HOME AT FIRST's
Jacklyn Goes to London
A 7-Year-Old's First Trip
— PART 2 —
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
THAT GOT AWAY—JACKLYN
DIDN'T HAVE TIME TO FIND THIS
STATUE OF PADDINGTON BEAR
IN PADDINGTON STATION.
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
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
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 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
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
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 OUTSIDE WINDSOR CASTLE.
WHERE DO PRINCESSES GO TO
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.
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.
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
JACKLYN AT THE WHITE
TOWER INSIDE THE TOWER
OF LONDON. WHERE DID
THE QUEENS LIVE?
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
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
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.
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
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
that a fine idea. They could have an
JACKLYN ON THE COVENT
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.
morning, Jacklyn got up early. She was eager to get to the airport and start
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.
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