original london bus tour

Over the Easter holidays I took the girls up to London with one of their friends from school and her mum and we went to see the Cinderella exhibition in Leicester Square which was fascinating. They loved looking at their favourite dresses and I enjoyed watching the process of initial drawing through to creating the final costume, utterly fascinating.

original bus tour london

The rest of the day was to be spent on a double decker bus, one of The Original Tour that travels the streets of London allowing you to take in all of the sights comfortably and listen to a documentary at the same time.

original london bus tour

Fortunately for us, London’s weather played ball and we climbed on board at the first stop in Trafalgar Square very close to their office where we picked up our tickets. Below photo taken along the embankment – not your every day London sight and he was moved on by the time the bus came by later.

original london bus tour

The girls raced upstairs and managed to secure seats towards the front, they plugged in their headphones and listened as the bus made it’s way around Trafalgar Square telling them about the lions, Nelson and the 4th plinth before making it’s way down towards the Thames.

original london bus tour

For three 6 year olds, ‘Actually I am 7.’ Isabelle reminds me, I was really pleased to see how interested they were and how the tour kept their attention all the time – not bad for Year Two-ers.

original london bus tour alice

Top tips for making the most of your London Bus Tour

  1. It can get windy on the top deck, you’ll be surprised how much so make sure you have a jacket/cardigan to put on.
  2. Suncream, hats and sun glasses are a must for hot sunny days on the top deck.
  3. Take a packed lunch and water or drinks for snacking as the journey is at least two hours long.
  4. Have a plan. It’s a long day and it can be easily wasted away with stops here and there, realistically you can do one or two stops to visit sights.
  5. If touring with young children I suggest making the most of the journey and staying on especially in high season when there are queues for the River Thames Cruise tours and in all restaurants.
  6. Start as early as you can, the buses quickly become full and front seats and top deck or the hot favourites, get yours early!

Verdict

original london bus tour

Sadly for us our bus broke down at the London Eye, it wasn’t a problem as we knew there would be another coming along soon but it was lunch time so we made our way over to the Thames to look for food and our plan was to continue on the River Thames Cruise included in the price of our tickets.

original london bus tour

It was the Easter holidays, the restaurants were packed and the queues for the River Cruise were enormous, after standing in a queue for over half an hour with no news on how much longer we would have to wait we decided to leave it. We made our way over to west London for another event and in retrospect I wish we hadn’t, it would have been better to hop back on a bus and continue the tour.

original london bus tour

We all loved the tour and would gladly do it again but I wouldn’t get off second time round as you waste too much time and miss out on the other sights of London.

Original london bus tour

This is one sight I definitely want to go back to for a better photo – the Upside Down Houses
original london bus tour

London City skyline taken from the Original Bus Tour on Tower Bridge.

original london bus tour

original london bus tour - Big Ben

Thank you to the three gorgeousnesses above for being as good as gold and a lot of fun to be with.

Coming to London? here are our review on some of our favourite sights:

London Eye
Sea Life
Buckingham Palace
Tower Bridge tour
Ripley’s Believe it or Not!
The Shard
Tower of London

Disclosure: We were kindly given our tickets by The Original Tour for the purpose of this review.

Time Traveller: The Travel Bloggers Linky

If you are new to Time Traveller it’s a Linky where you can share your travel posts, both old and new. If you have been somewhere recently, tell us about it and if you haven’t share an old post, a favourite from the archives. You could even write about places you visited before you started blogging, scan the photos, re write and relive the experience, tell us all about it.

 

TimeTravellers

The rules are very simple

    • Your post must be travel related.
    • It can be a day out, a weekend away or a longer break.
    • You can use posts from your archives or write something new.
    • Display the badge and link back to this post.
    • This Linky is about sharing, please don’t dump a link and run. Read some posts, leave a comment on them. I will visit everyone who links up, please be patient as I will fit my comments around my family and work.
    • Leave a comment on this post, I’ll be leaving one on yours.
    • All posts are Tweeted with the hashtag #TimeTraveller and added to my Time Traveller Pinterest board

Follow Marianne’s board Time Travellers on Pinterest.

Marco Polo travel Guide books

Once I have chosen my next destination, be it a three week summer holiday or a short weekend break, the next thing I do is a little research. I want to know if there’s anything on that I might like to see, I want to know what places to visit, where to eat, what to drink and above all I want to make sure I make the most of my free time.

It stands to reason that after investing in accommodation, travel and saving money to spend I come home filled with wonderful memories, great photographs and the yearning to return one day.

Marco Polo have launched two brand new series in their travel guides, the Marco Polo Handbooks and Spiral Guides and they’ve sent me along copies of Venice, Rome and London, three of my favourite cities in the world to have a look at.

The Marco Polo Travel Handbooks are for those travellers who want in-depth coverage of a destination whereas the Marco Polo Spiral Guides are ultra practical itinerary based guides for those who haven’t got the time to prepare for a trip but don’t want to miss a thing, just like me.

Perfect Days in Venice

marco polo venice guide book 2

First thing to mention is I LOVE the fact it is spiral bound. This prevents cracking the spine and the possible loss of pages over lots of use, the cover also has large flaps on both sides which work as marvellous bookmarks. At the back of the guide is a plastic pocket, also spiral bound, which holds a perfect sized pocket map.

The guide is divided into five areas, it starts with The Magazine. This is a brilliant idea as it is a collection of articles written to inform and inspire you, perfect bedtime reading or for the train/plane. Each article gives some background information. Venice includes a piece on the Carnevale which is an awesome display of costumes and folklore once a year around February time.

marco polo travel guide books

Second up is Finding Your Feet with information on the airports and of course water taxis which are the most amazing experience, there’s nothing quite like arriving at your hotel on a water taxi trust me. There is a selection of various priced accommodation options, Food and Drink (absolute MUST in Venice is to try baccalà {salted fish} and polenta), Shopping and Entertainment.

Then the guide is dedicated to the various quartiere of Venice each one with a differnent coloured tab for easy referral. Each area to visit has three sections, Top 10, Don’t Miss and At Your Leisure.

Let’s take a look at the world famous square of Venice, San Marco which is in the quartiere of San Marco & San Giorgio Maggiore. I can find where to buy a panino, when the cities Saint’s day is (25th April) and I discover that I can go to the roof terrace of Hotel Gabrielli for spectacular views over the lagoon.

Marco Polo travel guide books

I love the suggested ‘Perfect Day’ with times and indications of what to do and see. It’s a perfect guide to follow taking in the major monuments and places of interest of each area then giving a couple of other ideas too.

I’m really pleased to see Harry’s Bar mentioned which was one of Ernest Hemingway’s favourite bars and home of the Bellini, a delicious mix of peach juice and prosecco.

There are also great suggestions of where to eat and drink, where to shop and where to go out.

marco polo travel guides

Verdict: I find this guide book really inspiring and very useful. It makes me want to go back to Venice for a start and once my girls are old enough I shall take them. Marco Polo haven’t left anything out and I feel I could visit a place I’ve never been to and come home with the knowledge I have covered as much as I could without wasting precious time.

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. All words, images and opinions my own.

BT Tower Canary Wharf and The Shard view

Recently I had the most amazing experience, I went to the top of the BT Tower and witnessed the revolving restaurant as I sat jaw dropped and watched beautiful London in it’s night time glory extend beneath me.

Such was my excitement at such an unusual sight I took way way too many photos, some of the same shot. I clicked away like a madwoman much to the amusement of the other journalists who are most likely used to seeing this view or just being cooler than me.

BT Tower London Eye

I walked all the way around and looked out of every window peering far into the distance and spotting some of my favourite landmarks like the London Eye, The Shard Tower Bridge and Canary Wharf.

I ate up the top too, a delicious buffet meal served with wine and dessert to finish. I had the most amazing experience and when I left the building I was given a certificate stating that I, Marianne Weekes, had been to the top of the BT Tower.

BT TV Overview

Why had I been invited along? Well, it was to watch the film Gone Girl. I had read the book a while back and was gripped to it reading page after page but I had to agree with fellow bookworms that I found the ending disappointing, it left me a bit meh. I had heard very good things about the film and so I wanted to see with my own eyes how they had covered the ending.

I loved it! It was an excellent portrayal that was very close to the book throughout touching on the main characters and the main events, it was fun seeing the story acted and the ending, well I think they tackled it very well, it came over better in the film than it did in the book.

Did you know that you can now get lots of films on your TV via BT TV? You could watch Gone Girl too from the comfort of your sofa.

BT Tower

BT TV Overview

Did you know you can build your own TV package with BT TV from a variety of packages to choose from? No I didn’t but I found that out on this wonderful night out.

The core pack, Entertainment is £5 a month for 12 months and then £7.50, it includes 20 extra popular pay channels like Discovery, National Geographic, Comedy Central and gold.

Customers can then add on other bolt-ons for £3 a month each such as Kids Extra or Netfix for £5.99.

BT’s Essential is available for £5 and customers can add-on blot-ons like Kids VOD and Music VOD for £3.

BT’s Starter for £0 (for 12 months and then £5) includes up to 70 TV and Radio channels including Freeview HD.

BT Tower

Disclosure: BT invited me to a wonderful evening out and a memorable experience. If you’re interested in BT TV online take a look at their website for more information.

All photos taken with iPhone 4

 

Tower of London sea of red

Half term. Seems like a lifetime ago now but it’s only been over a week.

Poppies at Tower of London

I like to organise something to do with the girls over their school breaks and I had decided on the poppies at the Tower of London this time. Firstly because we had spotted the first of them being placed on our Buckingham Palace trip in the summer and I wanted to return to see the difference. Secondly because it is such a beautiful way to commemorate the 100 years passed since World War One.

Tower of London poppies

 

1914 - 1918 navy

Paul Cummins, creator of the Blood swept lands and sea of red has made 888,246 poppies, one for each British and Commonwealth death during WW1, to be placed in the moat of the Tower of London. They went on sale and all net proceeds plus 10% of every £25 poppy sold will be shared between six service charities, including Help for Heroes and the Royal British Legion. (BBC) I tried to buy one but they were all sold out, which I’m really happy about but, on the other hand sad I don’t have one.

However from what I understand, after a tour of the UK there will be a final installation at the Imperial War Museum for everyone to enjoy for many many years.

poppies Tower of London

The girls and I crossed Tower Bridge to reach the Tower and the pavements were already busy, the closer we got the thicker the crowds became but we managed to see the poppies and take a few hasty photos.

I had booked us tickets to enter the tower, visit the Crown Jewels, see the Beefeaters and enjoy a day of history but it quickly became apparent that it wasn’t such a good idea.

Tower of London poppies

I have read that over 4,000,000 people have visited the poppies and a good proportion of them were there the Monday I took the girls. In fact it took us one hour to get from the bridge side of the tower to the ticket office side where another queue waited to collect the tickets. Basically the length of the photo below where I am standing to the far end.

I noticed that there was a further queue of one hour to get inside the palace and then a two hour queue to see the jewels.

Tower of London poppies

The girls were already tired, hungry and grumpy after walking that small stretch so, thankfully, I managed to swap my tickets for an open ticket to return at some point in the future.

Tower of London - sea of red

 

Thank you Tower of London as I really do want to return to show the girls just how beautiful the Tower of London is. We’ll be back soon.

Today 9th November 2014 is Remembrance Sunday and we would like to take a moment to remember and thank all of the 888,246 who lost their lives for our freedom.

Thank you.

Disclosure: Journl, which I will be telling you about very soon, treated us to a day out in London. Do check

Ripley's Believe it or not London

We were recently invited to have a look around Ripley’s London collection and having never been before I was intrigued to discover what Ripley’s Believe It or Not! was all about.

The London Ripley’s museum is the world’s largest and it opened on 20th August 2008. It is home to over 500 exhibits from educational artefacts to the mind boggling weird and wonderful.

Ripley's price list London 2014

It all started when Robert Ripley picked up on sports feats in his cartoons in the New York Globe in 1918, slowly he added non sports features and then changed the name to Believe It or Not! where he indulged on a research for unusual facts with the help of his researcher.

Ripley's mini cooper london

The London Ripley’s Believe It or not! is set on six floors and the entrance opens onto the famous Piccadilly Circus. As we queued we past a robot and a Mini Cooper covered all over with Swarovski crystals – a million of them to be precise.

Robot Ripley's london

You then take a lift to the sixth floor and start to work your way down.

There is a LOT to see, a knitted Ferrari, a dinosaur, the sweet making machine out of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Everywhere you look there is something to marvel at and later on to be repulsed at, or horrified at. 

Ripley's Diana Ross

 

It’s a weird and wonderful collection, it’s a bombardment to your senses and to your morals.

Ripley's toast art

There is a fabulous art collection with famous faces made out of all kinds of objects and materials including human skin.

Ripley's human skin

On your way down you will be invited to take a tour in the hall of mirrors which is amazing and frustratingly good. The girls and I had a go but there were a lot of other kids in there shouting out to their friends, it scared the girls and we ended up leaving via the entrance which we had ended up at again.

Ripley's car bonnet art

One part they really enjoyed was the graffiti wall where they were given a computer run aerosol can and invited to write their names (or draw) on the wall.

I must admit a lot of the exhibits were too advanced for my twins to enjoy but I know older kids would love and be fascinated by. There is something for everyone but if your kids are still at infant school like my twins I’d save this trip until they were a little older and they would get even more out of it.

I’d say perfect from 8 upwards.

Disclosure: We received free entry (me and the twins) for the purpose of this review)