Sunday, June 29, 2014

My Awesome England Adventure!!!

Earlier this month, I stepped out of my comfort zone and flew to England with my daughter and daughter-in-law. For those who know me, this was huge! I'm something of a hermit and recluse. I can happily stay home in my writing cave for days at a time and never miss being around people or shopping or whatever it is folks do when they aren't home.

On Tuesday, June 10 at 6:05 pm, we boarded United 985 direct to London Heathrow Airport. I hadn't traveled across the Atlantic in forty years. Yes, that's a very long time ago, and everything's so very different now. It's really lovely to be able to watch movies and shows on your very own screen during the flight. The time actually passed fairly quickly (nine hours+) because of dinner, drinks and breakfast served at regular intervals. We landed in London Wednesday morning at 9:40.

We caught the train to Canterbury where we stayed with Helen's friend Julie for several days. Julie was kind enough to let us use her home as our central hub. She was truly the hostess with the mostest. I can't thank her enough.

I fell in love with Canterbury. I don't know if it was because it provided my first glimpse of England, or just because it's a charming and beautiful city. Probably a little bit of both.

On Thursday, we took the train to Dover where we saw the White Cliffs in all their glory.

A tour of Dover Castle and the war tunnels was fascinating.

We climbed up and down the stone staircases exploring the old castle inside and out. We walked eleven miles that day. I was proud of myself. I kept up pretty well.

The beach at Dover was quite a surprise to Carrie and me. We'd never seen a beach made of stones and pebbles. Where were the seashells?

Friday, we caught the train to Brighton. I've been reading Georgette Heyer's Regency Romances since I was a teenager and finally got to see the Royal Pavilion up close and personal.

It was awesome in its ostentatious display of wealth and splendor. Prinny did go a little overboard on the decorating, didn't he?

Every day when we returned to Canterbury from our outings, we walked the scenic streets. On Saturday afternoon, we attended Evensong at the beautiful cathedral.

We said goodbye to Julie on Sunday and headed to Portsmouth. We toured the HMS Victory--Admiral Horatio Nelson's ship that won the Battle of Trafalgar--and the Mary Rose, a sixteenth century war ship that's being restored. 

 Needless to say, Carrie was in her element.

 Boats, boats, boats!!!

Monday, we traveled to Salisbury by train, then booked a taxi (thanks to Helen) to Stone Henge. Standing near such an ancient edifice was humbling.

Bath was our destination Monday evening. This city is dear to my heart. Many of Georgette Heyer's novels take place in Bath, as well as one of my own. I felt like I'd stepped back in time.

Almost ninety percent of the buildings are from the Georgian and Regency Periods. We toured a refurbished Georgian townhouse in the Royal Crescent. I was in heaven!

The Assembly Rooms were magnificent.

The Roman Baths looked inviting. If you closed your eyes, you could envision the ancient Romans lounging about.

The Pump Room was all I'd imagined and more. I sipped the waters and felt just like a character out of one of GH's novels.

We ate breakfast in the shadow of the Abbey, then finished our tour of Bath before heading to Oxford.

We met up with Pooneh and her husband, who showed us all around Oxford and Magdalen College, in particular.

After eating lunch, we punted on the river. Very relaxing. Not for the punter, but very much so for the passengers.

We caught an evening train to Liverpool and got in late. On Wednesday morning, we ate breakfast at the docks. We visited a Beatles photo gallery and walked all around. And of course, there were more boats, boats, boats.

We met up with Helen's mum, sister-in-law and niece and nephew. We had a fun time at one of the museums, and we took a ride on the Mersey Ferry. Afterwards, we went to Hannah and Michael's house for dinner. I enjoyed seeing Hilde again and meeting more of Helen's family.

Thursday, we boarded the train for London. Helen gave us a guided walking tour of the City. We walked about ten miles that afternoon and evening.

We saw Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, the Palace Guards, Westminster Abbey, The London Eye; we walked across the Millennium Bridge, ate a lovely dinner and drank a cup of tea.

Hyde Park, Green Park, St. James Park were beautiful . . . I'd read about them in GH's novels and written about them in my own books. We saw the Government Buildings and the arches and monuments. And of course, St. Paul's Cathedral. It was great seeing everything in person.

Carrie and I were on our own after Helen left for Manchester. We felt a little bereft without our fearless leader, but we found our way around the City fairly well. Correction: Carrie found our way around.


We toured St. Paul's and saw the tombs of the Duke of Wellington, Admiral Horatio Nelson, and Florence Nightingale, just to name a few of the famous people buried there.

We spent most of Friday at the Tower of London. So much History literally etched into the walls.

After a long day of sightseeing, I indulged in my last cream tea and scones. Sigh. Then we returned to our hotel for a quiet evening, watched a little of the World Cup, and got ready for the return trip home on Saturday.

I had a wonderful time visiting England. I enjoyed every moment of every day. I enjoyed traveling with my daughter and daughter-in-law, whether by train, taxi or on foot (We walked 70 miles total, and I survived. How awesome is that?). Many thanks to Helen for planning and organizing the trip--it was she who chose the hotels, booked the trains and taxis, figured out the best routes to take and which restaurants to eat at--she was our fearless leader and tour guide.

My adventure in England was truly awesome, and we made many wonderful memories to last a lifetime.

Happy Trails!!!

Anne Marie   :)