Accidental Encounters With The Extinction Rebellion: Our Easter 2019 London Trip


You may be familiar here at The World of Kitsch with the little jaunts my son and I take over to London at least once a year, on my super-duper budgeting as featured in this previous blog post. I book Ryanair flights about six weeks out, and get a return trip to London for the pair of us all in for under £50, then I book an Easyhotel room for under £50, which means the bare bones of the overnight getaway costs less than a hundred for us both. 

The Easyhotel cheapest rooms that I book are basically a bed in a room the size of a bathroom, but we’ve stayed in their locations all over the city and each one has always been clean, safe, and we’ve found it satisfactory. When you are staying somewhere like London, when you are out the whole day and you really do only use the hotel for sleep, not to hang out in, somewhere like Easyhotel does the job.  



Anyway, back to our trip this past week. I wasn’t really going to blog about it, as we didn’t do that much this time. We hadn’t made many plans, we’ve done most of the major tourist attractions for families on our previous visits, and on top of that, my health isn’t so great right now, so we had to pace ourselves. So we took it as a shopping holiday, and we also had School of Rock booked to go see at the Gillian Lynne Theatre the evening of our stay. Click any image below to enlarge.

Sunday night as we were packing at home before we left, my Dad phoned me, warning me that there were some crazy protests organised in the city for the next day, Monday, while we were there. Oxford Circus, Piccadilly, all the places we would be to shop, Hamleys of course, our first stop! I wasn’t too worried as I hadn’t seen anything online myself, I mostly thought it was probably something Dad had seen in The Daily Mail that would come to nothing...


...2pm Monday we emerge from Oxford Circus tube station and the first thing I thing is, “wtf, is it Pride?” because number one, I see a giant hot pink boat, number two, there’s pumping rave music, and number three, there’s a man dressed as a centaur.

Looking at the Extinction Rebellion website, they closed Oxford Circus at around 11am, so we must have stumbled upon things near the beginning of what’s turning out to be a week long protest, so far. They’ve blocked bridges all over the city, roads, superglued themselves to trains and there have been hundreds of arrests. We were quite lucky that we were not disrupted by any of the protests the days we were there, and it was quite a sight to see Oxford Circus closed to traffic with hippies swarming all over dancing and doing yoga.


As for our trip, we enjoyed School of Rock, explored the Tower of London and Tower Bridge (one thing we hadn’t gotten around to visiting), and shopped Covent Garden and Spitalfields Markets.  We had some great crêpes at Crêpe Affair and shopped for snazzy sunglasses.

Hoping to fit in a return trip in the summer, but would love some new places to visit next time we are there. Quirky cafes or unusual shops. We’ve visited all the major tourist attractions but are there any hidden gems? We have the cat cafe on the list for next year, as it’s over 12s only. 

Let me know on Instagram if you have any suggestions for us! 


Family Friendly London #7 SeaLife Aquarium for £10.50 Each, Plus London Eye Review


On our latest visit to London, Smix asked could we visit the Aquarium. The huge SeaLife aquarium is located opposite parliament, just over the bridge beside the Shrek Adventure attraction and The London Eye.

Never pay full price for tickets! There are kids go free offers on Cadbury packs, and 2 for 1 deals online, but I found the absolute cheapest way to do it. Kellogg's have an adults go free offer, which you can get even on cereal bar packs in the Pound Shop. So with it you just pay the £21 price for a kid's ticket, and the adult ticket (£26) is free.



You can pre-buy a ticket online, but you have to choose a 15 minute time slot to arrive at. As we didn't know what time our train would get in from the airport, I decided to just buy our tickets when we showed up.

The website had warned there can be a long queue, but this was a busy Tuesday afternoon in August and we just had to queue for 15 minutes to pay and go in. We just presented our voucher cut out of the Kellogg's box on arrival.

To see exactly how it works and read the list of all the attractions over the whole UK that the voucher can be used with, visit the Kellogg's deal site.  It also works for the Shrek Adventure which is beside the aquarium, and locally, Carrickfergus Castle.



The London SeaLife Aquarium itself is really just like a bigger version of our Portaferry Aquarium. It's just that on a bigger scale, and takes longer to walk round. 

There are dozens of viewing tanks, more fish and species, but I'm glad we didn't pay more than £10.50 each because we had seen most of it all before. The only difference was it had a crocodile, and a pretty cool jellyfish exhibition. I liked the piranhas best.


Right beside the Aquarium is one of London's newest but best known attractions, The London Eye. 

The giant Ferris wheel gives 360 views of the city as far as the eye can see. We went on it on Smix's first visit to London in Easter 2016. We both loved it. 

It can be pricy, but if you have a valid rail ticket for the day you can get a 2 for 1 London Eye discount voucher. Simply print it at home before you travel.

The ride lasts about 45 minutes, and is well worth the price. If you are cautious of heights don't worry, the pods are enclosed and solid, no wobbling, and quite large and spacious. There is a place to sit in the centre of each, and iPads with facts about the views you can see as you rise and fall. 

I've heard that the view at night is something special, and might make a return visit to the London Eye on another trip to see the city at night. 


Family Friendly London #6 - Ripley's Believe It Or Not- Tickets for just £11.50




Ripley's Believe It or Not museums are my spiritual home. I've been to one in Florida, one in LA, another native offering of the Blackpool museum, and visited the Piccadilly one for the second time last Easter. It's a church of Kitsch.

Ripley's Believe It Or Not London is right on Piccadilly Circus.  It takes over the corner of a huge building and it's .hard to miss



Ripley's is home to the weird and wonderful. Stories of amazing and unusual people. Crazy natural phenomenon recorded for the ages. Bizarre artwork, images made from toast or jelly beans. Tales of great feats, wacky achievements, world record breaking acts. 

It really is right up my street, including strange taxidermy. 





If you love the weird and wonderful, it's definitely worth a visit. You'll spend a good 90 mins winding your way through the many floors and galleries, even if you don't read about every exhibit.  

Kids will love the museum more than perhaps a 'boring grown up' art gallery. There are exhibits you can interact with and play with along your journey, as well as top class photo opportunities. And unlike many London attractions you can take your own photos as you please; you don't have to pay £15 at the end to get a nice picture.




There are a couple of ways to avoid paying full price for your Ripley's ticket. The first is a 2 for 1 deal via Days Out Guide. To claim you just need a valid train ticket for that day. That site is well worth bookmarking as they have handfuls of similar deals for London attractions, discounts on restaurants etc.

This site has a similar good deal for tickets at only £11.50 each, rather than the £27.99 price quoted online for an adult ticket.






So it's really up to what's cheapest on the day. If you walk straight into Ripley's you can check the current ticket price, and see which deal is going to be best for you.  The latter deal doesn't even require printing, you can show them it on your phone to get the £11.50 tickets.

It really is worth paying for if you're like me and just love weird stuff. I think my most excited moment was seeing the 'blue & black or white & gold' dress, the internet famous frock right before my eyes. Now that's culture.

Family Friendly London #5 Guide to Cheap London Theatre Tickets- Including Kids Go Absolutely Free!




For our summer London trip this year we really wanted to go to the theatre. We've been to the Grand Opera House in Belfast quite often, but never a big show in the west end. 

There are several options to bag tickets for less than up front price, so let's have a look at them. 






We booked through and picked restricted view seats for The Garrick's production of Gangsta Granny. Check theatre layouts on as some seats, like the ones we picked, aren't too bad. We just had to lean forward a bit when the action moved to one side of the stage, but it saved us £10 a seat each compared to the people beside us.







Another option to look into is Kids Week. Every year theatres release a bunch of kids go free tickets, which you can buy through the Kids Week website. Pay for an adult ticket and get a child's seat free. It's also more than a week so the name is misleading, so if you are visiting during the summer at all, be sure to check that website for the shows you might want to see.


Lastly, you can always try the TKTS booth in Leicester Square. It may have half price seats for the show you want. Be careful about any other booths, as they may not be official and may not be accurate about offering you the best price.

Happy ticket hunting. 

Family Friendly London #3 Ryanair Return Flights Belfast-Gatwick For Two Under £50 TOTAL, Plus a Chelsea & Kensington Hotel Stay for £45 a Night in EasyHotel

Our trip this week to London for an overnight was the third time I've been able to take Smix over for an adventure. I couldn't do it without Ryanair, so I thought I might share the wealth (of knowledge) and tell you how to get a flight from Belfast International to London Gatwick for the same price you would pay for the bus up to the airport from The Great Victoria Bus Station. 


The three trips we've taken, I always book the same flights. Out of Belfast International at 11am (means you don't have to get up at dawn), then home on the return flight the night after, departing from Gatwick at 9.45pm (means you have all day in London, catch a train to the airport after the tea time rush is over).  



On all three trips I've never paid more than £50 for the flights. Total. For us both. That's both ways. This time I managed to get all four tickets, including booking fees, seat choices etc for £39.16 (see pic left, cause I wouldn't believe it unless I saw it either). You can see, two flights each, including our seat choice onboard. 


How the hell do I manage that? Patience. Like I said this isn't a one-off, this is the third time I've booked these flights for under £50 total.


Say I want to book the first week in August, I start checking for low fares around May, but it's not always true that the earlier you book, the cheaper it will be. I check every couple of days for the dates I'm looking for, then usually five or six weeks before the date, a flight will start to show £13.99 and £16.99 seats for the route I want to catch. This time I booked on 23rd June, for flights on 8th & 9th August.

You may be thinking even £13.99 each person , times two journeys is well over £50, but even if you pick a £13.99 seat it will be less than that once you enter the age of the child who is flying. So technically if it's two adults flying it will be about £56, but for one adult and one child it's under £45 total, altogether, usually.


So, travel by air this time cost under £40, but there are other costs to take into consideration. We drive up to Belfast International, and we sort of have to when our home bound flight gets in around midnight. I book the car parking ahead of time, usually just the week before, and choose Park and Fly. There's a bus every 3 minutes to the terminal, and it even runs in the wee small hours.


For The two full days, from 8.30am on day one, until 11.59pm on day two, the parking usually costs on average £17. There's no fussing around if you arrive in a hurry either. The entrance barrier of the car park scans your registration and you drive on in. Same deal on exit, so no having to queue to pay or find an attendant at midnight in a giant car park. 

Also you might save a couple of pounds if you do a quick Google for a current active % off voucher code for Park & Fly. Always worth checking, even £1.75 off means more pennies for Krispy Kreme when your train gets into London Victoria... and speaking of trains.... 



So we've gotten into Gatwick Airport, next you've got to think about how to get into the city. If you aren't smart about this, you'll literally end up paying more than you've paid to fly there. 

The most obvious choice is the Gatwick Express. Straight into London Victoria in 30 minutes, no stops in between. 

Now I will give you my advice on how we do this part, but I'm not 100% sure this is exactly for certain the cheapest way to do things. You read that booking online in advance is always the cheapest way, but we don't do that, so I may not be giving you the best advice here, but I'll share anyway. 



You'll get a little shuttle bus from the plane to Gatwick Arrivals. Once you are in the building you'll pass through the baggage reclaim, then exit into an open area with restaurants & shops. As soon as you get into that large lounge, turn straight to your left, almost turning back on yourself and you'll see a train ticket desk. There's usually three desks open, and no real queue to speak of. You'll want to ask for a ticket that gets you into the city, and back tomorrow, but also works as your run around Underground ticket for both days.  


For that I end up paying around £34 total. A child's ticket is only £2 a day, as they are free on The Underground, but the ticket will also get their journey into the city from Gatwick covered. 

This fare is for any Southern train, but NOT the Gatwick Express. These trains can take 90 minutes to get into the city. However, we accidentally got onto the Express for the London bound journey this time, after sprinting to catch what we thought was just the next train leaving for London Victoria. When we got to the destination they simply charged me a £4.20 upgrade on passing through the barriers to exit.

Again I'm not an expert on this part of the travel, but EVERY time we've taken the return train journey they've just told us to get on the next Gatwick Express even with our basic ticket.  So I'm not totally sure how it works, but be prepared to pay a surcharge if you do get on the wrong train.

P.S. Watch out for the amazing retro futuristic 'Fifty Pence Building' out on your right as you head into the city. It's the Noble Lowndes Tower at the East Croydon Station, designed by Richard Seifert in 1970.





So what about accommodation? Well, we always stay in the Easyhotel, Earls Court. I've stayed here six times now, three times with Smix. I did a full blog post about the hotel last summer, and this trip I paid £45 for a room with a window for the one night. It's a ten minute walk from the nearest Underground Station and has never let me down. 







You stay right in the heart of the city and can walk to the Natural History Museum and Science Museum in about 30 minutes. If you watch Made in Chelsea like I do, it's a good dander to take in the above ground scenery if you choose one journey to skip the tube for. 




So that's the basics of a trip to London.



Next time I will share my secrets for cheap attractions & eating out in Central London, plus our visit to Kidzania- a must-visit if you are visiting with children- we'd never been anywhere like it! 


Last tip- if your kid loves planes like Smix does, hang around to be one of the last to get off the aircraft and you can ask the crew nicely could they see the cockpit (thanks to Clare from Vintage Rocks for this tip). I think it made Smix's trip!