the plane flight time wise. Roxi and Mila slept on me for most of the bus ride. Another round of bad luck hit mom when Khaleesi vomited on her then passed out on her lap. We are not winning with the kids today.
At the airport, while Michelle was figuring out tickets into the city I was watching a guy try to fit 3 car seats on his kid buggy and it was not going well. I felt his pain and gave him the luggage strap I bought a few weeks ago for jackets. The strap worked perfectly. I told him it was a gift. He has three kids, I have four; any help I can give to fellow parents is plenty compensation for a gift.
Done got here
Last time I was in London it was so hot they closed down the tubes. Last time Michelle was here they had a bombing and closed the tubes. Today it’s sunny, dry and hot in the high 20s. Spectacular weather! Hopefully, the tubes aren’t shut down for any reason.
An hour and twenty minutes to Bakers street bus stop and We’re finally off the bus on our own 12 feet, we each have 2 feet, six people in the family = 12 feet. Looking at the map the bus stop is next to a huge green area called Regent Park, we better check it out. On the way to the park we toss the bus vomit towel in a rubbish bin; hope we’re done with the vomiting for the trip. Park is huge, green, shaded, and gorgeous. We walk along a lake filled with ducks and swans and end up in a nice kids play area. Most of the toy areas here have sand in them vs. bark. I’m sure no one will have sandy shoes to drain when we leave.
Mila said the swans were beautiful, Michelle commented how huge they are, Maddex said they are as tall as he is. I told everyone to give the swans room because they will bite your face off if you annoy them. At least that’s my experience from the swans that used to live between building 3 and 9 at Microsoft campus.
After the park we were all starting to turn a bit cranky from getting up so early, the 25-degree heat and not having much food, so we walked back where the bus dropped us to a Tesco for some snacks. Water, bread, and fruit. We exited the Tesco turned left around the corner and are right there in the shade we ate. Nice to have some food in the bellies. We have about three hours before our place is scheduled to be open it’s about 4km from Sherlock’s house to our place in kings cross so we carry on towards Kings Cross making sure to walk on the shady side of the road to avoid sunburns.
When we arrive at our flat it’s closed and the owner is not answering their phone, a theme for the place – he’s getting a max level shitty review Sweet have more time to kill hauling around all of our luggage. Looking at the map there’s a Tesco metro nearby we’ll shop at and a canal we could walk along. We stop at the Tesco and buy a jug of apple juice for 1.35£ to share. 3 seconds later filled with 2 liters of juice we find a canal y to walk along. We walk along the canal for a bit until we come to the ends. Having killed some time we figure we should head towards our flat. On the route back to the flat it looks like there is a park, so we divert in the direction of the park We luck out and the park has some toys for the kids to climb and play on.
The kids run to the toys, I slowly followed behind them and Michelle drops the suitcase, lays down on the first patch of grass in the shade she comes to. She’s been laying there for about 15 minutes now while the kids are playing and I’m typing this post on my phone. Poor girl is worn out. Turned out she passed out and took a 20-minute nap.
Our flat is a single triangular room in a basement with some bunk beds and a bathroom. The listing said fridge and Microwave in the room. We found some in another room and I moved them into our room. The number to call for management has gone unanswered since we booked. We’ll not totally unanswered someone with limited English answered today to let us in then said his friend would answer our questions later. My main question is where’s in the internets.
In the hall when you enter is a sign with rules and a wifi code. Sadly I found the router with that code in a closet unhooked. We stocked our fridge with drinks, picked up some milk and cereal and kebabs and had dinner in our room while watching a show luckily I had some shows loaded on the surface from a year ago when we stayed somewhere with no internet. Everyone was passed out before 8. Even with the flight being less than an hour and a half we had a long travel day
Second day Hyde Park
After getting dressed and eating breakfast we were out the door by 730 headed for a playground in Kensington Park. we took the tube from kings cross station to the marble arch station. Then spent a few hours wandering around Hyde Park followed by Kensington park. Eventually, we made it our destination, the princess Diana kids park. They actually have a guard at the gate. You’re only allowed in the Park if you have kids with you. The kids had fun on the pirate ship in the massive sandbox.
Michelle claims Pizza Hut in London is far better than anywhere else. From the Princess Diana playground, it’s only 12 minutes walk to a Pizza Hut where we have lunch. The pizza is good but I’m not sure there’s a difference. Next, I want to head to the Isle of dogs and walk under the river Thames into Greenwich. Why? because 100+ year-old people tunnels under rivers are rad and the kids are excited by the idea of it.
We catch the tube to the DLR (trains above ground vs subway under it, like the LUAS) to get to the DLR from Pizza Hut we had to take the tube. When we got out of the tube we were right in from of tower of London and London bridge so we walked around the castle then along the river for a bit. First chance we got we stopped for ice creme and found a park to play in. Eventually, we ended on the DLR line on a train to our destination
On the train, Mila made friends with a Scottish lady. Mika told her her entire life story and all about Dublin and our trip to London. Mila was on a roll hardly pausing to catch her breath between stories. The gal was a good sport and seemed to enjoy Milas attention. After the Scottish gang got off what looked like an entire first-year class got on the train. All in their uniforms with teachers trying to keep count. They got off a stop before we did.
Before walking under the river we stopped for some apple juice and cookies which we consumed in front of the store. From there it was a super short walk to the tunnel. We went to the edge of the river and I pointed out to everyone where we would come out then we took the spiral staircase down under the river. 88 down and 100 up. We Don’t need no stinking 114-year-old lift to bring us back up to ground level we took the stairs on both sides. Judging by the volume of the screams and running and giggling The kids enjoyed waking in the tunnel under the river.
On the other side of the river, checking the time and working out a path back to our flat it seems time was running out before we’d need to head back. I wanted to see the royal observatory and the maritime museum. We had to pick one; we choose the boat museum. Museum Highlight for the kids was the kids’ area where they got to play with boats, shovel coal, load a container ship without tipping it over and play in a ship’s kitchen. After the museum, we walked along the bottom of the park until we found the massive kids play area with like 8 zones. Small kids zone, Bigger kid area, obstacle course, sandbox, swings toilets. This place has it all, and it’s all fenced in with limited access making it difficult to misplace your kids.
It’s about an hour walk and train and tube ride back home. After we got off the tube we stopped for cereal and popcorn before ending the day at home. We made it home around 7. The kids ate and watched a movie and were all sleeping before eight. Wore them out good. Michelle and I were not far behind them falling sleep before 930
Thursday Museum day
Sleeping in is not a MillFam thing, we were up before 6 and out the door headed to Donald’s for pancakes. Kids requested it and we deliver as long as the kids continue being amazing travelers. After the super carb sugar breakfast, We took the tube towards Buckingham Palace and F-me was it crowded; hello rush hour. Michelle Maddex and Mila got in one door and Roxi, Khaleesi and I got in another door. Was not enough room for all of us in the same section.
We arrived in town around 9 and nothing opens until 10. We killed some time by wandering around the area. First, we found a massive cathedral to explore then we went in and out of a few shops to warm up from the cold. No sunshine out, and the wind is blowing making it fairly cold this morning. The stroller feels like it’s past starting to fall apart. Feels like it needs to be replaced. It’s difficult to keep in a straight line, and increasingly hard to turn. We popped into the house of Fraser to look for a new one, but they did not have any. Nothing nearby looked like a place where we’d find a buggy. Not wanting to drive a busted buggy all day I looked deeper at the stroller and figured out the issue.
There is a plastic foot strap over the front wheels. Ours broke a few weeks ago and I zip tied it back together. One of the ties has failed, now the strap rests on a tire and acts as a brake when the kid’s feet are on it. It took me three tries and cost one bloody thumb, but I managed to hook the remaining tie over a rivet to hold the strap up. The free stroller has a few weeks of life left in it We can probably wait until we make it back to Dublin to replace it.
By now it’s past 10 and things are starting to open Today our core goal is to visit the science and natural history museums. We walked the science museum first then the natural history museum after a snack. The kid’s favorite parts of the museums were the dinosaurs and gem exhibits in the natural history museums. In the gem area, I offered to pick Khaleesi up out of the stroller and hold the high enough to see the gems. She told me – ” I got this dad I can already see” then she pointed up. Above the gems at an angle is a mirror she can look up into and see everything.
After the natural history museum, we figured the kids needed a reward so we carried on to Kensington palace on the way to the princess Dianna playground we were at yesterday. At the park, Mila was helping Roxi off of the pirate ship in the play park acting like a mom saying “don’t worry Hun bun I’ll help you.”
As we approached the kid’s park we watched and heard the royal helicopter land behind Kensington Palace. While the kids were playing it took off then came back and took again. Wonder who’s commune and going? If only there were royal spotting website or something. On the way to the park, we walked by Kensington Palace. In front of the statue of Queen Victoria in front of the palace there was a Camera guy with news creds preparing to film women; maybe related?
while putting their shoes on to leave the kids made sand angles. After we held them upside down and dump the sand out we loaded up our kits, Used the toilet then headed back towards home on an even more crowded tube. It’s impressive how civilized the madness is. People are mostly calm and orderly. Especially on the stairs and escalators. After the mob narrows to board the escalator, It’s standing to the right and walking to the left.
Maddex and I ended last night talking about the Apollo missions because there was a moon lander and lunar command module in the Science Museum. Luck would have it, of the 8 movies we had loaded locally on the surface, one was Apollo 13. We started the morning watching Apollo 13 while everyone else woke up and had breakfast. On the way out of our flat, some lady staying in the building asked Michelle and to keep our kids down so early in the morning as she was up late the night before and needed rest. Michelle resisted doing much more than nodding. What we wanted to say was “Ya we heard you up till 3 am drinking and smoking week on our ceiling. You were so loud we hardly slept” – somehow Michelle resisted the words and nodded instead.
First stop of the morning was another huge kids park not far from our flat. this one had a carnival set up in the middle, a tiny kids area, a petting zoo, sandbox, huge slides and dual side by side zip lines. Michelle and I raced Maddex on the zip lines both hitting our bums on the ground and letting him win. We were in the park before 8, the carnival was not open until much later in the day, oh darn too bad we didn’t have toss money at carnies.
Next on the list is a kids toy museum about 3k away. It’s early and nice day so we despised we’d walk it. Most of the walk was along the canal. At one point we came upon someone with their boat in a lock trying to push one of the gates open. Maddex and I could not resist helping. We’ve always wanted to work on a lock! and here was an opportunity. The gentleman in the lock was kind enough to explain how it all works and allow us to help. While we were pushing Mila grabbed onto one of the water gate lifts covered in grease and covered her hand in black slime. The gentleman we’re helping jumped into his boat and came with some wipes. He was super kind and gave Mila some wipes to clean off with. That was nice of him; it’s nice meeting great people.
After about 3k walking along the waterway, we took a left onto a side street and bought a snack. We tried to eat it in a kids park, but the Park was locked only open to residents. We ate on some benches outside of the park until some homeless looking lad started smoking next to us. Not being in the mood to smoke with him we carried on to the kid’s toy museum.
The kid’s museum was two stories of toys from all ages. Michelle and I relived our childhood toy highlights looking at all of the toys we grew up with. The kids enjoyed checking everything out and playing with the random exhibits. They all rated the rocking horse ride as a highlight of the museum. Mila put on a puppet show for us in a puppet booth. After we walked away from the show we lost Roxi. We found her in the puppet booth with puppets on her hands waiting to put on a show; she tries so hard to be like her big sisters.
After the toy museum, we rode the tube to Big Ben which was A- covered in scaffolding being refurbished, and B- insanely crowded. crowds and MillFan don’t mix so well. To run away from the crowd we walked across the bridge towards elephant and castle, which was a bit of a slum bummer. On the way stopped at a random pub for lunch. The kids mostly held it together and the food was good enough, burgers and mac and cheese and chips and chicken.
Along the walk to and from the pub Mila started to sing with her hands in a cup in front of her. She explained that she wanted to sing on the street to make money like they do on graft on street back home. I’ll encourage singing in public and being an entrepreneur. At lunch, Maddex did not finish all of his food. He said, “well Roxi ate of my chips and burger, so I did not waste too much money not finishing all of my food” impressed me he is starting to think about waste and the cost of things. Helping the kids to understand money and respect being frugal is a huge goal for me. From Elephant and Castle, we hopped on the tube and stopped by Piccadilly circus to look around and kill some time.
Mom told the kiddos about how she stayed here once before meeting dad. She pointed out where had stayed and what she did while here, and mentioned the bombing. We Walking around Piccadilly for a bit until we decided we’d head back to Cromwell park and check out the carnival. We’ve been walking 20k a day and kids have not complained at all, plus we’ve been spending less than 80£ a day so we have plenty of money left over from the 400£ I bought for our budget when we landed. On the way to the carnival, we pass by and stopped at the British war museum and checked out the exhibits. Maddex chose the holocaust section to start and that’s about Michelle and I wanted to see. The huge 15” guns in front of the museum were cool to look at. Bullets bigger than our kids.
Carnivals equate to a money vacuums in my mind and rate as things to avoid. As a reward to the kids if planes to toss down 20£. This one was 20£ for 20 tickets and each ride was one ticket. Oddly reasonable price wise for something run by carnies. Maddex Mila and I rode a roller coaster. Mila Khaleesi and I rode a spinning thing that went way up in the air. Mila started to freak out in the middle. Khaleesi loved it. Maddex went on bumper cars by himself and the girls went on a train and into a bounce house. 20£ for an hour and a half of fun with like 10 rides was not too bad.
Back to the room, we packed up, snacked, watched a show then all passed out on our box spring mattresses. The beds are not foam mattresses they are box springs with some fabric on top. Which is oddly not horrible. On a hard bed that’s like plywood all of my body weight is in about 3 pressure points. On the box spring the load is more evenly spread out on all of my flesh, sadly every part of my body touching the bed is being stabbed by metal. Favorite parts of the day for the kids, carnival rides and the rocking horse
Travel day home
We slept in until about 530 this morning. Which is an accomplishment when we are all sleeping in bunk beds in the same small room. We have plenty of time this morning so we started rescinded to walk towards liver pool station through the city of London to catch the train to the airport. The City of London is a separate city than London city. I’ve read about it, and always wanted to explore it someday. Never figured we’d randomly end up there walking around London. Along the walk we stopped at, you guessed it, another park and play park for the kids. We also stopped at A costa for coffee and toilets before we made it to the train station.
After paying way too much for tickets to the airport we killed an hour walking around the area. Way too much is the same price for the train to and from the airport than the flight from Dublin to London cost. Walking around we found a huge farmers market that would have been fun to explore. If we were there after it opened; is no one a morning person here? Near the exit of the market, we stopped and chatted with a Viking looking couple in a jewelry stand. They had some stamped charms that I liked and were more than happy to answer questions. Didn’t think about stamping as a method to create stuff with the kids. We might need to try making copper things and stamping them with Celtic symbols.
All of the kids found some money on the ground while we were walking around. Mila did the best finding a whole pound. On the walk back to the train station momma and the girls made up stories, then Mila came to walk with Maddex and I and we told Pete and repeat jokes. The train was a nice comfy ride. The kids all played on their phones while I was working on this trip report catching up to now.
On the train ride Khaleesi was quoting frozen cracking me up – ” can I say something crazy ?” – “will you marry me? ” – ” can I say something crazier?”- ” yes!” Then she would crack up laughing. Mega adorable.
The airport is set up to maximize shopping opportunities for travelers while waiting for your flight. You wait in a central area with shops on every wall until about 45 minutes before your flight boards. Then your flight shows up on the board and you walk to your gate to board. Everywhere are signs saying you can take a shopping bag with you on the plane and screens displaying how much time before flights leave. The space has far More people than seats and no kids zone. We bought sandwiches for lunch and found some empty seats in a side hallway where we sat and ate. Had to bribe Mila with soda and m&ms to get her to eat some bread instead of eating only crisps.
Roxi took a bad spill while we were eating. She was running behind me towards mom and either slipped or tripped, not sure, but she landed eye first on a plastic Pepsi max bottle. She ended up with a nasty cut in her right eyelid and no apparent eye damage. She snuggled with mom for a few minutes then went right back to it.
The flight home was a no-brainer. Roxi slept most of the way, girls played on their phones and coloured. We got another set of Irish stamps in our passports, picked up our luggage and boarded the air coach- megadon supreme sad face there is no AC on the bus, broken, and it’s hot out.
Lessons things to pack next time from the trip:
- Travel bowls for the kids. We have sporks but no bowls the hotel had no bowls and the paper ones were so shallow they were useless. We bought some bowls that should be good next time
- Don’t book standsteed airport. Martin warned us but we had to learn the hard way. The flights are cheap, but it takes as much on the train or more time by bus to get from the airport to city as it takes to fly from Dublin to the airport. Plus the cost of the train is the same as the airline ticket.
- We need to pack some travel laundry soap Incase we need to wash things in a shower. Might even invest in quick dry undies for everyone too.
- Might need to start bringing vomit bags with us as we had two pukers on the trip. Luckily we had a white towel for Michelle’s episode. We tossed the towel in the rubbish after getting off the bus not sure what to do with it.
- Taking video and pictures and writing about a trip while it happens takes away from enjoying the trip. Learning balance here is going to be fun.
- Fitbit does not track steps accurately when you’re pushing a buggy. If I pushed Michelle ended up with 30% more steps then me. If Michelle Pushed I ended up with more steps