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kctwinmommy

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  1. On 5/2/2020 at 8:42 AM, sddsddean said:

    Glad to hear you got all your refunds back. At least you have an idea of what you want to do next year (or the year after!).  We've already cancelled our trip down to the West Country at the end of June, but are holding out hopes for our cruise at the end of November...just have to wait and see. When you start your re planning, hopefully, we will all be here to offer advice etc.

     

    Simon

     

    Thanks! The one good thing is we can plan things differently next time. We had sort of locked ourselves in with some dates and realized we should have planned differently. Although it partially related to my husband's vacation schedule, the fact that we were able to get on the same flight as my BIL & SIL (who were going to Scotland at the same time), and the Cubs game. So when we plan this in the future, we can chose a different/better route for things, instead of such an all over the place route! LOL!

  2. Just wanted to update that we were able to cancel all reservations we had and got refunds for the few things we had already paid for, no problems at all. Well, except the airfare, I wish that was a total refund, but of course, it's not. We had almost the cheapest airfare, which was still $3200! So that's been given back as a credit for the next 24 months.

     

    What took me hours and days to plan and decide upon, took me only 15 minutes to cancel. And then I just wanted to curl up in a corner and either throw up or cry! 😭 😢 While I was so looking forward to seeing my beloved Cubs play in London, I was also looking forward to our son finally seeing his beloved Tiger tank and the rest of the museum. I know, that will still be there, but I don't know when we'll be able to plan this trip again. And it won't include the Cubs I know that. Either way, I still wanted to thank everyone for their help during the planning phase, and I truly hope I'll get to plan it again!

     

  3. 4 minutes ago, John Bull said:

     

     

    One bright point today - at least for you :classic_smile:.

    Standard rail tickets have always been refundable, but - as you know - not Advance tickets

    But because of new travel restrictions in the UK, train companies now also have to give refunds if you have bought advance tickets. 

    Refunds are in full, no admin charge.

    This has been mentioned in the media, and is confirmed on the British Rail website

    https://www.nationalrail.co.uk/stations_destinations/coronavirus.aspx#refunds

     

    Some train operators' websites have been up-dated eg https://www.southwesternrailway.com/contact-and-help/refunds-and-compensation/refunds

    But Avanti West Coast's website https://www.avantiwestcoast.co.uk/help/refunds  has not yet been updated. If you bought your tickets from them, best give them a few days to get up-to-date.

    If you bought from some other website, claim the refund from the seller.

     

    If you're still hopeful that at least your air & land vacation may be possible (not looking good, but I doubt anyone knows yet about June), you can wait until you know it's not gonna happen before applying for a refund. But it's expected that some trains will still be running (currently on a much-reduced timetable) so you'd best apply for a refund before the date.

     

    Yes, we're holding up over here.

    We're British - chin up, stiff upper lip, don't you know, old bean.

    Lots of restrictions, some shortages, and a virtual lock-down from tomorrow.

    The infection rate, and particularly the death rate, are still low and there are stacks of as-yet unused intensive-care beds. 

    But we're a couple of weeks behind Italy, and this all feels like the calm before the storm.

    So tin hats & surgical masks on, and fingers crossed.

    Hopefully you'll be over here after this little inconvenience.*

     

    JB :classic_smile:

    * standard British understatement :classic_wink:

     

    Good to know! The rail was the one thing that was bought as a non-refundable thing, but I suspected that might change considering the circumstances. Although I honestly wasn't that worried, it wasn't a ton of money for us. The airfare is the biggest thing, that I hope we'll get a refund or voucher for.

     

    Unfortunately, we're locked in with our vacation dates too, my husband is a city worker, so they pick their vacations the year before. But if things settle down by then, even if we can't come overseas, I'd like us to get away somewhere! A little beach resort might be just the thing by then.

     

    And yes, I've been following you guys because of my son. He does online gaming, and he's become good friends with 2 teenagers from the UK, so they talk about it a lot! LOL! They play the war simulation games (War Thunder is one I know), so it's kind of funny to listen to them talk about history and play the game.

     

    At the end of the day, we're fortunate! This wasn't some kind of "once in a lifetime" trip, it wasn't a major, special occasion event that will never happen again. Yes, I'm sad about the Cubs game, that was going to be a unique experience, but it's not the end of the world. And Bovington will still be there!

  4. On 3/20/2020 at 2:33 PM, markeb said:

    We, of course, lost all three home World Series games, but won the Series. So this was our night, so far, until we get to unveil the banner...

     

    IMG_0123-L.jpg

     

    Yeah, we didn't win at home either. Although we did win that NLCS game I was at! I could have probably gone down to an early WS game, but I wasn't thrilled about taking our son with at the time. And since I had the experience of that NLCS game, that was enough for me. It was amazing to see it no matter where I was!

     

    Now we just need to get through all this so we can enjoy it again! 😃

  5. On 3/17/2020 at 3:53 PM, markeb said:

    Hadn't been over on this board for a couple of days, but was actually thinking about a couple of these threads.

     

    Hope it works out for you. It may have to wait a year, unfortunately. And with MLB now quietly admitting at least an 8 week delay in opening day, I think your Cubs game is in definite jeopardy.

     

    And this is the year I get to do something you did four years ago: Go to Opening Day and unfurl a World Series Champions Banner. It took us a little less than 108 years, but I've been there through every miserable NLDS loss, including to the Cubs!

     

    Enjoy your banner raising, whenever it happens! And yeah, not quite as long as we had to wait. 😉

     

    But you're right, I know our game isn't going to happen this year. We're still, at this point, trying to keep the trip for all the other reasons. But we will have to wait and see of course.

     

    Oh, and our son and I went to Game 1 of the NLCS at Wrigley in 2016 and it was amazing!!! That was the game with the pinch-hit grand slam to win the game!

     

    On the baseline before the game

    _MG_5977.jpg

     

    Celebrating the Grand Slam!

    _MG_6284.jpg

     

    Final score on the scoreboard!

    _MG_6298.jpg

     

    The Grand Slam swing!

    _MG_6283.jpg

  6. Thank you again for all your help. Now, of course, it's amazing how fast things changed since I last commented on this post. 😭 I have a strong feeling that our Cubs game will no longer happen. While sad, I can live with that. If things get back to any sort of normalcy, we'd still like to travel across the pond and see things that we had planned. Of course, we have no idea if that will happen. We have just under 3 months to see how this all shakes out. At least the hotel reservations I made can all still be canceled, as well as the ferry. The only thing that was non-refundable was the train, as well as the airfare - although that's one that may change too, depending on what happens. Hopefully at least a voucher. And we do have trip insurance through our credit card. But I'd still love to come if we can, to just enjoy a little time away.

     

    Hope all my UK responders are holding up over there, as well as my fellow Americans who responded! I truly appreciate the help you gave me.

  7. 12 hours ago, markeb said:

    A long time ago, not quite in a galaxy far, far, away, there was a "Military Book Club" in the US directed at teenage boys. A lot of the titles were from authors no one had heard of, but they led you to Littell-Hart (arguably the best known British military historian of WWII), American Caesar (MacArthur), stories of OVERLORD, Spandau Prison (a fascinating story focused largely on Speer, the "Architect", literally, of the Third Reich. Biographies of Eisenhower, Patton, and Bradley, and the occasional story of Pegasus Bridge, A Bridge Too Far, and the frustrating (for an American) stories of Montgomery. Along with a book I still remember simply titled "Air War" that covered everything from the Battle of Britain to the Enola Gay.

     

    The teenage boy that became addicted to those books toyed with applying to both West Point and the Air Force Academy. Did neither, but 30+ years ago was directly commissioned into a (non-physician) medical field in the US Army and retired after 30 years of active and reserve service. I have stood in my service dress for funerals at Arlington, and for close friends at other national cemeteries. I have also stood in shorts and a t-shirt if memory serves at what I also consider one of the most sacred places in the history of the US military, the US Cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer, atop Omaha Beach, along with Ste Mere Eglise, Mile 0 of the Liberty Road at Utah Beach, and atop Pointe du Hoc.

     

    It sounds like your son "gets it". When he wants to branch out, find a good biography of possibly the greatest, and most underrated, general in the history of the United States Army, General of the Army Omar Nelson Bradley, the only 5-star general or flag officer promoted to the rank in peacetime, and the first Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

     

    This was in my signature block the last few in years in uniform...

     

    Leadership is intangible, and therefore no weapon ever designed can replace it.  Omar N. Bradley.

     

    And enjoy Bovington with your son!

     

    So cool! And yes, he "gets it!" Although both his parents are prior military. I only did a few years in the National Guard before they closed my base, so I got out. But my husband just retired a year ago after 33 years in the Air Force (active, guard & reserves). He was actually stationed in England, near Duxford, which is part of the reason we'll be up in that area. He wants to see his old base if we can. Plus my brother is a retired Chief from the Navy (20 years of service), and my niece did 5 1/2 years in the Navy. We also have a strong German Navy background in our family. My husband's dad was Army in the Korean War, and 2 brothers were in the Army as well, although none did a full 20 (or more, like mine! LOL!). And then we've been police officers, my father was a fire chief (served on FD for 30+ years), so to say we understand service and sacrifice is an understatement! 😃

     

    Our son isn't quite smart enough to get into any of the military academies, and I'm not sure that would be his best path either. He's actually a competitive swimmer, who has done pretty well, although needs a little boost to get back to where he was. However, he does want to swim in college, and I'd love for him to still try and do it. He's just hit a wall lately, and I think he's questioning that path. He's only a Sophomore though, so he's got a little time yet. But he's looking at colleges that would have an ROTC program as well. And who knows, if he doesn't like the college scene, he would quit it and go into the military. That's what I did.

  8. 3 hours ago, markeb said:

     

    You're making me want to visit Bovington!

     

    Those of us of a certain age remember Karl Malden, playing Omar Bradley, describing the Sherman tank in the First Battle of Kasserine Pass. That comparison creates some of the long term mystique of the Tiger, and the relative crap of the Sherman. The Sherman was undergunned, underarmored, and had a gasoline (i.e., explosive fueled) engine. It was also relatively inexpensive and was made in huge quantities and used worldwide throughout the war. That combination contributed dramatically to the Allies winning the war...

     

    Patton largely exploited most of the Tiger's weaknesses during the Second Battle of Kasserine Pass with artillery and airpower. And added to his own mystique.

     

    Hopefully Bovington has both. I assume they have the Cruiser and Churchill as well. Be prepared to be stuck there if they do, especially if they have an old regimental sergeant major around as a Docent, which wouldn't surprise me...

     

    Yeah, I don't totally know everything they have on display, my son might though! LOL! The Tiger is definitely the big one for him. He knows so much about German & Russian tanks. Well, tanks in general. It's just so crazy because we were near there in 2017, when he was 13, but he wasn't into this stuff back then. Like 4 months later he suddenly got into all this stuff, with the video games and such and now knows so much. But it certainly would have saved us a lot of money coming back again just to see this. Although, I admit, he's getting to do this because I wanted to see the Cubs play in London! 😉  He's just lucky that we like him so much! This is a big deal for him for sure! What's nice is in 2017, we were on a cruise, and did a stop in France and went to Normandy, so he's already seen one of the most incredible and sacred places (IMO) related to WWII, so he's getting to see some of that history when in Bovington too.

  9. 21 hours ago, Bob++ said:

    I have to admit that I did zone out after a while. It does somewhat counter the idea that the Tiger was all conquering though. 

     

    Reminds me of one of my favourite films - Kelly's Heroes, where they 'buy' a Tiger from its crew but it is "a piece of s***"

     

     

     

    I'll admit, I've never seen Kelly's Heroes. I think it's a little before my time though. 😉

     

    And either way, the Tiger is still one of his favorite tanks, and the fact remains, Bonvington is the only place to see one. It should be cool, at least for him! LOL!

  10. 5 hours ago, Bob++ said:

    Your 16yo son might find this from Military History Visualized interesting.

     

     

    If he takes that lot in, he will be a lot more knowledgeable than the guys he plays games with.

     

    I showed that to him, he's watched them already. Not all, but several of them. Of course, that may explain his math grade!! 🤣 I pick him up from school and he's like "Oh, I watched this video today..." 😏 Although he did get an A+ in honors US History last semester. He's a pretty good student, but I still have to tease him, because I know he could do better in other subjects, although his school is pretty tough. Either way, thanks for the link, maybe I'll watch a few things. I get the all confused though. My "older" brain doesn't have the capacity to keep all those facts anymore. LOL!

  11. Thanks again for all the replies and help! We went ahead and booked our train tickets. I figure, even though their non-refundable (cheapest option), it's still less than what the extra 2 days of a car will probably cost! LOL! So even if something totally changed, it's not a major monetary loss. We also were able to book our ferry across to Ireland as well. Plus I confirmed on the Stena FB page that the train station is basically right with the ferry dock, so we don't have to walk far to get there. I'll be honest, I've never ridden a train for any length of time/distance (just basically into the city here), so I'm kind of looking forward to that. Just something a little different. Plus, we'd like to consider it for future trips within Europe. So although I know it was mentioned that the UK system isn't quite on par with the rest of Europe, it'll be nice to try it.

     

     

  12. On 3/2/2020 at 11:39 AM, zqvol said:

     

    Wash your hands a lot and stay away from people who are coughing.  No need to avoid Seattle. The Covid-19 virus is not that common nor does it make most people very ill. Just use common sense, like you do with seasonal influenza, which you are more likely to catch.

     

    Agreed! This year's flu season has been the worst in about 10 years, and we aren't even hearing about it as much as the Covid-19.

  13. 23 minutes ago, scottbee said:

     

    There's also a small tank museum on the Isle Of Wight (which you can ferry to from Southampton easily)

    http://www.wmahm.org.uk/  Just a few miles from where the ferry docks.

     

     

     

    Yeah, we're not going to Southampton. And honestly, I think Bovington has all the premier tanks

    in the world. I know they have the Tiger, that's the most important thing, at least in my 16 year old's eyes! LOL!

  14. Thanks guys! And Bovington is actually one of the MAIN reasons for this trip! Our son loves history, and we went to our WWII Museum here last summer (supposed to be the best, and it really was). But, he LOVES tanks!! I mean, like more than normal! LOL! He can ID just about all of them, it's crazy. So this is like a total bucket list item for him. The crazy thing is we were there 3 years ago, stayed in Southampton before a cruise. And then came back to to England for a week after. So we were right in that area, but he wasn't into any of this back then. Honestly, it's the online gaming he does that got him into it. I even ordered items from Bovington for his for Christmas this year. He's really big on the German and Russian items too. So he'll get to see THE Tiger tank, which is just incredible for him. As it is, because we planned this around the Cubs game, and my husband's vacation, it sucks that we're missing Tankfest by like 2 weeks. 

     

    I did look up IWM since we might have some time in London when we get there Friday. So we may go there. We did Churchill War Rooms last time. What stinks is they have 2 new galleries they're working on there, but they won't be open until next year. So some things have also closed in the museum it says.

     

    Anyway, right now we're landing in Heathrow, getting our car, and then heading to Bovington. If we can find some stamina, we're going there in the afternoon for an hour or two, we have a hotel nearby, then we can spend the whole next day there. From there we'll get up to Duxford. Not sure yet on which route we're going to get there, and if we stop halfway to do something else. I want to give us a little open time for that, since Ireland is going to be fully packed days.

  15. On 3/1/2020 at 5:29 AM, Bob++ said:

    The OP doesn't say if they really need a car for their two days in London, or where the event they are attending is. 

     

    I just wanted to say that a car in London is generally more liability than help and they should seriously look at returning it as soon as they get there. Indeed, it might be better to stay out of the congestion charge area (say at Heathrow) and travel into London on Public transport.

     

    Hertz have a depot at Hollyhead and in their Ts&Cs they say this:

     

    Thanks for that info as well. For some reason, I couldn't seem to find the exact details on returning the car when they're closed. I have a feeling we're going to end up dropping the car in London, then taking the train.

     

    Oh, and I wasn't meaning it to be a big secret as to our event. 😉 LOL! We're doing Duxford and Bovington for our WWI/WWII loving teenager when we first get to England. I know, 2 things in very opposite directions. But he really wants to see them both. Plus, my husband was stationed up near Duxford if the 80's so he wants to see the area up there. Then we're coming into London Friday afternoon for the Chicago Cubs game on Saturday night! 🤩 So we definitely don't need the car to get to that. We're staying at the Victory Services Club, so we're familiar with that area and getting to the tube. I did look, and we can take that to London Stadium, and it will take us back to the hotel after the game (that line runs at night).

  16. We have a land trip planned to the UK this summer, we're still going as of now. I don't see any reason to cancel at this point. The reality is that the flu this year has been the most deadly in over a decade. So there are always going to be concerns out there. I understand that some are more concerned than others. My hope is that this also encourages people to think more about basic hygiene, since that seems to be the big push right. I mean, they're reporting on the local news about Costcos being out of main cleaning supplies. Everyone needs to do what they think is right for them, nobody should judge you. But we're keeping our plans.

    • Like 1
  17. My brother is currently bumming it down there, after retiring from being a truck driver, so he's actually camping in a tent on the military campground there. Anyway, he just wanted to chill down there for a month or two, so he has been. And he's been snorkeling probably 4-5 times in the past month there. So definitely not too chilly in the water!

    • Like 1
  18. OK thanks for all the conversations on the train ticketing system! LOL! I'm actually finding tickets, for our date in June, at the 31.50 price. So once we confirm everything (sitting down to figure things out tomorrow, hubby just got back in town), then I will book it. I know it says no refunds on it, which is fine. Not a huge loss if we did change things. But I'd be more worried about it selling out, which certainly sounds like a possibility based on all the back & forth here.

  19. 10 minutes ago, sddsddean said:

    For a laugh, I thought I'd check National Express coaches https://book.nationalexpress.com

     

    There is a coach every day at 1830 that goes from Victoria Coach station to Dublin Port (arr 0600 the next day). OK, I know its overnight  and its a long journey and I'm assuming the ferry crossing is included (as it doesn't say it isn't), but its only £47 per person. Might be worth thinking about.

     

    Simon

     

    Yeah, that wouldn't work. We have an event on Saturday in London. Then we want to be in Dublin on Sunday night so we can enjoy the day there on Monday, before getting a car again and heading out into the country!

  20. 3 hours ago, John Bull said:

    Renting a car just to get from A to B is rarely the wisest option pretty-well anywhere in Europe, particularly where there's a sensible train option. 

     

    The rental fee, no-liability insurance, one-way drop fee and fuel make self-drive expensive. Fairly simple but boring and sometimes frustrating motorways, total journey time including a couple of rest breaks about 5 hrs 30 minutes.

     

    Usually worthwhile only if you're a large party or want to take an attractive route (there are some, but for this journey they'd add hours to your journey) or to visit places en-route (off the top of my head - Oxford, Blenheim Palace, the Cotswolds, Shakespeare's Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwick Castle, Ironbridge & the villages of the Industrial Revolution, parts of the Welsh west coat, Snowdonia, and more Welsh castles than you can shake a stick at).  But you'd be hard-pressed to include even one of those into the day's drive.

    So one option is to rent a car on the sunday, and return it to Holyhead on a monday - about 3 weeks later :classic_biggrin:

     

    Britain's trains aren't as good as those in France, Germany, Switzerland and Holland for instance, but are vastly superior to Amtrak.

    They're frequent, fast, tolerably comfortable, easy t board and alight, and used by folk of all backgrounds. Most folk on a train will have a car, they're taking the train by choice.

    http://ojp.nationalrail.co.uk/

     

    Services on a sunday are much less frequent than on a week-day, but still every 60 to 90 minutes. 

    The most significant factor is what time of day you want to travel.

    On the current timetable, the fare for most trains is between £140 and£106 :classic_ohmy:.

    Multiply that by only two people and a rented car starts to look more worthy of consideration.

    But on current timetables you can buy advance tickets at just £31. Advance tickets are only available from about 8 weeks out - to see them select a sunday in March. Only good for the train time that you select - and you'll see that they're only available for the 08.16 am from London Euston (arrives 12.40 pm) and evening trains.

    If that 08.06 train fits your schedule, buy the tickets about 8 weeks before the day. Closer to the day the fare goes up a little, and sometimes advance tickets sell-out. Same price flexibility with regular fares, so its difficult to give you precise figures

    If that timing doesn't suit, for an expensively-timed train you can cut the cost by buying a "two-for-one" railcard. That railcard will cost you £30 but gives you a 33% discount on the fare. (and on any other train fares). That card for two travelling together. There are also family railcards etc.

    I can explain a little more fully if that's a likely option for you. 

     

    BTW this train doesn't involve only one stop. It involves one change of train, at Crewe, with 14 minutes to make the connection.

     

    Complicated, innit :classic_rolleyes:

    But don't blame the messenger.:classic_wink:

     

    JB :classic_smile:

     

    Yes, the train I looked at was that one, because it was like £90 for the 3 of us. And yes, we weren't planning in renting the car just to drive to Holyhead, we'll already have it. We have 4 days all around before we come to London. Bovington and Duxford are basically where we're going (major history buff teenage son!), so we come into London on Friday night, for a Saturday night event. The Euston train does work (and yes, I should have said I knew it had a change in Crewe, not a stop). But thanks for the tip on buying the ticket in advance too! I think we'll look at doing that then. Otherwise, we'd have to park the car for 2 days in London, although I know the hotel does have options for that. But this way, we can drop it on Friday and be done with that.

     

    And thanks for your info! I was hoping you'd chime in!

  21. I know I asked before for some Ireland advice, and you guys were very helpful. So I know we have some great resources for traveling in the UK. That's why this is the only (and best) place to ask for some more advice. We'll be in London this summer for just 2 days, leaving on a Sunday morning to catch the Holyhead ferry over to Dublin. We will have a car when we get to London (4 days outside it before we get there). We had planned on getting up really early on Sunday to drive and drop the car in Holyhead, but the rental places are closed on Sunday. Now I know some places allow you to do a drop without an attendant, not sure if that's the case in Holyhead. Or, would we be better just to take the train and dump our car when we get to London? It looks like there's a train that goes from Euston train station, with 1 stop, that takes about 4.5 hours to get up there. We're staying near the Marble Arch (Victory Services Club). And no, we're not going to fly from London to Dublin, that's not an option. But having never taken the trains around Europe before, I'm just not familiar with them. I get the feeling people use them for traveling way more than here in the states. We have no problem driving, we've done it before, that's not an issue for us at all, so to me, that's just the way I thought we'd go. But then I realized that there is a train that goes there.

     

    Thanks in advance for any advice on which way is better.

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