Two six month old babies + two mummies + two fairly hefty pushchairs travelling to London by train = The ingredients for disaster?
Having booked our tickets for the Baby Show at London Olympia a few weeks ago, we were all set for an adventure… albeit with a bit of trepidation. After all, it was the first time that either me or my friend had taken the girls to London and we were doing it without our hubby’s along as an extra set of hands.
We arrived early to make sure we had enough time to get a space, get our gear out and get tickets with plenty of time to spare. We then had enough time for a quick drink in Starbucks while we watched commuters barge past. It was past 9am, but there was still an air of ‘what the hell are you doing with a baby here?’ from our fellow train users. A few even barged past our buggies while we found a spot to sit down so I could feed Georgia her breakfast.
We definitely felt out of place and it seemed as though we were going to be an irritation and a liability to all those around us. Not that we cared too much, but it’s still not a nice feeling!
Getting to London Olympia
Anyone who has ever been to an exhibition or conference at London Olympia will know what a bitch it is to get to. The train station, which is very handily right next door to the exhibition is on the overground line which inevitably means that you have to change onto about 500 trains to get there from your original destination.
Having worked at Olympia a few times, I’ve tested a few routes – including getting off at Earls Court and walking (not gunna happen with the babies), or getting to Shepherd’s Bush via the underground and getting on the overground to Olympia – I was just not prepared to go on the underground with the babies in tow. So instead we opted for getting off of our London bound train at West Hampstead which just so happens to be on a direct overground route to Olympia. Wahay!
A short 1 minute walk down the road from the station and we were at West Hampstead overground station. The only trouble was that they had no lifts to help you get down to the platform. Not even the staff battered an eyelid when we walked in… you would have thought they’d twig that if they don’t have a lift that we may need some assistance to get down safely. But no. So we slowly and very carefully bumped the babes down step-by-step.
Not something that you really want to be repeating and I was already dreading the return trip!
Anyway, once the train arrived, it was fairly easy sailing (wrong form of transportation I know…) to Olympia. Where instead of walking over the footbridge and straight into the entrance, we had to walk alllllll the way around.
London was now not my friend and certainly wasn’t pushchair friendly by any stretch of the imagination.
Once in the exhibition, everything was extremely baby friendly and we had no troubles.
Getting back home
Getting back home was a far better journey than I could have imagined. The platform we needed was on the right side of Olympia, meaning that we didn’t have to trapse round the long way. But then came West Hampstead and what looks like a 2 story flight of stairs. Luckily, a knight in shining armour came to my aid and helped me safely navigate up the steps (thank goodness Georgia was strapped in is all I can say!).
Once at the main station, we then had to run to catch the train which left in a couple of minutes, only to wait at the platform for a few minutes! We joked before we went that we’d have to comically run for the train and that premonition came true. The look on the girls faces with our run was priceless. Georgia has literally never seen me move so fast.
We encountered a few more helpful people on our journey, who even helped us off trains that had a big gap between the platform and the train, which was really appreciated.
It was certainly a long day and visiting London with a baby in tow is hard. Where you’d usually run up some steps, you either have to tackle them, ask for help or find a longer route.
But, where there were people around, everybody was very understanding and helpful – a lot more so than I ever thought they would be. I’m very glad that we didn’t take any peak trains though, as that would have been a nightmare as we had to stand in the central walkway as it was with the pushchairs which were too big to go down the aisles.