One of the funniest experiences we have had in our travels is to stand off to the side and watch tourists, especially children, stand in front of these guards at Windsor Castle and try to make them laugh or change their expression. Kids will make faces, "moon" the guards, any silly thing you can think of, but these guys do not flinch!
We first started traveling abroad in 1981. The first country we visited was England, and I was smitten with an overwhelming desire to be British! Their customs, their heritage, their history all appealed to me so much, and I was in heaven.
That first trip, we explored what the English endearingly call "The Potteries", a collection of six small towns around Stoke-on-Trent. It is here that are clustered the producers of the finest china and pottery in the world. Such revered names as Wedgwood, Spode, and Royal Doulton. As we toured through all the different companies, it was Nancy’s turn to be in heaven!
While we were there, Royal Doulton was completing an order for a china service for two hundred people, bought by one of the sheiks of some oil producing country in the middle east. It may be my memory playing tricks, but I recall the soup tureen being so large, you could stand up in it! We asked the guide about its cost, but she said she could not reveal such information.
Neat story, but here is how our first trip outside the United States came to be:
One morning while driving to the office, we heard Barbara Streisand singing “Memory”. We learned it was one of the highlights from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s stunning new musical, “CATS”, which had just opened in London at the New London Theatre on Drury Lane.
I knew instantly we had to see it! I called the theatre transatlantic and made our reservations (who's compulsive?).
The night of the performance, we left the hotel early and walked to Covent Garden, where the mythical Eliza Doolittle sold flowers in the 1956 musical, "My Fair Lady", starring Julie Andrews. Had dinner in some little café down a flight of stairs (this was 6 years before Nancy’s strokes), had a Waldorf salad, then left for the theatre- a walk of only a few minutes.
It was growing dark in the city of London. A fine mist hung in the air, and a fog was rolling in. As we walked along, though I was tingling with excitement in anticipation of the show we would soon see, all I could think about was Jack the Ripper and the murders in the London fog.
We bought the cast album at the theatre, and I played it over and over until I knew the entire score by heart. Sometime later, we were in New York City and we saw "CATS" again on Broadway.
I was stunned when I heard the opening number- sung in American English! The accent made it totally different from the score I knew by heart.
We have returned to England several times, going out of our way to fly Virgin Atlantic. Each time we board the plane at Washington Dulles, they give us sleep pajamas for the overnight flight. Over the years, we have collected a number of these- and each of us use them every day.
Virgin really makes you feel like royalty!
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