Other trips: Holly and Sandra in East Yorkshire, 2000 * Sandra in 2009

Holly in England

May and June 2005
Holly stayed with the McNeills in Chertsey, Surrey (south of London, right on the Thames),
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 packing

Hardest 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, departure

Marty 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 time

Holly 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.

In Charmouth: Jasmine and Sophie McNeill, Holly in back laughing. I like the stripiness of their socks and skirt. Holly's wearing her borrowed "Wellies" (Wellingtons / rainboots). Darwin McNeill, who is six or nearly so, took the photo.

May 16, Monday

Holly 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, Tuesday

I 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.

I talked to Holly at about 8:00 there, and she was hanging out with a bunch of kids she "introduced" to me. All boys... And she said they were about to go back to the house to get Jasmine's coat. I asked her to get Helena to call me later, and she said okay, and was hemming and hawing about thinking of something else, and another call was beeping in. I missed a call yesterday talking to Holly, but didn't want to miss this one, and GOOD! It was Helena, who had driven four miles to get where she could call me, and also good that I mentioned the girls were on their way to get Jasmine's coat, because Helena had the coat in the car.

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.

A HesFes photo Leon McNeill (the dad) took.
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, Thursday

I 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."

"She has such a cute accent :-D " . . . "[Daughter] said she really liked her and kept giving her hugs."

May 20

Friday, at HesFes, after it rained the day and evening before, Holly slid in the mud. I think Jasmine took the photos.

"All covered with mud that way, she reminds me of a mischievous fairy statue."
(a nice web-surfer named Juno sent that description; thanks!)

Look how the other kids are dressed, and Holly's in her swimsuit. (Hard to tell, I know.)

Click here to see a few others of this set of photos, and here are links to other families'HesFes 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.
HollyLynnDodd: ya know what, I can name all 4 kids in the mud picture. Fred is the one with the red shirt, Bobby is the one closest, Winston is the one with the blue sweater, and Ben is the one you can hardly even see his hat.
SandraDodd: What about the kids across by the bathrooms?
HollyLynnDodd: yeah, I can't see them enough to name them (but if I could i bet I would)
HollyLynnDodd: Bobby is the only person who would give me a hug while i was all muddy, which was very very sweet of him

May 21, Saturday, from Jasmine by e-mail:


:D Hes Fes was SO amazing! There were lots of people there but I'm sure Holly and I spoke with most of them. It was really good weather for the first few days but towards the end it just got muddy and muddier. I'm sure Holly told you but she did some mud sliding stuff.... I reeeeally want to send you pictures, I'm just waiting for dad to put the pictures on this computer. We're all kind of sore and ill but... God, we had so much fun! I think Holly wants to tell you stories so I won't spoil it for you and her...

Later today some friends of ours are driving down from York to watch the Eurovision song contest with us which should be fun too but I am soo tired, and Holly is asleep (or close to it) on the couch.

So fun!!

~ Jasmine

May 23, Monday, e-mail from HOLLY!


I was just looking at the england site again, and thought I should send you an real E-mail... instead of a not real E-mail I guess or something I'm not sure.

yesterday Helena took me to go buy some shoes 'cause my other ones (all three pairs) got vary muddy at HesFes, so I got some real cool green ones

and we got Jasmine some matching pink ones. night we went to The Hungy Hourse (Darwin's favorite resterant) and I had some of the the best coke I've ever had, I don't know why it was so good it just was. Mom-note: they use a different sweetener than we do, and it IS good.

A couple hours ago Jazzy and I went for a bike-ride and to the grocery store, I got Brush-Away's (which I wanted since I saw the advert on TV for it, which is really cool for me because it's the same as our Oral-B Brush Ups) and I mostly wanna show Marty, and I got tooth picks, and a fruit drink, and a Sprite for Jasmine, and some Ben and Jerry's icecream and some plastic spoons for the ice cream.

But on the way home Jasmine fell off her bike and hurt her knee pretty bad so she doesn't really want to go karate tonight and I don't really blame her.

I miss albuquerque, and I miss Hes Fes, But I'm still having fun!


(I had signed an e-mail "Sandra-Mom")

May 24, Tuesday

Note 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).
At about 5:15 p.m. their time, Helena wrote

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)
Pretty cool! Up-to-the-minute reporting (sometimes).

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, Wednesday

SandraDodd: 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

Helena: "Holly being jolly and happy with the 'White' cliffs of Dover in the back ground. We enjoyed hanging out at Dover. There are lots of cool things to look at in the Port. Cliffs. Boats. Big weird machines."

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.

Holly and Jazzy in the chocolate booth at the grocery store in Belgium. "The chocolate there was amazing!"

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

Helena's account of Omaha beach with many photos
Friday they went to Normandy, to go to Omaha Beach. Helena told them the story of the Allied landing. The kids played in German bunkers. They saw a couple having sex on the beach. So, Holly said, she's been in France two days and seen people having sex in public both days. (Three more days to go, check back for more possible excitement.) She said they were catching skinny fish about 3" long that looked like snakes. They would dig a hole in the sand and as the water came into the hole, these fish would come out of the sand and into the hole. The kids could hold them, and they collected up fifteen of them. (If anyone knows what kind of fish that is, please let me know so I can tell Holly. *wait, I think they are sand eels: I'll tell you why I think so... Holly confirms, and there's a photo of one of hers there)

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, Saturday

Saturday 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.

Haley's Comet appeared in 1066, and is shown on the Bayeaux Tapestry, an embroidered pictorial account of the Norman Conquest of England. More here, from another source and here's a list of astronomical evidence from other historical sources, including this one.

May 29, Sunday

Morning, 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, Wedding

Holly 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, Tuesday

Helena 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, Wednesday

Holly 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...

Today we went into Camden Town in London (again) with one of my school friends named Holly Dixon. We walked around and did a lot of giggling, shopping, and giggling (more). I dressed up in a neat, gothy outfit (but they wouldn't let us take photos) then Holly and I bought these fabric arm things and 'shag bands', which I'll let her explain...**below**

But then we took a double-decker London bus towards Soho and my dad's work. As the bus stopped it was next to a grocery store in an old fancy english building, which I pointed out to Holly because you wouldn't find that in Albuquerque. So she said "Oh, that's cool........ Doughnuts!" with Holly Dixon and I jumping to run off the bus to get them. Last night we were discussing how the only good doughnuts in England were Krispy Kremes, which you could only get at 'Harrod's' in London and then suddenly Holly spots this doughnut stand right in the middle! So we all rush off the bus and get doughnuts and drinks then go back to the bus stop and try to figure out which bus to take.

After many buses and lame jokes we got to Soho and china town and bought coconut juice (which is really yummy) and started working our way back to the train station. We said goodbye to Holly Dixon and met my dad on the train home. The End :D I'm sure Holly will remember something else, or correct me on something but we all had lots of fun!

~ Jazzy

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, Friday

I 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, Saturday

Holly 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?"
"Yeah. But it tasted nasty."

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:-)
Sandra Note: No photo available of that pub. Found a map. There are islands in the Thames there! I didn't know that. (Photo of the pub from a boat on the river on the June 11 entry below.)

June 5, 2005, Sunday

Called 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.

Helena's account:
This morning I brought the girls to Thorpe park. It is a very popular amusement park that happens to be about three miles from my house. Yay! I just picked them up and since they've been there all day and barely slept last night (for visiting and watching late movies) I'm laying odds that they'll both be out by 8:00:-)

They all said they had a great time---I tried to get them to take the camera this morning, but none of them seemed too enthused by that so they just left it. Sorry bout that.

June 7, 2005, Tuesday

Holly 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, Friday

Went 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, Saturday

Went 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's first trip to England, five years ago
Holly in general