June 28-July 1, 2009 London

Words are inadequate to try to capture the power and importance all 24 of us felt about our PathNorth Experience in England.  I think we were moved by the history, the incredible people we met, settings for dinners and of course the amazing conversations, not to mention the un-English-like fine weather.

We stayed in Churchill’s club, the Carlton Club on St. James Place, a location loaded with history and bombed during the blitz of World War 2.  For dinner we descended into the Churchill War Rooms under the Treasury, the small private space where Churchill and his cabinet lived and conducted the war effort.  As Ambassador Philip Lader observed our first evening, “The scale is simply astounding.  What a few people did in this tiny place is truly amazing, and it changed the world.”  And to sit with Nicholas Soames, MP, grandson of Churchill, to understand his ancestor’s greatness from a blood relative was moving beyond imagination. Sixty of us had dinner in this room; a Wimbledon champion, MPs, Ambassadors, 4-5 Lords, CEOs and the head of BBC.  Electric energy.

Our morning Roundtables with our group at the Carlton Club provided an intimate setting for very personal sharing.  We are more alike than different, all trying to navigate our particular journeys seasoned with pain and joy, fear and peace, hope and sorry.

Then to Blenheim Palace in Woodstock, the largest and finest country home in England and the birthplace of Winston Churchill.  This magical home/palace stands on a scale with Versailles.  Then on to Oxford for a private tour of two of the ancient Oxford Colleges, Christ Church and New College.  It was a poignant moment when our friend and former MP, Jonathan Aitken, quietly pointed to a grand painting of his maternal grandfather, his ancestor’s portrait hung among other great paintings in the Hall built by Henry VIII, (and used in the Harry Potter films). Touring the Christ Church meadow was breathtaking, where mathematics professor, Charles Dodgson penned Alice in Wonderland.  We then retreated to the private quarters of Regis Professor Nigel Biggar for Pims and drinks.  His beautiful quarters date to the 16th century.

Our evening dinner in Oxford brought together some of the finest minds the world can provide to offer perspective on “The State of the World”, covering topics such as: the world economy, Iran, the future of China, and globalization.  What insights were gleamed!  Then back to London after a full full day.

Next, former Wimbledon Champion, Stan Smith, joined our breakfast Roundtable and then took us to a day at Wimbledon.  We started our day with drinks and lunch in Stan’s home and gardens across the street from the courts.  We were joined by British tennis great, John Lloyd.  We had lunch with great conversation, many photographs and then onto the women’s quarter finals.  Superb seats on a brilliant sunny day.  How incredibly special and historic.  Our tennis experience concluded with Stan giving out many coveted awards including the WW Award (Wimbledon Whiner).  This was given to…yes, Steve Case. No Comment!  Back to Stan’s home for afternoon tea and then to the Carlton Club to change for our closing dinner at the House of Commons hosted by MP Mr. Richard Shepherd.  We packed 28 into a historic dining room and several House of Lords members shared their views on politics, life, and meaning.  Quite a night….but it wasn’t over.

After dinner Lord Pearson took our group on a private tour of the dazzling and historic House of Lords and Commons.  History was everywhere.  Inspiring!  We triggered a National Security incident when PathNorth member, Wayne Huizenga, Jr., sat in the speaker’s chair.  He looked like he belonged, but security didn’t quite agree!

Back to the Carlton Club.  In the morning we shared a moving closing Roundtable discussion on, “What has affected you most during this experience?”

Our time in England achieved its purpose.  We gained a new perspective on our lives and businesses by immersing ourselves in history and greatness.  I won’t be the same, as I am sure all my traveling partners would agree.







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