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Tea at the Grand Floridian

Anyone who knows me even sort of well can tell you that I am an unabashed Anglophile.

I mean, I named my daughter Britton. And I have two degrees in British Literature. The love runs deep.

One of my favorite things about British culture is afternoon tea. I was first introduced to this wonderful experience during the first day of my London study abroad program. It was love at first dollop of clotted cream. 

Since I don't live in England, I have to find places that serve afternoon tea so that I can satisfy my inner Anglophile. 

When I found out that I could go to an afternoon tea at Disney World, I nearly exploded from excitement. Here were two of my favorite things in the entire world combined

Walt Disney World #4Parks1Day Challenge: Part IV (Magic Kingdom)

I won't lie. Animal Kingdom sucked the life out of us.

There wasn't any breeze. It was at least 100 degrees. There were people everywhere. 

Most people don't know this, but fighting your way through a crowd at Disney is an excellent workout. (How else are you supposed to earn a popcorn or Mickey ice cream?!) But who needs to workout in the middle of a June day in the blazing sun? 

Not me.

Walt Disney World #4Parks1Day Challenge: Part III (Animal Kingdom)

After conquering both Hollywood Studios and Epcot by 3:00 p.m., my sister and I were working hard to stay upbeat and focused on the #4parks1day challenge.

I have to say that doing just that was getting harder and harder as the day wore on, the temperatures started rising, and the crowds got thicker. 

We hopped on a bus from Epcot and headed to Animal Kingdom. Usually, I don't notice the bus drivers too much, but this time, we had the World's Slowest Driver.

Seriously. I tried to bestow the official title on him as we disembarked.

Walt Disney World #4Parks1Day Challenge: Part II (Epcot)

At the end of the last blog post, my sister and I had just conquered our first park of four. 

We bid Hollywood Studios adieu and headed to Epcot via the Friendship Boats. We'd originally planned to walk the mile between the two parks, but I am so, so, so glad that we didn't--we were already walking enough as it was, and the temperatures were rising fast. 

Walt Disney World 4 Parks 1 Day Challenge: Part I (Hollywood Studios)

Walt Disney World 4 Parks 1 Day Challenge: Part I (Hollywood Studios) | CosmosMariners.com

The 4 Parks 1 Day challenge by the numbers: 

15 hours. 

11.5 rides. 

1 bucket of popcorn.

2 Mickey ice creams. 

4 bus rides.

1 monorail ride. 

1 boat ride.

4 parks. 

1 day. 

To put it simply, the Walt Disney World 4 Parks 1 Day Challenge was intense. But it was an intense success!!!

 I have SO much to share, including pictures, an award-winning video (uh, that won an award that I gave myself) and tips on how you can do your own (if you're that crazy), so keep checking back throughout the week. 

But today, we're going to talk about the first park of the challenge. Bottom line: we had no clue what we'd gotten ourselves into...

Disney in June and the #4Parks1Day Challenge

I have been waiting so long to write this post, but kept putting it off. I knew once I wrote the post that I would be headed to Disney World in a very, very short time.

Here I am, a mere day from being back in one of my favorite places in the world. Words can't express how excited I am. For the last few days, I've been freaking Landon out because we'll be watching TV or cleaning or something, and he'll look over at me and I'll have this giant smile on my face. 


As I mentioned a while back, this trip came unexpectedly. Since my sister has to go to the Orlando area for a work conference, she invited me along for company...and to sneak some Disney into our lives. It's basically a cobbled together sisters' trip--no husbands or boyfriends or kids or parents. (We'll be doing the family trip in December). We'll be there from Friday night to Wednesday afternoon, and I plan on packing as much Disney awesomeness into those few days as possible. 

Let's review the major parts of the trip, shall we?


Folks, we've reached the end of the line. I've said (nearly) all I could say about my England 2012 trip with my home school students. It's been a fun way to revisit this gargantuan marathon of a trip, and I promise that I'll do better about posting about my future travels in a more timely manner. :)

We did three things in Greenwich. If you're planning a day there, let me advise you: do NOT do all three of these things in one day. You will hate yourself because you will be super rushed. Spread them out over two days. 

With that being said, onward into the Greenwich day recap!


With only two posts left on my England 2012 trip recap, I feel like I'm deep into territory that most tourists don't even consider. Like Andy from The Office said, "No hits. Deep tracks only!" 

I didn't mean to do it, but I kind of ended with a couple of deep tracks. They're still awesome, so you can rollerskate to your heart's content...or not. 

Getting back to Guildhall. 

Lloyd's of London: More Than I Ever Wanted to Know about Insurance

On my England 2012 trip, I ended up in Lloyd's of London with four kids. 

As anyone with any experience with children can probably guess, there was a fair bit of whining and multiple rounds of "When are we leaving?" (In their defense, we were getting ready to leave for our private tour of Stonehenge, which turned out to be one of the highlights of the trip.)

They were also more interested in riding the elevators than learning about insurance or trade risks. I can't blame them, as those elevators were pretty darn cool. 

Lloyd's of London

There's So Much More to Dover Than Cliffs

Hidden tunnels.

Steep cliffs. 

A rambling castle. 

Such a place sounds like the beginning of a fantasy novel, doesn't it?

And you thought that Dover, England was just a bunch of cliffs. 

If you're willing to battle the winds and the cold (as we did on an unfortunate June day on our England 2012 trip), you'll be rewarded with a new perspective on the English efforts in World War II...and on those famous cliffs of Dover. 

France is out there...somewhere.

What to Do at Hampton Court Palace with Kids: Secret Rooms, Queen Victoria's Wardrobe, and a Tudor Maze

What to Do at Hampton Court Palace with Kids: Secret Rooms, Queen Victoria's Wardrobe, and a Tudor Maze | CosmosMariners.com

If you're visiting London with kids, you cannot miss a trip out to Molesey, where you'll find my favorite of all the Tudor palaces. Here's what to do at Hampton Court Palace with kids from the usual sites to the lesser known touring options.

London Library

Does anyone else love the smell of old books?

When we were little, my sister and I used to go to the library. It was a super small one since our town only had a couple of thousand people. Those poor books didn't get out much. 

My sister used to rummage through the children's section and smell her way to the good books (at least, according to her). She didn't care when it was made or who wrote it as long as it had the right smell. 

So much for judging a book by its cover. Clearly, whoever came up with that adage never smelled an old book.

12 Months Old

I promise that I'll get back on track with all of the London posts tomorrow.

But for right now, I'm still in birthday mode, so indulge me one more non-travel related post. (Though, while parenthood doesn't involve a ton of travel normally, I could definitely make the argument that it's an adventure no less daunting than setting out to a country where you've never been and where you don't speak the language.)

My baby turned one last week, and I still haven't come to terms with it. 

Britton's First Birthday Luau

This week was both awesome and exhausting.

Kind of like the entire last year has been. 

As Britton was at the root of both, it was a fitting end to my beautiful daughter's first year of life. 

Alohomora: Unlocking the Secrets of the Harry Potter Studios

Did you see what I did with the title there? Dorky Clever, right?

At one point during our June 2012 trip, the mom of the children that I taught asked them, "What was your favorite thing that we've seen so far? And you can't say Harry Potter."

She was hoping against hope that what the kids took away from our intense trip had an element of history, of high culture, of literature. But she was fighting a losing battle because the Harry Potter Studios tour was so cool.


Or, how all of my Literature dreams came true

When I traveled to London and the surrounding area in June 2012, I knew there were many things in store for a literature-loving kid like me. 

After all, I was the English/Language Arts teacher for the kids who were on the trip with me. 

When the mom and dad of the homeschool program asked me for my input on the trip, I immediately suggested a visit to Stratford-upon-Avon (and a trip to the Harry Potter Studios, but that's a post for tomorrow. Literally. I'm posting about it tomorrow!). 

Throughout the school year preceding the trip, I'd focused heavily on Shakespeare's influence on later works. We even had "Little Shakes," my stuffed William Shakespeare doll that I got from the Unemployed Philosophers' Guild. (It comes highly recommended as a teaching tool for those of you who are teachers or who homeschool.)

Now, Little Shakes was returning to his homeland. And I was making it happen!


Cambridge University | CosmosMariners.com

Are y'all as excited as I am about my upcoming trip? If you missed the announcement, check it out here! I'll have most posts on the planning as I get a little closer, so definitely come back...

Where were we in our London travels before I interrupted to bring you news of my upcoming travels?

Ah, yes. 

We'd just visited Stonehenge at sunset and then rested against Buckingham Palace as we watched the Changing of the Guard

What's next on our jam-packed itinerary?

We're headed out of London to a town called Cambridge that's home to a little institute of higher learning called Cambridge University. You may have heard of it.

Buckingham Palace: Changing of the Guard

As I mentioned in Friday's post, I'm revisiting a trip that I took to London and the surrounding area back when I was teaching in a homeschool program. 

Better late than never, right?! (Plus, the majority of these sites have looked the same for hundreds of years. I really doubt they've changed that significantly since the summer of 2012.)

Let's kick off the week with a behind-the-gates review of the Changing of the Guard. 

Yup, that's right.