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Have Broom Will Travel [memoir]

Halloween 1995, Batman and me
My history is littered with Halloween fails. Before I became a mother the question of what I was going to be for Halloween terrified me.

1958:  Halloween on a blazing hot afternoon in Tripoli, Libya. Age 5 All the military brats from Wheelus Air Force base were going to a Halloween party in an airplane hangar just outside Tripoli. Lots of civilian kids—mostly Brits and Yanks—whose parents worked on the base in various capacities were invited which meant my brother and I got to go too. Our dad, who spoke Arabic fluently and had been with British Intelligence during the war, had something to do with managing the PX on the base. My brother went dressed as a hobo, his cheeks smeared grey by my mother with a piece of burnt cork, while his friend, the older boy who lived next door, dressed up as a woman—a pillow stuck down his sweater shaped into clownish balloon-sized breasts and big red sticky lips. I went as Minnie Mouse in a cheap, cellophane-thin, store-bough…

Above Ground on the London Underground—Day 60: Epping Forest

If it's Friday we must be back in London. Every Friday I take a virtual walking tour ‘above ground’ on the London Underground. Using my Tube guide & my fitbit® device, my goal is to walk 10,000 steps a day roughly following along the Underground route, reporting back here on Fridays with my findings We're currently following the Central Line. Here are the previous days. This is Day 60.

Last week, just as I was feeling weary of following the Central line, up popped Leytonstone, and the happy discovery of it being the birthplace of the great Alfred Hitchcock. 
Today I’m once again feeling the neverendingness of the Central Line—THE longest tube line in the London Underground System, the line covers 49 miles—as I  look at the map and trace its pathway going out and out and out into the countryside. Skipping ahead, I find the end of the line: Epping, the last and 46th station. And while Epping feels like it’s forever and away from London, it’s actually just shy of 4 miles northeast of the city. 

The area boasts Epping Forest, London’s largest open space—over 3300 football pitches—which is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The forest is home to fallow deer, cattle, grey squirrels, foxes, hares, wood mice, moles, hedgehogs, weasels, bats and more. Not surprisingly Queen Elizabeth I had a hunting lodge not too far from here. 

There are guided walks for all levels, runs and workshops like What to do with a deer: butchery, cooking and hides.

The beautiful countryside is also the setting for a historic country estate. The Copped Hall estate dates back to 1303, home to the king’s huntsman. The royal estate has been passed down over the centuries first to Henry VIII, than the Queen Mary who lived there basically as a prisoner since she was Catholic. Elizabeth gave the estate to Sir Thomas Heneage, a high court official for whom Shakespeare is said to have written A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The play was performed—for the first time— in the long gallery in celebration of Heneage’s second marriage.  

It’s a wonderful old mansion and stables set in an expansive park-like garden setting. Honestly, I’ve pushed it today, my walk is over 13 miles! I feel like grabbing a pile of hay and crawling into one of the stalls. Next week we’ll hit Waltham Abbey and Queen Elizabeth’s hunting lodge before we get back into the city of London. Come along? 


My husband and I have started talking–again—about making a trip to England a reality. He’d like to go to Paris and Italy while we’re across the Atlantic—as would I—which means we’d have just a few, perhaps four or five days at the most, in London.

After all the research I do for this weekly walk, you’d think I’d know exactly where I want to go and what I want to see, but I’m not sure I do. There are so many things and places I’ve learned about that my head is swimming. He has been wanting to visit Baker Street forever and I like the idea of taking a Jack the Ripper tour. High tea, of course. The house where I was born, a boat ride on the Thames. I've seen Westminster Abbey and I think it would bore him but the Tower, Buckingham Palace, Big Ben deserve at least a look. How about you? What must see places would you suggest I add to my list?

The Copped Hall Estate
Copped Hall, Crown Hill, Epping CM16 5HS
+44 7799 473108

Queen Elizabeth's Hunting Lodge
8 Ranger's Rd, London E4 7QH, UK
+44 20 7332 1911

Counting the Fitbit steps

Day 1-59:                                                415,090 steps/182 miles

Day 59: Leytonstone to Epping        .      33,750 steps/13.5 miles

Total Imaginary Miles to Date                415,090 steps/182 miles

Days 1 —59

Connect with Joy Weese Moll’s British Isles Friday  


  1. Sorry, I can't think of any site to add to your list. Probably, I would point you in the wrong direction. I can't imagine walking thirteen miles. I'll bet you and your husband have a wonderful time on these excursions. Would love to visit the Tower.

    1. Thanks Tea! It's always good to hear from you.

  2. Check out London Walks -- http://www.walks.com/ -- Jack the Ripper and so much more. In particular, I can personally recommend The Lure of the Underground which will be perfect for you: http://www.walks.com/our-walks/tuesday-walks#the-lure-of-the-underground

    High on my list for my next trip is the London Transport Museum. Which, again, will be perfect in the midst of your virtual explorations. http://www.ltmuseum.co.uk/

    1. Great ideas Joy, thanks! I am definitely up for a Jack the Ripper tour!

  3. I recently went on the London Walks tour of the British Museum. I have been there before, but found all the old stones and pots overwhelming. However, the guided tour really brought it all to life, and it was a throughly enjoyable experience.

    1. Thanks Michelle, great idea!


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