A TRIP TO ENGLAND
BARBARA MC ROBERTS
Friday, September 6, 1996
It was time to get up at 4:15am. Last minute details over, we left at 5:45am driving our own car. Arriving at Sea Tac at 6:35am, we parked our car. Dick wanted to drive over to one of the places where you can put your car expecting to ride back on the van that comes to the airport. Cindy would come and get it. We argued over doing this and Barbara won. Instead, we spent the time changing our American money into English pounds.
Diane and Michi surprised us by coming to see us off. We prevailed on them - I don't know which one - to dive the car over to Cindy's and leave it there.
It was time to board the plane and we took off at 8:45am. It was an uneventful flight to Washington DC Dulles. Having some time to spare we both had coffee.
Boeing 777 is a new airplane. It carries 300 people. There was a tiny TV screen on the back of each seat and we watched Jane Eyre. Supper was served. Free drinks.
After a night of trying to sleep on the plane but flying above a layer of clouds wishing we could see the ocean we arrived at Heathrow Airport in London.
Saturday, September 7, 1996
Our passports were checked and we collected our baggage. Heathrow is nice in that it provided carts or trolleys for your baggage making it easy to move it.
Having nothing to declare we walked right through Customs. Our hosts, the Kaspersons, met us outside the airport. They will drive us around England.
Our first stop was Windsor Castle, where Queen Elizabeth and her family spend many weekends. And the oldest continuously inhabited royal residence in Britain. It was originally made of wood and was built by William the Conqueror in 1070 to guard the western approaches to London.
The outstanding feature was Queen Mary's doll house. It was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens in 1924. Every item was built on a 1:12 ratio. The wine cellar contains genuine vintage wine. The garage contains miniature cars. Queen Mary was the present Queen's Grandmother. We walked through some magnificent rooms filled with lovely chinaware, portraits and furnishings.
On the way to our first house, we stopped at Stonehenge, Europe's most famous prehistoric monument. It consists of an alignment of stones leaving little doubt that the circle is connected with the sun and passing of the seasons. Stonehenge dates back to the year 3,000BC. The only tools that were available were made of wood, stone and bone. Just think of the labor involved in quarrying, transporting and erecting the huge stones.
Proceeding on we arrived at the small village of Chilmark in Wiltshire at our first house - Sunny Cottage.
Having had practically no sleep the previous night we opted for bed at an early hour and slept for 15 hours.
Our cottage is a modernized one dating from the 1500s. It has a completely modernized kitchen with dishwasher and microwave oven.
Sunday, September 8, 1996
Kappy fixed a big breakfast for us - orange juice, oatmeal, eggs, prunes and coffee.
The houses in the village are made of stone. Ours has a thatched roof covered with wire netting.
Then Kappy drove us to Stourhead. Everyone drives on the left side of the road - just opposite of at home. When Jerry heard we were going to England he said, "Dad, don't drive" and we didn't.
Stourhead is among the finest examples of 18th century landscape gardening in Britain. The gardens were begun in the 1740s by Henry Hoare. He inherited the estate and transformed it into a breath-taking work of art.
We walked around the lake surrounded with rare plants and trees. Especially noted the rhododendrons. Also classical Italianate temples, grottoes and bridges. Stourhead House dates from 1724 -- home of the Hoare family. It is filled with magnificent Chippendale furniture, a library with 6,000 volumes, paintings filling all the walls. It was reconstructed after a fire in 1902.
Monday, September 9, 1996
Home to Chilmark and Sunny Cottage. The next morning after eating another huge breakfast, Kappy drove us to Salisbury to see the Cathedral there.
The Cathedral was mostly built between 1220 and 1258. It is a fine example of the early English style of Gothic architecture with arches like this . We saw a copy of the Magna Carta in the Chapter House. It has scenes from the old Testament decorating its walls. We also saw the oldest working clock in Britain. It dates from 1386. Outside looking up, the spire soars to a height of 414 ft.
The inside was truly impressive with beautiful stained glass windows - arches soaring up.
Tuesday, September 10, 1996
Arising after 8:00AM, we drove to Wardous. Wardous is the ruin of an old castle, built in the 14th century. You couldn't go inside so we peeked in through what looked like windows.
Then on to Shaftesbury with its cobbled streets and 18th century cottages. Gold Hill is lined on one side by the wall of the demolished abbey founded by King Alfred in 888. I saw the excavated ruins of the abbey church that survives. It was mostly a pile of rocks.
Wednesday, September 11, 1996
Next day we went to Glastonbury. It is shrouded in Arthurian myth and rich in mystical association. It once was one of the most important destinations for pilgrims in England.
The great abbey was left in ruins after the dissolution of the monasteries. It is supposed to be the resting place of King Arthur and his Queen. It was founded around 700 by monks. Some magnificent relics survive, including parts of the vast Norman Abbey church and the unusual Abbot's Kitchen with its octagonal roof.
We went on to a cathedral at Wells. The most striking feature of the cathedral is the west front featuring 365 medieval statues of kings, knights and saints. Many of them life size. There is a moat in the back - home to swans that ring a bell by the gate house when they want to be fed. This cathedral dates from the 1300s.
Luckily just before the hour we were standing in front of the wonderful mechanical clock in the north transept. This is one of the most impressive time keepers in the country. The dial shows the hours, in two sets of 12 on the outer circle, the minutes on the inner one. The clocks also shows the position of the planets and the phases of the moon. We saw the entertaining cabaret act performed above it by jousting knights on horse back that draws a crowd on the hour.
Thursday after another big breakfast, we drove to a tithe barn. It was huge. People on the land brought their tithes to these barn tithes to the church or land lords. Each farmer was required to donate one-tenth of his harvest. Then on to Bath.
The Romans transformed Bath into England's first spa resort and it regained fame as a spa town in the 18th century. Many famous people have resided here. Jane Austen, the writer, stayed at No. 13, Queen's Square at one time.
We saw the Royal Crescent, the most majestic street in Britain. It is a graceful arc of 30 houses joined together.
Then we saw the Roman Baths, built in the 1st century, this complex is one of Britain's greatest memorials to the Roman era.
Friday, September 13, 1996
Next day we travelled to the ruins of Sherborne Castle. Sir Walter Raleigh lived here briefly in this old castle dating from the 12th century. It was demolished by Cromwells supporters during the Civil War.
West of Sherborne we went to t Montacute House. It is filled with portraits - Henry VIII and Ann Bolyen among them. The rooms were large with floors looking like they were pieces of wood. There was a long room (172 feet) that was used for exercise in inclement weather.
That evening we ate dinner in the pub in Chilmark called ‘The Black Dog.'
Saturday, September 14, 1996
Today we travelled from Chilmark to Mary pool Cottage near Brixham in Devon. Our path led us through several towns or villages. The houses are all brick or stone. I didn't see one single house made of wood. Some cottages are painted half one color and half another.
The road to the new cottage is a narrow one-car wide one. It ends in a steep hill needing careful braking to avoid ending in the river. We are right on the river Dart and we watched the sailboats go by.
Sunday, September 15, 1996
Took it easy today. Went out to eat. Kappy drove us around for a while and we stopped to watch the people and boats on a bay of the English Channel.
Dinner was at a restaurant called ‘The Carvery.' Dick and I shared a sweet (dessert).
Back home and Carol had called. She is to meet us here. She is determined to rent a car and drive here. Dick sent her a fax telling her how to take the train to here.
Monday, September 16, 1996.
Today we drove to the ferry and crossed the Dart River to Dartmouth. All the English towns are beginning to look alike. The signs on the shops are very modest and the shops are all fairly small. We ate lunch at the ‘Scarlet Geranium' then strolled the streets.
Purchased groceries in a supermarket - about the size of one back home. All the checkers were seated. Bought yogurt that consisted of a milk part and a fruit and mixed the two.
Tuesday, September 17, 1996
Started out early as Kappy had to get a mirror replaced on the van. After that, we took off for Tolnes, an old city. People were selling things in the town square and the merchants were dressed in medieval clothes. We went into a church and from there into a Guild Hall that has been used for a thousand years and still is being used.
Then we headed for the Moors where things like ‘The Hound of the Baskerville' take place. The heather was in bloom, a pinkish lavender blossom. Also bracken, which is like a fern. There were wild ponies.
Then we went to pick up Carol. She finally came on the bus to Brixham. It was wonderful to see her.
Wednesday, September 18, 1996
Our destination today was Plymouth. Before that however, first of all we went through a beautiful home called Saltram. The walls were covered with paintings. On the ceilings were unusual plaster casings. I saw three beautiful cats that I would love to have.
Next - Plymouth - We saw a monument marking the spot where the Pilgrims left for the New World. John Alden, my ancestor was the first one ashore when they arrived.
Sir Francis Drake took off from Plymouth for his trip around the world from 1577-1580. Also in 1588 he was bowling on the Hoe when told that the Spanish Armada was approaching. He calmly finished his game.
We went through the Plymouth Dome, an exhibition of all the things that happened in and to Plymouth. It uses high tech display techniques to explain Plymouth's past and present. It even gives you the smell of Plymouth.
Plymouth was rebuilt after WWII bombing.
In Totnes we ate a the ‘Cot Inn' and had a superb meal. The best place so far.
Thursday, September 19, 1996
Another beautiful day. The weather has been gorgeous, sunshine and moderate temperatures.
Today we took Carol to a travel agency. She is planning a trip to Scotland by bus.
Then we went to the Slapton Sands. The beach there is the scene of a practice run for the invasion of France. During the exercise German torpedo boats appeared and sank two landing craft with the loss of many American lives. The whole thing was hushed up for a very long time.
Next, we went to a garden - Overbeck, near Salcombe. There were many beautiful flowers. There are also secret gardens, terraces and rocky dells. Inside the house there was a collection of dolls, a doll house, and a music box that played the Blue Danube for us.
Friday, September 20, 1996
Today the road up the hill was slightly wet, so the van could not make it up. A handy man attached a 4-wheel drive car to the van and pulled it up the hill. We then proceeded to Buckland Abbey.
Buckland Abbey was founded by the Cistercian monks in 1278. It was converted to a house after the dissolution of the monasteries. In 1581 Sir Francis Drake purchased it and it was in the Drake family until 1946. Sir Francis was famous as a scourge to the Spanish in the 16th century. He sailed around the world in 1577-1580. He raided several Spanish settlements. Also, he captured one ship during the time of the Spanish Armada.
Part of the house explains Drake's life and times through painting, maps and memorabilia. Drake never had any children and the line was continued by nieces and nephews.
Then we went on to the Looes - an interesting village of narrow streets and all kinds of small shops.
Saturday, September 21, 1996
Today was our day to move to our third house. We started early and dropped Carol off to make her trip to Scotland.
We travelled north through a village and Cheddar Gorge. In the village we had some cider which tasted a little like vinegar. The gorge had high rock cliffs on both sides.
Upon proceeding to the Cotswold, we saw many beige-colored stone houses and rock fences the same color. Some of the houses looked very old. We also went through a section of Bath that looked very commercial.
At our third house and as usual, it had stairs to the bedroom. We have gone up and down stairs more in the last three weeks that we ever did at home.
Went to a pub for dinner and had lamb and vegetables.
Sunday, September 22, 1996
Another nice day! Spent the morning in the house. How I slept! After breakfast I went up the stairs and crawled in bed. It was the first time I had been alone in two weeks.
This afternoon we visited Snow Hill Manor. It is incredible. Wade spent his entire life collecting things. This manor house is filled with objects from suits of armour, dolls, a doll house, small figures. The bicycle collection includes a huge one wheeled bike with a lamp in the wheel to one you pushed along with your feet. They were all made of wood.
Monday, September 23, 1996
Drove again through the Cotswold. It is indeed a beautiful area with all the houses, stores, pubs and inns of the same kind of stone.
Found a book store where I bought six English classics for five pounds, a real bargain.
This afternoon we went to the Hedcote Manor Gardens. It was huge. It was started in the early years of this century pioneering the idea of a garden as a series of outdoor rooms enclosed by high yew hedges.
I recognized the dahlias and some that looked like asters, but there were many beautiful flowers I did not know. The Hedges were all trimmed once a year. Some were trimmed by a man standing on a scaffolding. The top was done using a cherry picker. They looked like this.
Tuesday, September 24, 1996
Today we were taken to an airplane museum which needed someone to organize it into some sort of order. I'm sure Dick enjoyed it, but I was bored. The proprietor took me into his living room and brought me a cup of coffee. The litter was even worse there.
Then we took off for Stratford-on-Avon and Anne Hathaways cottage where she lived with Shakespeare. She was 3 months pregnant and Shakespeare was only 18 when they were married.
The cottage has a thatched roof and had very little comfort in it. We sat on a bench (very uncomfortable) that Shakespeare sat on. They slept on beds placed on ropes which they often had to tighten.
We went into town, Stratford-on-Avon, and ate lunch at a McDonalds. It was the most elegant McDonalds we have ever been in. It was on three levels and had brass railings in it.
Picked up Carol from he train at Evesham. Ate at ‘Little Chef' which is a chain here in England.
Wednesday, September 25, 1996
This was our day to go to Blenheim Castle, the home of the Duke of Marlborough. John Churchill, the first Duke, defeated the French at the Battle of Blenheim in 1704. Queen Anne gave him land and promised him a residence. It is one of the largest palaces in Europe.
It is the birth place of Winston Churchill I 1874. You see the room that he was born in, his Mother being there at the time. His slippers and a lock of his hair are respectfully preserved.
Churchill was not in line to be the Duke - it was his uncle who was Duke at the time he was born. The present Duke is the 11th one and still lives in the palace.
The castle is filled with portraits, tapestries, china ware and other things of great value. One of the most impressive is the state dining room with the table set with the best Minton china.
We drove through many villages. Kappy gets off the main roads and we drive on country roads some of them only wide enough for one car. Then when meeting a car coming toward you, one you backs up until you come to a spot where you can pass.
Thursday, September 26, 1996
Today was cloudy and it rained some. Carol left today and will be back in Washington by 7:30 Seattle time. She will pick up the car and go to our house.
Left this morning for the Royal Worcester China company. Its been there since 1751. We had tea and scones and then went to the museum filled with china. The most interesting thing was a bleeding bowl they used o catch the blood when they bled someone back in the 16th or 17th century.
Also there were vases, cups,and other pieces with small holes punched in them. It was amazing. We bought a small dish and a honey pot.
Then we walked over to the Cathedral. It was old - old. Impressed me as cold and darlk.
Went to a huge supermarket and bought stuff for supper. They allow the checkers to sit down while they work. This market would equal any in the USA, but was the only one we saw. Others were smaller grocery stores.
Friday, September 27, 1996
Today was a day for moving again. We have been very comfortable. The houses or cottages have all been very modern with kitchens filled with all the modern conveniences, including microwaves.
Again, Kappy took us off the beaten path and by all the back roads he can find. We see fields of sheep and cattle with bales of hay in circular form. We pass stone cottages with flowers in the front yard and past inns with signs with such names as; ‘the Black Dog" (in Chilmarks), "The Swan, The Parrot" etc...
We stopped at the Roman Villa which was lived in by the Romans in the 3rd or 4th century. The main ruin was a Roman bath. There is still a design in the tiles on the floor. Hot air was sent through channels beneath the floor to heat the baths - you could still see them.
Saturday, September 28, 1996
This morning was for snoozing. Crawled back into bed after breakfast.
We have certainly enjoyed ourselves on this trip. We didn't have to worry about driving on the left-hand side of the road, getting breakfast and how to get to all the places we wanted to see. It's been wonderful.
This afternoon we drove to Petworth House, built in 1688 one of the finest English country homes. It is known mostly for its collection of paintings and sculpture. Some of the artist Turner's best paintings are shown here. Well represented is ancient Roman and Greek sculpture.
One of the main attractions is the carved room decorated with intricately carved wood panels of birds, flowers and musical instruments.
There is an extensive kitchen which is most interesting.
Went to a grocery store. There are many medium sized and small stores. We have only seen one super market.
Sunday, September 29, 1996
It will be hard to describe what we saw today. Hampton Court Palace is the grandest Tudor House in the country. Built by Cardinal Wolsey in 1514 and adopted by Henry VIII. It consists of Henry VIII apartments with a huge room with large Flemish tapestries depicting the life of Abraham. A Queen's apartment and a watching room where people seeking favors from Henry gathered.
Some of the palace was done over by Christopher Wren for King William III and Queen Mary II.
We attended a Evensong Service in the Royal Chapel. It was the Church of England and there was a beautiful choir - all men and choir boys.
Monday, September 30, 1996
Today is the last day of September and nearly the end of our trip to England. It has been a wonderful experience.
Hever Castle was our destination today. It was the home of Anne Bolyen, King Henry the VIII second wife. She lived here as a young woman and the king often visited here.
It was a real castle with a moat around it and it looked like a comfortable castle, being furnished with luxurious chairs and sofas.
On the top floor was displayed mannequins dressed in the garb of the 16th century. Also a description of King Henry VII and his six wives. A letter from Anne Bolyen to Henry hung on the wall.
In 1903 Hever was bought by William Waldorf Astor who lived there for some time.
The moat and the gate house remain from when they were first built around 1270.
Tuesday, October 1, 1996
Today was the day we went to London. Kappy took us to the train station where there was no one selling tickets and we rode into Victoria Station in London where we did pay for our tickets. Strictly the honor system.
Sight seeing buses were close to the station and we climbed on to the top of one. We went past Hyde Park, No. 10 Downing Street, the Houses of Parliament, Trafalgar Square and got off at Fleet Street. We walked down to St. Paul's Cathedral but there was a service going on so we couldn't get inside. Found a McDonalds and ate our lunch. Then went up eight stories in an elegant looking law firm building.
Got back on the bus and got off at the Tower of London and walked around it. Then back on the bus to the station. There we had to figure out what train to take back to Ockley. With some help from strangers and watching a huge board with all the train stations appearing on it at the right time we made it on to the right train. Pretty good for 79 and 80 years old. We must get back to London some time.
Kappy met us and we ate supper at a Pub - "The Parrot."
Wednesday, October 2, 1996
The Royal pavilion in Brighton was our destination today. It was here in a farm house that the Prince of Wales secretly married Mrs. Fitzerbert and they conducted their liaison.
In 1815 the Prince (who became George IV in 1820) employed John Nash to transform the house into a lavish oriental palace so there is a decided Chinese theme to it with Chinese wall paper with painting on it. Two rooms had gorgeous dome shaped ceilings. Gilt edged furniture and many more interesting things. One of the more outstanding features was a chandelier held in the mouth of a dragon.
Thursday, October 3, 1996
This is our last day here. What a marvelous time we have had no worries - transportation everywhere we have needed it.
Today we drove into the town of Dorking primarily to shop. We have some English money left.
It has been difficult to get used to the money here, but we have managed. Anything in pounds you take the price and half it and add. Something that is 5 lbs is $7.50.
I bought a pantsuit with a teddy bear on it size 10-12. Bought one more book - Edgar Allen Poe.
Ate supper in a 400 year old Pub called "The Parrot". I had lasagna. What with the big breakfasts and eating out so much I hope I haven't gained any weight. Any way, we have certainly walked enough. Couldn't have gone on this trip if you couldn't walk.
Friday, October 4, 1996
Today was the day we returned home. We awoke about 3:00 am and didn't go back to sleep. We arose at 5:00 am, dressed, ate breakfast after closing the suit cases and making last minute adjustments, we left for Heathrow at 6:30am. We arrived there at 8:10, checked our suitcases, boarded the plane and left at 10:55.
It was a long flight to Chicago and rather boring. Went through customs and boarded another plane for Seattle. I worried about the suitcases but was assured they would be on our plane. And they were.
A welcoming committee composed of Ed, Cindy, Carol, Diane and Timmy met us with a sign that said, "Welcome Home." It was wonderful to see them. We went to Denny's - they ate and Dick and I had tea for me and coffee for him.
Then we drove home. It's good to be back!
Copyright © 1997 Timothy M. Radonich