Day Out In London
This is a post I wrote back in November as part of a mini-series about my 40th birthday celebrations. I had planned to launch my site by then but for some reason or other, it never happened. I would still like to share this post with you though even though we’re a couple of months on.
I celebrated my 40th in lots of different ways with different groups of people in my life. I spent my actual birthday with Sukh and he treated me to a lovely spa day at The Belfry in Sutton Coldfield. We had some treatments, indulged in the fire and ice experience and topped it off with an afternoon tea. That evening we went for a nice meal with the extended family (there were 19 of us in total!) and Sukh even surprised me with a cake. It was a wonderful evening filled with love and laughter.
The following day my younger sister took me out for a birthday lunch at Mowglis, which had recently opened in Grand Central in Birmingham. Later that week my friends treated me to dinner at Tamatanga, an Indian streatery also in the city. And last but not least, my amazing colleagues threw me a party in the office.
I’d been spoiled rotten, to say the least. The celebrations continued into my birthday weekend with a trip down to London for the day with Sukh and the kids. We had originally planned to go on the train but Sukh suggested we drive down, so that we could travel back as late as possible and didn’t have to rush for the last train from Euston. We bunged the kids’ blankets and pillows into the car so they could sleep there and back.
We arrived late morning and parked up opposite Osterley station. It was a convenient way to ensure we were near the motorway, yet at the same time be able to park for free on the street and take the Piccadilly Line straight to Leicester Square.
The kids love the tube. I guess it’s an experience when you’re so young and don’t have to face the congestion and crowds on a daily basis. Shivam refused to sit down the entire way and focused on counting the stops.
We went to a few half-price theatre ticket outlets. The plan had been to see Aladdin, Wicked, Annie or Matilda – whichever show we could get cheaper tickets for. Aladdin wasn’t discounted and even though it was a special day, even I couldn’t justify spending £250 on theatre tickets alone. We couldn’t secure good seats for Matilda. I’ve seen Wicked twice already and Sukh has also seen it but we enjoyed it so much I would have easily watched it again because I knew the kids would love it. Shivam wasn’t really keen on Annie even though he’s seen both versions of the film and enjoyed them.
The man behind the counter suggested School Of Rock. I had looked into it and put it on the long-list but it hadn’t been a priority. I had really liked the film with Jack Black but it had been years since I’d seen it and I wasn’t sure I about the musical. The tickets were reasonably priced at £39 each and Sukh was keen. The man told us it was an excellent show and that the kids played their own instruments. That was enough to win Shalini over but Shivam still wasn’t convinced and insisted on watching Wicked. The man showed him the trailer and promised him he would love it, as the child actors were excellent. Shivam agreed to give it a go and off we went with tickets in hand for the matinee.
I took the family for lunch at The Great Thai Café just off Great Portland Street. It’s my favourite London eatery and given my love of Thai food, I visit quite a lot whenever I’m in the capital for work.
It’s only a small eatery with a handful of tables but the food is mouth-wateringly good. I’ve only ever been in the weekday and it’s difficult to find a table because it’s always so busy, especially at lunchtimes.
I chose my usual chicken stir-fry with garlic, chilli and holy basil served with jasmine rice. Sukh decided to order the same. Shalini wanted the pad-kee-mow, which is spicy but thankfully my kids love spicy food and Shivam had chicken with egg noodles.
Everyone enjoyed their food immensely and I was over the moon they were pleased with my choice of restaurant. The kids have already asked when we can go back!
After lunch, we jumped on the central line at Oxford Circus.
Two stops later we were at Holborn. I was using a map app on my phone and even then it took us a while to find the New London Theatre on Druary Lane. I must admit I started to panic a little, as it was already gone 2pm. The show was starting thirty minutes later and I like a bit of time to soak up the atmosphere, get a drink and make sure the kids have visited the bathroom. We made it in time and thankfully still had time to do all of those things. Sukh is always telling me not to panic and I need to start listening!
We got settled into our seats and I was surprised to see how small the theatre was. It was intimate and I liked that because no matter where your seats were, you were guaranteed to get a good view. Now armed with drinks and snacks, we were ready to enjoy the show.
Shivam, who had been really unsure just a few hours before was clapping along to all the song and dance numbers. It was funny and there were some really sweet moments too. It was entertaining all the way through. All of the actors did a fantastic job but the kids were the most impressive, especially those that had solo songs or played their own instruments. I was overwhelmed at how confident they were. Each song was catchy and it was good to see everyone in the audience clapping along and enjoying themselves.
At the end of the show, the lead actor David Flynn, gave everyone the opportunity to take photos. I haven’t seen many shows where you’re able to do that even right at the end so it was great we were given the opportunity to capture a picture for our memory book.
It was dark when we left the theatre. We were all in a good mood and had no plans for the rest of the evening. We decided to go with the flow so as soon as we left the theatre, we headed to Covent Garden. We had a little walk around, soaked up the atmosphere and watched a couple of street performers – magicians and dancers.
London was already prepped for Christmas and it was such a lovely atmosphere. We jumped on to the tube and headed to Leicester Square where we watched a couple more street entertainers whilst the kids sipped on their hot chocolates. We had a little walk around the Christmas market before visiting M&M World. Shalini and Shivam love it in there. Last time we spent a small fortune on a big bag of M&Ms and various cups and plates! Thankfully, this time the kids just wanted to have a wander about.
After a little walk around in Piccadilly Circus, we walked up Regent Street with the aim of doing some shopping on Oxford Street. The last time we were in London, we spent a fair bit of time in and out of shops, which Shalini loved but Shivam hated! Unless it’s a toy store, he’s not happy.
Talking of toy stores, we passed Hamley’s on the way up to Oxford Street, so we decided to make Shivam’s day and pop in. We came out over an hour later. I must admit, it’s always a fun experience in there. We love watching the staff demonstrating various toys across the many levels. Kids and adults alike can just get lost in the fun. Shivam played a few computer games in the basement, Shalini had her hair done by the ladies demonstrating new curling tongs, we watched a few magic tricks, raced some wind-up cars and enjoyed playing with baby toys!
It had just turned eight o’clock and time to think about dinner. There is a little Indian restaurant in Hounslow East, where Sukh and I had always enjoyed eating when we lived in the capital. The kids craved some Indian food (like I said earlier, they love spice!) so we headed back down the Piccadilly line to Osterley.
Once we were back in the car it took minutes to get to the Punjabi Karahi. It was quite busy in there but we were able to get a table fairly quickly. The fresh November wind and walking around had made us all pretty hungry. We had a Lamb Bhuna, Chilli Chicken, Tadka Dal and Tandoori Roti. The food arrived with speed and we all tucked in.
It was nearly ten-thirty when we left the restaurant. The kids piled into the back with their blankets and pillows and slept all the way home, which was fantastic because Sukh and I were able to finally listen to our own playlist on the two-hour drive. All in all, we’d had a fanastic day out. As I helped Shivam into bed, half asleep, he groggily asked ‘Mummy, when can we go to London again?’ It’s a good job too because Sukh and I have another trip planned pretty soon.