London Duck Tours

Back in February we visited Windsor Castle and S spotted a yellow “Duck”. The same ducks that were used during WWII have been restored and much like the amphibious creatures, they drive on land and sail in water.


Ever since, he’s been saying he wants to go on one and I promised we would when the weather got warmer. And that’s exactly what we did yesterday with my friend R and her gorgeous girl N (who S loves). It was a beautiful summers day and we met at our favourite spot in London….Southbank. We also ended up lunching at one of our favourite child friendly spots, Giraffe.

I’d booked our tour for 2:15pm and they’d asked us to get there about 15-20 minutes early to check in. We promptly arrived there at 2 but our duck didn’t arrive until 2:30. I understand there may be delays on the road, etc but these things should be factored in. Waiting half an hour in the heat with a restless 4 year old will give anyone’s patience levels a battering.

We finally set off on “Beatrice” at 2:35 and thankfully it was much cooler on the duck than it was standing on the street. Our tour guide who was Australian was absolutely brilliant and did a great job of keeping us entertained. 


We quacked at other ducks, took in all the sights and learnt a few new things about London. For example, did you know there are 42 capsules on the London Eye, to represent the 42 Boroughs of London? I didn’t! And because they thought people wouldn’t want to go on capsule 13, they are numbered 1-12 an 14-43. Fun fact! Here’s another one…all the Ducks are named after Shakespearen  characters. Except Elizabeth! They wanted to name her Ophelia except that character died by drowning. Not a good omen. She was restored during the Queen’s Jubilee year and so they named her after Her Majesty.

S absolutely loved it (apart from taking a 15 minute power nap because he was so tired!) Bless!


I enjoyed the tour because unlike the London bus tour, it’s short and sweet (the whole thing took about 75-80 minutes). However, you do pay for the novelty. Adult tickets were £26 and   child tickets are £18. I’m pretty sure the bus company are similarly priced except you get a lot more thrown in and your tickets are valid for 24 hours so you can see the sights over 2 days. The Duck Tour company are in the process of restoring some of their ducks so unfortunately we had to move from Beatrice to Elizabeth for the river part of our tour.

Of course 4 is on the young side to really learn anything on a tour like this but seeing the joy on S’s face made it worth it and I learned a few things about this glorious city myself. Win win!

You can book your tickets here. Another fabulous London day out!

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“A portrait of my son, once a week, every week, in 2014.”

This morning we went down to see the 888,246 ceramic poppies planted at the Tower of London representing the fatalities during World War 1 as it reaches it’s centenary. It was quite a scene. If you’re in London, definitely go down and see it.
This picture was taken at Tattershall Castle (along Embankment) as we made our way to the Tower of London.

Things to do in London at Christmas Time

I was recently asked for some advice on things to do in London over Christmas for a couple and their 10’ish year old son. So here’s my list of the best things to do if you’re visiting London during Christmas.

1. Shopping – If you’re staying in town, you’ll have Oxford Street and Regents Street but if it’s too cold (they are coming from Hong Kong) then I’d suggest you head to Westfield. It’s not far, a few stops on the Central Line to Shepards Bush (from Bond Street) and you’re there. It’s a huge mall with all the high street outlets as well as high end fashion stores. Another shopping haven is Bicester Village. It’s in Oxford (there’s a direct bus from Marble Arch) and it takes alittle over an hour. It’s a designer shopping outlet (open air). You can get some pretty good deals there.
2. The lights on Oxford Street and Regents are usually amazing. Debenhams has undergone a total makeover and will be opening in November so I think their lights will be pretty spectacular. The windows in Selfridges (Oxford Street), Harvey Nicks and Harrods (Knightsbridge) are usually really good. You have to see Harrods at night, it’s lit up (all year round) and looks like a Golden Palace. Selfridges also have a huge Christmas shop in the basement.
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3. The great outdoors – Hyde Park have a winter wonderland. I’ve never been but have heard it is AMAZING so looking forward to getting back to London and heading there. They have an ice rink at Somerset House which is at Aldwych (you can catch the No. 13 bus from Baker Street going South). Diagonally across the road from there you can go up to Covent Garden and they turn the whole piazza into a Winter Haven with a 60ft tall tree!!
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4. Touritsy things to do – There’s Madame Tussauds, the Dungeons, the houses of parliament and the Tower of London (their son likes history). You can do the big red bus tour which also includes a river cruise. The commentary on that is really good and you learn so much about the city in such a short time. I’m just not sure how comfortable it’ll be riding on an open top bus in December though! There’s the London Eye which includes a 4D show at the end which is good. The Eye ride itself is okay. It takes 26 minutes to go around. Worth it if it’s a good day. The Harry Potter tour which is located at Watford is worth it for fans of the infamous Wizard. The British Museum (Tottenham Court Road), the National History Museum, the V&A (South Kensington), the Transport Museum (Covent Garden): they are all free to visit and well worth it.
5. Stuff for Kids – I only have one word…Hamleys! On Regents Street, it’s a must see for any child visiting London.
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6. The West End – Plays and Musicals: Although I’ve never seen a show on Broadway, people say the West End is a lot better. Maybe I’m biased Winking face I’ve heard the Book of Mormons is really good and 1 Man 2 Guvnors is very very funny. I intend on seeing both when I am back. I saw Wicked last year which was amazing. Mamma Mia (great to sing along to), The Lion King (the story was okay but worth watching it just for the sets and to see how they create the animals, etc), Phantom of the Opera (pretty dark but one of my favourites). My Fair Lady, Legally Blonde, Sister Act – they were all good. Ghost has been out for a couple of years now and I heard that is good too (it’s on my list!). If you like history then you may enjoy Les Miserables (based on the French revolution). Again I’ve heard fantastic reviews from some people and not so great reviews from others. There is a box office on Argyll Street (Opposite Niketown at Oxford Circus, beside Warehouse, the women’s clothing store). It’s called Stargreen Box Office. You can get great deals on theatre tickets there. I’d suggest you call them on the day, ask them for tickets for the same day and collect before the show. Good tickets for the top shows can be around £40+. Matinee shows are usually more reasonable and most theatres have matinee shows on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
7. Afternoon Tea – You’re in London, darling, how can you not have Afternoon Tea?! Personally I love good ol’ fashioned Richoux on St. Johns Wood High Street (they have other branches as well) but for a little something extra special, I’ve heard great things about Afternoon Tea at The Ritz and The Wolseley.
More than anything, being in London at Christmas is magical. It can be really cold but if you wrap up you won’t feel it so much. There’s heating on in all the stores and anywhere indoors so it’s only really while you’re outdoors that you’ll feel it. All the shops play Christmas songs, everyone’s in a really good mood as they shop and get ready for Christmas. I’m sure you’ll have a lovely time!
Let me know if there’s anything I’m missing!
The List