Here it is September 13th, 6:30 am. We picked up our rental car at Hertz - a bigger model - great for luggage storage. Brian had to adjust pretty quickly to driving on the wrong side of the road in a harried drive out of Heathrow via large Motorways with very fast traffic and very poor signage. Somehow we made it out of busy London Heathrow and found our way to the Warwick House in Moreton-On-Marsh. We took a 3 hour nap at our B&B, then visited Burton-On-The-Water (called the Venice of the Cotswolds), and Stow-On-The-Wold. There were many cute little shops. Observation: many dogs, great looking dogs, different breeds, very “English” looking. Also everything is so old, nice but very old - all stone.
Wednesday, September 14th
We had a very nice sleep here at the Warwick House. Had a good solid English breakfast of eggs, bacon, sausage, toast, coffee. We drove to Stratford and visited Shakespeare's birthplace, his burial site and Ann Hathaway’s cottage. It is a very beautiful little city, very old.
Shakespeare's burial site.
Ann Hathaway's cottage.
Then on to the town of Warwick for a picture of the castle there, very impressive. Observation: cars travel faster than 80 mph on the Motorways.
We got to York in the afternoon and found the Avenue Guest House. We are on the 3rd floor, and the room is more like an attic, but it has its own toilet and shower. We walked the streets of York tonight. There is a gorgeous cathedral here called The Minster which we will tour tomorrow. The city is very old.
Thursday, September 15th. Rainy and cold
We decided to drive into the city centre since the forecast called for rain all day. We parked in a lot near the Minster (we weren’t sure exactly where we were but a man parking with us showed us where we were on the map). We spent 1 and ½ hours in the Minster. It is the largest Gothic/ Medieval structure in Northern Europe with marvelous stain glass windows. Our tour guide was very entertaining, an older York gentleman who had extensive knowledge about the cathedral as well as an obvious love for it. We also toured the underground section with the Roman ruins from around 627 AD. It was very interesting and we think our old stuff is old! This church has been around in one form or another for almost 2000 years.
The Rose Window c.1500 commemorates the union of the Royal houses of York and Lancaster.
The Central Tower, 15th century, shows St. Peter and St. Paul as founders of the Church of Rome. The Screen is decorated with statues of fifteen kings of England from William I to Henry VI
After the tour we walked in the rain down to the Jorik, a Viking museum. York archeologists discovered these Viking artifacts and display much of what they found in this museum. This was proof that the Vikings were in Great Britain first - maybe some Urquharts! After this tour we decided to walk back to the car - that’s when things turned bad! We couldn’t find the parking garage! The streets in York are impossible, no signs, it was horrible for both the navigator and the driver. By the time we found it again and then got lost driving again, we had lost most of the day. After dinner , it was getting quite cold as well as raining hard, again the fun started, we got lost over and over again, and then we realized that we were running out of gas. Once we found our way we tried to find a gas station, no luck. So we got back to the B&B on fumes and hope that tomorrow our proprietor can give us directions to a close petrol station. If not, we’re walking to Scotland. To be continued.....
Friday September 16th Beautiful blue sky, cool about 58 degrees F.
We went straight to a Tesco petrol station for a fill up. Started out and both of us got tired very quickly, so after about 2 hours we stopped and toured some castle ruins just south of Carlisle, Brougham Castle. Very old 13th C ruin.
We made it to Scotland that afternoon - see the Scotland flyout for those tales.
We did not return to England until we had travelled extensively in Scotland and Ireland and had taken a short jaunt in Wales. We arrived in Wales via ferry from Ireland on Monday, October 10th.
When we got into Wales it was raining so our trip to the beach was cancelled. Then the TIC couldn’t get us a room near Glynneath so we had to find one on our own. We ended up back to Swansea, where we found a Ramada called Encore and grabbed it. We drove back to Glynneath and found the Rugby Club and they suggested a restaurant called Angels in Pont-Nedd-Fechan. Even tho I fell in the parking lost (not hurt) we did enjoy a great meal there. The restaurant had a great collection of mugs all hanging from the ceiling. Then we returned to the Rugby Club.
One of the fellows from the 1970 team that toured Canada was there, Vince. The Glynneath Men’s Choir had their practice and were in the club for some liquid refreshments. We spent a fun evening with these guys. They played a couple of quizzes and included us in their festivities. Vince had a picture of the 1970 team, Brian couldn’t pick out the boys who stayed with him but Vince thinks it was Iver Jones and his best friend Roger Evans. Unfortunately Iver had been hit by a bus while he was crossing the street about 20 years ago, severe brain injury but they say that he is still quite a character. Many of the guys who were on that team moved elsewhere but most are very near ‘the valley’ cause as one of the old guys, Graham, said ‘once you’ve lived in the valley, you always live in the valley. It is the best place in the world’. These guys have traveled all over the place singing - Britain and Europe. They sang a couple of songs for us, it was great.
Tuesday, October 11th very cloudy in am, clear for the Abbey but rain all afternoon
Took a mountainous road but very misty and foggy so couldn’t see it as well as we would have liked. What we saw was very green, lots of sheep, pretty lakes. Lots of vowel-less towns eg Blwch, Ddn. Went on to Tintern Abbey. The Abbey is beautiful - just like Wordsworth’s poem and it has a very serene and tranquil feeling about it. It was founded by Cistercian monks in 1131 but was largely rebuilt in the late 13th century.
It is said that Tintern stirs the soul. Referring to Tintern Abbey, a Cistercian father is quoted as saying, "You will find among the woods something you never found in books"
We then proceeded over the Severn river to England and got into St Austell for dinner.
Some shots of St. Austell
On Oct 12th, drove to St Mewan’s where there was a huge old graveyard with many old graves some as far back as the 1700's. St. Austell is the town where my grandfather, Roy Murray was born, and he lived here until he was at least 11. His mother's maiden name was Charlotte Marks and his mother-in- law lived with them in St. Austell. So I thought that the Marks might have been from that area. We were hoping to find some Marks in the area cemeteries. There were none at St. Mewans.
Then we went to St Austell’s Parish Church cemetery and all the gravestones had been moved to the outer edges of what is now a park. Again most of these were in good shape too but again no Marks.
So I guess that family came from elsewhere. Need to do more research. It was fun trudging around and looking at the different inscriptions, many were for young children, very sad. There is something about a graveyard that is so peaceful.
Drove toward Stonehenge/Salisbury - pretty countryside, rolling farmlands, lots of sheep, some lovely forest areas where the road seems like a tunnel because the trees on one side of the road have grown over the road and met the trees on the other side - very magical effect - I’m sure that is where the fairies live. Made it into Salisbury by 4 and went into town to see the Salisbury cathedral which has the highest spire in England or maybe in Europe. It is a massive and very beautiful church, still used today but they are trying to restore the outside which is disintegrating. Very impressive structure.
In the Chapter House we saw one of the original copies of the Magda Carta from 1215 on which the Canadian Constitution was based.
Thursday, October 13th
Had a lovely breakfast at the Malvern Guest House, in the sunroom looking out into their garden, very nice. Took a scenic route suggested by Jack to Stonehenge, lots of thatched roofed homes - very pretty.
Stonehenge was awesome and the audio tour was very interesting. Heard about the healing rock and the sacrifice stone and the fact that the stones can be used as a calendar, etc.
Then we were off to the south. Stopped at Portsmouth & walked along the historic docks there, saw some old ships, one used by Lord Nelson at Trafalgar.
Others used in WWI and WWII & some modern destroyers
Also went to the seafront and saw a modern sculpture and a war monument to the navy men who died in both WW’s Found one Urquhart in each.
We then took the drive to Eastbourne. Stopped at this site called the Long Man of Wilmington. Well it ended up being a tracing of a man on a hill, very crude looking, like something a bunch of kids would do as a joke. In fact I was sure that it was a joke - I couldn’t believe it. I was expecting a beautiful carved sculpture in the cliffs!
Came into Eastbourne to our B&B. This town is a seaside resort town with a large ½ mile pier jutting into the ocean. It is very pretty with large beaches (stones instead of sand) but very charming. You can imagine how it would be hopping in the summer. But here in mid October things are closed up by 5 and no one is on the beach! We walked the pier, there were hundreds of birds flying all around us but they didn’t land because there were speakers on the pier with the sound of some kind of bird constantly playing, probably a predator of these birds so they were afraid to land.
Took a long walk from one end of the marina road to the other with a stop at a little arcade, only lost 50 pence trying to get 2p pieces to drop onto a pile of 2p pieces so that a bunch would drop into the dish for my winnings. Not the slots, but had fun. The walk along the ocean at night was very nice, you could hear the water lapping at the shore. We both walked down to the water's edge and touched the sea so we could say that we touched the English channel.
Friday, October 14th cloudy but dry - peddle pushers & sandals 60 degrees
Drove along a narrow road thru Beachy Head with some very pretty views of the cliffs. Stood right near the edge, scary a good wind could topple you over. Very nice drive, stopped frequently for pictures.
Yes that is Brian getting way too close to the edge of the cliff!
Then back to the main highway driving to Dover. Not very far but go thru each little town and traffic is surprisingly heavy. Going thru Hythe, we noticed bunkers from WWII and what appears to be an army base. Wonder if Dad was stationed here - did he practice landing on the beach here?
Arrived in Dover just before 3 so we went to Dover Castle and spent 2 hours there. The castle was very interesting - re-enactment of 1206 battle when Louie of France tried to take the castle.
This was labelled as Queen Elizabeth's pocket pistol:
There was an old Roman lighthouse built in the 1st century and a church built in 1000 for the military.
We climbed up to the top of the castle with panoramic views of Dover and climbed down to the medieval tunnels deep under the castle and walked around the whole complex on the battery walk. Brian had me climbing up the sides of hills in my sandals.
Saturday, October 15th fog in early morning but bright sunshine the rest of the day
Went off to see the White Cliffs, took the road into the park, then parked the car and walked along the top of the cliffs, rather a steep edge that we walked right alongside. Made us a bit woozy, you know that feeling deep in your stomach when you look over the edge of the balcony? We were very careful where and how we walked. Altho we could see the white cliffs, and they were magnificent, it was pretty foggy so couldn’t take any pictures. Brought home a couple of stones from the cliffs, one side, the white side, is very soft, can peel the salt off. Drove back into Dover to get the A2 highway and lo and behold, the white Cliffs of Dover directly under the castle were clear, they were staring us in the face, got off a quick picture!
Drove to Canterbury to visit the Cathedral there. It was easy to get to. The cathedral was awesome. I am not sure if I am going to be able to tell which cathedral is which and which castle is which. They are all so jumbled in my head right now. In this Cathedral Thomas Beckett was murdered and he became a saint 2 years later because his blood caused healings and then pilgrims who visited his shrine were healed. Cromwell and his puritan supporters destroyed St. Thomas' shrine when he was trying to rid the country of Catholicism. They have a memorial there in his honour.
This marked the place where Sir Thomas Beckett, Archbishop of Canterbury was murdered.
This is the current shrine to St. Thomas.
We drove to Windsor which is just outside of Heathrow by 2 to visit Windsor Castle. There is a chapel there where quite a number of former kings and queens are buried, most recently King George VI and the Queen Mother. Also Charles I who was beheaded here is also entombed here with his head sewn back on!
Here is a street in Windsor, England.
Here is the outside of Windsor Castle.
And the inside.
Here is a view from Windsor Castle of the Eton soccer fields.
Here is the chapel at Windsor Castle.
And more external views.
In the castle itself we were able to see almost all the rooms where the Queen lives when she is there. There was a tremendous stairway full of armour and sets of swords and spears & pistols & rifles & knights in full armour on horseback, quite a sight. There were many sets of gorgeous china. There were at least 3 dining rooms - one the state dining room where heads of state are entertained. All the rooms were opulent, never saw so much gold. The paintings were incredible and the tapestries gorgeous. There was a knight’s room with all their coats of arms on display. Some arms were whited out & the guide told us that was because they had been de-knighted and had their heads cut-off. We saw the King’s bedchamber & the Queen’s bedchamber as well as their drawing rooms, wardrobe rooms, audience rooms, etc, etc. Very impressive castle indeed.
We spent the night packing our suitcase for London.
See the London flyout for our last days of the vacation.