Troop 4715 Goes to London!

June 4 - June 15, 2004

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Friday June 4

Our trusty advisors are paranoid so we have to meet at the Delta gate for a nearly 10 PM flight at 8:00.  Oh, well, we did have to sort out all those swaps, and the plane was not late, so eventually we’re on board and taking off.

Saturday June 5

By the time we get to London it’s 11 AM.  Sleepy as we are, we have to buy weekend passes for the underground and busses.  What whimps!  We send the Dads and Mrs. Gargiullo to the ticket line, while the rest of us get a lecture from Mrs. Callaway on the Tube (Mind the Gap!).  We grasp that we are going to the Belsize Park Station.  With passes in hand and a reminder to take them back out of the machine every time, we set out into London.  Imagine that!  We made it, schlepped out bags out of the Tube station and up the hill to Pax Lodge.  Turtle time for two hours and then a lecture from Mrs. Callaway on independence and reading the guide book all by ourselves.  Quickly we decide to get back on the Tube to have dinner in Covent Garden.  What a place!

Sunday June 6

The Callaways have to go back to Gatwick to meet Tabby, so everyone else heads for the fabled Camden Market.  Shopping!  We all get back to Pax Lodge for lunch and then clutching our kites we head for Parliament Hill on Hampstead Heath.  Now this is how to recover from jet lag, and the guys in the park are cute, too.  We’re starting to get a grip on this London thing.  After all, we speak the language.

Monday June 7

The girls discovered that Pax Lodge is right next door to an old church that has been converted into Air Studios, a world-famous studio that has recorded & scored music for movies such as Shrek2, Big Fish, Harry Potter & LOTR (among others) in addition to recording some very cool British bands.  Our girls spend many free moments hanging around outside the studio gates hoping for a glimpse of Coldplay, who is currently recording there!

In the morning we break into our temporary family units, and most of us decide to start in Trafalger Square.  The Callaway-Law family goes to St. Martin in the Fields to make a brass rubbing and hear an organ concert.  The Lott-Kennedys & Websters decide to squeeze in some of the National Gallery in between brass rubbing & the concert.  We’re due back at Pax Lodge for the opening of the program at 3:00 p.m., and there are evening activities, too.  It’s kind of hot for full uniform, but that’s the drill.

When we return, we meet two great troops from South Carolina & Florida who will be joining us in the "London Experience" program that begins tomorrow at Pax Lodge.

Tuesday June 8


Thought for the Day from Confucius:
“Wherever you go, go with all your heart.”

We go to Flag for the first time and begin our collection of thoughts for the day.  Really kind of neat.  Then we divide up into two groups (plus the renegade Callaway adults).  Most of our troop goes to the Changing of the Guards at Buckingham Palace.  Uniformed Girl Scouts get to go inside the gate, so we breezed past all those folks outside and took up our very conspicuous post.  It was the Irish Guards that day, and they were very friendly.  They decided to march over and say hello, and they even let us pet their mascot – an Irish wolfhound, of course.  After that we went to the headquarters of Girl Guiding UK

The rest of us went to Westminster Abbey, which is amazing.  Ray and Pat went to the half-price ticket booth in Leicester Square to get tickets for Bombay Dreams and for the Gargiullo-Hoon’s to go to Les Miserables.  Then Ray & Pat had to go to Boosey and Hawkes to buy music, and to the Baden Powell House, which is the Boy Scout equivalent of Pax Lodge, to see the small museum of B-P mementos.  The lesson here is read the guide book, decide what you want to do, and the Pax Lodge staff will be wonderfully flexible as long as you’re safe & sure you can get there & back.

In the afternoon we had a traditional English Tea and an interesting guest speaker from the World Bureau. Then we broke up into patrols for the Hampstead Trail photographic scavenger hunt.  Free evening: some went back to Covent Garden, some went to ride the London Eye, some did laundry, and some went to the theater.

Wednesday June 9

Thought for the Day from Agnes Repplier:
“The impulse to travel is one of the hopeful symptoms of life.”

Tower of London Day!  We packed our lunches and took off for the Tower.  What a place to explore, and we had complete freedom to do so as long as we stayed inside the Tower complex.  We met at 2:00 so that we could get back to Pax Lodge for the International Afternoon and participants presentations.  Ours was not too shabby thanks to Mrs. Kennedy’s CD with a Powerpoint slideshow of photos.  After dinner we all got dressed up and went to the Royal Drury Lane Theatre to see Noel Coward’s Anything Goes.  It was terrific!

Thursday June 10

Thought for the Day from Victor Hugo:
“There is nothing like a dream to create the future.”

Hampstead Heath Day!  Hampstead Heath is thousands of wild and semi-wild acres in the middle of London.  Kenwood House is the beautiful mansion on Hampstead Heath that you see in the movie Notting Hill.  We got to tour Kenwood House that has many, many paintings including a Van Eyck and Rembrandt’s last self portrait, no less!  Then we broke up into two groups to take a nature walk on the Heath and to help the volunteer group Heath Hands pull out an invasive Himalayan balsam weed that is trying to take over. Upon our return, the Pax Lodge staff surprised Diana with a (banana!) birthday cake.

After such a busy day we had another free evening.  Some folks went to the Vivaldi concert at St. Martin in the Fields, some went to see The Lion King at the Lyceum, and some went to bed.

Friday June 11


Thought for the Day an extract from the Olympic Creed:
“The most important thing. . .is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle.”

Greenwich Day!  We took a train to Greenwich, which is a little way down the Thames from London, to visit the Royal Observatory and stand on the Prime Meridian with one foot in the Eastern Hemisphere and one in the Western.  Then after time to visit the markets and shops or the actual Cutty Sark sailing ship, the Queen’s House, or the National Maritime Museum, we took a cruise back up the Thames to London.  After dinner at Pax Lodge, we were able to work on a project developed by the Greek Girl Guides about the upcoming Athens Olympics this summer. We even earned a WAGGGS Olympia badge without realizing it!

Saturday June 12

Thought for the Day from Anonymous:
“Enthusiasm is the key to every performance.”

Brighton Day!  We took a train from Victoria Station to Brighton, which is a seaside resort where we were able to tour the Royal Pavilion and then choose among many fun Brighton things to do: like check out the very rocky beach, the Brighton Pier, the Sea Life Centre, or go shopping again!  Another free evening with all those choices of things to do.  Some of our troop ventured out to visit the famous Platform 9 ¾ at Kings Cross where Harry Potter catches the Hogwarts Express, just a quick Tube ride plus a little scramble up to the Rail Station from Pax Lodge!

Sunday June 13

Thought for the Day from Thomas Fuller:
“He that travels, knows much.”

Sunday morning was free, too.  Some people went to church; some of the Boy Scouts went to Gilwell Park where Baden Powell held his first Boy Scout encampment; some of us went to the Tate Modern Gallery; some of us went to the Cabinet War Rooms; some of us went straight to the British Museum, which was one of the sessions offered in the afternoon.  (Six hours at the British Museum is enough time to take a good look at the galleries that contain the Rosetta Stone and the Elgin Marbles and maybe one other gallery.  That would be about 15% of the whole museum.  Thank goodness you can get lunch without having to leave. ) Here’s something remarkable about London: most of the museums are no longer charging an entry fee.  Very cool!  Folks who did not end up at the British Museum went shopping in the West End, except for the intrepid group led by Mrs. Gargiullo that went to see the maze and other felicities at Hampton Palace.  In the evening those of us still ambulatory went down to the West End for a ghost walk.

Monday June 14

Thought for the Day from Norman Vincent Peale:
“Throw back the shoulders, let the heart sing, let the eyes flash, let the mind be lifted up, look upward and say to yourself... Nothing is impossible.”

By now we were starting to realize that our London Experience session was almost over. No-o-o-o!  This morning the groups that had already been to Westminster Abbey and the Changing of the Guards switched and went to whichever one they had missed.  After eating our lunches in St. James’ Park, we split four ways going either to St. Paul’s Cathedral, to the reconstruction of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, to Harrods to shop or to Kensington Palace. We had our closing session Monday night and tried hard not to cry.  Now we know the Pax Lodge Song and the World Song and a little more about the ideals that inspired them.

Tuesday June 15

Thought for the Day from Pat, since we missed Flag:
“Home is great, but what a trip we had!”

The taxis came at 7:30 AM and heartlessly whisked us away from Pax Lodge. Delta was on time, and we were back in Atlanta eight hours after leaving London.

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