Weekend break in London – part 3

All together in the Kings Cross Hilton – sometimes I miss the Marriott points more than others and this was one such moment (but the sister hotel of Crown Plaza London Heathrow is, I think, pretty good and better than many of the other hotels in the area so Holiday Inn points it is) – we finally recovered from travelling, work, argument and started to think about food.

They had eaten a little (so they told me) on the train. I, on the other hand, was starving.

We decided to get out of the hotel and hop in a taxi. I asked for Gerrard Street in Soho and we went for a Chinese meal in the Crispt Duck (my youngest daughter’s favorite food).

The food was great, but we ordered too much (partly because I had forgotten they had eaten “a little” on the train down).

For the following day, we decided to head to the Science museum. I did not feel much like shopping and my eldest daughter (against stereotype) hates shopping. We had gone there when they were a lot younger and had very much enjoyed a whole day there. We hoped for the same. The visit would also coincide with the London Festival of Architecture 2008, a celebration and exploration of the city’s buildings, streets and spaces – with over 600 exhibitions, lectures, public space installations, guided walks, bicycle rides, boat tours, parties, design workshops and debates (20th June – 20th July).

We got up at a reasonable time the following morning and headed out for breakfast. (No breakfast vouchers available at the Holiday Inn so very poor value for money.) There was a decent cafe directly opposite the hotel! We then walked on over to Kings Cross station and headed underground to discover massive queues everywhere – it was going to take ages for the family to get tickets (I had an Oyster card). I spotted a queue-free Osyter card dispensing machine (£5 per card – including £3 deposit and £2 fare credit) and we managed to russle up £15 in pound coins. This got us to South Kensington and a ticket office with no queues where we could easily add more case to the cards. We figured that we all get together in London often enough to make using Oyster cards worthwhile and they are certainly a lot less hassle than buying tickets.

We got to Exibition Road mid-morning and found lots of LFA events underway but my eldest was pretty-much focused on getting to the Science museum so we walked past them. Then we went to the loo, then the cafe.

I then left the family to explore inside and nipped outside with my camera 🙂 – bit naughty really given that they had come down to be with me. Oops. We came together for lunch in the rather overpriced and not very easy to see in Blue restaurant inside the museum. The kids found that the place no longer appealed that much. There were disappointed that most things seemed to be out of date – not enough new stuff.

So we left. Had a brief wander around South Kensington and had some drinks/cakes in a coffee house.

The next plan was to go back to the hotel for a swim. Eldest daughter did not have a swim suit. That should have been easy to fix. One hour later having decided that Oxford Street was a waste of space, we gave in and headed back to the hotel with the thought that they probably sold swim-suits anyway. They did. Horrible ones, to go with their horrible swimming pool.

We chilled out until Doctor Who. Really enjoyed it and then went looking for a light evening meal. We thought we would find this in the hotel restaurant. Nope. Short, naff menu. The hotel also had an attached Indian restaurant – not well known for their light menus! Ah ah … how about the Sushi place we had seen over the road the previous night? Shut! On a Saturday night. We wandered down towards Kings Cross station expecting to find something on the way: nothing – all fast food. Argh!!

I had a brainwave: how about the new International station? St Pancras must surely have something good. How about “Europe’s longest Champagne bar”? Surely that would have a good menu. What a dissapointment – most places shut and what was open had almost exclusively cheese based dishes (I am allergic to cheese as is my eldest).

We wandered around up and down the road outside for a while and then my youngest remembered us walking past some food place on the upper part of the station when we heading for the Champagne bar. It turned out to be an Italian cafe and the food was superb as was the service. We sat next to the much-too-large when located next to the walls statue of a couple, under the restore roof of St Pancras and had a great time.

The walk back the hotel was a bit of a pain but we had had a decent day in the end.

Little did we know that a close cousin of my wife lived a few hundred yards from where we had hunted for food. He had been home and would have welcomed company. We met him at the family christening we attended the following day in Orpington.

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