Sometimes you can live in a town all your life and not really know it – well, at least not know parts of it. My kids were all brought up in London, yet there are areas of the capital we rarely go. High Street Kensington is one of them. It feels like another world. Which is why, we discovered, it was such a good place to go on a mini break. Let’s call it a homeholiday – a staycation without any motorway jams or long train journeys. We just took a doubledecker bus to the Royal Garden Hotel and checked in on their special Narnia package.
We had a room with a view over Kensington Gardens, where we were going to see 'The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe' show that evening. Just out of view was Kensington Palace, recently reopened in all its beautiful bling and shameless sparkle. We strolled along there, spotting those who are wealthy enough to ride horses through the royal park. They were just as strange and interesting as locals we’ve met in Africa or India, and just as bizarrely dressed in hacking jackets and velveteen hard hats. Then, in the Palace itself, we saw more immense wealth, experienced life as it was inside the court in the Queen’s State Apartments and learnt about Little William, the future king who danced himself to death on his 11th birthday – the same age as my entranced twins.
We took bikes from the public racks and rode around the park on them, round and round the Serpentine pond. Then, as the sun was going down and the geese flying up, we sat on the water’s edge with a drink and a packet of crisps, wondering why we’d never been here before.
But the bit the 11-year-old twins liked best was when we went back to the hotel for the Narnia afternoon tea, sampling Aslan apple and almond slice, white raspberry Witches Hat and Beaver Dam battenberg. But it was the implements that impressed them the most.
‘What’s that?’ one asked.
‘Sugar tongs,’ I said.
‘Why are the sandwiches shaped like fingers?’ said the other, scoffing them.
They ogled the tiny silver cake-fork but would not use it, preferring the delicious sensation of sticky hands.
‘The crusts have been cut off already!’ they both cheered.
They baggsed a layer of the three-tiered cake stand each. Only the littlest one on top was left for me. Then it was off back to the park for 'The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe', staged in a huge tent with giant puppets and projections, dazzling us throughout.
We should take a homeholiday more often. It’s so different from where we live, with strange people, exotic food and fabulous spectaculars.
‘Is High Street Kensington foreign?’ asked my 11-year-old son.
‘Kind of,’ I said. ‘It’s foreign to us.’
Image © Giles Barnard
Win a 7 night touring holiday in Scotland for 2 adults and up to 2 children ... Enter now
The UK's biggest family holiday site. We offer exciting, hand-picked family holidays and breaks to family friendly places in the UK and abroad.
Top family breaks
Top family holiday types
Copyright 2003-2012 © Take the Family Ltd. All rights reserved. All images are copyright of their respective owners.