On Holiday

Guess where we have been?  London! This was our first trip overseas and we had so much fun!

We arrived into London on a Tuesday mid-day. We were tired, but didn't want to just go to our apartment, so we took a bus tour of the city. It was a perfect way to give the kids an overview of all the possibilities.  We had found an apartment to rent from a friend here in Vermont. It was near the tube, had laundry facilities, and beautiful roof-top decks where we could relax in the evenings. We loved having our own space.

After a good night's sleep, we went to the Tower of London. We had purchased tickets online so we were able to walk right in without waiting in any lines. We spent about 4 hours there.

After the tower, we hopped onto a Thames cruise boat. The cruise had come free with our bus tickets and we had 24 hours to use it.  We all needed a rest (and it was about 90 that day) so we had a relaxing tour of London from the water.

After a hot day in London, we were happy to go to Oxford. Oxford (and the Bodleian Library) was the top choice destination for the kids. We got a bus to Oxford and immediately found the tourist information booth, got maps and guidebooks, and went to a pub to eat, refresh, and figure out what we were doing. We then toured the Library and had tea in a nearby chapel/cafe. 

We've toured a lot of amazing libraries--the Library of Congress, Folger Shakespeare Library, as well as many archives.  The Bodleian was simply inspirational.  The Harry Potter factor was also, of course, cool.

We all just loved Oxford and both girls are sure they are going to attend :) 

On Friday we went to the British Museum. The girls were excited to see the Rosetta Stone, parts of the Parthenon, and other highlights from their Waldorf curriculum.  Sadly, the museum was just over-run with tourists and we all felt like we would have enjoyed an art museum more than a museum full of archaeological fragments.

The British Museum redeemed itself for us with its high tea. Wow. This was a highlight for the girls. High Tea in just the most spectacular setting.

After the British Museum, we went to Liberty. I have always wanted to visit as Nelson and I both love the Arts and Crafts Movement, liberty fabric, etc.

You would have thought we were in a candy shop when we got to the haberdashery.

We continued with our early twentieth-century theme by having dinner at Black Friar. This pub retains its original Art Deco interior and was just beautiful.

On Saturday we went to Hampton Court, home of Henry VIII & William and Mary. We had gotten tickets online for this as well. The girls were also excited to visit here as they have both read lots about Henry VIII, Queen Elizabeth, etc.

Hampton Court is fun because they have costumed musicians and actors roaming the grounds. We spent just about all day there.

One of the many nice aspects of having an apartment was that we didn't have to go out to dinner every night. We were often really tired after touring all day. We would have a late tea or snack in the afternoon and then just stop at the local shop for cheese, crackers, carrots, hummous, and beverages then take them up onto the roof for a relaxing evening watching the sun set on the city. Doesn't get much better than that.

On our final day in London, we got up early and explored one of the many street markets. The girls had fun shopping.

We then headed out of town to visit with a fellow blogger, Simmy, who used to write "Echoes of a Dream." Her boys are about the same age as our girls and also attend a Waldorf School. They had stayed at our house when they visited America, so it was fun to reconnect.

Simmy made us a cream tea. The kids had a great time visiting over tea. The boys taught the girls to play cricket and they all enjoyed reconnecting.

Simmy also got me going on crochet. I was so happy to finally get how to do it. She also set me up with yarn and a crochet hook for week 2 of our trip....when we were on our canalboat.

She and her husband, Tom, took us to a National Trust property, Standen, which was decorated by William Morris. What a beautiful house.
I think the visit with Simmy and her family was the highlight of our visit to London. It was so fun to be in someone's home and see how a family in another country lived. The kids really loved hanging out with "locals" the same age.

Tips for touring with kids? 
Begin with a bus tour to see "it all"
Have an apartment or space to retreat to where you can cook
Mix up the day--museums + outside hang-out time or shopping
Try to connect with someone who lives in the region with kids the same age
Read some historical novels before visiting 
Eat local food

As the kids said...."best vacation ever." 

Dawn  – (August 15, 2011 at 7:44 PM)  

That sounds like so much fun! I loved seeing your photos and reading about your trip to London. What an amazing opportunity! My daughter has been talking about wanting to visit London for a couple of years now. I hope to be able to do take her there someday.

~liz  – (August 15, 2011 at 8:19 PM)  

I enjoy your blog so much, but this post made my day! I can't wait until our three boys are old enough to travel to England with us. I used to live in Oxford, so weeing the picture of the Bodeleian brought back such great memories (did you get to go into the Shaldonian as well?). If you have ever seen the movie "Young Sherlock Homes" - it was filmed right in the "yard" of the Shaldonian (when we lived there in the 80s!). Just a little tidbit of information...
Would love some information on how to rent an apartment for such a vacation (in London? Oxford?)
~liz (smithical.com)

renee ~ heirloom seasons  – (August 15, 2011 at 10:59 PM)  

How wonderful Sarah, and thank you for sharing so many great photos, such a beautiful world.
I love your colorful crochet! So glad you are doing it.
Welcome home!

sarah elwell  – (August 16, 2011 at 2:22 AM)  

Wow! I envy you! Thank you for sharing it with us.

Suse  – (August 16, 2011 at 5:09 AM)  

Ooh I've been hanging out for this post ever since your email. And I'm so envious - you went to all the places I would go these days! I went in 1986 when I was far too young to think of going to the British Museum. I did go to Liberty's though, although not Oxford (my dad's a Cambridge man so I went there instead). And Hampton Court palace was closed due to the 1986 fire ... so I will live vicariously through your post until I can go again.

(I was born in London, but we left when I was three so have no memories of it, except for the 1980s trip).

Sarah  – (August 16, 2011 at 6:07 AM)  

The girls were the perfect age as they had the energy to go all day and the interest in most of the history and architecture. Since they will both be attending Oxford, we will definitely be back. We didn't get to see the Shaldonian. We really wish we had scheduled 2 days in Oxford.

Hampton Court was wonderful. Loved all the living history. The Henry VIII part was particularly well done with some really fun exhibitntechniques I am going to try at a museum here.

We wouldn't go back to the British Museum (but how can you not go once?) we wish we had gone to the Tate and the Globe. Tried to get tickets to a Globe back in March, and it was completely booked.

We also went to Harrodsburg. The food halls were fun, but the crowds were huge. We enjoyed Liberty more.

Tracy  – (August 16, 2011 at 3:56 PM)  

What a dream! I wish I could do the same thing and visit my cousin in Tonbridge. Thanks for sharing!

Simmy  – (August 16, 2011 at 4:33 PM)  

I can't believe how far you have got with the crochet considering you only had about ten minutes to learn the stitch. It looks lovely and you have a memory of your trip now and a bit of me/us in your bag!

We had a great time with you as well adn I'm only sorry that it wasn't longer. But it sounds like you'll be coming back sometime ........


Kristin Nicholas  – (August 16, 2011 at 10:40 PM)  

So great you all had such a great trip. And to see Simmy and her family again! Wow. Funny - Julia & I just went up to Elmer's in Ashfield on Monday for breakfast and we sent Simmy photos from there as it was HER FAMILY who introduced us to this great local place! Have a great end of summer. Hope Calvin is doing okay. Kristin

LONDON GUEST Suites  – (February 27, 2017 at 6:08 AM)  
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