LITTLE ONE’S LONDON

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Published on November 13, 2017 with No Comments

On a chilly November in London, it takes a cool head and creativeness to keep the children happy on a holiday.

Words ANIS RAMLI

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The Afternoon Tea Bus Tour drives around Central London while you nibble on a luscious scone.

 

London is never short of attractions and fun pursuits for kids. From child-friendly theatres (Little Angel Theatre comes to mind) to one-stop entertainment spots (Kidszania does great role-plays), the city knows how to host the little traveller. And yes, it can also be daunting for any parent with kids in tow. The crowd, the queues, the noise, the traffic. Lugging kids to see the Changing of the Guard? Not if you want to jostle with the crowd and deal with whiny, irritable kids later.

Londoners, those with children, know only too well the challenge of entertaining kids in their own city. So it was to them we looked for advice on what best to see and do. The key was simple: keep your itinerary small and manageable, and above all – keep your wits together.

THE ICONS
Of course, no one should skip the signature vistas that make London distinctive. For a two-in-one experience, traipse through London’s famous landmarks on an iconic double decker bus and partake in a traditional afternoon tea experience. BB Bakery’s fully restored 1960s Routemaster has been revamped with retro booth seats and kids will love tucking into its pretty set of colourful cupcakes, dainty tarts and finger sandwiches. Plus, you get to escape the crowd while still being able to see historical landmarks such as Big Ben, Trafalgar Square and Buckingham Palace. Back on terra firma, get kids to hunt down the quintessential British red telephone box – the ones that have been repurposed. Push open the door to discover a mini library (Lewisham), a phone repair shop (Holborn, Greenwich, West End), an ATM machine (Borough Market) or a miniature garden of hanging baskets and pot plants (Southwark). Our favourite was the Kape Barako near Hampstead Heath. In his tiny booth, Umar Khalid and wife does a delicious chai latte that the kids love.

HOME SCHOOL
Add a lesson plan (or two) while on vacation with a visit to London’s boutique museums. The Horniman Museum is a great museum for kids to have a hands-on experience on almost everything. The Butterfly House, opened just in August, is a delightful tropical cabin with species that change according to the season. See them land on your head and shoulders but be careful not to tread on those on the floor. Then head over to the Hands on Base Gallery where children can touch real things – anything from African masks to a shark’s jaws. The HMS Belfast, part of the Imperial War Museums portfolio, is a favourite with ship-obsessed grown-ups and children alike. This permanent exhibit is a real historic warship with nine decks to explore. And getting to sit in the Captain’s chair is a real treat for anyone!

PARKS AND PLAYGROUNDS
For a day at being a pirate, nothing gets a big “Aye” than an outing to the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Playground at Kensington Gardens. A huge wooden pirate ship that speaks to the Peter Pan in all of us sits in a middle of a sea of sand. Kids board the ship via thick rope gangways and ladders before exploring the captain’s cabins and taking on the ship’s wheel. But this is more than your typical playground. There are areas dedicated for toddlers and older children spread out from the ship’s “central zone”. A secret garden around the corner has a wooden walkway accessed by ladder sand poles, a sound and sensory section has metal plates that elicit musical notes that kids can step on, a teepee area to play hide-and-seek, and a pool/puddle area to get kids excited. In short, it’s a great place to fuel the imagination. If safety is a concern, fret not. Adults can only enter when accompanying kids.

At St James Park, the pelicans will delight the kids but, if you tell them they are the descendants of the birds first donated to the park by King Charles II back in 1664, we guarantee you they would want to linger. Or, head over to Regents Park to see the ducks and swans. From the west side of the park, you can see the dome of the Regent’s Park Mosque (or London Central Mosque as it’s officially known). The mosque itself took 37 years to build though the land was gifted to the Muslim community in 1940.

SIDE NOTES
Toilet breaks are best at shopping centres and museums, where there is unlikely to be long queues. Food halls are great for picky eaters, as they provide a wide range of menu to pick from. Rasa Sayang in Chinatown does great Malaysian/Straits food and the huge servings mean kids can share a dish. Markets are also great for their ample samples of homemade produce. At Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Playground the café just outside the gates serves hearty soups, sandwiches and stone-baked pizzas with ample wooden benches and tables. Just watch out for the swarming birds and hungry squirrels.

 

Royal Brunei Airlines flies London daily via Dubai. Discover things to do in London in www.muhibah.com.bn

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