We landed at Heathrow at 4:15am local time. The pink sunrise dazzled our eyes as we made our way through the terminal, passed immigration and customs and headed to the arrivals lounge. I managed to sneak in a quick hot shower to rinse off that airplane funk we all feel after a long haul flight. The kids nibbled on some toast and cereal as we waited for our driver to collect us at 7:15am.
We made our way from Heathrow in peak hour traffic which took over 90 minutes to reach our hotel which was located just off Cannon Street in London city. Our accommodation had been changed at the last minute due to a fault in the apartment and we were moved to a tiny complex of 3 apartments overlooking a courtyard and small offices. It was quaint but the real estate agency failed to mention we had NO LIFT and had to lug our suitcases up 40 stairs to reach the apartment. It was quite the ordeal and it broke me as a woman. Add heavy lifting, crying children, jet lag, exhaustion and hunger to the mix and I was just so overwhelmed that I had a little sook.
Once we settled into our apartment, I grew to love it. Huge arch windows let in copious amounts of sunlight and a fresh breeze. The kitchen was well stocked and the children requested home cooked meals during our stay. We were spoiled with a Marks and Spencer Simply Food, Tesco and Sainsbury’s all within a block of our apartment.
Our days in London were slow and calm. The jet lag that James and I copped was unbelievable. We tried all the usual remedies but just could not get over the tiredness. The kids were absolutely fine after 1 night’s sleep which trumps anyone’s idea that children don’t travel well. In fact, they are more resilient than adults I find.
We did however, find some time to shop on Oxford / Regent Street which was delightful. Unfortunately, we don’t have the space to shop much at our destinations, but I did indulge in some of my favourite Jo Malone perfume. We visited Piccadilly Circus which was hilarious. Ted was quite disappointed with the lack of animals and circus folk. Abi complained of the smells and crowds of people and decided she wanted to leave after 1 minute. We snapped a family selfie, renamed it Stinkadilly Circus and headed home.
James and I drank beer, devoured amazing curries and indian food and enjoyed the slow days with our family. After a few hours in London, I remembered how much I love it, the whole package that the city offers. The hot tube, the busy streets, great food everywhere, the parks, the pubs, the black cabs, the history!
On our final morning in London, James collected our rental car for the road trip up to Scotland. He returned with the largest people mover I have ever seen. The kids loved all the space and we really enjoyed being in a car again. Catching taxis for weeks in Asia was often bothersome and expensive so we really enjoyed the convenience of a car.
We weaved through the city and outer suburbs before joining the freeway, passing Luton Airport and making our way north. Our first stop was an overnighter in Manchester. We had a suite which we all shared, overlooking the city. We had a picnic on the bed, filled with goodies from Marks and Spencer and hit the sheets early as we had another long day of driving ahead.
Farewell England, hello Scotland!