London (New Year in the capital)

 

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People seem to have a difference of opinion on how to celebrate New Year and I think most of this is based on age.  As a child I spent many a year at the Italian social club in Nottingham with my parents, enjoying a plate of spaghetti bolognese at 1 am. As an older teen and into my twenties I couldn’t think of anything better than being surrounded by friends, a glass of something bubbly in hand counting down to midnight. It was incredibly important to me and I couldn’t’ imagine seeing the New Year in any other way. Fast forward twenty or so years and I no longer need to fight my way to a bar for an overpriced drink or dance the night away, I’d much rather see the New Year in with a select few people in a kitchen or surrounded by hyper children.

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The crazy crew!

This year was our year for the hyper kids! We had a successful trip to London for New Year about three years ago and they asked to do the same this year. Car loaded and plans in place we set off.

We booked into a Holiday inn express in the Swiss Cottage area, it was a great base, we were a few minutes walk from the Finchley Road tube station and only four tube stops  (Baker street) from the hubbub of London.

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We are quite good a being frugal, taking children out these days isn’t cheap and any way of saving money or making things more affordable for a family we use.

We were able to use our Tesco vouchers to get into Madame Tussauds, we booked the tickets the day before and chose a time slot. This is a better option than just queueing especially with children -ours aren’t patient. Waiting is not their forte and the non-booked queue was rather long.

We arrived in London a few hours before our entry time, giving us time for lunch at the volunteer pub around the corner from the museum. A quirky pub with no airs and graces. We commandeered a table in back and enjoyed simple food and a few drink in a warm friendly atmosphere.

 

We’d managed to while away an hour and a half, filled bellies and watered them all without having to listen to the whine ‘how much longer now?’ as we stood in the cold on the pavement shuffling along to the entrance of the museum. It being New Year’s eve, it was busier than usual, waiting to take photographs with the more popular waxworks became a free for all and not all people are polite or considerate with their conduct.

 

 

I realise to keep up with the latest trends that they have to change their models regularly but I think I’m very much out of the loop as with a lot of them I didn’t have a clue who I was looking at! We enjoyed a chat with the queen, hung out with One Direction, discussed politics with Trump and Boris. We selfied with the Kardashians, jammed with the Beatles, flew an x wing and paid our respects to the late great Robin Williams.

 

Three hours later we stepped out on to the cold dark streets, with enough time to make it back to the hotel to glam up for dinner.

 

There was no let-up in the crowds as we made our way to china town, I’d as far as to say people were seeping from the walls. Many queued for tables in restaurants, spilling out onto the streets. img-20200102-wa00016792187796121402077.jpgWaiters were run off their feet and our meal sadly was less than enjoyable due to restauranters having money eyes bigger than the capacity to accommodate. We left china town a little underwhelmed.

 

The roads had been closed to traffic and what was once a slow-moving carpark was now full of ambling couples, Instagram selfie lovers and giggling families. It was only ten-thirty but people were sitting in and hunkering down in anticipation of the count down.

 

We had no choice but to call it a day, we couldn’t take the children into a bar, they didn’t have the patience to sit and wait for a display and the sandman was starting to win. As the little ones were taken to slob in a warm bed, Jessica and I waited with an overpriced prosecco to watch the fireworks on the T.V. that were happening down the road ( the irony was not lost on me). New Year count down doesn’t hold the rapturous joy for me that it used to. In my teen and twenties, it was a highlight of my Christmas holidays, now it’s somewhat lost its luster, I’ll leave it to the young to enjoy and raise a glass to still being healthy, happy and here.

 

There is an upside to not partaking in the full festivities of New Year’s eve and that’s waking with no hangover and the ability to enjoy the first day of a new year.

 

The children were happy to have a wander around the fancy shops, ooohing and ahhing over goods our pockets could never stretch to and discussing what kind of job would get those products into their hands.

Harrods was a lesson in opulence, the likes of which we just don’t have in Nottingham. The girls were in awe of everything that glittered, Mark put several watches on his wish list and I have a rather pretty tiffany bracelet on mine.

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Harrods was the first shop in Britain to install ‘the moving staircase’ on 16th November 1898

Leaving with nothing more than coffee beans and cheese straws we made our way to Hamleys.

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The continued popularity of this store surprises me, I’m sure all parents with small children have noticed the decline in the use of conventional toys with our offspring being drawn to digital gadgets while toys we cherished as youngsters now gather dust and are all but forgotten.

Music wafted to my ears and once over the threshold, I was sucked in by the bubbles and bright colours – right there and then I regressed to my eight-year-old self and I had five floors to feed my appetite.

While the boys were drawn to anything that flew or needed constructing, us girls were attracted by anything and everything that spelled ‘Harry Potter’. Thankfully we got away with buying nothing more than some magic tricks and a model kit of the titanic. With the little ones satisfied it was the turn of the adults to enjoy some retail therapy. Hoping to bag a bargain in the sales we braved, Tommy Hilfiger, Hugo Boss and Ted Baker, sadly the deals weren’t nearly as appealing as we’d hoped and we left with nothing!

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Did you know that children 10 and under travel on the underground for free with a paying adult? They ditched the family ticket some years ago and now you just use your switch card ( modern life scares me at times) to move around the underground and when you’ve hit the day fare (£7.20) ceiling that’s all you pay.

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There are typically 152 steps from street level down to the tube platform but some stations have almost 200.

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The first escalator on the underground was installed at Ealing Court in 1911.  Every week the escalators on the underground travel the distance of twice around the world.

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Baker Street has the most platforms at 10.

Handy tip: The underground runs 24 hours at New Year and during other events, handy to know before you book that late-night expensive taxi.

Our new year in London was done and it had been nice not to do all the usual tourist things, perusing the shops had actually not cost us anything and yet they’d been held enthralled all day. Riding the tube was enthralling for them as the only thing we have similar in Nottingham is the tram, the excitement of jumping from tube to tube before the doors closed and we were whisked at speed had been all the entertainment they’d needed. considering we’d spent a day in the capital we’d spent surprisingly little which goes to show you don’t need to throw money at them to give them a good day.

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