Holly in England
May and June 2005
and went to France for five days for a wedding and touristing.
Here is where the the itinerary was, which has some other notes
From when Holly was gone:
And here is the diary of what Sandra-the-Mom knows about what's going on, partly for the benefit of interested others, and for Holly to have as a record in later years. (I told Marty I felt like the guys at NASA, with Holly out as the astronaut.)The account will be tweaked and amended by Holly's further stories, so she can look here and remember!
May 11, Wednesday, final packingHardest part: The duffle bag containing Holly's second bag (nearly empty), her hatbox (well, a cardboard box with her six hats in it), and eight or ten small cardboard boxes labelled and sealed up, containing groceries for her host family, some things they'd ordered (like a t-shirt that said "New Mexico: cleaner than Old Mexico" or something like that, and books and computer games). Printed out a summary list of all what's in each box, with boxes identified (like "Kraft cream cheese box..." and "Sorbet box..."). Keith was hefting it and declaring it about as heavy as his armor bag. There's a 70 lb. limit and he said "well under."
May 12, Thursday, departureMarty and I took Holly to the airport. Found out the duffle bag weighed 62 lbs. There are extra forms and fees for unaccompanied minors. We were given security passes to go to the gate with her and were instructed to stay until the plane was off the ground. Did that.
May 13, Friday a.m., their timeHolly called 8:15 there, on Helena's phone from London-Gatwick. She was fine, sounded tired, said they kept her in immigration for a long time. She said, "They asked me a lot of questions to make sure I was who I thought I was, but they were easy questions." Update: She said the woman asked her what Helena did for a living and where her/Holly's brothers worked. I laughed, because the interviewer would have no idea of the answers. Holly said that she seemed to be "checking to see if my answers were hesitant or dishonest at all." She said the person who was supposed to stay with her between flights in Houston was four different people. I'll ask more about those details later, but I could hear the McNeill's talking excitedly around her and didn't want to keep them from getting out of the airport, and it was 1:15 a.m. where I was. Kirby was on the line too. Tomorrow they leave for HesFes.
May 16, MondayHolly called and said she's having a lot of fun as HesFes. Their cottage is VERY near (more on that in here). Helena the host-mom said she was really proud of Holly and Jasmine for the presentation they gave today. I thought it was supposed to be Tuesday, but Holly said it ended up being 3:30 Monday, and there were 20 to 30 people, varying. I didn't ask how long it lasted.
May 17, TuesdayI got tired of waiting for a promised call from Helena, so called there. Left a message. Called the phone Holly has been loaned for her use so they can keep track of each other at HesFes [and because it seems every human in the U.K. has a cellphone, which they call a MObile (long "i" as in "bile") phone]. I'm VERY glad the McNeills are a techno-joyous family because even though the mom's phone doesn't get a signal in that town and the daughter's phone was put into a cup of water by the little sister, there was still a phone that worked.
So from Albuquerque I was able to help arrange for Jasmine to actually get her coat. Helena hung up, drove back, and called me on the phone Holly had (the one that's working from HesFes today, and if Jasmine's phone doesn't recover from a dip in a cup of water, it might be the only phone for the rest of the week).
Helena said Holly and Jasmine went shopping in the village, where Holly bought hand lotion. She hasn't taken any money out with the ATM card she took. Not a big spender so far.
Holly said on Thursday she hadn't been into the Groovy Movie yet,
but I like the photo and there's countryside behind to at least show a little of where they are.
May 19, ThursdayI talked to Holly for a long time 5/19. She had stories about kids at HesFes, but started off the call saying it was already worth missing XBox live and Outlandish and free lunch. "I love it here!" (Her three concerns when she left have already been much surpassed.)
Post-HesFes comments on Holly by moms on that end:"Holly was loud and confident and cool! I wish I had half as much confidence as she has and I am 32!". . . [same person had written:]"Holly is LOVELY! And was VERY popular, by all she met."
May 20Friday, at HesFes, after it rained the day and evening before, Holly slid in the mud. I think Jasmine took the photos.
Holly said at the end of sliding she was cold, and used the shower (in that building in back) to warm up and to come out so the kids could see the before and after.
May 21, Saturday, from Jasmine by e-mail:
May 23, Monday, e-mail from HOLLY!
May 24, TuesdayNote from Helena: "I'm taking the girls to the train station so they can do a bit of shopping in London at Camden Town today."
I had written "I hope Jasmine's knee is better" (after yesterday's bike spill).
They were walking all over London today and Jazz just called me from Hamleys (*THE* coolest toy store on the planet) to say that they were getting ready to walk slowly back to Picadilly and then on the train home.As I was reading the e-mail, I got this by instant message:
brief interruption: holly just called and said that they'd be on the 6:30 train arriving in Weybridge and they were with Leon! They must have picked him up from work to ride back with him...I'm going to pick up the girls now (Leon is on his bike). The girls left from the Walton-on-Thames station (in case you're interested in that sort of stuff)
I keep thinking about how it would have been even twenty years ago, as to communications. And a hundred years ago, overseas visits meant wait a couple of weeks for a letter. Computers and modern phones make it amazingly easier for everyone: mom, host family, and visiting kid.
May 25, WednesdaySandraDodd: What did you buy yesterday?
HollyLynnDodd: I got a really cool over shirt hoody thingy that is all like patches
HollyLynnDodd: and I got a pink belt and this spikey coller thing
HollyLynnDodd: but we got lunch and got to see a drug deal
HollyLynnDodd: I also got to ride on a whole bunch of double decker bus's
HollyLynnDodd: ... never on the front though
SandraDodd: When you say never on the front do you mean in front on the top?
HollyLynnDodd : yeah
May 26, Thursday
Left late for France; took boat instead of Eurotunnel, which was going to cost $400 for the van and all of them. Too much.
Holly says the boat had a deck around the outside and a big room with reclining chairs and dishes of food out. They had fun.
When they got there it was too late to go to the aquarium. They went to Belgium to a grocery store where they had a good time looking around and she bought Belgian waffles, which she still has. That seemed odd to me, because of what "Belgian waffles" means in the U.S. (big, hot, whipped cream and fruit, messy). She said they come in bags like tortillas, but about the size of little eggos, and they have chocolate between each two, like Oreos.
They came back into France and stopped at a rest stop, but the toilets were locked up. Holly quote: "We saw these bikers having sex. Minding their own business."
May 27, Friday
They were going to go to the American Cemetery but it was already closed.
When I talked to her she was at the B&B and said it was really old, and the stairs were like 200 years old. This is the place: Maison du Directoire . It's an 18th century house in Bayeaux, and there's a family living there but they rent out two rooms and a bathroom, with a separate entrance. I say "B&B" because that's our term for that, but I don't think they're feeding them.
May 28, SaturdaySaturday 2:00 in Albuquerque, I called and they were at a restaurant near the troglodyte gite where they've already checked in. Jasmine said there were shelves and things carved right into the wall. photos! Holly said there was a garage without a door that was just a cave too. I talked to Helena and told her to just tell Holly what she thought was interesting or good to tell, but that my dad was in France right after the war. He was seventeen, and on a troop ship bound for France, and while they were at sea, the war ended. He was part of the occupation forces in France and later in Germany. Helena's dad is French and grew up in Paris, but joined the U.S. army rather than the French (both drafted him, as his father was American), so he was in southern New Mexico learning English and training to be a fireman or some such with other non-English-speaking soldiers.
Today they saw the Bayeaux Tapestry, and Helena said Holly was all excited about it as they were leaving. We didn't talk long because the food was coming, but I wonder if Holly remembered the stories about how the Norman Invasion in 1066 affected the English language so profoundly.
May 29, SundayMorning, I don't know. Evening, "hen party" (bridal showerish thing?)in an ancient restaurant. photos, and of the wedding the next day
May 30, Monday, WeddingHolly got to serve food at the reception and ride in a horse-drawn cart (the horse of which I have no photos), and the link to photos is just above. More details someday, or not...
May 31, 2005, TuesdayHelena wrote Tuesday midnightish from home:
Going to sleep. Had a great trip. All are safe and happy and enriched. Pictures will follow once we are conscious again
June 1, WednesdayHolly chatted by instant message a while, mid-afternoon her time. She and Jasmine were hanging out with the younger kids at home while Helena had gone to work (at the archeology museum, where she doesn't work fulltime or anything, but is an archeologist with a desk and some projects and consulting or something, and this botch-job might lure her in here to clarify).
Most of the stories were mother-daughter chitchat involving things like laundry and underwear, so I'll just say "nothing new to report," though it was great just having the mother-daughter chitchat. Oh, and she gave me some names of kids to add below the mud photos, and had me change some formatting on this page so it could be more easily read. Boring; sorry.
Today's the halfway point (in time) of the trip, and Holly says she's maybe about halfway ready to come home, so we're right on schedule. When she left she really REALLY (*really*) wanted to be out of here and go to England, and so maybe by the 13th she'll be homesick enough that the airport and a long flight look like a fairly good deal. Right now, not homesick.
June 2, Thursday "Holly, Holly and Me": e-mail from Jasmine
Wooo! I'm so glad you've been making the England page for Holly, I think I'll look at it now...
Holly Dixon says that shag bands are braclets that when somebody breaks them you have to like kiss them or something... but they look cool and are hard to break.(So do kids try to break them on purpose?) not that i know of, but they are hard to break. before i knew what they were god gave me one when he was drunk at hesfes and i broke it ( GOD was drunk at Hesfes? I knew there was a lot of drinking, but SHEEESH) [Holly, clarifying at the same time I was asking:] oh yeah, god is one the kids i was hanging out with at hesfes ( if you didn't guess)
the bracelets are just like plastic
and like all black lighty colors
June 3, FridayI have no idea what Holly did that Friday. I know Helena sent me four batches of photos, and I spent most of the day figuring out what to do with them so people who come by here could see them, and learning Adobe Photoshop tricks I didn't already know. Cool! I wouldn't have done that otherwise, so we all get this trickle-down benefit...
June 4, 2005, SaturdayHolly said that Holly Dixon came to spend the night. They all went out to a pub, and then went to a different pub with better food (or something). Holly said "I drank beer legally, but it was kind of half beer."
A shandy is a combo of beer and English lemonade, which is nothing like American lemonade at all. It's like 7-Up with no lime, just lemon. And mixed with beer.
Helena reports: Yesterday, Holly Dixon came over to spend the night. For dinner I took the girls and Darwin on a mini 'pub-crawl'. At the first pub, the Swan, Chertsey's oldest standing (early 18th c.) the landlord told me it was perfectly legal to give the girls a 'lager-shandy' (which is half beer and half 7-up--lemonade in England) as long as they ate some food with it and they were in my legal care (Woo-hoo! an excuse to pull out formalized papers? Nah. My word was good enough). After that we went to a wonderful pub on the north banks of the Thames in Shepperton called Thames Court. Really good food. Only Holly Dixon wanted another shandy:-)
June 5, 2005, SundayCalled Holly 6:00 their time. She said they were getting into the van, just leaving Thorpe Park, an amusement park in Surrey, where an employee named Henry talked to them so much he got into trouble and where there was a water ride that got riders and spectators wet (if people wanted to be wet, there was a walkway that sprayed them) (Tidal Wave), and they were wet as she spoke to me.
June 7, 2005, TuesdayHolly wrote:
Jasmine and I went cycling to the store and got some ice cream and then went to this stream (I think it's a stream, maybe a small part of a river) and then we kept going and found this park place with this really cool chane swing thing... but then we realized we didn't have a phone to call home, and so then we came home.
June 10, FridayWent to Shyrley Williams's house and played, Holly/Jasmine/Heather (I think) went to the chip shop to bring food back for others, did body art with gel pens, went back to the store for yogurt later.
June 11, SaturdayWent to visit Marco, a neighbor who lives on a houseboat. He took them up the Thames a ways, and they saw the pub they went to last week. The boat has three or four rooms.
Holly says Marco is half Italian and half Irish and has a great accent. He came to her going-away party on...
June 12, 2005, Sunday
Going-away barbecue at Helena's. Photos of some of the food and guests are here
June 13, got e-mail from Helena saying she had stayed with Holly as long as they'd let her at Gatwick. Keith and I picked her up at the Albuquerque airport a little after 7:00, and she told us stories, and will probably be telling stories, for days, weeks, YEARS. She had a great time but we were glad to have her home, too.
Holly in general