Wednesday, November 12, 2008

England - May 17-30, 2005

My friend Gnugent was generous enough to take me along with his friends Louise & Wayne on a trip to England!   Wow!  This was may first trip overseas!   I was soooo excited!

Gnugent even put together this trip diary for me - so enjoy.....

Battle Abbey – This was our first day out.  As Louise’s brother had rented a car for the first couple of days that we were there, we took advantage of it and drove to a few sights that would not have been easy to see by train.  It’s a good thing Vera and I are small, otherwise, there’s no way that all five of us would have fit in the rental car.  It was pretty small, as are a lot of the cars in England.
This picture was taken at Battle Abbey, which was built by William the Conqueror on the site of the Battle of Hastings, where English history changed from Saxon to Norman in 1066.  The city of Hastings is actually a few miles from here.
Supposedly, William was ordered by the Pope to build
 and endow a monastery and church to atone for all the bloodshed caused by the Norman invasion of England.  The majority of the abbey is now ruinous, as you can see, having been partially destroyed during the Reformation.  However, part of the old cloisters is still standing and is currently a school. 

Battle Abbey – The cloisters (the school) on the left and the remains of the Abbey on the right.  The actual battle field is in the foregound.

Battle Abbey – The remains of the cloisters.  The building was used as a private manor house following the Reformation, but it now houses a school.  It’s a little incongruous to see, in the windows of such a beautiful old building, pictures of the latest pop heart throb.

Bateman’s – Here you can see Vera and I standing in front of a house called Bateman’s, near the town of Burwash in Sussex.  As  you can see from the engraving over the door, the house was built in 1634.  However, apart from its age, it’s really famous as the home of Rudyard Kipling.  He and his wife purchased the house in 1902 and he lived here until his death in 1936.
Kipling wrote a lot of his later stories here, such as Puck of Pook’s Hill, after he was already famous for the Jungle Book and Kim, among other things.
The house contains numerous mementos of Kipling’s life, including his Nobel Prize for Literature (1907).

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
But make allowance for their doubting too,
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream--and not make dreams your master,
If you can think--and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings--nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much,
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And--which is more--you'll be a Man, my son!
--Rudyard Kipling

Bateman’s – The front of the house, showing the beautiful wisteria, which was in full bloom.  The scent was absolutely wonderful.

Bateman’s – Bridge and waterfall.  The grounds at Bateman’s are beautiful.  This particular scene looked like something that Monet would have painted.

Train Trip – We spent a lot of time during the first week riding on the train.  Here, we’re on the train from Chichester on our way back to Eastbourne, where we were staying.  Unfortunately, when Louise finally thought about taking this picture, it was dark outside, so all we got was a picture of us in a seat.

London – The Cutty Sark in dry dock at Greenwich. Launched in 1869, this is the last survivor of the great tea clippers.  These vessels used to race to the east, pick up a load of tea, and race back, in an effort to arrive in England with the first tea of the year, and reap the huge profits that went with it.

The name derives from Robert Burns’ poem “Tam O’Shanter.”  In the poem, Tam meets a group of witches, most of whom are ugly, except for Nannie, who is young and beautiful and wearing a “cutty sark” (short chemise or shirt).   When Tam teases her with this name, she chases him, reaching out to pull out his horse’s tail, just as he reaches the bridge which will bring him to safety (because witches can’t cross running water). 

London – The Cutty Sark.  This is the figurehead of the ship.  As you can see it shows Cutty Sark reaching out and holding the horse’s tail.

London – Here we are on a bridge in St. James Park, with a big blur, which is actually Buckingham Palace, in the background.  For someone who takes as many pictures as Louise does, you’d think she’d be able to handle something as simple as a landscape with gnomes without making a mess of it.  Oh well, Vera and I look good!

London – Buckingham Palace.  Vera: where she belongs, after all, she’s already got the tiara!

London – Buckingham Palace.  As you can see, Vera has kindly allowed me to join her royal court, because, as she says, we can’t be a queen without courtiers!  

London – Buckingham Palace.  Queen Vera has assigned me to guard the palace.  Here’s me doing my best “Halt, who goes there?”

Blenheim Palace – Queen Vera’s country home.  You can tell she’s in the country because she’s casually dressed – no tiara!

Actually, this is the home of the Duke of Marlborough.  The Dukedom and the Palace were a gift to John Churchill , the first Duke, from Queen Anne, in gratitude for his decisive victory over the French at the Battle of Blenheim (Blindheim) in 1704.
Sir Winston Churchill was born here in 1874.  His father, Lord Randolph Churchill, was the third son of the seventh Duke of Marlborough.
Blenheim Palace – Main Courtyard.  The Palace was designed by architect Sir John Vanbrugh, who also designed Castle Howard, in Yorkshire.  The Palace was built between 1705 and 1722.

Blenheim Palace – Lake and grounds.  The gardens and grounds at Blenheim were designed by England’s famous landscape gardener Lancelot “Capability” Brown.  Lady Randolph Churchill, mother of Sir Winston Churchill, referred to Blenheim as having “the finest view in all England.”  It’s hard not to agree.

Woodstock – After walking around Blenheim Palace all morning and then some, we adjourned to the town for lunch at one of the local pubs, the Crown Inn.  Vera sampled some Old Speckled Hen, an English Ale, and declared it delicious.

Woodstock – The Crown Inn.  I was not quite so tentative about sampling the ale, I just dived right in.  Walking is thirsty work!

Bath – The Roman Baths.  Built by the Romans during the 1st and 2nd centuries on the site of a sacred hot spring.  The water is green due to algae growth caused by the hot water’s exposure to sunlight.  During Roman times this pool was actually enclosed under a high barrel vaulted roof.  If you look closely, you can see Vera and me.

Bath – Hot Pool of the Roman Baths.  Built during the 1st and 2nd centuries, the baths are a remarkable feat of engineering.  The plumbing and sewers which drain the overflow from the upwelling of the spring still work as intended almost 2,000 years later.  The main pool, made watertight by interlocking lead plates is still watertight to this day.

Rievaulx Abbey – Founded in 1132 by Cistercian Monks, the Abbey was dissolved in 1538 as part of the dissolution of the monasteries ordered by Henry VIII. Here's Vera in what was the Presbytery of the church.

Rievaulx Abbey – Vera took this picture of me just outside of the ruins of the Presbytery, with the Transepts to my right.  The surviving buildings, such as the church were mostly begun during the rule of its third abbot, St. Aelred, from 1147 – 1167.

Rievaulx Abbey – Looking across the cloister to the Monks’ Refectory, where the monks ate.  

Rievaulx Abbey – Looking across the ruins of the Chapter House at the church.  The abbey is located in an idyllic spot in North Yorkshire, on the River Rye at the base of Helmsley Moor.

Helmsley Moor and the River Rye – This is some of the country surrounding Rievaulx Abbey.  This picture was taken from the abbey grounds.  As you can see, it is a really beautiful area.
Dunstanburgh Castle – (pronounced Dunstanburra) the ruins of this castle stand on the coast of Northumberland.  Here, Vera and I are standing atop the ruins of east tower of the gatehouse.
Dunstanburgh Castle – Another shot on top of the east gatehouse with some of the Northumbrian countryside in the background.

Dunstanburgh – Here’s Vera on the east gatehouse.  This shot is looking south down the coast, towards the picturesque village of Craster.
Dunstanburgh Castle – More from the east gatehouse.  The castle was begun in 1313 under Thomas, Earl of Lancaster and Lord of Embleton as a defense against incursions by the Scots.  In 1315, Lancaster was given command of all the king’s forces in the north of England.  In August of that year, he was given royal license to crenellate Dunstanburgh.  In other words, he had the king’s blessing to turn Dunstanburgh into a fortress.

Dunstanburgh – Approaching the ruins. There is no road that goes to the castle. You have to park in the town of Craster and walk about a mile up the coast through sheep pastures.
Dunstanburgh – Looking back from the castle at the town of Craster. 

Wasn't that an amazing trip??   I'm sooooo grateful to Gnugent, Louise & Wayne for bringing me along.

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