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Trip to England - 2002

Jenny and Charlie visited February 9-18, 2002

As a Christmas Present, Jenny wanted to visit England. See the sights and museums, a few plays, eat well, visit friends. No conferences or trade shows. No talks or meetings. Was this possible? How do you spell vacation? This was our first trip overseas where no part of it was work.


It was spring along the Thames river, with the flowers starting to come out. See more spring pictures.

Spring on the Thames River 038
Tate Museum with Charlie 037

We visited the Tate Britain art museum (not the Tate Modern - Jenny says we generally prefer dead composers and artists). Charlie was glad to visit a heated building.

Farther along the Thames we passed the houses of Parliament

Parliament 042
Big Ben 045

And of course, Big Ben. It had a face lift (no pun intended) since we last saw it.

Which is near Westminster Abbey. Over one of the entrances they have recently honored 10 "20th Century Christian Martyrs" such as Martin Luther King, the 5th from the left. Click here for more pictures and description of the martyrs.

Westminster Abbey 046
Court 060

Our hotel was near the judicial and business district, so there were many court buildings. We saw barristers in their long coats and tab collars, but nobody wears their wigs on the streets (some cost $5,000 or more). Jenny thought a lawyer's wig would be a good start to a costume, until she found an old tiny used wig for merely $500.

The Royal Courts of Justice was a grand building in the area - one of the principal courts of the UK.

Royal Courts 062
Twining 064

Jenny even did some factory outlet shopping - at the Twining Tea Store. You probably didn't get any from her because she fell in love with all of them.

Parking in London is almost impossible. Tiny cars like this are starting to be popular. Some are made by Mercedes Benz, with interior design by Swatch (the watch people). Reportedly the car panels are removable and can be replaced by the owner with panels of different colors, or even custom painted panels, and the interior can also be customized by the owner.

Car 066
Car (Rental Fiat) 963

Now compare that little car with this monster Fiat that we drove through the streets and country lanes of England. It barely fit on some of the smaller country lanes - which were NOT one-way!

Incidentally, it's 1.2 liter engine had no trouble keeping up with 90 mph traffic on the motorway. And the fast lane is on the right, passing is called overtaking (on the right) and undertaking (on the left - highly illegal). We drove almost 500 miles in 3 days, without an incident, although when our weekend hostess met another car, coming around the corner, she said "Oh, oh, a Charlie maneuver."

At one point when we were driving in a small village over the weekend, we knew that we were in real danger. There was another American driver in the area. How did we know? Two cars were in the same lane, nose to nose. In the right lane as we saw it. No collision but close. The one driving on the right backed up and drove away in the left lane. We forgot to get the registration plate number so we could watch out for it (and not take our driving cues from it).

St. Albans

From London we drove North in our rental car. The first stop was St. Albans, an old Roman village. This is really a two way street, with the white van parked on the "wrong" side of the street. Charlie drove down this street, in traffic. At one point there were trucks parked on both sides of the road, almost opposite each other. Jenny prayed as Charlie drove (or at least Jenny's eyes were closed and she was making soft muttering sounds). Both were successful.

St. Alban Street 074
St Alban Nave 073

St. Alban's Church (now Cathedral) is extremely old, and has the longest nave of any church in England.

The outside of St. Alban's Church is massive also.

St. Albans 071
St Alban's Church 070

Coventry and the Cotswolds

Coventry 938

During the World War II Battle of Britain, Hitler bombed England relentlessly. History or rumor tells that Churchill knew that Coventry was going to be next, but couldn't give warning, because it would disclose that they had broken the German encryption codes - using the Enigma machine. To demoralize the population, the ancient Coventry Cathedral was destroyed by the fire bombs. Tourists can walk through the ruins of the old church, maintained as a memorial, adjacent to the new Cathedral.

The tower at the church entrance, opposite the high altar survived with far less damage. Click here for more pictures of Coventry, including the window in the new Cathedral that gives a view of the old Cathedral ruins while you are sitting in the church. There are also other pictures of the Midlands and Cotswolds (the pretty area of England where Madonna and other stars live).

Coventry 942

Coventry is a University town, as well as the home of Lady Godiva and Coventry Cathedral. We expected to have to eat fast food - it was Valentine's day, and restaurants were making reservations far in advance. We found a nice restaurant with an empty table - apparently someone had not kept their reservation. The proprietor offered us the table as long as we would finish before his next reservation was scheduled for that table. We were old enough to be parents of any of the other patrons, and chuckled over the mating rituals going on around us. Jenny observed that "Candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker." Charlie poured more wine.

After Coventry we turned South to Warwick. The old city gate is still in use, with a school occupying the "inside" of the gate. Look at how the architecture evolves, in this one building, from old to recent.

Warwick Gate 948

Warwick Gate 947
Bell Inn 949

We had lunch at the very nice Bell Inn in Warwick. Note that it has rooms available in addition to the Pub.

Bell Inn 951

We continued our drive through the Cotswold countryside. There were occasional manor houses, but not where we could stop for photos. We stopped at occasional towns, like Warwick, Moreton In Marsh, and Cirencester.

Cotswold Farm 961
Thatch Roof 1011

Thatch roof houses are making a come-back in this area, with young people learning the trade.

East Knoyle, Salisbury

We spent the weekend with Andrea Pool. Andrea has been a friend of Jenny since high school pen-pal days. Jenny went to England to be in Andrea's wedding. They have kept in touch for over 40 years. This is Andrea with her two sons. Kelvin, on the left, who is a Fitness Trainer, and Elton, who is in computing with a bank.

Kelvin, Andrea, and Elton Pool 1037
Bay Tree House 1025

Andrea's home has a neat address - Bay Tree House (the name of the house - no street names or numbers), The Green (A community of perhaps 50 people outside of East Knoyle, near Shaftsbury, which is near Salisbury, in Wiltshire.

Bay Tree House Back 1019

Andrea is an avid gardener. It looked great even though it was winter. In the summer it really bursts forth with flowers.

Bay Tree Yard 1020

Southern Coast - Dorset

On Saturday Andrea took us to the southern coast at Lulworth, Dorset. We climbed the a hiking trail over the hills to reach Durdle Door, this dramatic coastline and beach, made of various size pebbles, not sea shells and sand.

Sea 987
Chalk Cliffs 991

The bright white chalk-rock cliffs were dramatic with embedded pieces of jet-black flint. It isn't the "white cliffs of Dover" (wrong area) but similar rocks.

Click here for more pictures of the coast.

The weather was sunny and comfortable, great for a hike. The scenery was unbelievable.

Two girls on the Beach 1008

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©2002 by Charles A. Plesums, Austin, Texas USA. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. If you would like to make or distribute copies of this document, or incorporate all or part in another web page or site, contact Charlie@Plesums.com