Family Remembrance and Celebrations: Brookwood Cemetery and The Lion King

Our London holiday was a mix of sightseeing, celebration, and remembrance. Today is a day of remembrance and celebration in more ways than one.

Our London Holiday, March 31-through-April 9, 2013:

1. British Airways LAX-LHR
2. The Waldorf Hilton, London
3. Covent Garden Neighborhood
4. London Transport Museum
5. Day Out in London – Traditional Landmarks
6. Diana, Princess of Wales’ Memorial Playground, Kensington Gardens, and Green Park/Buckingham Palace
7. Muggles and Magicians: The Harry Potter Experience
8. Family Remembrance and Celebration: Brookwood Cemetery and The Lion King at The Lyceum Theatre TODAY’S POST
9. Day Trip: Isle of Wight and Portsmouth, UK
10. Day Out: Greenwich, UK
11. Tower of London
12. London’s Shopping Shrines: Hamleys Toys and Harrods

Memorial at Waterloo Station in London. This station is where you depart for Brookwood Cemeteries, where many soldiers from World Wars I and II are buried.

Memorial to soldiers inside of Waterloo Station in London. The train station is where you depart for Brookwood Cemeteries, where many soldiers from World Wars I and II are buried.

Inside of Waterloo Station about to board our train to Brookwood Cemetery.

Inside of Waterloo Station about to board our train to Brookwood Cemetery.

C settling in for about a 45-minute train ride down to Brookwood Cemeteries just south of London.

C settling in for about a 45-minute train ride down to Brookwood Cemeteries just south of London.

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A shot of the original train tracks that led into Brookwood Cemetery outside of the newer Brookwood train station. This train line used to be known as the “dead train” or “necropolis railway” as it was the line used to transport fallen soldiers to the cemetery during war-time.

C and T heading down the path and into Brookwood Military Cemeteries outside of London.

C and T heading down the path and into Brookwood Military Cemeteries outside of London.

One place we were requested to visit during our visit to London was Brookwood Cemetery. C’s 94-year-old grandmother (T’s great-grandma) had a brother-in-law who was held prisoner during World War II and no one knew what had happened to him. Family was notified when he passed away, yet no one knew his final resting place. But just in the last year, C did a little internet searching and learned he was buried at Brookwood Cemetery, which is just about a 45 minute train ride outside of London. The train, which leaves out of Waterloo Station, stops right at the cemetery and is a short 5-to-10 minute walk to the Military sections. This was such a bittersweet and ironic discovery as Grandma H and Grandpa M (Riccardo’s brother) used to visit London on almost an annual basis together for about 20 years running.

Brookwood American Cemetery near London.

Brookwood American Cemetery near London.

Inside of the World War II Memorial at Brookwood American Cemetery outside of London.

Inside of the Memorial Chapel at Brookwood American Cemetery outside of London.

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T walking down the path through the American side of Brookwood Military Cemeteries.

C and T found Riccardo's grave site at Brookwood Military Cemetery in its Italian section.

C and T after finding Riccardo’s grave site at Brookwood Military Cemetery in its Italian section.

Many soldiers from many countries that fought in World War II are buried at Brookwood. There is a very expanse American portion to the cemetery, including various monuments to soldiers who perished during different battles or aboard different ships but bodies were never found. The Italian part of Brookwood is just the other side to the American plots (thankfully C had a map from staffers prior our visit, which we recommend to anyone visiting), which was where we found Riccardo.

T and C with Riccardo's headstone.

T and C with Riccardo’s headstone.

The three of us reunited with Riccardo during our London holiday.

The three of us reunited with Riccardo during our London holiday.

C took a rubbing of the headstone for Grandma H. Thank goodness we had that cemetery map and a pack of T's crayons with us!

C took a rubbing of the headstone for Grandma H. Thank goodness we had that cemetery map and a pack of T’s crayons with us!

T hauling sticks over to Riccardo's headstone, his own special way of letting him know he was there.

T hauling sticks over to Riccardo’s headstone, his own special way of letting him know he was there.

I know this trip might sound morbid for some, given that we took T here on what’s supposed to be a celebratory family vacation.  Please trust me when I say this was an event worth celebrating as much as it was one filled with remembrance. At last, we got to tell Grandma H that Riccardo had visitors and that the family now knows where we can go to remember him. T even left a stick for Riccardo from his finds while out that rainy morning, his own special way of saying hello and goodbye. Poignant yet perfect.

Ooh, what's in here?! C and T peeking into the Lyceum Theatre, the home of The Lion King London production for 14+ years now.

Ooh, what’s in here?! C and T peeking into the Lyceum Theatre, the home of The Lion King London production for 14+ years now.

T getting ready to see The Lion King at the Lyceum Theatre in London.

T getting ready to see The Lion King at the Lyceum Theatre in London. Happy five-and-a-half years, T!

OK, onto another form of celebration from this same day: T’s half-birthday! Somehow we seem to end up on European vacations while T turns “-and-a-half” as the last time he was overseas he turned one-and-a-half (in Rome, which I still remember clear as yesterday, him scarfing down slice after slice of lemon cake at some restaurant where the owner kept bringing out piece after piece because he loved it that much!). As the morning was on the more somber side, we decided that we’d kick the celebrating up a notch or two and take T to see a matinee of The Lion King!

Steak Frites at Cote Brasserie, a lovely little French restaurant chain in London.

Steak Frites at Cote Brasserie, a lovely little French restaurant chain in London.

T's Croque Monsuier at Cote Brasserie.

T’s Croque Monsieur (i.e., ham-and-cheese) at Cote Brasserie.

T with his strawberry ice cream and cookies at Cote Brasserie.

T with his strawberry ice cream and cookies at Cote Brasserie.

My Cote Creme Brulee - yummy!

My Cote Creme Brulee – yummy!

When we got back to Covent Garden, we grabbed a quick bite at Cote Brasserie, a small French restaurant near the Lyceum Theatre (other locations city-wide). C and I had delicious (yet simple) Steak Frites, and T had a very tasty (and kid-designed) Croque Monsieur. For dessert, T had a fresh strawberry ice cream and I had some of the creamiest Creme Brulee I’ve had in a long while. It was a delicious half-birthday lunch out before an afternoon of Disney-themed theatre fun.

C and T with the program from The Lion King inside the Lyceum Theatre, London.

C and T with the program from The Lion King inside the Lyceum Theatre, London.

We had a lot of fun seeing The Lion King in London's Lyceum Theatre.

We had a lot of fun seeing The Lion King in London’s Lyceum Theatre.

T enjoyed Lion King very much; C and I did, too. I was concerned about the stage production being a bit too artsy and interpretive (read: slow) for younger children, which it was in a few places for T, but more or less the live performance mimics the movie almost down to exact script. That made it very easy for T to follow as it included all of the lines he was familiar with (“he’s so cute and all alone!”) as well as all of the music that we’ve been playing around our house and in the car for a year or so (we love those Song and Story CDs!). The show’s also amazingly choreographed and costumed, which made it extremely enjoyable for us parents, too.

As for the official age recommendation, this is from The Lion King UK’s official website: “The Lion King is recommended for a general audience. As an advisory to adults who might bring young people, Disney recommends The Lion King for ages 6 and up. Children under the age of 3 will not be admitted into the theatre. All persons entering the theatre, regardless of age, must have a ticket.”

T with his cotton candy and ears, all part of our Disney on Ice traditions here at home in Long Beach (CA).

T with his cotton candy and ears, all part of our Disney on Ice traditions here at home in Long Beach (CA).

C's turn with the cotton candy.. it was quite the "Treasure Trove" of sweet fun seeing Disney on Ice together!

C’s turn with the cotton candy. It was quite the “Treasure Trove” of sweet fun seeing Disney on Ice together!

T and his new sword at Disney on Ice's "Treasure Trove" performance at Long Beach Arena (CA).

T and his new sword at Disney on Ice’s “Treasure Trove” performance at Long Beach Arena (CA).

The Lion King at Disney on Ice's "Treasure Trove" show at Long Beach Arena (CA).

The Lion King at Disney on Ice’s “Treasure Trove” show at Long Beach Arena (CA).

And speaking of Lion King, we recently saw another live performance of it here at home in the Disney on Ice medium! T and I have had a standing tradition of attending Disney on Ice shows, but this was the first time C joined in on the fun. Definitely a show for all-ages, Disney on Ice’s “Treasure Trove” show was a hit once again with T. This performance was a mix of original Disney favorites such as a Peter Pan scene, and newer Pixar stories like Finding Nemo. Woody and Friends from Toy Story were not there, but given they had a show all to themselves not too long ago I wasn’t surprised. I just thought I’d mention it in case anyone would make a decision to go (or not) from that information.

We are already looking ahead to more live shows we can take T to… have any recommendations, RMT’ers?

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