Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Nottingham (March 23rd and 25th)

Nottingham was a very interesting place to explore. I have more pictures, but sadly, they have not all downloaded. The first little story is that when the AngloSaxon were in power, the area was under the control of an unfortunately named nobleman named 'Snot'. (Totally not joking). It was named 'Snotingham' which translates roughly as 'the home of Snot's people'. As the property fell to new ownership, turns out that the French do not have the 'sn' diphthong, so the place became Nottingham. I believe that Nottingham owes a great debt to the French. What you see below is a model of the original layout of the castle in Nottingham. 

Not much of it remains, but here is the entrance. 

Robin Hood is a common theme, and a truly excellent slide show followed his exploits. The nobility were very harsh, and the people outside those walls worked hellish hard, but had to turn over virtually everything to the castle and king. They were left only enough to survive another year. This went on for generations. 

The Robin Hood stories span hundreds of years, and it seems most likely that there were a number of heroic figures fighting back against the repressive system. 
Now Nottingham is built on sandstone, and beneath the city there are caves. Hundreds of them. 873+, and every one of them hand dug in the porous sandstone. They were used as hideouts and food storage. 

The castle itself was built atop of a series of caves, most of which were used for storage of wine, ale, and other necessities of life. 
Also beneath the castle was a large kitchen where the game was brought when the hunters came back. Young children spent 9 or 10 hours a day gutting, skinning, preparing meat. Great vats of water were boiled there. There was a waste chute, where the offal was tossed and washed out into the moat with water. A woman was once starved to death for stealing meat from the kitchen. 
Life was quite different above ground inside the castle walls. 
King Edward raised an army. They dug out the sandstone beneath the castle. Queen Isabella, his mother, had been ruling in his stead since the death of his father. She and her lover were captured. He was executed. She was imprisoned (very comfortably).
The original castle was  demolished and replaced by a new palace in the 1600s. 

Side note: we had coffee on the terrace and the view was spectacular. 

Do you see the windmill on the hill? 

Fed up with the status quo, the good people of Nottingham raised up and attacked the castle, looting and setting it afire. The palace has been restored and houses a great museum, part of which pays homage to the importance of resisting tyranny, something that really rings true in these days, doesn't it?

'Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem' is a pub built into the sandstone behind the castle. The date on it is 1089. Lord Byron's immortal (?) words are above the door: 'Man, being reasonable, must get drunk. The best of life is but intoxication'.
The pub got its name from the knights who stopped there for a drink on their way to the crusades. 

Crazy to find myself sitting in the very place where old stories came to life once again. 

Disclaimer: I am not an expert on English history, but I listened carefully, and tried to absorb as much of it as possible. Excuse any mistakes as ignorance. Also, I can't seem to center the post, so ignore that too. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Bradgate Park (March 24th)

I am posting trips in no particular order. Not everything is downloading yet (939 pictures taken)
This is Bradgate Park, which is near Leicester. It is a walled estate, and the fallow deer were imported by the Normans to provide entertainment for guests. We saw literally hundreds of deer as we walked. There were dogs all over the place. The deer were unruffled and relaxed. The herd is culled regularly, and the venison is sold to help support the park. 
The walls were built like so...
...and went on for miles

 This is a red deer which was also brought in by the same Normans that brought in the fallow deer. We did not see any of these. They seem to be much more wary. They are bigger in body than the fallow deer. Just the fact that we are viewing the descendants of a medieval deer herd was amazing to me. 
These are the what is left of Lady Jane Grey's childhood home. The house is in ruins, and we could not walk inside the walls, but as I understand it there is a crypt within that contains the bones of her parents. She, herself, was beheaded at the Tower of London and is buried there, in the chapel of St Peter. 


 The front gate. 

The driveway leading to it. 

This oak tree is HUGE. I have another picture of Colin and Cara standing within it. If I posted it, they would kill me, so I won't. You'll have to take my word for it. They were not crowded for space either. They look quite small in it, as a matter of fact. 

This is 'Old John', which is a monument supposedly named after a servant who died in a bonfire accident. It was a tower from which to view horseracing from. 

A hedgehog portal access in the fence. There was a well worn trail coming from it. 
Alas, I saw no hedgehog.

So many paths to choose. All of them gorgeous. 

We had a wonderful picnic there to enjoy the scenery. The weather was beautiful. 

Monday, March 28, 2022

All Is Well.

 Sorry for the gap. I was right in the middle of telling you all about my visit to London, when very suddenly, I found myself unable to download pictures to blogger. I dumbed around for a while trying to figure it out, but in the end, simply soldiered on without you. 

It was a wonderful time, the perfect mix of ordinary days where we worked together and laughed together, and extraordinary days, traveling together. Since Cara and Colin had just moved into their home, we worked in their sweet back garden. We cleared brush, and bought new plants. We roamed garden stores which was fun. I bought them a rhododendron as a memory maker. They needed lawn furniture but were not happy with the selections, so we scoured antique stores until we found what they needed - a cast iron table that was painted a glossy black and set into place. We had a nice fire and sat talking into the dark. 

We also went to London. I did not get to meet up with Steve Reed as I had hoped. But I saw the Tower Bridge, the Tower of London, Big Ben, Buckingham palace. We did the obligatory Jack the Ripper walk at night. We saw the British Museum, the British Library. The Golden Hind (a replica). I saw St. Martin's In the Field, had coffee in the crypt, people watched in Trafalgar square (there was a protest going on. 'No more, Putin!'). We went to an hilarious play, 'The Play Goes Wrong'. It was great fun. 

After London, I knew that the rest of the visit would fly by and it did. We went to Bradgate and saw the descendents of a deer herd from medieval times. We walked the paths there, and saw the ruins of Lady Jane Grey's family childhood home. We went to Nottingham and did the castle tour and went to Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem. We went to a victorian pumping station. We walked through the arboretum and we had picnics every day. The weather was perfect. 

I had a scotch egg. I had a pork pie. I had fish and chips. I also had curries galore (and how I do love curries!) 

In the end, the trip was more than I could have ever dreamed of. After three years of not seeing my daughter, I had really begun to get quite misty eyed every time I thought of her. I desperately needed this time with her, and to get to know her husband better. They were perfect hosts and the most excellent travel guides. Since they only recently moved into the area, we were often exploring new things together. At Ye Old Trip to Jerusalem, there was a plaque that indicated that Lord Byron (the old reprobate) drank there. A quote is posted over the door: 'Man, being reasonable, must get get drunk. The best of life is but intoxication.' That quote triggered google searches and we discovered that Lord Byron was buried in Hucknall. We stopped there on the way home and walked through an old cemetery. 

The end of the trip loomed up quickly. It was hard to leave, but that is the way trips go, isn't it. You arrive and you depart. You can't do it any other way. 

At two o'clock in the morning, I was up and getting ready to go to the airport. I was leaving just before 5 AM, and I had to be there two hours early. The trip home was kind of sad, but I sat between a biophysicist and a fellow who had worked on the latest transistor, which was very exciting to the biophysicist. They chattered back and forth enthusiastically. The biophysicist was quite intrigued about the new technology and they talked across me for some time. They were both very amiable people, and before the transatlantic flight was over, I had beat Gerben (and six others on the flight) in trivia. He showed me where he lived in the Netherlands. I showed him where I lived in the states. 

The worst part of the trip was the eight hour layover in Detroit. Quite honestly, if the itinerary had not been changed, I think that I would have been okay. I was supposed to have had a two hour layover, and then the trip across Lake Erie to Buffalo would have been over in an hour, putting me in the car on the way home by 5ish. I would have been tired, but would have fallen into bed a little early, slept  soundly and woke up refreshed. Instead, I sat long enough in Detroit for the previous 24 hours to catch up with me. By the time that I boarded for Buffalo, I was exhausted. By the time that Tim and I found each other, I was nearly sick with being tired. I'd managed to land in the middle of a snowstorm, and so we wound up spending the night in a hotel before heading for home. I never sleep well in a strange place, even snuggled up against Tim, and so we were up early and heading home. Sunday was a long day punctuated by many unintended naps. 

After a good nights sleep, it is now Monday. I feel like a human. I've got a house to set to rights. I'll figure out the picture situation later today, and I should be able to post pictures later this week. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

 After  four days of being on the move, Sunday was spent doing laundry. We went to a garden center and browsed. Cara and Colin have  bought their first home and the sweet garden needs some attention. They picked out bleeding heart, magnolia and a rose bush. I bought them a rhododendren  to thank them for such a wonderful time. 

Monday, they both worked. I entertained myself by walking to the little post office and mailing off some post cards. Then I headed off on a walk around town. People watching is always fun. It was a sunny day and people were out and about.

One difference that strikes me here are the simple differences. Gas prices are so  very high now, but  Colin's car gets 54 miles to a gallon. My own car back home gets 22 or so. The technology is there, but any push to make cars more energy efficient is a big controversy. I wonder why?

I see windmills steadily turning. There is no pile of dead birds beneath them. There is no talk about windmill cancer. But a whole industry will spend a fortune to fight any move to renewable energy.

Now there is a mad man throwing our world into chaos. Oil prices are crazy. I am afraid that our own refusal to change is going to bite us.I walk around town for a couple hours thinking. So much has changed since I bought the tickets to come visit. I will always be thankful I did not wait. 

Saturday, March 12, 2022

Not technologically proficient

Due to technical problems beyond my control (this is to say: stupid tablet + phone battery issues,  plus the fact that I am on the go A LOT) posting got side tracked. We went to Liverpool. We saw the Maritime Museum, the Liverpool Museum, The Walker Museum and the Tate.  We took a bus tour. We went to the Liverpool chapel. Got tons of pictures. Here are 3 that I found particularly  moving. In front of the walker museum, there is a mounded memorial garden. It is actually built on the bodies of about 23,000 victims of the cholera epidemic. Years later, monuments went up to commemorate great men, little gardens were built to commemorate soldiers and tragic moments of history, from those long ago times even as recent as the Rwandan genocide. On a nearby building, a Ukrainian flag waved. The sad stories are not finished.

 The bombed out St. Luke's church.
Eleanor Rigby.

And how I loved Chester! AC? Remember how you marveled over the 1000 year old baptismal font in Matlock? The stones in front of the gate (in the lower right?) 79 AD. I scurried right over to lay hands on those babies. Our hotel overlooked the colosseum and st. John the Baptist church. 

This is the Chester cathedral.

We walked and walked. We walked the wall. We walked along the river Dee. We have had thai curries two days in a row. We listened to live music in the streets. 

So much to tell, but it is midnight...I am exhausted but oh so very happy. What a trip this has been!

Monday, March 7, 2022


 Today was a nice day, spent close to home. Both Cara and Colin worked, so it was a chance to explore their little town on my own. Armed with directions, I set off. 

I found the town center easily enough, and enjoyed the sights as I walked along. Flowers blooming everywhere.  The screaming of school children at recess. There was a man walking a white ferret on a leash. He scampered at the man's heels like an excited puppy.

When I got into town, I was trying to find a bank. I finally asked a woman who explained that the last bank branch closed a few weeks ago, so the town no longer has one, but she was going to a grocery store too, so we walked together decrying current affairs. I kept my thoughts to myself, but she did not hold back. She sees Putin as a victim of powerful oligarchs who forced him to attack. I listened an offered no more than 'hmmmmmm.' She was very friendly though.

I don't think I will ever get over how inexpensive food is. Cornflakes for 89p. Triple that for home. I bought a package of 3 Portobello mushrooms and something called 'chestnut' mushrooms, which are noted for their flavor, according to what I read. I bought a bag of onions and a pot of cream to make a nice pot of cream of mushroom soup. I got a small chocolate cake for Cara and Colin's sweet tooth. It was not even six pounds for it all. Portobello mushrooms are a luxury item at home. I would have spent $4+ on those alone. 

When I came out of the store, I asked an elderly man which exit led me back to the street I needed. He pointed out a nearby 'snicket' that would lead me right. Tickled me that I knew exactly what he was talking about. People really are so very helpful.

(P.s. If I die in this place it will be because I looked the wrong direction and stepped in front of a car headed right at me. An improvement, I guess, since last week I would die from intestinal issues.) 

(P.p.s my epitaph should read: 'She said she would travel if it was the last thing she did.')

Planning a trip to Liverpool and Chester next.

Sunday, March 6, 2022

Sunday Adventure

 Well, Northsider, it was a red letter day! I went to a carboot sale today, and what a fun morning we had. The three of us stopped simultaneously and said, 'Tim!!' We found the perfect gift for him. 

It was pretty windy, but it was not as cold as yesterday.
The view was beautiful.

Saturday, March 5, 2022


Today we went to Gainsborough Manor. It was such a perfect day despite a brisk wind. I said, 'so is this what they call a hoolie?' Colin assured me it was nowhere near a hoolie. Something to look forward to, I suppose!

These crooked walls have stood for 600+ years. It was amazing to stand under the roof and hear those old timbers creaking in the wind. The Great Hall seated 100 people.

The kitchen had two cooking fireplaces on opposite walls, one for roasting, one for boiling, 30 feet long at a minimum. On a third wall between them, there were two massive bread ovens.

I have so many more pictures but I know the post will not publish. And as previously mentioned, posting on a tablet is a PITA.

At the Gainsborough church next door, we heard a choir singing. As their voices raised to ancient vaulted ceilings, the moment was so perfect that I could almost believe I had died and gone to heaven.

The most important souls listened with their ears to the foundation.

We finished our day at RuffordAbbey. At the rear you can see the ruins of the Jacobean wing to the right.
The light was gorgeous.
A gate led to a wonderful garden. We had to power walk it since they were a 1/2 hour from closing.

When we got home, Cara introduced me to the wonders of a soupmaker. Just add two potatoes, one Swede, a carrot, parsnip, onion and broth with seasonings. 21 minutes later, you have a delicious hot bowl of soup. Perfect end to a perfect day!

Friday, March 4, 2022


Last night, I put my miserable self to bed. After tossing and turning for a couple of hours...was it my imagination? Things seemed to be easing.  By midnight I was sure of it. By 2, I fell asleep. 

After a light breakfast, we were able to do some exploring at an antique store not far away. Cara and Colin are pondering a marriage chest from 1681. Things like that continue to amaze me. I think they always will.

The owners were very friendly. I honestly feel as if I could have gone around their shop all day and still been discovering new things. I found an old brass machining tag for Texaco oil in London, that I bought for Tim. We live an hour from the world's first oil well, and he collects oil memorabilia. I knew that a familiar name from an unfamiliar place would tickle him. The gentle!an at the till said, ' let me pay attention here and give you the right change.' He laughed when I said, 'I would be easy to fool...I haven't had a coin lesson.'
Something else I really think is great are the city centers, traffic free. You can stroll along at your leisure. I had a steak roll and a hot soup to goWalking in the damp meant that soup really hit the spot. 

It was so good to get out of the house!

We came home to fish and chips and we watched Hamilton while Colin went off to a class. 



 It was a day of getting ready to go, getting everything packed up. We are headed east to see Iris' ballet recital.  I picked up some la...