London BridgeAfter receiving an email from lastminute.com about a special offer for tickets to see a play at the Garrick Theatre, plus a main course meal at Porters in Covent Garden for £20.00, me and the girls (six of us) decided on a weekend trip to London. The difficulty was finding where to stay within the area on a tight budget. So we searched the web but everything was either booked-up or too expensive. For a last attempt I thought I would take a look at the YHA, as I had been impressed with the one I visited in Stow-on-the-Wold earlier this year. I quickly found a YHA just 2 tube stops from Covent Garden. After reading the reviews I decided to book everyone into a girl's only dorm.

We all decided that a train to London from Peterborough would cost too much for 6 adults, so we drove to High Barnett Station, on the Northern Line. Leaving the car in the overnight car park, which only cost £2.50, we then each purchased an 'All Day Pass' for London, at £7.50.

London StreetAs our age group was between 40 to 50, we wondered if we would fit in at a youth hostel. Fortunately I had arranged everything on-line, so there was no problems signing-in. The young girls at the desk were very helpful and cheerful. As we had arrived early they explained about the safe secure luggage storage, which cost 2 x £1.00 coins (or 3 if your luggage is on the large size). Across the road from the YHA we found a nice little Italian restaurant for lunch. After a short walk along the road, past Harley Street, we ended up at Oxford Street. Four off us went shopping and the other two went for a walk in Regents Park; just a short stroll from the YHA.

We all arrived back early at 2pm so we could get ready for the night, as we thought we may have to share facilities with other people along our corridor. It takes a lot longer to get ready at our age but were pleasantly surprised to find we had our own toilet, sink and shower. The room was a good size with one of the bunk beds being a double. Each bed had its own secure locker, which you can lock with your own small padlock (or buy one from reception). We later found out that we were actually in the disabled room! Perhaps it had something to do with our age? Anyway, once we had opened the champagne to get us in the mood for partying, we where feeling 20 years younger.

London architectureA short walk (8 minutes) got us to the tube station at Goodge Street, on the Northern Line, 2 stops to Leicester Square, which is then just a short walk to Covent Garden. Good job we had made reservations at Porters, as it was packed. Service was very good, as they knew we had to leave in time for the Play to start. The meal was excellent and the Oxford Rose wine was very palatable; nice to see English wine on the list, along with the tradition English food. The staff even went out of the way to arrange a specially cooked meal for one of us who has IBS. On our way to the theatre we got a little lost, the sign posts could be better placed; eventually we asked a tourist 'ha ha' and they knew the way. The play "Once were married" was a treat and very funny. So over all it was a great night. After returning to our YHA we decided to have a drink but felt a little old with all the young people around the place, so we just went to our room.

London ParkA good-night's sleep was had by all. Up bright and early the next day for breakfast, which as only £3.75 for tea or coffee, juice, cereals, fruit, yoghurt or pastry. We also found a different age group at breakfast, as there were lots of families staying, which was good to see. After breakfast we put our luggage back in the secure area and went on a shopping trip to nearby Covent Garden. We all purchased another day pass for £7.50, which would also take us back to High Barnett Station (best to make sure you have the correct change, else you may have to queue for the tickets). Covent Garden has a really interesting market, full of craft products made locally and some exquisite hand made jewellery; ideal for presents. There are usually people buskin in the market and we watched an fascinating juggler entertaining the crowd. During the visited to Covent Garden Market I managed to take some interesting pictures of the old market hall, including a great shot of some traditional London Pearly Kings and Queens out collecting for this year's Poppy Appeal. After a bit more shopping, plus a stop for brunch, it started to rain again, so we decided it was time to collect our luggage and go home. A great time was had by all, and are now waiting for the next special offer so we can arrange another girls' weekend away.

By Susanne Benney

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