It appears DH, kiddos and I will be spending 5 months in London next spring (he'll be teaching for the semester). Living right on Trafalgar Square. Anyone spent time in London and have any advice? things to do, tips for managing there? Side trips we need to take?
Is it impossible to get somewhere I could ride once a week or so?
Wow, what a great opportunity! London is fantastic!!
I've ridden at Stag Lodge Stables. It has access to Kingston Park, which is probably a rider's dream park!! I didn't get to ride around the park, we crossed the street and lessoned in Wimbledon Common. Both are fantastic country settings for riding.
There is also Kingston Stables right there.
I have ridden in Hyde Park. It was very expensive and I think most of the time you're only allowed W-T. It's more focused for tourists.
Surrey has tons of fantastic stables and excellent riding. You may have to cross traffic or ride a bit on the road to get where you want to go, but horses and drivers are very used to it.
To get to Kingston Park, you can take the tube to Wimbledon and then you probably need a taxi. You can probably get closer via train (more $?) and certainly by bus.
I have not had a bad instructor over there, ever!! Some of the places are pretty casual (thinking of the one indoor where old manure would soften any falls!). The horses are NOT all fancy - a lot of cute, chunky cobs! TBs are viewed more as polo ponies! But they've all been well trained. And some of those cobs can apparently jump quite well!!
I rode in Hyde Park - about 10yrs ago - and it was a lovely ride, WTC on nice horses.
The paths were amazingly well-groomed plus the scenery was gorgeous and pedestrians horse-savvy.
We rode through some of Kensington's side streets from the stable and never had an iffy moment with traffic.
Just me, DH and 2 young guides.
I had a chunky paint (piebald?) cob & DH rode a 4yo WB.
We wore our own boots but the stable - Hyde Park Stables in Kensington - provided paddock boots and helmets.
To familiarize yourself with London do try the Hop On Hop Off buses.
Great way to check out different neighborhoods for a reasonable price.
*friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon: Steppin' Out 1988-2004 Hey Vern! 1982-2009 Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
Oh, are you lucky! But be prepared for sticker shock. Do your research in advance (i.e., congestion fees, etc.). If I was to live in London for just five months, I'd walk or take the tube and bus everywhere.
You can get lost in the British Museum for days, and like someone else said, take weekend trips everywhere. Nothing is very far away! You'll be shocked at how much there is to do in London. But gosh, I'd go all over. Canterbury isn't very far away; Oxford and Cambridge are about an hour by train; Stonehenge is a few hours by bus.
I found a few sites (can you tell I'm planning for the day I get to go there?)
Thanks so much for the tips, everyone! ybiaw, would love that guide.
Danceronice, I have a really great horsesitter who will be living on the farm with the horses and cats while we are away. She is worth every penny of the many, many pennies she will get! She was a condition of my consenting to go, for sure.
We will be right on Tralfagar Sq, in an apartment in one of those big old lovely white stone buildings. Better pack the sound machine....
Janet, one is 3.5, the other will be born in 2 months. So they will be 4.5 and 9 months when we go.
GREAT ages. There are loads of things to do with kids in London -- soft play areas, local pools, parks, playgroups, music groups, sensory groups, any kind of group you could want and then some, playgrounds, you name it! My son is 2 and we honestly could do something every day for a month and never have to repeat.
Plenty of riding out here, particularly Surrey/Sussex, and much of it is accessible by public transport.
But yes, you're going to want a white noise generator -- the area you'll be staying in is lovely and quite up-market, but it's also one of the more constantly busy parts of the city.
I can't help with the infant, but the things I really enjoyed about London when I was 5 were
Fountains (any, all)
The Guards at Buckingham Palace (not the Changing of the Guard itself- too much waiting and too hard to see)
Riding on a double decker bus
Riding on a steam train on the Metropolitan line (can't do that any more, but I enjoyed the Underground in general).
As a grownup, don't miss the opportunity to see horse competitions- Badminton, Hickstead, etc.
There are riding stables in the outer suburbs, but you will probably need a car.
The things in London I "go back to" are
Shakespeare in the Park
Shakespeare at the Globe
Westminster Cathederal (the RC Cathederal, early 20th century)
Science Museum (also good for kids)
City of London Muesum (also good for kids)
Hampton Court (ouskirts of London)
Things to see at least once
Tower of London
The Monument (where the Great Fire of London started)
Hever Castle (where Ann Boleyn grew up, later owned by the Astors)
Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway (or any one of a number of narrow guage small scale, steam railways)
St Nicholas Church in Barfrestone Kent (a small Norman church, with magnificnet carvings, in what is now a tiny village, but was once part of the main pilgrim route to Canterbury)
Salisbury (Esp the Cathederal and the old quarter)
Cornwall in the springtime when the daffodils are blooming
Vale of the White Horse /Uffington White Horse
There are, of course, lots more, but those are the ones that come to mind.
chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).
Go to a bunch of horseshows -- Windsor, Horse of The Year etc.
I lived there for four years when my oldest son was 9 months (until 4). I adore London -- and I'm a little stymied by what advice to give because there is just SO MUCH to do! Ask some specific questions and I'll do my best to answer (though, we moved back 13 years ago, so any advice I have will be a bit dated).
Learn to speak "football" (soccer to you & me). You will make friends with Londoners much more easily if you are conversant with the game and the London teams. I'm a rabid fan of Arsenal FC (the North London team) and I swear to you that from the second my plane touched down I was NEVER without friends. The cabbie who drove me in from Heathrow, once he figured out that I really WAS a fan and wasn't just dropping names, generously offered to pick me up the next day and drive me out to Arsenal's training ground to watch the youth and reserve teams train. I snapped that one right up and we ended up sharing lunch with some other fans who were there and they offered to take me to a music gig I'd been toying with going to... and it just went on and on like that.
Me personally, I'd blow off Windsor Castle. Security is extremely tight and what you actually get to see is very limited. I much preferred Hampton Court, where you can either join in with a tour or just wander around by yourself.
If you like music of any variety you'll be in heaven. London has the best music in the world, whether it be classical, indie rock or hip-hop. BBC 3 for classical, BBC 6 for indie are my default settings. Time Out magazine is your default setting but if you Google "London Gig Guide" tons of cooler ones will come up, with more obscure stuff.
If you like books, a trip to Hay-on-Wye is MANDATORY. It's an entire village full of nothing but book shops! They do an annual festival there which I've never been to but it would be high on my bucket list if I ever got to go back.
Have a blast! I'm jealous.
ETA: As regards music - DO. NOT. DO. GLASTONBURY. No matter HOW many English people try to tell you how much fun you're missing. There is something in the English mentality that makes them want to debase themselves crawling around in the mud for 3 days. I'm more in the school of thought of Scottish author John Niven, who famously wrote of Glasto, "This place should have a sign over the entrance that says 'Arbeit Macht Frei'.
"The standard you walk by is the standard you accept."--Lt. Gen. David Morrison, Austalian Army Chief