At the weekend we where off to London as Ella was performing as Annie in the West End with her Stage School. As much as it was a brilliant exiting time, it was also exhausting mostly due to the amount of travelling we had to endure, and with a baby in tow it really was hard work and not one that I would recommend to anyone travelling with a young family.
We flew into London Stanstead which is the furthest airport away from the centre of London. We bought our train tickets on the plane with Easyjet to avoid the lengthy queues when we arrived at the airport but in doing so it cost so much more than what we would have paid had we queried about day passes in the station.
It wasn’t until we arrived at London Bridge and spoke with a very knowledgeable customer service representative in the station that we realised we could have got tickets a lot cheaper. We did however purchase a Day Travelcard for the next two days which allowed us to travel multiple times between Gatwick Airport and London Zones 1-6 and at only £8.10 per adult was well worth it. Children are half price and those under 5 travel free. So if you are heading to London definitely purchase this Day Pass!!!
We stayed at the Travel Lodge in Gatwick Airport as we didn’t want a long trek across London at all hours of the morning when we where returning on the Monday morning so Ella could be back at school, but in hindsight it was very exhausting being so far away and having to make that journey back and forth a few times per day. A train from Gatwick Airport to London Bridge takes around 40 minutes and then it was a further two tube journeys to reach Picadilly Circus which is the closest station to the West End area.
Most of the undergrounds do not have lifts! Yes you heard me right, the mind boggles at how people in wheelchairs and those with prams manage to use the underground. In fact some of the stations don’t even have escalators so having to get help to carry a pram up and down endless flights of stairs was hard work. We got the hang of the escalators with the pram eventually, but it is still such a steep drop down and can be quite intimidating at times, especially when everyone is racing past you to get just a few steps in front.
Negotiating the steep escalators in the Underground with a buggy!
That brings me onto my next observation. The majority of people in London do not have time for anyone. In our country if you seen someone with a pram or wheelchair or someone elderly you would step back and let them past, but in London noooooo they practically throw themselves over the top of your pram and baby. I feel so sorry for mums and dads on a daily commute throughout the city.
If you must travel with a small child then I highly recommend firstly on bringing a very lightweight buggy or stroller. Secondly plan the journeys and routes that you need to make, check if they have lifts or escalators and if there is an alternative station or bus that would be easier travelled from A to B. You can download the official London Underground app and plan what stations have what facilities and you may find that just one stop along isn’t much a walk to your destination and that it has a lift making for a more pleasant journey.
Next time I would definitely stay in a closer hotel than what we did. Yes the Travel Lodge was very nice and spacious and the staff very hospitable, it was just too far out unless you are just wanting somewhere to rest before getting an onward journey. But it is definitely not somewhere to be using as your base to trek back and forth multiple times from the centre of London. On the day of Ella’s show we left early in the morning and we didn’t get back until just before midnight that evening, but it meant we had to be prepared and have everything with us and even a change of clothes. Yes I was that person running through Leicester Square in an evening gown and converse!
We didn’t have much time to sightsee but we where able to squeeze in a visit to Buckingham Palace as Ella really wanted to see there and Covent Garden. I have a friend who lives in London so it was lovely to meet up with her and grab some coffee and dinner and she was able to be on babysitting duties whilst we all went to see Ella perform.
Sweetheart in Covent Garden have the most delicious cupcakes and fresh pink lemonade
Mod Pizza is incredible and the staff are so friendly and accommodating and whip up your food in record time, definitely check them out for a quick lunch time bite
Despite how difficult it was with a baby in tow we all had a lovely trip and I am really looking forward to heading back again but think I will just take Ella this time as Cameron was so sick the whole time and the amount of travelling about we did really did unsettle him and make for a stressful situation at trying to find somewhere that was child friendly all the time to eat and change him.
I highly recommend reserving a table to avoid lengthy delays, in saying that we still had to wait an hour on our food in Planet Holywood
Ole & Steen in the Haymarket area is amazing for their wide selection of pastries and coffee
Ella at the Stage Door of Her Majesty’s Theatre where she was performing
On stage as Annie