Playgrounds and Pints: The Swaines in London

There is a reserved space in my heart for big family gatherings, but getting one-on-one time with cousins is like reuniting with unique siblings. We are linked with familiar roots so trading stories is a must, yet at the same time, we there are fun unknowns to discover which makes spending time together a joy. Plus, Kelly and Brian are growing great kids so that adds more gratitude for my sprawling family tree.

The Swaines’ visit featured the traditional London attractions so I felt prepared to tour them around pretty efficiently. However, my regular London rounds have been upgraded! Here’s the important lesson I learnt from the Swaines: you can find a playground and a pint next to any landmark in London. Googlemaps was the secret to our success!

We lucked out riding the top level, front seat of a double decker bus to make the circuit from Parliament to Trafalgar Square. Big Ben was still covered in scaffolding. A horse peed at the exact time Finley posed in front of the Horses Guard! St. James Park is the spot for the bathroom pitstop and is likely home the most visited playground in all of London. Buckingham Palace is where I learnt that Polly does not like to take part in family pictures.

The next day we walked St Paul’s cathedral, Millennium bridge, and the Tate modern. While I changed Saya, Finley and Polly created graphic art that projected onto a wall of screens. Finley drew a Swedish flag and Polly’s image was fittingly…modern? Kelly’s plan for Borough market was Bread Ahead donuts and we were wowed with Brian’s fried cheese arepa! After snapping an iconic Tower Bridge family picture we rested with a pint at the Monument. This is where I learnt that Polly is not a fan of people dressed up in life-sized costumes like Mickey Mouse and Pikachu.

From Lancaster Gate’s entrance into Hyde Park, there is a playground about ten minutes walk inside. There is also a cafe with lagers at four quid apiece. This was a likely stop before heading for afternoon tea on the other side of the park. To say the tea was in the late afternoon is an understatement, but it was Halloween themed, and it included non-egg sweets and treats so Polly could partake.

As is customary, we stuffed ourselves at Lahore, and then pretended we had walked far enough on Brick Lane to fill ourselves with Dark Sugars’ hot cocoa. I fully support this tradition.

Finley and Polly were excited to visit London but it was sweet that they couldn’t get enough of Baby Saya. The next generation already carrying on cousin hangouts is the absolute best.