Some of you may have already seen some of these photos on Facebook, but many of you haven’t. So in the interest of re-living a trip of a lifetime, here’s the first of many posts with our trip, inspiration, visual feasting and whatnot! We left the house about noonish on Sunday, arrived at London Heathrow at 6:30 am (3:30 body clock) and kept going until just past supper time in London. Going on adrenaline!
Some years ago I wrote a blogpost titled “This is not a minivan.” It is still not a minivan: this is the view from the inside of the 9 passenger prop plane we take from Owl’s Head–about a half hour’s drive from home– (Cape Air, love them!) to Boston, from which point we can get anywhere in the world. That’s Eli up in the co-pilot seat. One does not put feet on footpedals! Seat assignments are by weight so that the plane is balanced.
Here’s an aerial view of Maine as we left midday:
The Maine coast just south of Owl’s Head/Rockland as we headed East “across the pond.”
Methinks Paul was a tad nervous watching us head off on our great adventure. He didn’t want to go to England, so he stayed home and minded the house and critters so that Eli and I could have fun.
First and foremost: thank you to Paul and Eli. Paul for minding the home front, Eli for actually WANTING to go on a trip with his old mom! Joshua and Ashley, you’re next. Edinburgh and points beyond, the Smiths are returning to the UK–probably not for a few years (gotta teach and earn enough money to save up and pay for another trip like this!), but we are coming back!
Compare the cabin and view above and below:
Very clearly, this is NOT Cape Air, but in fact the British Airways flight nonstop to London. The cabin was warm, and tho I dozed an hour or two, Eli didn’t on this overnight flight.
I LOVE the in-flight maps. Here you can see the big picture, from Boston to London. I was tickled to see Vigo, Spain. I’d not heard of it before recently, but a classmate in the Sketchbook Skool has shared some of his drawings of Vigo. Fun to see it on the map! Can I say again how much I love the internet? How I have met people and learned so much?
As the plane ducked under the cloud cover at just past 6 am local time, we got a spectacular aerial view of London, with the Thames, South Bank on the Left, more of the mass of London on the right, The London Eye (the big ferris wheel), Parliament, Big Ben, the Tower, and so much more in clear view.
The fields and hedgerows of England on the approach to London. A bit more countryside! Let there be quilting!
Rather a difference, eh? One of the things Eli most wanted to do was run at Olympic Park, in the stadium if possible. Alas, it was under major re-construction, but he got to take a refreshing trot. That’s him coming around the corner next to the pink sign post. The velodrome is in the background. The skies would look like this pretty much every day: blue with clouds, some of which would sprinkle on us momentarily but–with the exception of one day–no real soaking rains.
We got exceptionally lucky and were able to check in early. So we ditched our bags and set out to see the sights, starting with Olympic Park.
This ended up being the only real running Eli got to do. I don’t think he counted on Mom’s ability to go-go-go when on the road with things to do, people to meet and sights to see!
Eli under the Olympic rings after his run.
Then we took our Oyster cards, re-loadable fare cards for the London Underground (Tube / subway) and light rail system. WAY easier than the old day of buying paper tickets! After a bit of lunch, we headed off to King’s Cross.
King’s Cross Station, site of the somewhat-imaginary Platform 9 3/4 of Harry Potter/Hogwarts fame.
The above is the old part of the station, but with the old funky platform signs swapped out for the modern ones that report what train is coming in at which platform and when. Easier for travel, but not as much character. The photo below is the VERY new part of the station. Beautiful, but…sigh…. I miss some of the old stuff.
The new part of King’s Cross station. Both the Tube and rail lines come in here. King’s Cross is the departure points for points north, like York, Leeds, Edinburgh and the fictional Hogwarts. Thank you to J.K. Rowling for giving such a wonderful world to all of us!
I had read in my guide book that you could visit Platform 9 3/4 at the station, which is why we went. WHAT a disappointment! It was on a wall between two shops, not the actual platform. Of course, given the queue, I can see why they couldn’t put it between platforms 9 and 10, but…. it was the back half of a luggage cart with old suitcase.
Platform 9 3/4 is under that white tube thingy, on the other side the crowd waiting to take pics.
If you wanted to stand in line–on this day about an hour–you could wear a Gryffindor scarf and take your picture there. Since Eli and I had been going for about 36 hours, that was SO not going to happen, but we snagged this photo instead.
Me, with some of the crowd behind me and the Platform sign barely visible. Happy to be there anyway!
Our next stop that day, just about as we hit the wall from tiredness and collapsed, was the British Museum. As we would discover about all of London in August, it was PACKED with tourists. But I’ll save that for the next post because the reason was one of my major reasons for taking this trip. And yes, it involves art and quilts!