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Our Family England Trip

Thanks to all who helped us in planning our trip! Everything went very well, pretty smooth, and very busy. This trip was me, hubby, adult daughter who is has a physical disability (we brought a wheelchair for her), my sister, her two adult boys, and 90 year old dad.

We arrived, rented a 9 person van and headed to the Cotswolds, yes, even jet lagged from California! We rented a fabulous cottage which was perfect for our group near Burton-on-the-Water. We took day trips and did Blenheim Palace, went to Downton Abby film sites in Bampton, Bourton-on-the-Water, Broadway, Snowshill, lavendar fields nearby, Sudeley Castle, Chipping Campdon, Great Rissington, Wyck Rissington, Lower Slaughter, Great Rollright and Hook Norton. Didn't get in as much as I was hoping, but we loved the area!

The driving was a bit crazy, but we did ok. There were about 3 times that we came to a stop where cars couldn't pass, but we worked it out. We were lucky that parking was not an issue and villages were not busy. We loved the area, the weather was good, a bit cool and windy and a couple drops, but very good overall.

We then returned our van, got a pre-booked taxi (Just airports was fabulous!) and checked into the Travelodge in Southwark. The hotel was clean and simple and one block from the tube. It worked just fine with us traveling as a group and then splitting up at a site to see what we each wanted to see. It wasn't long before we realized we needed to take dad by the arm. He is very hard of hearing even with hearing aids and blind in one eye, but he out walked us all! The problem was he would set out and just go, not really looking closely at the crosswalks. Monte grabbed him once when he walked out into traffic when a bus was coming. Also, with all the walking we did we ended up getting a couple taxi's for him after walking all day.

We found that moving with 7 people was really difficult, very slow, and we just couldn't get as much done as we had hoped. Plus, we really enjoyed all the wonderful sites so we spent much more time there than anticipated.

Posted by
1845 posts

Our first day the guys went to the Imperial War Museum, and the girls walked over the bridge to see the iconic sites- Big Ben, Parliament, London Eye, etc.

Our first full day was the tube strike day. We decided to walk: we walked to Big Ben, Parliament, Westminster Abby, ( dad and Monte went to Churchill War Rooms) and we went to National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery, Trafaglar Square and St Martin in the Fields. Monte grabbed a taxi for them going home. Dad was looking tired. We walked the whole way and I think it ended up to be about 7 miles.

Day 2 we did Buckingham Palace (Queens Gallery, Mews and palace) and also we found out the Clarence House was selling tickets, so we added that too. We ended up exiting for the Clarence House when the changing of the guards was going on, not a good choice! We left the palace around 5:00 after arriving at 9:30. It was all very crowded.

Day 3 we did the Tower of London, including the jewels, Dad and Monte went home to rest and the rest of us did dinner at the Tate with a gorgeous view of St. Pauls, then a play at the Globe Theatre. The play was really great, but I was having a hard time staying awake. We walked home from there.

Day 4 we headed to Hampton Court by train and spent the day there, leaving around 5:00. We had afternoon tea, came back by train and were hoping to take a shorter boat ride from Westminster to the Tower. So, Monte, me and daughter took the tube to do that, everyone else was too tired and went home. We found the boats to be flooded with tourists and the whole area just packed with people. We couldn't wait to get out of there! We walked home and made our way as fast as we could. We were happy we were living on the other side of the river!

Day 5 we went to the British Museum. Again, we spent so much time there. Our daughter loves all these sites so much that she wants to stay and see as much as possible. We set a limit of 4:00 to leave for St. Paul's. We made it to St. Paul's for "evening prayers" and had a nice sit and enjoyed the service for 30 min and could admire the cathedral.

The last day we had another taxi ride to the airport with Just Airports. Everything was smooth (other than missing our connecting flight home with delays).

So, we had a great trip. Not exactly as I imagined. We had very little time to spend as a family, it felt like we were rushing everywhere in London, we didn't have time to take it slow, or wander around, or shop, or go to a park, etc. Well, we could have if we made that choice. There were just too many great sties to see that we couldn't pass up. It felt exhausting, very crowded and busy, but a great experience, too. Everyone enjoyed themselves and dad did remarkably well. Even better than most of us. He is amazing!!

Weather was very good, no rain, good temps and warmed a bit a few days. Wheelchair worked out ok, we even got the care-giver in free to the Tower and Hampton Court. We mostly picked up the chair and took it up steps and escalators in the tube since daughter can walk, just not distances. Overall a very good trip.

Thanks so much for all the help in planning!!

Posted by
1427 posts

Wonderful Susan! I'd lost track of the fact that you had already gone. It sounds like a wonderful trip! You did so much planning and it sounds like it really paid off. We leave on the 25th, just in time for the tube strike!!

Posted by
6507 posts

Nice trip report Susan, sounds like you had a good time. Every tourist goes through the same agony reconciling time available with sights they want to see. You did a good job of planning and going with the flow when things didn't work as planned. Hats off to you for even attempting everything you did traveling with such a group as yours. Good lessons for others.

Posted by
9885 posts

Excellent trip report! I think it is difficult to judge how long things will take with just one person and with a group you are much less nimble. Even though it might not have felt like you had much family time I am sure the trip will be the basis of stories for years.

Glad you're back, sorry you missed a connecting flight but it sounds like everyone had a splendid time!

Posted by
2985 posts

Susan, great trip report! I am so glad you and your family had a good trip! It is all because of all your good planning that you did. You were very diligent and dedicated while doing your research for your trip, and it paid off for you guys! I am glad that you spent quality time at the sites you visited instead of rushing through. It is always better to enjoy thoroughly what you do get to see, rather than going at breakneck speed to fulfill some kind of long list! So glad everyone had a good time!

Posted by
5262 posts

Nice to hear you had such a good trip. Not easy traveling with such a large diverse group but you made the most of it and, as someone said, you'll have many wonderful memories. My hat's off to your intrepid dad, I hope I'm that mobile and independent at that age! And those street crossings will get you every time -- Britain's revenge on the Yanks and the Continent! ;-)

Now start planning the next one.... we're all here to help, or at least learn from each other.

Posted by
1845 posts

We did have more quality time in the cottage during our Cotswolds visit, and I was thinking we would also have a nice time having dinner in London together. But, the reality was that it was often a bit loud for everyone to hear each other, especially for dad. And, adding to that the dreaded....cell phone use of the younger people (not my daughter)! So, I doubt I'd plan it again for that size group, but it was an experience. I think it felt more like individual experiences rather than a family experience. But, it is what it is, and we knew that going in. Dad said it was a wonderful trip so I'm glad he was satisfied! Daughter had always dreamed of seeing all those sites in London, so it was all good. Next trip...the two of us!!

Posted by
7689 posts

This is just wonderful. My hat is off to you for all your investment of time and energy to create a great trip and memories for your family. And I am just bowled over by your dad's spryness and agility!! Good for you all!

Posted by
2049 posts

Lovely report, Susan. Thanks you for sharing your experiences and with time, I think you will see this more in a family trip context. I've "been there and done that", too!

Posted by
5697 posts

Welcome back to 100-degree Sacramento summertime. (Oh, to be in England ...)
We were thinking about you in the tube strike -- glad it worked out!

Susan, sounds like all your planning work paid off. But did Monte and your dad get to enough pubs?
Hope to see you soon.
Ed and Lauri