I am the master of planning in advance (I am currently trying to organise a trip for December 2017 much to be annoyance/bemusement of Tom and friends).
Actually, my mother is Queen of the forward planning, so when I received an email about the free Westminster themed cycling tours, I knew she’d be keen to book on to one even if it was three months away.
We met up in Marlyebone at 4pm to collect our Boris Bikes (this turned out to be rather expensive and I wish we’d taken our own bikes). Slightly annoyingly the rest of the tour group turned up late in dribs and drabs so we didn’t set off for another 20 minutes.
First up was St Christopher’s Place, just off Oxford Street. The streets were bustling with Christmas shoppers, not all of them very aware of their surrounding or the road! My Mum brought her own hi-vis jacket for the tour, they are not compulsory!
Next we cycling to Oxford Street to see the infamous light displays along the street and adorning the shops. I loved M&S’s ‘Adventures in Glitz’ sparkling on the shop front. It was a bit of a challenge to stick together on the bus laden street, and with a few nervous cyclists but our leaders did a good job of keeping us as a group.
We were disappointed by the lights along Regent Street, they seem to have tried to be clever with reflections of lights this year but are very highly sponsored and a real let down. Carnaby Street more than made up for it though, with bright lights, music and excitable crowds. We pushed our bikes along here, there’s no way we could have cycled through the hoards of people.
It was getting rather cold at this point, and I thought I’d read about a Hot Chocolate stop…sadly that seems to have been a different tour so we pushed onwards. We enjoyed the shop displays of Fortnum and Mason en route to the Bond Street lights.
No-one else in our group had visited Somerset House and ice-skated this year, so we made a pitstop for everyone to see the giant Christmas tree, and gorgeous winter scene nestled into the courtyard.
Lastly, we hopped over to Covent Garden to see their equally impressive tree, lego train and huge reindeer.
The tour was meant to finish at Winter Wonderland, but after spending 3 hours on the bike, and battling the crowds all afternoon, we decided to return our Boris Bikes (sorry, Santander Cycles) to Hyde Park corner and jump on the tube back home. It was a fabulous tour, and such a brilliant way to explore the lights of London. I wish our tour guides had known a little more about the lights, but they were friendly and knew their way around, which is pretty great for a free tour!
Westminster offer regular free rides, I’m hoping to do one of the Chocolate tasting rides in the New Year- anyone want to join me?