I love half term. Somehow it’s aways a more chilled out break than the major holidays – you expect less, good weather is a bonus and nothing is scripted. When the eldest was busy packing for uni back in September, I decided we needed to work on our new shape as a family of four rather than five so I booked a break for us all to look forward to. Of course the prices of all of the hotels are always ramped up so I looked into AirBnB. Having worked in the West End of London for so long, I naturally gravitate there so I decided to go against the grain and head east for a change.

We travelled down on Sunday so that we could spend an evening with my brother and his family. They live on the outskirts of London and were happy to ‘dog sit’ Gary for a few days. My mum always said that her four children were like the four points of the compass – we’re all completely different to each other. My brother and his wife are both academics, renowned in their fields and my nephews have both recently finished their Masters degrees so are creeping up behind them in the ranks of intelligentsia. Their lives are urban, chaotic and colourful which means we always have a brilliant time with them – we never know what will come up over dinner but the conversations can take us anywhere.

They had prepared an unusual medley. We began with cheese because we’d contributed a 2007 bottle of Chateauneuf de Pape that we’ve been storing since a long ago holiday in France. We all thought we’d better appreciate if before we drank any more. We then had blinis with smoked salmon followed by moules followed by ribs, stew, mash and kale, rounded off with tarte tatin. My nephew raided the cellar at several points during the evening and we finished with a dusty souvenir of a holiday in Brittany from about 1980 – no label so we didn’t know what it was but it went down well. After a long drive and our overindulgence we were asleep as soon as our heads hit the pillow only to be awoken again and again and again by Gary – the Bonfire night fireworks had started early in London and he was very unhappy. It was like having a newborn baby again!

Day One

After a lazy start the next morning we made our way to our flat in Hackney. If you’re familiar with London you’ll know that Hackney used to be one of the most run down parts of the East End. In fact I was living there with my brother during the poll tax riots in the 80s and I haven’t been back since. It’s definitely changing, there have been several anti-gentrification protests in the news recently and it is looking very trendy. We were staying in London Fields which confused my country boys – you can see the ‘fields’ behind me. My two couldn’t quite get their heads around the fact that play parks like this are all the greenery that the city kids have. Anyway enough talking, onto some pictures.

Nikki Garnett, Midlifechic

Hush cardigan; Boden jumper; Boden high rise super skinny jeans; Clarks boots; Whistles fedora; Boden scarf; White Company necklace; Whistles tote

We checked in, dropped off our luggage and, much to the middle son’s consternation, Mr MC decided it was time for a walk. So, we headed off from the flat to Spitalfields Market which took about 40 minutes and gave us a chance to get a feel for the neighbourhood. It reminded me of Tribeca in New York which has probably changed since I was last there in 2003 but it has that gritty up and coming feel about it.

Lots of houses have artsy details…


…there are lots of small artisan eateries…


… can you see the man on this pub is made from bottle caps…

What to do in London with teenagers

…this is the famous Columbia Road which at weekends has the most amazing but very crowded flower market. You don’t often get to see the architecture…


Of course there are still lots of old London features along the way. I was laughing because the middle son was protesting so loudly about the walk you’d think we were deliberately torturing him.


Gradually the landscape became more urban – this is BoxPark at Shoreditch – a prefab boutique shopping city which has a mix of luxury stores and independents…

What to do in London with teenagers

The boys enjoyed ‘hipster spotting’ – every man in Shoreditch seems to sport a very serious beard!

What to do in London with teenagers

Suddenly you have the shock of old London meeting the new….


It was interesting trying the explain the concept of ‘The City’ to the boys which necessitated a quick recap of the crash and the recession – it seems so recent to us but of course it has been going on for most of their lives. I’ve had to borrow this picture from The Guardian because I couldn’t quite capture Spitalfields Market. I’ve whizzed though it a few times on my way to meetings but never been able to stop before, it’s a great mix of artisan clothing, top end high street boutiques and every eatery you can imagine.

What to do in London with teenagersphoto c/o The Guardian

As I may have mentioned before, hair is an important totem in my middle son’s peer group. His eyes lit up when he saw this trendy barber’s shop so I decided to treat him. There were no prices on display but I reasoned that it was a barber shop so it couldn’t be too expensive. You know the old adage about ‘if you have to ask the price you can’t afford it?’…. eye watering is all I will say. At least it meant he didn’t dare whinge for the rest of the night.

What to do in London with teenagers

Here he is, striking a pose…


So, after all of that, we needed to eat and there was simply too much choice in Spitalfields so we walked to Brick Lane instead.

What to do in London with teenagers

For those who don’t know it, Brick Lane is the curry centre of London…

What to do in London with teenagers

We went to The Standard Balti House and it was fantastic

What to do in London with teenagers

So, that was day one – supposedly our ‘quiet day.’

Day Two

On Tuesday we had a quick breakfast near our flat…

What to do in London with teenagers

…and then tubed it into town for a wander around Covent Garden…


…it was nice to see that you can still buy fresh flowers…


There can be no better place to see the new James Bond film than the Imax in Leicester Square – we were blown away by the size of the screen and it felt really special to watch a film based in the heart of London whilst sitting in the heart of London.

What to do in London with teenagers

After the movie we soaked up the atmosphere in the square for a while…

Nikki Garnett, Midlifechic

Hush shawl; M&S cashmilon jumper; Boden high rise super skinny jeans, M&S ankle boots; Whistles tote

We then had the afternoon to fill so we wandered back down Long Acre with a ‘Five Guys’ burger pitstop. A new development is that the middle son is suddenly keen to go into clothes shops which was a bit of a shock but fine by me! The small boy was less enthusiastic and generally looking for mischief…

What to do in London with teenagers

We then made the journey up to Kings Cross because in the theme of James Bond, we’d booked ClueQuest. If you haven’t done it, ClueQuest is currently number 1 on TripAdvisor. In a nutshell, you book a mission and are locked in a room with an hour to save the world from catastrophe by solving riddles and puzzles and uncovering codes. The clock is ticking away as you rush around looking for clues. We managed it after being given an extra 10 minutes grace because Mr MC, in his excitement, turned off the computer terminal at the last minute which meant we had to input all of our codes again. If you have teenagers it’s good fun, we all enjoyed it and it certainly revealed different aspects of our personalities! In the interests of secrecy you aren’t allowed to take photos but this is the middle son at the end still engaged…drawing and writing his review…

What to do in London with teenagers

At this point we were exhausted so we went back to our flat and indulged in the joy of ordering a takeaway to be delivered – something we just can’t do at home.

Day Three

Sadly this was our last day – we should have booked for longer. We packed up and said goodbye to our flat…


Dorothy Perkins faux leather jacket; Boden jumper; Boden high rise super skinny jeans; Clarks boots; Boden scarf

After a leisurely breakfast we ended up in a huge rush to make our 1pm booking for The London Dungeons. This is something the younger two have always wanted to do but the eldest, despite being a big rugby player, doesn’t like horror films or attractions so we’ve had to avoid it. It was 90 minutes of easy entertainment and we were all drawn in by the staff to act out different parts. Again no photos allowed inside, only this.

What to do in London with teenagers

After 3 days of solid walking, my feet were feeling it. At this point I must say thank you to Clarks who sent me the boots that you will have seen me wearing. They were incredibly comfortable despite being road tested over many miles. Here they are again in case you missed them. Click here and use code BOOTS25 for 25% off all Clarks boots until midnight on Sunday 1st November.


We had at this point planned to go to The Design Museum – Mr MC was champing at the bit to see an exhibition on Camper shoes (his favourite ) with the added bonus of an exhibition on road signs (this is what happens when you marry a graphic designer)! However, even he agreed that we had all run out of steam so we meandered down the South Bank to The British Film Institute which has always been one of our favourite haunts and found a lovely people watching spot in the cafe. Those of you who follow me on Instagram will know that when Mr MC popped to the loo leaving me to order a couple of glasses of wine, I ‘mistakenly’ ordered a bottle so we had to sit in the sunshine and drink it! He didn’t seem to mind…

What to do in London with teenagers

Of course as he had a long drive back I had to drink the lion’s share which I am doing with glee in this photo…

Nikki Garnett, Midlifechic

A slow walk back …


…as the sun set over the river and it was time to go home..

What to do in London with teenagers

We had a fantastic time, very much focused on teenage fun but we laughed so much it was worth it. Finishing with a shot of the youngest today back in our beautiful countryside. London or The Lake District? It’s hard to choose.


But if you’re wondering what to do in London with teenagers I’d definitely recommend:

  • Stay in an AirBnB – it’s easy, has wi-fi and plenty of room for them to sprawl
  • Explore the East End on foot – they’ll enjoy it more than they admit
  • Go Hipster Spotting – a big hit this one
  • Mooch through Boxpark in Shoreditch
  • Wander round Spitalfields
  • Have a haircut at a trendy barber’s (but check the price first)!
  • Have a curry on Brick Lane
  • See a film in Leicester Square – the Imax is great
  • Go shopping in Covent Garden
  • Eat at Five Guys – expensive but tasty fast food
  • Do ClueQuest – definitely a bonding experience
  • Enjoy the London Dungeons
  • Chill out on the South Bank – with a glass (or a bottle) of wine – by this point you’ll have earned it

And don’t forget to plan a day longer than you think you need!

Disclosure – the boots were sent free of charge by Clarks for me to review without obligation. Everything else in this post was chosen and paid for by me.