"Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to let you in."

-- Robert Frost

Monday, June 27, 2016

a last day in london

London is just too much to take in with one day.

So we made a second day trip to the city.

One of the most surprisingly kid friendly attractions has got to be the Tower of London. I was so impressed with their capture of the imagination for families of all ages.

We wanted to take one car into the city so we decided to put Celia and Janie on a train from Dursley.

They were pretty excited to "adult" together. 

They were even more thrilled to have made their way by train to Paddington Station and then traveled via Tube and bus across London to the Tower, all before we arrived.

We love a good story and worked our hardest to wrench the details from them.

They did beat our arrival time but not before they missed their train connection in Bath requiring a course correction and struggled with some line changes on the red bus.

I know they weren't super thrilled to reveal their missteps,

But oh man, did we love those girls for figuring that whole thing out! We couldn't have been prouder.

That's the stuff that makes this experience priceless.

We took ourselves for a walk across the London Tower Bridge.

Such beautiful detail there.

Then we toured around the Tower of London.

I've read so many stories centered around figures held prisoner (sometimes executed) there. 

Anne Boleyn, Thomas More, Catherine Howard, Thomas Cranmer, Lady Jane Grey, George Plantagenet, William Wallace, Sir Walter Raleigh, Queen Elizabeth I for a time ... and on and on.

I could imagine their fear as they entered the massive gate to unknown fates.

There's been a recent effort to make it a sunnier place. Less focus on that morbid side and more on the high times.

They used these actors to present the life within the walls with jousting and celebration.

They focused an entire section on the menagerie of animals held there by royalty to show visiting queens and kings.

Of course, we saw the Crown Jewels under lock and key in this building:

We were good and obeyed the "no photography" rules. Security was pretty strict. But those crowns and scepters were spectacular.

So was the display of the armory.

This little boy stopped to help Eliza assist Charlotte. Eliza makes friends so easily. Charlotte, however, asked him, "Why are you talking to us?" with all the candor of a three year old.

;) We sure love that Charlotte.

And my heart melted over the ease of children everywhere.

These cadets were working the guard posts.

We loved getting an up close look at their dedication.

Pretty hard to be enthralled by fear factor in a place that is this pretty.

We thought we had purchased tickets for an early evening tour of the Harry Potter production studio on the other side of town.

We braved heavy London traffic to get there and when we arrived, we were told that they were closing down for a special event and that our tickets were in fact, for a future date long after we would be gone.

No one quite knows where the mix up happened.

Remember that scene in National Lampoon's Vacation where Chevy Chase makes his way all of the way across the United States to Wally World only to find it closed?

I think that's when we broke into our own "Chevy Chase" moment.

It's a good thing we can laugh at ourselves.

And leave hope for a future adventure.

We had heard it is a pretty spectacular exhibit.

If these actual chess pieces from the movie mounted at the entrance are any indication, I'll bet it is.

But these kids are so resilient and settled for dinner at a pub in a small town where Newel had visited as a missionary.

Where we curled in together to listen to funny stories of Newel as a young missionary boy.

And once again reminded ourselves that it's the imperfect moments, thought we wouldn't necessarily choose them, that make our journey remarkable.

Maybe we had traded one memory for another full of warm sunset and velvety companionship laughing together on a local playground.

I'll take it.

The next day, we said goodbye to our England paradise. Those suffering from allergies were more enthusiastic than others to say farewell.

Maybe Christian was a little happy too, since he hit his head about a dozen times on every door jam in our house.

I felt like a pro, having conquered my fear of driving in the UK and feeling rather proficient.

And with that we headed into our next adventure.

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