Thursday, 11 July 2013

Buses and trains and Pax Lodge and 10 Downing Street and more

It's been over a year in the planning, but we finally made our trip to London for the weekend, and we had a fantastic, and exhausting, time.

We had so much fun, and I wanted to pass on what we did in case it inspires or helps other groups undertaking a similar trip.

It wasn't our first London trip, there's links down the bottom of this article to other trip reports.

So,we met at our local train station at 8.15am, then it was off to London. We got there a little later than expected, and headed off on the Underground to Green Park, near Buckingham Palace.
Because we were running a little late, we went straight to Horseguards Parade, ducked through, down Whitehall to the end of Downing Street.

There, thanks to the letter from our MP and a little wheedling from the Guiders as we weren't turning up on the right list (we did eventually) we got to go down Downing Street to Number 10.
We had a good 30 mins there, taking individual pics, group pics, any combination you could think of!

Then we walked back up Whitehall to Trafalgar Square where we found a quiet spot to one side and two of us went off to collect tickets for the open top bus tour, along with gift bags for each girl on the trip.
All collected and off we went to the bus, we took over most of the top deck and really enjoyed the trip round to Buckingham Palace, we had a very interesting guide along the way and he really kept the girls' attention. We were allowed to eat while on there too, which was good timing for lunch.

We visited the front of Buck House, then the Guide Association building nearby where the girls were able to spend a little money on treats and tiny teddy bears!
Back to the same bus stop, we headed for the Tower of London on the same (yellow) route on the bus. This time the bus had a recorded commentary - we could barely hear it and it didn't keep the girls' attention at all - I definitely recommend trying to get on a bus with a "live" guide. We stopped for ice cream by the Tower and walked round and had pics with a Beefeater.

Then it was time for a river cruise (included in the open top bus tour), which was fun, and we met an American Girl Scout leader on holiday with her mother and friends, who was very chatty. The weather wasn't great at this point and we had to sit inside, outside would have been way more fun, but it was still great to do something new.

At this point we got off at Westminster Pier and had to work out how we were going to get to Pax Lodge, where we were staying that night. The Northern Line underground was down that day (and the next) and our stop was only on that line. Fortunately we had not just an underground map but a proper map - a must when you are in London because that beautiful Underground map design doesn't always show accurately how close stations are to each other.

So, we headed to East Finchley station instead, as it was a 15 min walk from there to Pax Lodge. The girls were wiped out by the time we got there as it was mostly uphill, but we were pretty pleased about having come up with a Plan B to get there.

We checked in, and divided the girls up into the allocated rooms and got them to unpack a little, then we were booked in for dinner at Pax Lodge, where we met lots of American Girl Scouts and chatted with them. The girls took part in an International Evening with a British, Japanese and Armenian Guider, they had a lot of fun, it was well worth taking part in.

The evening was interesting, took us a while to settle them down, particularly the youngest ones and a couple of older ones who felt homesick but all was quite (from us) by 11 - there were a fair few older girls from another group who were up and loud long after us, including their leader!

In the morning we had breakfast, flag ceremony at Pax Lodge then set off to get into town again. We headed for the rail replacement bus this time as it was a direct route in, and it worked well. We then caught the open top bus tour again (the tickets lasted 24 hours) though this wasn't the best idea, we spent so long working our way round to the Science Museum we were only able to spend 45 mins there. A better idea would have been to take the underground once we were back in central London, but you live and learn!

They had great fun in the Science Museum even though it was a brief visit, and then we did catch the underground, this time to Euston where we had lunch and caught the train home.

It was a great, though tiring, weekend. Not one we'll repeat in a hurry but we have so many ideas, we don't need to repeat it for a while!


K Ville said...

sounds like you packed a lot in, another good one by the sounds of it and appreciate the tips again.

gillibob said...

Visited Pax lodge a few times. I was in London a couple of weeks ago and stopped at The Tower bridge hotel. It took a bit for me to get my bearings as i kept wanting to get on the Northern line..habits die hard! Glad they had a good time.

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