The United Kingdom is a magical place, filled with castles, culture and history far greater than we see in the United States. Growing up in England, it was a part of my upbringing, and I did not fully appreciate the magnificence of my surroundings. I’ve been living in the United States since 1987 and have become used to my surroundings here. While there is history, culture and beauty here too, it cannot compare to my homeland.
Michelle and I knew that once we had children, we wanted them to experience the United Kingdom. Two years ago we decided it was time to start planning. We wanted Rachel to be at least 7 prior to going, which meant Tristan was 9. It took us two years to plan and save for a month-long vacation touring England, Scotland and Wales, what most would call a trip of a lifetime. Our goals were simple: spend a month visiting the sights and visiting family (some of whom I have not seen in over 20 years), and have the whole trip paid for before we left U.S. soil. Two years of planning and hard work paid off.
We landed at Heathrow and drove the two hours to my brother’s village, Tisbury. Tisbury is close to the last town I lived in prior to coming to the States, Amesbury. As we neared my brother’s house, we passed by Stonehenge. This sight was a huge hit with the kids right off the bat. We spent a week with my brother and family, staying in a nice little cottage just a couple of miles from his house. A bonus to the cottage’s location was that it was within 20 feet of the pub.
My brother and family had some fantastic things planned for us and the kids. We went to Swanage for a day at the beach, swimming and kayaking. We also toured Old Wardour Castle (Robin Hood was filmed here), Monkey World, Salisbury and Longleat Wildlife Safari. We also had a day fishing at one of my brother’s favorite spots. The kids even got a special treat — a sleepover with their aunt, uncle and cousin while Michelle and I enjoyed a nice dinner at the pub to celebrate our 22nd wedding anniversary. For me, the visit was a little trip down memory lane that I was able to share with my kids. We even found the last house I lived in and the school where I graduated. It was a little surreal…