Saturday, 3 December 2016

Isaac's 8th birthday

My middle one celebrated his birthday last weekend.  His birthday fell on a friday.  His presents were not as numerous as they were in the States, though he did not seem to notice or care. 

Isaac is difficult, yet easy to buy for.  He likes pretty much everything, and didn't give us much of an idea of what he wanted, other than Lego

I think he was pleased with what we got him.  He had a 'Secret Life of Pets' birthday cake from Tesco (big supermarket chain).

It wasn't the best of cakes.  Lesson learned.

Isaac had initially wanted a birthday party, but luckily for us he changed his mind about a month ago. When we discovered there was a Lego store opening in Leicester Square, London, we thought about going, especially as that was what hew wanted for his birthday.  So I started investigating.

Trains are always a good experience for boys, and there are plenty of train stations in the UK.  But there are 5 of us, and travelling to London and around London can be expensive on public transport.  But it beats sitting in traffic.  I came across this Friends and Family Railcard.  Using this, you can get up to a third off train fares.  I was able to use my Tesco Clubcard Points to purchase the rail card at 50% off (Note to US friends: Tesco Clubcard points are a bit like Bi Lo fuel perks, except you can use them in many different ways, not just on fuel.  For every pound you spend in the grocery store, you get 1 point.  These accumulate, and then different organisations offer different schemes to redeem your points).  We were able to get 5 train tickets, plus one day travel cards for each of us for 60 pounds.  Thats 12 each! A one day travel card gives you unlimited travel on the underground all day too.  The card is valid for a year, so I can see a few more trips to London occurring. 

Isaac wanted to go to the Imperial War Museum (IWM).  Paul and I went pre-kids and we were a little uncertain, but went for it anyway.  We got the train to Victoria, then the underground across to Waterloo, then walked the short distance to the museum.

The IWM had a refit in 2014, so was completely different from what we remember.  It is over 4 floors, with a large central atrium. Typically, It covers World War 2, World War 2 and lots of other, more recent conflicts.

The museum is free to get in, though you can give a donation if you wish.  It was really interesting going over the levels.  They had members of staff giving talks in very places, but ours are still a little young to stand and listen.

The IWM is definitely worth a visit.  Paul and I would like to go back again in the future to actually take our time.  We didn't take the kids to the Holocaust area.  We are not sure they would understand (or behave).  In the future, we will.  It is important for them to learn about.

From the IWM we walked towards the London Eye, in search of some lunch. I spotted a row of restaurants nestled by London County Hall, near the river.  Fortunately, they all seemed to hav loads of kids in them.  We chose Troia restaurant.  Very glad we did.  A Mediterranean style restaurant, they had mini chairs and tables for everyone. The service was, good, customers were coming and going constantly.  It was a very busy saturday lunchtime! The food was delicious.  The boys had nuggets and burgers from the kids menu.  Paul and I indulged in kebab style meals.  It was a great little stop, I would highly recommend to anyone passing by. 

Next stop: The Coca Cola London Eye. Again, planning in advance I was able to use the Clubcard vouchers again.  Per person, I used a 2.50 voucher, then paid 10 per person, so effectively we rode the London Eye for half price.  We booked our flight tickets for 2.30pm. 

We arrived about 1.45, and a good job we were early.  The queue was a good size, though it was moving.  We to into our pod about 2.20

This was an awesome experience.  Paul is not the best with heights, so spent the first half sitting in the middle.  Towards the top he got brave, and started venturing nearer the edge. We were lucky to have a beautiful semi cloudy day, so we were able to see for miles.  The pods have helpful screens in them which you can use to find land marks 

The pods could do with a little bit of a clean.  From the Eye, we got the tube to Leicester Square.  That was busy.  Getting out of the tube station was crazy, super, super busy.  Keeping track of 3 boys was tricky, but at least we did it with our wallets intact too.  We headed towards the Lego store.  Then we saw the queue. They had been open 5 days, it was Leicester Square, there were going to be queues. But we joined the queue.  We had to wait about 30 minutes.  I think it was worth it.  The boys were able to pick something each.  It was very busy, but the staff were very helpful.  We had a quick look in the Nickelodeon store, but it was no way as good!

Then it was time to head back for our train.  We had a good 90 minutes before our schedule train back to the coast.  We got to Victoria, looked at the departure boards, and noticed there was one leaving in 5 minutes.  So we ran for it.  And made it.  The train was really busy, but we were able to all get seats after about 4 stops.

It was a great day out.  Everything ran really smoothly.  The boys were really well behaved.  It is good to know we can do London with the boys. I look forward to doing it again (and I don't even like London!)

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