Our Travels

Our retirement began February 3rd, 2006. This is an account of our travels. We hope you enjoy them. You can click on any of the pictures to enlarge the picture. Please leave a comment for us...we love to read them.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

2008 September - UK

On Wednesday, September 3rd, we left home to begin our trip to UK. We spent the evening with Bill & Janet after all four of us went to Tony’s favorite steak restaurant – Lenny’s in Cheney, WA. The next morning Janet dropped us off at the Spokane airport to begin our 24 hour trek to our first stop in London.

We arrived at Heathrow airport after stops in Portland, OR and Chicago, IL. All airport personnel were very friendly as we went through security with our shoes off. We then located the National Express station in Heathrow to catch a bus to Victoria Station (a location in east London nearer to son Neil’s work). After problems with phones and British coins, we contacted Neil earlier than he had expected and he arrived to rescue us and all our luggage. The taxi ride was an experience – they charge by time out rather than mileage – mainly because you can’t move forward very fast in the London area – but this cab driver was exceptional – he whizzed around side streets and got us to Neil’s home in record time. After Becky got home from work, they treated us with Tony’s first UK meal of fish and chips.
Neil & Becky were determined to show us the South Bank of London on the River Thames on Saturday. We were tourists with local guides – the best way to see London. All the next pictures are interesting shots of just a small portion of what we saw throughout the day. We took a ride on the London Eye (click for an interesting web site and a virtual tour).

We saw two men building sand sculptures.

Saw living statues everywhere. One particular living statue refused to move although we spent over an half hour waiting– most living statues will perform if money is dropped in their containers – this guy wouldn’t and probably got more money than all the others, including some of our coins.

Picture is a view of London from the London Eye.

Other sites in the pictures are huge furniture covered in grass carpeting, Big Ben, Neil and Tony playing on the pipes,

Coffee Bean sales truck, the London Duck in and out of the River Thames,

and a pair entertaining on the street – guy was certainly double jointed. We went into a café for coffee and a coke and were entertained by an actor playing Charlie Chaplin.

We walked through the Tate Modern Museum and around and inside Shakespeare’s Globe (picture). As it started to rain a little more, we hurried for the car with a side trip around where Becky works at IPC. Neil works at IPC also, but not at this location. Neil wanted to show us the statue outside the building. The statue was holding a camera and dressed with fabric clothing. Whenever a person came up to the statue, it would move. Unfortunately it wasn’t working when we got there.

We brought home a copy of the October 2008 Custom Car (UK’s best-selling Hot Rod magazine, with Neil’s vehicle in a four page spread (page 64). Pictures show Neil's pickup and the London parking on Neil & Becky’s street. His pickup was also in a previous issue but that magazine was sold out.
Sunday we introduced Neil & Becky to geocaching in Cox’s Walk Park (Cox's Walk is a path that links Sydenham Hill and Dulwich Common Road). By noon Neil & Becky drove us to meet Terry & Jacqueline at a pub for lunch half way between London and Swindon (in travel time, not miles). Neil did his famous "duck and dive" (as Tony calls it) driving through London.

On Monday, we got Terry & Jacqueline to go geocaching in and around Wiltshire including a stop at The Landsdowne Arms, a nearby pub. Their first cache was in the picturesque village of Sandy Lane….advice given by owner of cache – "advisable to wear appropriate walking boots or wellingtons if the weather has been wet". Pictures are of their first geocache find and their home.
Tuesday, I think, was the day that Tony & Terry went off on their own for awhile and came back with a new GPS for Terry since Terry & Jacqueline were caught up in the geocaching. In the evening we walked to the Greyhound Pub for Quiz night with Terry & Jacqueline and met up with cousins John & Pam. Bonus question was "how many states are larger than Kentucky". Everyone was looking to Sharon for the answer – and luckily I picked a number closer than anyone in the bar – but unfortunately no prize for that.

Wednesday was another geocaching event to the Caen Flight, in Devizes (Wiltshire) - a series of 29 locks on the Kennett and Avon canal in a span of 2.5 miles (click on link for great pictures). Our pictures are of boats on the canal, thatched roof cottages along the way, and the Ivy Inn Pub with I.P.A. Wadworth Beer (I’ve written more on delivery of these beer kegs later in this blog).

Wednesday evening, June (Jacqueline’s twin sister) brought over their mother for a welcomed visit. On Thursday, Terry, Tony and Sharon drove to Bristol airport to pick up son Jonathan who was flying in from Spain for Tara and Nathan’s wedding. We had a pre-wedding evening meal at the Greyhound Pub with Jonathan, niece Dawn, Tara & Nathan, Pam & John, and Terry & Jacqueline

Friday was quality time spent with Jonathan and another evening with fish and chips – the meal Jonathan, like his Dad, was missing most. We all walked down to see Terry & Jacqueline's motorhome. Sharon spotted a UK telephone insulator. Thanks to Jonathan, Sharon now has one placed next to the USA telephone insulator in the log in the back yard.
On Saturday the wedding event began early with the arrival of friends, Janice & Ken, from Bournemouth. We all left for the wedding at 11:15 a.m. and returned after 1:00 a.m. The wedding venue included the arrival of the bride in a 1932 Vauxhall, the wedding ceremony, socializing while wedding pictures were being taken with canapes and champagne circulating among the crowd, the wedding meal (a sit-down meal for over 100 guests), another socializing prior to the band beginning, and then the evening with even more people arriving. The wedding took place at Bowood. Pictures are of Jonathan, Becky, and Neil arriving, Tara & Nathan, and a bagpiper playing.

More pictures taken at the wedding are one of the ten table settings, all the women with hats (US friends and relatives will appreciate this picture since they wondered if Sharon would wear a hat – she didn’t), five Scottish men and a boy in kilts (thanks to Jonathan who got them all together so Sharon could take the picture – saying to them "She’s from America").
Next picture is at the end of the evening after Terry had gone and changed to a very un-British like attire of shorts, long socks and boots and went out on the dance floor. Neil & Jonathan managed to get Tony’s trousers up to his knees and said this picture absolutely has to go in the blog….so here it is. Next picture is of Tony in hatchback of Terry’s car – there wasn’t room for all six of us for the ride home.

One of the most moving events at the wedding was the reading of this poem by Tara’s mother, Jan. Other interesting things at this wedding were individual gifts from bride and groom of a small box of candy and a card given at the wedding showing wedding photos for viewing after 9/30 – gallery ID 180139.
For the benefit of USA friends and relatives – we have typed the menu at the wedding reception – 5 courses plus wine (whiskey also included for Scottish guests and Tony)

Roasted Pepper Soup drizzled with Fresh Pesto
Chargrilled Breast of Chicken wrapped in Parma Ham with a Wild Mushroom Sauce served with a Panache of Vegetables & Dauphinoise Potatoes
White Chocolate and Raspberry Cheesecake with fresh berries and a fruit coulis
Selection of English cheeses
Tea/Coffee, wedding cake and truffles
Wine – Mannara Grillo/Pinot Grigio 2006 or Mannara Syrah/Sangiovese 2006

On Sunday the wedding event continued with a catered buffet at Jan & David’s. Obviously, by now everyone should realize why the scales are not being kind to us.
On Monday, 9/15, we got back into geocaching by visiting the tourist town of Lacock, Wiltshire (a village used on several occasions as a film set). Some movies filmed there were Harry Potter, Pride and Prejdice and Wolf Man. Picture shows the pretty countryside and one road that motorists had to ford through the water over the cobblestones to get home. We proceeded on to Bowden Hill near the Chippenham area with great views towards Melksham in the southwest and the tiny church of St. Annes.

Tuesday we continued with four more geocaches (it’s a great way to see interesting, unique spots that we wouldn’t even know were around) – funny that almost all UK geocaches tell you where the nearest pub is. One spot was at the Crofton Beam Engine where we walked under a railroad while a train was going over (just six feet above our heads). The waterway here is a thread linking many architectural and engineering triumphs, including aqueducts, pumping stations and lock flights. It is a combination of three waterways: the River Avon to the west, the River Kennet to the East, both of which are linked by fifty-seven miles of man made waterway. Pictures are of the steam chimney, steam turbine and Tony crossing over a stile. A lot of the foot paths have this for pedestrians getting across the fences. We hurried home just in time to get ready for dinner and the evening with June & Bill at their home.

On Wednesday we went into Devizes (a quaint British town) and were lucky enough to see the delivery of the Wadworth beer by the shire horses pulling a beer wagon. This is our first attempt at putting a video on the blog (above)(click on arrow on left to view videod). – Then we made a stop at David’s trailer rental/sales lot and another stop to see Jacqueline’s brother Steve's automotive repair shop.

Other pictures included are Tony’s sons (Neil, right and Jonathan, left) for the benefit of all USA friends and relatives, and a fish and chips sign (for Tony’s benefit).

Above is our second attempt at a video (nearly three minutes long). It will show all friends and relatives in USA the driving conditions in the UK countryside. Also, notice the thatched roof homes. It doesn't look like a two-lane road, does it? It didn't feel like it either. If your volumn is up, you will hear Tony say "Good grief".

Animal pictures include sheep in the field (everywhere in UK), swan by the locks, guinea pig (raised by Terry’s daughter, Dawn – we went to her home for coffee one afternoon), squirrel in Neil & Becky’s back garden (yard), and amazingly enough a fox in the same back garden.

Thursday Jacqueline & Terry drove us back to Heathrow for our trip back home. Bill & Janet picked us up and after a short visit with them, we made it home by 11 p.m. The visit was far too short, but we packed a whole lot of fun and visiting in the two weeks. We were treated like royalty everywhere we went. Thank you all for your generous hospitality. Hopefully, someday we will be able to entertain all of you here in America. It would be nice to have everyone of you come for a visit.......but not all at once, please!!!!

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