S: OUR ENGLISH HOLIDAY 2011
BC: Lovingly written by Ellie Moore
FC: A HOLIDAY TO REMEMBER SHIRLEY, HAL, ELLIE & TIM MAY 21 - JUNE 8, 2011
1: Our flight from Boston to London arrives at Heathrow Airport on Sunday morning. After a scenic taxi ride through the city we arrive at our hotel. Knowing that staying awake for the day is so important to adjust to the time, we drop off our suitcases and catch the Tube (the underground subway) to Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park. Dragging our jet-lagged bodies around London wasn't easy... but we made it until 6 PM and slept and slept and slept! | Day 2, feeling refreshed and full of adventure, we hop on the Big Red Bus for a tour of London. It's a double decker bus, so we climb upstairs for the best view and start snapping pictures of the sites, including Big Ben and Parliament. After the tour, we visit Westminster Abbey, London Eye, and the Tower of London. Day 3 brings more London, with stops at the British Museum, the Tower Bridge, and a historic pub. Later that evening, Tim and Ellie attend the Eric Clapton concert at the beautiful Royal Albert Hall! | DAY 1 | Kensington Palace | Big Ben and Parliament | DAYS 2 & 3 | The Memory Making Begins!
2: Westminster Abbey, London Eye & Tower of London | DAY 2
3: The British Museum, Tower Bridge & The Shipwright's Pub | DAY 3
4: After a full English breakfast, it's time to head back to Heathrow airport and pick up our rental car. We say a few prayers and hit the road...on the wrong side! Tim is the driver, Ellie the navigator... needless to say, it's a match made in heaven! After a few tense moments, we get our bearings and drive to Windsor Castle. | The "walk" to the castle is through the colorful town and up a very steep hill...more like a hike! Hal and Shirley make it with no problem. So much for using the "we're in our 80's" excuse! Windsor Castle is huge, 1000+ rooms, and absolutely beautiful. The changing of the guard begins with the band marching through the town, then a full inspection and gun salute. The ceremony lasts for one hour and takes place every day at 11 AM. | DAY 4
6: After touring Windsor and a two-hour drive to Cambridge, we are so excited to see Jessie and the beautiful area where she lives. The gardens are fabulous, perfectly manicured, with special spots everywhere to sit and relax, study or visit with friends. We are all totally enthralled and thrilled for Jessie. Cambridge University is 800 years old! Jessie's college, Trinity Hall, was established in the 1300s. Jess is so happy here and can hardly wait to show us her room and more of the city of Cambridge. | Finally...the Road Leads Us to Cambridge & Jessie! | After a short tour, we check into the Benson House Bed and Breakfast, meet Julie (the owner), and grab lunch at The Eagle pub. Fish and chips... again? That night, we attend a formal dinner at Trinity Hall in their beautiful dining room. It's great to meet and visit with some of Jessie's friends and fellow students. They are from all around the world and, of course, very interesting and intelligent! (We fit right in...) The pre-dinner sherry, the five course dinner, and the company are all great!
7: LIFE IS GOOD
8: Cambridge Scenery
9: Dinner at Trinity Hall and Drinks at The Eagle Pub
10: Jessie joins us for a great breakfast at the Benson House... fresh fruit, omelets to order, and delicious coffee, compliments of Julie. Jessie has tons of studying and writing to do, so we say goodbye for now and head to the medieval city of York. Our first "hop" off the tour bus is The Shambles, a bustling, quaint area that was once the meat market center of York. | DAY 5 | The ancient, winding streets are so narrow that you can stretch your arms and practically touch the buildings on both sides. Walking through this area feels like we're in the middle of a Harry Potter movie. Dodging a rainstorm, we duck into a cafe for hot soup, crusty bread, and a pot of tea. Enjoying afternoon tea is such a wonderful aspect of the English culture.
11: Historic York is still encircled by 2 1/2 miles of city walls, built in the 13th century. The walls have four gates, complete with posts to hang a few traitorous heads! The gorgeous York Minster, also built in the 13th century, is known as one of the great cathedrals of the world. During our sightseeing and window shopping, the rain begins to get the best of us, so Tim goes in search of the car while Hal, Shirley, and Ellie find shelter at a bus stop and wait. We promise Alan and Nancy that we'll arrive by dinner time, so we hit the road again and head to Washington Village in Durham County. It will be so wonderful to see the whole Foster clan. | TRUE LOVE ENDURES
12: We're invited to stay at Andrew and Ann-Marie's beautiful home. Our official greeters are their two gorgeous canine "children," Roxie and Tillie. We quickly realize that if you give them a little love, they'll be your friends forever. Nancy and Alan soon arrive with a delicious home-cooked meal, complete from soup to nuts! Shirley and Hal are meeting the Fosters for the first time but feel at home and comfortable right away. It's wonderful to see everyone and catch up! | Nigel and Sonia's daughters, Hope and Amber, are so charming and bubbling with personality. Hope is 14, going on 20, and Amber is 10. They both love having company from America and are planning on visiting someday. We hope so! | and
13: We spend the next two days with Alan, Nancy, Andrew, and Ann-Marie touring the beautiful city of Durham and driving the coastal route north toward Scotland. The scenery is spectacular, highlighted by gorgeous castles and cathedrals. Stopping in a seaside pub, we enjoy hot tea, jacket potatoes, and scones. | DAYS 6 & 7
14: Enjoying a great Italian dinner with the whole family is the perfect ending to a lovely day of sightseeing. The food is great, the company even better! Hope is the budding model, posing with her proud dad, Nigel, and Grandpa Alan and also with Grandma Nancy. Amber is with mom, Sonia, and Ann-Marie snuggles with Andrew.
16: It's Sunday morning, and Tim is in the kitchen preparing an everything-but-the- kitchen-sink frittata, his specialty. Hal, his sous chef, has perfected the role of chief supervisor. How much work can he do with both hands in his pockets? Shirley is immersed in a book about the royal family. Since she and Queen Elizabeth were born in the same year, she watched her grow up from afar and sometimes fantasized about her life. The photos bring back lots of memories. Tim delivers again... the breakfast is delicious! Nancy is already talking about Sunday dinner and hoping we can stay. We are all stalling and putting off the inevitable, but we must say goodbye and get on the road to Malcolm and Margaret's home. Of course, we are really looking forward to seeing them. Our stay in Washington Village has been wonderful and would not be complete without a trip to the Old Hall, the ancestral home of George Washington. So while Tim and Ellie finish the packing, Alan, Nancy, Shirley, and Hal drive to the village center for a little history lesson. The locals are very proud of the Old Hall. | DAY 8
17: After a three hour ride, we arrive at Malcolm and Margaret's home... just in time for a traditional Sunday dinner of roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, lots of delicious fresh vegetables, and wine to wash it all down. We're getting spoiled and loving it! Karen, John, Daniel, Julie, and Geoff join us. Thomas is working but stops in later to say hello. He and Daniel are 18 and getting ready for university. | Margaret frequently disappears into the kitchen and emerges minutes later with fresh baked scones and cookies, hot tea, and other goodies... yummy! Malcolm, our self-appointed tour guide, wants to make some plans and a schedule for Monday. He's anxious to show us the area, and we agree on a full day of sightseeing. He says, "The tour bus leaves at 6 AM." And we say, "Right, Malcolm!!"
18: Our first stop is the Wentworth Woodhouse, a beautiful country estate in Rotherham, South Yorkshire. Built in the early 1700s, it was the home of the Earls Fitzwilliam (there were ten consecutive earls). The east front facade is the longest in Europe. Vacant at this time, it is rumored to have recently been purchased, possibly for a hotel and spa. | DAY 9 | Derbyshire, in the Peak District, is home to the stately Chatsworth House. It is the home of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire and has been the family seat since 1549. The one hundred plus rooms are filled with priceless art, gorgeous hand painted ceilings, and centuries old furnishings. 35,000 acres of gardens and farmland surround the mansion.
19: DAY 10 | After a short two-day visit with Malcolm, Margaret, and all, we are ready to continue our tour! It's not our usual teary eyed goodbye because we are meeting in Cambridge in a few days to spend the weekend together. We'll save the tears for later. Our drive today takes us through the scenic hills and pasturelands of the gorgeous Cotswolds. | Less than 100 miles west of London, the landowners, made rich by wool from their sheep, built charming cottages of beautiful honey-brown Cotswold stone. With names like Stow-on-the-Wold, Bibury, and Bourton-on-the-Water, these picturesque villages date back to the15th century. This area is a photographer's dream... one beautiful picture after another!
20: Bibury Centre Park & Searching for Trout
21: The Kingsdown Brewery in Stow-on-the-Wold
22: Cotswold Scenery
23: Driving southwest from the Cotswolds, we arrive in Wells, Somerset at the Canon Grange B&B, our home for the next two nights. Along the way, we had a short stop and bus tour in the Roman city of Bath, famous for its healing mineral springs. Everyone agrees it would be nice to spend more time exploring this beautiful place. | The bed and breakfast sits on one side of a center green across from the stately Wells Cathedral. Begun in the 12th century, the medieval statues sculpted into the stone decorate the front facade. The home to the Bishops of Bath and Wells for the last 800 years, the moat-surrounded Bishops Palace is adjacent to the cathedral. The sleepy streets of Wells invite you to stroll, shop in the farmers market for fresh produce and flowers or stop in a pub for a beer.
24: Vicars Close is the oldest continually inhabited street in Europe and beautifully preserved. It provides housing for the men of the church choir.
25: The astronomical clock of the Wells Cathedral, made in 1390, is the oldest surviving clock face of its kind in the world.
26: Our "headquarters" in Wells was within miles of the Dunkeswell Air Base where Hal served in the US Navy. Dunkeswell, just five miles from the town of Honiton, in East Devon, was completed in 1943 for use by the RAF Coastal Command. That March, the base operations were transferred to the American units and renamed the US Naval Air Facility Dunkeswell. | DAY 11 | It was the only American Navy air base commissioned on UK soil in World War II. The US Army Air Force and the US Navy operated anti-submarine patrols until November 1944. Three bombing squadrons and Fleet Air Wing 7 were based at Dunkeswell. FAW7 flew over 6,000 missions and sunk five submarines but sadly 183 officers and servicemen were lost. The military base closed in 1948.
27: The Dunkeswell Memorial Museum was started by a small group of people who became fascinated with the story of the American servicemen in WWII. They have an extensive collection of memorabilia. Our visit to the museum was very emotional for all of us but particularly for Hal. It's been 68 years, and he doubted that he would ever see Dunkeswell again. Although it looks quite different, the original control tower, two fire tender sheds, and the Command Headquarters still remain. The museum is in a temporary location but hopes to move into the original buildings soon.
28: Heading south from Honiton, we arrive in the beautiful seaside town of Sidmouth. This is our first look at the English Channel and it's quite a thrill to see! It is a lovely day, not exactly beach weather by our standards, but the locals are sunbathing and lounging everywhere. The little children are having a great time climbing on the rocks. We spend a little time exploring before treating ourselves to homemade ice cream. Delicious... | After a memorable visit at Dunkeswell, we drive to Honiton and the girls spend some time browsing through the antique shops. We learn that Honiton Pottery is quite collectible and manage to find several cups and saucers, plates, and pitchers for gifts and a little bit for us! They will remind us of the place where Hal spent many hours "carousing" with his buddies. Watch out for that torpedo juice!
29: The route takes us along the River Exe, so we can enjoy a little more great scenery. This has been a fabulous day, and the only thing missing is more food. Luckily, there is always a pub around the next corner! We quickly find one and enjoy dinner before heading back to our B&B in Wells. | We decide to take the coastal route back to Wells. The day is just too pretty to miss the gorgeous scenery by driving on the motorway. Green patchwork rolling hills border the shoreline. It's very hard to keep our eyes on the winding road, until we turn north toward Exmouth and end up on a "C" road, a narrow, single-lane street lined with tall hedges. This turns out to be for two-way traffic. Luckily, there are occasional pull outs with just enough room to squeeze a car by. Tim is doing an awesome job of driving and Shirley has become very proficient at praying in the back seat. Once we make it to the motorway, we'll be home free!
30: After a leisurely breakfast at the Canon Grange, we regretfully say goodbye to the lovely town of Wells. Although Stonehenge is one of the most visited places in England, we decide to bypass this tourist haven and drive 20 miles north to Avebury. At 28 acres, this is one of the largest prehistoric sites in Europe. | Unlike Stonehenge, this site is totally accessible. You can walk right up to and around the stones and wonder in amazement how these huge "statues" got here! The outer circle includes more than 100 stones, some weighing more than 50 tons. Two inner circles each have another 30 stones standing upright. The whole area feels strangely mystifying. | DAY 12
31: Shirley is topping the charts at about five feet tall, so this stone is probably over nine feet in height. The stones are made from sandstone as are so many of the buildings in the area in and around Avebury. After touring Avebury, it's time to drive back to Cambridge and meet Jessie. The deadline to hand in her exam papers is today, and she is ready to party. In the evening, the five us see The Producers at ADC Theatre in Cambridge, a great amateur venue.
32: DAY 13 | Malcolm and Margaret, Karen, Julie, Geoff, and Daniel meet us this morning in Cambridge. The weather is perfect, so we decide to go punting on the Cam River. It is number one on the must-do list! Our punter/tour guide is great. He has a wealth of knowledge about the university, local architecture, the bridges, and the city of Cambridge. Everyone really enjoys the punt and the beautiful sunshine. In the afternoon, we find our way (thanks to GPS) to the town of Ely, which is north of Cambridge. The Ashtons have rented a cottage there for all of us to enjoy the next three days together. They even think to order groceries and have them delivered! | Punting on the Cam
33: Bridges & Colleges along the Cam River
34: DAY 14 | After a late night of tv and games, sleeping in on Saturday and having a leisurely breakfast sounds good to all of us. With eleven people eating and showering, we eventually leave the cottage to explore Ely. Since a graduation and small art fair are taking place on the center green, we wander around the area doing a little shopping and sampling of the local fare. Jessie and Daniel are first to find the champagne cocktails! Even Shirley took a sip or two...wow, that must have gone right to her head!
35: The small "city" of Ely was actually built around the Cathedral, which was originally started in 1109. After parts of it were destroyed by Henry VIII, the Cathedral was rebuilt in 1541. Because of its resemblance to Westminster Abbey, the Cathedral was used for filming the coronation scene in The King's Speech. Colin Firth, who played King George VI, sat in the chair now occupied by King Harold, the one and only, and Queen Margaret.
36: It's Sunday morning and, unfortunately, Tim is leaving to fly home. As a farewell, he cooks another gourmet breakfast that we all enjoy! | DAY 15 | Ely Scenery | On the way back "home," we stop at the local pub for a delicious dinner. The special of the day is the Carver, which is roast beef with all the trimmings. Hal says, "I'll try it!" That exclamation has become his mantra for the vacation. | Tim leaves at 10 AM to drive to Heathrow, one last time on the other side of the road. The rest of us have one more night at the cottage, so we go back to Cambridge. Jessie wants to play tour guide again.
39: Day 16 | On Monday morning, it's time to say goodbye to Malcolm and Margaret, Karen, Daniel, Julie and Geoff. This is never an easy task, especially for the emotional women. It has been wonderful spending the weekend together, and we will miss the great company... the fun games, conversations, meals, and laughs, laughs, laughs! | Shirley, Hal, and Ellie head back to Cambridge with Jessie. We have two more nights in England, and although we are getting a little worn, a plan for the remainder of our trip is taking shape. Our next (and last) B&B is the Warkworth House. Jessie and Ellie share a room so we can all spend more time together. We're ready for an early dinner and a good night's sleep. Tomorrow is our last full day, and we want to make the best of it!
40: DAY 17 | Jessie has a brilliant idea for Tuesday. After breakfast, we stop in the local market and pack a delicious picnic lunch. The weather forecast is for sun so we grab a taxi to the Cambridge University Botanic Garden. What a gorgeous place. Encompassing 40 acres, it was opened to the public in 1846. We spend a few hours strolling through the beautiful garden. | Stopping now and then on a park bench for a little conversation and rest, we manage to see several different areas, each more colorful than the one before. The Botanic Garden is another photographers dream spot, a lovely oasis of tranquility close to the city centre of Cambridge. Jessie's idea for our last day together was perfect... magical and brilliant!
42: DAY 18 | As the song says, "All our bags are packed and we're ready to go." Well, not really, but we have morning reservations on the coach bus to Heathrow Airport! In two and a half weeks, we have driven over 1200 miles and visited at least 15 cities. We've seen castles, cathedrals, and palaces; caught up with family; and punted on the Cam. We all enjoyed reliving Hal's days at Dunkeswell, his old stomping grounds. And we sampled many beers at too many pubs to count. It's been absolutely fab! So although we hate to say goodbye... our jet plane is waiting.
43: Our Trip to England... Full of Wonderful Memories