July 31 – Day 5
We stayed near Heathrow Airport, so we weren’t too close to central London. After our first night there we headed off to our third friendly game. This game was located at a pitch on the grounds of a private school in Berkhamsted. A few roads were closed and we had to make many – many detours along the way. Sharp turns and narrow roads…bus driver Will navigated through like a pro…thank goodness.
The boys (wearing red) won this game and really played great! The club we played against used this game as an opportunity to train their new referees. There was 1 referee and 2 line judges and a mentor. The mentor watched the game and took notes as different calls were made. Then at half time and after the game he met with the referee and linesman to “review” the game. We all thought this was a fabulous practice and one that should be brought over to the states.
After the game we headed over to Emirates Stadium, where the Arsenal play, for a tour. This tour had a headphone tour so each person was given a set of headphones and a player to use as you “self guided” along the tour. In my opinion this wasn’t great because a group of 12 boys and their families are really hard to keep together on a regular guided tour…the self guided was nearly impossible to stay together.
It was at our second stop on the tour that Cohen dropped his player and headphones. His player would not work and he completely gave up on the tour. I tried to help him get a new player or find someone to help – but he would have none of it!
It was at this time I was frustrated with him…and the boys were taking a picture together. We headed to the elevator and I though he was right with me – he wasn’t…and I made it on to the elevator. He didn’t. I tried to stick my arm through the doors and they nearly shut on me…so I just watched his sad face as the doors closed him out. I couldn’t help but laugh but boy was he mad!
this is the before the elevator incident picture.
The boys by this time were best of friends and nearly inseparable – so they played around in the interview rooms and in the press room. We think a few of the people there thought they may have been “somebody” because they took pictures of the boys as they played in the press room doing mock interviews and asking silly questions.
Another trip to the gift shop – a series of ridiculous photo opportunities – and we were back on the bus, for an early-ish night at the hotel. Swimming and dinner were the only things on the agenda.
As it turns out, the pool had pretty strict rules. No running, no jumping, no splashing, no yelling…us moms didn’t notice because we had ignored the no glass and had a few glasses of wine. We really weren’t trying to break the rules, and didn’t pay much attention – but another mom got stopped for trying to bring her wine glass in. They must have taken one look at us and at the three boys we brought to the pool and figured we needed the wine!
Day 6 – August 1
London Tourist Day
Hard to believe, there was nothing soccer related planned. This was the one day the entire trip that we had for touring. After a quick breakfast, we boarded our trusty bus and headed to central London for a brief bus tour. After the tour we had the entire afternoon and evening to visit, tour, eat…really whatever we liked to do.
The day didn’t get off to a great start, as we approached Central London – traffic stopped, completely stopped. We had learned by this time on the trip that traffic in England can be unpredictable and downright nasty the closer you get to the cities. So we inched and inched closer to the city for a good 90 minutes, by that time the kids were wound up and the parents were ready to throw them (get them) off the bus. We made the decision to walk a little as clearly we weren’t getting anywhere by bus!
On our walking tour we were given a map and directions to follow our tour guide, John. After some time Will – and the bus, caught up to us and we got back on and headed to the Palace.
We were aiming to get to Buckingham Palace to see the changing of the guard and needed to be there by 11:30. We made it in the nick of time and were able to watch the processional. This is the point where the group kind of split up to go our own ways. Having my (lack of) directional ability, I figured it was best for Cohen and I to buddy up with a group. Cohen and I stayed with (big) Tyler, and (little) Tyler and their parents. We were a small group of 3 boys and 4 adults. I find it SO much easier to tour in a smaller group.
We walked along the river/pond at St. James Park on our way to the London Eye. After convincing the boys that the birds swimming were, in fact, geese…we looked for a bathroom. This is where we encountered our first set of pay bathrooms – good thing I had change.
We came across the changing of the horse guard kind of by accident – but were happy to stay and watch for a minute.
I ordinarily wouldn’t have gone on the eye – but Cohen missed the Hi-Roller “observation wheel” when we visited Las Vegas, so I kind of owed him! A crowded park – lots of tourists and long lines. We 7 tourists figured it all out bought the express pass to the eye and off we went.
A short walk to see Parliament and Big Ben (when in London) and look at the statues in Parliament Square. We learned that they had to run electric current in the Winston Churchill statue to keep the pigeons off.
I’m really not sure how much Cohen remembers from this part of the day as he was focused on one thing the entire day – Chelsea! Chelsea is Cohen’s favorite futball team in the Premier League and theirs was one of the few “major” stadiums we were not scheduled to see. The evening prior, I had asked at the hotel the easiest way the get to the stadium, so Cohen knew if we had time we could go there.
If I’m being honest Cohen was a big crab pretty much all morning. He was ornery and picking fights with his buddy (little) Tyler. I don’t blame Tyler one bit for not wanting to join us as we headed to the tube to on an adventure to find Chelsea stadium, Stamford Bridge. Six of us left from the Piccadilly Line to find Stamford Bridge. While Tyler and his mom left us, Coach Mike found us and joined our adventure.
After a fun and really very easy tube ride we made it to Chelsea…a quick walk from the underground and we were at the stadium. It reminded me a little of Wrigleyville in Chicago …yet the stadium was somewhat hidden. We learned that the pitches are often built underground with the stadium up and around it because St. Paul’s Cathedral is to be the tallest structure – or within eyesight…or something like that. Apparently I should have paid better attention to our tour guide!
We took the tour, bought jerseys, visited the museum and shut the place down. Coach Mike got into a long discussion about the founder of Coerver Coaching who used to play for Chelsea. Thankfully, the museum had lots of interactive displays that kept the boys occupied.
Our plan was to head back to the hotel for dinner and swimming.
This plan was de-railed, as Coach Mike though it might be fun to go eat dinner in SoHo. He lead the boys in a chant on the bus and the 3 parents somewhat reluctantly agreed to go. One of the other players and his parents visited the night before – how bad could it be?
We had heard it was an area with restaurants – live music and a lot of fun. After getting off the train, we saw a large black building with neon red/orange lettering on the side that said, “table dancing” or “live dancers” I cannot remember.
One of the boys said – “oh is that where there is grinding?”
Without missing a beat Coach Mike replies, “yep like to you would do with your skateboard.”
Boys, “oh, so that’s an indoor skate park?”
YEP – sure is!
We quickly found a place for dinner and tried to eat as quickly as we could, it seemed to take forever and while it was really good…there were a few mix-ups with the food and the whole meal took a little longer than anticipated. Thinking back there were no other kids in the restaurant – and both the patrons and the staff were looking at us kind of funny.
We had quite a walk back to the train at this point and got to see a few more “sights” along the way. Boy were there sights…thank goodness it was raining so the boys were huddled under an umbrella with their heads down. The rain on the umbrella also helped to muffle the sound of the 4 adults who could not contain their laughter.
It was decided uber was the best way to get us quickly back to the hotel…
After 13 hours of touring London…We were all tucked into bed and asleep by midnight.