It’s nearly the end of the summer holidays, we’ve had a lovely break and it’s (almost) over way too quickly. We haven’t had many days out because we’re a bit broke and well, having lived in London so long (well the kids have been born and bred here), we pretty much exhausted the normal kiddy options ages ago (we have been to Kew though and will be doing so again – the joys of annual membership and free kid entry – which is always fun, despite the expression on Boy Lacer’s face most the time – except when ankle deep in mud or clambering along an obstacle course). But I couldn’t let the summer holidays past without one proper excursion, so we did a bit of a two in one (which is not really that advisable, specially when it’s so easy to get into London from where we live on the outskirts, so it’s much more kid friendly to do smaller trips, but the kids are getting older, so I thought I’d stretch their stamina a bit). In the morning we went into Shoreditch to have a look at some street art, we didn’t do an organised tour (that would have been stretching Boy Lacer too much) but I remembered most of the route I took when I took a tour a couple of years ago. We also stumbled across quite a few street art tour groups, so I have to admit if we saw a group down a particular alley, we did go and see what they were looking at! I do think though that bored younger kids aside, a street art tour is the best way to go, as I know I missed bits from the tour I remembered going on, as I couldn’t remember where the streets were and also the street art is changing all the time, so it pays (and it is always worth supporting) to go around on a tour with someone who really knows the area.
We then made our way to the Felt Cornershop, which is about a 5-10 minute walk from the edge of Shoreditch in Bethnal Green (or 15-20 minutes if you’re on the wrong side of Shoreditch as we were). It was worth the walk (although if you want to see it hurry, it’s only there until the end of August).
We then got the bus back towards the river and headed for the Tower of London. I wanted to see the Tower principally because of the poppies (see getting my art in even with my history) but as we were there and I owed Girl Lacer a trip into the Tower from about two years ago, we went in to see the Tower as well.
We did the kids activity trail in the Tower, which was quite good, it made the Tower fairly manageable (you don’t see everything on the trail, but we had been before) and we got to see and learn about bits which I wouldn’t have necessarily picked up otherwise. My favourite bit was in one of the towers were they held posh prisoners, there was beautifully intricate and neat graffiti on the wall, you’d have thought being held in a tower with direct views over the lawns where people got their heads chopped off would be inspiring some more desperate and scrawly graffiti, not something so neat. But as Girl Lacer (who’d read more of the labels than me) pointed out, apparently the prisoners would sometimes hire expert stone masons to do it for them!
As well as the trail we also went in to see the Crown Jewels, which had been updated a bit since I last saw it. The queue to get in was very long (about half an hour) and really, once in the building, it still effectively is a queue, you’re just slightly more entertained. It reminded me of the entrance to a theme park ride, you know how you queue up for ages outside it, get inside the ride and still queue up some more whilst looking at some ride related stuff and then the actual ride, once you get to it, is over quite quickly? Well the Crown Jewels are like that, they even have a travelator (quite slow) which takes you past the crowns, so everyone gets a chance to see them and you’re not trying to peer over a crowd. I did quite like the films and stuff you see before the actual jewels, as they feature the jewels filmed in quite stunning close up, which, when you actually get to see them, is in more detail than you actually see. However, warning, I’d recommend a toilet break before you get in the queue if you’re with an eight year old who has already drunk two bottles of water….