Tea with the Queen

June 9, 2012

Not quite, but we’re just back from London and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee! We didn’t really plan it that way, but it was a nice backdrop for our trip. Between that and the remarkable weather we had — not any rain! — London seemed incredibly vibrant. If you want to plan a trip, here’s a few things to keep in mind:

If you plan on traveling by train, and you have kids, get yourself a Family Railcard. You save 1/3 off every trip, including the Heathrow Express train from the airport. It’s 28 pounds, and it paid for itself with the purchase of our roundtrip tix on the Heathrow Express, where we saved over 30 pounds. (And that really is the best way to get to and from the airport. Yes, you can take the tube but it takes forever and is difficult with suitcases. This gets you to Paddington in 15 minutes and you can get a taxi to anywhere.)

Kids under 5 ride free on all trains; kids under 10 ride free on the tube. And if you get an oyster card for the tube, make sure it registers when you tap in and out! Otherwise there’s a 5 pound surcharge.

Usually we go to some of our favorite restaurants from way back (Wagamama, Ping Pong, Le Caprice) but we found some new ones this trip — Jamie Oliver’s Union Jack’s and the Italian restaurant Zizzi’s. If you want something on the go, nothing beats Marks and Spencer. Their selection of prepared foods is fab. I really wish they would expand to NYC!

We also took the kids to see the newly opened Making of Harry Potter tour, just outside London. They essentially kept all of the sets and costumes and, frankly, just about everything from the HP movies and opened up a tour to the public. Die hard fans will just, well, die, and even those who only have a limited acquaintance (that would be me) can appreciate the craft of movie-making and the sick attention to detail that really showed the level of devotion to the books. My son had just finished the first book and he found it all intriguing and said it’s his favorite thing he did in London; my sister had read all the books and seen all the movies and completely loved it. Worth the short train ride and shuttle bus to get there, but definitely buy your tickets in advance.

I have to say, we found London incredibly kid-friendly. In fact, we were there about 6 years ago with a 15 month old, and found it incredibly not kid-friendly, so it was amazing to see. Kids meals everywhere with actually decent food. Special family bathrooms. They even let us cut the line at customs since we had little ones.

The only thing I fear for the 10 million people about to descend on London for the Olympics is the lack of air-conditioning. Especially on the tube. Good luck with that!

Call Me Maybe

Perhaps you’ve seen the over abundance of remakes of Call Me Maybe — everyone from the Harvard baseball team to Justin Bieber to a masked Romney and Obama have posted them. But I thought this one by Jimmy Fallon and the Roots with Carly Rae Jepsen was super cute, using only childhood instruments like the xylophone we all had growing up. Check it out here.

Etc.

Party people in the house! I’ve got my daughter’s party today (even though she doesn’t turn 5 for a few weeks) and my son’s party next weekend. After that I feel like I need to let summer start and try to relax!!

Have a great weekend!

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