Friday, May 31, 2013

London-Last Day

Today was our last day of our vacation and we spent it in London. We caught the Heathrow Express to Paddington Station and from there we decided to pay for the Hop on/off bus tour since it stops at all the places we wanted to see. It was easier than the trying to figure out the bus routes and cheaper than a taxi. We wanted to see 2 of the museums we had missed on our first week in London, the National Gallery and The British Musuem. We also went to Fortnum & Mason, the department store where the Queen shops. Mom wanted to get some tea, this time we didn't lose it. By the time we got to the National Gallery it was sunny and beautiful, the warmest day we have had in England. Allen and I zipped through really fast, saw paintings by Ruebans, Van Goh(was not impressed), Monet and lots of others. I think I liked the one of a dragon eating a guys head the best (only because I love dragons and the guy probably deserved it). We went back outside to Trafalger Square to get pictures of the lions at the base of Nelson's Column. Allen really wanted to sit on one so I could get a picture. All he could do was sit by the side of one, they are too big. After the gallery, we went to the British Musuem. I could have spent all day there but we only had a couple hours. We were able to see all of the main objects; the Rosetta Stone, the Parthenon sculptures, the Lindow Man(a 2000 year old bog body). We were running out of time and had to catch a bus back to the train station. On the way we stopped at Buckingham Palace because I hadn't seen it the first week when I was sick. It was very crowded but we were able to get some pictures. We caught a train back, weary from our long day out. We talked of all the wonderful things we had seen and experienced, the things we missed seeing, but we are all very ready to head home. Mom is very tired and wants to be in her own home, Debbi is anxious to see Joe and her fur-babies, and we can't wait to see Jaden & Bray. Allen would have jumped ship and left a week ago if he could have.
I have a few pictures from today and tomorrow I will probably have one more post while we wait for our plane.
Trafalger Square, it was very crowded in London today

Allen in front of one of the huge lions
The Rosetta Stone
Buckingham Palace
The gates were beautiful

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Bath/London pics


We walked up to the part cone shape meets the square. 
There is a ledge that Allen walked out on


We are back in London for our last 2 days then we will be on our way home. We are all ready to leave on Saturday, we are starting to get worn out. We arrived at our hotel this morning and we were so glad that it was the last time we would be dragging our suitcases on and off the train. They are getting so heavy.
Yesterday-I didn't blog yesterday because we got in too late from Salisbury. When we left Bath in the morning it was just a little cloudy with some sunshine but the day ended up cold and rainy. We went to the Cathedral which of course was beautiful. It also had a copy of the Magna Carta (the british version of the Declaration of Independance) that dates from the early 1200's. Debbi and Allen also talked me into doing the Tower Tour. I told them I hated them by the first balcony. There were a little over 300 steps but that's not what bothered me. It was the heights that got to me. The balcony overlooking the Nave, the narrow stone steps with only a rope to hold on to, the open wooden spiral stair. When we got to the second one in the bell tower I couldn't go any further. I sat and waited for them and then we had to go back down. I almost kissed the ground when we were done. After the cathedral we got a taxi to Stonehenge. It's about 15 miles outside the town and what surprised us so much is that your driving out into the country and all of a sudden it's just there at the side of the road and there's only a 4 foot fence around it. We had to wait for about an hour before we could do the inner circle tour we had booked, so Allen and Debbi walked around the stones while Mom and I tried to stay dry. After the site had closed we were able to go in with security guard. It was surreal and awesome at the same time. It was one of the coolest things we have done this whole trip, to stand there in the middle of the stones that are so iconic of early Britain. Visiting the Cathedral and Castles have been amazing but Stonehenge was started in 2600bc. After a half hour of wondering through the stones in the rain and with the humming pagon priestess' we caught a train back to Bath.
   Today-after dropping our bags off, we went into London and rode the Tube to Nottinghill. We had fun trying to figure out which line to take and how to buy tickets. We walked Portabello Road, poking in and out of antique shops and tacky souvenir shops. We found the bookstore that is used in the movie Nottinghill.
Chalk horse, very old

Tuesday, May 28, 2013


Lets try this again. I hate this iPad, grrr
In the clock tower

View of the Roman Baths from the top of the Abbey

I should add that Allen brought me cough drops and tissue because I have had a cold and he had a coke in his back pack, so as Debbi always says "all is golden".


Today started out gloomy and rainy. And ended gloomy and rainy. It was also one of those days where nothing went right. Mom stayed at the apartment and had a down day while Allen, Debbi and I took the train to visit the Cotswolds. Well, that's how the day was supposed to go. We have been very lucky on this trip in that everything has gone smoothly and we have had mostly perfect weather, so one bad day isn't going to ruin it. After almost 6 hours of wasted time on trains and buses we ended up back at the apartment. I was exhausted and took a nap, after resting a bit Debbi and Allen went to the Abbey and climbed the 212 steps to the top. I hate them both. They came back all jazzed and full of stories and I was still tired. Then to top it off, Allen forgot my diet coke. My mood is just as gloomy and grey as the day has been. Ever cheerful Debbi tells me to look at life with my glass half full not half empty. Grumble, grumble. 
On the train-

Climbing the stairs in the Abbey

Monday, May 27, 2013


Today we took a day trip to Oxford to visit Blenheim Palace. We took 2 trains and a local bus to the front gates, we are seasoned travelers now. We have no problems hopping on and off the trains, standing on platforms, looking, with our noses in the air like everyone else, staring at the boards waiting for the departure/arrival info. We arrived to find Blenheim very busy. Today is a holiday here in the UK and there were some Civil War(UK) re-enactments going on. The Blenheim estate grounds are very large over 2000 acres. It has huge gardens and open green areas with a lake. The locals visit and walk their dogs and have picnics. The Palace has been in the same family for over 300 years and is the ancestral home of Winston Churchill, so there was some info on him. It was very beautiful and interesting and we loved seeing it but it was way over the top. It showed all the excesses of the time and its no wonder they sold almost everything to keep the estate running. Allen, as usual, zipped through the exhibits and went on a walk around the grounds. Mom, Debbi and I did it the easy way and took a buggy ride around the grounds. We found out that a scene in the 5th Harry Potter film was made here. It's very short and is of a tree by the lake. It made Moms day to see it. After a very long day we went back to Bath exhausted. Tomorrow is another day trip but I think Mom is staying here at the apartment, she is getting tired.

The Harry Potter tree
Long day for everyone

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Bath-pictures pg4

A street performer for the Fringe Festival. If you put money in the bowl she handed you the silver ball and pulled dreams/wishes from it.

Their daily Starbucks. They have found one in every city we have visited. 
Castle Sham. A fake, put there to improve the view

Bath-pictures pg3

The Royal Crescent. 30 multi-million dollar homes
Muslin dresses from the early 1800s


Looking down at the main bath waters. The upper terrace and statues were built in the mid 1800s

This is where the water bubbles up from underground. It is rain water that fell thousands of years ago and when it finally comes to the surface it's heated.

Underground excavations of the temple and buildings surrounding the baths

We were walking on 2000 year old streets!

The ladder


Today was a beautiful day, lots of sunshine and a few clouds in a beautiful blue sky. We got up early because,well, #1, we couldn't sleep due to the sunshine coming thru the curtains. #2, we needed to get to the Roman Baths early before the crowds. This weekend happens to be a Bank Holiday in the UK and there is a music festival/Fringe Festival this week also. So we have a triple whammy of tourists. We loved walking thru the streets before the hoards got up. We are just 2 blocks from the baths, the Abbey and the shopping(you can hear Allen groan). We toured the baths, which where very fascinating and a lot more extensive than I realized, then we went on a Hop on/off bus around the city. Bath is a World Heritage site just like Edinburgh. So much of it has been preserved that its very easy to imagine carriages and sedan chairs with finely dressed Lords and Ladies in them going to "take the waters'". We also went to the Fashion Museum, very interesting, but Allen wasn't impressed at all. He said it was 15 minutes he will never get back. We visited the Abbey, which of course was very beautiful. It had beautiful stained glass windows, 56 of them, and a wonderful fan ceiling and the requisite tombs/monuments galore. The front of the Abbey had carvings on each side of the window that are of a ladder with angels anscending to heaven and coming down. We are going to go back on Wednesday morning to climb up to the clock tower. We ended the day walking along the streets enjoying the sunshine. Mom and I went back to the apartment, while Debbi and Allen took a river cruise on the river Avon, one of many with the same name. We learned today that when the Romans were here 2000(yikes!) years ago, they liked naming rivers. They asked the local people what the names of different rivers were and they were told "Avon". Well, Avon means "river", so there are a lot of River-Rivers in the UK. Debbi and Allen enjoyed the cruise and got some great pictures. What Debbi didn't like was the bugs and Allen had a good time drinking beer with the Australians he met.
(This day has 4 pages. Lots of pics)
One of the few times we have been able to get a picture of us all

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Train to Bath

Today was a travel day, we left Edinburgh at 9 and it was 7 hours to Bath. We were starving when we finally got to Bath because the weekend trains don't serve meals and we hadn't eaten breakfast this morning. My research was wrong before the trip, so I had to admit to the rest of my crew that their tour guide had dropped the ball. We were able to buy boxed sandwiches which Debbi, Mom and I ate. Allen ate candy that he had bought somewhere along the way and dried fruit he had brought from the states. He hasn't bought anything unlike the rest of us but he has eaten his way across England. He's enjoyed most of the food & beer and the fudge. While he was eating fudge, we were digging through our bags to see what we had squirreled away in them. I found salt & pepper cashews (yum) and Debbie found ginger cookies from Starbucks. So we were good. The rest of the trip was watching the scenery pass by. It is green, rolling hills as far as you can see, farms separated by hedges and trees and winding lanes. As I was watching them pass by, I felt like I was in another time and place. I was certain that I caught a glimpse of Frodo, his faithful servant Samwise, Merry and Pippin tramping across the fields on their way towards adventure. Sorry, couldn't help myself, after all we are in J.R.R. Tolkien territory:). And Shakespeare, Jane Austin, Dickens and all the rest. And when your in a country that has villages with names like Bourton-On-The-Water, Stow-on-the-Wold, Darlington (my favorite), you can be forgiven.
We arrived in Bath, hungry and tired. Now we are doing laundry with one of those European washer/dryer combos and it has taken 4 hours for 1 load.
Another taxi ride 

Waiting to board our train to Bath


Glen next to the Chapel

The Palace