2015 London Weekend




We popped over to London, England for a weekend to visit Will and Lia MacDonald (and see their house) and also Roger and Vanessa.  Click on any picture below for a really huge original version.  Also, here is a link to some locations in the London area including LHR London Heathrow Airport and Will and Lia's home location.

The first picture below is of Katherine riding the "Air Train" at SFO (San Francisco Airport). 


This flight we took "Virgin Atlantic Upper Class" which includes access to the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse in the San Francisco Airport (free food, better bathrooms with showers, etc).  Katherine is happy.


This is the view from the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse at the San Francisco Airport.  The food and drinks are all free, you can recharge your devices, and there is free WiFi.  We have to camp out here for a couple hours waiting for our flights.


And away we go!  We're in the top section of the 747-400 and as we walk up the stairs you can see the full bar at the bottom of the stairs.  This is ON THE AIRPLANE.  Katherine is amused by the full bar.  :-)


Here we are getting situated in our seats.  The seats have a few nice features, like you can use your "foot rest" as a "guest chair" for dinner, plus the seats convert to fully horizontal sleeping.


The leg room is enough so that even I can stretch entirely out, those are my legs in the picture below.


Below is my seat converted to a fully horizontal bed.  The flight leaves at 6pm and it's a direct non stop flight from SFO to LHR (London Heathrow Airport in England) which takes about 10 hours.  If you can get a good 8 hours of sleep then it makes a weekend trip pretty easy.  Notice the beds have seat belts - mostly you don't need them but if you put it on, the stewardess doesn't have to wake you up when turbulence demands seat belts.  :-)


Landing in London Heathrow Airport 10 hours later.


A really bad picture, I just needed something to say "Welcome to Heathrow" to remember where we were.


We grabbed a taxi to Will and Lia's home, which is about 30 miles from the airport.  In the taxi below, notice that the seats "fold up" when not in use (making room for luggage), which is a REALLY great design.  I really don't know why more countries don't copy this classic "London Cab" design.


Outside of London mostly looks like my home state of Oregon (lush and green) except for the very distinctly European blue and white signs that let my mind know we are in Europe!


The picture below is from Google Streetmaps, this is what you see.  This is Will and Lia's house, it doesn't have a street number, it has a name.  It is called "de Fontenay" (it's a made up word).  The address is: de Fontenay, Chalk Lane, Hyde Heath, Amersham, HP6 5SG, England.


Inside their front gate looking back towards the road (you can see the open gate on the far left of the picture).


This is de Fontenay (Will and Lia's home) from the back.  That is Lia sitting on the back porch steps.


Their yard is very large, here we are (Lia, Fiona, Katherine on the left) and in the back yard looking back at the home.


I'm in the very top of the house, looking down on Katherine, Fiona, and Lia sitting on the back porch.


Same place, just looking to the right of where Katherine, Fiona, and Lia are sitting.  The "blue" patch in the building on the right is the corner of the indoor swimming pool.


Inside their home, the picture below is of the formal dining room.


In the picture below, I'm in the living room, looking through the formal dining room into the kitchen beyond (where you can barely make out Fiona).


Standing inside the observatory (?) a glass building out on the deck.  You can see Katherine on the left.


Same location, looking a bit to the right to the indoor swimming pool.


Below is the indoor swimming pool and hot tub area.



We sat out on the back deck for an hour in the afternoon.  In the right in the distance you can see a tree house that is on their property.



A quick tour through some of the rooms of the home, here is our "guest suite" at the very top of the house.  (Sorry about our ugly luggage on the floor.)


A picture out our guestroom window over the grounds.


I really like this room, I call it the "chess observatory" room, it's very pleasant.


Staring down the staircase.


This is one of the girl's rooms (Fiona).


I love this bathroom.  You can see a huge towel warmer on the left, and a "Gessi" shower.  Notice the tub has curved glass splash protection, not a shower curtain, you see that more in Europe and almost never in the USA.


A picture of the brand of "Gessi" so I could remember and look it up later.  :-)


Another girl's room (Kendall's room).


A picture of Fiona and this sunblock Katherine wanted to remember called "Riemann P20 Once A Day".


They have a chicken coop, and fresh eggs.


A picture of the garden maze, which I think every country estate should have.


The treehouse and Koi pond.


The tree house from the other side.


Close up of the tree house.


Insides of the tree house.


Click here for a tree house video tour.


Outside on the deck of the tree house.


On the front deck of the tree house overlooking the property.


Fiona is about to leap off the tower and swing. 


Click the movie below to see Fiona Swing like crazy.  Click here for the very highest quality original of this movie.


We walked around the property. 


Fiona took the fast way to the other end of the property - a ZIP line Will built.  This place is like Disneyland for kids.  Click here for the very highest quality original of this movie.


There is a bell tower from the top of an old building on the property.


Below is a close up of the bell tower.


I think this Rattan Furniture design is GREAT, notice how the chairs tuck under the table for storage so that the cushions don't get dirty?


Will's office has pictures of the Maldives in it, I might have taken the panorama picture below from a jetski.  :-)


Entertainment room, Katherine is pointing out the security camera.


In some of the bathrooms, there are these AMAZING tall tower warmers.


I think this is Mitchell's bathroom.


Inside Lia's walk in closet, she has some shoes.


I like this space saving pull down clothes rod.


The brand is a Hafele Pull Down Closet Rod.


I also like the design of this drawer for pant hangers.  I think the rods should be even thicker to prevent creases.


The master bedroom at de Fontenay.


A chaise lounge by the window in the master bedroom.


This is a combination mirror, and "hidden LCD TV".  I don't know if from this angle you can tell but that is TV playing.  When the TV is off it looks and acts like a mirror.


Another towel warmer in the master bathroom.


Katherine is in love with the master bathroom shower.


The master bathroom shower has colored lights and "rain" shower heads overhead.


Kate came by to help Lia pack.


We brought some big bags to help Will and Lia move some stuff to the USA.


Katherine and I went off to "The Saracens Head Pub" in Amersham England for a traditional Sunday roast.  Here I am, happy to be in a pub in England.


We had the "Sunday Roast".


It came with Yorkshire pudding, and the whole thing was delicious and huge.


Roger (standing) and his two girls on the right.


Vanessa, Roger, and the two girls in The Saracen's Head pub.


Ahhhh, my first Guinness in England on this trip.  :-)


DANGER: Live Wires!  (And two adorable little girls.)



A picture of a random street in Amersham, England.


We went to a nearby playground to wear out the children.  It was the Hervines Park Children's Play Area.


Boys playing cricket.


Boys playing cricket.


There is a local controversy about a high speed train between London and Birmingham call HS2.


The road leading to Will and Lia's house is flanked with tall shrubbery.


A dual citizenship family.


Brian (taking a selfie), Brinn, Mitchell, and Fiona (cut off) at dinner.


Same dinner (prepared by Lia on the left), Katherine, and Brian again.


I had my first Weetabix and covered it in Alpro Soya Light (Soy Milk).  It was quite good!


After dinner we walked over to the Greenshield's house, who live in "Hill House".


Walking up to their home.


This is Nicky's horse "Atlantic".  He's HUGE and beautiful, he is a Swedish Warmblood.


This is DJ the Shetland Pony who keeps Atlantic company.  DJ is ADORABLE.  He walked up to me and wanted to be petty, pushing his nose into my hands.


Below is a movie of DJ the Shetland Pony rolling in the grass, then running around with Atlantic.  Click here for the very highest quality original of this movie.



Below is a picture of "Peaches" who is a female horse ("mare") of type <? ? ? ? ? ?>  


Another picture of Peaches the horse.


On the left (wearing the mouth guard) is "Jaffa" and on the right is "Cocoa".


Inside the Greenshield's home, looking out the back.  The cat on the left of the picture is HUGE, it is a "Maine Coon" cat.


The Greenshields have another Maine Coon cat (seen below).  Notice the full size sink for comparison, this cat is the size of a grown lion.


The Greenshields also have a hedge hog named ??


The hedge hog is very timid, but eventually unrolls and peeks out.  He likes to eat little caterpillars from the pet food store.


Below is a movie of Bertie the hedgehog.  Click here for the very highest quality version of this movie.


The next morning it is time to fly home.  I looked out and there was a rabbit running around in the MacDonald's back yard!


Final pretty view from the top of de Fontenay.


Mitchell, Kate, and Lia getting ready to drive to the airport with us.  We are taking Mitchell with us to the USA. 


Kate is driving, this is her spirit animal that guides us.  We did get lost once, so maybe the spirit animal has a bad sense of direction?  :-)


A slightly stressed out Kate driving us to the airport in England.  Notice her steering wheel is on the wrong side of the car....


We found it!  London Heathrow airport.


If you fly Virgin Atlantic "Upper Class" (it's like First Class on other airlines) there is a dedicated special entrance at London Heathrow, it's really, really convenient.


This what it looks like inside the special entrance.


Porters take your luggage curbside, which is good because we are taking 9 enormous gigantic 70 pound bags to the USA today.


I've never seen a questionnaire machine like this, it's great!


Below is the Virgin Atlantic "Lounge" at London Heathrow, it's pretty fabulous.  Everything is free here, food, drinks, showers, bathrooms.


Finally aboard the aircraft, we get stuck on the tarmac for over an hour departing.  These "mechanics" had to read the manual to figure out how to fix the Boeing 747 we were on.


The airplane is grounded, and cannot take off, but Katherine has already CRASHED (do you see what I did there?)   :-)


Mitchell's seat was originally far away from us, here he is.


But we moved him up with us, here is Mitchell on the left and Brian (me) on the right.  Mitchell is the handsome calm one.


Katherine is my "guest" for dinner in upper class.


As we come home to San Francisco, I grab this picture through the window, I'm pretty proud of it.  Click on it for a HUGE version without the ugly red annotation.



Again, click on the picture below to get a HUGE version without ugly red annotations.  This is San Francisco from the window of a Boeing 747 airplane.


Below is a movie of our Virgin Atlantic Flight VS019 landing at San Francisco Airport on Monday, June 29, around 3pm.  Click here for the highest quality original version of this movie.


Finally safe on the ground in SFO airport, we pick up our 12 gigantic bags and a guitar (on Katherine's back).


Art and Patti (Mitchell's grand parents) met us at the airport and took all the bags away.


That's it!


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