The daffodils are out. Spring is here, and I’ve been making a list of adventures, old and new, to share with my toddler (and baby).
As I mentioned last time, I’ve been thinking it’s time to head beyond the corner of London that’s home to us – and be tourists in our own city. Here’s what I have in mind.
Please feel free to share any toddler-friendly visits you’re planning yourself.
- Changing of the Guard
My toddler’s friend is very keen on soldiers, which got me to thinking they might like to see the Changing of the Guard. I have only a vague memory of being taken to see it myself as a child, so I did a little research.
A quick online search yielded some useful information. First, I didn’t realised that the guards are changed at several historic locations, including Windsor Castle and the Tower of London, but the ‘big one’ – the one on the postcards – is the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace. There’s a dedicated page here, detailing the best way to get a view if you’re with young children and want to avoid the worst of the crowds.
The ceremony usually takes place at 11.30am, but from January-March 2017 it’s being trialled at 11am, so you need to check not only the date, but the time that the whole thing takes place.
However if – like me – you’re with very young children who might like to see horses (and the local police horses seem popular with my little one, so yes) you’re advised here to see a slightly different ceremony – the changing of the Queen’s Life Guard at Horseguards parade. This takes place 11:00am Monday-Saturday and at 10:00am on a Sunday. I think it may be beyond the scope of my ambitions – at least for now – but you’re then also on the spot to visit the Household Cavalry Museum which promises the chance for children to dress up in various uniforms (Under 5s go free, adults £7 as of March 2017).
2. The Tower of London
I’ve mentioned it before, but it bears repeating – if you’re a resident of Tower Hamlets and show your Ideas store card, and proof of name and address – you can visit the Tower of London for £1. Under 5s go free anyway but (as of March 2017) that’s a cool £27 saving on what you’d pay on the door.
My toddler and I have so far only looked at the Tower from outside. She seemed quite impressed that there was a proper castle nearby, but took an unexpected dislike to the window which were apparently ‘too big’.
I’m hoping we can overcome this obstacle to our visit with the promise of seeing crowns and jewels, which seem to be of interest to her. Let’s hope they don’t offend her by being the wrong size. And then of course, there are beefeaters and ravens.
Here’s some useful information about visiting the Tower of London with children.
3. Down the river to Westminster
A few weeks back, we went on the Thames Clipper for the first time, from just outside the Tower of London (when the windows were found to be unsatisfactory) down to Greenwich. It was really great (read about it here) and it made me think it would be nice to travel in the other direction, down to Westminster to see the House of Parliament, Big Ben and various other sites. I’m thinking, Canary Wharf to Westminster, have a little look round (there’s St James’ Park and Buckingham Palace not far away if everything is going well) then get the tube back home.
4. Little pirates of the Golden Hinde
I’m tempted to get my toddler dressed up in her pirate hat for a visit to the reconstruction of Sir Francis’s Drake historic ship, the Golden Hinde, which is located at St Mary Overies Dock, near Southwark.
Check out the website for the Pirate Fun Days, which take place on Saturdays and are suitable for children who are aged 4+ (the other themed Fun Days are for children aged 6+). If by any chance, you’re at a loose end March 4th, 11th or 18th, you’re in luck. I’ve already checked and those are all Pirate Fun Days 11am-1pm.
I’ve seen the spring flowers a few times at Kew, but never with my toddler (we visited the Christmas Lights there together, which was lovely apart from the horror of getting there which I’m studiously blocking from my memory). It’s on the list this year, especially as there’s an indoor play area should the sky forget it’s Spring and launch rain at us. In fact, looking at the website, there’s lots to do at Kew that I’ve never done on account of only having been with another adult, including a Log Trail, a marine aquarium, an outside play area and a human-sized badger sett to explore. Visiting Kew isn’t cheap, but children under three go free and adult tickets can be bought ahead of time online for £14 (as of March 2017).
The next post I’m planning is on Outdoor adventures for Spring. Until then, have fun – all day long.