Tag Archives: London

LSS: Take a trip

Settling in after our big trip to England hasn’t been difficult because life just kept right on going—like it does. However, my perspective was much improved.
At work, I was able to plug right back into the swing of things, with new and hopefully improved ideas. As I’ve written before, I love to go, but I also love to come home.
Mark Twain said, “Travel is fatal to bigotry, prejudice and narrow mindedness.”
He’s right. Travel forces us to do things in ways we’re not used to doing them. Basically, we have to think differently—maybe not much or maybe in mind-boggling ways. Thinking a little differently—even for a short while—is good for our brains and souls.
Sometimes traveling in England doesn’t feel nearly as foreign as other countries. But like all Americans who walk across a street there, every time my daughter Greer and I took that first step into a street, we were reminded that we were in a foreign place. We had to look right, not left.
Hence, since we’ve been home, I’ve been a much more deliberate driver. It’s a mundane example, but a reminder that looking at things through a different lens heightens awareness.
As much fun as taking a trip is for me, planning trips invigorates me even more—especially trips to places I’ve never been. I like to share that joy.
So, I want you to take a trip soon.
Take a trip to anywhere.
Pick a place and start planning.
It doesn’t have to be to a distant land, but try and make your journey include spots and activities you’ve never done before. If you need destination suggestions, I’m full of them! For example, have you been to Ship Island off the Mississippi Coast?
Sure, plan a big trip for down the road, but right now plan a trip to somewhere for June or July. Think of something you’re passionate about—the Red Sox, the space shuttle, Fourth of July fireworks over the Washington Monument. Think of something you’ve always wanted to see or do. Make it happen. Mark it off your list.
If you can’t come up with somewhere that rocks your world, settle for cooler weather.
Go somewhere you don’t know well. Stay a week. Stay a few days. Seattle, San Francisco, Chicago, the lakes of Michigan, the mountains of Arkansas, the hills of Tennessee. Pick a National Park. The Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, Yosemite, the Great Smokies, Acadia.
Head to the beach.
Take a cruise.
Consider this your clarion call.
If you don’t enjoy or aren’t good at researching, call a travel agent. Lafayette has dozens of knowledgeable travel agents.
Travel bargains are plentiful. Finding ways to travel on a shoestring can be fun. While Greer and I were in England, we made it a point to go to farmers’ markets and buy foods for picnics. Fresh bread, homemade cheddar and homegrown strawberries were delicious. The farmers’ food tasted better than most restaurants we tried. And, to top it off, it was cheaper.
If what makes travel exciting is doing new and exotic things, you don’t have to go to new and exotic places to experience new and exotic things. If necessary, go to easy-to-access places, just find something different to do once you’re there. Maybe you go to Houston all the time, but have you ever been to the Asian mall in Houston? Have you been to the art museum downtown?
Let go of expectations. Go with an open mind. Acknowledge and move on.
The day after I returned from England I spoke with a friend who said traveling of any form wears him out. I understand. Traveling is often uncomfortable. Maybe that’s what more of us need—to be uncomfortable and challenged more often. Maybe we wouldn’t be quite so quick to judge if we were a little less comfortable from time to time. Maybe we have to be forced occasionally to look at life from a different view.
I encourage my friend (and you) to go somewhere—preferably some place beautiful.
It all can be beautiful in one way or the other, can’t it?
Finding beauty in the foreign or the familiar rejuvenates our souls and makes us better people, which, in turn, makes the world a better place.

From London…a fairy tale adventure.

My 13-year-old daughter and I spent Thursday night on what they call The Mall here in London. We picked a spot in front of Clarence House.
Truth be told, we didn’t sleep well for loads of reasons, including…the line of 30 portable loos about 25 yards back had doors that slammed like cannons. Four British ladies had a tea party through most of the night just beside us. Shortly after Big Ben chimed 4 a.m., two guys took a spot just behind us. For the rest of the night, they loudly strategized on how to get the best views once the procession began, largely based on overtaking our position.
My fingers may have developed temporary frostbite.
Oh, and a very drunk, completely tone-deaf man wrapped in a flag of England, sang/yelled “God Save the Queen” on a continuous loop until around 4 when he switched to “Royal Britannia.”
About that time, the Metropolitan Police walked up The Mall. They walked in a straight line from one side of the street to the other. They were whistling as they approached, but just before they reached us, the whole line of policemen began to sing the Theme of StarWars. That’s what kind of night it was—policemen walking in sync, smiling and singing at 4 a.m. The response from the masses, most of whom were trying to get some rest, polite waves of applause.
Sleep was hard to come by, but the night had certain magic. Little practical things added up. For example, there were no trashcans and thousands upon thousands of people, yet I didn’t see a single piece of paper on the ground. People stored away their rubbish and kept the grounds immaculate through the night.
By the time morning came, many more people began to arrive. We were on the front line of the barricades, and people were about 20 deep behind us. Police were stationed every 15 feet in front of us. For many, the police in front of them became “friends.” After 6 a.m., street sweepers and occasional mounted police passed. The crowd cheered every time they passed. The drivers occasionally waved like they were the parade. Our little group of about 15 girls around us started the wave at 7 a.m. (or the Mexican Wave, as the New Zealanders beside us called it.) Korean and Norwegian television and radio journalists interviewed us.
At one point, someone on the other side of the street in Hyde Park, did a little cheer, “Give me a ‘J,’ give me an ‘A,’” etc. Eventually, they spelled out the name of policeman directly in front of them, ending with a song, “We love you, James, oh yes, we do.”
It was one lovely moment like that after another.
When the guests started passing, we began to ready for all the royals. One by one, each car passed. To put the excitement level in perspective, our new friends and camp mates, Jen and Char, are lifelong Englanders; one works 15 yards from Westminster Abbey, the other 25 yards from Buckingham Palace. They love the Queen and her family. Yet, until Thursday morning, neither had ever laid eyes on the Queen or anyone else in the royal family, for that matter. They were giddy.
Heck, everyone around us was giddy.
When the entourage made their way down the street in front of us from the palace, they all waved at us.
They all smiled. They all looked lovely. We smiled back, and perhaps, we didn’t look quite as lovely.
The wedding started and BBC Radio piped in the ceremony on loudspeakers for us all. We followed along on our programs. We sang the hymns. We said the prayers. We cheered when the priest pronounced them man and wife. We wiped away a tear every now and then. Even the most cynical among us couldn’t have helped but to have been touched by the allure of it all.
It was like a fairy tale, and we felt a part of it.
Trials surely will come for each and everyone of us—even William and Kate, but for me, the moment shared by many was one of collective hope and prayer that each of us has a chance to live happily ever after.