Do you remember earlier in the year I talked about Mini's enthusiasm for a school project on London? Specifically he was learning about The Great Fire of London, and we'd encouraged that by buying a book about London, and so had Nanny too. He drew some pictures of where he'd like to visit - they're all in this post.
With so much other stuff planned for Summer Holidays, we never got around to London too, so had planned to go in October half term. We gave Mini a choice of where he'd like to visit - The Tower of London and St Paul's Cathedral were top of his list.
We're not *too* far from the city and certainly live in what's considered a commuter area, but instead of getting a train down, we drove to an Underground station on the outskirts, paid a bargain £5 for all day parking and got the tube into town. This was a first for Mini and Dollop - and they loved it. Mini took a little while to relax, he seemed really hypervigilant to begin with but that goes with most new experiences. Dollop settled in straight away and was a natural both on the trains, and with the running around stations changing lines!
We headed straight to the Tower of London, which is close to a tube station, several eateries and importantly - a Starbucks. And with our tickets we were able to head straight in (though there were quite long queues for those who didn't have tickets in advance). As we'd gotten there pretty early it was fairly quiet to start with.
Because we wanted to make the most of our day out, we knew we'd only have about 3 hours maximum at the Tower before we'd need to head off for lunch and move onto our next destination, so we started in the bottom of the Wakefield Tower, where we saw some pretty impressive torture equipment - the children didn't think it was quite so impressive though, and didn't really understand the point of it, so we moved rapidly on to look in the Cradle Tower (which was built for Edward III between 1348-55), then some pretty impressive cannons and guns, and then headed up to the White Tower - my favourite of all the buildings at The Tower of London.
The kids were thrilled to see some of the famous ravens, these ones caged, and then we climbed the stairs to start our tour of The White Tower. On the way up to the entrance, we passed a little area where it's said that the remains of two boys were discovered. If you watched, like the NC and I did, the recent series The White Queen - you might take a guess at who those children were...
There was so much to look at inside The White Tower including the Royal Armouries - here are just a few of the photos I took.
As it was half term, there were activities for the children to do too.
Here's Mini making a spinner with Henry VIII on one side and Anne Boleyn on the other. When spun it looks like they're holding hands. Both Mini and Dollop got to make these, and enjoyed colouring in as a break from wandering around.
Whilst they did that, I looked at a display of Tower guidebooks - here's the inside of just one of them:
As we wandered around we reached an area with lots of hands on things for the kids to do. Sadly, being half term and with one small child and one who is nervous in busy places, we couldn't get close enough for the children to try much of it out themselves. Though it looked like lots and lots of fun, and if we can go back at a quieter time, they'll definitely enjoy getting involved.
Then we headed on down and out, and over to the queue for The Crown Jewels. It wasn't too long considering it was half term - it took us about an hour and 15 minutes to queue, get in, through and back out again. But it was worth it. The look on Mini's face was priceless - much like the jewels we were looking at. He particularly enjoyed the crowns, and Dollop (as you would expect) liked the sparkliness of it all! Mini also enjoyed watching the guard parade up and down in front of the jewel house, and attempted (as I'm sure many young boys do) to copy him.
So with not much time left, we walked down by Tower Green and the Queen's House. Mini took this photo of a raven sitting out on the green, and if you look carefully you might be able to see one of the guards at the back? Yep by that lamppost!
Finally on our way out we managed to catch a Yeoman Warder for Mini to have his photograph with...and that was Mini's favourite moment.
So that was our trip to the Tower of London. There was so much more to see, but we didn't have time to do anymore, and to be honest although the NC and I would have enjoyed it, I think at 6 and 3, Mini and Dollop had seen enough and were keen to eat and move on.
All in all, a great morning out and enjoyed by everyone.