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REPOSTING: England - Two Weeks, Four Women, One Rental Car

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REPOSTING: England - Two Weeks, Four Women, One Rental Car

Old Aug 11th, 2005, 02:47 PM
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REPOSTING: England - Two Weeks, Four Women, One Rental Car

Well, I've given up. My previous posting is apparently gone - and the Fodor's editors aren't going to bother answering my email or restoring the thread.

So, I'm going to try re-posting as much of it as my dear husband had saved.

He saved it in Word, so the punctuation may go haywire, but I really don't have the time or inclination to re-type the whole thing (sorry).

I'm going to sign off now, then let my hubby work his magic to re-post.

Thanks.

Gayle
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Old Aug 11th, 2005, 02:56 PM
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Author: leonberger
Date: 08/04/2005, 08:27 pm
Here's part one of my trip report, with my usual thanks to Fodor's posters whose advice I freely used!

The basics:

Trip Dates: Saturday 9 July through Monday 25 July

Flight: American Airlines from Boston to London; return through Chicago and then to Boston - tickets purchased through Hotwire (hence the odd return) for $683 per person (including all taxes, etc.)

London Stay: 9 July through 14 July; VRBO apartment, 650 GBP for seven nights (we only stayed six)

Near York Stay: 15 July through 19 July; The Granary, Stearsby; 55 GBP per room per night

Somerset Stay: 20 July through 23 July; Calendar Cottage, Crewkerne; 55 GBP per room per night

Heathrow Hotel: Crowne Plaza Heathrow, 24 July, $75 (USD) per room per night (booked via Priceline)

Advance purchases: Great British Heritage Passes ($92 per person) and Brit Rail "ride any two days anywhere you want" ($208 for the four of us) and London Visitor Travelcards (all zones), $39 per person

The Travelers: Me (female, 50-something), my Mom (70-something), and two friends - Linda and Maryanne (both 40-something)

Maryanne and I had been discussing a "ladies trip" to England for several years, and this was the perfect year. Linda mentioned a desire to travel just at the right time to get included in the trip. Another friend, unfortunately, was forced to drop out as we were making plans and Mom was the perfect choice to fill-in for her.

Mom and I have traveled in the UK a few times, but always with my husband and my Dad (we did miss their hauling, toting, and paying abilities!). Maryanne had previously spent time in the UK, and one full year in Scotland as a missionary. Linda had been to London once. So, we were a "mixed bag" of experiences.

We took the daytime flight (leaving at 9:00 AM) to London - a first for all of us. It was kind of neat to arrive in the evening, get a good night's sleep and be ready to go at the crack of dawn on our first full day. I'm not sure whether I'll do it that way on future trips or not, but I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it as a great way to get to London.

My Mom flew to the east coast (she lives in Ohio) on Thursday (7 July - the day of the bombings in London). Her friends, and my Dad's coworkers were horrified that she was still going on this trip. Neither Mom nor Dad hesitated, however. Actually, all of us were determined not be intimidated by the hatred of a few radicals.

On Saturday (9 July), my husband drove us all to Boston and dropped us off at the airport. We arrived in Boston about 2.5 hours before the flight, but a lengthy check-in process at all steps made it so we only arrived at the gate about 15 minutes before they began boarding.

Flight was on time and uneventful. Went through customs, and picked up our luggage, and met our "Just Airports" driver without any difficulty.

Mom, Linda, and I had all (independently) chosen to wear "hot pink" shirts. Maryanne was the "odd man out" in a denim jumper and a soft green shirt. EVERYONE commented on this - the check-in agent, the flight attendants (and fellow travelers). The funniest one was the lady in Customs at Heathrow (yes, really, a personable, funny lady working in Customs!). She called all four of us over together, because it was obvious we were traveling together. She then proceeded to poke fun at Maryanne for not wearing "the uniform" - and, after a little chatting while she worked, said she wished she could travel around with us. Linda had accidentally put "today's date" in the space marked "birthdate," so she got a good ribbing, too - "I can't believe it...you're an (whisper) attorney??!!"

The "Just Airports" driver got us to our apartment (near the Oxo Tower) without any difficulty - well worth the 55 GBP (including tip) that we paid!

We met our landlady at the apartment, and got our first minor inconvenience. I had carefully chosen an apartment with an elevator and all on one floor, because my Mom has really bad knees and stairs are hard for her. And I had confirmed all of this by email, stating my reasons for inquiring so carefully. Well, sometime between when I actually booked the rental (Feb/Mar) and when we arrived, there was a "domestic upheaval" between the landlady and her boyfriend, and somehow this resulted in us being given "the penthouse, the best apartment in the building" instead of the apartment that had been listed.

Sounded fine. Until we got inside and realized that the two bedrooms (and one bath) were on one floor, while the kitchen, living room, and second bath were up a flight of stairs.

Since we had no other choices, and it was now after 11:00 PM, we made the best of the situation. Maryanne and Linda decided that they'd rather sleep in the living room (one sofa bed and another large sofa) than share one of the two bedroms, so Mom and I each got our own bedroom. Our bathroom had a tub and a hand-held shower. The upstairs bath had a shower only, which we all ended up using because the hand-held one was too awkward.

On the bright side, our landlady provided some elementary breakfast items for us, so we could have toast and juice and fruit the next morning. She was very kind and cheerful.

We were all tired, so we grabbed a few of the takeout menus and found a pizza place that delivered to our building and had them bring us pizza, garlic bread, a bottle of Coke, and a pint of Haagen Daz ice cream - perfect! (And it was pretty good pizza - more about them later.)

We all headed to bed, happy to finally be on vacation.

I'll sign off for now - I promise to be more succinct in the follow-up messages!

Gayle
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Old Aug 11th, 2005, 02:57 PM
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Author: leonberger
Date: 08/04/2005, 09:29 pm
Part Two - London for Ladies

Sunday, 10 July

We took a taxi to Victoria Station and traded in our vouchers for travelcards. We tried really hard to find a bus, heading toward Covent Garden. After being sent back and forth across the station several times, we gave up and took a cab. We were trying to use buses instead of the Tube because of the walking distance through Tube stations and the stairs that are often involved (Mom's knees again).

We discovered that traffic, especially buses, was a little disrupted because of major events celebrating the official end of WWII in Europe 60 years ago today. Very interesting!

At Covent Garden, our first stop was "London's Transport Museum," which was highly recommended by several people and in several books. It IS indeed a fascinating place, but we somehow hooked up with a volunteer guide who wanted to tell us every detail of public transportation in London over hundreds of years. A very nice man, but we had been there for 45 minutes, and were only as far as the 2nd horse-drawn transport wagon, so we had to speed him up.

The most interesting thing to all of us was an explanation of how the "deep tubes" (like the one near Russell Square that had been bombed and was still closed) were built. Essentially, a giant "cookie cutter" was wedged into the clay, then men scooped out the dirt and carried it out. They then carried in 1-2 foot wide, large iron "half circles" about 12 inches less in total circumference than the hole, along with a 12 inch piece. The three pieces were bolted together to form a circle against the clay. The circle is about 15 cm bigger around than the trains that ride the "Tubes" (now I know why they call them by that name!). Since there's no extra space to tunnel or shovel, that tight fit is what caused so much of the difficulty in reaching that particular bombing site. It was a little eerie to hear about it that day.

We then split up to do a little shopping at Covent Garden, then found a bus to ride back to the apartment. Decided to jump off the bus near "The Eye" and see if we could hop onto the Duck Tour, but it was fully booked. We'll try again another time.

Dinner nearby at "The Slug and Lettuce." OK.

Maryanne and Mom continued back to the apartment via bus. Linda and I went the opposite direction and went back to Trafalgar Square to check on concerts at St.-Martin-In-The-Field. Nothing this week particulary appeals to any of us, but it was worth checking. We stopped in Trafalgar Square at London's smallest police station (a small "pillar" in the SE corner of the square). We then took a leisurely walk back to the apartment, amiring the views from the bridge.

Maryanne had spilled something on her shorts earlier, so she decided to give the washer/dryer a test while we sat around the table and planned our next few days. That thing ran for several hours - we still don't know why! Every time we thought it was done, we'd hear a soft "whir" or the sound of more water being dumped into the machine. We'd check to see if we could just pull out her clothes and hang them to dry, but there would be suds showing the window, so we knew we had to leave them in there. She also managed to get hot/warm water (though she was sure she'd programmed cold), so her clothes all ended up with a lovely tint of green...we laughed ourselves silly over this, but also stayed away from the washing machine after that!

Monday, 11 July

Taxi to St. Stephen Walbrook, supposedly Christopher Wren's most beautiful church. It really is stunning - we highly recommend that you add it to your sightseeing list! It's a circular church (inside), with a large dome and gorgeous carvings. Very quiet, very few people.

Split up to head toward the British Museum. Maryanne and Linda took the Underground to Holborn, and Mom and I took a taxi - I jumped out at Holborn Tube Station to meet the others. We hooked up with a London Walks guide for their tour of the Museum. Meanwhile, Mom got stuck in a traffic jam and ended up having to walk the rest of the way to the Museum - not a problem, except that she got terrible directions from several different people and ended up walking around the outside of the entire Museum. She opted out of the Tour. This was perhaps the most disappointing of the London Walks that I've done (except for the now-over-publicized "Jack the Ripper" walk). The guide (Hilary) chose to only visit a couple of the areas, instead of taking us to a wider sampling of more areas, and wasn't particularly engaging or enlightening.

AFter a very late lunch at the Museum, we went back to Covent Garden, because I wanted to visit the Antiques Market that day. I did find a beautiful Cornish Kitchenware blue and white (TG Green) bowl for a bargain price.

Back to the apartment, we decided to order pizza again, since we were in a bit of a hurry - scheduled for the Ceremony of the Keys that night and didn't want to be late!

Unfortunately for us,the pizza folks messed up big time - and it was compounded by problems with our apartment switch. They sent the wrong pizza and forgot to send two salads. the phone number printed on our apartment phone wasn't the real number, so they couldn't get in touch with us when we sent the pizza back. Time was marching on...suffice it to say that the pizza came as we were leaving, so we had cold pizza after the Ceremony of the Keys...ah, the memories!

Arrived at the Tower for the Ceremony of the Keys, which only Mom and I had done before. The Yeoman Warder/Guide was excellent, and we were all duly impressed. I never get tired of hearing the stories of the Tower and all of the things that have happened within it's walls. This is an inspiring ceremony...I highly recommend that you write ahead and get tickets for it.

Tuesday, 12 July

It's still HOT and sunny in London. Every day seems warmer than the last. It's OK, but the buses get really hot and sticky!

Our first stop today was the "Britain At War" Museum, near the London Dungeon. Very interesting! It's set up in a very "personal" style, and really shows what war was like for families and "regular" people. Lots of hands-on displays and informative videos and placards.

Our next stop was The Garden Museum near Lambeth Bridge. Wonderful place! Lots of gardening information, and a delicious cafe - obviously very popular with the office workes in the surrounding area.

Next stop: Harrod's - how could you not stop at Harrod's? I still find the prices (even during their July sale) to be breathtakingly high, but I love looking around in the store! Mom and I visited the Dodi and Diana Memorial and wandered through several areas of the store. Linda and Maryanne visited other parts of the gigantic place, and we met up an hour or so later.

Back at the apartment, we walked to the nearby "Stamford Arms" for dinner - actually a very good meal, sitting outside at a picnic table on a beautiful evening.

Wednesday, 13 July

Up early, and headed to the train station - we're off to Bath today! Maryanne did a nice job shepherding the rest of us through the train station, and finding our reserved seats.

In Bath, took the Guide Fridy (now under a different name) bus tour, specifically because it has live guides - except that ours didn't. Substituted a very hard to understand audio guide...check before you get on the bus, some are "live," some are not.

Walked through the Baths and marveled at the ingenuity of the Romans (and others) who created them and have used them for centuries. Lunch at a nearby pub, and then split up for various activities.

Mom, Linda, and I all went to the Museum of Costume. It sounded interesting, but particularly it's "Corset display." The garments were amazing, and some were beautiful . The corsets were a little under-whelming (not many and little information).

We then went to what had been billed as "The Origami Exhibit" at the East Asian Museum. Well, the "exhibit" was three small cases of origami sculptures - apparently the museum didn't have room to display most of the items. Pretty boring - skip this!

Split up for shopping, browsing, etc.c, then met for supper and headed back to the train station for another nice train ride back to London.

Thursday, 14 July

Our last day in London- fine with me, I get tired of cities fairly quickly and I've already seen most of the major sites.

Went straight to the Duck Tours location, hoping to get on the first Duck Boat. We were in luck - we were the ONLY people on the first ride, so we got a private tour of the city! Great guide, informative tour on both land and water.

Some highlights: the Duck Boats themselves are amphibious vehicles that were manufactured to be used forthe D-Day landings. They were only supposed to be used for 30 days, and then scrapped! The launch ramp into the Thames is inside MI6 property, so you have to wait for formal entrance. Also, at MI6 you pick up an official Thames River Pilot - you must be certified to navigate the Thames waterway. I didn't realize how treacherous the Thames is - the rule of thumb is that anyone who falls into the river must be rescued within three minutes or they'll drown. Great views of the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben (well, the Tower that houses it), the Eye, etc.

After our excellent tour, we went to the Royal Mews at Buckingham Palace. We passed two of the state carriages heading toward the palace (and later saw four carriages return to the Mews). We got to pet two of the dogs (English Spaniels?) that live at the Mews and took a nice do-it-yourself tour of the stalls, carriages, and one limo. While we were paying our admission, the entire city stopped for two minutes, to remember the victims of the bombings from last week. It was a very moving and solemn several minutes.
The Queen was holding a garden party for several thousand that day - and, somehow, I never received my invitation. After watching many groups of people walking past, obviously heading to the party, we figured out that the problem was we didn't have hats...oh, well.

Our group split for lunch and the afternoon. Mom and I went for a walk near our apartment and strolled through Gabriel's Wharf (a few craft galleries, etc.)

We all gathered for dinner (forgettable), and then headed to the apartment for some packing, since we were leaving early the next day.

After I finished packing, I asked Mom if she wanted to go on a Night Tour of the city by bus. She agreed, so we invited Linda and Maryanne (Maryanne is more of a morning person), both of whom decided to come. A great tour, but really long! Started at 9:30 or so, and we didn't return to Victoria station until after midnight! But, the tour covers many, many sites and is very informative

Back to the apartment for a few hours of sleep...

Gayle
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Old Aug 11th, 2005, 02:58 PM
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Author: DixieChick
Date: 08/04/2005, 10:02 pm
Good, informative report, Gayle. Look forward to future installments.
Author: LoveItaly
Date: 08/04/2005, 10:21 pm
Gayle, what a lovely trip report! And I love your sense of humor. The comment about the guide at London's Transport Museum gave me a good chuckle.

And how very interesting about how the tube was built, and yes, quite a coincedence to be learning about the tube right at that time.

Look forward to reading about the rest of your trip. BTW, your mother sounds like a great traveller. How nice it worked out she could join you.

Thanks for sharing London with us.
Author: ggnga
Date: 08/04/2005, 10:48 pm
I enjoyed it very much, looking forward to the rest. Very good job of splitting up from time to time and going separate ways. Much less stress.
Author: leonberger
Date: 08/05/2005, 11:11 pm
Thanks, all, for your friendly comments about the report - it seems awfully long to me, but I'm not sure what to leave out, so I'll just keep plugging along.

One regret from the London part of our trip that I need to report now:

The Original London Walks brochure includes a paragraph about an "Armchair Walk" by "Charlie" who used to write for the BBC. He entertains small groups with information and stories about London's history, including tea with him and his wife. We tried to book this, but discovered that we needed a group of 12 (we don't blame them for this, but were disappointed that we weren't able to fit it in!). So, for the rest of the trip, we kept envisioning which of the wonderful people we met should have been invited along to make up the 12 needed for an "Armchair Walk."

The first person on our list was the Customs lady (remember her?) - we thought she would have been a lot of fun! (We did only add women to our imaginary guest list, to keep the flavor of our ladies-only trip going.)

Now, to return to my day-by-day trip report.

Friday, 15 July

This was a travel day for us. We were up very early and ready to head to the train station by 6:30 in the morning. We opted for two taxis, even though Waterloo wasn't far away. We just didn't want to start the day exhausted.

Maryanne had again done a great job of organizing our train travel. We easily caught the 7:39 train that heads to Guildford (just southwest of London), and arrived there on schedule around 9:00. We called the rental car office ("Peter Waugh Car Rental"), and within five minutes a gentleman was there with our car. We were whisked off to the rental office, signed our paperwork, and were on our way toward York well before 10:00.

Since we knew it would be a long drive, I had lined up a silly attraction along the way (thanks to another Fodor's traveler!) - we had lunch in Milton Keynes, and then went to see the "famous" Milton Keynes concrete cows. We had to ask directions from our waitress, and found them exactly where she told us they would be.

They are very funky looking black and white cows and calves in a field, with real live horses in the field behind them. I went down the hill to pet them (both the concrete cows and the live horses), while the others watched from the top of the hill. A fun stop!

Continued on highways all the way north, and arrived at our B&B in Stearsby around 6:00.

The Granary is a wonderful B&B! All of us highly recommend it! Three rooms. Maryanne and Linda were on the second floor of the main house, while Mom and I were in a converted barn/stable. (The third room was also in the barn/stable, and was occupied by a really nice Belgian family - mother, father, and young son.) Rooms were spacious, bathrooms great, breakfast was delicious (including strawberries and raspberries fresh-picked on the property), and the hosts are more than charming - helpful, gregarious, interesting, and warm.

Our hosts recommended dinner at "The White Bear" in nearby Stillington, and we had a great meal there. After dinner, Maryanne took a quick dip in the heated pool at The Granary while the rest of us chatted with our hosts.

Saturday, 16 July

At the suggestion of our hosts, we took a drive to the very touristy (in a nice way) town of Helmsley. We found a beautiful ruined castle, complete with sheep grazing in the field in front of it; and then a beautiful market town. Spent some time in the cute shops, then met for lunch in a nice cafe on the square.

After lunch we did what is one of my favorite things in that area - simply drove through the Moors. Ostensibly heading toward Whitby, we figured out pretty quickly that we weren't really going to get to Whitby in time to do anything (we had plans for the evening), so we just took the time to stop and admire the views and enjoy the scenery. I love the way the fields are defined by fences and hedges, and the varying colors of the crops and fields; and the way the houses and outbuildings look against the backdrop of hills. Linda had never been to this area, and she was thoroughly enchanted - which was a good thing because she turned out to be our most frequent driver for the trip and we took her through a lot of similar roads for the rest of the vacation! She loved driving on the left, and was very confident with it.

As the day wore on, we turned back toward "home" via a different route, and arrived in Ampleforth in time for our dinner reservation at "The White Swan" - our hosts had made the reservations for us several weeks in advance, and it was a memorable meal. (Mom and I both love the way they serve simple strawberries with crushed meringue...yummm...gee, it seems like we could do this at home, but do we ever bother????)

After dinner, we went to Ampleforth Abbey for a concert, which we all enjoyed. Again, our hosts had purchased tickets in advance for us, since seating was limited. (The concert was one little part of the famous "Ryedale Festival".)

We were all tired from a fairly long day, so we headed back to The Granary and went straight to bed.

Sunday, 17 July

We slept in a little late today (on purpose), and were greeted with those fresh-picked strawberries and raspberries, along with a full breakfast. Breakfast at The Granary is served in a beautiful sunroom/conservatory adjacent to the pool, and is a warm and inviting meal.

We went to church in the small town of Brandsby (just a couple miles from the B&B). Everyone was very friendly, and all of us agreed that we loved the "look" of English dresses. Women of every age looked elegant and comfortable in simple shirt-style dresses and/or nice-looking skirts with coordinated shirts/jackets. We enjoyed the service. (We also decided that one of the church ladies should have joined us for the "Armchair Walk" in London.)

Went back to The Granary and changed clothes. Maryanne decided that she'd like a day without being a tourist, so she stayed at The Granary - took a long walk (petting several neighborhood cats along the way), had a leisurely swim, caught up on some laundry, and wrote a few postcards. Squeezed in a nap, and some light reading.

The rest of us headed out of Stearsby and toward the Dales without a lot of specific destinations in mind. We wandered on some back roads, stopped for lunch, and then decided to go to Ripley Castle (near Harrogate and Ripon).

We arrived at Ripley Castle a few minutes after the last tour (which was at 3:00, so go early if you want to tour Ripley!). The nice ladies at the ticket booth allowed us to "catch up" to that last tour, so we at least got to see the majority of the castle. The Ripley family has lived in this castle for 28 generations (more than 700 years!)

The guide was excellent, just the way we like them - he told lots of family stories and gave us "human interest" tidbits. Among those, that day was the Lord of the castle's 50th birthday and they were closing the castle early so they could have a celebration that evening. We got to see glimpses of the table set for the party and other preparations along the way. We'll definitely visit Riply on another trip and get the full tour!

The three of us walked on the terrace and part-way into the gardens, but it was getting very close to closing time, so we didn't get to explore as much as we would have liked. We stood near the exit for a few minutes and watched the party guests arriving - once again we determined that we hadn't been invited because we didn't have hats...sigh...

Since it was still early, we took a meandering drive up through the Dales and back down around to Stearsby. We stopped in the Dales (Grassington) for dinner at the Devonshire Arms, sitting outside at a lovely picnic table. This is a beautiful small town - very picturesque and cute shops (but they were closed by the time we arrived).

As we were leaving, we met one of the most delightful people on our trip - definitely someone who should have been invited on the "Armchair Walk." Linda (the driver, remember) opened her door and stood there chatting with Mom and I for a few minutes. Then, as she got into the car, she dropped the keys on the ground. As she picked them up, she realized that a very patient lady was sitting in the car next to her, waiting for Linda to finish up so she could exit her own car. Linda immediately finished getting in and closed her door, rolled down the window and apologized profusely for making her wait.

The lady just smiled and started to chat - within about 45 seconds to a minute, we knew everything about her. Where she was from, why she was in Grassington, where she was eating that night AND the next night, etc., etc. Charmingly said...and obviously not the first time she'd made friends so quickly - her husband just leaned against the car, folded his arms, and smiled as soon as she started talking. We wanted to kidnap her and take her along on the rest of our trip. We did restrain ourselves, however, and parted company reluctantly, and headed for The Granary.

Monday, 18 July

After breakfast, we went directly to Fountains Abbey. I have been there several times with my husband, and the two of us took Mom and Dad last fall on our way back to London (from Scotland). I think it's a really magical place - the colors in the stones, the enormity of the actual ruins, the peacefulness of the setting, everything is just perfect.

It was our first day with any rain - just a few minor showers.

Linda and Maryanne were as taken with the Abbey as we were and we spent about an hour exploring the main ruins. Unfortunately, three or four large groups of school children descended on the Abbey at almost the same time that the rain/drizzle began. The rain would have been fine, but combined with the rambunctious and loud schoolkids, we decided that it was time to leave.

We took the free shuttle back to the top of the hill and the visitors center. The driver was another pick for our "Armchair Walks." A little zany and a LOT of fun - she drove us through the deer park and all the way to the water gardens at the far end of the property, with running commentary about the property and the locals the whole time.

We had lunch at the Fountains Restaurant near the gift shop, and would highly recommend this cafeteria-style restaurant. Many selections, and all tasted delicious.

We next headed toward Middleham Castle, once again taking as many back roads through small towns and villages as possible. The ruins at Middleham were interesting, but not like other places on the trip. Great views from the top of the tower.

After Middleham, we did another loop north through more the Dales, and then headed east toward The Granary. Linda got to drive on some very steep and very narrow roads - at times we weren't sure whether the car would make it up or not! We oohed and aahed over all the critters - not just sheep, cows, and horses, but pheasants and rabbits and chipmunks and squirrels. At one point, a farmer and his dog herded a flock of sheep around the car while we waited patiently in the middle of the road.

We stopped at another nice tea shop in Reath for dinner, and then continued back to the B&B for another night's sleep.

Tueday, 19 July

Our last day in this area.

I neglected to mention earlier that The Granary also has a really sweet dog - a yellow lab (I think) named Conon. Very nice, and loved to greet us each morning - especially because we often had a "wee leftover" from dinner the night before to share with him.

Today was our day to visit York. It threatened to rain most of the day, but never actually did so.

By some miracle, we found a really close parking lot with spaces available, and just had a short walk to the City Center. Had some trouble with the Pay-and-Display machine, so Maryanne went back later in the day to add more time. She tried the other machine in the same lot, with no luck there either. Fortunately, a very nice policeman was there at the time and she explained her dilemma - she was trying to pay, but couldn't. He very kindly took her ticket, wrote something on it and signed it, and assured her that we wouldn't get a ticket anytime that day. He was right - and very kind! (He also said that the machines hadn't worked correctly for quite some time...wonder why they don't fix them?)

Decided to tour the Minster first, and met with a small group for a guided tour. We decided that this Blue-Badge guide was related to our friend in the Transport Museum in London - he knew so much, but had a hard time coordinating it and being succinct. After almost an hour, we had only moved about 40 feet from where we started. Unfortunately, our guide had also told us some of the same things several times. He seemed to lose his train of thought easily and would then repeat things. We eventually just drifted away from the tour. We spent some time walking around the church, and then took the audio guide tour of the Undercroft. I had not visited York in years (by coincidence, the last time we were there was the day that Prince Charles opened the Jorvik Viking Center, whenever that was - quite a while ago!) and was amazed by the difference in the Undercroft. Wonderful displays, interesting audio tour (and I'm not a fan of these generally), and nice layout. I also had somehow managed to never learn that the Roman Emporer Constantine was actually in York when his father died, so he was proclaimed Emporer right there. Interesting. (That was in 306 AD, for those who'd like to know.)

Another fascinating fact (actually from our tour guide) was that all of the stained glass windows in the church were removed during WWII and stored at nearby country estates. After the war they were returned and thus, all of the stained glass in the Minster is original, much dating form the 14th century.

Our visit to the Minster was followed by lunch at the National Trust Tea Room nearby - OK.

After lunch, we split up again. Mom took the bus tour of the city - twice! She was happy to sit and listen and learn. Linda took the bus tour once with Mom, then went shopping. Maryanne decided to concentrate on visiting many of the Charity Shops, hunting for bargains; and I went wandering and shopping. I loved the black signs on several buildings that designated things such as the first paved street in York, and the oldest existing house in York, etc.

I loved a store called "The Cat Gallery," and particularly admired some orignal drawings by Frank Endersby of cats - outlines that just suggest the movement and grace of cats. Since I came home I showed my husband a snapshot of the drawings, and we've purchased two of them - I'm just waiting for them to arrive any day now. Very nice little store! (Well, if you like cats and shopping...)

And then I found "IT" - you won't believe it! The most wondrous "Hat Shop" - sure, sure, now it's too late. I've already missed the party at Buckingham Palace and the birthday gathering at Ripley Castle, and NOW I find a Hat Shop. I took a fun picture of the shop and it's display window. Later, Linda found a florist shop that rents hats, too...hmmm...

The four of us met again at the Minster in time for Evensong, led by a boys' choir from Greenwich.

A forgettable dinner in York at a place called Kennedy's (not bad, just nothing to write about).

After dinner, we spent a few minutes listening to the warm-up and rehearsal of the bell "pealers" (my word) at the Minster - Mom had read about the rehearsal and it sounded like fun. It was amazing, and very uplifting.

Back to The Granary.

Final installment to come another day...

Gayle
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Old Aug 11th, 2005, 02:58 PM
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Author: LoveItaly
Date: 08/06/2005, 02:17 am
Gayle, just a simple thank you for all the effort and time you have put into your trip report. I can not explain how much I am enjoying it. I indicated to you before, I have enjoyed your trip report from the very start. You make one feel that they have been along with you on this wonderful visit through England. I look forward to your next installment.
Author: MissPrism
Date: 08/06/2005, 05:21 am
I'm a bit puzzled about the chipmunks.
We don't have the beasties in England.
I wonder what you actually saw.
Author: oldie
Date: 08/06/2005, 05:27 am
Your friend was a missionary in Scotland?!!

Well, I know that they're a wild lot North of Hadrian's Wall but even so.....
Author: SandyBrit
Date: 08/06/2005, 07:09 am
leonberger - I love your style of writing and keen to hear all the details about York. May add this on during our next trip to the UK.

I can appreciate your comment about "hats". I now live in the States and my son is getting married this October in NYC (black tie) and my mum who lives in Suffok keeps saying "are you sure that you don't need to wear a hat". LOL

Thanks again for a lovely report.

Sandy
Author: leonberger
Date: 08/08/2005, 09:39 pm
All right, I'm going to try to finish this seemingly never-ending report. I really appreciate the support of those who've mentioned they like what I've written - you've given me the "push" I need to finish up.

First, a couple of clarifications/explanations.

1. The "chipmunk" thing. May have been a mistake on my part. Thinking back, you're right, I don't KNOW that I actually saw a chipmunk, but I did write that in my journal late one night - probably a brain fuzzy with tiredness, adding what to us in the US is the norm. Sorry!

2. Yes, Maryanne was a missionary in Scotland. Missionaries go to and from every country. We get Scottish and South African and Chinese missionaries to the US, and we send missionaries everywhere. So, that's what Maryanne did for a year of her life.

And, now, back to the regularly scheduled program:



Wednesday, 20 July

Another mainly travel day for us...all the way from Stearsby to Somerset.

We were up fairly early, did some packing, and then enjoyed a final delicious breakfast at The Granary. We bid a fond farewell to Margot and Robert and headed south.

The highlight of the drive was a lunchtime stop near Hanbury (south of Birmingham, just east of the M5) at the "Jinney Mill Craft Village." If you're in the area, be sure and stop. The food was wonderful - and there were lots of choices, from Ploughman's lunches to casseroles to sandwiches. All seemed to be freshly made, and there were lots of tables to choose from. It's a busy place, so if you're there right at lunchtime you might have to wait a bit...not a problem, because they've got great craft shopping right there. Some items are made right in the small craft village, others are local/regional items. Very interesting (and the main store is a LOT bigger than it looks from the outside). We thoroughly enjoyed our stop here (of course, the rest of our day was pretty much motorway driving, so maybe we were just happy to find anything else!).

It had sprinkled a little earlier in the day, but cleared to another beautiful, sunny day by the time we got to Jinney Mill.

Another stop was at Westbury, to view one of the White Horses. We navigated the narrow road up to the top and looked at the horse from above, but the view from below was better. We did enjoy the kites? parasails? on the top of the hill. Young men wearing roller blades or riding skateboards allowed the kites/parasails to lift them pretty high above the ground and carry them along on big gusts of wind - they'd float quite a distance before coming back down to earth. (It made us all gasp the first time = we were afraid that they had misjudged the wind and that the "flying" was a accident.)

We continued one to Crewkerne and found Calendar Cottage without too much trouble. (OK, we did mistake a couple of signs pointing TOWARD the rail station - a landmark we were watching for - for actual train stations. At one point, as a group we said, "just how many rail stations are there in this small town anyway?" and then we immediately realized our error!)

Our hosts, Derek and Judy, are very friendly and their home is just lovely. We have two twin rooms - Maryanne and Linda have a view of the extensive and exquisite garden, while Mom and I have low windows tucked into the roofline, looking over the front garden. The house was built in the 17th century sometime and has many original features, but no longer has a thatched roof.

It does, however, have a piano - and it's in tune, with a big pile of music books (mostly hymns and choruses, which is what we all love). Derek is a musician and has played at church for years and Judy sings. Maryanne is a music teacher and can play almost anything - including the piano (she says she's not very good, but I think she does a great job!).

After sharing tea with Derek and Judy, we unpacked yet again and settled into our rooms for the night.

Thursday, 21 July

Today started cloudy, but turned bright and sunny by late morning.

Derek and Judy served us a great breakfast - she makes her own yogurt and served fresh apple slices that had been microwaved just a touch to soften them (with a little sugar added), plus the "usual" cereal, toast, and as much cooked breakfast as we wanted.

We headed toward Glastonbury, but stopped in the town of Street on the way. Judy had told us about the Clark Outlet Village, and several of us really like Clark shoes, so we decided to stop on the way to Glastonbury.

Maryanne did find shoes, but Linda and I found something else - they had four piece sets of basic luggage (in pretty colors) for 50 GBP. A bargain if I ever saw one! I bought teal and Linda chose navy. Linda planned to throw away her suitcase that she had been using and pack in her new luggage, but I had no idea how I was going to get mine home - I love the hard side Samsonite that I used for the trip. Hmmm....big four-piece set of luggage. The two sets (each nested) took up most of the space in our small station wagon's cargo are - and that was without any of our packed luggage in it. Bungee cords are seriously being considered at this point (we do have a roof rack on the car).

We continued through several picturesque towns (Martock and Somerton), oohing and aahing over the thatched roofs (the first Linda had really seen), and arrived in Glastonbury in time for lunch at an Inn across from the car park.

After lunch, we took the self-guided tour of Glastonbury. Mom and I had been there before, but not for 6 years, and it was as hauntingly beautiful as we remembered. We spent quite a bit of time enjoying the ruins, reading the placards, and imaging the lives that had been lived here. The Abbot's kitchen is fairly intact, and an interesting building.

We headed back to the town, but quickly discovered that the shopping was NOT to our liking - it's very New Age oriented and not what we are interested in, so we decided to leave.

We drove to Wells, but had a terrible time getting to the Cathedral - kept finding one way streets the wrong way, dead ends, and roads that suddenly veered off in the wrong direction. We did finally find a parking spot in fairly close proximity, and went to the Cloisters for a quick snack before attending Evensong. The visiting choir this week was from Christ Church (Episcopal) in Cincinnati, Ohio. My husband is from Cincinnati originally, so that was kind of funny. While we were waiting for the service to start, we chatted with a couple of men whose wives are part of the choir - they're having a wonderful trip, exploring the area during the day and then hurrying back each evening for the service. We liked the choir and the service, but it got a little long for us (I think we were all tired).

The "Scissor Arches" in Wells Cathedral are worth a visit just by themselves - what a gorgeous design!

We drove back to Crewkerne and enjoyed a very nice dinner at The George Hotel. They had an extensive menu, and were reasonably priced.

When we arrived back at Calendar Cottage, Derek and Judy immediately informed us that there had been four more attempted bombings in London that day - exactly two weeks after the initial bombings, and again in the "burning cross" formation - four scattered locations north, east, south, and west. Fortunately, the detonators on the bombs didn't work, and no one had been killed.

With that somber ending to our day, we went to bed.

Friday, 21 July

Maryanne opted to stay at the B&B today, and take care of a few personal errands, etc. We agreed to come back early and meet her for dinner.

After another tasty breakfast, and singing a few songs (w/ Maryanne's accompaniment), Linda and Mom and I pointed the car out of the driveway.

What was our first stop? Do I REALLY have to say it???

Well...it was Street, back to the Outlet Village...sigh...

When I hauled my new suitcases up to the room last night, I was appalled by how much bigger the largest suitcase was than the one I was already using. After staring at the set for awhile, I got "buyer's remorse" and decided to see whether it could be returned. Yuck.

Actually, the folks at the Clark's Store were very accommodating and refunded my oney without a murmur. (we did get overconfident on the way there, though, and missed a turn, so it took quite a while to get there! My fault, I was the navigator - Maryanne, we needed you!!!!!)

After consulting the map and considering many possibilities (keeping in mind our desire to meet back at the B&B before dinner), we chose to drive through Cheddar Gorge - spectacular. Like driving along the bottom of a miniature Grand Canyon. The walls stretch so high above the car that you almost can't see the top. We had lunch in the Town of Cheddar, at a very nice tea shop, but I've forgotten the name of it (sorry). It was on the main road through town, just before a sharp left turn, a little ways before the major tourist shop area.

We drove the Gorge twice (once each direction) and then decided to see if we could squeeze in a visit to Forde Abbey before going back to Crewkerne.

We were too late to tour the house, but did take a long walk through the extensive gardens.

Forde Abbey is an inhabited home, but is preserved so that the literature claims "the monks who lived here in the 1100's and 1200's would still recognize many of the rooms they used." I'll definitely go back to visit another time.

The gardens were peaceful and stunning. The "Long Garden," the "Water Garden," the "Bog Garden," the Gazebo, the benches, the ducks and geese...everything you could imagine from an English garden. The three of us were amazed at the variety and the lush plantings. (And feeling very inferior about our own puny landscaping efforts - we're talking acres and acres of perfectly groomed gardens, compared the paltry efforts we've made at home.)

As we left Forde Abbey, we saw a dog run through the gardens. A minute later we heard him bark and looked back - he was standing at the front door, demanding admittance. Sure enough, that front door slowly swung open and he raced inside...we never saw a human being.

Exiting the driveway, we headed to the Fruit Garden, hoping to buy some fresh strawberries and/or raspberries, but they were all out, so we went home empty-handed. (And I mean empty-handed....nobody bought ANYTHING today except maybe a postcard!)

We arrived at Calendar Cottage around 6:00, and found Maryanne refreshed and ready to go out with us. After a little persuading, Derek and Judy agreed to go to dinner with us, and they made reservations at a pub, nearby in North Perrot. We had a really nice meal, but must admit we loved the company and conversation as much as the food!

After our return to the Cottage, Maryanne and I took a stroll around the block. Maryanne promised that I'd see and - hopefully - be able to pet cats, but we only saw one on our short ramble. We admired the gardens and houses, and caught up on each other's activities for the day. Our final stroll was through the gardens that Derek and Judy have created in back of the house. They truly are delightful - on a smaller scale, but as beautiful as those we saw at Forde Abbey (in my humble opinion) - lots of nooks and crannies, places to sit ane enjoy, narrow pathways, and a HUGE variety of plants.

Off to bed...

Saturday, 23 July

Another good breakfast and we out fairly early. Our goal: Dartmoor (yes, we're gluttons for punishment - love those tiny roads, and sharing them with the sheep, cows, and horses!).

We took "A" roads as much as possible - trying to actually GET to Dartmoor at a reasonable time.

Then it happened. Mom saw a sign for "The House of Marbles." She asked if we could stop for a minute, and that sounded good to us.

Well, we were there for probably an hour and a half - this is an intersting place! They have small museums (marbles, pottery, and glass-making), and then, of course, they sell those items. They also have big marble "runs" - those maze-like things where you start a marble rolling and it goes around and through a series of crazy, twisting paths, knocking into other marbles along the way and setting a whole bunch of entertaining actions into motion. One of the "runs" must be 30 feet wide and 20 feet tall - the "marbles" are the size of billiard/pool balls!

The gift shop had marbles and glass and pottery and a whole lot more. I bought a piece of cmielow pottery (black and white animals - they're gorgeous!) for me and one for my mother-in-law. Of course, we all bought marbles - you've never seen such a seletion of marbles! It was hard to choose.

We continued into Dartmoor, and it actually started to rain, not real hard, but steady. We drove down into Widecombe-on-the-Moor and ate a picnic lunch. (Whle she was in Crewkerne yesterday, Maryanne had kindly purchased the makings of a great picnic lunch for all of us. The only "bad" thing about it was that it happened to be the first rainy day we'd had.) Fortunately, Maryanne found a nice sheltered bench right in the center of town and we enjoyed our meal there.

After a few minutes of poking around the town, we decided to head off on the "little white roads" again and just explore. We headed vaguely toward Moreton Hamptonstead, but really just wanted to enjoy the scenery.

The rain stopped fairly soon, and we had a cloudy afternoon.

Somewhere along the road, we had to come to a complete standstill. A herd of cows were gathered on both sides of the road, with two of them actually IN the road. They didn't move, or even acknowledge our presence, even when Linda gave a polite beep of the horn - not a flicker of an ear, not a glance from an eye, just steadfastly ignored our very existence. After a few minutes, got out and walked toward the two in the road and gently threatened them - I promised them that if they didn't move off the road before I reached them that I was going to pet them (and I would have). That threat, of course, worked and both of them moved off the roadway. None of the other cows moved an inch, and the important two only moved far enough to get all four hooves off the road. It was pretty funny! (And the other ladies said I looked pretty silly in my bright pink raincoat cajoling two cows to leave the driving to us - fortunately none of them were fast enough to get their cameras out and capture the moment on film!)

We stopped at Castle Drogo (just because it was there), but didn't spend a lot of time. Mom chose to wait in the cafeteria/tea shop, while Maryanne, Linda, and I walked quickly through the 1900's repro castle. We think it looks, stylistically, a lot like a 1960's office building in middle America - just a few turrets added for atmosphere. We loved the round work island in the kitchen, and the rotating "rent desk" in the study.

Took the long way home from there, stopping in Crediton at "The Corner Restaurant" for dinner. This was a lucky pick, and a really nice meal.

The restaurant didn't technically open until half an hour after we got there, but the staff were already all there, so they let us in anyway. Second floor, nicely appointed restaurant with a good menu.

We ate a leisurely meal, and then drove the rest of the way back to our B&B.

We all stayed up late, packing and re-packing our stuff - tomorrow we head back to Heathrow for our final night in England.

Sunday, 24 July

Our last day in England - an early flight tomorrow means no sight-seeing for us!

It was raining steadily this morning, and Linda was already up and had her poncho on when the rest of us came downstairs. She kindly volunteered to carry all the luggage out to the car, so we wouldn't all have to get wet. By some miracle, everything fits! (We don't need to buy bungee cords after all!)

We ate a final great breakfast at Calendar Cottage, thanked Derek and Judy for their hospitality, and turned the car toward the coast.

We stopped for worship at the Methodist Church in Portesham. By then the rain had already stopped, and early afternoon we ended up with yet another sunny day. (Have you noticed that we spent more than 2 weeks in England and only had to contend with any rain for short pieces of 2-3 days? Incredible.)

The service was really nice - the small sanctuary was almost full, the messsage was interesting, and the people were very friendly. And, we even knew 4 of the 5 hymns that were sung (Maryanne knew all 5!) - this is unusual. Apparently we use different hymns over here "across the pond," so it was nice to actually know the songs and be able to sing them.

Many of the churchgoers chatted with us after the service. One very nice man had a particularly deep and warm voice. Linda's comment summed it up: "I'd like to have him come over and read me bedtime stories." This same gentleman asked us to bring Christian greetings from Portesham back to our churches in America - very nice.

Overall, a lovely service, and a time to treasure.

We followed the coast for a little way, and then began to head northeast, toward Heathrow. We had lunch at a Garden Center Cafe somewhere along the highway - it was very tasty and a fun meal.

Decided to hop on the highway and aim for Windsor. Of course, we eventually ended up in a snarl of traffic and had to fight our way into the Town. (And, why oh why do the signs that point toward the castle just end? We were following them diligently and ended up way outside the town somewhere and had to come back in a second time. That time I didn't bother reading the signs, but just followed my instincts and we ended up exactly where we wanted to be.)

We split up for walking, sightseeing, and our usual shopping (although most of the stores were closing as we arrived or soon afterwards), and then had dinner at Chimes. We ate outside on the cobblestone street (at a table, of course!) and enjoyed the early evenings ambience of Windsor.

We left Windsor and drove toward Heathrow, following our directions to the Crowne Plaza - no problem finding it or checking in.

A nice hotel, and we got rooms next to each other.

Maryanne went for a swim, while Linda, Mom and I went to the restaurant for dessert. A mistake all around. Despite literally dozens of empty tables, they informed us it would be a 45 minute wait, then they changed their minds and seated us. Three desserts and tea (soda for Linda) were way too expensive - 24 GBP + tip (and not great).

Back in the rooms, we all finished our packing and turned in for the night.

Monday, 25 July

Heading home.

Up early, and checked out at 4:45. Loaded the car, and headed for Heathrow a few minutes after 5:00. Met Peter Waugh just outside the airport and he drove us into the airport and helped us load our luggage onto carts.

These Peter Waugh people are great! Wonderful service, friendly communication and great rates. I highly recommend them to anyone who wants a rental vehicle!

We checked in quickly and headed toward our gate, stopping to pick up breakfast along the way.

We boarded on time, and left a few minutes late.

Because of the Hotwire special purchase, we were heading to Boston through Chicago, so it was a long flight. We arrived just a couple minutes late, but quickly figured out that American Airlines had not put enough time into our connection. (About 90 minutes.)

Chicago was a nightmare. Next time I'd pay the couple hundred dollars per person exra.

Our luggage was the LAST luggage off the conveyor belt - and all of the luggage was very slow in arriving. We got through Customs just fine (although Maryanne had to turn in over 40 GBP worth of seeds that she had purchased as gifts - warning: you can't bring them into the US).

Then the nightmare really started. Does everyone in Chicago just YELL at people all the time? Is it the rudest city in the world, or did we just happen to meet every rude person that lives there? Why can't anyone in Chicago give out information?

Those are rhetorical questions, but it really was awful.

After Customs, the AA people yelled at us about transferring our luggage (hey, we were just standing in line with everyone else - they didn't like the "way" we were standing - my cart was angled at a corner of queue...sorry). Another person yelled at me for asking if we should be in a different line because we had (at that point) less than 30 minutes until our Boston flight (and he told me to get back into the same line I was already in).

Then the first nasty person yelled at us for standing in that line - "and now you've already missed your Boston flight" she told us. Duh. We'd been standing in a line that barely moved for almost 20 of our 30 minutes by then. Gee, that's why I asked earlier.

NOW she whisks us out of line (only 2 people in front of us anyway) and issues new boarding passes for a flight an hour later. When we try to ask what we do next with out luggage, she waves her hand impatiently and says, "just put it over there and somewhere will take care of it." Okey-dokey.

So we take the train (wait: one nice person came by and helped us figure out where to stand for the train) and then go for a very long walk to our gate.

The gate is conveniently located directly across from the food court. The gate, however, does not have our flight posted. We're scheduled to leave in about an hour, so we decide to grab a bite in the food court.

The guy at the pizza place YELLS at me when I pay my $8.62 bill with a $20 bill - "don't you have anything smaller? why does everybody pay with these huge bills..think we're a bank or something?" Sorry, buddy, you can have an American $20 or I can pay in British pounds - you know I didn't carry a lot of American change with me on the trip!

After lunch, our flight still wasn't showing at the gate, so Maryanne went to check with the agents. You guessed it, she got yelloed at for bothering them. And then we got sent to a different gate - a loooooong way away.

By this time we'd about given up and decided that rude was just the way of life in Chicago, then we met another nice Chicagoan. An employee pushing a wheelchair asked whether Mom would like to be wheeled to the gate. She declined, but it was nice of him to offer.

Suffice it to say that we were moved from the second gate to yet another one; and our 1:30 (rebooked) flight left around 4:30; and we were rarely given any information and if we asked a question we were yelled at or grunted at.

There were weather problems somewhere that were effecting flights, but it seems as if they should make occasional announcements and not be rude to the passengers.

At one point our theory was that there were actually NO planes leaving Chicago - they were just shuffling us around the airport so we'd FEEL like we were making progress.

We were glad to board the flight and head for home. Dan met us at the airport and whisked us back to NH. Mom flew back to to Ohio the next day and our adventure was over.

A great trip - except for Chicago. And, you know what? If something had to be horrible, I'm glad it was on the way home and in a place that was insignificant in terms of the vacation.

You'd probably get different highlights from Mom, Maryanne, and Linda, but I've told you most of what is written in my journal (leaving out some boring stuff). Mom takes great notes, and we all took tons of pictures, so we'll share all of that among ourselves when we have a chance.

Thank you to those who have persevered and made it to the end of this missive. I've typed my fingers to the bone, and I'm finished.

(I'll be glad to answer specific questions, though, so feel free to post away)

Gayle
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Old Aug 11th, 2005, 03:00 PM
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Well, it's not perfect, but you get the gist of my report this way.

Unfortunately, I didn't have many/most of the replies, questions, and comments to re-post.

(GreenEyedCatWoman, maybe you have a few of those that you could post?)

Anyway, thanks everyone for your support, and for your friendly words about my trip.

Best regards,
Gayle
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Old Aug 11th, 2005, 03:24 PM
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leonberger

Many thanks to you and your husband for getting your trip report reposted. So much good information.

I am glad that you were made welcome at the services you attended. Were you invited to stay for tea and biscuits following the service and did you visit only Methodist churches? Interesting comment about the hymns. I was not aware of that.

Sorry about your troubles in Chicago. I have learned because of such horror stories to stay away from that airport at all costs.

Sandy
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Old Aug 11th, 2005, 03:54 PM
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I'm so happy you reposted!!!
This is my favorite England trip report
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Old Aug 11th, 2005, 04:03 PM
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Thank you for reposting - it was a pity the original thread went astray (to use a euphemism). It is a lovely story - so good to see four women enjoying quite a complicated trip. I must look at Just Airports and how they compare for three vs some of the car hire mentioned by other posters.

I've never really like O'Hare but LAX is my greatest nightmare. I am avoiding O'Hare on htis trip but can't escape Terminal 4 at LAX. It is a problem flying from Australia.
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Old Aug 11th, 2005, 06:01 PM
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That sounds very high for Just Airports or did you have a very large car or perhaps pay with credit card which costs a lot more than with cash?

Interesting about the seeds. I brought back a bunch of packaged seeds from Wales for a friend as his last name is the same as the seed company. I never thought about them not being allowed.
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Old Aug 11th, 2005, 10:14 PM
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Hello leonberger, I am so glad your husband was able to reconstruct your delightful trip report. I just finished reading it and enjoyed it so much. Now about Chicago airport, good grief, it sounds like a nightmare!! I do not know why your first thread disappeared but I certainly thank you for sharing your beautiful time in England with all of us. Take care and best wishes.
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Old Aug 12th, 2005, 02:58 AM
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Hello, again.

To answer a few questions:

We attended three Church of England services (in Brandsby, York, and Wells) and one Methodist services. At home, the four of us attend one Baptist church, one interestingly-named "Christian" church, and two different types of Presbyterian churches. So, the choices were made for worship were based on where we happened to be at the time.

We were not invited to partake of tea and biscuits after church on this trip, although Mom, Dad, Dan and I have been treated to invitations of this type of many occasions (previous trips) - once we were even invited home for lunch by a nice gentleman and his wife.

Just Airports got 55 GBP because there were four of us plus luggage, so we needed a mini-van/people mover. That amount also included a hefty tip (for all that luggage). I did pay in cash, because it is considerably cheaper.

Thanks, again, for your encouragement - it brightens my day to know that others enjoyed this report!

Gayle
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Old Aug 12th, 2005, 02:30 PM
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I got a nice reply from Fodors!!

Basically, it asks when the thread disappeared, mentions a blitz of ads that appeared on Wednesday, says they tried to clean those out, and admits that it's possible that the whole thread could have been deleted by accident (apparently there were LOTS of the ads to delete).

Anyway, they apologized, and the person writing even talked about previously having read the report and that he/she liked it and hoped I could find a way to repost it for everyone to read.

So, I feel a little better - appreciate the "personal touch" and the apology.

I still wish it hadn't disappeared, since I know there were other posters who had added to it and/or asked questions.

But, at least the mystery is solved, and you guys were (once again) right on the money about what happened.

Just thought you'd like to know. (I'm going to post this on the "what happened to my thread" post as well.)

Gayle
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Old Aug 12th, 2005, 04:45 PM
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leonberger

Glad to hear that you did receive a reply from Fodors as to what happened to your previous thread and that you feel much better about the whole situation.

Sandy

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Old Aug 13th, 2005, 05:18 AM
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I'm so glad that you decided to re-post, as I really enjoyed your trip report. Your visit was so very different than the one my daughter and I just did to London and Edinburgh, but we were trying to see more obvious things, such as Buckingham Palace and the Military Tattoo. I can never get enough of England, and you make me long to get back to the countryside outside of London one of these days.
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Old Aug 14th, 2005, 09:44 AM
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Thanks, Sandy and Maureen for replying!

I agree with you, Maureen, I can never get enough of England/Scotland/Wales!

We were in Scotland in September 2004, now Mom and I have been in England (July 2005), and while we were there, we started planning for England/Scotland 2006 (probably September again).

Friends ask why we don't go somewhere else since "you've already been to England (Scotland)" and we always have to work hard to explain that there are still vast numbers of intriguing places that we haven't been.

We may try for a large chunk of "sheila's bit" of Scotland next time - the castle trail up through the northeast.

Traveling, traveling...

Gayle
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