For two weeks of February I spent time with my two lovely granddaughters, looking after them at their home in Bristol and then travelling with them to New York and Boston for the second week which was their half-term. This could be a very long post but I’m going to cut down on the text and give you all the photos I can, so that you can see how amazing it was.
My first trip, was with the eldest granddaughter, here in the UK. We went to Slimbridge Wetland Centre with her school. My daughter had signed up to be a parent helper, but in her absence I readily took her place. It’s years since I went on a school trip (we called it an outing) — they haven’t changed one bit! Children eating their packed lunch and treats on the coach before we even reached our destination. Lots of chatting and excitement each time they were lined up in crocodile formation as we moved from place to place on the day’s excursion. We arrived at the park in just over an hour, Bristol to Gloucestershire. It was unfortunately misty for the first part of the day which meant our view from the lookout tower over Swan Lake, was somewhat obscured. No problem we soon raced around the frogs zone looking at — well, mainly frogs — walked all around the park, ate our lunch, and did a bit of ‘learning’. For me the pièce de résistance was the Estuary View Lookout. Amazing. I couldn’t believe how close to Bristol we were as I looked across at the fantastic river valley.
I learned a lot about wildfowl, migration and for a while I even began to like birds. They’re not my favourite species but it was interesting to hear about their habitat and habits. The staff at the centre made learning fun, involving the children in games to help them understand why and where birds migrate. I held the winning card in one game, much to the delight of grandchild number one! For the most part though, she kept her distance. Understandable, who needs their Nonna to be too close on a school trip. (I did hear her boast about me afterwards which was really lovely).
AMERICA: BROOKLYN, AND BOSTON
We flew Virgin Atlantic from Heathrow to JFK and it was not at all bad. The bus from Bristol was 45 minutes late but I had left the house in plenty of time. My daughter’s chirpy text, ‘Lucky you’ve got 47 hours’ was a bit cutting and obviously exaggerated, I had actually only allowed for 4 hours at the airport. We made it with 3 hours to spare. Good flight. Good children. Arriving at JFK in the evening (it was about 3am uk time) we were all exhausted and just fell into bed when we got to the hotel. Let me add here that I then spent 10 nights in the same room as the children and their mother, two different hotels. Thank goodness hotel rooms in America are ENORMOUS!
We spent the weekend in Brooklyn where the children and my daughter have many friends. Both grandchildren were born in New York, one in Brooklyn and one in Manhattan. They caught up with their buddies before we drove up to Framingham near Boston. The hotel here was brand new, The Aloft, and it was chosen because it had a swimming pool HOWEVER, the pool was out of action because there was no lifeguard. Despite the fact that the pool was small and completely visible from the lobby of the hotel through a glass wall. Raised eyebrows here. Ah well. It was okay because they gave us complimentary pass to the pool and gym just up the road. No problem then, except there was a problem, because the children were under fourteen. Boy did I kick up a fuss, (get the American lilt in there?) In the end we were able to go and swim at the Sheraton Conference centre up the road, another Marriott Hotel. I think they opened it just for us as we were the only ones swimming. There was a big sign saying NO LIFEGUARD ON DUTY (but they seemed to think a sign was a good enough get out) but an older man sat at a desk and watched us for our designated hour. He was okay and spent at least twenty minutes trying to mend a pair of goggles for us. We only did this swim at the Sheraton once as it was a pain taking an Uber to the Sheraton, getting changed, getting dry and dressed and taking and Uber back to Aloft. Still the concierge meant well.
I had to try and find things to do for a couple of days. There wasn’t much around the hotel as it was mostly a highway with strip malls and restaurants along it. I decided to get the train into Boston and visit the Aquarium, the Boston Tea Party and the Children’s Museum. The train was brilliant, only $9.50 for me and the children went free. It was a double decker so much excitement to be had.
Photos above are of the amazing New England Aquarium Boston The stunning tubular tank is in the centre and extends upwards for four floors.
My favourite was the sea horse and the girls loved the octopus of course!
On the Wednesday we went to The Boston Tea Party. It’s somewhere I’ve always wanted to go. There were very few visitors but the company of actors/guides still put on a good show in the Meeting Room for us, and included everyone in the re-enactment of throwing tea into Boston harbour. Eldest granddaughter threw the tea chest over without a second thought, (it was on the end of a rope obviously).
The boat, Eleanor, was an exact replica of the original. Much smaller than I imagined. To think of it crossing the Atlantic is very scary! The gift shop was full of many items but also a great deal of china and tins of tea. Too much to choose from really. I would like to have had a cup of tea in Abigail’s Tea Room but the girls were ready to run over the bridge to the Children’s Museum.
Our final visit of the day before we headed back to Framingham on the train was The Boston Children’s Museum. An absolutely fantastic place with so much going on and a great deal to see. They had ‘sock skating’, bubble making, science experiments, climbing, arts and crafts, a whole raft of things to do for children up to the age of 12. My favourite was a real Japanese house, dismantled and imported from Japan then rebuilt in the museum. It was fascinating. We were lucky enough to go inside…shoes off of course.
So much to do in the Children’s Museum
The Japanese House
That’s all folks. I’m off to Thailand at the end of March so watch this space for more travel news!