During our last week of school holidays we had a Jack free day, he was at the childminders so I decided to book tickets to visit Buckingham Palace and have a great day out in London with Dylan and Josh. Life without a 2 year old and a pushchair is so much easier in London 🙂 And its really lovely to have quality time with just 1 or 2 of the children at a time.
We got the first train into London after the prices reduce to non-rushhour. 1 Adult and 2 children return to Finsbury park was just £16 (children were a flat fair of £2 each). Then we got the tube from Finsbury to Green Park, children under 11 are free on TFL tubes and buses and I already had my oyster card from when I was a London commuter ;-). Still living off EE expenses just:-)
Green Park is a great tube station as you get a pleasant walk through Hyde park then you arrive at the left hand side of the palace. We got there at about 10:45 just in time to join the crowds, get our place next to the railings to watch the changing of the guard. What a spectacle, and I can’t believe I have never seen this in my 38 years of life. We chatted to mainly American and Canadian tourists whilst waiting who knew an awful lot about the royal family, giving the boys lots of facts about the queen and the palace. I loved it. Changing of the guard started at about 11:15 and we had a great view of the whole thing. See photos, I was able to sneak hand through the bar to take a few good pictures.
Our palace tickets were booked for 12 noon, I booked through the visit Buckingham Palace Tickets direct through the royal collections website. This way you avoid any booking fees and you get to choose a time to have your tour. Cost of £44 for one adult (£20.50) and 2 children (£11.80). There is a family ticket covering 2 adults and 3 children for £52.80. They suggest to allow 2- 2 1/2 hours for the tour, we were in there for about 3 hours in total including everything.
No photos for tour bit, not even a sneaky one as there were so many staff every 5 metres throughout the tour. So I’ll employ my best describing writing style to tell you about it:-) I may refer to the book we bought -Does the Queen wear her crown in bed. So we got to visit all of the state rooms, 19 in total. And we had a brilliant audio tour with handheld device to tell us about every room. I had an adult version and the boys had a family version which I’m guessing was a bit more fun, they listened to all 19 scripts anyways.
We started with the carriage at the main steps in the inner square, famous for Kate and William climbing out of after their wedding. We walked into the entry hall, and of course the boys needed a toilet break! The nice staff whispered into their headphones and walkie talkies and we were escorted to a secret royal toilet. Very nice, I took some hand napkins as my royal steal ;-).
We then walked around the royal art galleries, the ball room, the parlours, the most beautiful rooms I have ever seen. Throne rooms, chandeliers with thousands of crystals. Priceless art. I think my favourite room was the ballroom where the state dinners are held. It was all set up for the Singapore royal family who had just visited. You really get a sense of how impressive a state dinner must be, and you can stand where the queen would sit and survey the whole dining table of 100 seats. Absolutely stunning.
The tour finished at the entrance to the garden, where the famous garden parties are held. This is where I can switch into photo mode. We turned left for a visit to the family room where there is king and queen dressing up clothes and colouring in stuff and books. The boys designed a medal and I designed a dinner party menu.
We had lunch at the palace garden cafe. Really lovely lunch with lunch bags for the boys at £5 each including drink, sandwich, crisps, carrot sticks and raisins. And a bit steep £10 for a pot of strawberries for me and really nice slice of gluten free chocolate cake. We had a look around the gardens as much as we could and of course had to finish the visit with a trip to the shop. We got a bear skin soldier bear for Jack and the boys got corgi keyrings. And I got a crown keyring. £40 for a few royal goodies. So the day at the palace cost around £100 including tickets, lunch and shop purchases. I could have saved money here by bringing a packed lunch and not visiting the shop though;-)
As we made out way through the gardens to the exit there were very nice guys giving us a stamp on our ticket which gives us free entry to the palace again for a whole year! We will certainly return next year 🙂 The palace is only open from 25th July to 27th Sept so if you want to visit this year you need to get organised 🙂
After the palace we walked back to Green Park, I have been wanting to visit Burlington arcade on Piccadilly since reading about the art installation in a magazine on Easyjet flight coming home from Spain. So we popped in there to see this impressive work of art by Zoe Bradley hanging above the corridors.
By this point the boys were bored and not interested in seeing what I wanted to see, so we went back out to Piccadilly. As if by magic we see a bus saying Finsbury Park so we got the no 19 bus all the way to the last stop! We sat on the top deck at the front, a really great way to see London for a very little price! In fact free as my oyster card was empty at that point, so it did an emergency fair 😉 They loved it and so did I to be honest. Much more pleasant than the tube. We had a pleasant tour around Piccadilly Circus, Shaftsbury Avenue, Holborn, Angle Islington, Highbury and Finsbury Park:-)
A great day out in london, I highly recommend it with children maybe 5-6 and older.