Family Day in London – Our 36 Hours

I might have mentioned it before, but when we booked our USA road trip last October, we were well and truly still living in Wales. Fast forward eight months and we had moved to Portugal. This meant a hasty booking of flights back to the UK in order to meet up with our Portland flight. It did mean, however, we got to have a family day in London. We left Faro on the Thursday before our USA trip at 8pm and landed 2 hours and 20 minutes later into Heathrow.

family day in london

We could have flown to another airport much cheaper, but it would have meant an airport change on our return trip from the States two weeks later and I really didn’t fancy that with a three-year-old in tow. So, we flew with British Airways and had a relatively easy flight back to the UK. We cleared customs and had our bags within half an hour and were soon getting a taxi across the road to the Park Inn by Radisson next to Terminal 3. This was to be our home for the next two nights. Although we were in late, we were all tucked up in bed by midnight, ready for a fun family day in London.

We were up and dressed by 8.30am on the Friday and as we hadn’t added breakfast to our hotel booking, we got an Uber into Southbank to visit Le Pain Quotidien on Southbank. I had had brunch there with my sisters during my weekend away with them in June and BattleDad was up for trying it out.

We had an amazing breakfast, with BattleKid enjoying scrambled eggs and bacon, while I had a smoked chorizo frittata and BattleDad munching down baked eggs with scrambled egg. Suitably fuelled we walked through the Jubilee Gardens towards the London Eye. There was a brief stop for someone little to chase the birds!

I had booked Fast Track Anytime tickets for the London Eye so once BattleKid had chased all the birds away, we joined the short queue and on we went into one of the pods. While those tickets are expensive, they are worth it to arrive any time you like and skips the long queues which are always at the Eye! I had visited the London Eye during that aforementioned weekend but this was both BattleDad and BattleKid’s first time, so I knew I wanted us to do it on our family day in London. Both enjoyed it, although a certain someone enjoyed the information tablets within the pods more than the views.family day in london - BattleKid standing in front of the London Eye family day in london - BattleKid looking out of our london eye pod

From the London Eye, we walked the very short distance to SeaLife, the next stop on our family day in London. I had seen a few blog posts about it and with BattleKid having enjoyed the Blue Planet Aquarium in Chester and the smaller aquariums in Chester and Bristol Zoo, we knew he should enjoy SeaLife. Again, I bought Fast Track Anytime tickets so we breezed through, only going to the cashier desk to pick up BattleKid’s Ranger Pack.

Well, I have to say I was very impressed by SeaLife. I had wondered what an aquarium on the bank of the River Thames would be like but it was really good. BattleKid loved it, running from tank to tank searching for Nemo and Dory, as you do when you are 3. I especially loved the Easter Islands heads in the large tank.family day in london - the wonderful Easter Island statues in one of the aquariums in SeaLife family day in london - BattleKid searching for Nemo and Dory in SeaLife

After a brief stop on Southbank to watch some street performers, we crossed the Golden Jubilee Bridges to get a tube from Embankment to the Tower of London, the last attraction on our family day in London. Why were we headed there? To do a spot of dragon hunting of course! And this tube trip was BattleKid’s first ever ride on a London Underground. He wasn’t too sure of the noise they made coming into stations but once he was on he was fine. Watching him enjoying the short trip reminded me of our rides on the New York Subway last year.

family day in london - BattleKid covering his ears to reduce the noise of the underground trains approaching
Closing his ears as a train approaches for his first ride on a London Underground tube!

I had prebooked tickets for the Tower of London to save some time and after a short bag search we entered the ‘castle’ to start our dragon hunt. After the excitement of the morning, we were getting peckish so we had a cuppa with cake at the Raven Café before resuming our dragon hunt. We eventually found him within the White Tower.family day in london - The Tower of London family day in london - BattleKid in front of the White Tower in the Tower of London

We left the Tower of London via Tower Bridge and got a tube back to Paddington. Someone fell asleep in BattleDad’s arms along the way, tired from all his adventures during our family day in London. When we arrived at Paddington I stocked up on some last-minute essentials in Boots before buying BattleKid a Paddington Bear in the Station. It had to be done.family day in london

We got a black cab back to our hotel rather than trying to get the Heathrow Express. The driver introduced us to Gett, the new black cab app that works like Uber and he managed to get us some money off our trip, which was really nice of him. We tipped him well. After over an hour’s sleep, BattleKid woke refreshed and we had dinner in the hotel restaurant at 7pm. We had to leave feedback with the waiter for the kitchen staff as BattleKid’s dinner came out so hot it could have rivalled lava. Thankfully we stopped him trying to eat it while it was too hot.

After dinner BattleKid had a bath, which is a treat as we don’t have one in our Portuguese home, only a shower. I was knackered so I fell asleep by 10pm, while the boys were awake for a bit longer. We had an amazing family day in London and it was the perfect way to get us ready for our USA road trip!

Cath x

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Oregon Girl Around the World

Dragon Hunting at Powis Castle near Welshpool

Powis Castle is one castle that was recommended to us by a work colleague of mine quite a number of years ago. While we longed to go dragon hunting at Powis Castle, it always remained slightly out of reach as it was a bit too far for a day trip from home, being situated in Mid Wales. However, last August bank holiday weekend, we were in Chester and thought it would be perfect to visit on our way back down to Wales. So that’s what we did!dragon hunting at powis castle

We left Chester and took the A5 down towards Shrewsbury before turning off for Welshpool and Powis Castle. Powis Castle is a National Trust site. It was originally built in the 1200’s and the Herbert family took ownership in the late 16th century and it has remained in their family ever since. A medieval castle, fortress and grand country mansion, it doesn’t resemble your usual castles in Wales. It is very much more a stately home and is extremely grand indeed, being the seat of the Earl of Powis.

When we arrived there was plenty of parking in the car park and we walked up the road and footpath to the ticket office where we paid to get in. As the castle didn’t open until 11am, we had 45 minutes to kill and so we found a seat in the courtyard and BattleDad got us some drinks and cakes to enjoy in the glorious sunshine from the courtyard restaurant. We really enjoyed our tea break and admired the grand home from our seats.dragon hunting at powis castle

Our plan was to start our dragon hunting at Powis Castle within the castle itself and if we were out of luck we would check the extensive gardens instead. We started in the drawing room but there was no obvious signs of our hiding dragon.  There was a very nice gentleman giving talks and information about the room and the Herbert family too. We moved upstairs towards the bedrooms, some of which were not open to the public for obvious reasons. In those that were, we saw no sign of the Powis Castle dragon.dragon hunting at powis castle

From the bedrooms we moved downstairs to the kitchen where there were two people giving talks about how the kitchen was run and still is today. Children also had the opportunity to dress up and partake in some activities there but we were on a dragon hunt so didn’t stop. We thought we spotted him in the games room where there was a large billiards table and the cabinets were full of stuffed animals, but, he either wasn’t there, or had managed to evade us as we wandered through the castle. We did, however, leave a message in the visitors book in this room.

dragon hunting at powis castle
The message we left in the visitors book at Powis Castle.

Having had no luck within the castle (of which you cannot take pictures inside as the Earl still resides there), we turned our attention to the gardens. However, dragon hunting is tiring work, particularly on a sunny day like this, so we paused at the courtyard for an ice cream before continuing our hunt. And I must say the ice creams were very good!

We started by taking a right from the entrance to the gardens and headed towards the lake that sits at one end of the gardens. We checked all the holes and cracks in the walls where a dragon might hide but still we couldn’t find him. As we rounded past the lake, and before we headed up a small hill to the side of it, BattleKid spotted him hiding at the foot of a rather magnificently big tree. He was hiding on the ground among the foliage.dragon hunting at powis castle

We had found him! However, a little boy just ahead of us wasn’t too impressed that our dragon hunting at Powis Castle was more successful than his, as I overheard him say to his mum “that boy has a dragon, I want a dragon”. Oops. Satisfied with our result, we took a short stroll up the hill and discovered the Ice Cellar of the castle. I had never seen one before and was quite surprised by it. You can only look through some gates into it and you cannot see the floor but it gives you an idea of what one from centuries ago looks like.

Our visit to Powis Castle was a success and it was a castle we had wanted to visit, so we could now tick it off our list.

Things to note if you go dragon hunting at Powis Castle:

  • It is a National Trust site. Cadw membership cards aren’t accepted.
  • It costs £12.50 for an adult and £6.25 for a child to visit the whole property (without GiftAid) and a family ticket costs £31.25. To visit the castle only prices are £6.35 (adult) and £3.17 (child), for the garden only £9.21 (adult) and £4.60 (child), and for the winter garden £6.20 (adult) and £3.10 (child).*
  • The Castle opens from 11am to 5pm, as does the museum, shop and garden shop. The gardens open from 10am to 6pm, with the garden coffee shop opening from 11am to 4pm. The restaurant opens from 10am to 5pm.
  • Parking is free, and there is ample parking. There are electric car-charging points in the car park and some spaces for disabled badge holders.
  • Dogs are allowed on the lead in the car park and courtyard only. There are strictly no dogs allowed in the deer park.
  • There are baby changing and feeding facilities on site.
  • There are toilets available on site.
  • There is a children’s quiz/trail and also games on the great lawn (although we didn’t see these as we didn’t visit that end of the gardens).
  • NOTE: the castle is not very wheelchair accessible, nor buggy accessible. The ground floor is, but that’s where it stops due to the historical nature of the castle. The garden has a step-free route which is highlighted in the leaflet available at the ticket office. For wheelchair users there is a virtual tour of the upper floor rooms available at the ticket office.
  • Guided tours are available.

We were glad we got the opportunity to go dragon hunting at Powis Castle and even better to combine it with a great weekend away. I am not sure we would have visited Powis Castle had we not been travelling back from Chester. We had glorious sunshine during our visit and the ice cream was most welcome and delicious.

I can highly recommend a visit to Powis Castle if you ever get the chance. We did not get to explore all the grounds as they are quite extensive, especially for little legs but it would make a great day out for the whole family. Maybe bring a picnic to enjoy somewhere in the gardens if you visit.

Thanks for reading the next post in our Dragon Hunting Series. I hope you enjoyed it. If you missed our previous ones you can find them in the Dragon Hunting Series. And if you’d like to have a sneak peek at Powis Castle, we filmed a little vlog of our day out dragon hunting at Powis Castle (below).

Cath x

*Prices correct at the time of writing this post.

dragon hunting at powis castle

dragon hunting at powis castle dragon hunting at powis castle

 

Living Arrows 18/52

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth

Kahlil Gibran

Last weekend we visit St. Fagan’s, the National Museum of History, with friends. It’s somewhere we have been meaning to visit ever since we moved to Wales but somehow never managed it. Last weekend we changed that and just in time too. I’ll most likely be writing all about our visit, and I haven’t gone through all my photos yet either, but for now here are a few of BattleKid from that day.

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Linking up with Donna of What The Redhead Said. If you’d like to take part or see some other Living Arrows posts, please click the badge below.

Living Arrows

Dragon Hunting Series – Where it All Started

Many of you who follow me on Instagram will know about the dragon hunting adventures we have with BattleKid when we visit the many fabulous castles around us in Wales, but I realised while we were away recently that I never explained where it came from. Well, let me tell you the story.dragon hunting

Last year a dragon appeared outside Caerphilly Castle on Saint David’s Day and stayed outside for a brief time before moving inside the castle. We had missed seeing it that first time outside the castle, but when Lolo was visiting last May, BattleDad and he took BattleKid to Caerphilly one morning. After their breakfast they decided to visit the castle. They stumbled upon the dragon inside and on this particular visit BattleKid was quite unsure of him and his smoking nostrils.

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The Caerphilly Castle Dragon

When my sister surprised us with a visit over the May Bank Holiday weekend, we visited Caerphilly Castle again as she had never been. This time, with some coaxing from BattleDad and Lolo, BattleKid got a bit more comfortable with the dragon, going much closer but he still wouldn’t actually touch him. From that day he became fascinated with dragons and was always asking to go see the dragon. I have written about our bank holiday weekend visit to see the Caerphilly Castle dragon on the blog before.

Then last July, while I was home in Dublin without the boys, they headed to Tretower Castle in Crickhowell after breakfast in Abergavenny. BattleDad decided to make things a bit more interesting by telling BattleKid they had to find the dragon hidden within the castle and that they were dragon hunters. They searched the castle high and low and had a great day together. They searched the castle rooms, the fields around the castle and also the round tower, which sits away from the main castle. They eventually found the dragon off the court yard and from that day forth our dragon hunting adventures continued.dragon hunting

It has been a great addition to our days out, and has allowed BattleDad and me to enjoy visiting the many castles around us in Wales with a toddler in tow. BattleKid finds it great fun to check the nooks and crannies in each of the castles we visit for the elusive dragon and we’ve been lucky to find a dragon in each castle.

I’ll let you in on a little secret. Since their first visit to Tretower Castle, BattleDad and I always bring a small dragon teddy bear of BattleKid’s with us to plant somewhere for him to find. It ensures we enjoy ourselves as a family while we adults can also enjoy a bit of historical culture.

And even better, I’ve since seen other parents and parent bloggers incorporating dragon hunting into their castle adventures which is brilliant. It goes to show that with a little imagination from BattleDad last year, a new family adventure for all to enjoy was born.

Have you been dragon hunting yet?

Stay tuned for posts about our dragon hunting at the various castles we have visited around Wales.

Cath x

dragon hunting
An introduction to the dragon hunting series and where it all began
Cuddle Fairy

WanderlustKids