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Trip to England and Wales - 2010

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Trip to England and Wales - 2010 - Page Text Content

S: Our Holiday in England and Wales - 2010

FC: Our Holiday in England and Wales - 2010

1: Sunday, June 27 - Bath | Pulteney Bridge Commissioned by William Pulteney, the 1st Earl of Bath, the bridge was designed by Robert Adam in 1770. It was inspired by the famous Ponte Vecchio in Florence. | Our trip to England and Wales began Friday, June 25, with a one- hour flight from Cedar Rapids to Chicago. After a couple hour's wait at O'Hare we boarded the plane for our flight to London. The flight took just over 7 hours, covering a distance of nearly 4000 miles. After going through customs, we located the bus for Bath. We were joined by five other members of our tour - Theresa and Paul Carey and Lupe and Don Marnach, all from Sacramento, and Carol Wilson from Arkansas. The bus trip should only have taken about 2 1/2 hours, but was delayed when the bus overheated! | Since our tour did not begin until late afternoon we spent our first day in England exploring Bath. We started with a narrated bus tour of Bath and surrounding countryside. | Buildings in Bath, both old and new, are made from local Bath stone (limestone).

2: In the afternoon we discovered a free 2-hour walking tour. Our guide was very knowledgeable and we saw and learned a lot. Here is the first of architect John Wood's projects for Bath - Queen Square. It was begun in 1729 and modeled on an Italian piazza. John Wood lived in one of the houses on the north side.

3: John Wood's masterpiece, The Circus (to the left), and beneath that, Nicholas Cage's former residence there. Begun in 1754, The Circus was completed by his son, John Wood the Younger. The Royal Crescent (below, and not far from our hotel) was begun in 1767 by John Wood the Younger.

4: Brooks Guesthouse Our hotel in Bath | Lupe and Don Marnach from Sacramento, California, us, and Paul Carey, also from Sacramento, California. Our cozy third floor room. We got a nice breeze from the windows . . . which had no screens! We came to expect that. We also came to expect STAIRS; most hotels had no "lifts"! Thank goodness we packed light!

5: Sunday afternoon we met the other members of our tour; then we all walked into the center of Bath for a group dinner. We dined on the Duck Trio and homemade ice cream.

6: Monday, June 28 - Bath Abbey | We began our first day of the tour with a walking tour of Bath, finishing at the Roman Baths. | The west front is decorated with angels ascending and descending ladders. | The Abbey Churchyard pictured above. Bath Abbey dates mainly from the late 1400's and early 1500's.

7: Roman Baths The curative powers of the waters were first discovered in 850 BC, when a swineherd was cured of leprosy after bathing here in a pool of warm, muddy water. The Romans developed the spa in the first century and the baths continued to be one of Rome's most celebrated spas for 300 years. After the Romans left, the baths gradually disappeared, not to be rediscovered until the 1700's. The Great Bath itself was discovered in 1881, still lined with the lead put in place by the Romans some 2,000 years earlier.

8: The Octagon and Card Room Added in 1777, the architect is unknown. This room is the only room to escape damage during the bombing in 1942. | The Ballroom The largest eighteenth-century room in Bath, it could accommodate as many as 800 dancers. | Designed by John Wood the Younger and built in 1771, the Georgian building was central to Bath's social life. This building sustained damage during bombing from Germany in WWII. On Sunday, there was a wedding reception held here. | The Tea Room Used for concerts and for refreshments. Meals were served throughout the day, from 'public breakfasts' to supper during Dress Balls. | Assembly Rooms

9: Streets of Bath

10: Bizarre Bath Tour (It was billed as a walking tour comedy act with absolutely no history or culture!) "Where are you from?" "Arkansas.". . . "We're stopping here because . . . well, because I'm exhausted!" Hopping across the street. "Ring and balloon trick - "At least the ring is headed for the U.S.!"

11: Tuesday, June 29 - Glastonbury Abbey | Although our second day of the tour began overcast, the sun eventually appeared. We took the bus to Glastonbury Abbey, which was the second wealthiest abbey in Britain. Building began in the late 1100's with the monks taking possession in 1213. In the 1500's a cash-strapped Henry VIII ordered the destruction of all 800 monasteries, nunneries and friaries in Britain. The Abbot at Glastonbury and two of his monks were executed. Any items of value were sold, with much of the stone being used in area buildings. | Above: We dined on the grounds, with the Lady Chapel in the background. Our lunch consisted of Cornish pasties (picked up in Bath), locally grown apples, cheeses and cider. Above and to the right: The Abbot's kitchen

12: Wells Cathedral In the afternoon we took the bus to nearby Wells Cathedral. Built over a period of 60 years, it was dedicated in 1239. It was a spectacular sight! Below (from left to right): worn stairs to the octagonal Chapter House, the nave with scissor arches, the quire (sight of daily Evensong) and the Golden Window. | To the left: The west side of Wells Cathedral, once painted in colorful reds, greens, and golds. After our tour, and following the chime of the clock at 3:00, we paused for a short prayer.

13: Vicar's Close | That evening the tour group dined together at Tilley's Bistro - a French restaurant. Pictured with us are: Theresa Carey, Carol Wilson, Don and Lupe Marnach, and Paul Carey. | Vicar's Close was built in 1348 to house the vicar's choral. There were 42 small houses in two rows. Until the 1500's the vicars were not allowed to marry; now vicars and their families reside here. On the day we visited we heard music through the open windows and enjoyed the colorful bushes and flowers planted along the walkway.

14: Wednesday, June 30 - Lacock | Today we left Bath, headed for the Cotswolds. Our first stop was quiet Lacock. Lacock remains much as it did in the 18th century, with only four streets. Jane Austen's "Pride and "Prejudice" was filmed here. School was still in session, with students wearing uniforms. (This was not the picture I took!) | A 14th century barn with a simple beaten earth floor.

15: Avebury | Avebury is Britain's largest stone circle, with an area of 28 acres, 14 times the better known Stonehenge. It includes one outer circle about 1 mile in circumference and two smaller circles. We only walked about 1/4 mile of the outer circle. Avebury was started around 3000 BC. Stones weighing 10 - 100 tons were dragged to the site on wooden sledges, then hoisted upright into specially dug holes. The rectangular pillars represent the male while the diamond shaped stones represent the female. It is speculated that the stone circles were used for ceremonies that related to the seasons and fertility. | Our guide, Roy, explains the history of Avebury while Lupe and Penny listen intently.

16: Blenheim Palace | The water terraces | The Italian Garden

17: Built in the early 18th century, Blenheim was a reward from Queen Anne to the Duke of Marlborough for his victory over the French on August 13, 1704. Subsequent dukes squandered their inheritance but the 9th Duke brought Blenheim back by marrying Consuela Vanderbilt (from Marble House in Newport, RI). Winston Churchill was born here in 1874. | First State Room Consuela's portrait hangs over the fireplace. The 'Blenheim' tapestry is displayed to the left. | Red Drawing Room | Long Library Housed 400 boys after the blitz of London in 1940. Beautiful view of water terraces. | Third State Room

18: The Old Stocks Hotel Our hotel in the Cotswold village, Stow-in-the-Wold | The hotel was located on the town square, Below - We dined on the patio, just outside our room.

19: Picturesque Cotswold countryside

20: Thursday, July 1 - The Cotswolds | Stanton | The Cotswolds comprise a 25-by-90 mile area of small villages. In medieval England this area was known for the best wool in Europe . . . until the rise of cotton and the Industrial Revolution. | We spent the morning in the Cotswold villages of Stanton and Chipping Camden, returning to Stow-on-the-Wold in the afternoon. It was in Stow that we found the tapestry of "The Haywain".

21: Chipping Camden | The main street, Hill Street, was wide to accommodate the sheep and cattle being brought to market. We ate lunch in the central park, above. Market Hall, built in 1627, to the right. Lower right - A thatched roof home, common to the area.

22: Pub dinner at the Baker's Arms | Barry had smoked haddock bake, and Cotswold apple cake and ice cream for dessert. Deb had roast beef with roast potatoes and yorkshire pudding, with chocolate sponge pudding for dessert. After dinner we were entertained by the group, Baker's Dozen.

23: Roy Nichols (our tour guide), Paul Carey, Linda and Jim Goodwin (CT), Theresa Carey | Laura Balon (IL), Colleen Osterman and Kathleen Hansen (sisters from CA), Nancy Dannels (IL) | Lexi Donne and Jeff Hartlove (both from CA) with us

24: Bill (our bus driver), Roger and Sue Carlson, Kathy Hubbard and Sharyn James (friends from FL) | Rex and Shirley Lambert (AZ), Carol Wilson (teacher from AK), sisters June Anderson and Penny Nelson, Michael Carmolli (history teacher from VT) | Don and Lupe Marnach, Hunter and Barbara Murray (NC), Tim Ricard (WA)

25: Friday, July 2 - Ironbridge | The building of Ironbridge, begun in 1779, was said to be the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. We visited the furnace at Coalbrook-Dale, about a mile away, where most of the iron was supposedly cast. Afterwards, we had lunch at the inn (below). The statue to the upper left is in memory to the many soldiers who died in WWI.

26: Bodnant Gardens | On our way to Conwy we stopped at Bodnant Gardens in northern Wales. It was both beautiful and peaceful. The gardens cover more than 80 acres. The upper area around Bodnant Hall looks across the Conwy River towards the Snowdon Range. We are pictured in the terraced rose gardens. Below us is the canal with waterlillies.

27: The lower area, "The Dell", is a wooded valley where there are California Redwoods, Oregon Douglas Firs, and a waterfall (seen above and to the right).

28: Castle Hotel Our hotel in Conwy, Wales | Conwy Castle

29: After a group dinner at the hotel we took a walk around Conwy and on the city walls with Don, Theresa, Paul, and Carol. It was 10:00 pm when we returned to our hotel . . . and was still light! | Don, Theresa, Paul, and us. | Conwy Castle

30: Barry had the Welsh lamb and the lemon tart with raspberry sorbet. Deb had the breast of chicken and the chocolate dessert with whipped vanilla cream and strawberries.

31: Welsh countryside

32: Saturday, July 3 - Caernarfon Castle | Caernarfon Castle, begun in 1283 and completed in 1330, was one of ten castles built by Edward I. These castles were located within 20 miles of one another and were built in an effort to control the defiant Welsh. Caenarfon cost 24,000 pounds to build and ultimately bankrupted Edward. About 28 soldiers lived and worked in the castle. In 1969 Prince Charles was crowned Prince of Wales here. Despite decay the castle remains largely intact. | The Eagle Tower

33: Usually the conditions at Caenarfon are windy and rainy but we enjoyed beautiful weather.

34: The sheep farmer told us about 10 different varieties of sheep. (He spoke with a pronounced brogue.) He explained that sheep live 5 - 7 years. They have no upper teeth and 2 lower teeth for each year of life, up to 10 teeth. As teeth break down, the sheep has more difficulty eating, bringing about its ultimate death. It was no wonder that we saw so many sheep in the countryside - Wales has a population of 3 million people and 10 million sheep! | Sheep are sheared once per year. Most sheep are raised for mutton, not wool. | All this wool from one sheep, who was sheared in just a couple minutes! | Sheep Farm

35: Roy, an award winning sheep dog. | We saw a sheep herding demonstration where Roy responded to a variety of whistles. | Roy's four-week-old puppies. They were irresistible! | At the age of 7 - 10 months, border collies are trained to herd sheep. Their working life is about 10 - 11 years, although they may live to 15 - 16 years of age.

36: Plas Mawr

37: Built in 1580, it was the first Welsh home to be built within Conwy's walls. On the adjoining page: The kitchen with a hanging bread cage to keep food away from wandering critters, and in the adjoining pantry, a fresh supply of meat. Over the fireplace the colorful symbols proclaimed the family's heritage. The pictures above show the servant's quarters on the top floor. To the right, the bedroom of the lady of the house. Spectacular views of the harbor and Conwy Castle were possible from the upstairs windows.

38: Welsh countryside

39: Sunday, July 4 - Blackpool | It was cold and rainy when we stopped at Blackpool for our fish and chips dinner (with mushy peas). Some of us tried to visit the North Pier but it was closed due to the strong winds! | The day began cool and sunny, but we soon lost the sun. Roy greeted us with "Happy Independence Day". When several people began singing "Yankee Doodle Dandy", our bus driver, Bill, jokingly told us there was no singing on the bus! We traveled along the Irish Sea.

40: Crow Park Hotel Our hotel in Keswick | Spectacular view from our side of the hotel. | Front patio of our hotel. | Typical slate structures throughout Keswick. Little or no mortar was used. | This was our longest day on the bus. In the afternoon we stopped in Grasmere Village and saw the tombstone of William Woodsworth. We arrived at our next destination, Keswick, in the Lakes District.

41: We ate at the Dog and Gun 2 nights in a row - one night with Nancy and Laura (below) and the following night with Carol. The Hungarian goulash was delicious! | Downtown Keswick | Dogs were a common sight throughout England, especially in pubs. This dog was named Jeff.

42: Monday, July 5 Boat ride on Derwentwater Lake | Sue and Roger, Theresa, Nancy, and Laura | Carol, Tim and Carol Ricard, and Don

43: After a brief (15 minute) but chilly boat ride, Roy lead several of us on a 3-mile walk through the countryside. Barry is puzzled over the "kissing gate".

44: croquet | lawn bowling | Following our boat ride and hike, we walked to Fitz Park to play croquet and observe a lawn bowling tournament. We also picked up our laundry from the laundromat.

45: After a slower paced day, (although we walked 10 miles!), we attended the delightful play, "Northanger Abbey", based on a Jane Austen book. Several members of the tour group joined us, while others attended another play.

46: Tuesday, July 6 - Vindolanda | Vindolanda was a wall fort first constructed nearly 2000 years ago by the Romans. The earliest forts were built of timber and required replacement every seven or eight years, even if there was no change in the garrison. Demolished buildings were covered with a clean cover of turf or clay, leading to the preservation of almost everything that had been lost or thrown away. The fifth such fort was constructed early in Hadrian's reign. | We observed people excavating an area of the fort. Some of the most impressive items that were preserved and on display in the museum included: leather goods (a variety of shoes), jewelry (an intact bracelet!), the crest from a helmet, all the pieces of a blue vase, and an intact bread paddle.

47: Hadrian's Wall | The wall was begun in 122 A.D. by Roman Emperor Hadrian as a defense against the warlike Pictish tribes of Scotland. It also served administrative functions such as controlling trade and customs. The wall stretches from the North Sea to the Irish Sea and is 80 Roman miles (or 73 modern miles) long. When it was built the wall was 8-10 feet wide and 15 feet high. Small forts (milecastles) were built at Roman mile intervals and housed garrisons up to 60 men. Towers were built every third of a mile. Parts of the wall were built of stone and parts of turf. | Paul, Theresa, and Tim

48: York Ghost Walk | "Scared to death" | "The Shambles" | This was another long day of travel, but our last day on the bus as we bid goodbye to our bus driver, Bill. We had another group dinner this evening, at an Indian restaurant. We were told that more Indian food than fish and chips is sold in England. Not exactly sure what we ate. It was served family style so we had the opportunity to try a variety of foods. We were told it wasn't as spicy as it could have been . . . thank goodness for that! | After our Indian meal some of us chose to take advantage of a ghost walk. Our guide has been conducting these walks for 27 years and was more matter-of-fact than mellow-dramatic in his presentation. Some of the unusual happenings might be easily explained . . . or not. "The Shambles" was once the street of butchers- rabbit, pheasant, beef, lamb, etc. once hung on hooks under the eaves.

49: Hotel 53 Our hotel in York | Communicating with family and friends back in the U.S.A.

50: Wednesday, July 7 - York Minster | The famous Rose window pictured above. The cathedral contains more medieval glass than any other single church in England.

51: Our morning began with a tour of the impressive York Minster, the largest Gothic church (524 feet long by 249 feet wide) north of the Alps. It was begun in 1220 and finished 250 years later. Above, the quire. To the right, the quire screen with several of the 15 near life-size statues of the kings of England from William the Conqueror to Henry VI. | In the late afternoon we returned for Evensong. The organist is pictured above.

52: After the tour of York Minster we climbed steps to the walkway on the city walls. In medieval times, the walls protected the city from attack; today they provide superb views of the city of York.

53: The National Railway Museum | This is the largest railway museum in the world! Above, a replica of "Rocket", which won a prize for fastest steam locomotive. Deb pictured in front of one of the royal carriages on display.

54: Thursday, July 8 - Bound for London! | We're headed for London! Our trip by express train took about 2 1/2 hours. During the ride we were given a 10 pound ticket to purchase lunch. The walk to the lunch car, 5 cars away on a moving train, was challenging! When we arrived in London our first stop was the British Library to see the Magna Carta, Lewis Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland", Beatles music, etc. Then we boarded the bus for a tour of London, one stop being Tower Bridge. | After the tour we proceeded to our hotel where we quickly dropped off our luggage. We headed to the nearest tube station for our first lesson in using the tube . . . during rush hour, no less!

55: Once our group reached the heart of London, everyone scattered to a restaurant or theatre. After a quick bite to eat, we headed for "Her Majesty's Theatre". We had excellent seats on the main floor. The story line and music were familiar; the voices and special effects were spectacular!

56: Friday, July 9 - Westminster Abbey | We began our day with a tour of Westminster Abbey, the place where England's kings and queens have been crowned and buried since 1066. Lower left - fan vaulting in the Lady Chapel; center - a view of the nave from the quire screen; far right - the quire.

57: Above left - The most famous grave in the Abbey is that of the Unknown Warrior. It is surrounded by a border of red silk poppies symbolizing the dead of not just WWI, but all wars. Above - The Coronation Chair, made in 1297, is one of the Abbey's most famous artifacts and is the oldest piece of furniture in Britain still used for its original purpose. To the left - Poet's Corner, with Shakespeare resting on his elbow.

58: Boat ride on the Thames River | London Eye | Parliament | Big Ben

59: Tower of London | Tower Bridge

60: Tower of London | Above - Barry, with the Tower Bridge in the background. To the left - Traitors' Gate along the Thames River. Below - Cannon captured at Waterloo. | We arrived at the Tower as a group, but once inside we were left to explore on our own. The Tower has served as a castle in wartime, a king's residence in peace time, the Royal Mint, and as the prison and execution site of rebels.

61: The crown jewels include the world's largest cut diamond -the 530-carat Star of Africa - placed in the royal scepter. When the Queen opens Parliament, she checks out the Imperial State Crown with its 3,733 jewels. | Guards at the Jewel House | To the left - Guards at the Jewel House. To the right - our guide. The Yeoman Warders, or Beefeaters, and their families, live within the Tower walls. One of the Beefeaters is a woman!

62: White Tower | Henry VIII | In the 1070's the White Tower was built by William the Conqueror to keep the Londoners in line. For five hundred years it served as a military storehouse and today serves as a museum of arms and armor.

63: The impressive western entrance. | A catapult in what was formerly the moat.

64: Jim and Linda Goodwin, Paul Carey, Tim Ricard | Our tour guide, Roy Nicholls, and Carol Wilson | Shirley and Rex Lambert, Sue and Roger Carlson | Laura Balon, Nancy Dannels, sisters Penny Nelson and June Anderson | Our farewell dinner

65: Lexi Donne, Carol Ricard, Jeff Hartlove, Michael Carmolli | Theresa Carey | Sharyn James, Kathy Hubbard, Colleen Osterman | Don and Lupe Marnach, Barbara and Hunter Murray

66: We both had the roast salmon. For dessert Barry had the mango sorbet and Deb had the mint chocolate chip ice cream.

68: Saturday, July 10 - Whitehall | This day we were on our own! We proceeded to Parliament to secure tickets for a tour. While we waited for our tour to begin we walked to the National Gallery, located on Trafalgar Square. To the right: A view of Parliament and Big Ben from Trafalgar Square. Below and to the lower right - Trafalgar Square and the statue commemorating Nelson's naval victory at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.

69: Barry outside gates to No. 10 Downing Street; Deb with a "bobby". | Horse Guard at official entrance to Buckingham Palace.

70: House of Lords | House of Commons | Parliament | The gothic style building was built to replace the Old Palace that burned in 1834. It was completed in the 1870's at a cost of two million pounds. (The Common's chamber was rebuilt again, after it was damaged during WWII.) The New Palace covers an area of eight acres and includes over 1000 rooms, 100 staircases and 2 miles of corridors! When we visited both houses we were asked to remain standing.

71: Upper right: Central Lobby Lower right: Westminster Hall Below: Robing Room

72: The National Gallery "The Haywain" by John Constable Constable (1776-1837) was one of the greatest and most original of all British landscape artists. His painting of the haywain, a type of horse-drawn cart, was based upon a site in Suffolk. Today, the cottage and river path are still much as they were in Constable's time. Our tapestry is the cottage half of this painting. | It's only 1350 pounds, approximately $2100!

73: The Diplomat Our hotel in London | After a full day of sight-seeing we grabbed some food at a nearby grocery store and ate in the dining area of our hotel.

74: Sir Christopher Wren designed St. Paul's following the Great Fire of 1666 which destroyed three-quarters of the city of London. Much of the area around St. Paul's was destroyed again during the blitz.

75: After two weeks of tours we opted for the short tour of St. Paul's. We then climbed the steps to the Whispering Gallery and then to the dome (a total of 528 steps) for a "breath-taking" view of London! Above is the reproduction of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre. | St. Paul's was the site of the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana in 1981. | At 515 feet long and 250 feet wide, St. Paul's is the fourth largest church in Europe.

76: Sunday, July 11 - The Globe Theatre | We began our day with a tour of the half-timbered and thatched replica of the original Globe Theatre. This theatre is similar to the original in many ways (open-air performances, standing-room by the stage, no curtain) and yet different (female actors today, lights for night performances, concrete floor). We also toured the museum which displayed Elizabethan-era costumes, musical instruments, etc.

77: Famous quotes from Shakespeare: "It's Greek to me." "Seen better days." "A foregone conclusion." "Without rhyme or reason." "Good riddance." "All's well that ends well." "There's method to my madness."

78: Churchill War Rooms | The Map Room

79: We spent three fascinating hours touring the underground headquarters of the British war effort against the Nazis. The 27 rooms were used from 1939 to 1945. It was hard to imagine people living in the dark, confining conditions for days on end. We also toured the museum devoted to Churchill's life.

80: Buckingham Palace | After being indoors it was pleasant to walk outdoors and enjoy another sunny day. We proceeded to Buckingham Palace, the Queen's official residence. It is huge, with over 600 rooms, which we did not see! The flag was flying, indicating the Queen was in residence.

81: Barry is pictured in front of the Queen Victoria Memorial. It is in front of Buckingham Palace and apparently a good place from which to view the Changing of the Guard which we did not witness. | Deb is pictured in St. James's Park, which is along the Mall that leads up to Buckingham Palace.

82: Hyde Park This is London's "Central Park". On Sunday afternoons Speakers' Corner is the site of soapbox oratory. Apparently, we arrived too late to witness it. | Kensington Gardens | After walking through Hyde Park and into Kensington Gardens we took the tube back to our hotel to locate a place to eat. We soon learned that Sunday night is a challenging time to find an open restaurant. We picked up sandwiches at "Noura", a Lebanese deli. The food was good!

84: Tube routes

85: Our last opportunity for a full English breakfast - scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, baked beans, cooked tomatoes, fruit, toast and cereal! And large spoons and forks with which to eat this feast! This was a trip of a lifetime, but now we must bid England Cheerio ("chair-ho")!

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