Kids in London

Aug 13th, 1999, 11:07 PM
  #1  
Rita
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Kids in London

We are going to London toward the end of January. Any suggestions of what to do with two easily bored boys, ages 12 and 14 (N.B. Locking them in the tower of London is not an option!)
 
Aug 14th, 1999, 12:18 PM
  #2  
Diane
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Rita--actually you could lock them in the Tower! If you attend the Ceremony of the Keys (see Wes Fowler's post on how to obtain tickets). During the ceremony, the observers are actually locked in--then you get out through a door in the gate. My son was 14 this summer when we went to London. He is very active, very sports minded and also a good student (just to give you an idea to correlate with the activities I will mention). Normally at home he hates to shop, but he enjoyed shopping in London--he probably would've enjoyed the open market in Covent Garden better than the shopping he did on Regent Street and Brompton Rd. if I had gotten him over there. Don't know if that is available in January. Same with Portobello Road in Notting Hill. We also went to the Clink--an old prison near the New Globe theatre. He liked museum type things like that. I would probably avoid the London Dungeon--we really thought it was cheesy and a waste of time and money. I would also recommend the London Walks--walking tours that meet at various tube stations. We went on the Jack the Ripper tour--the tour guides are extremely knowledgable and the tours are fun and educational without being stuffy or boring. For the London Walks children under 15 are free, students have reduced rates (bring an id). You can take a boat ride to Greenwich and climb up to the observatory where you can stand in the eastern and western hemishere at the same time. There is also a naval museum there that might be interesting. The Cabinet War Rooms, British Museum, Natural History Museum would also be good places to go. We went to see Phantom and Miss Saigon. He liked Phantom the best. Feel free to e-mail me if you have any questions.
 
Aug 14th, 1999, 03:04 PM
  #3  
Ben Haines
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If you email "[email protected] " the author of a book that is presently in draft can tell you the address of his web site which has some useful opening notes -- but alas not the whole book.

In the concourse of your arrival airport you might look for the newspaper shop and for the monthly "Kids Out in London". Two copies (one each) would keep your boys interested on the train or tube journey into the West End. In general, and as you know, they'll like things better if they feel that they had a chance to choose them.

If your hotel porter says that you are in City of Westminster (it's a local government area) then you can ask where the nearest cildren's public library is, go there, and find the City of Westminster 100-page free book on activities, parks, play areas, and so on for local children. A bout of seven a side football will put your two in mind to sleep early and well. London children will find Americans glamorous -- they are in films.

Now some specifics. I like all Diane's ideas. All the London street markets are open in winter too. I find Covent Garden expensive. If you've Greenwich in mind for seeing ships and astronomy then a visit on Friday or Saturday could incorporate the large market area there.

I, too, think the Dungeon cheesy -- actually I don't think a lot of the Clink, either, but I fear your boys will. Then ten minutes from there, below the south side of London Bridge main line station, is the Old Operating Theatre, a good deal more factual, but still reasonably exciting. And from there it's five minutes under the station to H M S Belfast, a whole ship to explore. A good lunch is upstairs at the Market Porter pub in Borough Market. They welcome children. Since pub portions are large you might order for the boys one main dish and two plates - the pub has no objection, and this leaves space for pudding.

In the British Museum the best rooms for boys the age of yours are not the boring old Greek and Roman rooms, but upstairs the Roman British Room and the next door Anglo Saxon room, with gold hordes and a ship burial. Not far away are early twentieth century radio sets. There is a good thing downstairs: the Rosetta stone. A good lunch is north of the museum, in the MacMillan Hall of the University's Senate House.

Theatre is a good idea too. I'm not sure about a big musical. They may find more to enjoy at a play designed for children: London has a couple of these running at any one time, listed in "Kids Out". Cheaper, too. If there's still a pantomime rnning in the iunner suburbs you should go to one if those, in the afternoon. The Albany at Deptford (train from London Bridge) does a good one each year.

And there I'm stuck, because I don't know the boys. But if you'd like to tell me what caught their attention at school this spring, and what they like to see or read in televison or books (by type please, not by title: I may not recognise a title) I'll gladly see what London offers to match.. And in any case please write if I can help further. Welcome to London.

Ben Haines
 
Aug 14th, 1999, 05:23 PM
  #4  
anna
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Our boys were 11 and 14 when we went last year. They enjoyed the yeoman warder tour at the Tower, the Tube train driving simulators at the London Transport Museum, quite a number of things at the Science Museum, especially the Science of Sport exhibit, though that appeared to be a temporary exhibit so I don't know if it is still there. Does anyone else know? They were fascinated by the huge steam engine near the entrance, though the guy who was running it did go on a bit, but he was fairly entertaining anyway. They like riding the Tube and the double-decker busses. Hambley's toy store was a hit also, as was the Wax Museum. I dragged them to see the Rosetta Stone and the Elgin Marbles over protests but they have since come up in school, of course, and they were thrilled to be able to say they'd seen them close up. If the boys are readers or history lovers, don't miss Westminster Abbey, esp. Poet's Corner. I was amazed at how impressed they were with the Sung Eucharist service at St. Paul's, though they tried hard to pretend they were bored. The Tower Bridge was also a big hit. Oh, and the street performers in Covent Garden. It's a fun town for kids and a difficult place to be bored.
 
Aug 14th, 1999, 05:36 PM
  #5  
Rosemary MacPherson
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My kids' favourite museum in London was
the Museum of the Moving Image (MOMI).
This is the history of movies and TV.
There is lots of hands on stuff, you can
read the news or be interviewed on TV.
Live actors bring it to life. Great for
a wet afternoon. It is in the South Bank
Complex nearest tube Waterloo Station.
 
Aug 14th, 1999, 05:51 PM
  #6  
Karen
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The Imperial War Museum, Tussaud's Wax Museum and the food court of Harrod's are my choices for your boys.
 
Aug 14th, 1999, 09:34 PM
  #7  
specs
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We were in London last month with two teenagers (13 and 16). I agree with the above suggestions. Especially avoid the London Dungeon, there were postings about it a few weeks ago, so you could look back and see what people thought of it.

We found our museum trips were more of a success when we planned what to see and set a time limit. We used guidebooks as a reference and let each of our kids pick one (or hopefully more) areas they wanted to see. Having made the choice themselves, they were much less likely to fuss about viewing an exhibit. They even bought books at the museum shops so they could read more about things that interested them.

We also tried to take breaks before anyone was tired. It was nice to sit together and talk about what we had seen and it helped avoid a lot of crankiness.

Our kids were too wiped out each day to want to go to shows, but enjoyed seeing the city lit up at night. Our friend's 15 year old son just got back from a tour with 120 other teenagers. They went to two shows. None of the kids liked the Buddy Holly Rock show, but they said the British kids loved it and were dancing in the aisles. They saw Starlite Express and enjoyed it very much.

We also have friends who took their teenagers to London over Thanksgiving. It rained all week and was cold. They spent an hour relaxing in the warmth and comfort of an IMAX cinema. Although the IMAX isn't what people generally travel to London for, its always a good show and is never boring.
 
Aug 15th, 1999, 12:19 AM
  #8  
Ben Haines
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I'm afraid the Science of Sport exhibition was temporary, but as people have said there's much to see and do at the Science Museum. Also, that the Museum of the Moving Image is to close pretty soon for two years for total replacement.

Ben Haines
 
Aug 15th, 1999, 09:07 AM
  #9  
Lydia
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We went to England in 97 with our kids who were then 13, 11 and 7. The eldest two were boys. In London they absolutely loved the Imperial War Museum and the Cabinet War Rooms. Could hardly drag them away from the War Museum, wish we'd had more time. They also liked Hampton Court very much. We got there by train and arrived early. It got much too crowded later in the day so we left. We used the taped tours, which means each person can go at their own pace, and those were a success at each place to which we went. The Tower was so so for them, I'd say. They had loads of fun taking the tube and buses, and figuring out the routes to take. We had picnic lunches in parks, which was fun (we had an apartment). They enjoyed the Transport museum but I was a bit disappointed by it. We were too tired by the end of the day to do anything, since we got a very early start.
 
Aug 15th, 1999, 09:07 AM
  #10  
Lydia
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We went to England in 97 with our kids who were then 13, 11 and 7. The eldest two were boys. In London they absolutely loved the Imperial War Museum and the Cabinet War Rooms. Could hardly drag them away from the War Museum, wish we'd had more time. They also liked Hampton Court very much. We got there by train and arrived early. It got much too crowded later in the day so we left. We used the taped tours, which means each person can go at their own pace, and those were a success at each place to which we went. The Tower was so so for them, I'd say. They had loads of fun taking the tube and buses, and figuring out the routes to take. We had picnic lunches in parks, which was fun (we had an apartment). They enjoyed the Transport museum but I was a bit disappointed by it. We were too tired by the end of the day to do anything, since we got a very early start.
 
Aug 16th, 1999, 06:59 AM
  #11  
David White
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My thanks to Ben Haines for mentioning my website: Let's Take the Kids to London

The address is:
http://www.members.tripod.com/dswhite

Take a look--the material may be helpful if you are planning a trip to London with children in tow...The good news is that London is full of interesting sights and activities for children of all ages!
 

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