England

The sad news of Her Majesty the Queen passing has given me the inspiration I needed to finally document our late spring trip to England. I hope you’re up to several posts with a British accent.

First, I must tell you how much I admire Queen Elizabeth II. Her love for her country and her people was constantly on display, as was her grace and sense of humor. Hers was a job which she did not choose but she executed her duties in a manner that will long be fondly remembered. I send my condolences to my friends across the pond.

Like Queen Elizabeth, I have four children and eight grandchildren; but this is where the similarities end. This American woman can’t imagine running a country while chasing kids around at sporting events, running carpool, and keeping up with laundry and meals. Well, maybe if I had “people” for those duties, but who am I kidding!

I had never been to Great Britain before, and I am so thankful that our trip was planned during Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee – the festivities and her smiling face were everywhere. The energy was palpable.

Bob and I made this trip with our son, Jesse, his wife, Dacia, and their teenage boys Manning and Winston. The guys are all avid golfers, and this trip was designed around five golf courses. That gave us a great overview of the countryside as well as London, and plenty for Dacia and me to do while they played.

We landed at Heathrow on May 21 and headed to York. How I wish we had more than a half-day to spend there. Perhaps it was because it was our first stop that I so quickly fell in love with York and England. Or maybe it was simply because it’s amazing.

York’s Roman walls have stood for centuries. They are the most extensive Roman walls in England and provide a lovely walking path and picturesque views of York Minster, the largest gothic cathedral north of the Alps, which I thought was a strange starting point for measurement. The 235-foot-tall cathedral towers over the city.

York Minster

As I was on the ready to find souvenirs, turning onto The Shambles took my breath away. Not only is it quintessentially British, but it was also inspiration for the Harry Potter franchise. Part of Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone was filmed in York. I discovered afterward that York’s railway station was used in the first film. Just as well as we would not have had time to visit it. While I enjoy Harry Potter, I’m not a huge fan, but I have children and grandchildren who are, so I figure any references to Harry or Hogwarts can only up my cred.

I walked into “The Shop That Must Not Be Named,” only to feel like I was in a giftshop at Orlando’s Universal Studios. Mentioning to the young staff that I was from Orlando gave me the only sense of royalty I experienced on this trip. If you’re a Harry Potter fan, coming to Orlando is like a journey to the Promised Land. Except for the excessive heat and humidity, of course.

So ended Day 1. Then we were off to Lytham via a country road which led us to follow signs to The Winehouse. Nothing says, “Welcome to England” like watching your grandsons taste their first scone at a winery next to meadows of sheep and cows.

This was a great foundation for our British experience.