Setting the Scene – England

Just another pretty day in London

Instead of bailing out of bipolar spring weather in New England to a warm Caribbean spot, my family decided to experience the bipolar spring weather of England during spring break last week. Never has it been so apparent why New England was named for the old country: we are equally crazy in April. The similarities don’t end there: Boston’s marathon is in April, so is London’s. We have baked beans, so do they. Oh and I haven’t even begun to share my joy at the fact that we visited an old imperial friend on Patriot’s Day, a very important holiday here in Minute Man land. After four years living here, I have finally learned that poking fun at the Daughters of the American Revolution is a serious offense indeed.

The real reason for our trip was my 11 year old son Nico’s obsession with Glastonbury and the legend of King Arthur. Yes, we revolved an entire trip around King Arthur, which means we are all very hopeful that the new prince of Cambridge will be named Arthur. While Glastonbury was the central point, we spent four days first in London and four days after in Devon and the west country. It is hard to choose a favorite, though unsurprisingly for those who know me, I am no fan of a big city, even London. The high point for me of the four days in London: Regent’s Park, a gorgeous oasis in the middle of grey, cold, busy and very very intellectually stimulating London.

Well this day looks better: Regent’s Park and happy Nico on way to zoo

I am going to go into detail about our trip which may or may not interest the masses, but at least my mom will read it and correct any historical or grammatical mistakes. The last big trip I did to England was in maybe 1993 with my mom–we spent 2 weeks buzzing the country, removing one side mirror from our poor rental car. Yes, that was me. I love England for the fact that while you expect it to be the easiest place to travel to in terms of language and similarity to the US, it is as far apart as you can imagine. What I didn’t expect was to wholeheartedly favor returning to the British Empire so that I can watch that lovely Queen Elizabeth II and Sir David Attenborough. Alas, I cannot pass a citizenship quiz that would ask me the many kings and queens of England. Forget prime ministers.

As always, believe not what you read in the media. Is there depression over Brexit? No, there is not, not that I found. There is lots of uncertainty but I see more hopefulness over positive changes than defeatism over what will be lost. I had more than one interesting conversation about the future: I will say that the British seem better at a conversation rather than an argument than Americans who tend to get all hot and bothered. But I diverge from my point, which is not politics, but jolly old England. Loveable in all its creakiness and history, and incredible natural beauty. Also that cute queen.

Traveling with 11 year olds who are different in every way has its challenges. One kid wanted nothing to do with museums, except when he (beyond his own wishes) became absorbed in the stories. Tower of London executions and disappearances of young princes: yes. Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre with hilarious tour guide: yes. British Museum and marbles, no. Even mummified cats could not catch him. Instead he wanted to see the world’s largest Apple store (Covent Garden) and Manchester City defeat Tottenham. We did our best.

Biggest Lalo smile in London: Apple store

On the other side was Nico, who was in his element in London. He only missed seeing Windsor Castle which was closed for the Commonwealth meeting. We went everywhere and he wanted to see everything, know it all. While the rest flagged at arms and armour and Tate Gallery, the London Zoo and London Bridge, there was Nico reading the signs, asking questions, living it. If anyone wishes a kid tour guide who occasionally makes up a couple of facts (but honestly the story is better), this is the one. I will cherish memories of him at Glastonbury Abbey talking about King Arthur. I only hope I don’t lose him some day to Chalice Wells and the entrance to fairy land.

So tomorrow the blog is off to London and Buckingham Palace on our British Air 747. Come along….let’s swan off on a jolly.

A welcome moment away from history: at the playground near Kensington Palace

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