The Pillow Family Goes Abroad!

As an extension to my annual blog posts about my family visits for Meliora Weekend, here is the story of my family’s visit to London, England! My family visited during my midterm week and spring break weekend, and during their spring breaks from high school and work. We had an absolutely beautiful week weather-wise and we jammed in as many activities as we could.

My family arrived in London on Saturday morning. We met up at Half Cup Cafe (one of my favorite study spots). We caused a big scene in the cafe with all our hugs, and then ordered delicious breakfast food. Afterwards we headed to the Airbnb apartment my mom found—it was wonderful and managed to fit all five of us. We then walked to Camden Markets, a 30-minute walk from our apartment. We strolled around and peaked into some street shops. On our walk back home, we stopped at the North Sea Fish restaurant. The rector at the church I’ve been attending here suggested it, because she knows it’s good from all the “lory” drivers she sees there. We all ordered fish and chips, and fell in love.

On Sunday morning, my family came to a service with me at St. Pancras Church, the church I have been attending. My family really liked the choir at St. Pancras. After the service, we had tea and biscuits while chatting with parishioners about America (mostly about Trump; it’s inescapable here). Next on the agenda was Kensington Palace. I absolutely loved it. It was interesting to read about Queen Victoria and her life in particular. We walked through the gardens, too, and saw the huge memorial statue of Price Albert along the way. We walked straight to Harrods, as suggested by my grandmother. Harrods is a huge department store—but that description doesn’t do it justice. We had cream tea in the tea room there, which was spectacular. I didn’t know how much I liked jam before coming to the UK. Next we traveled to a Chinese lantern festival, which had very extravagant lanterns in the shape of boats, people, animals, palm trees, you name it. It was very beautiful, especially in the dark. We ate dinner at a nearby pub, then headed back home with tired feet.

On Monday, I stayed in to do some work but met up for lunch at Westminster Abbey’s Cellarium Cafe with the family. It was such a sweet and elegant restaurant. I joined the family on their Big Bus tour for the rest of the day and we brought food back to the apartment. It was a treat to piece together a bigger picture of London by watching how all the destinations fit together on the bus ride.

On Tuesday, I met the family on Baker St. for the Beatles Store and Sherlock Holmes Museum. Those were fun destinations. The Sherlock Holmes Museum was very realistic, complete with squeaky floors and dressed up mannequins. We then took the tube to Trafalgar Square. There, we went to St. Martin’s Church and created our own engravings. My brother Evan, my aunt Julie, and I all made celtic circles. After our artwork, we listened to the St. Martin’s choir rehearsal briefly before heading off to take a boat ride down the Thames River. We took great pictures on that trip! We landed at Westminster, so we crossed the Westminster bridge to ride the London Eye. Can you believe how much we did that day?

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Hello London Eye!

On Wednesday, I had my midterm exam and papers. So while I was at school, the family went to Windsor Castle. I definitely want to head there next weekend or so. They even by chance saw the change of the guards—and recorded a nice video of it, too! That afternoon we checked out the National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery, specifically looking at the big highlights of both museums. That night, we walked right down the street to a theatre to see Half A Sixpence. It was a fun show. The main actor was such a fantastic dancer and the whole show was cheerful and comical.

On Thursday, we got up nice and early to take a tour bus to Stonehenge. Little did we know that Storm Doris was headed our way. When we stepped off the bus, my scarf nearly flew away from me. Storm Doris brought gusts of wind up to 94 mph. We fortunately took mini buses right up to the rocks and took wonderful pictures. You can get fairly close to the rocks, but not too close to disturb the ground underneath the rocks. All of the pictures with ourselves in them are a bit funny because our hair is all over the place, but at least the rocks look good! We checked out the indoor exhibit before taking the bus back to London. After getting off the bus, the Victoria and Albert Museum was just down the road so we checked it out. It was so huge we didn’t see the whole thing but we covered most of its pottery and blown glass. The entire museum is made up solely of the belongings of the Queen Victoria and her Prince Albert; the entire purpose of the museum was just to house all of their stuff. Crazy! That night we couldn’t resist going back to North Sea Fish. This time, however, everyone branched out to try new things: Evan tried rock salmon and my mom tried dover sole. Those adventurers!

My family treated me by coming to Oxford with me on Friday. While I was at class, my family saw the Ashmolean museum and Evan bought an Oxford sweatshirt. Afterwards we met up at the train station and we headed to Edgware Road to Patisserie Valerie, where we had a lovely afternoon tea. It was my dream to have tea with my mom! That night, we visited St. Paul’s Cathedral for Choral Evensong that night. We were all so happy to have experienced that. The choir boys were incredible and the cathedral was absolutely glittering inside. We crossed the Millenium Bridge to the Tate Modern. We checked out a few exhibits and then had an amazing dinner on the 9th floor restaurant. We saw such incredible views while eating top notch food.

Saturday was an exciting morning because we had breakfast at a cute patisserie down the street. It was a very quaint place with yummy pastries and quiches. We quickly headed to the famous NikeTown store on Oxford Street, which is a famous destination because it is so extravagant. We then dillydallied back to King’s Cross and I cried like a baby in the middle of the station as my family crossed the turnstiles. It was such a magical week and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Thank you family for coming all the way over here to spend time with me. It will always be one of my favorite weeks and best memories.

About the author

Charlotte Pillow

I am a member of the Class of 2019. I am originally from Ridgewood, NJ. I am a student in the Dual Degree in Nursing program. I am majoring in nursing, public health, and interdisciplinary dance studies, and minoring in psychology. I am the president of the College Diabetes Network and a research assistant at the School of Nursing. For the 2017 spring semester, I studied public health at the University of Oxford.

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