When I wrote my first post (And So It Begins), ironically almost 6 months to the day, I had grand intentions. I was going to be a regular blogger, keeping this site updated for family and friends to follow us on our adventure. I would write every day…ok, maybe I’d skip a day once in awhile, but it would all be documented. Something we could look back on and cherish. Oh, and I’d write in a journal too in order to capture all those details too boring for others to read but that were important for us as a family.
In 87 days on this trip, I have written 33 posts, including this one. Actually, that’s not true. 13 of the posts are from before we departed. So, I have only written 20 posts on the trip, meaning one less than every 4 days. Pathetic.
Don’t get me started on the journaling. I bought a great Shakespeare journal in Stratford-Upon-Avon with dreams of buying a new one in each country. I sent it home in a box from France. Carrying a heavy, blank book was wasting valuable packing space.
So now I have this pull to get things documented. Maybe not the way I planned, but to at least highlight some of the things that have happened during the 67 days when I failed to write. The challenge is how to do this effectively.
So, I’m going by country. And it will be brief. But it will be done. And, even if it doesn’t make for outstanding literature for you, dear readers, it will be a load off my mind. And, if it does amuse you along the way, all the better.
Today, I tackle England.
Actually, England is probably the country I documented the most thus far. I wrote about how we managed to drive on the other side of the road, told of our tales in Bath, Stratford-Upon-Avon and in Warwick and Ironbridge. And I reminisced about what it was like to spend 10 days with my dear ex-roomie, Lisa.
Some the things I didn’t cover, but meant to:
- The drive from Ironbridge to York was hellacious. It should have taken 3 hours. But there was traffic. It was 98 degrees, and cars and trucks were overheating. And, there was a detour. There is no good way to detour in England. I kept calling/texting the B&B owner with updates so she knew we weren’t doing a no-show. This was the day I caved and allowed a stop at McDonalds as we were all desperate for a toilet, and we had to get some sort of food into the kids. Good thing as it was another two hours before we found another place to stop.
- The drive from Arlesley to Windsor was also hellacious, but for different reasons. The fact that we started out on the wrong side of the road should have been my first clue. But, no, I still trusted my beloved spouse to do the right thing. So, when he said, “Don’t worry, we’ll find a bathroom soon. Let’s just get on the M1 first,” I agreed. Only to get on the M1 and see a sign saying the next rest stop was 45 kilometers away. And then to run into traffic. And then to have it start raining. I swear, if we had a soda bottle in that car, I would have found a way to use it. But instead, I whined and fought back tears for over an hour. Just being honest here. And when Hubs inadvertently passed a toilet without stopping, I said a few words that made me glad the kids were wearing headphones. And made him turn around immediately. Glad the toilet was clean because I may or may not have put down paper like my mother taught me.
- York was really fun. We loved walking the town walls and visiting the Minster. Going back for Evensong was a special experience for all of us. Listening to the young boys’ clear voices is a spiritual experience no matter what your beliefs.
- Our one York disappointment was afternoon tea. We chose a spot Rick Steves recommended, and it was the one time he steered us wrong. I’ll let an edited excerpt from my TripAdvisor review do the talking: We were the only ones in the dining room; it appeared that they were preparing for an event and were severely understaffed. After 25 minutes, the server came with a single pot of tea. (It should have been 2 pots.) Then, after other 30 minutes, she came with the sandwiches and sweets. We NEVER saw her again. In addition, there was an iPod playing in the room. Sometimes the music was lovely and fit the atmosphere. Other times, jarring rock music would play. (I’m in my early 40’s and like rock music, just not in this environment.) Listening to HAIR while having afternoon tea? No thank you.
- We loved London. Period. We loved the energy, the sights, the history, all of it. And we did London. Walks, tubes, double-decker busses, sightseeing busses, boats…you name it, we did it. London Eye? Check. Tower Hill? Check. Tower Bridge? Check. Churchill War Rooms? Check. British Library? Check. Royal Mews? Check. We missed the British Museum, which gives us reason to come back, and Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum, which does not.
- Windsor was awesome. Our B&B was awesome; the castle was awesome; and it was great to see a Changing of the Guards up close without the crush of the crowds. A friend who is headed to London in December asked me, “Should we do Warwick Castle or Windsor Castle with the kids?” I surveyed Missa B and JJ, certain that they would say Warwick, but they both recommended Windsor!
- Missa B had one request for her birthday — Legoland. We decided we couldn’t make it to Denmark, but we made it to Legoland Windsor which was a huge hit for all, including Star Wars fans:
And electrical engineering
- Another highlight for all of us was Audley End, a “decadent Jacobean mansion house”. Having done a Downton Abbey binge just prior to leaving the States, Hubs and I loved meeting the downstairs Victorian staff who remained in character continuously. So much so that we later learned that Missa B thought the food being prepared was for the true estate owners!
- I already mentioned in an earlier post that Stonehenge was a stop that we all thoroughly enjoyed. Later, however, JJ let his kindergarten teacher (yes, he writes to her even though she was his teacher 2 years ago — she is that awesome) know how ridiculous I was to even consider skipping it.
Final summary: We loved England. We loved the cities, the towns, and the countryside. We loved the history, the architecture, and the people. And, despite what we often hear, we loved the food and the weather.
We will definitely be back.