There are few London landmarks that fill me with quite as much fear, as well as excitement, as the London Eye. See, I’m a bit afraid of heights. Not a heights fan. Never have been. Yet, I am a fan of beautiful views over London and you do get some of those on the Eye.
I’d been on the Eye once before, pre-children when my niece and nephew were staying. They were 10 and 9 respectively and thought it was great fun to fling themselves against the glass sides of the capsule while I quivered in the middle. That was a decade ago, and now it was time to face my fears, with a different niece.
We boarded early on a Sunday morning – my niece (11, quite responsible), Reuben (irresponsible), Eva (irresistably cute) and me (acutely petrified). Nathan stayed on the ground, with the buggy and all our stuff and lounged in the sunlight, reading his comic while I paced nervously. We got on quite quickly, using the fast-track option, and security was both swift and efficient. I stupidly gave Reuben his own ticket to hold and he looked blankly at me when I asked him where it was. But then he produced it with a flourish, from under his hat.
So, we were aboard. Roo spotted the doors marked “do not lean” and instantly wanted to lean on them, but he was soon distracted by going “up, up into the clouds” and he looked eagerly out of the sides, spotting such famous London landmarks as “my nursery”, “Henry’s house” and “the big purple cow”. My niece spotted all the slightly lesser known landmarks, like Big Ben and St Pauls. I concentrated on trying to see where our house was – and found the estate, but not our exact block. Incidentally, there are 360 maps available if you want to find places of interest. Not sure Henry’s house is on there, but you can see it here.
The view was incredible – I could see from Alexandra Palace to Crystal Palace and a whole lot further than that. It was still a bit misty because it was early morning, and we were actually in the clouds (Roo didn’t believe me until I showed him the tiny water droplets on the outside of the capsule). So, some of my pictures are a bit misty, but here they are:
Doesn’t South London always look remarkably green in these kind of things? It’s not like that on the ground
After we’d “landed” we went to see the 4D London Eye movie, which was included in the ticket price. If you don’t know what 4D is, it’s 3D but with effects – in this case, bubbles, snow and smoke. I won’t say much more for fear of spoilers, but we all enjoyed it, especially Reuben. He chased the bubbles and tried to catch them all and reached out for the 3D seagulls. It was a standing show, but luckily he was running in front of people taller than him so he didn’t get in their way. Running is not recommended, due to slippery floors from the snow. But Reuben’s a renegade, as ever.
Such antics made me think that it might be a bad idea to go on the open deck on the river cruise. It looked glorious in the sun, but would have meant both children sitting still for 40 minutes and that seemed unlikely at best. So, we went on the lower deck, which was practically deserted and Eva could toddle about as much as she wanted. At this point, Reuben had a bit of a meltdown because he was hungry (he’d eaten most of his snacks already and so we’d left the snack boxes with Nathan). The cafe on the boat was closed, so he just had to make do with a half-eaten packet of raisins. It was quite a long 40 minutes.
Which is no fault of the cruise’s, of course. The trip went up to the Houses of Parliament, then down to Tower Bridge and back and there was witty, engaging commentary throughout. It’s just that ours was enhanced by the whingings of an overtired 4-year-old. If I was to do it all again, I would leave a bit of a bigger gap between Eye and Cruise so that he could have a proper run around in the Jubilee Gardens playground and maybe some food before having to sit still. But that’s just my child. Eva was equally restless, so I think I was asking a bit much of them to do both experiences together. My niece spent most of the cruise wrangling one or other of them, so didn’t get much of a chance to see the sights or listen to the commentary. But she was pleased to spot the Globe and Cleopatra’s Needle, both of which she’d learned about in school. I was pleased to spot a Mississippi style paddle steamer, which I’d learned about on TV. Good all round!