Entertaining young children during the school holidays, can be difficult. You don’t want to spend too much money, and if like us, we have work commitments. So looking after children can be expensive especially for child care. Our sister – in – law and brother was in this position. They needed their twins to be looked after for a day in August. We offered to look after our nephews for the day and wanted to do something special with them. We did consider taking them swimming as they love this, but wanted to do something different with them and decided upon London. They had been to London quite a few times, so deciding on what to do that was cheap, age appropriate (our nephews are 5 years old) and something they haven’t done before was difficult.
We also have to consider that one of the nephews Ashley has hearing problems, and wears hearing aids, while the other Timothy has full hearing. We wanted to do something that both boys could do, with as little expense as possible.
Things to do
There are a number of places to take young child in London, but here is where we went for the day:
Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain
Located in Hyde Park in London, and dedicated to the late Princess Diana who sadly died in a car crash in Paris, France in 1997. The fountain is shaped in a circle, and the water flows around the fountain. This is great for children of all ages, as paddling and wading in the waters are permitted.
When we arrived, it was very busy for two reasons, the weather throughout the summer was amazing which brings people out, and school holidays brings families. We found a little spot in the shade just a short distance from the fountain. It didn’t take long before the boys jumped into the fountain having fun and splashing around. We spent the whole day here, and the boys had endless fun without tiring.
There are some deeper sections and some real shallow sections, but the deepest section never went above the boys waists. The great thing with both the boys, was that they never went beyond our sight, and they made sure we were always in their sight.
We did have some concerns about taking the boys to London. Our main concern was, what happened if they got lost and we couldn’t find them, London after all is a very large city. In all honesty, we didn’t have to worry about this as we knew where they were at all times, and they held our hands. The park is very safe, has so much to keep them entertained, and would keep you going for the entire day.
We were planning to take the boys to Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Playground after the water fountain, for further fun and games. However, since the boys had so much fun at the fountain, we decided we would stay for the rest of the day. The Memorial playground is free and located in Kensington Gardens. The Memorial playground, has the theme of Peter Pan, with a giant pirate ship which would have entertained the boys. However, we had to consider that walking two 5 years olds from Kensington Gardens to the other end of Hyde Park would be too much on their little legs. So have decided we shall leave this for another time, when we take the boys for another adventure to London!
Hyde Park is a great spot for family picnics, and going out onto the lake with a pedal boat. On our way home, we made a point of taking a short stroll through the park, for new places for the boys to explore and see.
When travelling with young boys especially, you know they will get dirty or wet, so taking spare clothing is always necessary. We couldn’t take swim wear because they would be too excited and think they would be going swimming, so the next best thing was underpants. So we took spare underwear with us and a towel. This was sufficient, but in all honesty we should have brought more cloths with us. At first they went into the water in their clothes as they didn’t want to take their clothes off. We eventually got them down to running around in just their underpants, which meant we had to lay their clothes on the grass in the sun to dry off. We also only brought the one towel which got wet very quickly with the boys in and out of the water. So taking a couple of pairs of clothes and a couple of towels are always a must. The only negative with taking so much clothing and towels would be having to carry these across London.
We took various different types of transport to get around London, one for the adventure but also because Ashley didn’t like the tube.
Cost: £40 for two adults and two children
To get to London we took the train, which takes about 45 minutes to get us to Waterloo East. So for entertainment we took some magazines and books for the children to play with, keep them quite and in their seat, and it did the trick. They were very good boys, there was no running around, no loud noises just simple playing. It was also great to get them to watch out of the window and see some of the sights as we approach London especially the Shard. Once we got to London Waterloo East, it was simple getting them down to the underground.
Cost: Children travel for free and it is approximately £5.40 per person for us for the day.
Once we exited the train, the boys held our hand all the way to the underground. When travelling with children, use the large gates which are specific for disabled and children. The staff at the station will either open the gates, or present the card at the machine, the gates open and you just walk through with the children. To go into the underground there are further gates, again proceed through the larger gates with the children. The cheapest way to travel on the underground is either the Oyster card, but you can pay with your contactless bank card or your phone (with the payment app). We personally used our contactless bank card, just tapped it and the gates open. We descended on the escalator and the boys at this point seemed excited and happy with the journey. It wasn’t until we got onto the tube that they became unhappy. Our nephew Ashley didn’t like the tube, not sure why, it is possible that the sounds on the tube are different and may have been a little loud for him, or it could have affected his ears in some way being so low underground, so we exited at our next stop. Our next consideration was a bus, but not being from the area we didn’t know what bus to catch etc. So a black taxi it was!
Sometimes the tube can be a little scary, especially with the noise, the jolting, and it can affect the ears. So for little children who have never travelled via tube, it can be very scary.
Cost: It is metered but cost us £10 for the taxi ride to Hyde Park
The back cab/taxi can take children without car seats, as long as they have their seatbelts on. So we thought lets have an adventure and travel via black cab, both boys seemed a little happier but was not their normal self. We got the taxi driver to drop us at the entrance of Hyde Park and didn’t have far to walk to get to the Memorial fountain. It also didn’t take long for the boys to shake off their worries about the train and have fun for the rest of the day.
As we got ready to head back home, our nephew Ashley said he didn’t want to go home on a train, I explained to him we had no other way of getting home other than via a train. After explaining that it would be safe for us to travel and that we would be with them both, he did travel on the tube and he was much more comfortable and happy, we just simply took his mind of things and counted the stations before catching the next tube. Both the boys were completely fine on the train back home.
It is possible to drive to London, and through London, however the roads can get congested and parking is limited and expensive. Our advice would be, to avoid driving in or through London.
Parking in London can be expensive, and very limited. We would advise against travelling to London via car.
There are many buses which cover the London area but only certain buses will go in a certain direction and stop. As we are not from the area, catching a bus become difficult as not sure which bus to catch and from where.
Places to eat
Cost: variable depending on where you eat
Every corner you turn there are always somewhere to eat or drink in London. In Hyde Park there is a café serving hot and cold food and drinks. We brought some snacks along with us, but purchased a couple of baguettes from the café. The food went down a treat with the boys, eating most of the food, whilst we shared what was left.
There are also many vans serving hot and cold food, including ice cream, which we did treat the boys too. London in some areas are overpriced especially the ice cream at £2.90 per ice cream.
Looking for somewhere unique to eat? Then check out some of these most unique, unusual and quirky restaurants in London. There’s a small selection that’s children friendly, that could keep them entertained.
We intend to take our nephews on further adventures, so more content in this area will be added.