By Francesca Fenn
It's happened! I had my first stomach lurch of Christmas as I wandered through everybody's favourite department store with my sister this week. Suddenly I'm looking forward to working out what to buy everyone, and having a Christmas shop, to decorating the tree, singing carols - I love it!
But first we have autumn festivals and half term! I hope all of you with a week off are enjoying it. This is proabably the last opportunity to have a day out before winter begins to nip us, so dress for the weather and discover London! Here's an interesting and different day out you may not have tried, on a branch of Docklands Light Railway.
The DLR is without doubt the most fun train line in London. Being driverless, you can sit right at the front, if you don’t mind running to get there first! And because it is a light railway, and the trains are short, the track is able to turn at sharp angles, and climb and dip at steep gradients, especially at the major junctions, Poplar and Canning Town.
We're going to take you on the Woolwich Arsenal line from Stratford. Take the lower level DLR line from platform 17. This line passes through Canning Town a dramatic multi-level station, where you may need to to change to be on a Woolwich Arsenal train.
The next station is West Silvertown. A Tate and Lyle factory is to the right of the station, and on one corner is probably the largest Golden Syrup Tin in the world. It is two storeys high! I wonder how many tons of syrup it would hold – and how much mess it would make if it leaked!
Jump off at the next station, Pontoon Dock. It’s a great place to enjoy a stunning view of the Thames Barrier. Walk through Thames Barrier Park, from the DLR to the Thames, past Green Dock. This fabulous living work of art is an old, drained dock filled with immense hedges cut into waves.
Then it’s back to the DLR to London City Airport. There is a viewing area running the length of the runway, and access is free. It is fun to watch planes landing and taking off, apparently on the water, and with over 30 flights an hour, you shouldn’t have to wait for long to see some action.
Take the train again, to the end of the line at Woolwich Arsenal. The Arsenal was founded in 1761 for the manufacture and storage of weapons and ammunition. The Royal Artillery Museum, Firepower, is here, as is the Greenwich Heritage Centre, both set in the dramatic arsenal buildings Arsenal Football Club began its life here, too.
When it’s time to leave, you could get a river boat into the centre of London, or return to Stratford on the DLR.
Of course, our good ol' Guides are waiting to give you a great day out, too: if it's a sunny day, Kensington Gardens will be looking stunning in its autumn colours, and Hermione is very keen to show you around!
Whatever you do, we hope you have a great half term!