Tag Archives: England with Kids

Mom Camp Day 22: Saying Good-Bye to Britain

Finally, it was time for our trip to end. Both Cinco and I weren’t ready for it to end. I was wishing I had added on the extra week for Ireland. The kids did so well, I think we could have made it 3 and 1/2 weeks. But, when I was jjkoplanning The Captain convinced me it would be a nightmare to push forward. Better safe than sorry. If the kids had been more difficult or enjoyed the trip less and extra week could easily have been a bridge too far. Plus, this way, maybe some day we will do a trip to Ireland and Scotland… you never can tell.

We had a long, but direct flight from Manchester, UK straight to Las Vegas. Bags were packed— including the kids back packs (and yes they were re-filled with goodies and treats!) Car drop off was okay, although it finally started to rain on way out of town. But really, the last day there… who can complain!

Again, Virgin Atlantic saved us as the kids mainly watched the TV’s in front of them. Although, they did dive into some of the treasures I had for them. We kept them for the bulk of the time on the plane and when we finally landed, Queen Gram was at the airport to meet us.

Coming off the jet lag took about 3 days, but that was fine. No school, no camp, just hanging out and getting used to being home! But, don’t worry we won’t be home for long this summer— stay tuned… more adventures await.


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Salisbury, Lacock and Bath: Mom Camp Day 17

We woke up in Salisbury and made straight for the cathedral. It came recommended by a facebook friend and boy was she right! Salisbury Cathedral turned out to be one of The Captain’s favorite places on the trip.

If you are worried the cathedral doesn’t have a William Marshal contention, fear not it’s got plenty:

  • His cousin by marriage, William Longspee is buried there.
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    William Longspee’s Tomb

    Longspee also happened to be the illegitimate son of King Henry II and Ida de Tosney.  Later Ida went on to marry Earl Bigod and their son married William Marshal’s oldest daughter—  you got all that right?

  • One of the best preserved original copies of the Magna Carta is kept here. And, you know William Marhsal and William Longspee played a major role in the negotiation of the Magna Carta.

SalisburyIn addition to such wonderful history related to The Marshal, the building itself is truly a wonder.  Unlike Winchester Cathedral, the spire at Salisbury seems to shoot straight into the sky and reach for the clouds.  In the middle ages when most the buildings were wood, this amazing structure certainly proclaimed the wonder of god.

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2014 06 10_England 2014_0339The inside is quite dramatic, as well.


After finishing with the cathedral and a glimpse of the Magna Carta, we drove on to Lacock Abbey.

Again, you may wonder what is the connection to William Marshal?  His cousin founded the Abbey after her husband, William Longspee died.  So again we have found a connection–its Medieval Kevin Bacon.

The village of Lacock was very cute and the kids had a nice time walking around.  We stopped for lunch at a little pub and visited the town’s small church.  The village was also used as a filming location for one of the Harry Potter movies–the kids liked that of course.

Then it was back in the car for the drive to Bath…

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STONEHENGE! Mom Camp Day 16 part two

I know, it’s a bit unfair to split one mom camp day into two. But, Stonehenge deserves its own post.
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Before getting to the main event, we had a little time to kill and decided to go to the Woodhenge site. Yes, it is lesser known. Yes, it was made of wood– so it has disintegrated. But, archeologists have placed markers where the wood beams would have stood. Stonehenge is not really its own independent site. It is the most striking element of a larger complex that spans thousands of years in its development and use.

I wanted to share that the larger significance of the place with the kids. To some degree Cinco got it! We watched a National Geographic show about the complex and how the subsites might fit together. He really took it in. The theory is that Woodhenge and Stonehenge were part of a day long elaborate ritual of life and death.

2014 06 09_England 2014_0437Today, Woodhenge is just sitting there in wide open field.  The sheep keep the site company and you must use your imagination to envision life the ancient word.

After getting a little taste of things at Woodhenge it was off to the big time! The last time I was at Stonehenge was in the mid-90’s and at that time, you couldn’t get too close to the stones. Tourists sort of viewed them from afar. While I was researching this trip, I discovered that English Heritage will still allow SMALL groups of people to enter the stones before and after normal visiting hours. It is not prohibitively expensive, but it can be tough to get the tickets. I made our reservations in September 2013. It was completely worth it!

What I did not realize is that the Stonehenge site has JUST been revamped to make it more tourist friendly and you can get near the stones again. Although, you must keep to a path and cannot go into the center of the stones–like we did!

2014 06 09_England 2014_0456We arrived early enough to take a look at the some of the outside exhibits that English Heritage added to the site. The kids and I attempted to push a replica of one of the colossal stones.

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Inside the roundhouse

hutWe also toured the roundhouses. At this point our weather luck started to run out…a evening rain began falling on our heads. I tried to get the kids thinking about what it would have been like to live inside one of the houses. The rain added to the idea of roughing it!

Lucky for us, it only rained for a little while once we actually got to the stones!  I took a picture of Cinco at the stones and I have never actually seen him smile so wide!  It was the most amazing, happy mom feeling in the world.  I got the chance to live my own excitement and look at the world through my son’s eyes!  It was the BEST moment of the trip.

2014 06 09_England 2014_0484We got up close and personal with the stones. We spent time learning how the stones fit together before we left so seeing in person was very exciting for Cinco.

2014 06 09_England 2014_0489We also got so close to the stones we could see the graffiti that other tourists left behind!

The kids got hold of the camera and went wild snapping pics and telling us where to stand.

We only had one hour inside the stones, but the kids LOVED it and we had a very nice time! It was something special that we will always remember!

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Stonehenge and Winchester: Mom Camp Day 16

It was time to say good-bye to our tournament tent. I think we were all sad to leave such a lovely place. But, more adventure called.

The next stop was a day trip to Winchester. In case you don’t know, Winchester was the Saxon capitol of England.

The King Alfred Statue

The King Alfred Statue

It was where the West Saxon kings ruled including, King Alfred the Great. (Shameless plug for my King Alfred book.) So you know we had to stop here!

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Walking Tour Anyone?

I found a great walking tour of the city and we started at the famous King Alfred statue.

After the statue, we followed the river walk. Again perfect weather allowed us to enjoy every minute. The walk took us past the town’s old Roman Walls to Wolvesey Castle.

The Castle was occupied by King Stephen’s brother during The Anarchy and the city and castle played a role in the battles between King John and the rebelling barons. All this means William Marshal would certainly have been familiar with the place. (Shameless plug for my William Marshal book.)

2014 06 09_England 2014_0384_edited-1Wolvesey Castle is now a ruin, but Cinco and I had a great time exploring it.  We practically had the place to ourselves and Cinco took a number of photos on his own!

Finishing up at the castle we followed the walk to Winchester Cathedral.  We opted not to go inside to save time and because we also planned to visit Salisbury Cathedral.

It was time for lunch at the Wykcam Arm.  It is an old pub in the town.  But, the kids couldn’t eat inside so we had our meal in the garden out back.  The best thing I saw there was the toilet.  It seems they have an antique toilet and it was made by Thomas Crapper!  (No, I am not kidding you. The inside of the bowl had the name printed on it and everything!)  The walls of the WC were also decorated with copies of old ads for the toilet.  Now I know where the saying crap comes from— a famous British toilet maker.  Really, how did I forget to bring my phone to the bathroom?

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Photo by Cinco

After lunch we stopped by the Winchester Museum.  Each floor of the three-story building covered a different time period from the Romans, to the Saxons all the way to the present day.

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Roman Mosaics– Photo by Cinco

The kids got another scavenger hunt and away they went!  Cinco had a great time.  He dressed up as a Roman Senator and took lots of photos.

We moved on to the Great Hall and West Gate.  The gate is from the middle ages and the Great Hall is all that remains of the royal palace in Winchester.  The rest of the palace was destroyed by Cromwell.

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The Round Table

Inside the Great Hall, we examined the rendition of King Arthur’s round table–that is about 700 years old!  When I first planned this trip Cinco was much younger and really loved the Knights of the Round Table.  Now, he liked seeing it.  But it was NOT a major highlight.

2014 06 09_England 2014_0421The windows also had lovely stained glass shields of the English Royal houses.

Outside the Great Hall is the Queen’s Garden.  It is a recreation of a 14th century, formal garden.  It was much smaller than I expected.  I was a little disappointed.

After our day in Winchester, we got in the car and headed off to Salisbury.  We arrived too late to check out the cathedral (but don’t worry, we saw it the next day).  A rest and dinner followed and then it was time for STONEHENGE!

And, yes…. I am making this mom camp day into two posts!


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Winnie The Pooh Day: Mom Camp Day 14

Today was all about leaving London and exploring the 100 Acre Woods. Throughout the whole trip The Princess had a constant refrain:

When is it going to be Winnie the Pooh Day?

She loves the stories and the all characters. She has seen many of the Disney movies, as well. However, I am pretty sure she likes the stories better. And, really who doesn’t like A. A. Milne better?

Before we hit the 100 Acre Woods we had to say goodbye to Queen Gram. She snuck out of the flat and left for Las Vegas before any of us were awake. The Captain got our rental car, we loaded up and drove out of town to start the second leg of our amazing journey.

Per my crazy planning, I printed out door-to-door directions for all our destinations. However, 90% of the time The Captain preferred to use good old Google Maps on his iphone. That was all well and good, until it wasn’t and then my pages and pages of print outs came in handy… However, we made it out of London driving on the opposite side of the road and using those crazy round abouts.

We stuck mainly to small side roads once we escaped London…slow, small and snakey.

Leaving London we encountered some weather.  The Captain faced a down pour as he went to get the rental car.  This was not good as Pooh Day was all about being in the great outdoors!

Pooh CornerThe first stop was a little placed called Pooh Corner which a small tea room attached to a shop.  The Princess was dying to go the tea room because it was called Piglet’s Tea Room.  We went in and lucky for us the rain had stopped and turned to sunshine.  So, we were able to sit in the small garden at the back of the building. The kids ordered Winnie the Pooh shaped honey toast and I had a scone and coffee.

Then it was off to the Pooh Sticks Bridge. For those you who have read the stories, you know exactly what I am talking about. For those of you who haven’t, I’ll explain. In the books, they play Pooh Sticks.  Everyone gets a twig or small stick and at the same time drops it off a bridge.  The person who’s stick pops out on the other side of bridge first wins!  The Pooh Sticks Bridge is the original bridge from the stories.

Pooh Bridge

To get to the bridge you walk along a rather short wooded path which provides ample opportunity to find good Pooh Sticks.  We, of course, played several rounds of Pooh Sticks.  (Although we had to explain the rules to The Captain.)

Eore's house

Eore’s House

Walking back on the path we noticed Eore’s house!  (Okay, it’s not really Eore’s house– but I looked just as you would imagine and the kids we thrilled!)

Our third stop was the 100 Acre Woods, it’s real name is the 500 Acre Woods, but Milne changed it for the book. I found a specific walking tour that featured different places from the map at the start of the book. We walked by the Heffalump Trap and Roo’s sandy pit. The kids also thought they found Pooh’s House and The Six Pine Trees (Although by my count there were seven. But lets not let that get in the way of imagination and excitement!)

All in all the kids had a blast!

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FLYING FUN with Mom Camp Day 5

Yes, I am counting the flight and the airport time as two separate days. I mean come on, it’s an international flight and keeping the kids together (figuratively, not literally is challenging!) on the flight is enough to turn any mom’s hair gray.

First of all, I cheated! I bought tickets on Virgin Atlantic. It’s more expensive, but the inflight entertainment is totally worth it. Each person gets a choice of movies and games to keep them occupied. Frozen and the Lego Movie hurrah! And, Virgin even offers special kid friendly meals. Not that anyone loves airplane food.

Kid stuff

Girl’s Pack


Boy’s Pack

Second, I am going with the old standby toys. Each one has a backpack filled with little items. There is one item per hour per child— a lot of stuff.

A few things are from the dollar store, but a lot of the things are print outs from the internet about England:


  • PaperToys.com has a ton of stuff. Why not print out a double-decker bus? Big Ben? Shakespeare’s Globe? I had to cut out the patterns before we got on the plane to avoid the TSA scissor issue (although I hear now you can bring tiny scissors with you). I also packed glue stick for the kids so they can glue the paper crafts together and crayons.


  • Practical Pages offers tons of adorable paper dolls and period costumes for boys and girls. You can find Romans, Vikings, women from the Georgian period, and Elizabethans.


  • The Official Page for Hampton Court offers printable hats and hoods from the Tudor period for boys and girls. I printed them on card stock. I packed a few stick on gems to go with this craft so the kids could really bling out their creations. I mean, that is how King Henry VIII would have wanted it, right?

Third, snacks. I know, chips and candy aren’t the best food in the world. But hey, it’s a vacation!


Fourth, I did not forget the disposable tooth brushes with toothpaste already applied on them. I have fuzzy socks and sleep masks for both kids. Cinco even got a mask with Zombie eyes on it. So fun…

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