6 Tips for Planning a Trip to England

Tips for Planning a Trip to England

Having the camera handy allowed for many picture opportunities, including a surprise visit to the cockpit once the plane landed.

To those of you who follow FFS regularly, you know that my family recently went on vacation for two weeks in southern England. This whole vacation was a great learning experience for us. Over the next few weeks I am going to write a simple series for planning and implementing a large vacation overseas. While some of the tips may be focused on England, many will be general traveling tips.

1. What MUST you do to make the trip worthwhile? Have everyone going on your trip answer this question before you begin planning. The answers you hear might surprise you. When I asked the family this question, their answers included Stonehenge and Big Ben. I hadn’t thought that explicitly, so this information was good for me to know. I could make those excursions happen. This question also narrows down sight seeing options when there are TONS of things to see and do. I found myself so overwhelmed with what I wanted to do, and I knew we didn’t have the time. So the answers from my family helped quite a bit. Continue reading

Six Things You Don’t Want to Hear Your GPS Say to You

My husband and I are preparing for a long vacation. He found an iphone on sale at a yard sale and snatched it up and placed a GPS app on it for us to use.

Sounds great!

But the app only works if the phone is held flat.

And don’t touch the screen…bad things happen.gps clipart

So while we were experimenting with the GPS app, we jokingly came up with six things we wouldn’t want to hear from the GPS.

(The best way to read this list is with the nice sounding voice from the GPS.)

6. Don’t push my buttons or I’ll turn this car around!

5. Who’s driving this car?

4. I’m afraid we are lost.

3. We should have brought a map.

2. I am not stopping to ask directions!

and …

1. I sometimes get my rights and lefts mixed up!

Can you think of anything else a GPS might say? Please add to the list below.

The Biltmore House…The Other 3%

I took the kids to The Biltmore House yesterday. What a treat! We were blessed to be given some tickets. I had never been, so this was a new experience for all three of us.

Watching fish in the ponds

Walking on the grounds in front of the house

I must say, Sweet Cheeks summed up our first impressions when she stepped off the bus and sighed, “Wow!” I had prepped the kids by telling them they would be going to a real castle. Of course RB wanted to know if knights would be there. I had to quickly explain that this was a more modern castle, not one with kings, queens, knights and dragons.

The tickets we had allowed us to have a tour of the house including some of the other “not always seen” sections of the house. This included the 4th floor servants quarters. So we traveled (literally, because the house has an area of 4 acres!) from the Entrance Hall to the Banquet Hall, from the Music Room to the Library. We went up the Grand Staircase to the Vanderbilt’s bedrooms and on up to the third floor. It was majestic! The rooms dripped with riches.

Then we went to the 4th floor. From what I understand, Vanderbilt was very good to his servants. Each was given his own room instead of having to share with another person as most grand houses did during the early 1900s. There was a living area and 2 bathrooms with running water. The hallways were bare. The rooms were plain, clean, but without color. We were about half way down the hallway and RB asks, “What is that bell with the lights?” He had seen the servant call box (my term). I explained to him that if the Vanderbilt’s ever needed anything, they could push a button wherever they were in the house, the bell up here would ring, and a light or arrow would signify on which floor the servant was  needed.

RB smelling the flowers

We traveled on. The gardens were still winterized, so there weren’t many flowers and the tulips of the walled garden were only about 4-5 inches high. That was disappointing, but The Conservatory was glorious! The orchids were blooming, the daffodils and other bulbs were beautiful. After leaving the gardens were ventured to the barn to pet the animals and then we drove home. It was a great day!

Sweet Cheeks in the Conservatory

Fast forward to this morning. The kids were playing kitchen and preparing a feast at the table in Sweet Cheeks room. This isn’t anything out of the ordinary. They do this periodically. But while I was pretending to cut my plastic corn with a knife, RB makes a sound. “RING!” He proceeds to get up from the table and runs out of the room. He comes back and says, “I had to go see what Mr. Vanderbilt wanted,” and he sits back at the table. Then Sweet Cheeks makes a ringing sound and they both leave the room.

I find it fascinating that out of all the lavish tapestries, furniture, paintings, gold and riches that we saw yesterday, that my kids identified with the life of the servants than the life of the Vanderbilts. They didn’t come home and pretend to be rich kings and queens. My kids were pretending to be servants.

My hope is that my kids will always desire to serve others and not expect others to do for them. I want them to remember the “last shall be first and the first shall be last,” and to show love through action and deed and not word only.

I guess I need to make sure I’m modeling that every day: To be a servant and not a Vanderbilt.