‘Remember I’ve got a bad knee,’ ‘Don’t forget dad’s foot hurts if he walks too far,’ ‘We don’t want to spend too much’ – yes, it’s time for mum and dad’s bi annual visit to London.
Past disasters have included inviting mum down for her birthday present to get the Eurostar to Lille Christmas markets, only to have the train cancelled due to bad weather. This was also the same year mum left her precious wooly hat in a coffee shop and ended up slipping over in Leicester Square, covering her brand new red festive coat in London grime, never to be the same again.
On another visit, when I was a London newb, I assured dear ma and pa that it was only a quick walk from London Bridge to Borough Market. I’ve since found out that it is, but not the route I took them. I dragged them through the back streets of Southwark; a highlight of the trip was the first time I’d seen heroin dealers going about their business in the council estate park we wandered past, lost.
And the ‘best’ time was nan treating us to any musical we wanted. I chose ‘Let it Be’, an ode to The Beatles, which featured non-stop swearing, ridiculous overacting, and the piece de resistance; two actors simulating a blow job for the longest three minutes of my life on stage.
For my parents Winter 2012 visit I needed them to have a good time. Dad’s a Londoner born and bred, and mum lived here in her late teens, early twenties; they know it, but not as I know it. After some thought, I came up with the following itinerary…
Any food market is always good, and despite the previous orienteering incident with this one we had a great time. There were six of us so we could all buy something and share it around to make more of the treats on offer. After salt beef, fruit smoothie, olives, caramel nougat, tea, chicken and broccoli quiche, sausage and cheese on toast I was just about stuffed and in need of a drink.
I’d been to Vinopolis a few years ago and always wanted to go back. I thought it would be the perfect thing for the six of us to do on a freezing cold Saturday afternoon after getting foot freeze from Borough Market.
We went at 1:30pm, which seemed like a great time, judging by the queues when we left at 4pm. We were given a talk on how to taste wine properly by the French sommelier before getting to sniff and suck back the wine from our first glass.
For the entry fee of £27 you’re given seven credits to use how you wish. Whether you like Champagne, rum, red, white, fortified or even absinthe you can work your way around the vending stations.
There are plenty of opportunities to sit down here and you can extend your trip by ordering a tapas board.
Hot tip for you: choose the wines that are down to the last glass. A member of staff will come and change it and usually let you have the rest of it for free.
As it was Christmas the Winter Festival was on in full swing. We glugged mulled wine – with extra brandy to really finish us off – admired the Christmas decorations on offer and enjoyed the views over The Thames and the Christmas lights. We were pretty exhausted after this and so after a quick stop at Waterloo to pick up some mulled wine from M&S we went off home to collapse on the sofa ready for the Sunday fun…
I wanted in at Harrods, but unsurprisingly when it came to be booking it two weeks before December hit I was told they were full up. I spent a good few hours analysing the smorgasbord of afternoon teas available in London Town I chose the honey tea at St Ermin’s Hotel in St James’ Park. At £25pp it was in a super fancy hotel which was beautifully Christmassy.
We sat around in the nearby Feathers pub by New Scotland Yard before hand, which was perfect apart from the ridiculously rude bar staff. “You’re not having another round of coffee are you?” Rude.
At St Ermin’s the staff were very attentive and explained to us we could have as many sandwiches and as much tea as we liked. The teas had us all cooing over the presentation and the little cakes were tasty and filling. Of course we did go for that extra round of sarnies, you can’t say that to us lot and expect us not to have more.
I hope this has given you a few ideas on where to take your parents when they come to London; any suggestions for my parents’ summer 2013 trip?