London in Eight Hours
So, unfortunately, this year I couldn’t afford a holiday or a few weeks travelling around Thailand. Instead, I was a little bit all over the place bouncing from house to house in between moving. This was the closest thing I had to a holiday this year as it meant two weeks off work to do whatever I wanted with the added bonus of a heatwave. For the first week I did nothing but sunbathe in the garden at my parent’s house and read – it was bliss!! The second week I spent with my boyfriend Ben at his home in Bristol. As there’s a fair bit more to do in Bristol than there is at my parents’ (we live in the middle of nowhere) we spent as much time as we could out and about. We went to Bath for a day, met friends in Bristol city centre for lunch, watched the sunset on Wotton Hill, and also went to London for a day! As it was only a day trip, we didn’t have long to sightsee but both Ben and I had A LOT we wanted to do between us. So, we sat down the night before and worked out the best route to see everything in one day. It was pretty successful so I thought I’d share it. An added bonus is that aside from the train tickets to get there, we hardly spent anything!
1. Hyde Park. We arrived at Paddington station at noon. From here we walked to the nearest Tesco where we bought meal deals for lunch. We then took a slow walk to Hyde Park. We chose to walk everywhere rather than use public transport as it was such a lovely day and way too hot to consider going underground. It was really nice to see the bits of London that you would usually bypass with the public transport. Once in Hyde Park, we sat on little deck chairs under a tree and ate our picnic. They were £2 each to rent for the hour - we didn't realise this until after we were settled but I think it was worth it for the novelty! After, we decided to take a walk around the park, which up until now I'd been a little disappointed with. I'm not sure what I had been expecting but a patch of grass by a main road didn't seem that exciting.However, on the little walk around the park, we realised we’d actually been sat right on the outskirts. If we had just walked a couple of minutes more, we could have had lunch overlooking the beautiful lake in the middle!
2. Peggy Porschen. This was probably the place I was most excited to visit. I love baking and all things cake! I follow quite a few cake shops on Instagram and their pictures are forever popping up and making me crave cakes even more. Peggy Porschen is no exception. Their store looked absolutely amazing, from the décor to the cakes! I knew if we were going to London we had to make time to visit them. We walked from Hyde Park through some very upmarket looking streets lined with shops which in turn were lined with some very bored looking security guards. The sort of shops I can’t even afford to think about going in. We then walked through all the embassy buildings which we didn’t actually realise we were doing until we actually took notice of the flags!! Peggy Porschen was on the edge of the embassy area. Walking up to it I was so excited! It was a beautiful pink building on the corner of the street absolutely covered in flowers! I would have loved to have sat inside and had tea and cake, but I never expected people to be queuing up the road! We settled for take-away cake instead, which was worth it just for the box it came in! I’ll definitely be returning next time I’m in London just so I can sit inside.
3. Buckingham Palace. I have been to London now about five times in the last 10 years. Each time we aim to tick a big tourist thing off our list – but I had still never seen Buckingham Palace. It’s not even a huge interest of mine, I just felt that I needed to see it just to say I’ve seen it. We didn’t stay long here, nor did I take any photos. It really was a fleeting visit to tick it off my tourist list. But I am glad I went. This was one of the busiest places we went that day too as every school trip and tourist were there, taking photos and running around. We didn’t stop for long and carried on to walk through St James Park, heading for our next destination. From here, you could easily make a detour from our route to visit Big Ben and the London Eye but as we’d both seen these plenty of times before we bypassed them and headed towards Oxford Street and Soho.
4. Hamleys. Our next few stops were a little less touristy and more shopping/window shopping (I don’t think I bought anything other than cake all day!) Hamleys is a shop I’ve wanted to go to for a while now, so we made this one a priority. Sadly, I think I would have appreciated it much more as a child. I’d definitely outgrown half of the things in there or I’m just too old to have even heard of the other half. I was completely blown away by their collection of Sylvanian Families though. I absolutely adored those when I was a child and never really see them around anymore – maybe I just don’t go in enough toyshops? I was tempted to buy a little family to take home but I know if I bought the family, I’d want the house, then the furniture, then the car, then the holiday home… So we left empty handed and headed to the next cake shop on our little tour.
5. Crumbs and Doilies. I actually visited Crumbs and Doilies last summer, but I couldn’t resist going back when we were so close to it. Plus, I’d never been with Ben before and I wanted him to see it too, especially as he’s my main taste tester when I try out their recipes myself! What I love about Crumbs is that you can buy miniature versions of all their cakes. I’m so indecisive so being able to buy a selection (and not feel too sick to eat them all) is perfect! We got two each with a bottle of lemonade and sat in the window to eat them all. It was a nice little break after lots of walking around. We both tried a Unicorn cake, then I had a banana and white chocolate cake – I will definitely be trying this recipe at home because it was sooo good!! I also really love the area of Soho that Crumbs is in. I’ve never spent long here but I think it would be a really nice area to come for dinner and drinks one evening.
6. Lego Store. From Oxford Street, we took a slow walk over to Leicester Square to visit The Lego Store. Ben is probably the biggest Lego fan ever, so we couldn’t not come here. I came here last summer and told him all about it and promised to go with him one day. He was quite literally a kid in a toy shop. We looked at the all the crazy creations on offer, pointing out the ones we’d buy if we had the money, space to store it and time to build it. We can dream! My favourite has to be the Disney castle. It looks insane!
7. Primrose Bakery. We were coming to the end of the day and didn’t have long left until we needed to head back to Paddington for our train home. We had about fifteen minutes to spare before Primrose Bakery closed, our final cake shop of the day. We were both pretty full of cake by this point, so we picked a couple to take home with us. We went for plain vanilla cupcakes with pink icing for me and green for Ben. They were so good!
8. Covent Garden. We had just enough time for a little mooch around Covent Garden, but we were both starting to feel pretty tired and ready to call it a day. We weaved in and out of the little shops, stopping to sample some tea in Whittards, then we headed to the nearest underground, hopped on a train and made our way home.
For eight hours in London, I think we were pretty successful in seeing everything we set out to see! For anyone interested in recreating this route, here is the map we made on Google Maps. It could be easily adapted to add in other destinations or skip ones that you would have no interest in seeing. Hope this is helpful!