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HOME AT FIRST's

ADVENTURE


Jacklyn Goes to London

A 7-Year-Old's First Trip Overseas

— PART 1 —

 

THIS ARTICLE FIRST APPEARED IN APRIL, 2007.               MOST RECENT UPDATE: 2014.

 

J

acklyn’s 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, Jacklyn?”
          “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 guards.
          On her seventh birthday, March 7, 2007, Jacklyn

Jacklyn in London. Foss Family Photo © Home At First; used with permission.
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’.”

O

n 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.

          They 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 take-off.

Jacklyn in call box in London. Foss Family Photo © Home At First; used with permission.
JACKLYN IN
CALL BOX

J

acklyn 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 hall.

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 and
emerged into sunshine. Another flight of stairs led down and

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

Jacklyn on the apartment balcony at St. Katharine's Marina in London. Foss Family Photo © Home At First; used with permission.
JACKLYN 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 goodbye.

 

Jacklyn eating lunch on the apartment balcony at St. Katharine's Marina in London. Foss Family Photo © Home At First; used with permission.
JACKLYN EATING LUNCH ON THE BALCONY

J

acklyn 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 bedroom closet

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 perfect.

          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 front of the Dickens Inn at St. Katharine's Marina in London. Foss Family Photo © Home At First; used with permission.
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.

Jacklyn eats ice cream waiting for the Thames riverboat. Foss Family Photo © Home At First; used with permission.
JACKLYN EATING ICE
 CREAM WHILE WAITING
 FOR THE THAMES
 RIVERBOAT.

          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 counted the

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. Foss Family Photo © Home At First; used with permission.
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.

 

Jacklyn dressed for the theatre. Photographed on the apartment balcony. Foss Family Photo © Home At First; used with permission.
JACKLYN DRESSED
FOR THE THEATRE.
PHOTO TAKEN ON
THE APARTMENT BALCONY.

T

   he 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

nuggets for 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
that
ended 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". Foss Family Photo © Home At First; used with permission.
JACKLYN IN FRONT OF THE LYCEUM THEATRE BEFORE
SEEING 'THE LION KING'.

Jacklyn riding home on the Underground, tired after the theatre and dinner in London. Foss Family Photo © Home At First; used with permission.

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.

   

— END OF PART 1 —                                    GO TO PART 2

-
-
— FURTHER READING —

Family Travel in Britain & Ireland

Exploring London from your own LONDON apartment.


When in London, Jacklyn always stays at St. Katharine’s Marina. You can, too. Visit:
THE APARTMENTS AT ST. KATHARINE'S MARINA

-
-

HOME AT FIRST offers travel to LONDON and many other destinations throughout Britain and Ireland. You can mix and match a week or more in London with additional weeks in HOME AT FIRST destinations throughout ENGLAND, SCOTLAND, WALES, and IRELAND. For complete information about travel with HOME AT FIRST to Britain & Ireland, see: BRITISH ISLES.

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