During the recent half-term break, the girls were both away for a few days, so Adam and I decided to take advantage of the time off and visit family in London.
Now the thing is, I have actually never been to London before. Despite being 33 years old, having a Southern parent and living in England my entire life, I had yet to see our great capital city for myself. Shameful, I know…
After waving the kids goodbye, we headed to Piccadilly station in Manchester to catch our 2pm train to London. I was a little nervous about the whole trip if I’m honest. I tend to drive most places so public transport is a little bit alien to me. The idea of the infamous Tube, with so many people in one little space, was ramping my anxiety up to peak levels. I have always associated the Tube with Bond style villains and slasher movies, thanks to my slightly ridiculous, over-active imagination.
A couple of hours later, we arrived at Euston station in London, ready to tackle the Tube *cue panic* I am happy to report that it was just fine – of course it was! I had massively overthought the whole thing and can even go so far as to say that I really enjoyed the trip. Who’d have thought it? Feeling uber confident, we even managed several line changes and landed in Hounslow later that evening.
We were greeted by Adams family members – including his gorgeous little niece – and soon settled in to our home for the next few days. The evening consisted of a much needed catch up, a wonderful homemade curry cooked by Adams sister, a few drinks and one of the best games of Cards Against Humanity that I’ve played in a while.
The next morning, we headed to Camden Market. Camden is somewhere that I’ve always been curious about yet never had the chance to visit before. As soon as we stepped off the bus, I was in love. The first shop we visited was full of vintage trinkets and I instantly knew that my bank account may be in trouble. As we wandered into the markets, the vibrant, bohemian atmosphere was infectious. The closest thing to this that we have in Manchester is Afflecks Palace.
As we mooched around, I found myself drawn to the eclectic jumble of stalls. The Moroccan lamps were stunning and I spent over twenty minutes deliberating over which one to buy, until I remembered we had to catch the train home and carrying it would be a royal pain. Instead, I left the shop with a more manageable decorative coaster, vowing to pick one of the lamps up another time.
We made a pit stop for food. I opted for a tray of chilli and nachos and the rest of our gang enjoyed traditional fish and chips. As we continued wandering around, I spotted a stall selling handmade tote bags with a rockabilly twist. Being a sucker for all things 1950s Americana, of course I bought one! A girl can never have too many bags, right?
As we turned a corner, my heart began to flutter as I recognised a sign boasting a very familiar name and one of my true loves in life: Collectif Clothing. I’m fairly sure I completely ignored Adam and walked straight into the store in my hypnotized state. I was truly in awe of all the stunning items in front of me; things that I had only ever seen during my many virtual shopping sprees. After a few cries of: ‘It’s like the internet in real life!‘, I noticed that Adam had dutifully followed me inside, fully aware of my Collectif obsession. Once I’d calmed down, I must have selected at least ten items that I could have purchased immediately. Sadly, I simply could not justify the £55 per dress so resigned myself to waiting until the online sale hits in a few months time, dragging myself away before I caved – a stellar achievement that is not to be undermined here!
After a few hours of fawning over all the pretties, we grabbed a donut from the impressive stand (I went for salted caramel and it was divine) and made our way back. Another evening of wonderful company, games and drinks ensued and my face was aching by bedtime from laughing so much.
The next day, Adam and I had decided to take his niece for a trip to the Natural History Museum, whilst her Mum and Dad headed to Twickenham to enjoy a day at the rugby. A short Tube journey later and we arrived in South Kensington. Adams niece is a huge fan of dinosaurs and took no time at all for her to educate me on the amazing diplodocus that graced the entrance of the museum, along with the ‘alive’ T-Rex that I was soon to discover for myself! We purchased a guide book and began to explore.
Our first stop was the Red Zone, which focused on human evolution, volcanoes, earthquakes and more. I was engrossed and intrigued, particularly at the selection of human skulls on display, showing just how much the human form has changed over the centuries. As we made our way into the Green Zone, the taxidermy caught my eye instantly. I have a strange fascination with taxidermy and the array of birds on display was unbelievable. The specimens ranged from hummingbirds to the extinct dodo and we all took our time to appreciate the opportunity to see such magnificent articles up close. We also took a quick tour around the creepy crawly gallery – quick being the operative word, as none of us were big fans of this particular section!
Of course, the dinosaur exhibit was the one that really got us all excited! The Blue Zone had us in a bit of a frenzy. With the first T-Rex fossil ever found, a Triceratops skull, an Oviraptor egg and so much more to see, it was mesmerising. It has to be said though, that one of the star attractions is the animatronic T-Rex. This guy had the audience well and truly engaged, with his huge teeth, life-like movements and unforgettable roar! After an hour or so, we headed to the gift shop (one of my favourite things to do in any tourist attraction. Inexplicably, I just cannot get enough of them) where I bought the obligatory magnet to add to our ridiculous collection, along with some dinosaur Lego for the grown ups. Adams niece purchased a T-Rex soft toy and announced that it would be named ‘Lisa‘. I am still rather proud of this legacy!
We took a brief look around the Science Museum next door, but I think we were all pretty exhausted by that point so headed back. After meeting up with the rest of our clan, we decided to eat at a local Lebanese restaurant. I settled on minted lamb with rice, whilst the others enjoyed mixed grills and chicken dishes. Accompanied by a pot of a cinnamon tea, it was the perfect way to end our busy day. I noticed baklava on the dessert menu and asked for a portion to take out. The server very kindly gave me a complimentary box of these heavenly snacks, which was a lovely surprise and they were much appreciated (and swiftly devoured) on the train journey home the next afternoon.
It was wonderful to get away for a few days and spend it with some of my favourite people. Sometimes, the little things really are the most important ones and I guess we don’t always find the time to fully appreciate that, do we? Although we only got to see a tiny insight of our capital cities offerings, I have no doubt we’ll be able to explore it in a lot more depth over the coming months. Buckingham Palace is calling! So long for now London – I cannot wait to see you again soon❤