England Is Calling: Our Trip Ends at Bristol

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My room was off the hall with the opening, not where the two sides meet, but to the right of that one.

When I thought about what in Bristol I wanted to show the kids (Doug had visited the city when I was there, so this wouldn’t be his first time), my dormitory was the first thing that came to mind. But what next? There are so many things to see in Bristol–Ashton Court, the zoo, Blaise Hamlet, the docks, the Clifton Suspension Bridge–and I really couldn’t decide what things I could show them that would make them understand why I loved the city. In the end, we opted to do very little. Our friends, Simon and Rachael, were going to meet us there and Doug and I were looking more forward to spending time with them then in packing our last day abroad with a flurry of activity. Continue reading

England Is Calling: Highclere, Cheddar and, Eventually, Bristol

IMG_5659Although we had allotted an extra 1/2 day in London if we needed it, after a disappointing first day there (read England Is Calling: A Bit of London), we all decided to just leave the city behind and head to Bristol. After more than two weeks in the U.K., I have no doubt that the kids were starting to just want to go home, though they remained cheerful troopers until the very last day. The heat in London in July wasn’t much help either; especially the fact that our hotel didn’t have A.C. Doug and I were not much surprised, since we’d found that most places in England didn’t have A.C. and, indeed, have semi-fond memories of spending a night in Stirling on our honeymoon, in an inn near horse stables, without A.C. in the room or screens on the windows. Need I say more than these two words: Horse flies? Here at the hotel in Watford, the hotel staff had let us take two fans from the housekeeping closet, but fans only push around hot air–they don’t cool it much. Continue reading

England Is Calling: A Bit of London

IMG_5644I’ve been to London, many times. The first visit was shortly after I landed in England on my  Junior Year Abroad, when I spent time with all of the other JYA participants from Rutgers before we scattered to our respective cities. It was many years ago, but I remember visiting Royal Albert Hall, the British Museum, the Tower of London, and Westminster Abbey, among other typical sites. I remember two tours as well: One of Parliament and the other, a night Jack the Ripper tour. I went back to London several times after that, with my parents, Doug, my sister Ellie. I even spent one New Year’s Eve celebration there, amid the crowds and the chaos. Continue reading

England Is Calling: Watford & The Harry Potter Studio Tour

IMG_5597I’ve written before how things just seemed to fall in place as I planned our Great Britain trip. The Battle Proms at Blenheim Palace was a perfect example of this, and so was the Warner Bros. Studio Tour.

At first, I had no idea such a thing even existed and, even if I had, I would have quickly spurned it as too American for us to waste time or money on. The only reason I even discovered it was because I was planning our two-day stay in London and absolutely couldn’t find a hotel that also had guaranteed parking for our rental car. Continue reading

England Is Calling: Blenheim Palace & The Battle Proms

IMG_5491 So much of our trip to Scotland and England was the result of serendipity, including our day spent at Blenheim Palace and the Battle Proms. When Rachael and I were planning (via Facebook Messenger) the time our families would spend together, we had decided on a visit to Blenheim because, while my family had been exposed to many castles, only Doug had been to a palace before and I though the kids would be thrilled to visit one. Serendipity came into play when we discovered that, on the very day we planned to visit Blenheim, the annual Battle Proms celebration would be taking place there in the evening. Continue reading

England Is Calling: Our Own (Semi) Private Castle

IMG_5456I wrote about my sadness at leaving Scotland in my last post. However, I had a couple of big surprises for the kids that I couldn’t wait to spring on them. They’d have been surprises for Doug too, if I ever managed to keep anything from him. Since I’d needed him as a sounding board, I’d run most of the trip by him as I planned it.

As I got into the planning of the entire trip, I grew determined to find a castle where we could stay a night. Continue reading

Scotland Is Calling: Doune Castle

IMG_5443<Sigh> This is it: Doune Castle. It turned out to be our last destination in Scotland and, although I still had a bunch of fun things up my sleeve and we were looking forward to seeing our English friends, it was hard to leave what is very likely our favorite country. I feel like I can breathe again in Scotland, with less people than in the States and most of them friendly; majestic scenery; and also, of course, no deadlines looming over my head. One year later and I still miss Scotland just as much as I did the second we drove over the border and into England. Continue reading