Country Kids in Central London
Bunny will be five in a couple of months, so planning a fun day out in London needs to allow for this – the requirement not to walk too far, not to go into too many shops and to take advantage of her young eyes that see wonder and excitement in the normal.
As Bunny loves princesses (I know!) more than anything else, the first stop after we got off the train at Victoria station was to take a short walk along to see Buckingham Palace where a real life royal family live. And to watch the soldiers marching up and down the forecourt in their funny bear skin hats.
A short walk from the glitz of the palace brought us to the calm of St James’ Park. At the entrance, a small, but perfectly formed children’s play area beckoned and Bunny jumped on a wooden snail to take flight over London to Buckingham Palace. She ran along the stone bridge, climbed the rope bridge that led to a slide, played with her aunty on the seesaw and had a quick go on the swings.
As we explored the park further, we said hello to the many and varied birds that roamed the banks of the lake, hoping for some food. We saw coots, moorhens, geese, ducks, gulls and of course, the majestic swans gliding past, as regal as their neighbours.
Momentarily, the sun peeked out from behind the clouds and it almost felt springlike. The blossom on the trees and the daffodil shoots obviously thought so too!
We walked through Horseguard’s Parade, past more soldiers sat on noble horses, through another, smaller park and up to the Jubilee Bridge to cross the Thames to Waterloo. The London Eye spun slowly to our right and street performers delighted crowds to our left.
We lunched at Giraffe and then headed into the Southbank Centre’s branch of Foyles bookstore to browse the many wonderful books on offer. There is always something so magical about a bookshop, always something new to discover and delight. Bunny took herself off to a quiet corner and snuggled down on the floor with a book that had caught her attention. In the meantime, I discovered the utterly delightful Cozy Classics, which take the Classics (War & Peace, Jane Eyre) as a base and use key words next to beautiful photos of felt characters to tell the story in a very first words manner. An alternative version also uses the first words or numbers type themes to introduce Alice In Wonderland, Moby Dick and Romeo & Juliet to tiny readers. If I was rich I would have bought the entire collection of each as they are just so perfect for anyone with a passion for literature, even if small children won’t quite get their brilliance! But I can imagine them being passed from literature loving generation to generation, much like the true classics.
While at the Southbank Centre, we checked out the details for the February half term break Imagine Children’s Festival. We happened upon it last year and were so impressed, I made the decision to return this year. The Southbank Centre becomes perfectly child-friendly with day-long entertainment for all ages, activities and food with little people in mind. Looking at the programme this year, I was excited to see Patrick Ness and John Hegley will both be there – unfortunately, my two are too young to attend those sessions (which means I miss out too) but it aptly demonstrates the calibre of entertainment promised.
All too soon, we had run out of time and we had to say goodbye to my sister and head off to an event we were there for (more on that in another post), but we’d had a lovely day and far nicer than dragging Bunny round shops or to expensive tourist attractions that she was too young to fully appreciate. If the weather had been bad, we may have changed our plans, but this was a truly perfect day out in London with a four year old.