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Will you help with my itinerary please?


My adult daughter and I will be going to London for the first time in July for 8 days. We're budget travelers :)

We arrive to LHR at 8 am on a Thursday and depart LHR at 3 pm the next Thursday. We're staying in the Fitzrovia area and will be using public transportation only. We want to do/see a variety of things--some museums, see a beautiful garden, go to a local arts/crafts/produce market,....

I'm struggling with an itinerary.

This is a list of things we're interested in doing/seeing--things that are starred ** are higher on our list to see/do. Please feel free to suggest other options/ideas.

*British museum
National Gallery
Victoria and Albert museum
*Westminster Abbey (Verders tour) and Evensong
St. Paul’s
St. Clement Danes church
St. Martin of the Fields concert
A formal English garden
*A local market
Buckingham palace-- walk by only
Houses of Parliament
*River cruise
Kensington palace--walk by only and gardens
Tower of London (Yeoman tour)
Tower bridge
*Greenwich (with river cruise?)
Piccadilly Circus at night
*Liberty London store
*Sky garden possibly during the day AND during the evening for views of London
High gate cemetery (I love photographing old unique headstones)
Street art in Shoreditch or Camden
Royal Mews
**Horse guards parade

A day trip from London--
**maybe Bath--visit on a Sunday for cheaper advance train fares leaving London around 8 am and returning to London around 10 pm (Mayor's tour, lunch at somewhere like The Ram, wander town after tour, maybe a 3 hour spa package at Thermae)

What are some suggestions on how to arrange each day?

Posted by
21666 posts

That is almost an impossible task. You should get a map and put some pins in to see how things cluster so you min the amount of travel between sights. Time is short but a good guide book likes Steves' London would be a great aid in sorting these out. On the first day you might consider one of the hop on/off buses to give you a good overview of the various sites and a bet of an orientation. Things like the museums and galleries will take a lot of time to visit well. You can spend a whole day in the British museum. And you really have not set aside any time to just enjoy the city by just strolling the streets or an afternoon tea or a cafe. Even the theater. Finally I have no idea where the Fitznovla area is so don't know how convenient public transit is. You will need the oyster card.

You have too much to cover in the time available so establish some priorities.

PS -- OK found it. Not a bad location on the east side close to the British museum. But you will have good access to the Tube and bus so learn how to use them.

Posted by
20855 posts

For a craft-lover the Victoria and Albert Museum could easily take more than a day. It (as well as some of the other major museums) is open late one night a week. Check the museum's website for details. However, in the case of the V&A, only the ground floor is open late, so you need to be strategic in planning your visit. Also note that part of that floor is lit partially by skylights, which means some of the exhibits are a little dark after the sun goes down.

I haven't been to a craft market in London but can recommend the shop at the V&A and the Contemporary Applied Arts shop at 89 Southwark Street (Southbank). London Glassblowing, where you can probably watch glass blowers at work on weekdays (check website), is in that area (Southbank) though a healthy walk way.

The Contemporary Ceramics Center on Great Russell Street right across from the British Museum is very good.

The Vessel Gallery is a high-end glass shop within walking distance of the Portobello Rd Market. However, Vessel ships a lot of product to Basel for a major show every year and I think it closes during that period, so check the website before making a special trip over to Notting Hill Gate/Ladbroke Grove.

I would not recommend a hop-on/hop-off bus on the day you arrive after an overnight flight. I always arrive jetlagged and severely sleep-deprived, so I would certainly fall asleep on that very expensive bus. For use later on, I think you'll find the Tube much faster and probably even the city buses, because they most likely run more frequently.

Fitzrovia is a good & fairly central area to stay in.

For a formal English garden, a short walk away is Regents Park, and Queen Mary’s Rose Garden in the Park will fit the bill.

For street art, I bet that London Walks offers a walking tour that would suit.

For the others, get a good map of London and plot where they are. Group them geographically then decide on two big sights per day that are close to each other. Have in reserve a few other interesting things in that area if you have time.

Use tube, bus or foot to get to sights. Look for late hours (most museums have one day a week when they open in the evening). Make sure you check opening days/times for everything you want to visit.

For those who don’t know Fitzrovia, it’s a quiet but central area, west of Bloomsbury, east of Marylebone and north of Soho. It manages to be central without being touristy and I like it very much. For restaurants and cafes, the axis of Goodge Street and Charlotte Street has everything you want, plus nearby Tottenham Court Road has tube stations, bigger shops, banks etc.

Posted by
1791 posts

Emma and others gave you great, detailed advice. I spent a week in London (third visit) two weeks ago. Based on that, here’s my thoughts.

Save a day trip for another visit. You will have way more than you can possibly see and do just in London. If you go to Greenwich, it will sufffice as a day trip. Take the ferry instead of a tour. You can use your Oyster card for the fare.

I agree about Selfridges over Harrods. Harrods actually has a dress code. Selfridges is fun and interesting. We stayed a 10 minute walk away.

Get out early, especially to major attractions like the Tower of London and the British Museum.

If you plan to visit St. Paul’s and the upper galleries are open, you can get a great view of London from there. You can get to the top of the dome, but it takes some exertion and you have to climb a nearly four story spiral staircase! It’s worth the effort.

Be sure to catch Evensong at Westminster Abbey or St. Paul’s or both. We are Episcopalians and it was a meaningful service for us.

Download the Tube app. You can type in where you want to go and it will give you directions, including any line changes and station names.

Have a great trip!

Posted by
638 posts

You're wise to post your wish list here and I think you've received some sound advice.

I've been to London several times and I often still get anxious because my wish list exceeds the time available.

If you are absolutely determined to see Bath, it's a doable, but long full day trip out of London. The flaw with your weekend plan, is that the railways have a habit of closing down routes on weekends so they can do engineering (i.e., maintenance ) work on the tracks/system. AFAIK they provide buses to cover the closed routes but of course that makes the journey longer. I agree, though, that if you wait to leave in the morning until after peak hour, you will lose a lot of the morning before you even get to Bath.

If you're not devoted to the idea of seeing Bath, and still want to get out of London, I second the suggestion of Greenwich. I've been there a few times. The first time was on a London Walk. They still do that walk on Mondays: . You take a boat down the river to Greenwich and will have a couple of hours exploring the sights with a knowledgeable guide. You can of course do it on your own as well. You can return via Docklands via the ferry, or the Docklands Light Rail, or the bus (all using your Oyster Cards). You can stay all day in Greenwich, or just a few hours.

Posted by
82 posts

Thanks so much for the helpful replies!

We do have a guide book, a map, etc...

DD is coming over today and we'll discuss some of your suggestions. Since it's a mother/daughter trip--we each have some must sees--one of hers is Piccadilly Square at night.

What would you suggest we do on our first day--we arrive to LHR at 8 am on a Thursday?

Posted by
3142 posts

I would double star Westminster Abbey and Evensong and the British Museum as top priorities. I was not a fan of the River Cruise. We do like the Ice Cream and Pizza places inside Harrods. And the sandwiches at Marks and Spencer grocery stores (at every Metro Station) are your budget's best friends.

-one of hers is Piccadilly Square at night.

Piccadilly Circus, not Square - and I fear she will be very, very disappointed. It’s no Times Square.

However it’s very central so easy to organise a walkthrough if you’re in the area. Although it doesn’t get dark till pretty late in July.

Posted by
6258 posts

First things first. How are you getting from LHR into London? Public transport? Car service?

If taking the tube (London Underground) be sure to get your Oyster Cards at LHR. Machines or manned ticket booth. Use your debit or credit cards unless you've already managed to secure some pounds sterling. Put 10 pounds on each card. You each need an Oyster.

After getting through immigration ( and no one can tell you who long that will. Could be 20 minutes, could be 2 hours.) you need to know it will be another hour or so before you arrive in London.

Before you leave the States and know the exact address of your accommodation use Google maps to find out what tube stop is close by. Look for the iconic red circle with horizontal thick dark blue line which denotes stations. Then use the website to discover your route from LHR. Be prepared to change tube trains especially if your accommodation is near Goodge Street station.

VERY important to not have huge luggage bags. Pack lightly. You'll be grateful as you will discover long, long, escalator rides at underground stations. Be sure to stand to the right AND there are most always stairs to climb as well to exit the stations.

Also understand just because you are landing early doesn't mean you will be settled before noon. Might be but don't assume you will be.

Once you have arrived at your accommodation, checked in, stored your luggage, and freshened up head right back out to get your cash. Practical to locate the following in your neighborhood: Bank ATM, market for snacks and water, and coffee shop. If there's a nearby Pret a Manger all the better.

At the Bank ATM with draw your cash and put in your money belt. Have a nosh then head off to the nearest Underground station. Put another 10 pounds on your Oyster Card, grab the small pocket tube maps which are usually by the manned ticket booth or ask the attendant for one. Then make your way to Westminster station which is on the Circle or District lines (Yellow or Green on the Tube Map.) There will be a large one map on the station wall that you can use for reference.

Ride the tube and when you get to Westminster, exit, Mind The Gap and follow signage that says Westminster Bridge. Exit and you will find the Thames River Cruise Boats right in front of you. Depending on your energy level you can either take your river cruise to Greenwich and explore OR merely climb the adjacent stairs and stroll into Parliament Square. Sadly Elizabeths Tower and a good portion of the iconic Parliament building is in scaffolding but you can easily walk from Parliament Square through St James Park to Buckingham Palace. 15 minute stroll if that. Or you could take your tour of Westminster Abbey.

Use Google Maps street view to see how close some of the sites you have listed are to each other. Emma's groupings are spot on.

Great city. Have a wonderful visit.

Posted by
9556 posts

On your first day - if you arrive at LHR at 8, it will probably be 11-ish (may be before but count on 3 hours then it won't be a disappointment if it's less, lol!) before you arrive. You may not be able to get into your rooms but the Reception will surely hold them for you. From your other thread you are staying at London School of Economics near Regents Park? If you are hungry or are in the state I am usually in which is "not sure" after a long flight, you might want to see if you can fuel up with a light meal and some caffeine.

Then I'd head out and walk around Regents Park, hopefully in the sunshine!

You are also not too far from the British Library which is right near St Pancras International train station. I am of 2 minds about offering this suggestion. On one hand this is a free site and the collection is small. On the other hand it is kept very dark in the Treasure Rooms to protect the paper and ink on the manuscripts. But you haven't lost anything if you go and decide it's not for you! I do better if I stay in the sunshine. I also know it's not on your list but I'd not want to tackle British Museum with jet lag, lol!

You could also consider walking to Piccadilly Circus (agree with the others but your daughter will need to see for herself!) and then coming back by Liberty of London. This gets you by 2 things that are on your wish list.

Posted by
1179 posts

If you’re arriving on a Thursday and departing on a Thursday, that gives you 5 days on the ground basically plus whatever you can squeeze into arrival day. I like to plan for one sight in the morning, one in the afternoon, and then an evening activity.

So, you’re probably going to have to trim that list plus forget about day trips.

For me, I don’t like doing more than one museum on a day not more than one major historical attraction. Museum fatigue and crowd fatigue get to me too quickly. So, an ideal day would be a museum in the am, a London Walk in the afternoon, and theatre in the evening. A mix of different types of activities. YMMV

It’s your trip, but I think the markets are a bit overrated. Are they slightly different than what you’d find in the USA? Yes. Are they worth the time? Only you can decide, but it isn’t something I’d spend my valuable time on. There’s plenty of unique markets in the USA whereas the Tower of London is close to 1000 years old and only found in London.

Posted by
82 posts

DD was over yesterday and we made some progress, I "think".

We've decided to nix Bath and any other day trip. We have decided we're going to go to Greenwich (taking a boat cruise there and faster transportation back?) and spending all of our time in London will be a better use of our time there.

We thought that going to the Sky Garden around 8:30 pm, having a drink and seeing over London during the day and then watching as it gradually gets dark might be fun? Killing 2 birds with 1 stone. What about this for a free view: One New Change for a day time view?

Also found Shaukat Fabrics in Kensington--it's a discounted store that sells lots of Liberty fabrics--anyone here have any knowledge of it? Adding Selfridge's store to our list but, she still wants to see Harrods's.

Trying to decide which market might be best--we love handmade items/artsy things/food stalls....

Thinking about adding an evening at the theater for a show?

Loved the look of Queen Mary’s Rose Garden in Regents Park.

How does this itinerary look for a start---

Thursday (1st day arriving LHR 8 am)--
1st day--- settle in/drop bags at our lodging in Fitzroy area, eat light lunch, visit (free) Regent's Park (Rose Garden), go to (free) One New Change for the views and then (free) Evensong at St. Paul's, dinner and back for an early turn in?

start the day out fresh. Walk by Buckingham Palace, Horse Guards Parade at 11 am, visit the Royal Mews, afternoon at Westminster Abbey with a verger tour (1:30-3:30 pm tours available), dinner. Or, would you suggest a better order to do things today?

river cruise to Greenwich, visit market, Queen's house, lunch at the market stalls?, fan museum?, the park, Royal Naval College, dinner, end the evening at the Sky Garden for a drink and a view?

mass this morning, Kensington Palace and gardens, Harrods's (DD must see-regardless), Selfridge's, dinner.

Posted by
1179 posts

Check the closing times of Harrods and Selfridges on a Sunday, things close fairly early.

Posted by
39 posts

Camden Market comes highly recommended to me by a friend in the UK. Maybe look into that one and see if it will work for you, too!

Posted by
6258 posts

No Fitzroy area of London. Suspect the Spellcheck demon for Fitzrovia.

Consider this free View of London since you wish to start day 1 in Regents Park. In route locate the Pret A Manger at Euston Tower on Euston Road. Can eat in or take your food with you as you walk over to Regents Park. Why not people watch and have your lunch and then stroll around the gardens. Then to walk off your lunch by making the climb up Primrose Hill. If weather is good it’s a lovely view of London.
Just another option for stretching your legs, dealing with jet lag and getting to see London from a different POV.

Posted by
82 posts

I apologize for the mix-ups on some of the names--my mind is reeling with names, areas, costs, choices, etc.... it's all so overwhelming!

Love the idea of eating on the run in Regent's park-thanks :)

Posted by
82 posts

Well, before I move on to the rest of our itinerary--is there a consensus that the 1st 4 days are OK and logical and not too terribly over ambitious? Any other suggestions?

I so appreciate all the help in putting together a decent itinerary. It's so hard when one has never been to a place and wants to see and do everything and only has 1 week to do it :)

Posted by
6258 posts

Agree with Emma about Camden Lock Market which you can easily get to from Primrose Hill in Regents Park. Consider walking along the Regents Canal.
You can access the canal walk off Regents Park road by St Marks Church. Another interesting perspective of the variety of London Neighborhoods.

I don’t see the Tower of London on the last itinerary?
If you are able to re add it I’d like to suggest seeing the glass covered Leadenhall Market which is a 15 minute stroll from the Tower. Leon is a lunch spot ( it’s a chain ) and their is one in the market.

I’ve always enjoyed the dichotomy of the architecture between Leadenhall Market ( or as Harry Potter fans know it as Diagon Alley) and the adjacent Lloyds of London building as well as the nearby Gherkin. The British love giving names to their skyscrapers. The Gherkin is one, the Walkie Talkie Building and the Cheese grater. The Shard speaks for itself.

An FYI Selfridges is huge. The women’s shoe department alone could take hours. Just saying.

Lastly, always nice to have a plan but also important to remain flexible. That frame of mind eases any disappointments. It’s a vacation, relax and only do what you are comfortable doing.

Have a wonderful time!!

Posted by
82 posts

Thanks for the additional comments! I do have the rest of the itinerary penciled in but will have to wait until I get back home. I'll post it later and ask for comments.

BTW, I do have Tower of London penciled in later in the week:)


Posted by
11280 posts

For Greenwich, I waited until I had a nice day, and was glad I did. Look at the weather forecast and try to pick a nice day, and you'll enjoy it more.

Don't get your hopes up about views over London, whether from the Sky Garden or One New Change. London's skyline, by day, isn't that impressive compared to other big cities. I wouldn't set aside time for this; do it if it's convenient for other things. However, I did enjoy my (free) view at night from the Tate Modern; the art in the museum itself was more of a mixed bag.

If you can see the Brick Lane market on a Sunday, it's well worth your time to do this. Not only interesting in itself, but a nice contrast to "ye olde London." All kinds of goods and foods for sale, and a young and vibrant crowd.

Posted by
82 posts

This is what our proposed itinerary looks like--different daily order of things/additions/comments/suggestions/opinions welcome if constructive :)

Thursday (1st day arriving LHR 8 am)--
1st day--- settle in/drop bags at our lodging in Fitzrovia area, light lunch, visit Regent's Park (Rose Garden), go to One New Change for the views and then Evensong at St. Paul's, dinner and back for an early turn in.

start the day out fresh. Walk by Buckingham Palace, Horse Guards Parade at 11 am, visit the Royal Mews, afternoon at Westminster Abbey with a verger tour (1:30-3:30 pm tours available), dinner. Or, would you suggest a better order to do things today?

river cruise to Greenwich, visit market, Queen's house, lunch at the market stalls?, fan museum?, the park, Royal Naval College, dinner, end the evening at the Sky Garden for a drink and a view?

Mass this morning, Kensington Palace and gardens, Harrods's (DD must see-regardless), Selfridge's, dinner.

National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus, Liberty London, dinner.

British Museum, dinner, Theater (suggestions of good show with under 40GBP)?

Tower of London, bridge, dinner

depart LHR around 3:00 pm

Posted by
82 posts

Any suggestions on a theater show? Something not too dramatic.

Thoughts on itinerary now?

Posted by
6258 posts

Theatre options:
The venerable Mousetrap
A Right Royal Tea
Play That Goes Wrong
Matilda The Musical

To name a few.

If you wish to do same day tickets check for ticket availability at the half price ticket booth.

Posted by
82 posts

Thanks for those theater suggestions:) We've never been to the theater anywhere--only the ballet.

What do you think of the overall itinerary now?

Posted by
6258 posts

Itinerary is fine but suspect you’ll find you could add more to it if the spirit moves you.

Great city! Enjoy your time there!

Posted by
82 posts

What days would you add to? What would you add to those days.

I'm an over-planner and heaven forbid we have extra time in the day that we could have done something. What we don't want is a lot of downtime in our room--it will be pretty spartan--with no TV, etc. although, it will have free WI-Fi.

Posted by
656 posts

For your Tower of London day,

*Arrive early and be first in. Go straight to the Crowned Jewels, then come back to the front to get a free tour by a Beefeater guard.
*After this, walk across the Tower Bridge or London Bridge and go to Borough Market for lunch.
*Then walk down to the Thames and follow the path east toward the Millennium Bridge. Pop in the Southwark Cathedral, Walk by the Shakespeare Globe Theater, stop at Founders Arms pub.
*Walk across the Millennium Bridge for an amazing view of St Paul’s Cathedral.
*Walk up to St Paul’s Churchyard/ Ludgate and turn east. Ye Old Cheshire Cheese is a very old historical pub for a glass of wine. Keep walking past the original Twining Tea shop, St. Bride Church, Temple Church.
*Catch the tube home at Temple Station

We are doing this exact day next month :)

Oh, and check out this link to free (tip only) walking tours. I highly recommend one on Day 1. The guides are a wealth of information

Posted by
7 posts

We just got back from London, and I agree that the boat trip to Greenwich is a great idea! Even though the weather was cloudy and a bit misty we enjoyed it very much. (For London, even in summer, make sure you take a light windbreaker-type jacket with a hood - much easier than trying to wield an umbrella.) We studied Rick Steves' info on the boats and decided on the Thames River boat (Thames River Services) - benefits for us were: the engaging tour guide commentary on the way to Greenwich, sitting outside up on top of the boat, and the fact that there is only one stop to pick up more passengers. We embarked at Westminster Pier, which has all the boat company kiosks and is close to the Westminster underground station (check exit signs from the station). For Thames River, if you show your Oyster card they give you a discount, and if you are over 60 or a full-time student they will give another discount. We bought the one-way ticket for the boat, and returned to London via the DLR (Dockland Light Railway) train which you can use your Oyster card for. The train runs from Greenwich to the Bank underground station (cheap and fast).
On the boat to Greenwich we ate a lunch of Tesco supermarket £ 3 Meal Deals (sandwich+drink+crisps/other snack for 3 pounds!) Arriving in Greenwich, we were overwhelmed with the number of museums, etc. We ended up not looking at all the many interesting places close to where we docked; instead we headed to the point of interest furthest from the dock - the Royal Observatory, where the Prime Meridian is officially demarcated. There is a walk up a very steep hill (a less steep and longer path is also available) and great views of London in the distance. Although we would have enjoyed the museum and its courtyard with the official Prime Meridian monument we didn't have the time (or money) to enter; after enjoying the view we discovered the kissing-gate near the 24-hour clock. Go through the kissing-gate and you can see the brass line marking the Prime Meridian for free - it runs down the adjacent wall and across the sidewalk, just right for a free photo.
There are places on the grounds of the observatory for lunch or tea, but we were glad we waited until we walked back down from the observatory; the first museum you come to is the National Maritime Museum (it has a large ship in a bottle outside) and inside is a large modern cafe with a great menu (also scones and cakes if you want afternoon tea). Also available here, I just discovered, if you book ahead you can have an actual afternoon tea here at a great price, see

To sum up, if your time is short, after you arrive in Greenwich you can walk up to Royal Observatory to enjoy the view and take photos of the Prime Meridian, the 24-hour clock, and official length of 1 foot measurement (all are outside the museum), walk back down, eat somewhere, see or tour the Cutty Sark, and from there you are very close to the DLR station with a speedy train back to London. If you plan ahead (unlike us) you can save money online for many of the entrance fees for various Greenwich sites including the Royal Observatory and other sites that might be a must-see for your particular interests, such as the Queen's House, the Planetarium, or the Emirates Air Line cable car (as part of your return to the city).
(Alert - I just noticed that the Google street view pictures of the area around the Royal Observatory are old and show a banner saying "Free Entry" to the museum (not the case currently), and they also show the large main gate to the courtyard that has the Prime Meridian monument as being open (also NOT the case currently).

Posted by
82 posts

Thank you all again for the help!

I'm the ultimate planner--to the n'th degree! I love the info on Greenwich and doing it cheaply--right up my alley!

So, I think i will stick to this basic itinerary and then ask about specific tips, hints, etc. on the various places :)

Posted by
82 posts

Well, I've tweaked the itinerary a little more...

I'm wondering about restaurants now to go with each day.

We like local places, ethnic--something we can't get at home in the Midwestern U.S., low'ish budget for the area...
So, if this is our final itinerary, what restaurants would you suggest we eat in each day according to where we're at then?

Arrive LHR 8:00 am
Get Oyster cards at LHR
Drop bags to lodging in Fitzrovia
Regent’s park/Queen’s Rose Garden/Primrose Hill (eat while walking)
Camden Market? /walk Regent’s Canal?
St. Paul’s Evensong 5:00 pm (1 hr)

Horse Guards Parade 11:00 am (45 min) (or Monday?)
Westminster Abbey Verger tour 10.00 am, 10.30 am, 11.00 am, 2.00 pm, 2.30 pm

($36/person or $22.75 Sr. pre-purchase ticket) (2 hrs.)
Royal Mews (10:00--5:00) $14 w/ Sr. discount (1 hr)
Buckingham Palace-- walk by

TRS cruise (Oyster card and Sr. discounts) 10:00 am $11.50 w/ Sr. discount (1 hr)
Greenwich Market
Queen’s House (art)
Prime Meridian
Royal Naval College
National Maritime Museum
Fan Museum 11:00—5:00/ $4 with Sr. discount /afternoon tea 12:30--4:00/ $11.50/person??
Walk under Thames tunnel to train back to London

Hyde Park and walk around Kensington Palace
Royal Albert Hall- walk by
Harrods’s (closes 6:00 pm)
Selfridge’s (closes 6:00 pm)
Liberty London (closes 6:00 pm)
V&A Museum (??) (10--5:45)

Horse Guards (instead??) 11:00 am
National Gallery (10--6:00) (3 hr)
St. Martin-in-the-Field’s?? (8:30—6:00) (30 min)
Trafalgar Square
Piccadilly Circus at night

British Museum (10--5:30) (4 hr)
Covent Gardens—shopping/plaza?
Theater show at 7:30 (2.5 hr)

Tower of London Yeoman Tour (10:00--3:30), Tower open (9:00-5:30), $31.50/person (3 hr)
Tower of London free Raven Talks (11:00 & 1:30 lasts 15 min)
Free time??
V&A museum (instead)??

Leave Fitzrovia lodging at 10:45 am
Depart LHR 3:00 pm

Thanks for all the help!

Posted by
82 posts

I think this new question may be better posed as a separate question about restaurant suggestions. I'm going to re-post under a more descriptive title concerning restaurant advice :)