Ireland & England · My Thoughts · Travel

Day 23 Twenty-six Hour Trip Home

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Lin’s sad face as we wait for our flight at Heathrow

Travel lovers! This is the last blog about our Ireland/England trip. I hope you have enjoyed it.

We were up twenty-six hours coming home–why I did that I’ll never know. It was the only way to travel without a lay over in New York City or Chicago and then losing two days of our trip. As long as it was, it didn’t match our first day on this trip at all.

We ran into another storm in Chicago that delayed us out of La Guardia and Midway. We got home about midnight, so we were delayed about one hour.

Our connection at Heathrow went smoothly. We got up at 5:00 am, showered and dressed. We ate our last big traditional English breakfast in the hotel. We went back to our room, gathered our suitcases and waited for the taxi.

Lin was convinced my suitcase was over fifty pounds–it was only 46! So I could have bought more souvenirs. We weighed it at the Concierge’s booth at the hotel so I could repack in a second bag if need be.

The taxi came early at 7:00 am, so we left & that We gave us ample time to get through security. We boarded one hour early–Lin went to the bathroom right then, so we were some of the last to board, but we had assigned seats, so it didn’t matter.

I had someone sitting next to me that drank alcohol the whole way. I watched two movies: Hacksaw Ridge and Collateral Beauty–two movies I wanted to see. I couldn’t sleep, so I read, journaled about the trip and played games on my iPad.

Somehow at Midway airport in Chicago, we got confused and ended up running to our gate which ended up being the farthest away. We came sailing to our gate and passengers there stopped us–there was a delay.

We boarded but sat for nearly an hour on the runway because of a storm. I did sleep on this flight.

We were beyond exhausted when we got home, and driving on the right side of the road seemed strange now.

I wore a St. Christopher medal the whole trip and I’m sure we received his care along the way.

My husband, Lin, is a blast to travel with anywhere we go. This trip will go down as one of the best.

I didn’t write or read once on our three week trip–usually I do three pages each morning of “Morning Pages” suggested by Julia Cameron in The Artist Way, but I did write this summary of the travel events of that long day home from my Morning Pages.

We’re now planning our next trip back to England and Ireland–our hearts were captured by the people, the scenery and the history.

Have you ever had a travel day like this? What happened?

Visit my web site for more information:  https://www.laradasbooks.com

Visit my Etsy Shop for specials: Larada’s Reading Loft

Ireland & England · Travel

Day 22 Moyses Museum & Back to London–Oh, no!

After a hearty English breakfast once more, we checked out of the hotel and spent the morning enjoying some last moments in Bury St. Edmunds. We walked through the Street Market one last time savoring the colorful variety of the wares.

We took pictures in the St. Edmundsbury cathedral where they were renovating it.

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St. Edmundsbury Cathedral During Renovation

Interestingly enough, the Moyses Museum in Bury St. Edmunds is not on wikipedia, but I did find this:

This beautiful medieval museum in the heart of Bury St Edmunds houses rich and eclectic collections and changing exhibitions, and hosts events ranging from themed craft workshops for all the family to historical talks and lectures.

Steeped in history, Moyse’s Hall has looked out over Bury St Edmunds market place for almost 900 years.

The landmark 12th century building rich and varied past has included serving as the town Bridewell, workhouse and police station, first opening as a museum in 1899.

Today the museum offers a fascinating view into the past with collections that document the foundation of the early town – from the creation and dissolution of the Abbey of St Edmund to prison paraphernalia, plus remarkable collections relating to the notorious Red Barn Murder and fascinating insights into local superstitions and witchcraft.

https://www.visit-burystedmunds.co.uk/directory/moyses-hall-museum

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We continued our last morning tour around Bury St. Edmunds by going through this fascinating museum on the square. We had passed it several times in our trek around Bury—I’m so glad we spent the morning there.

Early in our stay at Bury St. Edmunds, we did a tour of the Abbey, and the guide told us about a book we needed to read: Suffolk Summer written by John T. Appleby who was an American Serviceman who toured Suffolk County during World War II on a bicycle. The royalties from this book were devoted  to maintaining the Old English Rose Garden on the Abbey grounds.

We looked for this book in the local bookstore and all around but could not find it. In fact, many of the townsmen knew nothing about it. Someone told us it might be in the museum and that’s where we found it.

This ended our stay here and we headed for London on a rainy afternoon to turn in our rental car and spend our last night in England–both us of sad to see this fantastic holiday come to an end.

We ate a delicious dinner at the hotel, exhausted from our 3 week trip but so satisfied with all that we had seen.

We repacked to make sure that all the souvenirs would fit–my suitcase was bulging at the seams.

Sleep was easy that night because we were so tired, but we both dreaded the next day.

Have you ever been to England? If so, what did you enjoy the most?

Visit my web site for more information:  https://www.laradasbooks.com

Visit my Etsy Shop for specials: Larada’s Reading Loft

Ireland & England · My Thoughts · Travel

Day 21 Lavenham

Back to the last three days of our magical trip to Ireland and England.

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At Meghan and Mike’s wedding, we were asking locals about sights to see around Bury St. Edmunds, and someone suggested Lavenham, “noted for its 15th-century church, half-timbered medieval cottages and circular walk. In the medieval period it was among the 20 wealthiest settlements in England.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lavenham

They also said it’s only about twenty minutes away, so we took a winding road from Bury St. Edmunds to Lavenham–what a delightful time we had.

The looming architectural presence on arrival was St. Peter and Paul’s Church.

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St. Peter and St. Paul’s Church – Lavenham

The grounds are covered with crosses and graves. A sign greets you at the door: “Welcome to this Holy Place where people have worshipped and prayed for over 600 years.” The inside was massive and beautiful. I loved the stained glass windows and handcrafted cushions on the pews. The grandeur of the place was overwhelming and took my breath away.

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In the corner by the front door, Lin and I were surprised to see an American flag. This plaque explains its presence there:

IMG_4708.JPGAfter parking the car, we walked through this amazing town with medieval buildings and modern cars side-by-side.

IMG_4721.JPGOur next stop was the Guildhall of Corpus Christi – “By the late 15th century, Lavenham was at the centre of the East Anglian wool trade and had become one of the richest towns in England. To reflect this prosperity, four guilds were established in the town by the local merchant families. The most important of these was the wool guild, which founded the Guildhall of Corpus Christi in 1529.[2] Given the dominance of the cloth and wool trade, the guildhall soon came to function as Lavenham’s principal meeting place and centre of business, situated on the town’s thriving market place.

With the decline of the wool trade and Lavenham’s prosperity, the guildhall’s role changed. By 1689, and until 1787, the guildhall was in use as the Bridewell (a prison for petty offenders such as a reform school), and was then used as the workhouse.

It was restored by Sir William Quilter around 1911 and in 1946 given to the people of Lavenham. In 1951 it became the property of the National Trust for England and is today open to the public.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lavenham_Guildhall

Here we saw our first preserved cat–the British have a belief about cats.

Afterwards, we went to the plaza and found a hidden tea room, the Lavenham Blue Vintage Tea Rooms, for a full British Tea and scones. We relaxed on the patio and enjoyed the respite.

Our next stop was the Little Hall – “One of the oldest buildings in the best preserved of the Suffolk wool towns, this 14th century house was built for the Causton family of clothiers and its subsequent development has mirrored the changing fortunes of Lavenham.

Little Hall was restored by the Gayer-Anderson brothers who filled the house with art and artefacts collected during their extensive travels.”

http://suffolkmuseums.org/museums/Museums/little-hall-museum/

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Lavenham Little Hall was an Evacuation Centre for children being moved during World War II, and the children slept in the dormitory. Here are two portraits of children saved there.

The end the day we did a walking tour of Lavenham, seeing many examples of medieval architecture–the most notable to me was the Crooked house.

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Crooked House – Lavenham

We so enjoyed this step back in history.

Have you ever visited a medieval village? Do you like history? Let me know your thoughts.

My web site : https://www.laradasbooks.com

My Etsy shop for Father’s Day Specials : Larada’s Reading Loft

Ireland & England · Travel

Day 20 Train Trip to Cambridge

Our family met at the train station in Bury St. Edmund’s and rode the train to Cambridge–about a 45 minute trip. I loved looking at the lush green countryside as we whizzed by.

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Train Station in Bury St. Edmund’s

On the train ride, we passed by Newmarket, famous for “Newmarket has over fifty horse training stables, two large racetracks, the Rowley Mile and the July Course and one of the most extensive and prestigious horse training grounds in the world.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newmarket,_Suffolk

This was exciting for me to see–a country girl at heart!

After we arrived in Cambridge, a group of us walked to the main part of Cambridge and others rode the bus. Seeing all the beautiful buildings as we walked was awesome. Again as in Oxford, there were bikes everywhere.

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Bikes–The Preferred Means of Transportation

Look at how narrow the streets are!

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Narrow Streets

Cambridge is made up of several colleges, like Oxford.

Here’s Trinity College:

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We continued our walk and saw other colleges along the way. Then part of our group decided go “punting.”

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Our Group Punting

“A punt is a flat-bottomed boat with a square-cut bow, designed for use in small rivers or other shallow water. Punting refers to boating in a punt. The punter generally propels the punt by pushing against the river bed with a pole. A punt should not be confused with a gondola, a shallow draft vessel that is structurally different, and which is propelled by an oar rather than a pole.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Punt_(boat)

“The River Cam runs through the heart of Cambridge enabling you to enjoy fantastic views of the world famous Cambridge College ‘Backs’ from the comfort of a traditional Cambridge Punt.”

https://www.visitcambridge.org/things-to-do/punting-bus-and-bike-tours/punting-tours

While the group was punting, Lin, my cousin Meghan and I roamed around Cambridge and had a delicious lunch.

When the group got back together, part of us did a walking tour of Cambridge and saw more of the colleges: King’s College, Corpus Christi College, and Christ’s Church College. We were across the river from Christ’s Church College–what a spectacular view!

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Christ’s Church College

The tour guide told us that Steve Hawkings was often seen around Cambridge, and I would have loved to see him, but we didn’t. We did see Claire College and Trinity College a second time.  We also saw St. John’s College. We ended the tour with the historic Church of the Holy Sepulchre, known as the Round Church, and was built in 1130.

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The Church of the Holy Sepulchre

After a stop at a pub along the way for refreshment and relaxation, we walked back to the train station and made it back to Bury St. Edmund’s safely. What a memorable day in Cambridge!

My web site at https://www.laradasbooks.com

My Etsy shop – Larada’s Reading Loft – Mother’s Day Specials at https://www.etsy.com/shop/LaradasReadingLoft

Have you ever been to Cambridge? If so, what was your experience? I would love to hear about your experience there!

Blogging · Ireland & England · My Thoughts · Travel

Day 18 & 19 Bury St. Edmunds

After my cousin, Meghan and Mike’s wedding, Lin and I spent two delightful days exploring Bury St. Edmunds. On Saturday morning after another big English breakfast at the hotel, we went to the Outdoor Market held in the square a few blocks away. This tradition in Bury St. Edmunds has been in place twice a week–Wednesdays and Saturdays–dates back to before the days of William the Conqueror.  Anything you might want was available at this market: food, flowers, clothes, hardware and technology. The booths went on and on.

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The Saturday Outdoor Market Downtown Bury St. Edmunds

After the market, Lin and I wandered around the Abbey gardens–I couldn’t keep Lin away from there because of his love for gardening. The gardens took our breath away.

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The Abbey Garden With the Cathedral in the background

We also toured Angel Hill across from the Abbey and saw the Atheneum and Angel Hotel.

In the afternoon, we took a free guided tour of the city, and the guide was exceptional. We went through the Abbey Gate onto the ruins of the Abbey which was gigantic.

Then still on the Abbey grounds, we saw the Old English Rose Garden, a permanent memorial to the American Servicemen stationed nearby and gave their lives.

The guide told us about a book we needed to read: Suffolk Summer written by John T. Appleby who was an American Serviceman who toured Suffolk County during World War II on a bicycle. The royalties from this book were devoted  to maintaining the Old English Rose Garden on the Abbey grounds.

Because we both love to read, we hunted it down and finally found it the morning we were leaving Bury St. Edmunds at the Moyses museum–more about the museum in a coming blog.

We had so much fun reading the book and remembering places there in Bury St. Edmund’s that Appleby mentioned in his book like the Atheneum.

On the guided tour, we walked through neighborhoods of Bury St. Edmunds. The guide pointed out a wall in one area where rocks from the Abbey were used.

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The Guide Points Out Rocks from the Abbey

Then he took us to the smallest pub in England, the Nutshell. I don’t drink and I had to take a quick picture inside because the bartender demanded you had to buy a pint for coming in.

We ended the day meeting our family at a nearby pub, then Lin and I had a delicious dinner at the Cafe Rouge.

The next morning we met family members at St. Mary’s Anglican Church for the morning service. I’m Episcopalian so the service was very similar to what I was used to here in the USA. Afterwards a friendly churchman gave us a tour of the church, and we saw Mary Tudor’s tomb–she was buried there.

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Mary Tudor’s Tomb

After church, Lin and I went to see the movie, “Dunkirk” at the local theater. We had found the theater the day before and the times of the show. Not knowing the procedure, we went there thirty minutes or so before showtime, thinking we could get good seats. The seats are sold online, so the only ones left were in the front row. I felt the bombing and explosions happened right in my lap, and I screamed.

We both were so glad to see the movie in the country it was about–the British saved the day with all kinds of private boats and ships to rescue the soldiers. As the story unfolded, we could feel the pride in the theater grow.

We had a leisure dinner at the Bushel and made it an early night because the next day we were taking the train to Cambridge with all of the family for the day.

Have you ever been to this part of England? Lin told me if anything ever happened to me, he would sell everything and move to either Bury St. Edmunds or some village in Ireland–he loved it so much.

Interested in more of my writing–my web site:  https://www.laradasbooks.com

Or my Etsy Shop with Mother’s Day Specials: https://etsy.com/shop/laradasreadingloft

Blogging · Ireland & England · My Thoughts · Travel

Day 17 Out of London & A Wedding

This was the day we were to leave London and neither of us were ready, but the whole reason we did this trip was to attend my cousin, Meghan’s wedding in Bury St. Edmunds. We had another big breakfast.

Our travel agent had pre-booked a taxi for us to pick up our rental car, but there was some confusion about the name of the car rental, the company name and where we were going to pick it up. Our travel agent booked it; I talked to her during the week on the tour bus but didn’t understand the name, so I thought she said we were picking it up at the 6th terminal at the airport. The taxi driver didn’t know either, so we had to call the travel agent.

She got a good laugh out of the mis-communication. I thought she had said to pick up the car at the sixth terminal. She had said the Sixt car rental office near the airport–sometimes speaking English and understanding it are hard! So away we went. The clerk at the car rental office, Susanna, was so helpful and saved us money.

Lin had driven for a couple weeks in Ireland and did fine. He didn’t want to drive in London so we used the Tube as our connection to London and did great. Here he was faced with driving out of London; he did fine. There was a lot more traffic than Ireland for sure. We headed north to Bury St. Edmunds.

In fact he did better with driving than I did with the GPS. I’m used to Garmin here at home. I learned the Tom-Tom quickly in Ireland, but this car had a GPS built in. The display listed the destination from the bottom up showing several turns coming up, but we made it.

We stayed at the Bushel pub and hotel and they had our room ready, even though we arrived early afternoon. We had to park around back of the pub, and Lin parked the car the best yet!

Quickly we changed into our wedding clothes–I had to do some touch-up pressing because these clothes had been underneath everything else for two weeks of traveling.

We had trouble driving to Raven Hall where the wedding was–again I had trouble understanding the GPS. We ended up on a closed road. As we came up to the road worker, he shot his hands into the air and screamed, “What are you doing? And how did you get here?” When he realized we were lost Americans, he directed us out of the construction zone, across the highway and to Raven Hall.

Thank God we left the hotel early, but we still arrived with time to spare. We walked into a room full of my cousin’s dad’s family, so we knew we were in the right spot. We met Mike Edwards, the groom before the wedding and some of his Welsh family who were fascinating and so welcoming!

The wedding was outside, simple and beautiful. The minister gave a beautiful wedding message. We set in the third row and I took lots of pictures. Afterwards we took the traditional pictures and some not-so traditional.

The rest of the afternoon and evening were delightful. There were American traditions observed and English traditions added. For dinner, we sat with my cousins (sisters of the bride) Kirstin and Lisa, Chris and Holly Carr from the USA and Nicole and her partner.

During the meal, someone spoke for Meghan’s parents, then Mike entertained us with stories about Meghan and him. Then Mike’s best man presented a PowerPoint slideshow, helping us get acquainted with Mike.

The evening continued with a dance, individual photos of the guests in a photo booth with a variety of props, cutting the cake and the bouquet toss. The cake was unique–one side for the groom (all Action figure characters celebrated) and the other side for the bride (her lavender colors and gorgeous).

The stereotype I had of the British people was so not true. I loved how they partied! As a whole, the group would dance like crazy, then they’d go to the bar and drink. The dance floor would be vacant except for a few of us, then the crowd would come back and the routine continued all evening.

We danced; we laughed. We enjoyed the mix of people there; they were so friendly.

Later in the evening, a sandwich buffet opened, and they served the cake.

As we were leaving, a hilarious story unfolded. My cousin, Lisa, had been charging her bar tab to Mike’s uncle’s room instead of her parents’ room. Mike’s dad was lamenting with much fanfare that “theseAmericans were going to break him” because he was paying his brother’s bill for the wedding. The camaraderie between the two families joined as this wedding was delightful. We left about 11:00 pm before the crowd left and got lost on the way home, meandering our way on back roads and wandering around. Again I read the GPS the wrong way, but we did make it back to our hotel.

Everyone was so friendly and hospitable and I told my cousin Meghan that next to our wedding, their’s was my favorite.

Blogging · Ireland & England · My Thoughts · Travel

Day 16 – Stonehenge & Bath

Wow! It’s been over a month since I blogged–please forgive me! Life got in the way.

I had been anticipating Stonehenge for the whole trip because it was one of my favorite destinations on our list. So, it was up early again, a walk down the crowded escalator to get to the Tube, on to Victoria Station and breakfast at the Starbuck’s.

Realizing our tour bus was a double-decker, we watched as the first people out the door pushed, shoved and rushed upstairs to the top level. When we approached the bus, Lin and I ducked inside the lower level and landed the front seat on the left side with lots of leg room, a spacious window to see out at eye-level, and our own shelf to put our bags and drinks. We lucked out!

The tour guide, John, noted famous sights as we drove through and out of London. He had a great sense of humor and was knowledgeable. The two hour drive took us out into the English lush countryside again.

Now about Stonehenge:

“Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument in Wiltshire, England, 2 miles (3 km) west of Amesbury. It consists of a ring of standing stones, with each standing stone around 13 feet (4.0 m) high, 7 feet (2.1 m) wide and weighing around 25 tons. The stones are set within earthworks in the middle of the most dense complex of Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments in England, including several hundred burial mounds.[1]

Archaeologists believe it was constructed from 3000 BC to 2000 BC. The surrounding circular earth bank and ditch, which constitute the earliest phase of the monument, have been dated to about 3100 BC. Radiocarbon dating suggests that the first bluestones were raised between 2400 and 2200 BC,[2] although they may have been at the site as early as 3000 BC.[3][4][5]”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stonehenge

Driving into to the Stonehenge Visitors Center, we passed fields and cattle grazing–not what I’d thought I’d see near Stonehenge. John encouraged us to use the self-guided tour provided. We had limited time, so we used the bathroom, got on the shuttle and dashed to the site.

My first sighting of Stonehenge sent a shiver down my spine–I was standing near one of the wonders of the world. The layout of the self-guided tour and the walkway around Stonehenge was circular, starting at a distance from the back of the stones.

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I took tons of pictures with my camera and my iPhone. Here’s one of my favorites:

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Me Touching Stonehenge

We enjoyed watching young adults set themselves up so that their photos looked like they were touching Stonehenge so we tried it.

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Front Side Close

We listened to the audio, took more pictures and moved in closer on the front side. The information shared on the audio was informative.

Because we had spent as much time as possible at the stones, we rushed to get back to the tour bus and didn’t have any time to shop for souvenirs–OH, NO! It broke my heart not to have a t-shirt or hat with the Stonehenge logo on it, but the pictures I took became my souvenirs.

From there we drove to Bath, seeing thatched roofs and a patchwork quilt of green  and gold fields.

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Crystal Palace in Bath

We ate lunch at the Crystal Palace.

People congregated in the square in front of the Bath Abbey.

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We did a walking tour at 2:30 pm with John. I had dressed in my rain coat but Lin didn’t, so he left us when the rain started. There was a downpour but we kept touring. My rain coat kept my camera and wool sweater dry, but my capris, socks and shoes were soaked.

Lin and I met back up–me totally soaked and him dry and looking sheepish.

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At 3:30 pm we did a self-guided tour of the Roman Baths. Again we had to rush because of time restraints. On our walk back to the bus, Lin found ice cream and we saw Ann-Marie, our tour guide for Stratford. I gave her a quick hug.

We had a two hour drive back to London–a relaxing drive. I love our drive through the English countryside.

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There were several stops a long the way to let passengers off, and we were the last off the coach at Victoria Station. We rode the Tube back towards our hotel and received a refund from Oyster Card for four pounds. After a leisure walk towards our hotel, we ate dinner at The Swan, a local restaurant and shared Fish and Chips.

I spent that evening repacking my suitcase and surprised Lin that everything fit. This day ended our week in London. The next day we would pick up our rental car and drive to Bury St. Edmunds for my cousin’s wedding.

Have you seen Stonehenge? Bath? the Roman Baths? What was your experience? I would love to hear about your experience.

See more of my writing at my web site:

https://www.laradasbooks.com

Ireland & England · My Thoughts · Travel

Day 15 – Free Day in London – Museum & the West Side

That title sounds like a laid-back day in London, but we packed as much as possible into our free days in London.

On this second free day in London, I woke up jazzed up–Les Miserable on the West End of London. I never thought I would have that privilege!

We savored our big English breakfast and made our way back to the Charles Dickens’ museum via the Tube and a enjoyable walk–another adventure on the Tube enjoying the people and the sights. We had learned the route on Monday when the museum was closed, so this was much easier.

So our first stop of the day was 48 Doughty Street in Holborn, London, Borough of Camden–the Charles Dickens’ museum which is a Victorian house where he lived from 25 March 1837 to December 1839.

To any Charles Dickens’ fan, the museum is a must and full of ah-ha moments on three stories. Memorabilia abounded so I took lots of pictures.

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48 Doughty Street – Charles Dickens’ Museum

The china laid out on the dining room table was so unique. Each plate had a picture and a name you might know: Charles Dickens, Daniel Maclise, William M. Thackeray, Catherine Dickens, and John Forster.

Because I’m a writer too, I loved his desk and chair–the place where he created those memorable characters and places.

Charles Dickens’ Desk and Chair

Each room was filled with personal items of Dickens–the nursery upstairs was the saddest. It housed the grille from the Marshalsea prison where Dickens’ father spent time. Many of Dickens’ books echoed the effect of his father’s imprisonment and the resulting poverty faced as a child.

In the last room on the third floor we saw many of Dickens’ famous quotes artistically displayed.

Up and down the stairs we went. When we finished seeing every display, we relaxed in a quaint cafe in the museum with tea and sweets.

We hated to say good-bye but we had ticketed to “Les Miserables” and needed to move on. We walked back to the Tube, enjoying the sights and sounds of London. We took the Piccadilly line to the West End.

Lots of theaters and lots of people. I had fun taking my picture with 2 Bobbies.

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Two Friendly Bobbies Stop to Take a Picture With Larada!

From here, we headed over to the Queen’s Theater to see “Les Miserables.” I saw the sign a block or so away and the anticipation mounted. I couldn’t believe I was really here in London’s West End to see an amazing play!

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The line was long to get into the theater, but some friendly Londoners let us in up front with them and visited with us. Inside the theater, a young couple seated next to us offered to our pictures.

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Lin and Larada in the Queen’s Theater

The play truly outdid the version I saw here in the States. After a double encore, an Evacuation Alarm went off which was so scary with the terrorist activity that had gone in London a few months before. People moved quickly to get out–no one knew the danger level but all acted as if there was a real threat. A crying little girl next to me got separated from our mother and grandmother and I helped her move up in the line. Doing that, I, myself, got separated from Lin a little, and it was frightening.

When we got outside, someone kiddingly said, “That’s a great way to clear out a theater for the next performance.” I asked several people around if that was usual and they all assured and said no. We never heard an explanation of the alarm.

We headed back to our hotel and walked to street near us that had several eateries. We ate at the Ristorante Italiano because the hocker outside was so entertaining. Inside we enjoyed a personable waitress during our delicious dinner and dessert.

We hadn’t made it to Hyde Park yet but had passed by it every time we went to the Tube, so we dashed over there. It was too dark to stay long and see much of the park, but the grounds were breathtaking with colorful flowers and fountains.

It was a long FREE day in London and we made the most of it for sure, but I fell on the bed when we got back to our room. We needed a good night’s sleep because tomorrow was another fun-filled day out of London to see my most anticipated site–Stonehenge and then on the Bath to see the Roman Baths.

Are you a Charles Dickens’ fan? If so, which is your favorite? Do you like Broadway plays? If so, which is your favorite? I’d love to hear back from you.

Larada’s website:  https://www.laradasbooks.com

Ireland & England · My Thoughts · Travel

Day 14 – Tour Day: Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwick Castle & Oxford

When we first started our plans for this trip, I knew in my heart of hearts that I must go to William Shakespeare’s birthplace and home–Stratford-upon-Avon. I was an English major in college and took upper level Shakespeare classes from a world renowned professor at Colorado State University. Some semesters I lived, eat and breathed Shakespeare, so this was a dream come true.

Immediately, I knew our day was off to a right start. After our regular big English breakfast and trip on the Tube to Victoria Station to meet up with our tour bus, we had a fantastic tour guide, Ann- Marie Walker. This was our first tour day out of London and she quickly shared pertinent information about sights and streets in London as we passed–she didn’t waste a moment. We passed Harrod’s and red double-decker tour buses. Her knowledge was amazing.

Soon after leaving London and the city life, we traveled by lush green pastures fenced off with rock walls with cattle grazing and golden wheat fields.

When we arrived in Stratford-upon-Avon, we went straight to the Guild Hall where William attended classes. Emotions overcame me, and I cried–I was standing where William Shakespeare had gone to class. Ann-Marie said she wished more people enjoyed this as much as I did.

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The Guild Hall and Shakespeare’s Classroom in Stratford-upon-Avon

At the Guild Hall, we sat in on a classroom with a teacher dressed in full period garb who treated us as Shakespeare would have been treated. The grade levels were mixed and the older students helped the younger students.

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The Teacher in Shakespeare’s Classroom

We walked by where Shakespeare’s last home was, but it had been leveled.

I loved the main street, lined with hanging colorful flowers. Mimes entertained the people as the passed.

From there we went to Shakespeare’s home where he was born.

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Larada in Shakespeare’s Home

We continued our walk through downtown and what a festive atmosphere. I enjoyed one specific mime. We passed him once and then came back by–how amazing they are to stand perfectly still yet communicate with you. He and I had fun playing with each other.

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This Mime Flirted With Me!

We took a break and I had a rhubarb pastry and latte at a Cornish bakery–absolutely delicious! Lin shopped for sweets and our time ended there–my most favorite part of our trip so far!

From there we bussed to Warwick Castle, “a medieval castle developed from an original built by William the Conqueror in 1068.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warwick_Castle)

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Warwick Castle

Lin and I toured the State Rooms together, then Lin went exploring on his own. We had a limited time there and I didn’t want to rush. He towered the tower, the gaol and the dungeon. I leisurely shopped and took pictures of the courtyard and enjoyed the day.

The courtyard was brimming with people dressed in period costumes–Lin found one fair maiden.

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What a fair maiden!

Here I am outside the castle in stocks!

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In stocks for sure!

From Warwick Castle we drove through the Cotswolds to Oxford. The Cotswolds is “an area in south central England containing the Cotswold Hills, a range of rolling hills which rise from the meadows of the upper Thames to an escarpment, known as the Cotswold Edge, above the Severn Valley and Evesham Vale. The area is defined by the bedrock of Jurassic limestone that creates a type of grassland habitat rare in the UK and that is quarried for the golden coloured Cotswold stone.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cotswolds)

We passed by fields of verdant pastures with sheep grazing and wheat fields. We saw thatched roof houses in small villages. Ann-Marie told us that the villages were expensive to live in and that thatched roofs were coming back. It was delightful afternoon’s drive where I reveled in the scenery.

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The Cotswolds

Our final stop for the day was Oxford–the city of bicycles! Ann-Marie warned us to be cautious about the bicyclists, not the drivers.

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Bikes, bikes and more bikes!

Oxford is “known worldwide as the home of the University of Oxford, the oldest university in the English-speaking world.[9] Buildings in Oxford demonstrate notable examples of every English architectural period since the late Saxon period. Oxford is known as the “city of dreaming spires”, a term coined by poet Matthew Arnold.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxford). There are 38 colleges as a part of the University of Oxford.

We toured around Christ Church, “a constituent college of the University of Oxford in England. Christ Church is a joint foundation of the college and the Cathedral of the Oxford diocese (Christ Church Cathedral and its Cathedral School), which serves as the college chapel and whose dean is ex officio the college head.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christ_Church,_Oxford)

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Christ Church

After our outside tour of Christ Church, we shopped and enjoyed the downtown area. Our first tour day outside of London was a smashing success. Exhausted and full of travel stories, we traveled back on the Tube to our hotel and relaxed in our room. We thoroughly enjoyed Ann-Marie and sights of the day.

Have you ever been to a place that brought you to tears? Share a comment below.

Check out my web site at:  https://www.laradasbooks.com

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Ireland & England · My Thoughts · Travel

Day 13 – Free Day in London–Right!

Our travel guide set up a free day every other day for us in London and that was brilliant.

We ate another great breakfast and headed for the Tube. Lin had spent the night before crafting our route on the Tube, so away we went. We had to a couple changes and walked a ways, but we arrived at the Charles Dickens museum in the rain–it was closed! So we were able to spend a longer time at the British museum.

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I definitely had to get used to this!

I had been warned before we left home about the engrained habit of looking left at a traffic light wouldn’t work in England and Ireland. I was so glad the Brits had these warnings at stop lights.

As we walked, I had my picture taken by one of the red phone booths.

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Telephone booth near Russell Park

So we did another long walk by Russell park to the British Museum and spent the afternoon there!

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Front of the British Museum

I finally figured out how to turn the flash off on my Canon Rebel camera, so I took lots of great pictures at the museum.

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Rosetta Stone

We saw the Rosetta Stone and because we only had the rest of the day to see the museum, we followed a self-guided tour provided by the museum and raced through the place. As we were leaving, we saw a banner for the Mummies which we was one exhibit we missed. There’s no way we could see it all!

We did see a famous sarcophagus, the Holy Thrown from Christ’s Crown, an ivory mask, Royal Game of Ur, gold Egyptian cape, Lewis Chessmen Set, The Royal Cup, The Portland Vase, and the Gayer-Anderson Cat (later we visited Laventham and saw their home).

Also around the whole museum, we saw artists drawing different items–what an amazing place!

We had a leisure walk and Tube ride home after a delightful day in London.

Have you ever been to the British museum? What was your favorite part of it? Let me know.

Check out my web site:  https://www.laradasbooks.com