HOME AT FIRST's
Jacklyn Goes to London
A 7-Year-Old's First Trip
— PART 1 —
FIRST APPEARED IN APRIL, 2007.
MOST RECENT UPDATE: 2014.
big present last Christmas was a promise. Six year olds don’t always
like intangible gifts. But Jacklyn liked this particular promise. When
she turned seven, she would go on her first trip. She
would fly to London with her grandmother.
During the long winter months since Christmas, Jacklyn was
often asked about her coming trip many times. “Where are you going,
“I’m going to London when I turn 7.”
“Why are you going to London?” people asked.
At first Jacklyn answered so: “I’m going to see the Queen.”
As the weeks passed and Jacklyn learned more about London, her
answer changed. “I’m going shopping,” she would assert. Or, “I’m going
to see the castle,” or the palace, or the Queen’s crowns, or the Queen’s
On her seventh birthday, March 7, 2007, Jacklyn
JACKLYN IN LONDON
was presented another promise as a big gift: she would see a play in London. The play would be a story she already knew from
the popular Disney CD Jacklyn has at home. From March 7 onwards Jacklyn
answered the oft-asked question, “I’m going to see ‘The Lion King’.”
March 30 Jacklyn’s family drove her and her grandmother to the airport. Jacklyn
dressed in a fancy dress for the trip. So did her grandmother. They each pulled
one suitcase small enough to carry on the plane. Jacklyn’s suitcase was pink.
Her name was embroidered on it.
checked in at the airport and went through security lines on the way to
the departures gate. The security people—ever mindful of the devious
minds of terrorists—frisked Jacklyn. Once before, in 2000 when four
months old, Jacklyn had flown. This night she would fly again. Somehow
she knew how properly to stand in order to be frisked by wand-wielding
airport security. Children learn things from TV and movies.
The prospect of flying on the big airplane excited Jacklyn. Take-off
was set for after 9PM, past Jacklyn’s normal bedtime. But this night the flight
was delayed by more than an hour. When Jacklyn and her grandmother boarded the
airplane and found their seats, Jacklyn quickly fell asleep. She missed
slept a long time on the plane. But she could not sleep her normal nine
hours. At Heathrow Airport in London, Jacklyn was still sleepy, and the
colorful chaos of so many travelers and so much activity left her unsure of herself. Finding
the way to
the Underground station was not easy in the crowded arrivals
She held her grandmother’s hand tightly. With her other hand she
pulled her pink suitcase. Soon she and her grandmother boarded a subway
train and departed the frenzied airport in an almost empty car. It did
not remain almost empty for long. By Central London people filled every
seat and crowded the aisles. There were few children among them. Part of
the way the train ran above ground. The day was sunny, the sky was blue,
and it was warmer in London than back home in Philadelphia. Jacklyn and
her grandmother changed trains at busy Earl’s Court station. How did her
grandmother know what to do?
When they arrived at Tower Hill station—another busy
place — they climbed up two flights of stairs pulling their suitcases
emerged into sunshine. Another flight of stairs led down
underneath a busy road. The sidewalk first passed an old piece
of Roman wall before edging along the grassy moat of a castle, the Tower
of London. The footpath passed under another road and entered a big
square of buildings surrounding glistening water where many boats of all
sizes were parked. The wheels of Jacklyn’s suitcase made lots of noise
on the metal walkways of St. Katharine’s Marina. In a couple of minutes
they crossed a narrow metal bridge and entered a big courtyard paved
with cobblestones. There were no automobiles here, only boats and a few
people walking through. Jacklyn’s grandmother went into a shiny red
phone booth and called someone. In a couple of minutes a man came into
the courtyard. Together they went into one of the buildings near the
courtyard and into an elevator that had just enough room for the three
of them and their two rolling suitcases.
The elevator went up and the doors opened. They
walked down a hallway that seemed both indoors and outdoors at once. A
fresh breeze from the marina wafted into the hallway from a sunny
opening. In a minute the man stopped before a door and opened it with a
set of old-fashioned skeleton keys. The three of them entered the
doorway to an apartment: Jacklyn’s London home. It was a perfect size.
The bedroom had two beds for her and her grandmother. Just like at home,
there was a bathroom with a toilet, a sink for washing hands, and a
bathtub with a shower. The living room had a big couch and an armchair
with cushions, and a TV with a new DVD player. There was a dining room
table with four wooden chairs. The kitchen had a refrigerator and stove,
a microwave, and lots of dishes and silverware and pots and pans. There
was even a washing machine for clothes in the kitchen! Best of all,
doors in the living room opened onto a little balcony with a
ON THE BALCONY
small table and chairs. The balcony looked down to the sparkling water
and the boats of St. Katharine’s Marina. It was beautiful. The nice man
asked Jacklyn if she liked her London apartment. Jacklyn shyly said,
“Yes.” The man gave a ring of skeleton keys to Grandmother and said
EATING LUNCH ON THE
was excited all over again. And hungry. She
hadn’t eaten on the airplane. Grandmother said
it was lunchtime even though it seemed to
Jacklyn more like breakfast
time. It didn’t matter. Jacklyn eats the same foods at both times:
fruit, chicken nuggets with catsup, a vegetable, and chocolate milk.
Grandmother said they must go to the supermarket to get groceries for
their kitchen. First they unpacked their small suitcases. They put some
things in the bureau drawers. Jacklyn hung her nice dresses in the
that the man had called a
“cupboard”. Jacklyn changed into blue
jeans and a pink top, with a dark blue smock. She and Grandmother locked
the apartment door with the old-fashioned key and walked the breezy
hallway to the elevator. Once down on the ground floor they found a
doorway that led away from the enclosed marina to a quiet street. Across
the street was a small shopping center with a big Waitrose supermarket.
Jacklyn shopped for her favorite foods with her Grandmother. For fruit
she selected a basket of fresh blueberries. For a vegetable she chose
fresh corn on the cob. Jacklyn was eager to have lunch. Back in the
apartment, while her grandmother fixed lunch, Jacklyn set the table on
the balcony. When her lunch came Jacklyn sampled everything, but could
not eat the corn. She had forgotten that she had no front teeth.
Grandmother had to cut the corn off the cob for her. Now the lunch was
After lunch Jacklyn and
Grandmother took a nap. When they awoke, the weather was still warm and
sunny. They decided to explore the marina. They saw all the shops.
People on the balconies of the Dickens Inn watched as Jacklyn did
cartwheels on the cobbled courtyard. Grandmother led Jacklyn by the hand
to where the marina connects to the river. Jacklyn saw the beautiful
Tower Bridge. “Can’t we walk across the bridge?”
she asked. Of course Grandmother said
yes. The bridge is high
JACKLYN DOES CARTWHEELS IN THE DICKENS
INN FORECOURT AT ST. KATHARINE'S MARINA.
over the river. Lots of boats pass beneath the
bridge. When tall ships come upriver its drawbridge opens to let the
ships pass. Jacklyn and her grandmother walked over and back. They
walked down the bridge stairs to the river walk. They passed under the
Tower Bridge and walked along the broad sidewalk between the river and
the old castle called the Tower of London. Jacklyn could see several
castle walls with the places where guards might stand, but she saw no
guards. Maybe they were all inside the walls. Grandmother said they
would come back another day to go inside the castle walls. Grandmother
told Jacklyn the Queen’s royal crowns were locked inside one of the
rooms in the castle.
On the river by the Tower
of London was a pier for riverboats. Jacklyn said, “I want to ride the
boat!” Grandmother looked at the schedule. A boat would come along soon
that would carry passengers upriver to Westminster. Grandmother bought
two tickets for Westminster. Because she showed her London Transport
pass, she saved money on the riverboat ride. Jacklyn said, “You got a
deal, Grandmother.” While they waited for the boat to arrive,
Grandmother bought Jacklyn an ice cream cone.
The boat sailed fast up the middle of the river. Jacklyn took
pictures of some of the things they saw. There was a battleship with
cannons. They went under several bridges. One was just for walkers.
Grandmother called it “wobbly”. Around one bend Jacklyn saw a giant
Ferris wheel, much bigger than those that she had ridden on at carnivals
at home. Soon the riverboat stopped and Jacklyn and her grandmother
walked ashore. They walked by a fancy golden
building with a giant clock tower.
When the bells rang the hour they played a song then one bell loudly
time. Grandmother said the
bell had a name: “Big Ben”.
Jacklyn thought the name was perfect. Close by, steps
led down to
the Underground trains, that Grandmother
called “The Tube”. They took the very next train. In just a few minutes
they got off and climbed two sets of stairs. There was the Tower of
London castle again. In about five minutes they were back in front of
the Dickens Inn in St. Katharine’s Marina.
LONDON SCENERY FROM THE THAMES RIVERBOAT.
“Let’s have pizza
for supper, Grandmother!”
Jacklyn suggested. They climbed two more sets of steps and went into an
old wooden room with lots of tables and chairs. Jacklyn ordered a kid’s
size pizza. Grandmother had a large salad with all kinds of meats and
cheeses. Jacklyn ate every bite. Grandmother couldn’t finish her salad.
It was almost nighttime. Both were tired and happy to take the elevator
up to their apartment. Jacklyn went right to bed. Grandmother, too.
FOR THE THEATRE.
PHOTO TAKEN ON
THE APARTMENT BALCONY.
next morning was Sunday. Grandmother wanted to go to the big church. Jacklyn was
tired. Jacklyn wanted to watch TV and stay in the apartment. Grandmother cooked
a big breakfast. Today Jacklyn had fish sticks instead of chicken
breakfast. But she didn’t want the chocolate milk. She said it was too thick.
Starting Sunday morning she drank mostly water and sometimes fruit juice. There
were kids shows on the TV in the morning. Some of them Jacklyn knew. Most were
new to her. Jacklyn brought her own DVDs with her, but they wouldn’t play on the
machine in the apartment. The nice man came by again with some DVDs that worked,
including one Jacklyn really liked about the Bratz.
After lunch Grandmother said it was time to get ready for the theater.
Jacklyn and Grandmother put on their best dresses. They walked to the
Underground and got on a subway train. In a few minutes they got off the train
and then went through tunnels and up and down escalators and some stairs.
Grandmother worried about Jacklyn’s long dress getting dirty or catching in the
escalator. Jacklyn felt like a princess. They got in another subway train, but
only for two stops. Then more tunnels, escalators, and another train. One more
stop, then a long walk through tunnels. This time, they got into a big elevator
that brought them up to the street. This part of the city was narrow and full of
cars. Jacklyn held her grandmother’s hand tightly. With her other hand she
carried the back of her dress. They went down a long street
into a broader, busier street.
On the corner was an old
building with a big sign on it for “The Lion
King”. This was the theater.
Grandmother went to a window and asked for their tickets. Other people
with children were arriving. Some were dressed up like Jacklyn and Grandmother.
Some wore jeans and regular tops. Jacklyn felt like a princess. Inside,
Grandmother and Jacklyn climbed high up and found their seats. The play was loud
with lots of music and very different from the DVD. Jacklyn knew all the
characters. Once the play stopped and everyone had ice cream. Then the played
started again. At the end, all the actors bowed and the people in the audience
clapped for a long time.
After the play everyone
crowded out of the theatre together onto the sidewalk along the big
street. Jacklyn and Grandmother searched for someone in the crowd.
Suddenly Jacklyn’s uncle appeared. He was in London visiting an old
school friend. They came to take Jacklyn to dinner.
Jacklyn was very happy to see him. Her uncle and
JACKLYN IN FRONT OF THE LYCEUM THEATRE BEFORE
SEEING 'THE LION KING'.
his friend led
Jacklyn and her grandmother along the big street to a restaurant. Inside
the people were very friendly. They helped Jacklyn find just the food
she wanted: fish fingers, French fries, and
peas. Jacklyn said, “These are real peas, not like the ones we have at
school,” and ate every one. They ate supper and talked for a long time.
By now day was turning to night, and Jacklyn was tired again. It was
time to go home. They all went together to the Underground. Uncle and
his friend rode with them to their stop, then waved goodbye as Jacklyn
and Grandmother left the train. Once they entered the marina,
Grandmother picked up Jacklyn and carried her home to their apartment
and plopped her in bed.
JACKLYN ON THE TUBE, TIRED AFTER
ATTENDING THE THEATRE AND DINNER OUT.
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