Last Blog of England

One last visit through England and then onto the rest of Europe!

We visited the beautiful Cotswold area. It was just as picturesque as you would imagine it to be.

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This one cracked us up!!!

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Next we visited the Gadfield Elm Chapel.  It\’s an LDS Church Historical site–check it out here.  When they restored this building they numbered every stone as they took the walls down and put them back in the same place.  What a labor of love!

 

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Next was Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire.  The swan with it\’s wings folded up was just a bonus.

\"13_04_Europe_0578\" \"13_04_Europe_0580\" \"13_04_Europe_0582\" \"13_04_Europe_0583\" Looking for Robin Hood—\"13_04_Europe_0585\" \"13_04_Europe_0586\" \"13_04_Europe_0587\"

I have loved the James Harriot books for a long time. I loved reading the stories to my kids when they were growing up. Visiting the actual Skeledale House where he lived and worked was a real treat for me. And the countryside there is just like it\’s described in his books. LOVED IT! We also were able to see the Preston, England LDS Temple. Manually scroll through these pictures–I didn\’t do them on automatic this time so you can enjoy them more.

Avebury, Stonehenge, Warwick Castle and other adventures

We are being super slow at getting to the blogs! So sorry! We just have been super busy since we\’ve been home!

There are still a few days in England to cover before we get on to the other places we visited.

We visited Avebury –it\’s the largest stone circle in Europe. Of course there was an historic church in the village too.

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As you can see it was cold that day.

There is also an ancient burial tomb near Avebury. We took the short hike up the hill to check it out.

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And of course there is Stonehenge. If you go \”across the pond\” you really have to go don\’t you?!?! Well, we wanted to see it. We had just watched a special on it and it\’s fascinating that the rocks weren\’t from that area so they had to bring them from quite some distance. Then to make this whatever-it-was so detailed that the sun would shine through exactly on the solstice(s) every year is amazing. When you see how big the stones are and they tell you what they weigh it\’s even more amazing! Since it is England of course there were sheep grazing all around. It just cracked me up that here is this world famous ancient site and the sheep are basically on the same land.

While we were driving we also drove past Highclere Castle! That\’s right all you Downton Abbey fans! It\’s the real thing. We couldn\’t see much because they were filming. But it was cool anyway!

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The next day we went to Warwick Castle. Touristy but definitely worth it! We spent most of the day there, there was SO much to see and do! Go check out the pictures. You might want to click on the slideshow to open in Picasa and see them bigger!

Bath Spa Area

Leaving London, we had decided to concentrate our visit on a just a few areas of England. The first was Bath/Spa — the site of an ancient (~800 B.C.), later Roman Bath house. We arrived after operating hours, but had a great visit with some great pictures.  We actually didn\’t take swimsuits on the trip, so missing the bathing time wasn\’t too critical.

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A house in the English Country —

We wanted to experience some of the country life & manners of English rural life.  We found a couple of places via the AirBnB site, we\’ll use it again if we head that way.

Our home base for a few days was in Crudwell, a terrific farmhouse estate, run by Zandra & Chris.  They couldn\’t be more helpful or kind.
\"13_04_Europe_0292\" They live on 100 acres, away from everything, and all of what we imagined the country life there to be.  

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For a country of 50+ million in an area that\’s less than two-thirds the size of Idaho, it sure seemed like there was a lot of country to be found.  The driving time seems to be the same, but the roads are just all crinkled up to get maximum length in minimum area.

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For three days in a row, we got to have an iconic \”English Breakfast:\”

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Yes, those are really grilled tomatos.  Our eggs were on-demand (grilled, fried, or the favorite: poached), but all else was included but optional, per-person as requested.  It was great.  Zandra was a terrific cook and multi-tasker.

Most of the small cities had the same basic layout which included a common area that looked something like this:

\"13_04_Europe_0439\"An open center, usually turned into a parking area, surrounded by varying-aged buildings for shops and the expected municipal functions.  We enjoyed the city-market-feel shopping, food, and sense of community.  If they had used solar-powered parking meters for their horse-hitches years ago, it would\’ve probably been exactly the same.

We could do a lot of pictures on just animals, but the most surprising to me was the number of pheasants.  Everywhere.

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Finally — a quick slideshow of a typical country scenes.

London–Day 2

Our second day was just as busy as our first. There was so much to see in London and Adam and Nadine were good enough to be our tour guides. They were great! We started by heading toward this address–

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We have really enjoyed the new BBC version of \”Sherlock\” as well as \”Elementary\” so it was fun to see there really was a 221b Baker Street and it really is dedicated to Sherlock Holmes.

From there we headed to Westminster Abbey and took the tour. A lot of history (and dead people) there! It was used for the William the Conqueror\’s coronation in 1066 but the present church there was started in 1245 by Henry III. The Coronation Chair there was used at every coronation since 1308. It\’s where the funeral for Princess Diana was held as well as the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Buried there are kings, queens, Sir Isaac Newton and interestingly, Charles Darwin who was an agnostic.

After our tour there we headed to the Churchill War Rooms/Museum. Here Churchill and others lived and worked for years during WWII. It was on Lynn\’s \”must see\” list and it really was fascinating.

Next up was Buckingham Palace. It was so cool to watch the guards and check out the place where William and Kate had that very romantic kiss.

Next we have the British Museum.  This is one MASSIVE place with artifacts from every region of the world.  One could spend weeks in there if you really want to see everything and read about it and take it in.  We loved it–especially the mummies and the scarab sculpture.  Time to watch \”The Mummy\” again!

We had one last stop at Harrods before returning to the hotel.  WOW!  Room after room of just purses, but those who really know me know that didn\’t even tempt me.  Then we walked into the rooms of sweets!  Chocolate everywhere!  And food from every country!

We ended the day heading to a musical–Once.  It\’s fairly new I think and we enjoyed it.  At the end of the day we had walked a LOT, seen a LOT and eaten a LOT!  Great day!

European Vacation–Non-Chevy Chase style! Day 1

We did so much the first day that I had to devote a whole blog to our first day in London.

Knowing how I hate long flights Lynn worked hard to get us business class upgrades with points.  It was AMAZING!  We\’ve never flown like this–not with seats that go into full beds.  That made all the difference.  We were able to sleep quite a while on the flight from San Fransisco to London.  Since we left in the morning and got there the next morning (lost 8 hours) we were refreshed enough to spend the entire first day sightseeing.

We took the Tube (London\’s subway) to our hotel and dropped our bags.  We learned right away about the escalators there–they are really long, you always stand to the right and pass on the left.  People are running up and down them at high speeds!  Subways are always confusing to me–which one do you get on, where do you transfer, where do you get off.  If Lynn weren\’t with me I\’d still be on the Tube in London!

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As we came out into London we were right at Big Ben.  We walked past Big Ben, Parliament Square and 10 Downing Street. There were so many amazing buildings that I couldn\’t keep track of them all. Here\’s a sampling of what we saw just in the morning of the first day.

Fish and chips are huge there! The food was good and the waitress even asked some locals to move so we could all sit together. We headed back to the hotel to get checked in and take a break for a few minutes before heading off to the Tower of London. We spent quite a while there looking at the different places people were kept prisoner, torture chambers and of course the Crown Jewels. To top it off we had dinner at Yo Sushi. The Johnny English fans will recognize this one! We couldn\’t resist!