Day 5, London

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So, we woke up and went to breakfast this morning here at Kingston University and it was GREAT! The eggs looked and tasted like eggs, the cereal wasn’t a cardboard block and the sausages and bacon were delicious. I think we’ve turned a culinary corner here, folks.
Today the U12 boys didn’t have a game or training, so we, the Williams and the Wilkinsons, decided to hitch a ride with the U16 and U17 teams to downtown London. We held up the bus a bit because we were finishing up our laundry, but they were gracious enough to let us bum a ride. Our first stop was LillyWhites (http://www.urbanpath.com/london/general-sports-shops/lillywhites.htm), a mega soccer store. Yes, we found some things, and no, Peter is never allowed to go in there with his wallet.
In front of Lilly Whites is Piccadilly Circus (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Picadilly_Circus). This was our starting off point. From there we went through Trafalgar Square (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trafalgar_Square) on our way to White Hall (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whitehall). Here we saw the Parliament buildings and the changing of the guards at the Horse Guards Building (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horse_Guards_(building).
Next we saw Big Ben (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Ben), the London Eye (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/London_Eye) and the River Thames (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/River_Thames). We had a snack of pastries and gelato back at Piccadilly Circus and then boarded the coaches and headed back to campus. There we had a well-seasoned dinner which even included a SALAD BAR! It was a great day!

Day 5, Chester to London

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Our last morning in Chester, we woke up and did our usual walk around the Roman City Walls. We, of course, stopped off at Starbucks and then had our last delightful breakfast at the university (wink, wink). We had to pack up and load the coaches for Birmingham City where most all the boy’s teams had games. We arrived at Birmingham’s complex which was nice, although the Parent Room only had one bathroom (not so nice). As we were waiting for the boys to change out of their polos and khakis, a premiere league player from Birmingham City (http://www.bcfc.com), McFadden, got into his Lamborghini and drove off. I only saw his silhouette, but his car was pretty nice! Sorry no pictures. We were waiting to get permission for photographs at the time.
Patrick’s team, the U12’s, had a rough start to their game against Birmingham City. They are still trying to get to know each other and I think some are a bit intimidated by the competition. Patrick worked hard at Right Back the whole game and was really proud of how he played. Skill and moves are not highlighted, which is what he is used to. It is a lot of passing and kick-ball. Patrick and his buddy Connor are some of the youngest on the team. It’s a different ball game when your playing with older, stronger, bigger kids. The final score was 0 to 6, Birmingham. We were afraid the boys would be upset after the game, but they all were smiling and asked when we would get to London. My nephew, Zack’s team, the U14s, ending up tying their game, 2 to 2. Way to go, Z-Man!
From Birmingham City, we hopped back onto coaches and made our way towards London. It was about a 3 hour drive, with some of that time spent at Services (rest stop off the highway with fast food). All the boys were so excited to have American fast food, although Patrick ended up getting fish and chips…agian. Lucky for me, they had a Starbucks. As we entered London, we passed Hampton Court Palace (http://www.hrp.org.uk/HamptonCourtPalace/stories.aspx) where King Henry VIII lived at times. From the road it looked amazing. I hope we can visit it.
We arrived at Kingston University and unloaded and got our rooms. This is a very stressful, long process, but was well worth it because we have WiFi in our rooms!!!!! The U12s do not have a game tomorrow or training, so we hope to get around London a bit.

Day 4, Chester England

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All the boys got to sleep in today until 8:30 am. They looked very tired at breakfast this morning. Both Patrick and Zack had 2 training sessions, no games. During Patrick’s second training session they scrimmaged the U13 boys. The U12’s won…the U13’s were very upset. The parents enjoyed some shopping time in Chester, but the real reason was to eat lunch OUT!  One of the girl’s game was at Chester University so the boy’s were told they had to go watch and support the girls…I don’t think any arms were pulled because there are some cute girls here! Both Patrick and Connor were asked to be linesmen for the second half of the first girl’s game. They did a great job. Did I mention we are sharing the university with a group from Spain, who is very loud, and a Karate Camp? Yes, it’s a bit odd to see all these middle-aged men and women walking around in full Karate outfits (including gauchos) with swords. We are calling it Mid Life Crisis Karate Camp.

We ended the day quietly after eating dinner out (kabobs and pizza) because we heard how bad dinner was. We leave tomorrow for London and game number 2 against Birmingham City. I’ll miss Chester. It is an adorable city with gracious people. I highly recommend visiting!

Day 3, Chester England

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Patrick woke up and walked the Roman City Walls with us. Zack was unconscious and couldn’t get up. I think Patrick wanted to go, not only for the history, but a treat from Starbucks. We breakfasted then began to get ready for the trip to Manchester to play the Tranmere Rovers. It was a windy, cold, rainy, sunny, warm, then you start all over day. Patrick’s team played hard, Patrick playing Right Back, but trailed 0 to 5 at half time. For most of the team, this was their first experience playing 11 v 11. Their spirits were low. We then noticed during the second half that a totally different Tranmere team was on the field. Apparently, Tranmere played their U13 team the 1st half and then switched to their U12 team the second half. On a side note, at half time Patrick started to talk to one of the Tranmere U13 players and then two more Tranmere players came over to talk to him. I got a great picture of all of them walking off the field. I was glad to see Patrick reaching out to the other team even though they were smoking us! Anyway, our U12 team plugged along and ended the second half 1 to 9 them.

Zack’s U 14 team, which I didn’t get to watch because it was going on at the same time went really well. They ended up winning . Cari told me that Zack’s coach was very complimentary of him during the game…something a mother always love to hear!

After the game, some of us decided to stay and see the Tranmere Rovers play Liverpool’s reserves. We killed some time by going to get some recommended fish and chips from Georgio’s. It is just a take-away counter (to go) so we parked ourselves outside in the sidewalk and ate our fish and chips right on the curb. I don’t think many people do this because we had lots of stares. Before the game we were standing outside by the VIP entrance. A man who looked official was greeting people. He stopped and came over to us, shook our hands and asked if we were American. I said yes. He said he was the director of Tranmere and had a friend there from LA that might want to talk to us. I said, “Great.” Needless to say, he never came back. The game was great. We had a long walk to the train station, but found our way back to Chester. It was a great day.

Day Two, Chester England

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Cari and I woke up early and went on a jog around the Roman City Walls. It was beautiful. We saw all the towers, the oldest horse race course in the country, a Roman amphitheartre, the 1,000 year old cathedral and a portion of the medieval castle. We of course stopped off at the medieval Starbucks on the way back to campus.

After a fortifying breakfast of blandness, we all hopped on the awaiting coaches and went to Manchester, England to tour Old Trafford Stadium, home of the legendary Manchester United football team. The pitch (field) was amazing–so green and perfect. We visited the players lounge and even went into the players changing room (locker room with no lockers). The tour guide let me peek into the roped off shower room. Unfortunately, no players were there. The tour ended in the mega ManU store where it felt like we spent hours and lots of Peter’s money.

Once we got back to the university, the boys had another training session then dinner. Some parents took the opportunity to go into town during this training session and hunt down some food with flavor. We were semi successful…better then dorm food, but still English.

The boys finished off the evening messing around on the fields with teammates. They are starting to bond, loosening up and having a ton of fun. It’s fun to watch Patrick with his new freedom of having his own room with key, getting himself ready for training and going to meals on his own. Tomorrow is their first game. Let the game begin!

Day One Chester, England

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We landed in Manchester, England after an all-night flight. No one slept very much on the plane. Customs asked the purpose of our trip…I said, ”We are here to play soccer.” The customs agent looked at me and said very primly,”No, Love, you are here to play FOOTBALL.” We boarded coaches (tour buses) and traveled a short distance to Chester University in Chester, England. The university is adorable and quaint. The weather is wonderful…50s and 60s, overcast. Perfect football weather!

The boys had a brief training mid morning. Everyone was tired and hungry so they didn’t work them very hard. We had a lovely lunch (totally being sarcastic…think dorm/cafeteria food for kids and take out any flavor whatsoever). As a huge group, we then walked to the City Center of Chester. The city of Chester has the most complete City Walls in Britain dating from the Roman occupation 2,000 years ago. It also has 700 year old rows of shopping galleries. These adorable shops are straight out of a Shakespeare play! After our adventure in the City Center, the boys trained again in the evening for 1.5 hours then had a remarkable unseasoned dinner. Curfew was early because everyone was exhausted!

Bloggin in the UK

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I’m a very lucky parent. My oldest, Patrick, who is 11, was offered a spot on a SuperClubs team to travel to England and play soccer…or should I say football. My sister, Cari,  is also going with my nephew, Zack, who is playing with an older SuperClubs team.

Audizero F50s

We start off in Chester, England:  http://www.chester.com/visitchester/aboutchester/. Then end in London. For you soccer fanatics, we will get to tour Old Trafford (http://www.manutd.com/default.sps?pagegid={0C8FD46D-122A-4FE2-B1A4-BA953BCC1600}), the legendary home of Manchester United and then play against Tottenham, Birmingham, Charlton Athletic, Blackburn Rovers, Reading and other youth teams.

Strap on your boots and shin guards, it’s going to be a wild, wacky, whimsical ride across the pond! Cheerio!

Weather in the UK: http://weather.yahoo.com/regional/UKXX.html