In 2014 both Mum and stepfather John had their 80th birthdays. How to celebrate? They had already spent a lovely week with John’s family in Yorkshire, and Mum had her brood up for the weekend, including a smashing meal at Azzurro and a mid-week Chinese meal.
We were mindful that, at 80, there was only so much excitement they could handle, but wanted to do something they otherwise might not do. We considered, and quickly discounted, sky diving, a track day at Cadwell Park, and a flight in jet fighter! We finally decided upon a simple day out in London. To avoid panic mode setting in, we kept everything a secret: as far as they were concerned they were coming to us for the weekend and we might manage a day out.
I think they had worked out a train was involved when we rocked up at Grantham Station and dragged them onto the southbound platform. “Are we off to Peterborough for shopping?” someone asked (it wasn’t John).
Once we were safely in a First Class carriage on the train to London Kings Cross, and Mum had demolished her first free croissant and pot of tea, we shared the plan for the rest of the day. We had pre-booked tickets for the London Eye and an afternoon tea cruise on the river. We were led to believe that, at 80 years old, a frisson of excitement was nice, but tea, sandwiches and cake were equally important.
Once at Kings Cross, and having dragged them away from a Harry Potter photo opportunity, we headed off to Canary Wharf via the DLR for sightseeing and lunch. After lunch it was back on the underground to Waterloo station and a walk to the Eye. John and I made the most of the views, whilst Sara and Mum seemed more interested in the sturdiness of the capsule and how comfortable the benches were.
Another underground journey to Tower Bridge, and a walk to Tower Pier, admiring the poppies at the Tower of London on the way and we embarked on the City Cruises afternoon tea trip.
We had experienced City Cruises before, taking the boat from both Woolwich and Greenwich into the City on a number of occasions when we were living in Docklands, but had not tried the meal trips. Reviews on Trip Advisor were mostly positive, and were borne out by our own experience. The cruise was lovely, albeit the tea room was a little bit rowdy (a hen party). Service was excellent, the food plentiful and delicious, and we had plenty of time after eating to go up on deck and enjoy the views of the city.
The cruise lasted about 90 minutes, and dropped us back at Tower Pier. Sara and I were all for taking the underground, but the oldies wanted a walk along the north bank and we finally walked as far as St Paul’s before getting back on the underground to Kings Cross. Another first-class journey back to Grantham ended the day.
The consensus seemed to be that a good time was had by all, and the oldies certainly put us to shame with their energy. Clearly, an afternoon nap and plenty of Guinness have a positive effect on ones well-being.