Church teenager ready to flee to Stratford-upon-Avon

The writer is the 16-year-old daughter of Dixon and Linda Cartwright of Big Sandy and a member of The Journal's staff.

By Jamie Cartwright

BIG SANDY, Texas--If I had my way, I would run away from home.

I would run all the way back to England, where a mere two weeks ago I spent a week-long vacation with my 20-year-old brother, Trey, and the tolerant McLendon family of Hawkins, Texas (Charles and Cindy and their kids, Heather, 21, and Brian, 17).

I wouldn't flee to London, where the streets were crowded with hordes of people of every kind, with the breezy subway tubes congested with travelers and the glowing nightlife where the air smelled of fish, but to the quieter countryside with the hedge-marked fields of never-ending green dotted with iconic white puffballs that marked sheep, and the little towns like Stratford-upon-Avon, where we spent the second half of our trip.

London was as exciting as Stratford was beautiful. The hotels and restaurants and stores go up and down, rather than out, and are sculpted and old and seem out of place in the streams of modern people.

We took tours on the popular double-decked buses, and on one Trey and I even ventured to sit on the open top half for maybe half an hour, then crawled whimpering back down the stairs peeling ice off our faces.

On the second day we went to Westminster Abbey, an enormous old church filled with stained glass and ornate tombs, and saw The Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty's Theatre that night. Nyah, nyah.

The next day we toured the Tower of London, and the day after that we drove on to Stratford, where they don't know the meaning of the words "shingled roof" and where Shakespeare was born and lived. (The local shops milk this historical fact for all it's worth.)

We even got to see a production of Shakespeare's As You Like It the next night, and that more or less marked the end of our trip.

The next day we drove back to Gatwick, where we had originally landed, and spent our last night in a small bed-and-breakfast. Then it was only a matter of standing around at the airport for two or three hours before mercifully being allowed on the plane for the long trip home.

I came home exhausted, with two rolls of used film and some hysterical-looking money, and have been repeatedly tied down and forced to talk about it ever since.

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