Some time ago, Stuart mentioned he'd never really 'done the London tourist thing', so I craftily made a mental note to plan a surprise trip to the City one day.
Stuart taking in the London skyline
It was Stuart's 50th birthday earlier this year, so the perfect occasion to tuck tickets in his birthday card and spring my surprise day on him!
Magnificent Big Ben
After catching a train from Ebbsfleet to St Pancras and hopping onto a tube to Leicester Square, we began our day out by taking a lovely stroll along the Embankment in the April sunshine.
Southbank from the Embankment
Then we collected tickets from County Hall for the London Eye and a river cruise along the Thames ...
Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament
Seeing the heart of London from the river was a real treat! If you ever have the chance, I highly recommend booking a cruise and whatever the weather, sitting outside on the boat armed with a camera - it's a fabulous way to see the Thames and soak up some fascinating London history.
Stuart has always wanted to try out the London Eye, so despite my fear of heights I decided we'd give it a try and after queueing for a while, up, up, up, we went!
I think if you look closely you can probably see the terror in my eyes!
Houses of Parliament and Westminster Bridge from the London Eye
The views from the London Eye were well worth trying to overcome my vertigo though, they were absolutely amazing and I think on a clear day you probably really can see forever!
Having seen the Houses of Parliament from the River and 450ft in the air (!) we then took a stroll on foot to see the rest of Westminster ...
It's a truly beautiful area to explore if you enjoy architecture, but all that walking sure works up an appetite!
After a slight hitch when we discovered the tube we needed wasn't working and after a subsequent long hike along The Strand towards Blackfriars Bridge, we finally gave up walking and hailed a black cab to take us on the last leg of our journey to The Tower of London.
Stepping through Edward I's magnificent entrance was just like stepping back through time; as Stuart loves medieval history, naturally no birthday visit to London would have been complete without a visit to 'The Bloody Tower' to inspect gruesome instruments of torture ... it seems boys will always be boys! I, on the other hand, much preferred to ogle the Crown Jewels - sparkles are far more my thing!
We thoroughly enjoyed being tourists in London, rounding off our day footsore and weary, with a delicious pizza in Villiers Street's 'Fratelli la Bufala' before heading back to St Pancras International to let the train take the strain back home to Kent.