Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

Planning a London trip

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Westminster and the London Eye

In a couple of months time, Christine, Lizzie and I are off down to that there London for three nights. Typically, we go to London once or twice a year.

Travelling down

Our last visit was in October, and we travelled down by car for the first time. This was because we went via Oxford, but also because of the logistics of managing a 10-month old baby on a train for three hours each way was daunting. Especially when you add in all of the extra paraphernalia that you need to haul around with a small baby. Last time, we had to take plenty of food, changes of clothes, nappies etc.

This time, Lizzie will be approaching 18 months old, and so we’re going to attempt the train. We’ll do without a pushchair, as Lizzie should still be small enough to carry in a sling, and she can walk short distances now. And, apart from a few snacks, she doesn’t need her own food, as she’s happy eating from regular menus now.

It’ll also be cheaper. Fuel and parking cost us around £60 last time, plus the pressure of driving. Christine hasn’t passed her test yet and I can’t supervise her, so I have to do all of the driving. By contrast, two standard class adult returns with a Two Together Railcard booked last month cost us just £41. And, we’ve accumulated enough Nectar points to get two £20 Virgin Trains East Coast vouchers, so we actually only paid £1. That’s cheaper than the Megabus.

Staying over

Booking well in advance also ensured a cheap hotel stay. When booking accommodation, my usual tactic is to check the major budget hotel chains one by one, and then an aggregator like Expedia or Lastminute.com (which are often not the cheapest). Typically, we end up staying in a hotel in the IHG group, as I’m an IHG Rewards member, but they didn’t come out cheapest this time.

As usual, we’re not staying in central London. London’s public transport is really good, and the cost of travelling a bit further out is usually much less than the price of a more central hotel room. This time, we’re staying near Kew, in south-west London.

London attractions

The hotel is handy for the London Museum of Water & Steam, which I’ve not heard of before but it looks interesting. It’s in an old pumping station, and now tells the history of London’s water supply. This will be the second London pumping station that we’ve visited, after going to Crossness in 2015. It looks like it’ll be good for kids – especially if it’s a nice day where Lizzie can play outside.

The Musical Museum is also nearby and we may visit, depending on time.

Further away is the Museum of London Docklands. We popped in for about an hour on our last visit, but were only able to see the gallery on the top floor, about slavery and the history of the area. So we’d like the see the rest of the museum, but also the special exhibition on the archaeology of Crossrail that runs until November.

The Hunterian Museum has been on our to-do list for some time. Sadly, it closes next month for a three year refurbishment, so it’ll be shut when we visit.

Seeing friends

We try to make time to see friends when we’re in London, and so, in addition to the above, we’ll plan to meet up if we can. There’s a lot to fit in to a three night stay but we’ll do our best.

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