Our mini voyage on the Thames, with City Cruises

So for the past couple of months I have been thinking of an activity I could do with Soraiya. Since quarantine a lot of very public places that offer fun, toddler experiences are closed. Basically I am talking about the soft play centres but also for me I have to take into account the travel as I would ideally need to us public transport so that and travelling with a 2 year old.

The right company is everything

When travelling anywhere with a toddler you have to admit that having someone with you is beneficial for you. They are on hand to help you because you need that especially travelling in London using public transport. For this journey I felt confident travelling with just daughter using TFL but invited my mum and baby brother along to meet us at the destination because I miss them so, my mum misses Soraiya all the time and I know my daughter loves seeing them.

The London Underground and Overground

What is most annoying is that not all stations have step-free access so you do need to plan your journey properly because travelling alone with you, your toddler and a pram is going to be super hard especially if all the interchanges have stairs/escalators and no lifts which is why having someone with you can help. That is the case when travelling in London.

My daughter was so excited when on the platform. A lot of singing “if you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands” – it was the cutest thing ever!

Either you and that person can both hold the pram together or one person folds the pram whilst the other is with toddler. Also I think the most important factor if having someone travelling with you is confidence because lets face it travelling in London it is fast paced. If you are a little slow with tapping your oyster card at the barriers then you are going to have a barrage of angry and annoyed Londoners, you as a mummy or daddy travelling with your toddler do not need to experience the stress or anxiety that comes with that.

Planning is key

My nearest station is a great distance for me. A walk downhill from my house, 7-8min tops depends how fast or slow I am walking. Now once I am there I know that

  • I need my face mask at the ready – The UK govt has implemented guidelines where all must adhere to wearing a face mask on public transport
  • Check how much money I have on my oyster. I normally know if I need to top up or not. I will have a monthly travel card (pre-Covid) as it comes in handy as I travelled into work everyday
  • How I am going to get my daughter and the pram up a long flight of stairs

The downside to my closest station is that there is no lift or escalator and boy it is hard AF. But it is what it is and I have to adapt. When my daughter was younger it was harder as I would have to take her out and leave her with a train station worker and take the pram up. I have had to do that a couple of times. But this time round she made her own way up the long flight of stairs and I follwed while holding the folded pram. This time round it was simple and for that I was grateful.

My cutie pops resting on the benches, waiting for the train

Destination: Tower Pier

I had it mapped out. Where I was going to next and what I was going to do when I got off the train.

I had to basically get to Tower Pier which might I add I had been there before which was helpful and I also knew that Tower Pier was not all to far from my place of work so I knew I could do the journey I always do to work. The upside to that was I had done this journey with Soraiya to my place or work before so I knew I could it. See its that confidence thing. It is powerful.

My route to work is Wood Street station straight on the London Overground direct to Liverpool Street station (20 minutes) and there I would either walk or take the bus which is 10-15 min extra. As I am familiar with Liverpool Street Station, I knew there were lifts that take you to the concourse where the exit is. The only issue with this station is if you want to interchange and use the London Underground train lines there is no step free easy access between the lines. There are stairs that you have to use to access the other lines and escalators to access some other lines.

At Liverpool Street station and she was fed up. She was ready to get out!

I planned to take a black cab from Liverpool Street station to Tower Pier. I knew that by the station is a taxi rink so as soon as I got out it would be simple. I had envisioned it in my mind.

Now on with the day!

Planning is crucial because by me planning my transportation, I felt at ease and you have to be when with a toddler.

My mum and little brother got to Tower Pier before me so I wanted to get there sooner as I did not want to keep them waiting.

I found me a black cab and being the smart ass I think I got the cab driver who mind knows London like the back of his hand confused needless to say I was dropped off right by the pier. It was a 6 minute or so journey which cost me bloody £9.80. Black cabbies are not cheap!

Soraiya’s first time in a black cab. She disliked the seat belt – can’t blame her and all she wanted to do was touch those buttons

The beauty of taking a black cab I found was the space and the no need for a car seat. I knew I did not need one and I did not want that extra added stress. It was my baby girls first time sitting in a black cab and with the seat belt on which she really did not like. Had the pram folded on the way there.

I sure do love London

By Tower Pier you have many restaraunts all within walking vicinity plus you have the infamous Tower of London so you have plenty to keep yourself busy.

Here is a shot with The Tower of London serving as an epic backdrop amongst some seagulls who caught Soraiya’s eye

By the pier, restaurants are bound to make money. I know further down the pier, well as you walk further down and take a right of the pier there are more restaurants as I have been to a couple with my work colleagues. (Tower pier is walking distance from Monument which is where my office is) Something for me to do next time I am there, the idea of having a nice sit down meal with a view sounds divine hehe but on this day the plan was not to have lunch as such it was more to see how the day goes after we have come to do what we came to do and that was a cruise on the River Thames.

I went on a not so busy day as it is usually much busier but that being said the restaurants were packed from what I saw. Not just the restaurants there were takeaway stalls you can say where you can buy the traditional fish and chips where many did and ate outside with the seagulls, pigeons and the epic view of the Tower of London.

It’s a family affair

Seeing my mum and my baby brother was what made the journey worth it and Soraiya’s reaction was the most beautiful thing ever. Let me tell you it was something out of a bollywood scene where grandchild and grandparent ran to each other. It sure made my my mum happy and that made me abundantly happy. Not just my mum, she met my brother whom she calls suto mama (little uncle) her excitement did not cease, it got bigger. Ahhh. Let me tell you it was the cutest moment, their reunion.

She did not need me, she needed her nanu (grandmother) as she calls her. I honestly love and live for these moments!

My mum and my daughter looking ahead at the view and then me, taking this snapshot of them both just being so cute. SubhanAllah.

Ahoy with City Cruises.

It is to be noted that City Cruises offer many services of which I have used 4 types.

  • Cruise on the Thames with lunch. I did this with my mum. We opted for the vegetarian option because well nothing was halal. The food was not very nice. Very bland. Also that day I had a racist encounter on the way home on the train (not on the cruise it self).
  • Cruise on The Thames with Afternoon tea. I did this with my dad and this did not disappoint. Asked for the vegetarian option and they had a nice range of vegetarian finger sandwiches and mini small cakes and pastries which went perfect with tea. I really enjoyed this as did my dad.
  • Cruise on the Thames standard single/return tickets from one pier to another. There have been times where I have booked in advance or purchased on the day. Sometimes it has been busier, other times not so busy.
  • Cruise on the Thames 24 hours River Pass. This means for 24 hours you can literally jump onto any City Cruise boat and at any time – according to it’s departure schedule with no worries. It is not much more expensive compared to a single/return ticket and children under 2 years old go free.

I purchased the 24 hours pass because literally the plan was to stay on the boat and go to all the pier stops and that was London Eye pier, Westminster pier and Greenwich pier.

Check the departure schedule from the pier

The departure times are I would say every 15-20minutes which is good as if you missed one you do not have to wait to long for the next.

By the time I had checked the schedule it was 12.45pm and the next departure was at 12.50pm to Greenwich Pier. Now I knew we would not make this so the next one was 1.15pm to Westminister Pier so made sense to wait. While we waited we walked around and took pictures. We talked and admired the The Tower of London

My mum and Soraiya admiring the view of the muggy Thames. It really is muggy LOL
Can you see the Shard poking out in the background?

All Aboard!

Now whilst aboard, I did not take pictures of the boat itself so visually I cannot show you what certain facilities look like. The focus was more just my daughter- sorry! And I had a search online to find some images and I couldn’t for the boat I went on as each boat does differ in terms if size and facilities depending on what type of cruise you are on board for.

On board there is access to the lower and upper deck. On the lower deck there are facilities to use as soon ad you enter which is accessible easily such as the toilet and to buy refreshments such as snacks teas/coffees with bins and other materials regarding your voyage and other tourist information.

The lower deck consists of chairs and tables with views of the river out the window. Due to social distancing, individuals were advised where to sit with keeping a table empty to allow for social distancing.

We stayed on the lower deck where we sat as the boat took off. Soraiya was admiring the view of the water. Gosh the water is so muggy looking!
Soraiya was super excited hehe. She was pointing to the water saying ‘River’ oh my daughter melts my heart subhanAllah.

The upper deck is open, which you can imagine is divine on days where it is warmer and sunnier. The day we went on was dull and grey with some rain that spat but thankfully not terrible rain.

On the top there are just seats to sit and again due to social distancing rules there were blocked off rows where you were not allowd to sit on to allow space between each group of people.

First thing we did is we sat down. Soraiy was to short though to look over and see the river in all its muggy glory
As you can see. We did take pictures of her standing up where I held onto her for dear life. Did not help I had my mum in my ear telling me to hold on to her grandchild.

Towards the back where the stairs take you up and down is some space for standing on the deck should you wish and that is where we went because after a while my 2 year old no longer wanted to stay seated and well you cannot blame her really.

The back of the boat is pretty cool because you can see how the boat makes the waves from its motor (I think that is what its called) which really caught my daughter’s eye.

She was fascinated here.
It was cool going under bridges and that really surprised Soraiya. As you go under, for a split second the boat is shrowded in a shadow and seeing her reaction… oh my gosh it was so cute. MashAllah.

‘Cos toddlers, just wanna have fun

And aint it bloody true. She would not listen. All she wanted to do was explore the boat, would not stay seated next to me and kept wanting to walk off. The number of times I, my mum and brother ran after the madam. So be ready for your toddler to basically do the same. Haha.

Snacks and youtube always does the trick

1st world problems right?! The only way to tame and calm my girl was with fruit and youtube haha otherwise getting her to sit when we went back down onto the lower deck would have been super hard.

Fruit. Fruit. Glorious fruit!

Warning: no baby changing facilities onboard ☹️

I did have to take Soraiya to the loo and the downside is no baby changing facilities. There are disabled loos but no way for me to change her nappy on a table. Luckily I am at the point where I am potty training so was able to sit my girl on the loo and brought pull ups so was able to pull them up and on. But boy oh boy, it was hard work and I was tired at the end of it.

The front of the lower deck has a nice view

If you are sitting on the lower deck I advise and reccomend sitting towards the front seeing the river against the large windows in full view is really nice.

It was pretty relaxing to just sit and see the river. I was pretty tired after wrestling my toddler on the upper deck and changing her nappy so it was really relaxing.

Fruit eating with a view!
Feet up, chillaxing.

In all honesty the plan was to stay on the boat and go to the next pier which was Greenwich but we were pretty tired. I was especially with a toddler. But if I had the energy even with my 2 year old I would have stayed on and made the most of my 24hour river pass. Maybe next time ditch the toddler haha.


Did someone say food?

My baby brother and mum were hungry and I do not blame them so I bought them fish and chips from one of the outside stalls and we ate on the benches with the view of The Tower of London. Ideally sitting down in a table and chair setting would have been ideal but I don’t know it just happened like that haha. And it wasn’t too bad.

My brother had a chicken burger which was halal to my surprise and me, mum and Soraiya had the fish and chips. Afterwards it was time to head our seperate ways.

The worst kind of situation I could have been

No seriously. Got into the black cab and straight away my daughter felt queezy but I was insisting she was fine. My mum was adamant to get out of the cab but I was like nope we are good. Then, she puked, in the cab. My worst fear! It was all on her clothes luckily with not much inside the cab but that didnt stop the cabbie freaking out and becoming distraught.

Thank god my mum was still there becauae I literally slung Soraiya out the cab and to her while I dealt with the cabbie who was moaning and was very upset and I totally understand. Afterall we are living in a COVID-19 world and here my daughter puked in his cab where no matter how many times I may have wiped it off, there will be residue until he does a deep clean. I for one would want to make sure I am getting into a cab that is puke free. In the end I gave the cabbie £50. Yes £50. I felt so bad so I thought that should be enough to pay towards the deep cleaning later and I felt even worse as I was his 1st customer so he kept saying.

Carrying spare clothes came in handy for once

I know why she puked. All day she kept snacking and then what did I do? Feed her fish and chips so combine all that with getting inside a car… well car sickness is real and some how she knew she was in a car and that triggered something.

Normally I carry spare clothes with me just incase and I have never needed to use them so really they would just take up space in my bag but this time boy! Was I glad I had a spares. The Starbucks toilets were a god send as I took her in there and changed her. It was so stressful and I was feeling really hot by the end of it. My mum being there honestly helped so much and without her, dealing with this all by myself I probably would have had a panic attack or something.

I don’t even want to think about what would have happened if I was alone.

Black cab drivers are odd

The cabbie I had got into before ready to head to Liverpool Street station, well the my daughter puking fiasco caused traffic and what can I say it was stressful for me and the cab driver. Anyway after I got my daughter in some fresh clean clothes, sure she was wel enough to get into another black cab I approached a cab driver that was parked in the rink and upon hearing I wanted to go to Liverpool Street he proceeded to advise me that he will be unable to turn around as he wants to avoid any obstruction or traffic he may cause and that if I was happy for him to go the long way round then I should get in. I didn’t get into his cab because it was going to be the long way round and I was not paying extra money for that. Now I do have a question though because at the time I spoke with this cab driver her was the only one parked in the rink so unsure what obstruction he would have caused turning around but whatever.

I did not understand what he said about walking down and turning right as he said there would be other cab drivers there but anyway I walked on wuthy my mum, brother and Soraiya in the pram to Tower Hill station hoping to see other black cabs there and to my joy there was 1. Huzzah! This cab driver was very nice, he said I did not need to fold the pram and could have it up stood up and took me to Liverpool Street station as fast as he could. My brother and mum jumped onto the train from Tower Hill to Richmond, they had a much longer journey back then me.

The journey home

Got to Liverpool Street station and needless to say Soraiya was tired. She fell asleep on me in the cab journey to the station, my little baby.

Ran to my train as I did not want to miss it because that would mean waiting 20minutes and I just wanted to get home.

At this point my girl was pretty quiet and mellow because she was tired. But a different story all together when she got home though!

On the train, it was pretty packed which did make me feel a little uncomfortable and truthfully speaking I do not know when I will or if I will ever get used to wearing a face mask. It just makes me feel hot and I find it hard to breathe.

Londoners really are the nicest

As I mentioned the train station near my house has no lift or escalator just stairs; a tall, deep flight of stairs so one of the things I was worrying about was how I was going to get down.

I was planning on breaking the pram and holding it folded while I walked down with Soraiya or was going to take her down first, leave her at the bottom and then go back up to bring the folded pram down so I had options in my mind. See the planning. Honestly plan it helps!

But it all changed because a very kind lady insisted and I use this word strongly because she did. Very much took the lead in helping me take the pram down with my toddler in it. I was very much “are you sure?” and “I don’t want to cause trouble” but this lovely lady was not having it and so she held the bottom of the pram and I held on where the handles were and walked down.

I mean the pram was not light and the stairs are steep and deep so it was not easy and on top of that my inncoent 2 year old calling this lovely lady grandma to my horror. But honestly people get that children are children and she was laughing it off, some people however are not like the majority and could easily get offended.

I cannot thank this kind and thoughtful lady enough honestly because of her I was able to get to the ground level to exit the station in 1 peice with my toddler.

Bedtime was at 7.30pm

…because she was tired AF! I had to wash her coat and scrub her clothes that were covered in vomit. After that I then made her dinner and then off she went to bed.

Safe to say my madam enjoyed herself

It was a good day out and look forward to doing more days like this with her. She enjoys being out and about so I cannot wait to make more memories with her enjoying the city she lives in and calls home… London.

I hope you enjoyed this post about my tiring but super fun day out. If you have questions or anything feel free to get in touch

Hugs and kisses

The Soul Tamer x