We met James at Gatwick no problem and caught the Gatwick express into Victoria station. We had our first London experience on the way to the apartment by catching a London taxi!
We had booked our apartment through Airbnb and it was just off Oxford street so very central. We arrived in the early evening and after unpacking headed off to look for some dinner. There was a domino's pizza at the end of our road so we decided to see if they had gluten free pizza and yes they did!! James and the kids were so delighted and even more so when they got our order wrong and gave us a free pizza as they were so good that two pizzas would not have been enough!!!
The next morning the kids discovered English TV and were in heaven! They decided that they could happily stay home all day and just watch TV although would like to pop out to Hamley's toy store at some point!!
We managed to get them out the door and walked down to Hamley's.
Jasper with Prince William and Princess Kate at Hamley's.
The kids loved Hamley's and all managed to spend their pocket money. Penelope and Hannah both made teddies in the build a bear work shop and Penelope called hers Hamley of course!!
We then carried on down Oxford Street to Lillywhites enjoying the beautiful Christmas window displays on the way. We found a little cafe for lunch and then carried on our walk towards Trafagular Square. We decided to stop and watch some buskers and Jasper ended up getting pulled into the performance! He did a few dance moves but wasn't so keen on doing any flips!
Our plan was to go to the Tower of London so we jumped on the no 15 bus which took us past St Paul's and through the city and was a great way to do some sightseeing! There was no que at the ticket office so we got in really quickly but unfortunately we missed out on the Yeoman Guard tour by half an hour. We got a family audio tour and had a great look around. The highlights were the white tower with the armoury displays and then the display room for the Crown Jewels. Even though we missed out on going around with a yeoman, the tower was very quiet and there were no crowds so we got a fantastic look at the jewels and all the other displays.
By this time it was 4.15 and dark, so we got a lovely view of London bridge with the lights. I was keen to do a bit of shopping so James took the kids back to the apartment and I went to Primark to snag myself a few bargains! A great place for stocking fillers!!
I got home just in time to go out for dinner with our lovely NZ friend Mel. I had used trip advisor to find an Indian restaurant for dinner and apparently it is really good and popular but was also fully booked!! We went to another place instead and had a great meal, although the service was quite average!
The next day I awoke with a terrible headache, but managed to get up and get going hopeful that a bit of fresh air and a walk would help get rid of it. We caught the underground down to embankment and walked along the Thames past parliament buildings and 10 Downing Street towards the royal guards palace.
We had decided to go and watch the changing of the horse guards rather then go and see it at Buckingham Palace.
From here we walked over to Westminster Abbey for a look around the outside but decided not to go in. We came across a large group of Santas out for a march singing the song "what do we want, Christmas, when do we want it now!" One kind Mrs Claus gave the kids some lollies and when we asked what the march was about she said it was just a bit of fun.
We then went and had a look at Big Ben got some packets of chippies for a snack and went and sat in St James park. We walked down to Buckingham palace where we encountered the Santas once again. I'm not sure what the Queen would have thought of this morning chorus!
A squirrel in St James park.
We decided to head back to the apartment and have Dominos pizza for lunch and so the girls and I could get changed for the ballet. James spotted a Marks and Spencer's by Green park station so we popped in to see if they had any gluten free Christmas goodies and yes they did.
I had bought the girls new dresses for the ballet and so they were delighted with their new outfits! We were meeting our friends Wendy, Craig and their son Leroy at Planet Hollywood restaurant at 4.30pm so we decided we would have time to go to Convent Garden first. We walked through Soho and China town on our way and as it gets dark so early go to enjoy the Christmas lights. Covent garden was heaving but we had a bit of a look around and got to see the lovely Christmas decorations, a lego snow globe and some of Santa's reindeer!
London made with Lego
Is it Rudolph?
Trying to catch a reindeer to win a Minion in Leisceter Square.
It was so lovely to catch up with our New Zealand friends Wendy and Craig and their son Leroy and we had a great meal.
After dinner we headed the girls, Wendy and I headed off to the ballet and the boys headed to Hyde park to the Winter Wonderland. The ballet was amazing, a visual delight with beautiful costumes, sets and a fantastic orchestra - plus the dancing was pretty good too. Hannah and Penelope were completely enthralled and Penelope said she could have watched it all over again!!
Waiting for the ballet to start.
Meanwhile the boys were being tossed and turned and having a great time on the rides at winter wonderland.
The walk home after the ballet was gorgeous under the Christmas lights although wee Penelope was very tired and not that keen to walk home. She can pull out the smile though even when she's feeling miserable.
Selfridges at night.
The next day we headed home and it was a bit of a stressful journey out to Gatwick as we had only allowed just enough time and then missed the Gatwick express and had to wait half an hour for the next one! A bit of a jog through Gatwick airport and we were very happy to be standing in the line waiting to board our plane heading back to lovely Toulouse!
Gpria from my iPad