A Family Trip to England, page 1
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The family at Buckingham Palace

Family Trip Review – part 1, England
By Diane Maxwell

Well, as they say, hind sight is 20/20. I don't think I'll do a BIG Family Vacation again. All in all it was fun but there were days when I wished I was home - by myself.

The trip started out hurried as Duane's and kid's plane was late arriving in Phily so Katelyn, Lauren, and I went to the next gate to wait for them while Derek stayed to wait and help them.  

Activities for England

They had called for loading in 5 minutes when they all arrived. We greeted each other then they said they needed to go to the bathroom so Duane and family ran back to the bathroom. The plane started to load and they decided to stop and get something to eat.  I was frantic and knew right then I should have packed more Tums!

Arriving at London's Gatwick Airport was stressful as now we needed to change money, adjust time zones, and figure how to get into town and find the hotel. Derek was our savior as he is more technical minded than the rest of us and managed to decipher the tube/bus/train map. We walked in circles a few times then got everyone to realize the trains don't wait on those who doddle around. Everyone had a backpack and each family had a roll-on bag. (Of course Duane had a bigger one than I told him to bring but ....)

We arrived in London and then had to worry about the tube stops, which is paid for by Zones, and to now figure out what Zone and what stop we needed. Luckily, I had an idea of where the hotel was located. Now we needed to get off one tube line and on to another line to get to the hotel. Once out of the tube - which way to start walking? I think we walked in circles again but found it. We were lucky to be able to go straight to our rooms even though we arrived early. The Vandon House Hotel was nice - two rooms with en suite baths. Only we had no shower, only a very large/deep tub with a rubber hose to make a sit down shower! The water was so hot you could have made coffee with it.
The London Underground
There was no AC but the windows opened. We had continental type breakfasts in a dining room each morning but nothing warm except for coffee and toast. Katelyn decided she only wanted an apple and toast so that she didn't have to talk to anyone.
The Queen of England's ceremonial coach
Photo above - Ceremonial state coaches can be viewed by visiting the Queen's Muse at Buckingham Palace.
The Queen was in Scotland so we got to tour Buckingham Palace which was only 3 blocks from the hotel - walking distance/no tube today. It is quite the place, nothing like our White House. The boys like looking at the Muse (stable and car garage). The girls like hitting each other. Katelyn fell down and skinned her knee. With audio head phones on we all wandered on our own. I tried to listen and keep track of everyone.
One day we took the Hop On/Hop Off bus in the mist. We toured the Tower of London with audio head phones and everyone wandered again on their own while I tried to keep track of the little ones who couldn't seem to understand stay together. 
At 9pm we had tickets to see the Key Ceremony at the Tower of London, (you know -Halt, Who Goes There). The Beefeater Guard had 3 little girls attached to his coat tail but he didn't seem to mind. Stay together means nothing.

We rode the London Eye, a 400+ ft. tall ferris wheel that has huge glass gondolas on the outside of the wheel. Katelyn who doesn't like heights and tells everyone in shouting distance, managed to get on and stood looking into Derek's belly the whole time while Derek who doesn't like heights either looked down on top of her head and played with her hair. Getting across the bridge to get to the Eye was horrible - Katelyn screamed the whole way across the bridge with me dragging her. She still has bruises on her arms. On the way back she got behind Duane and made him walk in the middle of the bridge. Of course we still don't know which side of the sidewalk to walk on and it seems neither do the British.

Continue to: page 2 of England Family Trip, Part 1

The London eye looks like a big ferris wheel


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