Our Travels to the UK and a bit beyond, Part 2
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".
1996 – December 5 through December 13 – London (Diane, Allan and Holly)
We stayed in London at the Park Court Hotel (now called the Thistle Lancaster Gate) on Bayswater Road. Started out in a very bad room directly over a disco or something. Complained and were moved to a fabulous triple room overlooking Hyde Park. The largest hotel room we’d had yet on a London trip. We could have had our own disco. On this trip we took our first ever daytrip to Wales.
Highlights: (1) Holly sleepwalking and trying to leave our room in her sun/moon/stars footed PJ’s (caught her at the door) – don’t know what they’d have thought if she’d made it down to the lobby; (2) the Christmas decorations everywhere you looked in London [Holly: esp. the Selfridges windows.] and in all the other places we visited; (3) the punk rocker bagpiper busking at Piccadilly Circus in front of the Boots store; (4) I discovered alcoholic cider on this trip . [Allan: At the Castle Pub across from Bodiam Castle, I had my best-ever Ploughman’s Lunch. If you are ever there, this is not to be missed. Also, sitting on the circular staircase in Wells Cathedral was a dream come true.] [Holly: Bodiam is also haunted]
Lowlights: (1) Holly was a teenager (17) and we had a few blowups [Holly: and you were the parent of a teenager which in a way I think is worse] . (2) Being "taken" by a taxi driver in Stratford Upon Avon who charged us 25 pounds for the same trip to Welford Upon Avon that I'd been charged 7 pounds for the previous year. Lesson learned: Ask for an estimate of taxi fare before getting into said taxi. (3) the Welsh teenage lager louts who threw beer bottles at the wall next to Allan's head in the public toilets near the Caerphilly train station. He kept his cool and sauntered out past them. Holly wanted to go after them, but we restrained her! [Holly: This trip was taken during the height of my skating career. I could’ve taken them, easy.] Reading this back I realize I have a lot of "lowlights" on this trip, yet I still remember it as being a wonderful trip. [Allan: I had a long raincoat this time, but Wales was still too cold for me. The next trip I took a lined rain coat].
The usual London places including The Abbey
Chester [Holly: great place for shopping, but not so much for history, I thought]
York (we return to York on most UK trips) [Holly: because it too is haunted]
Stratford Upon Avon
Wells [Holly: best scones and cream I’ve ever had (and I’ve had a lot) in a tea room right by the cathedral]
Welford-Upon-Avon (went back so Allan could see that thatched cottage himself)
August 1997 (Holly took a two week trip to London with her friend, Tara – they embarked on Holly’s 18 th birthday – see Holly’s travel pages)
[Holly: Tara and I were legal drinking age, but we never got drunk due to since we discovered we didn’t like the taste of ANYTHING alcoholic. We’d down one drink and then pretend to be drunk just so we wouldn’t have to drink another. This was my first non-cold weather trip. I wore shorts once or twice even, while going to pick Tara up on the tube after she saw Starlight Express. Probably wasn’t the best idea as some teenage kid grabbed my butt on one of those tube elevators. I guess he’d never seen a girl in shorts before. I screamed bloody murder. Tara and I got lost in Windsor and ended up walking to Eton . We asked a nice guy in a hardhat there which way the castle was. He cracked up, we literally had gotten about 4 miles away w/o realizing it. I ended up getting QUITE sick, even went to the hospital one evening on recommendation from our hotel front desk. I thought I had strep throat. The doctors there checked me out for FREE, can’t imagine that happening in the US . We went to Caerphilly on the day I was the sickest and EVERYTHING was closed for Sunday. I couldn’t get cold medicine or anything. Or food! Which is where the pigeon comes in . . .we finally found a restaurant that looked open and it ended up not being . . . in my frustration I scared a pigeon.]
1998 – October 5 through October 13 - London (Diane’s second trip with her Mom)
We stayed again at the St. Giles on Tottenham Court Road.
Quest: to feed Welsh pigeons. This has to do with an unfortunate incident on Holly’s August 1997 trip (see Lowlight below).
Highlight: Having fun shopping with my Mom and seeing her REALLY enjoy that shopping – especially the (mostly) window shopping in Harrods and the for real shopping in York.
Lowlight: Feeding Welsh pigeons chocolate chip cookies on the Cardiff Train Station Platform and having one pigeon take too large a piece and start to choke. (He survived). I ran around the platform like a maniac stepping on the large pieces of cookies to break them up so it wouldn’t happen again.
1999 – October 27 through November 5 – London (Allan and Diane - 25 th Anniversary trip). We started out the trip staying at the St. Giles Hotel on Tottenham Court Road and then the last four nights at Hampton Court Palace in the Fish Court Apartment.
Highlights: Having the most incredible experience staying in one of Henry VIII’s palaces, in rooms belonging to his officer of the pastry which were built in 1529, AND being able to walk around this amazing place in the middle of the night all by ourselves. (2) Running into Mr. McGuinnes of Historic Royal Palaces on an early morning walk through the Palace Courtyards and having him share his personal ghost stories with us! [Allan: Walking unfettered through Hampton Court ’s East Front near the long water in the early morning, which we can no longer do. It was a privilege to have private access to such a special place].
Lowlight: Holly wasn't there to enjoy HCP with us.
Tower Bridge (to take photos from the high walkway)
Hampton Court Palace (of course)
On to Part 3