I mean, we’ve taken Hugo away a few times, the first to my sister’s via the Lake District when he was 7 weeks old, Ibiza when he was 5 months old and England again in November, but those things weren’t CITY BREAKS. And I’m not going to lie, as it loomed closer, I really started to worry; What would we do? (especially at night) Would we have to only eat in places with mashed potato? (the current favourite food) Did we need to bring many special city break accessories?
You’ve probably guessed correctly, that I didn’t need to worry about any of it, it was all just dandy. Except I don’t know how smug travel bloggers do it because you are travelling with a BABY. And babies do challenging things whenever they have reason to, and by coming out and saying everything was just dandy might just make you feel like a bad person because you haven’t managed to bring your child to the supermarket without a meltdown, so I am going to reassure you that it was not All Good.
In fact, I really want to tell you all the nitty gritty details of the bad and it would probably make this post a lot more popular if I did, but I’d really rather there weren’t details of my child’s meltdowns on the internet forever and ever, because that just isn’t fair on the poor mite. But believe me, we had our moments.
Despite The Bad, there was so much good. Really and truly.
We did not need any special travel accessories. Yes, the instagram accounts make you think you need a four hundred quid pram (or is it a buggy? or a travel system? WHO DECIDES THESE THINGS AND CAN THEY MAKE IT MAKE SENSE?) instead of the Big Pram that takes up half the hallway and cost more than your first car.
You really, really don’t.
You bring the Big Pram right up to the plane, and a nice person puts it in the hold, and it comes out the other side. The downside of the Big Pram is that it is big, and carrying it up and down steps on the tube is a bit of a challenge, but then you have the Big Pram wheels and suspension as you walk and walk and walk and walk. And two guys literally doing a runner away from the police gave sodding way to the Big Pram, the busiest tube I have ever been on in my life accommodated the Big Pram and the staff in the fancy restaurant found a cubby hole for the Big Pram. I promise you, you do not need to buy any. more. shit. for. the. baby.
Yes, we did a fancy restaurant. Fallow, which the world is raving about, and rightly so. No, I booked this particular fancy restaurant because they had a kid’s menu, and while I don’t necessarily think a kid needs a special menu, I took it as indication that kids were indeed welcome. And what a welcome it was. A highchair, and a special menu and even colouring pencils which I instantly dismissed but then Hugo started chewing on, so they provided entertainment of sorts, I guess. And the food. Oh, what food. We had the mushroom parfait for which they are famous (there are a couple of ex Heston chefs who apparently picked up the tricks for this from that infamous meat fruit) and mackerel in XO sauce. We had venison with horseradish and mussels cooked in this bacon stock which they mix with cream and then put bread at the bottom of the dish so you have bread that is soaked in bacon and cream and mussel juice and delicious. We had Chelsea tart with caramelized whey and this sourdough soft serve that made Mr P go a wee bit funny because since taking over the position of chief bread maker in our house, he for the first time had that ‘how the heck do they do it?’ moment which is the absolute best reason to go to a fancy restaurant in the first place. We polished off a bottle of expensive Greek wine and just as we were settling the bill, Hugo fell asleep in his pram.
We went to Shoreditch City Farm. There were donkeys and goats and sheep and lovely staff and a play area for Hugo to eat a stick in. It was the first time we’d done anything like that on a city break, I have to say, and it was class.
We went to see my friend Joy’s art exhibition at Cristea Roberts. Joy was exhibiting as one half of ‘image as protest’ and after we looked at the incredible intricacies of that work, we spent the walk to a not-so-fancy lunch talking about feminist politics and putting the world to rights (with a brief stop off for some swings). Which I suspect might have been EXACTLY what Joy wanted.
We went to the science museum.
On a Saturday, the science museum is absolutely rammed full of children. If I needed to do any research on special pram purchasing the buggy park would have been the place to do it. They have this area called the Pattern Pod, which is gigantic baby sensory, with walls to stroke and cool lights and all sorts. Obviously an eight month old is as excited by their own hands as anything else, but it was fun and I’m delighted we went.
Other eating highlights included places that are maybe a bit ubiquitous now, but that we Do Not Have In Belfast and therefore are exciting. Chinatown! Dishoom! Le pain quotidien! Sarah in her 20s was quite apologetic for finding this sort of thing exciting; Sarah in her 30s simply does not care. You can get a keema curry in Dishoom that will blow your mind (even if the baby ate more than his fair share of it) and pain quotidien will always remind me of long breakfasts with my yoga mates. And they all have side orders of avocado, which turned out to be the perfect substitution for Hugo’s beloved mashed potato. London mash, if you will. So there.
On that note, we also discovered how many amazing places were on Deliveroo and that we could get directly to our room with the tiny snoozer in his cot in the corner. Turns out Wahaca matches beautifully with red wine out of a mug. Who knew?
Finally, we achieved our very own holy grail. A cup of tea atThe Corinthia. When I couldn’t walk, we got completely obsessed with the behind the scenes series on it that the beeb did and we really had to witness it with our very own eyes. The fancy tea was amazing, the milk jug so well designed there was the perfect amount of milk for two pots of tea, and they even took us on a little tour so Hugo could see the lights. If Thomas himself has been there, it would have been total perfection, but you aren’t supposed to meet your heroes so…
There you have it, our wee weekend in London. With a baby. 10/10 recommend. Just don’t get too smug when eating dinner with a snoozing baby in the pram, Big or otherwise…