by the Roving Reporter


   Your Roving Reporter took a trip to see his grandchildren in England during the “first to the seventh Days of Christmas”.  The trip began with the traditional English Boxing Day dinner and celebration on December 26.  Boxing Day originated as a way to reward servants who worked serving their masters on Christmas Day itself.  These servants got December 26 off, which they spent with their own families.  They were each given a “box” for their families that contained money, warm clothes, or even gourmet food.  In the 1800s, English merchants would often do something similar for their business employees.

The English weather, notably milder than here in Boston, was actually springlike.  A day’s walk was a pleasure, especially inside some of England’s very well preserved forests and green areas.  The village where the grandchildren live is called Garrard’s Cross – a picturesque place 30 kilometers northwest of London towards Oxford.   They are all doing well – Emma (23), Michael (22), Elle (21), Eve (20) – and actually, are no longer children.

Two trips were notable:

A trip to London was first on the list, of course.  The Christmas decorations were all still in place.  A long aimless, post-Christmas walk through Piccadilly was followed by dinner in London’s Chinatown.  The transit and rail systems in and around London are a pleasure to use – no need to drive into London, at 12 million (12,000,000) people, one of the world’s largest metropolises.

The Wallace Museum was a London stop to remember.  Two hundred years ago, it was a private collection having as many as 12 Rembrandts (experts disagree on how many were actually painted by the Master).  Two that are definitely authentic are the well-known portraits of himself and his son, “Titus”, which show his genius at its absolute best.  In addition, the Wallace Museum contains Gainsboroughs, armor/weaponry displays, and an unmatched classic Victorian décor.  And admission is blessedly free, although contributions are requested.

This writer had never been to Banbury Cross, the site of that old Mother Goose rhyme, “Ride a Cock Horse”.  That was the second trip he took.  Banbury is a perfectly preserved Medieval village with a church dating back to 1278.  Modern shopping malls are carefully incorporated with raftered old pubs, where original “fish, chips, an’ mushy” can be ordered.  The old Oxford Canal still exists at its periphery.

Here’s a tip:  the writer’s tickets to London were obtained from a cut rate organization called “OneTravel”.  Their service was good; the ticket price was perhaps as much as $800 lower than the list prices for Holiday travel to London (and back).  Just make sure that your travel plans are completely firm before you order – the ticket price is NOT refundable.

Also, expect the usual “airport experience”, with crowds, security points, baggage checking, passport controls, terrible food, long waiting times, etc. etc., etc.  This writer went through three of the world’s major airports on his trip, and there was just no avoiding that 21st Century “airport experience”.  Otherwise, it was a great trip.