Saturday, May 14, 2016


            Our trip to London was a dream come true!  Michael had a business trip there, and I got to go along!  Everything about it was fantastic.  I just kept looking around in awe, and I couldn’t believe I was there.  I am so grateful I was able to go, and incredibly grateful to my dad for watching the kids.  They all did really well while we were gone.
            We left on April 15 from Phoenix and flew to JFK, then London Heathrow.  Once we got our luggage, we stood there wondering how to get to the hotel.  I guess I assumed we would take a taxi, but we found out that would cost about 70 pounds (over $100) so we had to come up with an alternative quickly.  We had seen tons of signs for the Heathrow Express train, so that’s what we did and took that to Paddington Station.  Once we got to Paddington Station, I had to use the bathroom and ended up having to get some coins for the pay toilets.  You don’t say “bathroom” in London—it’s the toilet or the loo.  We found a taxi line and took a black cab to the hotel.  We passed by Buckingham Palace and saw everyone gathering for the changing of the guard.  The hotel was amazing!  Everything was so beautiful, especially the courtyard. 

Our room wasn’t ready, so we left our bags and went walking to Westminster Bridge, where Big Ben is. We walked right past Westminster Abbey.  The line was super long and all the way out to the street.  I was so mad at myself for not getting out our coats and umbrella before we went walking.  It was freezing, and it started to rain!  We finally walked into the Westminster Abbey gift shop to discuss what we should do.  Right outside there were taxis so we took one to the Victoria and Albert Museum.  The museum was amazing.  There were so many cool paintings and statues.  We saw some displays of fashion throughout the years that was really great.  When I finally found a restroom, I had to laugh when the woman in front of me answered her phone and said, “Oh, I’m just in queue for the loo.”  After the museum, we took a taxi back to the hotel and stopped at a nearby sandwich shop called Crumpets for lunch. 

              We then walked to the hotel, weaved through what seemed like a maze to get to our room, got settled, and took a long nap.  We got up at 7pm and had dinner at Bank Westminster, which was right next to the hotel.  It was a beautiful restaurant, but the service was slow.  I loved how the glass of the restaurant was right inside the courtyard of the hotel.

            The next day, we went to the trade show.  The expo was called the London Natural and Organics show.  I had fun helping at the booth.  I gave out samples and spoke to people about the products.  That was the first time Wisdom Natural Brands was there, so Sweetleaf was new to everyone and they all loved it!  We didn’t have lunch and there were no good samples to fill up on, so when it was over we went to dinner.  By the time we finished dinner, it was already 10pm so we headed to our room.  We were exhausted and still jet-lagged!
           On Monday, Michael went to the trade show and I was able to go off and explore on my own.  My first order of business after breakfast was to walk to Buckingham Palace.  It was only about two blocks from our hotel!  I got there at about 10:50am, and it was already very crowded.  A group of men, all dressed up in fancy suits, walked by and they were let right in the gate!  They stood right by the palace to watch the changing of the guard.  It was really cool to watch!       

           After that I went back to the hotel to freshen up and then walked to St. James’ Park tube station to head to Brompton Cemetery to see where my fourth great grandfather William Horsfall is buried.  The cemetery was huge!  When I walked in, I wasn’t sure where to go, and there was no one to ask, so I walked all the way down the main walkway to the other side.  On the way I met a maintenance man who told me where to find the office.  I spoke to a man named Jay Roos.  He told me what I had already read, but I had to be sure for myself.  There is no gravestone for William Horsfall.  Apparently none of the pensioners had a gravestone because they wanted everyone to be considered equal, and so that no one seemed better than someone else as they all served their country in the military.  He pointed out on the map where William is buried, and I was also able to see the monument for the Chelsea pensioners. 

After the cemetery, I headed to the Warner Bros. Harry Potter movie set.  I had so much fun there!  I purchased the audio tour, so that made everything even more interesting.  They even had a booth where you would sit on a broom and they made a video of you flying around in the “movie.”  They wanted about 40 pounds for it, so I didn’t buy it.  I took about a million pictures so I would have something to show the kids.  I also stopped in their café to try some Butterbeer, which tastes like cream soda with butterscotch.  It was not good.  The frothy cream on top was wonderful, but I couldn’t finish the drink. 
Dining hall
 Costumes from Goblet of Fire ball

Potions classroom


Dursley's home

Diagon Alley

model of Hogwarts

I spent so long looking at all of the exhibits that I didn’t leave until about 7pm, but I made it back to the hotel by 8pm.  We decided to try another one of the hotel’s restaurants.  This one was called Quilon, and it was amazing!  It was Indian food, so I was hesitant to try it, but I’m so glad we ate there.  Thankfully, we were already at our hotel when we were done because I was so exhausted—again!  So much walking!!!
On Tuesday we went to Tower of London.  It was awesome!  I especially loved our tour guide.  My favorite part was when he was talking about the executions:  “Today, there are many things to do in London.  Back then, there was absolutely nothing to do.  So when the people heard there was to be an execution, they thought, ‘Brilliant!’  They went early to get a good seat, and when they came home with blood splatter on their clothes, all of their friends would know what a brilliant seat they had that morning at the execution.”  His delivery was perfect and the whole thing was very entertaining.  I especially loved seeing the crown jewels and the chapel. 

We took the tube to the Imperial Museum.  It closed at 6pm so we didn’t have a lot of time, but Michael said it wasn’t as good as the Smithsonian anyway. 

            On Wednesday, I had a hard time getting up.  Michael had a meeting and had to go to High Street Kensington.  I went to the London Eye.  It was nice, but not really worth the 20 pounds I paid for it.  I’m still glad I did it, though. 

After that, I walked across Westminster Bridge and did the audio tour from there to Trafalgar Square.   

Trafalgar Square 

Charring Cross
I bought tickets for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but then had to practically run to the theater.  I made it just in time.  I enjoyed the play, but it wasn’t quite as good as I had hoped.  After the theater, I walked through Covent Gardens, past the Savoy, through the Victoria Embankment gardens, and the to the Embankment tube station.  I had called Michael and he came to meet me there.  We walked to Trafalgar Square and ate fish and chips at Garfunkels.  It looked like a casual dining place, but the prices were still outrageous.
Covent Garden

            On Thursday I wanted to go to Westminster Abbey and ride the double decker tour buses.  When we got up, though, Michael said he wanted to go to Windsor Castle.  We called and found out that they were closing early, but we still went.  We got to Windsor at 12:40pm and saw a huge crowd, like they were waiting for a parade or something.  We finally asked someone what was going on and it turns out the Queen had walked by at noon because it is her 90th birthday.  Everyone was waiting for her to come back, but there was a lady who told us she wasn’t coming back that way and we found out she was right.  We had to wait until 1pm when they let the crowds in.  Some British ladies behind us in line were complaining about the “bloody foreigners.”  By the time we got in it was about 1:15pm.  We had to go through metal detectors.  I loved the queen’s doll house room, the State Apartments with the China room, bedrooms, banquet hall, and sitting rooms, etc., and St. George’s Chapel, where Henry VIII and Jane Seymour and other kings and queens are buried.  The woodwork in the quire was amazing!  I wish I could have taken pictures, but I did get a guide book.  The audio tour was great and really enhanced the experience.  After we left, we went to the souvenir shop across from the Castle exit and had some yummy treats at the bakery on the corner. 

We hopped right on the train back, waited a few minutes for the transfer at Slough, and headed back to Paddington.  I was amazed by the super-fast trains.  An announcement would come on saying, “The next train approaching isn’t scheduled to stop” and warned us to stay behind the yellow line.  Then, sure enough, the train whizzed by quickly.  If you had been too close, the air might have sucked you onto the tracks. 
We weren’t sure what to do for dinner, and so I suggested we go to Picadilly Circus.  I’ve never been to New York City, but I would imagine it is a lot like Picadilly Circus.  There were definitely many places to choose from.  We ate at the Angus Steakhouse.  The steakhouse was right next to a TGIFridays and also the theater where The Book of Mormon musical was playing.

After dinner we went back to the hotel and then we went for a walk to Buckingham Palace.  It was pretty at night.  I got some good pictures. 

           We left for home the next day, and we arrived in Phoenix that evening.  The kids were so happy to have us home, but I know they had a great time with their Papa.  He was able to go on Jonathan’s zoo field trip, and even took Nathaniel to his National Honor Society ceremony.          
I feel so blessed that I was able to go on this trip.  Some things I that made me appreciate home:  in London dinner takes forever (even for them to bring you the bill), there are no street signs—you have to hunt for the street name on a plaque on the buildings, the toilets are tiny and if you’re out and about and lucky enough to find them you often have to pay, there are no water fountains, and there are no $1 bills—only coins.  Things I loved: the way they talk—“I’m in queue for the loo,” Mind the Gap,” and street signs that say things like “unsuitable.” 
This trip was a dream come true!

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