Oliver, 6, proudly informs anyone who’ll listen that he was born in the Big Smoke and after 11 years in the city with uni then life as a filmmaker before a move back to Yorkshire when Oliver turned 1, it will always be our first geographical love.
I do find myself there most weeks for work and shoots too so never get chance to miss it.
I was actually there three times last week with work and we’re now contemplating a move back, perhaps in a year or so… I often joke I live on Virgin Trains and thank goodness they are so utterly amazing, making my life in two cities feel easy.
We don’t, however, get to London with the kids often enough.
We did make a trip there in half term-and had promised to return soon so literally jumped for joy at the chance to head back there this summer when Virgin asked if we’d like to take part in their fabulous #ParentingLikeABoss campaign.
What’s more, Virgin are offering a fabulous family offer for travel so you can bag yourself a bargain fixed- price ticket for a family of any size (minimum of 1 adult and 1 child, up to a maximum of 2 adults and 4 children). Don’t worry, you won’t have to prove you’re related if you’d rather take a friend and kids with you!
The ticket enables families to travel anywhere on the network along the West Coast Mainline as long as they’re travelling to/from London Euston. It’s super flexible too, allowing families to return anytime with a month of the outbound date.
Here are the destinations and prices of where the Virgin Trains Family Ticket goes to:
But back to our trip…Rendezvousing in Manchester on the Friday night, seeing friends in the city and staying overnight, we woke up (late)! and caught an afternoon train on Saturday-the kids singing their version of ‘The wheels on the train’ before we’d even set off…Cute!
Virgin Trains are so sleek, modern and spacious, travelling by rail is always a joy with them.
With a reserved table too, we were able to sit face-to- face, making the two-hour journey go super-fast. And Manchester to Euston IS super fast at just 2 hours and in speeds of 125 miles per hour. Whoosh!
Plenty of time to chill, scoff and play!
What a dude!
Check out the cardboard toy Virgin trains you can pick up in the on board shop too. They’re filled with jelly beans and make the best treat!
My boys both simply adore trains, so much so, we know the National Railway Museum like the back of our hands- but going on actual real life trains isn't as frequent as we’d like.
I actually dislike travelling long distances with kids in the car. The constant questioning of ‘are we there yet?’and endless traffic jams particularly from Leeds to London, not forgetting high parking costs once in the city, means travelling by car can be pretty frustrating for all!
Trains make life so much easier and travelling by rail with kids is always stress-free.
My kids just didn’t have any time to be bored on our trip- and sitting close to the train shop meant buying food was easy and we all got quality time together too.
And here’s the other thing, taking the train means your holiday starts from the minute you board.
We played cards we bought from the brilliant on-board shop and filled our boots with delicious food purchased there too from hot sandwiches to snacks, fruit and the perfect cup of coffee.
Virgin Train’s sure know kids’ tastes too with their simple cheese sandwiches of just cheese and no extras which pleased my kids no-end, as did the mini chedders and chopped apples they happily scoffed as we went.
We loved our little train picnic- and all enjoyed looking out through the window at the picturesque landscapes we passed on our trip.
Dotted cows and sheep made for perfect eye-spy fodder too and the most perfect of sunset melted our hearts on the return journey home…
…With plugs for our iPads and phones to keep the kids (and adults) busy- and the brilliant Virgin app BEAM (on board complimentary entertainment-films, box sets and game), the kids and we- could watch films with ease and we all honestly, had the BEST time on our journey.
It was so relaxing, after all that food, fun and games, Oliver fell fast asleep…
And before we knew it, we’d arrived!
…Once we got to London we legged it to our hotel in Borough (a super destination for families with lots of links all over London, the thriving and fun market and delicious restaurants and cafes). We relaxed a while, showered and changed before heading out into the evening light, scoffing street pizza outside the market (so good) and a sushi dinner at firm family-favourite Feng Sushi.
After a super night’s sleep, it was time to get up early and head to Westfield in White City (another family fave as I spent a lot of time there towards the end of my pregnancy with Oliver as my hospital Queen Charlotte’s was so close)-for brunch with the Lebanese fare there, being top notch.
Hallumi, hummus, chicken kebab and tabbouleh salad all washed down with lemon and lime juice was just the tonic for us all.
Then it was onto the much-anticipated Kidzania: a magical world where children get a dose of career-inspo as they become fire fighters, doctors, bank clerks, actors and more in this incredible set-up in the shopping centre.
I adore the ethos behind this child-friendly world as it encourages independence for little ones as kids earn money, allowing them to set up a bank account and then spend it if they choose too. It raises their confidence and brings them so much joy.
Cuddles outside before we joined the short queue!
What a wonderful, vibrant, engaging world for little people! Kidzania was such a joy!
Look at my little man!
Then it was time to drop off the money from the vault to all the stores and earn some cash for himself!
Oliver got a chance to animate with Pokemon too and Xander joined an acting class before putting on a puppet show!
My heart melted as little girls in the queue helped little Xander pop a hair net on before doing a supermarket dash- and while there isn’t tonnes for a3-year-oldd to do there, the over 4’s have access to the entire place.
Both boys learnt so much about everything from biology to recycling through role play at Kidzania.
We had hours of fun there…
Xander got the chance to decorate a chocolate button muffin too-yum!
Then it was mama’s time for fun (!) and it was straight to the The Village where I picked up a much-coveted neverfull Louis Vuitton bag. I just wish I’d had the chance to grab a latte at the VOGUE cafe pop up-next time for sure!
I’d borrowed my bestie Rebecca’s before so knew it would cut the mustard able to fit my laptop and entire life in there-so there you have it, happy kids and happy mama.
After all the excitement, it was time to grab some fish and chips then cab it back to Euston and return to Manchester where we’d left our car.
Another blissful train journey followed as Xander slept most of the way on Daddy’s knee and Oliver and I played chirades (in between scoffing hummus) literally all the way back!
What a wonderful whirlwind of a weekend- the kids have talked non-stop about since we got home.
There’s so much to see and do in London from mesmerising museums to fabulous restaurants and stunning parks so do seize the opportunity to head there with Virgin this summer and enjoy!
This is a commissioned post but all words and opinions are mine and honest.
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