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  • Trip Report The P family vacation- England

    I don't think I've ever done a full trip report on the main boards before, so I'm not sure where to start! At the beginning is probably best, I suppose.

    My husband is a first generation American. His parents were both from England and all of his family, aside from his sister, live other there. It had been about 18 years since his last visit, and as his parents are both deceased, we knew that his aunts and uncles would be getting older too, and we had better make the trip while there were still people to stay with and visit. We set out from LAX at the end of June and were gone for 10 days. We timed our trip to match up with a big family party and annual golf tournament. My SIL also joined us on this adventure! My son and I had never been, my SIL had been recently, but also lived there for awhile as a teenager.

    Okay, here's us, just arriving at the house from the airport. Everyone is here already, and I was immediately handed a HUGE glass of wine. I like England already! Then we ordered fish and chips for dinner.


    This is at Mr. P's aunt and uncle's house, in Hampshire, in a small town called Farnborough. This is where we stayed for the duration of the trip, and then there's a bunch of cousins and whatnot as well, one family visiting from Australia, and the kid cousins.

    Here is our house-


    And my son getting right to play in the backyard-


    It was a great welcome after such a long journey! We were so happy to see everyone- it had been 13 years since we last saw Pat and Jim (aunt and uncle) since they had been at our wedding. So after it got dark and people had to go home to their real lives, we settled in for the evening.

    The next morning, we set off for Windsor by train. We listened to Harry Potter while we traveled, which was a perfect match!











    Shots from Windsor Castle. It rained on this day. When we went inside on the tour of the state apartments, the Waterloo Room (which has giant portraits of all the Waterloo main players all around the walls) was all set up for a banquet. Prince Charles was having a thank-you dinner for all of the contributors to the Prince's Trust. Apparently we weren't on that list, but it was kind of cool that they still let us go through while they were working in there. The tables were all covered in blue tablecloths and everything was all crystal on the tables, very beautiful. Unfortunately no photos were allowed inside.
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  • #2
    Re: The P family vacation- England

    OMG! Love England! And these photos are gorgeous! More please!

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    • #3
      Re: The P family vacation- England

      Yay for your England TR!!:yea: I know I've told you, but I'm so glad that you had such a good time!!
      Founding member of the B.A. I LOVE US!!
      FratSor Sister-Delta Mu Chi Alpha ΔΜΧΑ
      I bring the magic!!!
      "If all my friends were to jump off a bridge, I wouldn't jump with them, I'd be at the bottom to catch them"
      Originally posted by Reverend DMother
      Girl bonding is just so necessary. It's just as important as "me" time. A good girl bonding session leaves you feeling so refreshed. :love: I think of it as a NEED vs a want. There are just things that you need to talk to other women with. You may have the best relationship in the world with your husband, but there are just times you need your girlfriends. It makes for a healthier and happier you which makes everything else you do better.

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      • #4
        Re: The P family vacation- England

        Day 2, London

        Hey, no jet lag yet, let's go exploring!





        We let JP choose our first activity, and he picked the aquarium. Next to the aquarium is a Dali museum, and this was outside. There was one sculpture of a naked torso and at that moment a group of school kids came by and they all went "EWWwwwwww!" and burst out laughing, every single one of them!

        Mr. P makes a friend!


        It was so weird, since Long Beach and Monterey are on the ocean, this one is in the bottom of a building. We had to go down, down, down, down and it was very dark inside. It was educational, but nowhere near to one of our fabulous aquariums. We had a good time though, because we are easily entertained.


        Then we crossed Westminster Bridge and walked around Parliament, Big Ben, and Westminster Abbey. This is looking back toward the aquarium from the bridge.






        Westminster Abbey- no photos allowed inside. We were the very last people allowed in for the day, so we didn't get to linger as long as I would have liked. The audio tour is very good, and it's done by Jeremy Irons, who makes even church sound sexy!

        Somewhere in the middle of all this, we grabbed lunch at a cafe and ate at a park. After the Abbey, we decided that we had time for one more thing, so we wanted to go to see Harrods. It wasn't quite clear from the map if we could walk there or not, so off to the Tube we went. We did more walking in the Tube station that day, that by the time we got to Harrods we were all wiped out. Plus, as we emerged from the station, it was pouring down rain!

        So we found our way to the store and walked around the bottom floors, which is the food market. They have all kinds of fancy foods, chocolates, coffees and teas, meats, etc. They also had a bakery, a Krispy Kreme, an ice cream parlor, and a stall where you could buy alcohol in bulk and put it into special bottles for gifts and whatnot. We got some bread and pastries at the bakery. Then we went upstairs to look for the toy department, but it was so poorly marked, we ended up walking through what felt like miles of clothes and other things to get there. I couldn't imagine shopping there- it was so overwhelming. So we walked through the toy department and then had to find our way back out of the maze of stores, but at least when we got outside the rain had stopped. Alas, there are no photos from this part of the journey. We were too tired and grouchy by then, I think.

        Then we had to take 2 Tube trains back to the main rail station, which entailed even more walking around Underground. The Tube is really cool and really easy to figure out, but between our 2 trains, we had to go down (and then back up) 4 or 5 escalators' worth of stairs. :botox: Poor Jacob! By the end, we were just dragging him along and trying to keep him from getting knocked down by the after-work crowd. We finally ended up back at our home base, Waterloo station, waiting to take the "real" train all the way home. You can see the train that would become "ours" over the trip, the 7:09.

        Last edited by SusieP.; 08-05-2008, 07:44 PM.
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        • #5
          Re: The P family vacation- England

          Day 4, the fourth of July, in which I am punished for not being in America

          On this day, JP and I had an at-home day, which involved sleeping in, watching cartoons, reading, and playing badminton in the backyard. Meanwhile, Steve and his sister went off to the golf tournament. Here's the trophy, the Lezemore Cup, which is Steve's mom's family surname. You have to be a descendant or married to one to play.


          Hey, not too bad! Even looks like he's maybe played before!


          The oldest first cousin and the youngest first cousin (Steve being the youngest )


          Whoever wins has to host the after-party the next year. So here's the house we went to, very posh indeed, and the yard was huge. This is where I overshot a step on the patio and sprained my ankle. Very badly, in fact, but I didn't stop to realize it until a few days later. I had a bug on my glasses, slipped down a step, and landed on my own ankle. But like grownups do when they fall down, I quickly checked to make sure I wasn't bleeding and then jumped right back up- "I'm okay!"

          Steve won a prize for "Furthest Runner-up." :lol: There was so much food, it was unbelievable. The guys were talking about throwing the tournament so they could have an excuse to come to California next year, but Uncle Jim, at 77, won the whole thing!


          Then comes a whole bunch of pictures of people, which I will not bore you with here, because I'm sure I can't identify most of them. It's a big family!
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          • #6
            Re: The P family vacation- England

            I am so glad you are doing this report. I have never been to England and can now enjoy it without having to do all those stairs and trains . I can't wait to see more.
            sigpic

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            • #7
              Re: The P family vacation- England

              Okay, we are up to Day 5 (Saturday). On this day, we took the train over a couple of towns and went to the mall to see a movie. We had lunch at a noodle cafe called Wagamama that had been recommended by several people and we were not disappointed. Then we saw Kung Fu Panda, which JP and I loved. Steve fell asleep about 10 minutes in, no surprise there. Meanwhile, the rest of the family was preparing for the evening's festivities.

              This was the reunion part of the trip, and was actually a 25th wedding anniversary party for 2 cousins and their spouses. So the place was packed with friends and family.

              So here in the middle are Steve's Uncle Jim and Aunt Pat, who we stayed with. Then on the left is their daughter Susan and her husband John. On the right is their son Tony and his wife Lynn. They actually live in Australia now. Uncle Jim is 77. He won the golf tournament and could kick your a$$ any day of the week. He is so feisty and fun to hang out with. He and Aunt Pat danced all night!



              This was the hardest night for Jacob and I. We barely knew anybody, and the people we did know were off schmoozing with the people we didn't know. Plus, the music was so loud, it was making me feel physically ill. Thump-Thump-Thump. If the DJ could have maybe just turned the bass down a little bit...So we hung out together most of the time. Til midnight. We should have taken a cab home around 10, but we did our best.


              Jacob actually did get up and dance with his Aunt Frances for a bit. Best SIL ever. (Even though she is the only one I have-shhh!)


              So we got home very late and then stayed up til 2, debriefing. The next day everyone was exhausted, so we all took the path of least resistance for Sunday.
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              • #8
                Re: The P family vacation- England

                Day 6 (Sunday)

                :sleep:

                We all slept in, and then decided that we should go to the pub for the traditional Sunday meal, so nobody would have to cook. This is the neighborhood pub, within walking distance of the house. Inside it is very rustic and the ceiling is very low, like a Hobbit Hole!


                Me and Steve-


                Steve and James- he's a 2nd cousin, who we hadn't seen since he was about 8 and we all went to...Disneyland of course!


                It rained. We walked home. Steve finally gave in to jet lag and slept for about 7 hours straight. The rest of us watched Wimbledon, which actually took that long since they had to keep stopping for the weather.
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                • #9
                  Re: The P family vacation- England

                  Day 7 (Monday)

                  On this day we had to set out early to visit another one of Steve's uncles, this time on his dad's side. He lives far away. While he is older, he is in quite good health, but his partner Dollie has Alzheimer's, so they can't travel very much and he can't leave her at home. Uncle Jim warned us that by leaving early, our train tickets would be much more expensive. How much more, you ask?

                  If you leave before 10, you have to pay more during high traffic times, which makes sense. Normally, it had been costing us between 8 and 13 pounds each to use the train, plus the Underground. So we were thinking, okay, double that? We didn't have a choice, since we had to go so far- on the train to the city and then on the Tube til the end of the line, almost out in the country.

                  It cost us 120 pounds that day, for 4 people. American? $240. :botox: Almost 4 times as much than our cheapest ticket so far. Again, we didn't have to pay for lodgings, so transportation was our main expense on this trip, and what could we do? We had to leave at 8.

                  But once I met Ernie, he was so adorable, and it was so worth the trip for Steve and his sister, that the thought of train tickets went right out the window!


                  We jumped back on the train and decided that we for sure had to get our money's worth for the day, so we grabbed some lunch and went off to explore the Tower of London.


                  This is where the moat used to be-


                  The Traitor's Gate, where they would bring the prisoners into the Tower via the Thames outside. This was so that the prisoners couldn't be rescued at the last minute by their supporters.


                  The Bloody Tower-


                  But it wasn't all as bad as it seemed. Sir Walter Raleigh was a prisoner here, and they were obliging enough to expand the quarters to accommodate his family and their servants. Ultimately, they were executed though.


                  I'm not finding any pictures of the torture devices, so maybe no photos were allowed in that area. Not sure, but it seems unlikely that there would be no pictures from 3 different cameras.

                  The Queen's house gets a guard, even when she's not there. The Tower at first was just another stronghold or castle and was never intended to be a prison, so it's considered a royal residence. I'd rather stay at Windsor, myself, so I doubt she ever hangs out there.


                  Steve listens to the Yeoman Warder in his guard box-


                  JP and I listen carefully to the audio tour.


                  (I'm so sick of this stupid sweatshirt right now. I "borrowed" it from my sister about 4 years ago and I think I'm ready to return it after this trip.)

                  Chapel inside The White Tower-

                  Inside the White Tower is the Armory, so it's all guns and swords and suits of armor. One cool display had each King's horse and his matching armor and choice of weapons, so that was really cool. I ended up taking a bunch of pictures of the horses.



                  I think JP fell asleep on this medieval toilet!


                  And these guys were in the store room. Their names are Gin and Beer.


                  Here's a chopping block and axe that was used here. One of our friends has a relative who was executed here, but his claim to fame was that his neck was too small and so they had to make him his own block! Anne Boleyn was beheaded here, but she was done with a sword instead of an axe- could you imagine? Her farewell speech was part of the audio tour and she seemed amazingly calm in her words. (Although she could have screeched them out at the last minute for all I know!)


                  Turns out almost everyone came through the Tower, including Queen Elizabeth I, so the history lessons there were really interesting. We also saw the Crown Jewels, but there was definitely no photography in there! In fact, someone took a photo and the guard made them delete it immediately.

                  Then we walked around in the rain some more, got coffee at Starbucks, and made our way home.

                  I think this was the night where my SIL asked, "Hey how's your ankle?" Ummm, swollen, bruised and painful. Not good. I obviously knew it had been hurting, but I hadn't really looked at it. I just assumed it would be sore after falling on it. You know, like, regular sore, and hadn't really been paying it much attention. Again, not good.
                  Last edited by SusieP.; 08-05-2008, 07:59 PM.
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                  • #10
                    Re: The P family vacation- England

                    Yay for the P Report!!!!

                    I love all your pictures.

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                    • #11
                      Re: The P family vacation- England

                      Day 8 (Tuesday)- The British Museum, finally!

                      On this fine day, one where it didn't rain at all, we set out for the museum, which was my #1 pick for the trip. The museum is free, and was the first publicly owned museum in the world. It's been in business for about 200 years. Part of my bachelor's degree is in anthropology, so I got to go around and be a :geek: on this day.

                      Outside

                      Inside



                      We picked up a free kids' backpack for JP to borrow for the morning. I chose the theme of mummies, but they had several choices available. This was also free for the asking. In the backpack was a read-aloud guide book that led us on a sort of scavenger hunt. Then it had various activities inside, like "spell your name in hieroglyphics" or there was a bag of little plastic animals and instructions to "find the matching mummified animals in Gallery 62". So that was really fun and kept him engaged in the morning.




                      The Egyptians mummified everything. There was even a fish in it's own little coffin and a tiny snake! You can see the snake behind this alligator.


                      THE Crystal Skull


                      Roman dudes


                      One of the main things they have here is the Rosetta Stone. The real deal is behind glass and doesn't photograph well, and I was so excited to find this one in another gallery. It actually had a note on it that said "Please touch." So freaking cool!


                      This is called the Tree of Life and comes from Mozambique. They asked people to turn in their weapons when their civil war ended and then used the parts to make sculpture to symbolize a new peaceful beginning.


                      Detail, very cool


                      And this was cool, too. It looks like a traditional African kente cloth, but really it is made of bottle-neck wrappers, like on wine bottles.



                      We were walking through our last room of the afternoon and one of the workers announced that we had to leave, and they were locking doors and stuff. I was like, "Wait! I just need 6 more....months!" I could post pictures from the museum all day, seriously, it was that awesome. The size and scope of the things that they had there was mind-blowing.





                      Then we went home and Aunt Pat had made us a proper English dinner.
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                      • #12
                        Re: The P family vacation- England

                        Day 9 (Wednesday)

                        This was our last real day to do anything, so we decided to do the hop on-hop off bus tour thing, just to make sure we at least got to see all of the things one is supposed to see. It was raining all day, and we couldn't get any pictures from the bus, but we did make a couple of stops.

                        First we stopped by St. Paul's Cathedral. The Bird Woman was not there and there were no birds to feed for tuppence a bag, because of the weather. In England, unlike in Italy. it costs money to go inside the cathedrals (but the museums are free) and again, no photos allowed, so we chose to not do the tour. Instead we stood just inside the entrance and got to hear the choir practice, and that was good enough for me. (And JP thanked us for that decision. )






                        Then back on the bus to Buckingham Palace


                        And here we found people in their best dress, shivering in the rain, queued up around the palace. They had all been invited to have tea with the Queen, and they had to be nominated for their community service or charity work, or some other outstanding contribution to society. How cool would that be? It's too bad the day wasn't nicer though.

                        Then we walked through a park, on a path marked the "Princess of Wales Memorial Walk" and it just kept raining and raining. We found our way to the Hard Rock Cafe for lunch, and JP found that to be pretty neat, especially the Beatles stuff displayed there. We hit the store and bought him a sweatshirt (which he was able to change into when we got back on the train, which worked out really well.)

                        After lunch, we rode the rest of the tour bus loop, but there are no pictures to show for that. The windows were all wet and/or steamy, and there weren't really any good photo opps due to the weather. But we saw Trafalgar Square and Hyde Park and Picadilly Circus and all that good stuff that you are supposed to go see. So now we have some unfinished stuff to go do next time. I would have loved to see the Princess Diana memorial and the Peter Pan statue in the park, and to go to Hamleys which is a 5-story toy store. Next time though! Did I mention it was raining?

                        Then we met back up with the rest of the family when we got home, at another cousin's house.
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                        • #13
                          Re: The P family vacation- England

                          Day 10 (Thursday)



                          We went home. Fran flew back to Chicago and then home to Iowa and we got on a different plane for LAX. It was a very long flight and Jacob didn't sleep for one second. Due to the magic of time travel, we left London at 11:30 am and arrived in LA at 2:30 pm! In reality though, by the time we arrived we'd be up for about 21 hours. JP fell asleep in the car on the way home and we didn't hear from him again...until 1 am when he was wide awake. :blink: But by 4, we were all downstairs watching tv and trying to adjust.

                          And, that is The End.


                          This report was really hard to do, since we had 3 cameras X 10 days worth of photos to sort out. Plus, most of them had random family members in them. Hope you enjoyed looking! :wave:

                          Epilogue: My ankle still isn't better, it's still swollen, and it is not broken. Apparently, according to my very unhappy doctor, I should have been totally non-weight bearing for the first week and on crutches. :botox: But I was on vacation! And at the time, I didn't think it was abnormal. I blame my SIL. She let me walk on it and she's a nurse. But really? What was I going to do? Not go sight seeing? I don't think so. I'm still paying the price for that decision, and have to go back to the doctor (so he can yell at me some more ) next week.
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                          • #14
                            Re: The P family vacation- England

                            LOVE LOVE LOVE the pics! And it looks like proper dinner might've been bangers n' mash?! Outstanding.
                            Just countin' the days til the next visit!

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                            • #15
                              Re: The P family vacation- England

                              wow wonderful pictures of england thanks.

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