Grandfather Bill, Jude and Teddy share a new story.
Splash Magazines Worldwide has told the story of “The Unlikely Trio in the Time of Covid-19 in three previous articles, describing the first meeting of 91-year-old Grandfather Bill — (known by his kids as “Guppy”), 54-year-old Jude, and Jude’s 7-year-old son Teddy. This was at the beginning of the Covid 19 pandemic, and over the weeks, Teddy suggested that they form a quarantine pod on Guppy’s beachfront terrace. (Article1) (Article 2) (Article 3)
They quickly became close friends sharing stories and meals. Interestingly, the generational divide didn’t impede honest conversation. In fact, it may have contributed to the genuine concern and support they shared as they confronted life’s inevitable difficulties. Their collective story is an inspiring, fun-filled journey of learning, camaraderie, and joy during one of the bleakest periods in modern history.
This article follows the Trio on a recent trip abroad. Thanks to Jude, the “unlikely trio” went on an excursion to London and Paris to celebrate Guppy’s 93rd birthday and Teddy’s spring break from school. It added even more magic to this extraordinary story and cemented their ongoing, lasting relationship.
Our first stop was London’s Dorchester Hotel. The hotel offered to provide transportation from Heathrow Airport with the choice of cars being a Rolls Royce or a Bentley. Teddy, who is now 9 years-old, knows everything about cars and chose the Rolls. The Trio was met at the airport by a uniformed chauffeur holding a sign “Mr. Teddy, Dorchester Hotel “.
It was the start of a perfectly magical eight days in two magical cities. Their hotel suite was headquarters for three nights. The view of Hyde Park was irresistible so Jude and Teddy devoted their first morning to a bike ride through the park and their first visit to a Cathedral. (Guppy slept in. Time change, you know.)
Buckingham Palace and the Changing of the Guard was one of their most anticipated destinations, but a late arrival and large crowds eclipsed the ceremony. Teddy saw some of it sitting on his dad’s shoulders, but there wasn’t room for Guppy’s wheelchair. At St. Paul’s Cathedral, Guppy’s wheelchair paved the way to the front of every line which made for excellent viewing and photography of one of the most magnificent Cathedral interiors in Europe.
Guppy, fondly remembering the “high teas” that he and his wife enjoyed during previous visits, invited the Director of Guest Relations to join him for that memorable experience since Jude and Teddy were either museum-hopping or biking at high-tea time.
“The Tower of London”, a must-see on every traveler’s list, began with a photo of Teddy and a Beef Eater in the courtyard before entering the Crown Jewels display. The darkened room, highlighted by the unique lighting of the display cases, featured the crowns and jewels in glorious brilliance.
We then decided to take in the London Eye, the slow-moving cantilevered observation wheel which offers the best possible view of the city. Jude, who does not do well in heights, offered a variety of excuses but finally relented as he entered a spacious car that at its apex, is 588 feet above the Thames. Jude, an experienced yoga practitioner, then proceeded to demonstrate a perfectly balanced headstand. Hundreds of feet below him was a stunning view of Big Ben and the House of Parliament. Some of the other riders were so fixated on the guy standing on his head, that they had to take another turn to see the view below.
From the luxury of the Dorchester in London, Teddy chose a visit to Legoland in Windsor as his next stop. Jude and Guppy attempted to tour Windsor Castle but were thwarted by a special celebration honoring a Royal Gibraltar Regiment. The Castle was closed to all but invited guests but they had an outside view of the largest occupied castle in the world and Royal home for over 900 years with the Queen in residence.
After three days in London and one day in Windsor, the trio boarded the Eurostar train for the 2 1/2 hour crossing of the English Channel to Paris traveling at 186 miles per hour. Teddy couldn’t resist telling the conductor that Guppy’s 93rd birthday was the next day, and the conductor couldn’t resist telling the Train Manager who broadcast the news to all 18 cars. He asked if there were any singers who would like to come to Car #11 to sing “Happy Birthday”. A group did his bidding, joined by 1,200 passengers in other cars singing in multiple languages as they traveled under the English Channel.
After photos with Eurostar train staff, we had a conversation with a nearby passenger who inquired about our lodging in Paris. The Trio took a taxi to the spectacular Royal Monceau Raffles Hotel owned by the government of Qatar, and were greeted by a line-up of luxury cars. Teddy, our car guy, looked at the car at the entrance being photographed by passers-by. It was a $3 million custom Bugatti, owned by the same gentleman who struck up a conversation with Jude on the Eurostar. It turned out that he was not only an important figure in the monarchy of Qatar, but a kindly person who overheard Teddy talking about cars and arranged to have a set of five toy models sent to his room. Quite a beginning to three amazing days in Paris.
Their balcony had a view of the Arch de Triomphe in all its splendor. They made an early visit to Notre Dame and outside a high fence, observed the beginnings of reconstruction of the burned Cathedral.
The Louvre, a must-see on everyone’s list, gave Jude an opportunity to take pictures with his professional camera in front of paintings by the Masters, as well as statues like “The Winged Victory”. Guppy’s wheelchair again provided front-row viewing of the art including the Mona Lisa. Teddy again announced that it was Guppy’s birthday, and the 25 viewers sang the birthday song in multiple languages in front of the world’s most renown painting.
It was a special treat for Guppy to share his birthday dinner with special friends, Harrison and Gail Goodwin, who divide their time between Illinois and California and were spending five weeks in France. They have their own story to tell. They had spent two weeks in the Alps where Harrison skied on the glaciers and experienced life as only he can. At 79-years-old, he still does things that teenagers dare to do. Much like Jude, there’s little he hasn’t done including flying planes, surfing the wildest surf and walking on burning coals. No wonder they had tales and adventures to share.
A trip to Paris would not be complete without a visit to the Eiffel Tower and an elevator ride to the half-way point. Although Jude’s problem with heights had wained, this was not his favorite venue even though it afforded an unforgettable view of Paris. Highlights included visits to restaurants for which the city is notable, including the finest restaurant in Paris, and perhaps in the world, Guy Savoy. The Chef and Owner, whose picture appears on this month’s cover of “Paris Match”, was quite taken by Teddy, his youngest customer that evening, and insisted on giving him a tour of the kitchen following a photo.
There is no way to capture the wonderful experiences the “Unlikely Trio” shared and will always remember. Yet, they form the mystery and wonder of unexpected relationships that make our lives so rich.
Photos: Courtesy of “The Unlikely Trio”