If day one was a day of walking around some of Central London’s most famous landmarks then day two was all about utilising the fantastic London Regional Transport network to take in some selectively chosen sights. If the good folk of London who complain about the transport network and it’s failings could see what we have to put up with in Shropshire (no buses at all on a Sunday anyone?!?) then maybe they’d be a little less critical of a system that serves them tremendously well.
Anyway, a quick change at Queens Park and an overground train took us out towards a place I know very well. It doesn’t matter how many times I visit the home of my football club, or whether it is a match day or not, but walkling along the Holloway Road and then turning right down Hornsey road to see the mighty Emirates Stadium gives me the same sort of thrill that you always get with the first glimpse of the sea on a holiday drive.
I cannot make my kids support Arsenal and nor would I want to. But my club is important to me and I need them to understand that and why. We spent a little while looking for the plaque that contains mine and Junior’s name to no avail, I know it’s there but I’ve still never seen it! Then we went into the Armoury club shop and the boys eyes lit up at the sheer amount of red and white on display! For the unaware, imagine a shop the size of a small supermarket that sells nothing but Arsenal stuff.
Homage to my team duly paid, we tracked on east, via a walk past Pentonville Road prison, to what at that point in time was the very centre of the world – the Olympic Stadium. Earlier that day I had been disappointed to discover that tickets to tour the Olympic Park had to be purchased 24 hours in advance but to be there amongst all those people, to see the stadium as we arrived on the train and to drink in the atmosphere was plenty for the Perry’s. Even the patient, steady plod along with the crowds to reach the relative tranquility of the new underground terminal was an experience that my boys are still talking about twelve months later.
The new Jubliee line extension whisked us swiftly from Olympic Park to the O2 in North Greenwich. I’ve been to a few gigs there and Pip’s been to one but for the boys it was an all new experience. Of course the O2 was also used as an Olympics venue so it had the now familiar pink signage up everywhere, but what it’s not had in the past when I’ve visited is the Emirates Air Line. The cable car linking North Greenwich to the Royal Victoria Docks is quite a breathtaking sight given how high above the river it flies and it took all of our persuasive power to talk the boys out of giving it a go!
A brief blast down the Thames from here took us to one of Big Bear’s main requests, the Cutty Sark. This stop off enabled sight of yet another Olympic venue that had somehow popped up in one of London’s busiest spots, as well as a much needed coffee and ice cream stop in Greenwich Market for the Perry’s. Tiredness from two days of non stop excitement was beginning to take hold so it was a welcome relief to sit down and enjoy one of my favourite journey’s through the very heart of our capital – the Thames Clipper from Greenwich into Central London. Of course this journey has it’s own sights to take in and so Canary Wharf, the Shard and of course Tower Bridge and the Tower of London itself all got excitedly ticked off the list by the bears, along with many others.
Alighting the boat at Bankside gave us the opportunity to see Shakespeare’s Globe theatre before walking across the Millenium Bridge to our destination. The boys were excited to test out the famous Whispering Gallery but alas, our day’s adventures had brought us here too late to head up into the famous dome. As I pointed out to the boys, as we looked up at the gallery from the floor, we WILL return to London in the future and considering the number of things that we had managed to cram into our visit, it wasn’t so bad to leave something for next time!!
All that remained now was the journey home. The intention was to include one final wish into this journey and take a ride atop a double decker bus, (we don’t get those in Shropshire either!), but as these weren’t currently travelling along the Embankment we had to carry that one over until next time too and so we trogged along with the Oxo Tower opposite before heading back underground and, eventually, back to Kenton. With the car already loaded earlier, all that we needed to do was scoop a couple of tired little bears in and head on back up the M1, with a bucket load of memories and a whole load of stories to tell our friends.
I’ve met plenty of people in Shropshire for whom a trip from Oswestry to Shrewsbury is a major journey and to whom ‘That London’ is a faraway city that they will never see except on the telly. I want my boys to have broader horizons than this and I think it is safe to say that this trip, more than any of the other expeditions that we have had together and will continue to have, is the one that has set up their sense of adventure for a varied and exciting life ahead. I certainly hope so. 🙂