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HOME AT FIRST's

ADVENTURE


Jacklyn Goes to London

A 7-Year-Old's First Trip Overseas

— PART 2 —

 


J

acklyn slept until almost 9AM on Monday. The sunshine streaming in the bedroom window never woke her. When she did wake her grandmother had her breakfast ready for her. Jacklyn ate breakfast in her pajamas while watching the Bratz DVD again. Today they would leave the city by train to visit Windsor Castle, the royal

residence about 45 minutes west of London. Despite the warm spring sunshine

Paddington Bear statue, Paddington Station, London.
ONE THAT GOT AWAY—JACKLYN
DIDN'T HAVE TIME TO FIND THIS
STATUE OF PADDINGTON BEAR
IN PADDINGTON STATION.

Jacklyn and Grandmother dressed for the changeable English weather. Then they walked to the Underground at Tower Hill and caught a train for Paddington Station diagonally across Central London and halfway around the Central Line. They arrived at Paddington in 25 minutes. Grandmother looked at the big overhead departures board and showed Jacklyn how to find train information for Windsor. A high-speed train was leaving Paddington in a few minutes. Grandmother and Jacklyn queued at a ticket window and purchased second-class tickets for the journey. Jacklyn traveled for half her grandmother’s fare. They hurried to the platform and boarded the train. The guard—“conductor” in American—blew his whistle. The locomotives rumbled and whined, the doors slammed shut, and the big, sleek train accelerated out of Paddington. They had not been in the station long enough for Jacklyn to find the statue of Paddington Bear by the escalator.
          In 15 minutes or so the train pulled into Slough. Jacklyn and her grandmother were already

at the door, ready to hop out and find their connecting train for Windsor. Although they had more than ten minutes to make their connection, they needed only one minute to find and board the little train for Windsor on its track. They departed on time and crossed the green countryside. In the distance the great castle appeared on a hilltop. In six minutes they arrived at the charming little depot grandly called Windsor Central Station. The little train spilled its happy passengers onto the platform.

          Jacklyn and Grandmother walked in the sunshine along the main street of town. In two or three minutes they arrived at the entrance gates to the castle. They needed tickets to pass through, and stood in line patiently. Jacklyn learned how to wait patiently in line in first grade. This year she is in second grade and her line patience is better still.
          Uniformed soldiers guard Windsor Castle. They never smile. They stand stock-still or they march together loudly on the castle’s cobbled lanes. At 11AM most days the guards make lots of noise, shouting and stomping as one group replaces another. Grandmother said they were lucky to arrive for the changing of the guard.
          The castle was big and sat on a hill. There were several buildings inside the high stone walls. Grandmother took Jacklyn’s hand as they went into the State Apartments. Inside there were many grand rooms for royalty and their guests. When Jacklyn saw the King’s Bedchamber she was sure she would also be able to see the Queen’s Bedchamber. She looked everywhere for that room. Finally she asked a man where she could find the Queen’s Bedchamber. The man scowled at Jacklyn. “No one may see the Queen’s Bedchamber,” he said to Jacklyn. Jacklyn was disappointed.

Jacklyn outside Windsor Castle. Foss Family Photo © Home At First; used with permission.
JACKLYN OUTSIDE
WINDSOR CASTLE

Marching guards at Windsor Castle's Narman Gate.  Foss Family Photo © Home At First; used with permission.
MARCHING GUARDS AT WINDSOR CASTLE

          Some rooms were decorated with big paintings. Others had knights’ armor, swords, and spears on the walls. Jacklyn wasn’t very interested in these rooms. But, when she saw Queen Mary’s Doll House, Jacklyn stopped in her tracks. It was the most perfect dollhouse Jacklyn had ever seen—perfect for any princess to play with. Jacklyn wished she could be a princess and play with this dollhouse.
          Grandmother said it was lunchtime. Jacklyn was ready for lunch. They walked out of the castle and found a little tea room in a covered pavilion in the town. They ate some funny sandwiches. Grandmother had tea. Jacklyn had an orange soda. Instead of potato chips they had “crisps”. They seemed just like regular chips to Jacklyn. After lunch, they walked through town down toward the river. They stopped at a shop where Jacklyn saw Christmas ornaments she wanted to buy as souvenir
gifts for her family: a King Henry VIII ornament for

Father, a queen — she didn’t know which one — for Mother, a knight’s horse for her sister Jessica — she loves horses — and a medieval Cross from her other grandmother, Oma.
          Below the shop, a bridge across the river connected Windsor with another place called Eton. Grandmother said the river was the same river that flowed past St. Katharine’s Marina. Jacklyn wasn’t so sure this little stream could be the same as their majestic river at the Tower Bridge. Grandmother said there is a school for princes in Eton. Jacklyn wondered where the princesses went to school.

          On a street near the bridge to Eton was a second railway station, Windsor & Eton Riverside Station. A train soon arrived in the little station. Jacklyn and her grandmother climbed aboard. When then found two seats together, Grandmother told Jacklyn this train would take them almost all the way back to St. Katharine’s, to Waterloo Station in London. In less than an hour the train rumbled across many tracks and pulled to a stop in Waterloo Station. Jacklyn and her grandmother hopped off the train and looked around the busy station for an entrance to the Underground. Grandmother said she knew about a subway line that quickly went from here almost to home called Waterloo and City. Grandmother had

Jacklyn at Windsor Castle, looking for the Queen's Bedchamber. Foss Family Photo © Home At First; used with permission.
JACKLYN OUTSIDE WINDSOR CASTLE.
WHERE DO PRINCESSES GO TO
SCHOOL?

told her that every subway line had its own color. Circle Line was yellow. The District Line was green. The Waterloo & City Line was blue-green. Jacklyn spotted the blue-green sign for the Waterloo & City Line first. The train was already in the station. In less than 5 minutes it arrived at its destination: Bank Station. Bank Station was full of people. Grandmother said the workday was ending and all the people in The City

Jacklyn watching her Bratz DVD after a hard day at Windsor Castle. Foss Family Photo © Home At First; used with permission.
JACKLYN WATCHING HER BRATZ
DVD AFTER A HARD DAY AT WINDSOR CASTLE.

were rushing home for supper. She held Jacklyn’s hand tightly. The subway connection from Bank station was a five-minute walk through tunnels to Monument station. Jacklyn was getting tired again. At Monument station it didn’t matter which train they boarded. The yellow and green lines both lead one stop to Tower Hill. Then just five minutes more and home!
          Back in the apartment, Jacklyn watched her Bratz DVD while Grandmother cooked supper. Jacklyn liked the French fries, but wished she had cheese sauce instead of catsup on them. Grandmother said Jacklyn must have been hungry because she ate most of her salad. After supper, Jacklyn had a bath and read one of the six books she brought with her. Jacklyn likes to read. Grandmother read a book, too. Then they went to bed.

 

T

uesday morning was cold with low grey cloud

hanging over the marina. Jacklyn slept late, but awoke with a sunny smile. After breakfast—chicken fingers with strawberries—she was ready to go.

Grandmother had promised her a ride on top of one of the many colorful open-topped double-decker buses they had often seen as they walked along the London streets. This day they dressed for winter and for rain. They walked through St. Katharine’s Marina toward Tower Hill, but, instead of going to the Underground Station, they went up to the entrance for the Tower of London. The guards at the Tower were dressed differently than those at Windsor Castle, with soft, floppy red hats and matching short pants. Grandmother called them “Beef Eaters”. Fortunately for Jacklyn, who is very shy, lots of other children were already crowding around the guards, so she couldn’t get close enough to get their attention. Jacklyn avoids Santa’s lap at the malls at Christmas, too.

Jacklyn by the White Tower in the Tower of London. Where did the queens live? Foss Family Photo © Home At First; used with permission.
JACKLYN AT THE WHITE
TOWER INSIDE THE TOWER
OF LONDON. WHERE DID
THE QUEENS LIVE?

Jacklyn outside the walls of the Tower of London. Foss Family Photo © Home At First; used with permission.
JACKLYN NEAR THE WHITE
TOWER OUTSIDE THE
TOWER OF LONDON.

          Inside the walls the Tower is surprisingly open and spread out. Jacklyn didn’t want to visit any of the places where horrible things had happened. She wanted to see where Kings and Queens of England lived, not where they were imprisoned, tortured, or executed. Most of all, Jacklyn wanted to see the Crown Jewels her father had told her about. So, despite having to line up to enter the Jewel House, Jacklyn waited patiently with her grandmother. Once inside, Jacklyn acted like the Jewel House was a candy store. Each display was enticing. Each crown was more elaborate than the last. Jacklyn imagined wearing each tiara. But the Coronation Robe of a heavy gold brocade captured Jacklyn’s attention. A princess who could wear such a heavy, golden cloak could surely become a queen.
          After walking through the Tower of London, Jacklyn and Grandmother walked along the perimeter of the Tower to find the street level to a bus stop for the Original London Sightseeing Tour. The company’s open-topped red double-decker buses come by about every 15 minutes from about

10AM until about 5PM daily. When the bus came, Grandmother and Jacklyn got on and bought their tickets from the driver before climbing the stairs to the upper deck. Grandmother was happy to see that this bus was partially enclosed upstairs in the front, so that’s where she and Jacklyn sat, close to the female tour guide. This was a very different ride than the school bus ride that Jacklyn takes daily to Hilltop Elementary School at home. For one, with this ride she and Grandmother could hop on and off at any stop all day long. They could also change tours to any of three different routes (red, green, or yellow). The tour came with a free riverboat excursion that Jacklyn and her grandmother did not need. Something unexpected for Jacklyn was the Kids Pack activity/quiz book that was handed to her with her ticket. Jacklyn liked listening to the tour guide, who was careful to explain things in a way Jacklyn would understand.

          The bus took them everywhere, it seemed. They passed the new old theatre used for Shakespeare’s plays like “Romeo and Juliet”. They passed right across the river from the giant London Eye Ferris wheel. They drove right in front of the Queen’s London home, Buckingham Palace. Jacklyn believed her when the guide said the Queen was inside. It wasn’t a very pretty day for the Queen to come outside in her good clothes. They passed through a busy intersection with the funny name of Piccadilly Circus, but Jacklyn saw no circus there. When the big bus looped back toward the river, Jacklyn saw the tower with

On the open-top deck by Big Ben, Jacklyn saw another little girl touring London. Foss Family Photo © Home At First; used with permission.
NEAR BIG BEN ON THE OPEN TOP DECK
OF THE BUS, JACKLYN SAW ANOTHER LITTLE GIRL TOURING LONDON.

the Big Ben bell. She and Grandmother hopped off here and walked around this neighborhood for a while, looking at the Big Ben and the government Parliament buildings, before going around a corner to see a wondrous church called Westminster Cathedral. Grandmother wanted to go in. She said there were many kings and queens buried inside, even two little princes. But the line was real long, and it began to mist, and Jacklyn didn’t want to stand outside in the cold. So Grandmother and Jacklyn went back to the bus stop and waited just a couple of minutes for another open-top bus—this time on the green route.

Jacklyn photographed the horse guard from inside the tour bus. Foss Family Photo © Home At First; used with permission.
JACKLYN PHOTOGRAPHED THE HORSE
 GUARD FROM INSIDE THE TOUR BUS.

          This bus turned away from the river and Big Ben and passed some buildings that were being guarded by horsemen with shiny helmets and swords. Jacklyn liked taking pictures from the open-topped bus. She took one of another little girl on the bus tour with her dad. But she didn’t talk to the other girl. Jacklyn can be shy. Besides, Grandmother said they were going to hop off again and there wasn’t time to talk. At a place called Trafalgar Square — which Jacklyn noted was a circle — they hopped off again. Grandmother said she knew where there was a merry-go-round

Jacklyn could ride and they walked into a different neighborhood, one too crowded for a big tour bus.
          Suddenly the narrow streets and lanes opened up into a busy square—a real one this time, Jacklyn noted—full of people. Grandmother told Jacklyn a story about Eliza Doolittle the flower girl of Covent Garden—the name of this square, which, by the way, is not a garden—but Jacklyn only partly listened. In front of them was a grand, golden merry-go-round with fearsome horses. Jacklyn wasn’t so sure about riding alone, so Grandmother asked if she could stay on the merry-go-round with her granddaughter. The nice man said it was just fine for Grandmother to stay on, but corrected Grandmother. “You mean ‘roundabout’, madam? In England we don’t have merry-go-rounds.”

          Jacklyn liked the roundabout so well she rode twice before they left Covent Garden and walked down a side street to a familiar big street. There on the corner was “The Lion King” theatre. Jacklyn said, “Oh, Grandmother, can we see it again?” But there wasn’t time, and they walked past the shiny brass theatre doors. Up ahead was a bus stop for the Original London Sightseeing Tour again. In a couple of minutes a bus heading back for the Tower of London picked them up. It was beginning to drizzle steadily now, and too cold to be upstairs, so Jacklyn and Grandmother stayed on the ground floor inside the bus. Before reaching the Tower of London, the bus crossed the river on the new London Bridge — not the smelly original London Bridge that 7-year-old girls still sing about. That one must really have fallen down. A block later, the bus crossed the river again, this time on the Tower Bridge. Jacklyn and Grandmother were back at St. Katharine’s, and hopped off the bus.
          Tonight was their last night in London, and Jacklyn wanted to have pizza again at the Dickens Inn in the
marina
Grandmother thought that a fine idea. They could have an

Jacklyn on roundabout in Covent Garden. There are no merry-go-rounds in England. Foss Family Photo © Home At First; used with permission.
JACKLYN ON THE COVENT
GARDEN ROUNDABOUT.
THERE ARE NO MERRY-GO-
ROUNDS IN ENGLAND.

early supper, then pack their things, and go to bed early. Jacklyn was hungry, and ate all her supper. Tomorrow night she would have supper at home with her family. She had much to tell them.

   

N

ext morning, Jacklyn got up early. She was eager to get to the airport and start

the flight home. She was thinking about her family and her friends now. Still, she helped Grandmother clean the apartment and take out the trash. When ready, they walked one last time through St. Katharine’s pulling their rolling suitcases

to Tower Hill Underground station. Jacklyn knew these places well now, and almost didn’t need to hold Grandmother’s hand, but she did. They didn’t talk much on the way to the airport, except when they changed from the green District Line train to the purple Piccadilly Line train at Earl’s Court station. Jacklyn remembered changing trains there on their first day.
          Checking in at the airport was easy. Grandmother had left lots of time to get to her flight. And, the night before, on the way to the Dickens Inn, they had stopped at the Internet café at St. Katharine’s Marina and checked-in for their flight. Grandmother had printed boarding passes there, too. So, since they had no luggage to check at the airport, they pulled their small, wheeled carry-ons on one last shopping mission. Jacklyn had promised her school bus driver that she would bring her a small toy double-decker London bus to carry with her in the school bus. At a drugstore in the airport shopping mall Jacklyn found the perfect thing — shiny red just like the buses that Jacklyn had been in. Now the trip was complete.
          On the flight home Jacklyn didn’t sleep, but read books and — mostly — watched movies on the little TV screen on the seatback in front of her. By the end of the flight it was nighttime in Philadelphia and quite late by London time. Jacklyn and Grandmother were very tired. When they quickly passed through US Customs and bypassed the baggage carousels pulling their hand baggage, they were among the first passengers out the door. Ahead of them, just coming into the arrivals hall, Jacklyn saw her sister and parents and she broken into a run. She was home again and had many new adventures to tell her family. She started telling the stories on the way home in the car. No one dared interrupt Jacklyn. Grandmother just smiled.


— END OF PART 2 —                                    BACK TO PART 1

-
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— 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

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