I grew up in a small town near Leeds and back then, the Capital city of England seemed like a million miles away. The first time I ever visited London was on a school trip at the age of fifteen, when we went to the Houses of Parliament and the Science Museum. It was scary and exciting and felt like an epic journey.
When I graduated University, the first job I landed was in London and every day when I went to work, I would pinch myself when I walked past Big Ben. It was exciting to be in the capital city. There is something magical about the place: so much history and such a buzz that combine to make it unique. Of course, the buzz soon wears off when you’re a commuter, but years later, having not worked in ‘town’ for a long time, that old feeling has returned.
What I now enjoy is the ease with which we can take the children up to London to share some magical experiences with them. I feel so lucky to live just half an hour’s train ride away from such a fascinating place and the children love going up there. London is a place of historical importance and it brings history to life, especially if you are lucky enough to be able to visit some of its famous landmarks and areas.
Our train route stops at London Bridge, Waterloo East and Charing Cross, so from any of those destinations, we are well placed to reach the whole city. We can explore the South Bank, or Covent Garden and Leicester Square without even having to take a tube train.
That said we have only recently started to venture up to London as a family, ducking out of the whole experience when our youngest was still in a pushchair. Even though we aren’t far away, a day out in the city is always exhausting.
Recently, we took the kids to Wembley to see England versus Slovenia in the Euro 2015 qualifier. Football is such a big deal in this country and you would be pushed to find a venue that is a patriotic as Wembley stadium when England is playing. The atmosphere was unbelievable. The children could hardly contain themselves during the build-up and the game itself did not disappoint. I have to say, I was keeping my fingers crossed that England would score at least one goal, to give the kids that feeling of the crowd going wild: for the team to score three goals, left us all with memories that will stay with us for some time.
My husband took our middle daughter to climb the Monument when she was learning about the Great Fire of London. We’ve taken them on the London Eye, to the top of the Shard, London zoo and the aquarium. Our eldest sang with her school in the Young Voices choir at the O2 and will be doing so again next January. Imagine that – singing at the O2!
Don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to belittle any other town or city in this country. It’s just that even though I have lived here since 1998, I am still very much that fifteen year old northern girl going ‘wow, I’m in London’.
Our journey as a family has only just begun, but it is the little things as well. This weekend I took my youngest to the Excel centre, to an exhibition all about Lego, which he loved and I have been shoe shopping in Covent Garden with my tween. It is a lot for one weekend, but as it is my Birthday tomorrow and normally someone is ill or something happens on this particular weekend, I am thankful that I have managed to bag some special memories for a change!