Ireland & England · My Thoughts · Scotland · Travel

Day 1 & 2- Flight Day & First Day at Sea

Lin and I left Albuquerque on Friday, July 19 and flew to Denver. On Saturday, July 20 we flew to Toronto, Canada and started our flight to London. We arrived at Heathrow on Sunday, July 21 at 11:50 AM! Whew! If you didn’t read my blog last week, you need to catch up and read that harrowing experience.

When we got off the plane (in travel lingo, is that deplaned?) and gathered our luggage, we had trouble finding the Norwegian Cruise Line representative to catch the shuttle to Southampton. As you actually enter the Heathrow airport, multitudes of travel companies, tours, etc. stand with signs designating their company on each side of a walk-way that passengers must pass through. We experienced this two years ago trying to find our transport to our hotel.

So, I stopped with our four cumbersome bags, and Lin wandered around one area and had no luck, then he went the other direction—again no luck. I asked someone standing near me, and they pointed out where NCL (Norwegian Cruise Lines) reps usually stand, so we crossed over to the other side of the walk-way and still no NCL rep.

Again, I asked someone standing near the walk-way, and the woman said, “He’ll be right back!” So, we found him. Overwhelmed the NCL rep rushed in like a whirlwind and let us know he was short-handed and many flights had been delayed, so he was doing the best he could. Lin and I were just relieved to find him. The responsibility of transport was on Norwegian now, so we could relax.

I found some snacks for us. We hadn’t come prepared on this trip with foreign currency, and it just now dawned on both of us! We came with American dollars and would be in places in countries that didn’t accept our money! They did accept it at Heathrow though, so I returned to Lin, and we waited patiently.

Finally, the NCL rep herded our group out the door to the bus. At this time, it had grown to a sizable crowd. We found our bus, boarded and headed towards Southampton. I was so exhausted from our flight but so excited to be back in London again!

Yahooooooo! We made it!

The one hour and a half trip went smoothly, and we arrived at the Norwegian Star at 4:30 PM. Usually when we board the ship, the terminal overflows with people and activity—only one or two Norwegian people worked behind the desk. That was it! No picture of us boarding the ship!

One thing they did that was strange: they took our passports and said they would stamp them and return them to us later. Really?

Lin and I boarded the ship, found our room–#5078–and relaxed a moment but heard an announcement that we had to attend the “Emergency Training” in the Stardust theater on Deck 7! We took a breath and ran up to the training. The review of what to do in an emergency reminded me of the danger of sailing on a ship, and interestingly enough, we learned on this trip that the Titanic sailed out of Southampton on its fateful voyage, just like us! We found our designated spot to go to in case of an emergency and went upstairs to the buffet, Raffles, for our first meal of the day.

When we got back to our room, we unpacked and relaxed until the entertainment show at 7:30 PM, fully aware we hadn’t left port yet. We were supposed to leave at 5:00 PM, so we thought the cruise director would explain our delay at the show—she didn’t.

The show was an overview of the talent we would see on this cruise and they all were exceptional! Lin and I especially like the magician.

After the show, we slipped back to our room quickly and went to bed—exhausted from this marathon day.

On July 22, I slept until 8:00 AM. When I’m onboard a ship, I always look out the window first thing to see what I can see—we were sailing. We found out later Norwegian crew worked in scuba gear for hours, and the cruise was almost canceled, but we finally left port about 4:30 AM. Lin and I were so exhausted we never heard the ship pull away from the port. Lin was gone when I woke up—out walking the deck and enjoying the sea. I never heard him leave!

When he returned, we had a leisurely breakfast in Raffles, the buffet on the deck 12, one of the complimentary restaurants on the Star. In wandering around deck 12 and getting oriented again, we found the Game Room, so we played a couple Cribbage games, and Lin won. We continued our tour of the ship and had a delightful lunch in Windows, one of the complimentary restaurants onboard ship.

Lin’s $20 Chocolate

Anyone who knows Lin knows he loves chocolate. We went by the Tourist Shop onboard, and Lin bought a HUGE bar of Lindt chocolate. Shocked after he bought it, it cost $20. He rationed it out the whole trip, and we finished it in the airport in London waiting for our flight home.

At about 2:00 PM, we participate in one of our favorite onboard ship activities: Deal or No Deal. Neither one of us was chosen to play, but everyone who participates has a chance to be a winner, and Lin won a free 8 X 10 photo.

Afterwards, we went to the Excursion desk to put our names on a waiting list for Conwy Castle at Holyhead, Wales. It was sold out when we booked our excursion, so we signed up for Penrhyn Castle & Gardens as a second choice. The agent told us they would create another tour if enough people asked—we both really wanted to go to Conwy Castle because of the pictures we saw, and it all worked out!

After all this activity, Lin and I retired to our room, and he napped. I experimented with getting on the Internet and had some problems. I also worked on my current book project: the authorized biography of Marshall Flippo. Yes, I took Flippo with me on this cruise.

We ate dinner at Shogun’s, another complimentary restaurant for certain dishes, then went to the early show and saw Danielle Williams—energetic pop music singer!

Lin had heard they had coconut ice cream up at Raffles, so we ventured up to see. They didn’t have it, but they had a piña colada that was delicious. We went by the lounge for a short time and listened to the band, Hot Wire.

When we got back to the room, we tried the Internet again. Lin had a lot of trouble, and it was slow for me, so we gave up and went to bed.

The next day we had our first experience in Scotland—Edinburgh and the castle! We were both excited about the four ports in Scotland! Also, the next day started our marathon of ports and excursions—ten ports, ten excursions and no at-sea days in-between to catch up and rest! None of our previous cruises had this intense schedule!

So, next week I will share our Edinburgh adventures! Stay tuned!


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

BACK TO SCHOOL SAVINGS END AUGUST 16, 2019: 50%off of ALL MY DIGITAL BOOKS at my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft.

Whitey & Gladys Puerling were playful friends of Flippo’s who created a Fan Club. I thought it would be fun to recreate this group. Would you like to join the Marshall Flippo Fan Club Facebook page? Read interesting posts about Flippo’s life. https://www.facebook.com/groups/328325644382769/

Be the 200th to pre-order the Marshall Flippo biography! You can select which paper format or e-book format you would like? Go here to order the version you want. Monthly SWAG Giveaways! https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42s

Ireland & England · My Thoughts · Travel

Why Is It So Hard to Travel to London?

Two flights to London in my lifetime: once in 2017 and now again in 2019–each time a nerve-wracking experience!

On July 19, 2019, Lin, my husband, and I started the first leg of our trip to London for a twelve-day cruise of the British Isles and flew from Albuquerque, NM to Denver, CO. We got our flight through Norwegian cruise lines, and the one catch was that it had to be through a major airport, so that’s why we had to go to Denver.

We live in the east mountains above Albuquerque and the drive to the airport takes about thirty minutes. Most of our travel is on I-40, and there was an accident in front of us, but –thank God—we saw the slow down and ducked off the Interstate at a nearby exit. If we had been further down the highway, we would have been caught there and possibly missed our flight. After breathing deeply, we both sighed and realized a near miss.

We both flew to Denver on Southwest Airlines for free which always makes the flight sweet. Also, we flew at 5:50 PM which meant no getting up at O’Dark Thirty to start our adventure.

We arrived in Denver at 7:00 PM, wondering if we needed to eat at the airport before finding the shuttle to the Microtel Hotel near the airport. So, I called the hotel and got a strange response when asked if there was a restaurant within walking distance.

 “There should be!” Lin and I both laughed and decided to take our chance there because food is so expensive in an airport. We maneuvered our bags to level five, island three to wait for the shuttle.

The warm Colorado evening invited us to sit and enjoy the beginning of our travels. It took the shuttle over thirty minutes to arrive, but we relaxed and anticipated our trip. We had originally planned a cruise around the Hawaiian Islands in November but had to cancel it because of the death of a dear friend. We reveled in the fact that nothing could go wrong this time—Norwegian cruise lines had booked our flights and they were professionals. They would allow enough time between flights–nothing to worry about!

When we arrived at the hotel, we saw a restaurant within walking distance, so we registered at the desk. I peered at the guy who had given me such a strange response, and he told the person in front of us that there was a restaurant within 10 seconds of the hotel. I laughed to myself at both responses. We ditched our bags in the room, ate dinner, and had a relaxed, restful night. We had come into Denver a night early so we could catch our flight easily the next day.

When I got up the next morning, I planned on wearing the same clothes, but I could smell BO on my top, so I hand-washed it and then dried it with the hair dryer.

The night before we had reserved a shuttle back to the airport at 12:30 PM and went downstairs to check out about noon, and the shuttle was already there, so we took it. We grabbed lunch at Pandora Express and enjoyed the leisure atmosphere.

Lin and I aboard the Air Canada Flight for Toronto–Excited about our adventure ahead!

Our flight to London started with the first leg to Toronto, Canada leaving Denver at 5:25 PM. Yes, we were early, but we found our gate, and I used the time wisely to work on my current writing project of the Marshall Flippo biography. Great uninterrupted time to work!

Before leaving home, Lin had checked the weather in Toronto, and thunderstorms threatened the area, but no one from the airlines had said anything, so we let it go.

We boarded the Air Canada plane and then sat and sat. For thirty minutes,  a flight attendant walked through the cabin counting the passengers, then one came and asked the person sitting across from us to move at takeoff to distribute the weight more evenly—I had never heard that before.

Awhile later, the pilot announced that they needed to check the air in one of the tires—oh, no! Here we go again! We just lost over thirty minutes!

When it finally took off, I relaxed and worked on my book project. We were to arrive at 10:29 PM and the flight to Heathrow took off at 11:50 PM—plenty of time, I thought. I hadn’t done the math. Lin kept his eye on the flight monitor on the TV and kept calculating and recalculating our arrival time, getting more nervous the farther we went. He shared his concern with me, and we talked to the flight attendant about our possible peril. She assured us there would be plenty of time.

When we got to Toronto, we had to go through customs. Then we had no idea where to go, no idea of the gate number for our flight, and no signage to point us in the right direction. We walked down a hall desperate to find help.

Then we found an Air Canada employee who told us to go to level three to security, so we found level three but had trouble finding security. The lights were dimmed and the only people there were the cleaning crew. Somehow, we found security. He let us through a back door and all I saw in front of me was a long corridor.

The corridor went on and on!

Lin started walking, half-running down the corridor, and I had to run to keep up with him. It went on and on. I tripped once and almost hit the ground, but I steadied myself and kept going. Now he was nearly out of sight rounding a corner. So it was a full-out run now.

When I caught him, we stood at an intersection; only two people were there. Lin ran over to a counter and asked where to go.

“Gate 75.”

The other two people yelled, “Go straight through there and turn right.”

So, we did, and the workers at that gate waved and yelled, “Are you the Millers? They are closing the door right now!” We sprinted over; they checked us in and we walked on the plane and they closed the doors behind us!

The plane had been delayed ten minutes because of a rain delay—oh, my God! That’s what saved us!

We found our seats, sat down and breathed. Sweat dripped down my back and I panted now because of the race we just did. Trembling, I said to Lin, “Why is it so hard to get to London?”

We did make it, and I will take you on our twelve-day adventure cruising around the British Isles over the next few weeks in my blogs.

Have you ever had a travel experience like this? Share yours in the Comments section below.

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

BACK TO SCHOOL SAVINGS UNTIL AUGUST 16, 2019: 50%off of ALL MY DIGITAL BOOKS at my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft.

Whitey & Gladys Puerling were playful friends of Flippo’s who created a Fan Club. I thought it would be fun to recreate this group. Would you like to join the Marshall Flippo Fan Club Facebook page? Read interesting posts about Flippo’s life. https://www.facebook.com/groups/328325644382769/

Do you want to pre-order the Marshall Flippo biography? You can select which paper format or e-book format you would like? Go here to order the version you want. Monthly SWAG Giveaways! https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42s

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

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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