27 June 2004
We left Thursday 24 June. British Airways is really a delightful airline to fly. Friendly, lots of goodies in our seats (activity packs for the kids, toothpaste and toothbrush and eyeshades for everyone), 12 channel video at every seat with one's own screen, and free beer and wine! We slept in bits and spurts, as one might imagine–with my cold helping me sleep. I was with Matt in an exit row ahead of Barb and the girls.
It was when we woke up that things got a bit more exciting. Jenny was hard to awaken, and when she did (while I was fixing my contacts in the lavatory), she threw up all over herself, her blanket, her "pink baby" cuddly, and Barb (of course). The BA staff were a little flustered at first, then helped pack up the blanket while Barb tried to wash Jenny up. She was soaked to the skin. The BA attendants allowed us to take a blanket around Jenny off the plane.
Jenny was then quite cheerful while getting luggage and going through passport control and customs. Barb cleaned her up better after, and we took Jenny to McDonalds (she desparately wanted a cheeseburger).
We took the National Express coach (bus) to Victoria Station (London), which turned out to be a much better choice than the Gatwick Express (train). The train would take only 30 minutes, but cost more than twice as much. The coach was nearly two hours, which gave everyone the chance to nap (except Matt who was deep into his book) and look at England out the window.
The trip to Notting Hill for our hotel was really hard. The Underground (subway) was NOT designed for disabled (or wheeled luggage) access. We hauled our huge bags up and down stairs, from the Victoria Coach station to Victoria Underground to Notting Hill, and then up the street. We couldn't have been more proud of our kids though. They didn't complain about the hauling EVEN ONCE! – not in London, not in Oxford. We were quite a sight, all of us even little Jenny with backpacks on hauling our huge (relative to person-size) wheeled bags. Think McCloskey's ducks.
Once checked in at Notting Hill, Barb rushed us off – her (effective!) method of getting past jet lag is be as touristy as possible as quickly as possible. We went to Portobello Road (with the kids singing the song from Bedknobs and Broomsticks the whole time) for lunch, then to the Tower of London.
From there, we went to Parliament, Big Ben, and Westminster (closed, but we ogled the doors).
We had dinner in Chinatown (I have pictures of all of us by their big gate) that was okay. The kids have been such troopers about trying things!
We went to sleep about 10 pm. We were quite proud to have lasted that long!
We woke up at 10 AM! We had to check out by 11 am! We rushed around and got out of there, then had breakfast/lunch nearby.
We took a double-decker bus down to Buckingham Palace. We visited the Mews (Katie took about 50 pictures of the State Coach!), then walked up to the Palace. Unfortunately, the Olympic Torch is passing through, and they're having a concert for it on the Mall, so we couldn't go in front of the Palace.
Back at Notting Hill, we wisely took a taxi down to the Coach station. No one fell asleep on the Oxford Express – Matt played video games, and the girls watched Jimmy Neutron, while Barb and I worked. Just like normal. :-)
We got to Oxford and wandered a bit finding Worcester College – again, pulling our bags in a duck row along cobblestones. We got lost in the College grounds, but the porter at the lodge (David) found us on closed-circuit television, and found our way for us. We have a whole house to ourself that normally has 10 students in it! It's huge! Our kitchen is stocked with stuff already! Someone left milk, bread, butter, coffee – staples stuff – here already for us!
We dropped off our stuff, found Blackfriars (two blocks away – we plan to go there for mass this morning), the grocery, and the only restaraunt that could take us at 7 pm on a Saturday night, Pizza Hut. (We at first stopped at a bar where J. R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis used to frequent! Matt was really impressed!) There are two movie theaters, two live theaters (!), multiple bookstores, and a grocery within four blocks of us! We picked up some groceries, and got everyone to bed at 10. Jenny lasted in her own room for about 10 minutes, then we had to drag her bed in with Katie. She has all her stuff in her own room (she desparately wanted us to drag her little fridge in, too!), but she couldn't stand sleeping alone. Barb and I lay awake for hours, chatting occasionally, but basically time-scrambled. There was singing and fireworks (!) outside last night – don't really know what it was about.
First lesson about England: Turn on the water heater! It's not on normally. Thanks to Barb for discovering this before I tried the shower! We had cereal for breakfast, and I tried Nescafe (okay – it'll do :-). The morning is lovely, and we're about to get the kids up to go (walk!) up to Blackfriars.
The garden is lovely. Here's the view from my window right now at Oxford:
Beautiful pictures and it all sounds just SO perfect! Enjoy. - Maureen
You guys are making me envious... Rich
Y'all must be having the BEST time!!! It looks like so much fun. Enjoy your trip!!! ~Ashley
Looks like fun. The pictures show you people in shorts,do we forget long sleeves and pants? I guess we will need pants–Dad
Sounds like a grand ol' time!~~Blake, Grandma, Grandpa, Mike, Chase, And Cheyenne!