Toots and I are often seeking different and absorbing days out in London, and on Tuesday we had a blinder, so I thought I’d share it.
It started with Toots saying she wanted to go on a boat which, in London, is easy. We left our north London home at about 10.15, and headed to Pimlico which, for us, is via Finsbury Park and the Victoria Line. Now Toots is walking, I had no pushchair, and we enjoyed the trains down there, provided we had a window seat. Toots will demand one as soon as she gets through the train doors.
My plan was to get the’ Tate to Tate’ boat to Bankside and tootle round the Damien Hirst exhibition. We had a short wait at Millbank, and took in St John’s Church and the riverside to kill our time. The boat from Millbank was a bit of a disappointment – all covered, low seats, not much chance to see the river and over too quickly, but it did fulfil the demands for a boat ride. The fare was about £5 (I had a discount as a Tate member).
Toots was very excited by the landing stage at Millbank, and we stayed there to eat our packed lunch, gaze at St. Paul’s and wave at the passing boats.
The Tate Modern acted as our toilet stop, and we whizzed round the Hirst retrospective, particularly enjoying the sharks, the butterflies and the spots (less so the decomposing cow’s head). After a quick stop at Starbucks Globe for a free babyccino (Toots, not me) it was back to the boats. We caught a Clipper to North Greenwich, which was fantastic – £4, all the landmarks to look at, Tower Bridge with the rings, the wind in our hair and, wow, it really moves! We stayed at the back in the open, and it was exhilarating!
Pulling in at north Greenwich, we took in the O2 and the mouth of the Lea, and decided to do the new cable cars from the south bank to the Excel. Expecting it to be expensive, I was a little cautious. I also expected Toots to have some fears once up in the cars, but no. I can report that the cable cars are great, under £5 and offering some superb views of the Thames and beyond – and we had a very grey day. Toots had her nose pressed to the glass for the whole crossing.
From there, it was the DLR to Stratford and back to the Victoria Line at Highbury via the Overground. A wonderful, relatively inexpensive day out with Toots, and some great experiences all the way round.
Route: Finsbury Park-Pimlico via Victoria Line; Pimlico-Tate Modern via Tate to Tate boat; Tate Modern-North Greenwich via Thames Clipper; North Greenwich-Royal Victoria/ExCeL via Emirates Air-Line; Royal Victoria-Stratford via DLR; Stratford-Highbury & Islington via Overground.
Damien Hirst’s exhibition is at the Tate until September 9; as a Tate Member, I was free. Tickets are £14.