Return to the United Kingdom

Last year, when we were trying to determine if were going to go somewhere for Spring Break, we make jokes about going to England.

And then we did.

It was, easily, one of the best trips. It had it’s harrowing moments (which, hopefully, one day, we’ll laugh at more than having continued mild heart attacks over), but it had such an impact on Monkey and Choo Choo that they’ve wanted to go back, ever since.

So this March, we’re doing it again. Well, not just London (and Dover), we’re going to cast the net a bit wider. A loop of Great Britain, as it were. Well, maybe.

I say maybe because the only thing we’ve managed to secure is airfare. We managed to snag a seat sale, which is getting us there. But so far, all we have is our arrival and our departure, we’ve got nothing in between that, and we’re there for 13 days.

We’re having difficulty choosing. Alex and I have been to England five times each (once without each other) and we’ve seen a fair bit. And some of the places on the current list are places we’ve already seen: London (though we could still see more), Edinburgh (which we love), and York (which I adore). Because the kids haven’t been there yet, so we should try to show them something new, even if it’s a bit more old hat for us.

But we’re also trying to wedge in places we haven’t seen, notably Liverpool and Durham. I’m hoping we can make these work, but the amount of input I’ve been getting on these suggestions has waned significantly after booking the airline tickets.

I was starting to think that I’d just plan the trip and suffer through the whining. But then, as Alex pulled out a hummingbird cake, we started talking a bit more specifically, and the plans are starting (finally) to coalesce.

First up will be London, largely because that’s our port of ingress. We did a hard core pass on London last time, but there’s a few things on the list that we still want to do, such as touring inside the Tower of London (Monkey’s choice, because of the climax of Spiderman: Far From Home), and we want to actually hear Big Ben, which was still silent due to renovations last year.

Then is York, which might be my favourite place in the UK (definitely a Top 3 in the world), not the least of which is for the architecture … and there’s that train museum, of course. But doing a bit more research than the last time we were there in 2008 (we were also there in 2006 for the day), there is so much that we neglected to look at closely enough, and so much that we didn’t see at all.

Edinburgh will come after. Although we have talked at length about Durham (which has a very nice-looking cathedral, and Monkey is interested in maybe, possibly considering University of Durham for studying), we came to the conclusion that there wasn’t enough of a draw. But Edinburgh? That’s the only place outside of London that interested Choo Choo. And even then, really only one street (Princess) because it looks really pretty and has Harry Potter-themed stores.

And that’s as far as the plans have gotten so far. I’m pushing for Liverpool next, mostly because we haven’t been there before, and I’d like to tack on one new city, if possible. For me, it’s the home of the Beatles, who have been a significant element of my musical background. But also because of things like Liverpool’s history (which is ancient, but really got going with the sugar trade and the Industrial Revolution), and Liverpool Cathedral. Have I mentioned that I have a thing for cathedrals?

Presumably we’ll return to London after that. After Edinburgh isn’t yet locked down, but I’m hoping we’ll figure something out soon. Hotels are starting to be hard to book, and it won’t be long before we’ll be sleeping in the streets (and I’m only kind of kidding).