Saturday, June 1, 2019

Tales of the Traveling Tote #19 and a Giveaway

Welcome to our 19th edition of 
Tales of the Traveling Tote, where 
lovers of all things MacKenzie-Childs 
pack up our checkered totes and take 
you along with us. 

Call me crazy or insane, but I had promised my family 
(8 years and up) a trip to Europe when the Rome Temple 
was completed 
(the temple for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints). 

Typical of most construction in Italy, it took years longer
than expected, but it was announced that it would open
in February of 2019, so we gave the family this trip
for a Christmas gift.

Then the craziness began as I had to make all the 
plans, bookings, and reservations for a crowd.

My oldest son is expecting in a couple of weeks, 
so they planned and went on their family's trip 
in March - that was easy - they did all their own plans!!!

If you know European hotels as we do, you know 
that the rooms tend to be small and many hotels 
will not allow a family of two parents and three 
children in a room, so we decided to try out Airbnb.

Our first stop was in London.  I had stayed in the 
Kings Cross train station area before, so I felt 
comfortable that I could get us around London from there.

In the past, I haven't been the planner and navigator, so there 
was definitely a lot more stress on me.

We chose The Princess Diana Home, so named 
because she had planted the garden here.

The building dates from the 1600's so there
was a lot of charm with fireplaces in every room.
These doors lead out to the garden that 
Princess Diana planted and are at the end of 
a nice large kitchen.

We enjoyed gathering in the kitchen for breakfast,
treats, and late night snacking each day.

This was the master bedroom and it was 
very charming and large.  

Miss Madi K is my work horse when I travel. 
She carries all of my comfort items that I 
will want on the plane, and then returns with
fragile items that I don't want broken.  

The master bedroom was also gorgeous and huge. 
Needless to say, we loved being the "masters".  

This bedroom accommodated our family with
three children really well.  The remaining rooms
got smaller but it was so fun all being together
and having a kitchen.

After a quick nap of about 2 hours, we headed 
straight to Platform 9 3/4 in Kings Cross Station,

and a taste of Cornish Pasties, since they had read about
pasties in Harry Potter.  You can find them in the train stations
and we think they are delicious.

We were very lucky that our first day in
London was nice and clear as we all rode 
in the London Eye.  Our group of 13 was given
our own pod, so that was really nice.

We got a bird's eye view of London.  
This little one turned 5 months old while
we were on our trip, and she was the star 
everywhere we went.  Big Ben was covered 
up, but we got a nice view of Parliament.

Then we were off to Buckingham Palace 

and Hyde Park.  The parks were in full glory.

The birth of the newest royal baby took place 
on the morning we flew out, so we got to see 
the announcement of Archie's birth (who hadn't
been named yet) in front of Buckingham Palace.
(Kind of understated if you ask me!)

And of course we had to get photos in the iconic 
red phone booths.  We felt blessed to have such
nice weather for our first day in London.

Day two the weather changed!

(No, I didn't ride the bike in the rain, but it just
went so well with my MC's!)

Fortunately we were snuggled into our dry 
Vintage Tea Bus for a tour of London.

We had the whole bottom floor to ourselves, which 
made it very nice.

The tables are so cute and all set when you arrive 
with both savory and sweet items.  You can choose 
a variety of teas, regular and herbal, or hot chocolate. 
The majority of us went with the hot chocolate.

Ms. Angelina had her first big trip with Miss Madi K 
and I, and she got to go out on all the day trips.

She even carried some MC plates along for the tea.
The tea was so fun and delicious.  I have done it before, 
but wanted the kids to experience it, and it worked 
out perfectly for a rainy day.

By the end of the tea the rain had stopped
and we went Harrod's to see the Food Halls,
and do some shopping.  Check out the couture
children's department in Harrod's!!! 4600 pounds
for a child's rabbit fur cape!!!

That night it was off to Phantom of the Opera.

  Ms. Angelina came along and loved the floor in the entry 
of Her Majesty's Theater.

She even snuck into the empty box next to us, 
hoping that this was the box reserved for the Phantom.

My middle son is in love with Phantom, and none
of us had seen it for years - since the movie had
come out - so we chose to bring the whole family
to it while in London.

We had seats on the second and third rows, and 
were blown away by the production.  Carlotta had 
the most amazing voice and being that close, you felt
like she was singing to you in your living room.

The management of Her Majesty's Theater
were amazing!  They let us bring the infant into the
lounge and have someone switch off with her 
during intermission.  She slept the whole time and was 

Day three we headed out to The Tower of London.
We had another nice day, but brought our rain gear
with us, just in case.

Then we walked over to London Bridge,

and then on to Borough Market for our
favorite foods.  They had moved Kappacaisein Dairy
across the street.

We love their raclette that they scrape onto
potatoes and pickles,

and their raclette cheese sandwiches.

My favorite filled donuts had moved too -
they are now out on the street between the
two covered buildings.

Yum!!!  This was a huge highlight for the whole family 
as they are all foodies.

That afternoon we went by Uber to see 
the Harry Potter Studio Tour.  We have a family full of
Harry Potter fans, so this had to be on our list.

The tour had doubled in size since I was there a few years ago,
and tickets were sold out a few months in advance,
so we were glad we had purchased them in February.

The Great Hall is spectacular, and hubby would love to 
recreate that in our home.  How about this table?  

Going on the studio tour, it amazes you how many 
props and details go into a movie.  The costumes are 
gorgeous and so fun to see.

Half way through the tour they have food, so
we stopped for lunch.  Of course, Ms. Angelina
came along.

Then you go outside to see the Knight's Bus,
Number 4 Privet Drive, and the crooked bridge.

Spoiler alert, these photos are of the new additions.

They now have Gringotts Bank open.

And after posing with all of the gold and silver
in the dragon's lair, they have an animated dragon
that comes after you.

And you walk through the Forbidden Forest.

The end of the tour is the best though, as you come
upon the huge model of the castle and grounds used 
for filming.

From there some of us went to Hamilton.  
We got the tickets that day and sat on row L
for only 150 pounds.  We could have purchased
matinee seats on the 4th row for 75 pounds.  

I loved paying a reasonable price for Hamilton compared
to what we paid in New York.  

London treated us well, and Miss Madi K and 
Ms. Angelina traveled so well too.  
Next they flew off to Rome, and then to Paris,
but those will be covered in following posts.

I felt so blessed to have had this opportunity
to have so many of my lovely family with me,
to have been safe, and to have had a wonderful time
in Europe.

Now after all of the fun, here is some fun for
you.  We are giving away this MC wine tote.
Visit Ricki Jill at The Sketchy Reader, and
leave a comment to be entered into the giveaway.

Then take a few minutes to visit all of our
Tales of The Traveling Tote bloggers to
see where they have been off to.

 with Miss Aurora @ Mountain Breaths 
Emily with Miss Courtney ChildsThe French Hutch
 Patti with Miss Kenzie @ Pandora's Box
Jenna with Miss Coquille @The Painted Apron
Linda P with Miss Lola @ Life and Linda
Rita with Miss Luna C Panoply 
Sarah with Miss Merri Mac @ Hyacinths for the Soul
Ricki Jill and Countess De Monet @ The Sketchy Reader
Cherry Kay and Carrie Ann Hall @ Entertaining Women   


Chocolat - French for Chocolate. I adored chocolate from a young age when I had to sneak in the cupboard to find where my mother had hidden the Nestle's Chocolate Chips. Having read about the famous chocolat shoppes in Paris, when I finally got there I was determined to try a chocolate from every Paris shoppe. I invite you to share my adventures in creating, in travel, and in life.


  1. Oh, this trip sounds fabulous! How fortunate that you could share it with so many of your family members, too. I can't wait to hear about the rest of your trip. The children look so happy with their big smiles! I am heading back to read your post again and take in all of your great photos! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Wow! Jackie, I have long admired the way you and your mister do such special things with your children and their families, but this trip really tops the list. I adore every one of the photos of you and Miss Madi K in London. So many great shots. MKC should use them in a catalog spread! I can't wait to see more photos as your adventure continued to Paris and Rome. What an amazing family trip! Making memories with your children and grandchildren is the best!!!

  3. Ohmygoodness, Jackie, to be one of your totes! What an absolutely incredible gift to your family. The excitement captured in their faces at the HP and Hamilton venues is priceless. Loved your rain gear with the bike. I would imagine you were a real conversation starter wherever you went, whether it was the checks or the family size. Love it! Happy June!

  4. Oh Jacqueline, everything you do is always so over the top and fabulous! I can't imagine going on a trip like that with a large family, but I bet it was incredible fun, sharing all the wonderful experiences, seeing your much loved Harry Potter's Studio, and seeing 2 fabulous plays! So many cute photos of you and your hubbie, I can't wait for the next legs of your fabulous trip!

  5. Oh Jackie, wow is all I can say that you pulled this together for your large family. It is amazing to travel with family and share the wonderful adventures of being abroad. Miss Maddie K looks very comfortable in London and aren't these totes great for travel. I love you found the Airbnb for home away from home in London. I loved all the fun pics and I'm going back through for another run. What a great trip for your family, memories to enjoy a lifetime. I planned a trip for my family to London so I know how special this trip was for you. We took our son, dil, sister and bil and my mil and fil. That was amazing for us. I can't wait to see your upcoming posts! Bravo Jackie!!!

  6. What a trip! To have not done much travel planning I think you did as well as any pro! I'm amazed at the tea bus. Just darling and looks like a great experience for all. Hamilton, Harry Potter studio tour, Phantom of the Opera and many London sights made memories for your family that will last a lifetime.
    I enjoyed your posts on IG too. Fabulous trip!

  7. What a wonderful trip! Your family is so blessed to be able to travel together. Looks like all of your planning turned out great!

  8. Wow Jackie, another awesome trip. I think it is fantastic to take the whole family. Such cute smiling faces. you have shared a lot of your travels and I do appreciate each and everyone. What a great place to stay. yes, the hotels are quite small in Europe. The Airbnb is so charming. More delicious food to enjoy. I am so looking forward to hearing about your Cabo house.

  9. Now those totes earned their keep on that trip! I love London, and it's been too long. I need to get back there. Hey do you follow the blog Entertablement? If not check it out. I think her blog will be right up your alley. Thanks for taking us along. Cherry Kay

  10. Our daughters want you to adopt them, Jackie, because they love afternoon tea and all things Harry Potter! I showed them your post, and they loved it! The food looks excellent, and y'all chose some wonderful plays to attend, too. Safe travels this month, and I can't wait to see more of your travels, especially Rome!

  11. Wow Jackie, what an awesome trip you planned. I feel as though I have just been to London with you! Miss Maddie K is a great assistant when traveling, and I loved all the fun family pics. What a superb trip for your family with memories that will last a lifetime. xo

  12. Jackie, it's me.....Deb C....sorry my comment posted as "Unknown". I'll try again.

  13. Wow Jackie, what an awesome trip you planned. I feel as though I have just been to London with you! Miss Maddie K is a great assistant when traveling, and I loved all the fun family pics. What a superb trip for your family with memories that will last a lifetime. I would love to go on the tea bus tour!


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