A Family Tour of England and The Netherlands

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Wednesday June 26 2019  we are off to London with no return flight booked.  We have rented a flat in The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea until August 26 but have no firm plans after that.  Our daughter Jennifer is leaving Boston tonight with her husband Rob and son Jackson to spend a week with us.

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We met up with our good friend Walter LaLiberte at Virgin Atlantic checkin as we were on the same flight to London.
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Spending our kid’s inheritance flying business class.

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Happy to be in London.
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This is our home for the next 2 months.  26 Redcliffe Square.
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Sitting room.
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Dining room.
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Terrace overlooking a small park, great for coffee in the morning and wine in the evening.  It’s good for breakfast if its cloudy and dinner if there is a breeze to keep the flying ants away.
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This is our second bedroom awaiting bookings for anyone who wants to visit us here.
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Jennifer, Rob and Jackson arrived early morning on 27 June.
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This is our local pub where we had our first meal with Jennifer and family.

After taking the overnight flight from Boston to London, Jennifer and family did quite well as they were able to take a walk around our neighborhood with us, do some grocery shopping and have a nice Pub lunch at The Bolton just around the corner from our new home.  Jennifer and Rob napped in the afternoon but Jack stayed up with us and accompanied us to a Pub in Wandsworth where Lea Keating met us to watch Women’s World Cup Soccer, England vs. Norway.  We first met Lea and her dad, John, just one year ago while zip lining with Jack in London.  We then met up with them again in a Pub to watch Men’s World Cup Soccer, so we thought it appropriate to watch another World’s Cup match together in a Pub in London.  We did miss John though.  While we were watching soccer Jenn & Rob hit a few local Pubs and had dinner at The Troubadour which is also very close to us.  The Troubadour, established in 1954, is one of London’s best live music venues and has seen Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Paul Simon, Led Zeppelin, Sammy Davis Jr. and Adele all perform on its stage.  We have not been there yet but it is certainly on our agenda.IMG_0597.jpg

 

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The owner of The Beehive joined us for a picture.

Day 2 for Jenn & family we were all up early for a drive to Stonehenge for a noon tour time.  Rob’s mom, Kiki McMahan from Newport RI is accompanying Jenn & family on this London trip as her brother Bill Slee and wife Heidi live quite close to us in Chelsea and we will be taking a two day trip to Amsterdam where Kiki’s family was from and where she was born.  Kiki has arranged a driver and van to transport us in comfort to Stonehenge and beyond.  Our impressions of Stonehenge were: Jack, “It’s bigger than I expected” Grampy Jim, “It’s smaller than I expected”.  Either way it was grand, wonderful and incomprehensible.  IMG_8931IMG_8937

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Kiki and Rob.

IMG_8955We had a great day for travel as traffic was light and we arrived at Stonehenge almost an hour early.  Since we had some extra time on our hands before our expected evening  arrival we urged our driver to take us to Salisbury which is a small medieval Cathedral city.  We were able to catch the end of the city square market buying some olives, cheese and bread for dinner.  Some of us went to see the cathedral and others elected to have a pint at The Haunch of Venison.

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Salisbury City square.

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One that went to the Pub.
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Well, it looks like we all went to the Pub.
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This is our final destination of the day, Bergerie Farm on the south coast of England near the tiny town of Bealieu.

So our final destination of the day was Kiki’s brother’s weekend retreat about a two hour drive southwest of London within walking distance of The Solent which is the strait that separates the Isle of Wight from the mainland of England.  Bill and Heidi have a beautiful estate here where they spend time with their sons and their families.

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Driveway into the “farm” with a cowcatcher as there are a lot of free ranging cows and horses in this area.
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Side entrance to the main house.
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Front of the house facing the country lane.
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Back of the house where we spent most of our hang out time.
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The west wing on the right where we stayed with Jennifer and Rob.
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Tea time comes before cocktail hour.
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Expansive back yard with a tennis court further out.
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The American flag was up for us.
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The wine room and the pool room, more on that later.

 

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Heidi’s rose garden.
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A completely restored Ford woody.
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Getting ready for a ride.

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Bill dropped Jack and us off here for a 45 minute circular walk to The Solent and back to the house.
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Jack looking across The Solent to the Isle of Wight.

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The 45 minute walk turned into an endless trek.
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Still looking for home.

We had a great homemade pasta and crab dish for dinner after son Max arrived with his wife Claire and son Arlo.

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Sandy ran away from Jim during our morning run on the narrow country lanes.
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Sandy, Jennifer, Rob and Jack went to the picturesque town of Lymington Saturday morning.
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Horses and cattle roam freely here.

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Bill treated us to lunch at Gins Farm Clubhouse, Royal Southampton Yacht Club.
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After lunch Bill took Rob, Kiki, Max and Jim out on his custom made boat to watch a regatta, a race around the Isle of Wight.  Bill’s sailboat was in the regatta.
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A long distance view of Osborne House, one of the royal residences of Victoria and Albert.  Queen Victoria died here on the Isle of Wight.
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Our first view of the leader in the regatta.
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How did we know that it was the leader?
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Because there were no other boats in sight.  This boat was more than an hour ahead of the next boat.
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This was the only boat that we saw from the regatta.
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Kiki has her own boat in Newport RI.
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The end of a great afternoon on the water.
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While the others were boating, Jennifer, Jackson and Sandy explored Bucklers Hard, and probably had a drink or two.

After a leisurely day exploring this quaint, rural coastal area Max produced a very tasty mixed grill for dinner followed by a pool tournament on the largest billiards table any of us had played on.

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Jim beat Sandy in a game which took forever as neither of us could put a ball in the pocket.  The table is not only larger than most but also has smaller pockets.  Rob was so bored that he fell asleep.  You can see his legs in the background.
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Jack beat Rob in the next game.
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Grampy beat Jack in game 3.
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Rob beat Jim in a come from behind thriller.

 

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Rob was the overall champion beating out our host Max.
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Finally a picture of Max, Arlo and Claire.
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Arlo trying to stowaway with our luggage.
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Brother and sister, Bill and Kiki.  Jim speaking with Heidi.
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Goodby picture as we have to head back to London for a Red Sox Yankees game this afternoon.

So, one of the main reasons that we are back in London again this summer is that last summer we heard about a Yankees vs. Red Sox series of games in London.  Jim looked into it and learned that it was in 2019.  He applied for early ticket access through American Express and on December 3 at exactly 10am he was on his phone.  He was in queue for about 20 minutes before getting through and purchasing 8 tickets (the maximum allowed) in the best available location.  Since we now had very expensive tickets to a historic event in London we decided to return and stay for the summer of 2019.  Finding people to share the tickets with was not a problem, son-in-law Rob McMahan is an avid sports enthusiast and Jennifer and Jackson agreed to come also.  Dick Maniace and Walter LaLiberte also jumped at the chance to attend.

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At Earls Court underground station heading for the big game.

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This was originally a piece of artwork at the 2012 Olympics and is now the worlds tallest and longest tunnel slide.  It is called the ArcelorMittal Orbit.
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Swan boats next to the Olympic stadium, reminiscent of the swan boats in Boston’s Public Garden.

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Dick, Jim, Sandy, Walter and his friend John Shaw.

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The whole event was very professionally run with the insertion of many traditions from both Fenway Park and Yankee stadium.  It was a really fun day even though the Red Sox lost both games.  After the game Walter, Dick, Jim & Sandy met up with Andrew for a reunion dinner.

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Meeting up with Andrew for the first time in London.  He follows us everywhere.

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Drinks at the bar before dinner.

Monday July 1 is day 5 of Jenn, Rob, Jack and Kiki’s trip to London and they haven’t seen London yet.  They do have tickets to see Come From Away so we took them to the Leicester Square area and walked around before the show.

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Kiki using Apple pay for the first time ever to access the tube.  She handled it like a pro in spite of Rob’s hovering mother minding.
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The Swiss Glockenspiel in Swiss Court.
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Drinks before the show watching Wimbledon.  Cori, “Coco” Gauff upsetting Venus Williams.
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While the others went to see Come From Away we met up with Dick & Andrew for a birthday dinner at Veeraswamy.  The doorman took Sandy’s place.
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Dick’s **st birthday.
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Ain’t love grand, we love you guys.
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Regent street at night after our dinner.

Tuesday July 2, day six we are out the door by 5:30 headed for St. Pancras International railroad station to catch the Eurostar to Amsterdam.

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Headed for Amsterdam on the Eurostar.  High speed rail, up to 199 MPH or 320 KPH.
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We arrived at noon and walked to our hotel, dropped our bags and immediately became lost in Amsterdam.
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Kiki was very happy to be back in her home country.
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Jim loves the museum’s in Amsterdam.
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The Dam, main square.
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Tall, narrow canal houses.

Amsterdam is the capital of The Netherlands and a world class city.  The three main canals dug in the 17th century form concentric belts around the city and are interconnected by over 100 Km. of canals and 1,500 bridges.  We spent one week here in March of 2008 and after two days here now we feel that we could easily spent a month here.  Our first night we had an authentic Indonesian Rijsttafel or rice table at Aneka Rasa.  This is a family style meal with numerous meat and salad dishes and of course rice.

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On the way home from dinner we stopped at a bar to watch Women’s World Cup semi-finals.  We have connections to all four remaining teams.  USA, England (living there now), Netherlands (now visiting) and Sweden (homeland of our daughter-in-law Sophie).
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Morning run along the waterfront.
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After our run we walked across town to the Heineken Brewery.
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Jack walked with us.

Rob had gotten complimentary tickets for a Heineken brewery tour which also included a boat tour of the canals and waterfront.  Rob and Jennifer took both tours and Jack and us joined them for the boat tour.  They made us wish we had taken both tours as the brewery tour was very modern and interactive.

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The large canal boats barely fit under or through some of the bridges.
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The tour boat dropped us off at A’DAM tower and the ticket included a free elevator ride to the observation deck at the top.
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The kids had to play on the artwork before going to the top.
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View of Amsterdam and the train station from the top.
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We took a swing over the edge from 30 stories up.

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Jennifer and Jack on the swing.
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The swings as viewed from the street.
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An interesting street where every building had very similar heavy shutters and doors which were probably hurricane proof.  The only block we saw like this.

Our second night in Amsterdam we went to a highly recommended classical Dutch restaurant Haesje Claes.  We think it is safe to say that most of the world is not familiar with Dutch cuisine and after nine days here we are still not sure what it consists of other than herring, mackerel and other seafood.

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Another night in Amsterdam, another bar, another Women’s World Cup game.  Netherlands beat Sweden this night to advance to the finals against USA.
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Our second morning run along the canals this time.

Our last morning in Amsterdam while we went out running and Jennifer and Jack slept in after brief bouts of traveler’s problems Rob and his mother Kiki took a car to The Hague to visit Kiki’s mother’s gravesite which was a touching emotional experience for both.

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On one of our walkabouts we came across this sweet little romantic restaurant.
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With tables right on the canal.
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And sidewalk tables.
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We brought everyone here for lunch just before leaving Amsterdam.
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It is de belhamel and is well worth a visit, beautiful setting and very good food.
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Group travel in the digital age.  Waiting for the Eurostar back to London.
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St. Pancras Train Station London.

IMG_9205Wow, we have been busy and Jennifer, Rob, Jack and Kiki still have two more full days in London.  Jack stayed home by himself and took a walk to Hyde Park and back while the rest of us took a London Transport river boat from Westminster to Canary Wharf where we had lunch and walked around this new modern business center or London.

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Waterside lunch in Canary Wharf.

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The City of London from Canary Wharf.
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London celebrating Pride month.

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Friday evening the whole group met up with Jennifer’s father Bob, wife Carol and their son Daniel.  Daniel is in London for the summer doing a work/study program at The London School of Business.

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Final day in London we all go to Borough Market.  This is Jack contemplating three enormous oysters, grampy is standing by with a napkin.
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After Borough Market we stopped off at a bar in The Shard for a drink and the view.  This is not the bar, it is a urinal in the men’s room.
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We walked a couple of miles up the Thames to Westminster Bridge.  This is one of the few beaches along the Thames.
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Big Ben undergoing a four year renovation project.  Will be done in 2021.
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The London Eye and the Marriott where we stayed last year with Jenn & Rob.

IMG_0564What a great time we had and what a busy week.  Thanks to Rob for all of the planning and execution of a spectacular family week.c0e01526-9d81-41f0-9744-30a60a976b4fIMG_0523IMG_9157IMG_9140

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Oops-a-daisy.
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Granddaughter Freya

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2 Replies to “A Family Tour of England and The Netherlands”

  1. This has to be your best blog ever,…and there have bee so many others that exceed our expectations! Loved seeing the stowaway Arlo, and the two of you swinging in the sky above Amsterdam and playing with the “I’m Adam” art work. You bring joy to your friends, family and shirt tail correspondents. Keep on sending these. You make us feel like we are THERE.

    Jim & Sheila.

    Like

    1. That is so amazing because as we were compiling this one Jim felt that it was going to be much too long, tedious and boring but we keep reminding ourselves that these chronicles are really written as our memories and for ourselves. Sandy proofread it in a very brief time and declared it very good and out it went. Our best day yet as far as readers, over 200 and from all over the world.
      Thank you so much for your comments, it makes it all worthwhile.
      Love,
      J & S

      Like

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