A boat ride down the Thames was one of the activities on my travel wish list for this year. With the sun shining and wanting to combine a trip to see my husband in hospital as well as do something fun with my daughter during half term, a plan began to form.
My daughter has recently become obsessed with the children’s cartoon Go Jetters. The globetrotting adventures of the chapters means it’s a TV series I highly approve of her watching. After seeing they’d been to Tower Bridge, it was firmly on her sightseeing list. Armed with her VTech Kidizoom camera, Mrs T was keen to follow in their footsteps – and maybe catching a glimpse of the Go Jetters themselves.
As London locals and without a huge amount of time to sightsee, we opted to take the commuter boat, the Thames Clipper. It allows you to use an Oyster card or contactless credit or debit card. The boat stops along the Thames from Putney to Greenwich.
We caught it at London Eye pier. Mrs T looked up at the towering London Eye structure and expressed her wish to go on it. Seeing the length of the queue and without prepaid tickets, I promised we would do it another day.
Instead, we boarded the Thames Clipper boat along with Mrs T’s godmother, Emma.
Inside, the Thames Clipper is spacious and comfortable. Surely this is the most luxurious way to commute to work – and probably the quickest. It certainly makes a change from cramped, stuffy tube carriages. You don’t get views like this on the underground either.
We headed to the London Bridge stop as Mrs T wanted to see Tower Bridge. We got a good view of the bridge although Mrs T was a little disappointed we didn’t see it opening up – like it does on Go Jetters.
We had toyed with the idea of visiting the Tower of London. Having set off fairly late and having to squeeze in a hospital visit, we decided to tackle it another day when we could give it our full attention.
Instead, we viewed the famous tower from a nearby Pret a Manger where we stopped for a coffee. With the idea of going to the Tate Modern now in our heads, we jumped back on the boat to the Bankside stop.
The Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall is currently filled with giant swings. Designed by a group of Danish artists, three can fit on. Unsurprisingly, Mrs T made a beeline for them. We stood and watched for a while, getting slightly dizzy as adventurous children and teens swung higher and higher.
After waiting a short time, it was our turn. Mrs T loved it!
Next on the agenda was the Modigliani exhibition. As Emma is a member of the Tate Modern, we got in for free (for non-members prices start at £12.50). It was busy, and without many children, but that didn’t appear to deter Mrs T. We were given a leaflet about the exhibition as we went in and she enjoyed matching the paintings she could see in the exhibition to those printed in the booklet. It was a good way to keep her entertained.
I didn’t know much about Amedeo Modigliani. Born in Italy in 1884, he moved to Paris at 21. He was at the heart of the artistic movement in the French capital becoming friends with the likes of Pablo Picasso. The famous artist’s influence is evident in his work. Modigliani’s portrait of Picasso hangs in the exhibition.
What I love about art is how everyone interprets it in different ways. For a five-year-old girl, she was looking at the colours he had used and we were prompting her on how the subjects in the paintings may have been feeling.
There were a few nude paintings – something which would have been shocking at the time – and to an extent remain so today. Mrs T didn’t seem hugely interested in them but was keen to seek out some of the happier female subjects.
Modigliani died aged just 35. What he achieved in those years though was immense and his rich body of work is worth seeing (exhibition open until 2 April).
Venturing out of the Tate Modern and into the sunshine, we walked across the Millennium Bridge. The curved structure is one of my favourite London foot bridges as it perfectly frames St Paul’s Cathedral. It’s also one of the more popular ones thanks to the Harry Potter film, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
Mrs T did so well walking all this way – my Fitbit told us we’d gone way beyond the recommended daily 10,000 steps. It was time for her reward at Yo Sushi (her choice). After loading up on Japanese food, I swung by the hospital to see my husband in intensive care.
It was soon time to go. I would definitely use the Thames Clippers service again. Not only do you get magnificent views, it’s way more comfortable and there’s no traffic to contend with either.
More importantly, Mrs T enjoyed the novelty of travelling by boat and gazing out the window at some of London’s most famous landmarks. Taking inspiration from the gallery trip, she created some arty photos herself. I wonder if Modigliani would have approved?
Tate Modern Exhibitions
Entry to the Tate Modern is free to the public but special exhibitions are extra
Modigliani: A Portrait is open until 2 April. For the best prices, buy tickets online and in advance.
An exhibition dedicated to Picasso has recently opened and is on until 9th September 2018.
Mbna Thames Clippers
The Thames Clippers commuter service runs every 20 minutes. Check out its website for ticket types and prices. The cheapest single fare option is by Oyster or contactless.
– Children aged 5-15 pay use the service. Using a child’s Oyster card seems to be the best option.
– Children under 5 travel free.
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