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The Travel Journal of Jacqui and Lars

 

London - 28-30 September, 2001

 

We fly to London for a whirlwind three day visit (28, 29 and 30 September) on our way to the United States.  It is a major family gathering centered around the christening of Sienna Karin - the newest addition to the Kevin Bespolka branch of the family.  While in London, we are kept very busy over those three days, including dinner at a pub, a visit to Lego Land with the triplets and little Carl and, most importantly, the christening of Sienna Karin.

 

Friday, 28 September, 2001

 

We land on Friday morning just before 7 AM, having flown Singapore Airlines from Kuala Lumpur via Singapore. We are an hour late - tough security checks in Singapore.  While collecting the bags we get further evidence of the poor treatment bags are given - one of the wheels has been ripped right off.  Then we waste time processing the claim.  We are finally on our way and take the airport express into town.  We arrive at our hotel and, as we are early, our room is not ready.  We run into our cousin Live and her husband Frode and they let us drop our bags in their room.

 

Then we head up to Kevin's place at Canning Place Mews (what quaint old English names for streets), stopping at Starbucks to pick up some coffee (Kevin had emailed his request in ahead of time).  We arrive to a house that is a hive of activity - children running around everywhere and they just had to show us right away their collection of chestnuts.  After a warm welcome amongst all the children bouncing off the walls, we need to head out to run some errands - the main one being to start the processing of Jacqui's visa for our forthcoming trip to South America.

 

We are able to meet up with the rest of the family, along with Live's son Nils, his wife Berit and their new born daughter Sofie, for a late lunch and then join them as they continue their tour of London on the Big Bus.  It is quite emotional as we pass by the US Embassy and the tour guide tells us all about the memorial activities that took place there after 11 September terrorist attacks.  We get off at the Tower of London, and walk around for a short while.  We then head into the bowels of the London Underground to take the tube back to the hotel.  It is quite an experience, in particular with four young children in tow.  They just had to check out everything and their attention span was not too long any any one object or thing.

 

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Back at our hotel, we are assigned our room and lug all our bags to the room - a small broom closet in the back corner of the top floor.  We take a quick shower and cat nap and then head out to meet everyone else at a pub for a drink (or two) and dinner.  The food is OK, but the drinks, as usual, are very good and we have a very enjoyable evening.  It is good to catch up the Norwegian arm of the family.

 

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It is a warm balmy evening (yes, they exist in London, even in the autumn) and we sit outside.  The drinks continue to flow and we order a bunch more as they call for last orders.  We get back to the hotel just before midnight and crash - it has been a long day, but it was great to catch up with family.

 

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Saturday, 29 September, 2001

 

Today, Lars has been shanghaied to go with Carl and Kevin and the triplets and little Carl to Lego Land.  The weather has now reverted to typical English weather - cool and cloudy with drizzle and rain.  We head up to Canning Place Mews, with the obligatory stop at Starbucks, to meet Kevin and all the little monsters (sorry, I mean angels), and load them into the mini-van.  After a few wrong turns (an alternate route turned into a long cut, albeit a scenic one) we make it to Lego Land.  Just as we pull into the parking lot, the skies open up and the rain just starts to pour.  While I would have just loved to sit in the car and wait it out, the children were clamoring to get going - what to do?

 

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We spend most of the day in Lego Land - and it is actually lots of fun.  We stopped for food quite often (in particular when the rain came), watch the show where the Alpha Team saved Lego Land, went on a Ferris wheel, hid from the rain on the merry-go-round (going for three rides as we waited for the rain to stop), took driving lessons, rode the rapids on the inflatables, bounced around in helicopters, took a few train rides and just had a good old time.  Little Carl and I were able to cause a huge traffic jam on the boat cruise where we caused Carl and Cameron to spin around and get jammed in by Kevin with Nicholas and Megan (with the other boats piling up behind them).

 

We arrived back exhausted and put up our feet and had a well deserved beer (or two).

 

Sunday, 30 September, 2001

 

In the morning, we join the two Carls on a bit of sightseeing around London.  We head up to Kensington park and start to walk down through the park to Buckingham Palace.  While there is a slight drizzle once in a while, it is pleasant change to be walking in this cool weather.  After a while, we grab a taxi as we are running out of time.

 

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We take a look at the palace - no changing of the guard today - and take the obligatory pictures.  We then head into the nearby park, we we have promised little Carl that he can play for a while.  The London parks are wonderful.  Then off to The Rainforest Cafe for Lunch - another treat for little Carl.  After lunch we have to race back to the hotel so that we can get ready for the baptism.  We are running late so we head directly to the church.

 

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The christening of Sienna Karin took place at Saint Mary Abbots in Kensington.  It is a wonderful old church that makes for a moving place for the christening.  The guests slowly trickle in, followed by the proud parents and their children.  We are pleased to see Tante Berit and her son Jorgen, who will be one of the godparents.  The priest gathers everyone together and begins the ceremony.

 

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It is wonderful experience and all the children gather around as the priest pours the holy water on Sienna's head.  

 

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The priest then lights the candle for Sienna.

 

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The proud godparents, which are Jeanette, Emma, Live and Jorgen, admire their new goddaughter and take turns holding her in their arms.

 

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After the christening we all walk back to Canning Place Mews for a small gathering and party.  There is lots of good food and Kevin keeps the drinks flowing.  The highlight was the kranse kake, which Live lovingly hand carried from Norway.

 

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Here is a photo of the proud grandmother and father with Sienna Karin, who is dressed in the same christening dress that was used to christen Sienna's great grandfather, great grand uncle, grandmother and her two sisters.  The dress was brought all the way from Norway by Live.

 

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After most of the guests have left, there is the core contingent of Bespolka's and Norwegians that carries the party on late.

 

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Kevin has to go out and fetch a few more bottles of champagne - when he gets back he is overwhelmed by the thirsty guests.  The chant that catches on that evening is "no wegians, no party".

 

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We have a great time.  It is wonderful to catch up with family and close friends.  As we are spread all over the world, it is rare for us to have the opportunity to gather together.  We take advantage of it and have a fantastic time.

 

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At one point, we start comparing toes amongst all the descendents of the Lohrbauer's (my mother's father), and it turns out that we (mother, cousins, grandchildren, etc) all have the same features in our toes - some very strong genes there.

 

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We weave our way back to the hotel, getting back just before midnight.

 

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