Our Travels to the UK and a bit beyond, Part 1
By Diane, with comments from Holly and Allan.

Note: The photos used here were chosen to go with the narrative....to see photos of all of the places visted on each trip, go to our home page and click on "Vacation Photos".

1989 – November 2 through November 15, 1989 – London. (Diane, Allan and Holly)

Our first trip to London. We stayed the entire time at the Bryanston Court Hotel in Marylebone near Marble Arch. (Holly liked the pink steps). We fell in love with this amazing city on the first day. Holly, age 10, couldn’t believe she was really “on vacation”! [Holly: I also couldn’t believe they’d left me a crystal tray for my jewelry. I had crystal dishes at home for that, and I guess when I saw the ASHTRAY on the writing desk in our room I just assumed . . .]

Highlights: (1) watching Holly her count her “pounds and pence” every night to assure herself she still had enough left to buy gifts for all of her grandparents [Holly: I think the best gift I got for anyone was the queen Elizabeth tea cozy for my grandma Sallie]. (2) the guy at the newsstand on Oxford Street who played a little game with Holly everyday when we walked past on our way to catch the tube. [Holly: he played “guess which hand the shilling is in" and if I did I got it. There were shillings on that trip. And he knew my name, that was neat]

Lowlights: Can't think of a single one except having our camera break just before our arrival at Hever Castle. [Allan: I can think of a lowlight. I froze my tail off on that first trip. I brought a denim jacket and a couple of sweaters. I can remember climbing up the circular staircases in the Tower of London with Holly and just freezing. I vowed to be better prepared the next time.] [Holly: I was ok cold wise. I remember I got my first “real coat” because of this trip. Probably doesn’t sound like a big deal, but a kid from Los Angeles can go their entire life without needing a coat.]

Places visited:

Hever Castle [Holly: I remember being very impressed w/ Anne Boleyn’s Book of hours and a layette]
Hampton Court Palace
Westminster Abbey
Tower of London
St. Pauls Cathedral (attended an evensong service and went up to the Whispering Gallery) [Holly: I wore my blue and silver sweater and skirt set that Grandma and Grandpa Mix got for me one birthday or Christmas. I remember being very excited to get dressed up.]
Kew Gardens
Southwark Cathedral (setting in one of my favorite books, Green Darkness)
London Dungeon
Madame Tussaud’s (Holly posed with Benjamin Franklin and the Beatles, among others)
British Museum


1990 – October 18 to November 1 – London , Edinburgh (Diane, Allan and Holly)

We couldn’t even wait a year to return. This time we also spent three days in Scotland. We stayed in Edinburgh and took a train from there to Inverness to visit Loch Ness. It was one of two day trips we allowed Holly to choose. Her other choice was Stratford Upon Avon. We stayed at the Copthorne Tara in London (Kensington) and the Mount Royal on Princes Street in Edinburgh.

Highlights: (1) hearing the bagpiper outside Waverly Station when we got off the train; (2) discovering Highland toffee. [Allan: Actually I thought it would be a lowlight at the time it happened. While on our way to Inverness , we were taken off the train in Perth with a brake malfunction and put on a bus, which gave us a much more scenic drive through the highlands to Inverness . Trains usually go through the ugly parts of towns].

Lowlight: Holly had purchased and paid for a harlequin doll at a shop in the Cumberland Hotel in London and asked them to hold it during the three days we were in Scotland. When we returned for it, it was gone. Someone had come into the shop, given Holly’s name to the salesclerk (must have overhead us making arrangements), and stolen her doll! The proprietor was very nice and gave Holly another harlequin. [Holly: I took the substitute doll home and named her Vera. Another highlight, mom paying me 5 pounds to eat a brussels sprout. Another lowlight were the “boiled sweets” at the Cumberland . They were disgusting, yet always handed to me by a waiter or host with such pleasure, like “here’s a candy!” so I ate them anyways. This is also the trip where the “happy meal” incident occurred.] Ah, yes, the Happy Meal incident. We went into the McDonalds on Kensington High Street (the one where Princess Diana used to take Wills and Harry) and Holly ordered a "Happy Meal", something that was very common in the U.S. , but had not been heard of in Britain at that time. The counterperson thought it was a rather odd request. [Holly: It does sound funny, if you’ve never heard the phrase before, I guess. “I’d like a happy meal” What the heck is THAT supposed to mean?] As for the Brussels Sprout incident, the Cumberland Hotel Coffee Shop had a note on their menu that all children could have "free" vegetables. We thought, "how nice", and asked for these for Holly. The waiter went to the hotel's much more expensive restaurant and asked them to prepare a plate of vegetables for a child. He returned with a gorgeous looking plate (Brussels Sprouts, Eggplant and something else I've forgotten). [Holly: I think it was squash] The plate looked like a piece of artwork and he presented it to our table with a flourish. I was worried that she would not eat this stuff since she'd never had a Brussels Sprout at this point in time, and the waiter had been so sweet to procure them, so I told her we'd PAY her to eat those vegetables. Turns out she LOVED them. [Holly: not the squash]


Places visited:

The Abbey (always – can’t visit London without a stop at the Abbey)
Hever Castle (our camera had broken on the prior trip and consequently we had no photos of it)
York (the beginning of our love affair with this truly magnificent medieval walled city)
British Museum (back then you could actually touch the Rosetta Stone!)
Canterbury (missed the Roman pavement first trip, and somehow managed to miss it gain this trip)
Tower of London
Buckingham Palace (changing of guards is total waste of time, in my opinion)
Windsor and Eton (Holly had to get back to the Woods of Windsor shop)
Leeds Castle
Warwick Castle
Stratford Upon Avon
Kenilworth Castle [Holly: which is HAUNTED]

In Scotland:

Edinburgh Castle
Holyrood House
Loch Ness, Inverness and Drummnadrochit (no Nessie sighting) [Holly: whatever.]


1995 – March 2 through March 9 - London (Diane’s first trip to London with her Mom)

Stayed at the St. Giles on Tottenham Court Road – tiny rooms, but fabulous breakfast buffet.

Quest No. 1: get a Basingstoke Beavers hockey jersey for Allan. Mission accomplished. Quest No. 2: find and take a photograph of the thatched cottage in Welford-Upon-Avon that Allan had seen on a 1995 calendar and thought was so pretty. Found it and photographed it! Quest 3: Find Pigsville Pigs for Holly’s collection. Got ‘em in York! (Had a bit of guilt about being in the UK without Allan and Holly so compensated by bringing home tons of gifts.) [Holly: Uh, yeah you did. It was better than Xmas. AND grandma got me things too!] Quest 4: Go to National Gallery and buy a print of "The Arnolfini Marriage for Allan (his favorite painting).

Highlights: (1) showing another person (my Mom) places I’d fallen in love with; (2) sitting in Betty’s Tea Room on St. Helen’s Square in York and watching big fat snowflakes fall on the square.

Lowlights: My Mom almost being "busted" for bringing Fish and Chips on a train from Canterbury back into London. We didn't know that was a no-no. Another passenger smelled it (even though we were in a private first-class carriage) and insisted that "there is FISH on this train" and that the train conductor FIND IT! Hearing all of this commotion out in the corridor, my Mom HID the fish and chips in her tote bag until we reached Victoria Station and could throw it away, since by this time it was a soggy mess. I couldn't find a place in Victoria Station to dump it (no rubbish bins in train stations) and had to run three blocks before I found one. Actually, this was all Allan's fault, since he insisted that if we went to Canterbury my Mom should be sure to try the Fish and Chips from this particular shop. We'd spent so much time walking around in Canterbury, that we'd have missed our train altogether had we not gotten the food as "take-away".


Places visited:

London (Abbey and Tower and Harrods, of course)
Day trips by train:
Windsor (had to get Holly some Woods of Windsor stuff) [Holly: some???? Mom, no joke, I STILL HAVE and STILL USE things you got me on that trip, I’m still stocked from it.]
Stratford Upon Avon

On to Part 2