Saturday, November 06, 2004

England Trip Notes - 10/23/2004

I slept about 2 hours last night, due to the extreme discomfort with my tooth. Five a.m. finally rolled around and I awoke Beth. We did our final packing, straightened up the room, and headed for Gatwick.

The drive was uneventful, and the traffic was manageable, until we got close to Gatwick. We hoped for meaningful traffic signs to guide us to the rental car return, but there were none until we were within sight of the rental car building, anyway. We had trouble figuring out exactly where to take the car, but finally sorted it out, and proceeded to the counter. I fully expected a long and painful ordeal, as I knew I would have to pay for the flat tire, and I fully expected them to charge me for the small dent resulting from our Chipping Camden experience. However, they did not charge me for either! I was quite thrilled, and our experience with Enterprise Rental turned out to be a pleasant surprise.

The rest of the day was just long boring travel. Waiting in lines at Gatwick, traversing security, customs, and immigration both in England, and in Philadelphia, and of course sitting for endless hours in the coach section of two different airplanes, makes for uninteresting reading, so I will not say anything more.

We arrived to find Dad waiting for us at the baggage claim, and he drove us home. There's no place like home. We loved England, and both agree that it may have been our best vacation ever, but we are glad to be home.

England Trip Notes - 10/22/2004

Our last day here began with one central goal - find a dentist. After a sleepless night where I consumed Tylenol every two hours, and bathed my tooth in Chloroseptic even more often, I realized that I needed to do something before trying to drive to Gatwick tomorrow for the return flight. About 3:00 AM, I scanned the yellow pages for dentists (dental surgeons, as they are called here), and found several in Oakham. When morning finally rolled around, I called the front desk and asked for a recommended dentist, which they provided -Dentith and Dentith on South Street in Oakham. Alas, they would not help me, however, telling me that I needed to go to Leicester to the NHS service. I tried two other dentists in Oakham with the same result, but the fourth and last one I called, West Road Dental Practice, proved a success. At least they were willing to see me, giving me a 12:15 appointment.

The dental office appeared just as they do in the states, so my first emotion was relief. However, I received no satisfaction from the visit. An xray was taken, but it was taken incorrectly, so that the crucial part of the tooth did not show. If I had an abcessed tooth, there was no way to know it for that portion of the tooth was not on the image! However, the dentist decided that there was nothing he could do for me except to recommend Tylenol and Ibuprofen every four hours (alternating, so that I was actually taking one of them every two hours). He would not prescribe antibiotics because he could not see an abcess on the xray (which was easily explained by the fact that he had screwed up the xray!), so I paid him and left. He did manage to terrify me, though, by telling me that abcesses don't like airplanes (I thought he didn't see an abcess?), and that the pain level could get quite intense at high altitude. I'm not looking forward to the plane ride home.

We left the dentist and drove to the chemist (pharmacy) to get some more advil and tylenol. We then went home to pack and get ready for our trip home.

England Trip Notes - 10/21/2004

I was rudely knocked out of bed at 4:00 this morning by my miserable tooth. I bathed it in Chloroseptic and popped two more Tylenol, and managed a couple more hours of sleep. As we prepared for our drive south, I listened to the weather report, and was pleasantly surprised to hear that we could expect rain, gale force winds, and maybe as much as two or three minutes of sunshine today. Sigh... We did want to see the real England, so I guess we should accept the real England's weather as well. However, that turned out to be a false alarm, for the weather today was beautiful and sunny all day. There was quite a wind, and at one point during out visit to Stonehenge, it pelted us with sleet, but barring that exception, it was a beautiful day.

We headed south on the A1 toward London, and swung around on the M25 to visit Windsor Castle. Beth did not want to spend the money to go inside, so we walked around it a bit, and took some pictures. We also shopped for a few souveniers in the town of Windsor. From there we drove approximately an hour further to Stonehenge. We had debated whether or not to make the long drive to this site, but upon seeing it were convinced it was worth it. Because it was sleeting while we were there, and the sun was shining brilliantly as well, a stunning rainbow appeared, and many of my pictures of the site were framed in that rainbow. I am anxious to see how they turn out.

Leaving Stonehenge, we drove back north toward Althorp, the site where Dianna is buried. This site is not open this time of year, but Beth hoped to be able to catch a glimpse from the road. However, after driving quite a while, we discovered that we were going the wrong way, and did not want to spend the time needed to backtrack. So, we did not see Althorp.

In a little village called Newbury, we stopped for lunch at the Yew Tree Inn. The food was good, and we were pleased to learn that the bartender was an American who happened to be studying abroad in England for a while. We had a pleasant conversation with him.

After lunch, we headed on home. The only other thing of significance to report about this day is that I was in intense pain from my tooth all day. When we got back into Oakham we stopped at the Tesco (supermarket) to try and find something that would give relief. We settled on baby teething gel, but that did nothing for me, and Tesco had nothing else. Tomorrow, I need to either go to the Chemist (pharmacist), or even better, a dentist.

England Trip Notes - 10/20/2004

Cambridge, Sandringham, and miserable rain. That pretty much sums up the day.

We left early, and headed south on the A1 with our destination Cambridge. The drive was quite pleasant, even though we got into heavy traffic during the morning rush hour. We stopped for breakfast at a Little Chef restaurant along the highway, and the food was surprisingly good. These Little Chefs appear all along the highways, somewhat like the ubiquitous Howard Johnson restaurants in the United States. My expectations were low, so I was pleasantly surprised.

Unfortunately, it rained all day long, and was so dark and cloudy that it seemed like the sun was down all day. In Cambridge, we visited 1 Trinity, the site of the oldest bookstore in England - Cambridge University Press Bookstore. I found a very nice leather bound Cambridge Bible, and bought it as my main souvenier of the trip. It cost 85 pounds, or roughly $150.00. We also visited the King's College Chapel, which is a stunning example of architecture, containing the most exquisite vaulted ceiling I've ever seen.

Leaving Cambridge, we drove east toward Sandringham, which is the queen's summer estate. Sitting on 20000 acres, this is a truly beautiful home. It does not look like a castle, but more like a monstrous house, but it is beautiful. Unfortunately, the ever present rain and wind made it too unpleasant to walk through the gardens, which sounded wonderful.

A toothacre is threatening to ruin my trip, and it became quite severe during the drive today. Leaving Sandringham, we drove back to Oakham for dinner at the Admiral Hornblowers Restaurant, and I simply could not enjoy the meal for the pain. At one point, the pain became so severe that I broke out in a torrential sweat and began eyeing the dessert spoons as possible suicide solutions.

After supper, we returned to the lodge where I consumed unhealthy amounts of pain killers, and doused the evil tooth in Chloroseptic. Finally, the pain subsided to a dull throb. Just in time, too, as I think I was burning a softball sized hole in my stomach lining with all the medication, not to mention the impending liver failure from so much Tylenol!

Tomorrow, assuming I live through the night, we plan on a long drive day, taking in Stonehenge and Windsor Castle.

England Trip Notes - 10/19/2004

I woke up about 11:00 today, so marking the start of a very lazy day. We laid around the resort all morning, and finally decided to shower and get moving around 12:30.

We went to Oakham and played with the library computers, then drove to Stamford where we spent the remainder of the afternoon. Stamford is a truly beautiful little town, with a large downtown area blocked to traffic. Since it is all pedestrian traffic, it is a wonderful place to walk and shop. We returned to the little Bible bookstore we had visited last week. I asked the proprietor if he knew whether Cambridge leather bibles could be purchased at Cambridge, and he called Cambridge and came back with a nice printed map showing exactly how to find Cambridge University Press. I hope to find a nice Bible as my souvenir from this trip. We are considering Cambridge for tomorrow's destination. The man in the Bible bookstore is illustrative of what we've seen in these people everywhere we go. They are extremely friendly and down to earth people. They don't seem keen to start a conversation, but will warm right up to you if you start one with them.

We tried to have supper at a really neat looking restaurant in Eppingham (which is a little town between Stamford and Barnsdale), but they do not start serving supper until 7:00. Since it was only 5:30 when we were there, we moved on. We eventually had dinner at the Brassiere Restaurant at the lodge. Beth had a good looking chicken pie, and I had some sort of pasta.

The day ended in front of the TV, again desperately searching for something to watch.

England Trip Notes - 10/18/2004

London. One cannot visit England and leave out London, can they? Since the answer to that question is an emphatic "no," we spent this day in that greatest of all the English cities.

The day started early, with our drive to the Oakham train station. We arrived quite early, thinking that we might struggle for parking. However, parking was abundant, leaving us with time to freeze our keisters off while waiting for the train. The train took us from Oakham to Peterborough, where we changed onto the fast train to London's Kings Cross train station. Once there, we took the Underground (known in America as the subway) to Baker Street. Where we emerged from the underground, we were greeted with a large statue of Sherlock Holmes, commemorating his fictitious address of 221 Baker Street. We found the box office for the Original London Tour bus company, and booked passage on the tour bus. It took us all over town, with a knowledgable guide providing commentary concerning the various sites. We saw many things, and I probably cannot remember them all. I recall seeing St. Paul's Cathedral (quite breathtaking, even if it was under construction and hidden behind scaffolding), the Tower of London, Madame Toussaud's wax museum, the Tower Bridge, the memorial to the great fire of London, the London Eye, and many other things. The tour was set up such that we could exit at any stop and view the area, and then simply hop onto the next tour bus to continue the tour. The buses run every 10 minutes or so. However, we were content to just ride the tour, and we never did
get off at any exit. We considered getting off and touring the Tower of London, but time didn't permit.

After the tour, we found a Starbucks and had coffee and sandwiches. American style food was a welcome change.

Leaving Starbucks, we jumped back on the tube (underground), and headed to the South Kensington exit, which we thought would put us near Harrod's Department Store. Alas, we were left with a long walk. The day was beautiful, though, with ample sunshine and shirtsleeve temperatures, so we didn't mind. Harrod's is everything we had heard. It is monstrous in size, and carries anything you can think of. We did not have enough time to see it all. I think you could easily spend a day there, if you wanted to. Beth bought some souvenirs and some ornaments for the Christmas tree.

The return trip was uneventful. Leaving Harrod's, we took the tube back to Kings Cross train station, hopped on our train back to Peterborough, and at Peterborough, changed to the Oakham train, and home.

We both enjoyed the trip to London, but Beth was quite stressed by it. We picked a day when there were major sections of the city blocked off for a parade in honor of the British champions from the recent winter Olympics. Tour busses could not go into the areas where the parade was, so that added to traffic problems and caused us to miss some things. This, plus the bustle and congestion of such a large city seemed to have unduly stressed Beth. She developed a severe headache, and was quite glad to be out of London. I did not mind it as much as her, but have seen enough of the city to last me. Not being much for cities, I would rate it as one of the least enjoyable days we've spent so far. Two things made it nice for me, though. First, I did not have to drive. I could actually look out the windows of the trains and see the scenery. Second, the weather was beautiful. So far, this has been the nicest day in that respect.

Coming back from Oakham, we stopped at a little take away (take out) restaurant, and picked up some fish and chips for dinner. Their packaging was interesting, as they gave us two large fillets of fish, each individually wrapped in a piece of paper, as well as a large pile of potatoes, also wrapped up in paper.

All told, it was a nice day, but I think we've seen the last of London. We had originally planned on at least two days there, but Beth does not want to go back.

England Trip Notes - 10/17/2004

Well, it is the Lord's Day, and we spent it just like we would at home - worshipping in church, and resting at home.

Beth was so taken with the Oakham Baptist Church last Sunday evening, that we attended there again this morning. The service was wonderful. Once again, we were both impressed with the excited atmosphere and vibrant worship. Everybody seemed to truly want to be in church. The singing was loud and rich, with both old and young entering into it. The preaching was right down the line from Luke 13 - the straight and narrow way. We left the service fully intending to return for the evening service tonight.

With both of us feeling tired, we laid around all afternoon napping and watching TV. We took advantage of the time to get the laundry done.

Evening came, and we drove back to the Oakham Baptist Church where we once again enjoyed the fellowship and the service.

England Trip Notes - 10/16/2004

For two reasons - because we had driven a rather long distance yesterday, and because we had to check out of our A-frame cottage this morning and check back into our new room in the Stable Mews this afternoon, we chose to stay close to home today.

After checking out, we drove into Oakham and parked the car in the Long Stay car park. From there we visited the library and sent a few emails. Since it was Farmer's Market day in Oakham, there were stalls set up everywhere with a variety of wares. Most were produce and various foods, but there were a few other items as well. We wandered through and bought a few small things. We also visited the train station and booked our trip to London for Monday morning. We will take a train from Oakham to Petersborough, and from there take the fast train to London.

We enjoyed lunch at the Admiral Hornblower, where Beth had Steak and Ale pie, and I had a traditional sausage mash. Both were delicious. We wandered and shopped some more, and then eventually worked our way back to the Acorn Coffee House for tea and scones. By the time we finished that, it was time to check in.

Our new room is positively tiny in comparison to the A-frame we had last week, but it is cozy and well appointed. The kitchen is too small, with only enough space for one person to stand in, and there is no dishwasher. Other than that, we like the accomodations. It is much cozier than the other room, and Beth seems a little more at ease here.

Once settled into the new room, we made a run to the CO-OP for groceries, and then enjoyed an evening of dry English television and pizza.

Tomorrow, we plan to attend church at Oakham Baptist, and then play it by ear from there.

England Trip Notes - 10/15/2004

We learned today that the drive north to York is much less intimidating than the drive south. This was our first foray into the north of England.

We left at 7:30 AM and took the A1 north to Thirsk. Thirsk is the site of Alf Wight's (aka James Herriot) veterinary practice, and one of the places that was high on my list. Alf died in 1995, as did Donald Sinclair (aka Siegfried Farnon). After their deaths, the town council decided to make the house a museum, and so the old house, known as Skeldale house in the books, looks just as it would have during the period that the books describe. I, being a fan of James Herriot books, enjoyed this visit more than Beth, but she seemed to like it too. We toured the house, viewed the museum and other displays they have set up, and I even sat in the old Austin 7 that Alf used for his rounds.

Leaving Thirsk, we drove to the outskirts of York and used the Park and Ride system to enter the city. We had several things we wanted to do in York, but we had spent too much time inThirsk, so we headed for the most important on our list, the York Minster Cathedral. Again, the tour of this facility took much longer than planned, cutting even further into our itinerary, but it was worth it. The cathedral traces its history all the way back to the 5th century, although not in its present form. It is spectacular from an architectural perspective and awe-inspiring from a historical perspective. Due to time constraints, we had to forgo climbing the tower and descending into the crypt underneath.

From the Minster, we meandered into town. It is an old medeaval city which reminded me of our visit to Jerusalem. Walking in one direction, and then turning around and heading back where you think you came from, does not always lead you to your starting point. Roads curve and wind and go under and around, so that before you know it, you are lost.

We found our way, though, only having to ask directions a couple of times. We visited the Shambles, which is the outdoor market area, and we enjoyed a cream tea at Betty's Tea Rooms. Both of us agreed that the scones at Hathaway Team Rooms in Stratford were much better than these, but it was good, nonetheless.

We took our leave of York by hopping back on our park and ride bus, returned to the car park, and headed south on the A1 toward home. The return trip took longer because it was rush hour, and it was raining miserably, so traffic stopped and started, and when moving, moved slowly. But, we arrived back at our humble cottage safely, and for that we are thankful.

Tomorrow, we plan to check out of the A-frame cottage, visit the market in Oakham until 4:00 PM when we will check in to our second room here at Barnesdale, in the Stable Mews.

England Trip Notes - 10/14/2004

We awoke to the sound of rain pelting the roof of our A-framed condo. That, coupled with the fact we slept until 10:00, made for a lazy morning hanging around the condo.

Today was planned to be a slow day, anyway, making up for all the driving yesterday. We did not do much. After a lazy breakfast, we drove into Oakham. While there, we used the computers in the Rutland Library to send an email to the kids. We walked down to the tourist information center and talked with them about options for touring London.

Leaving Oakham, we drove to Stamford and toured Burghley House, which was an exquisitely beautiful and awe-inspiring home. The past and current home of the Marquis of Exeter and his family, it is currently occupied by the youngest daughter of the 8th Marquis. Her name is Lady Victoria Leatham, and her husband is Mr. Simon Leatham. We met Simon walking through the home. The family lives on the first floor, which we could not enter. The rest of the house is simply magnificent and one of the most majestic homes I've ever seen. We both agreed that this was the most beautiful building we've seen so far on the trip.

We drove into Stamford so Beth could enjoy cream tea, but we were too late. Everything seems to close at 5:00 here, so we couldn't find anyplace that was open. We did visit a Christian bookstore where Beth bought a hymn book, and a music store.

We returned to the condo relaxed from an easy day, and remarked how nice it was to spend an entire day without smashing the car in any way! Beth started to prepare dinner. She had purchased some chicken a few days ago at the supermarket, but her nose determined that it was spoiled so she refused to cook it. We made reservations at the Brasserie Restaurant here at the resort, and had a wonderful meal. Beth chose the salmon, which looked wonderful, and I chose the chicken meat pie, which was excellent.

Tomorrow we drive north to visit the Yorkshire Dales. The weather reports are calling for rain, so we are praying that changes.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

England Trip Notes - 10/13/2004

With some nervousness, we ventured back out in the car today, once again pointing it southwest toward Stratford-upon-Avon. However, our fears were groundless, for we had a long day of driving with very few incidents. One of those incidents will probably cost me when I turn the car in to the rental company, but why worry about that now? It would only sour my vacation. So I won't think about it.

We were on the road at 7:00 AM, giving us a good start ahead of the rush hour. Beth's navigational skills, while always good, were superb today, and she directed me to Stratford without a hitch, where we arrived at 9:40. We bought the ticket to see all five Shakespeare houses, but after we had seen three, we were Shakespeared out, and decided against the other two. We toured Anne Hathaway's house (Shakespeare's wife), the Mary Arden house and farm (Shakespeare's mother), and Shakespeare's birthplace. All were fascinating examples of 17th century architecture. Standing in those homes, viewing the timbers and furnishings that were 400 years old, was a reminder of just how much history is in this place. While America has a history, too, it is small compared to these European nations which measure time in thousands of years, rather than the few hundred we claim in the states.

While in Stratford, we enjoyed high tea at the Hathaway Tea Rooms. Beth enjoyed this more than me, I suppose, but it was interesting. The sandwiches were good, and the scones were delicious. I found the need to use the loo while there, and was amused to learn that the "Gents" room was through the back door, down an alley, and in a little building out back of the main facility.

Leaving Stratford-upon-Avon, we drove to the Cotswolds, visiting Broadway, Chipping Camden, and Stow on Wold in that order. These little towns were beautiful and different than anything we might find in the states. Supposedly, they are ideal places to go and walk and shop. We found them quaint, but because it was raining for most of our visit, did not enjoy much walking or shopping. The shops we did enter, however, were outrageously expensive, and specialized in items that did not
interest either of us. So, we mostly drove through and looked at things on the way through.

The aforementioned incident with the car occurred in Chipping Camden, where the roads are so narrow that one car will barely pass through without hitting on either side, and there is two way traffic on these streets! It involved lots of diving for little holes between cars to let oncoming drivers by. During one such dive, I clipped a parked car with the back corner of my poor, abused rental car. No mark was made on the parked car, but a tiny mark exists on the rental. It is no doubt large enough for them to notice, however, and charge me an exorbitant repair bill for. Sigh. That was a new car when I picked it up about 800 miles ago.

Leaving Stow-on-Wold, we headed back to Oakham, and once again turned a 2 1/2 hour drive into 3 1/2 hours when I took the wrong leg off a roundabout, putting us onto the motorway, and about 1 hour out of our way. Other than that, the drive back was calm.

The scenery we've been seeing as we drive is sometimes breathtaking. In the Cotswolds, we stopped several times just to photograph the view. Beautiful rolling hills, filled with hedges,and farm fields laid out as if by an artist were everywhere. While much of the day was gray and rainy, the sun would come out for periods, and light up the hills until they glowed.

And, there are other things we notice. There are pheasants everywhere. As we pass fields, we see literally hundreds of ringnecks just standing around looking bored. They fly across the road in front of the car.

We made it back to our little cottage about 8:00 PM, and ended our long day with a homemade dinner of spaghetti and canned corn, prepared by the most renowned chef in all of England - Beth Johnson.

England Trip Notes - 10/12/2004

Our crippled rental car prohibited us from travelling far today, so we spent the day at the resort, awaiting the repair from the rental company. It was a very dreary, gray, and rainy day anyway. We took advantage of the time to do the laundry, rest, and plan an itinerary for the next few days.

The Kwik Fit Mobile truck arrived at 4:00 PM and replaced the tire on the car, after which we took one brief trek into Oakham to visit the Lands End Factory Outlet store. This was a little disappointing because it was quite small. We were under the impression that it was a factory and some sort of headquarters for the company, but in reality, it is only a distribution center, primarily for womens' clothing. We met a very friendly English woman there who explained that only a subset of Lands End goods is sold in Europe.

We ate in today. Beth made a breakfast of eggs, cheese, and sausage, all purchased from the local CO-OP, and then we had a dinner of cheeseburgers on malted baps (buns), baked beans, and ice cream for desert. All this food tasted basically the same as in the states, with maybe a little less spice. Food, while delicious, does seem to be slightly on the bland side here.

Plans tomorrow call for Stratford-upon-Avon again, and the Cotswolds. We are leaving at 7:00 AM to try and get a jump on the traffic and the day.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

England Trip Notes - 10/11/2004

Day 3. Plans today call for Warwick Castle (pronounced WA-WICK), and the Cotswolds. These are a ways from our resort, so driving may be a challenge. I think I will have to buy gas today, so that should be a whole new experience.

Update - Well, the first paragraph was written at the start of the day, and now I write after the fact. Day 3 was, indeed, an interesting one. Let's hope that no such days occur again!

The drive to Warwick took about 2 1/2 hours, and was only mildly difficult. A recurring problem here is making a wrong turn off a roundabout and then having to back track. We seem to do this every so often, and lose time when it happens. Beth is a great navigator, however, and managed to direct me to the car park at Warwick Castle.

The castle was impressive, exactly what I imagined a great medieval castle would be. Containing Madame Toussaud's wax figures recreating period scenes, the entire setting took us back to the middle ages. We lunched at the Underground Restaurant in the lower level of the castle. Beth had cottage pie, which was quite good, and I had Warwickshire sausage in a Yorkshire pudding, which was smothered in gravy and served with roast potatoes and vegetables. Delicious. Once again, I am
surprised by how good the food is here.

We departed the castle about 4:00, and drove a short ways to Statford-upon-Avon. Everything was closing, however, so we did not get to see much. We saw Anne Hathaway's cottage from the outside, but they were closing so we could not enter. We took a few pictures and headed home, deciding to forgo the Cotswolds until another day.

Now the fun began, as we tried a different route for the return trip. Thinking the major roads would be quicker turned out to be our undoing. The chosen route took us through Leicester. The parts of the city we saw were drab and uninteresting, and seemed to go on forever. The fact that we traversed this area during what appeared to be rush hour only increased the tension. Roundabouts in this town were large, multilane affairs containing several traffic lights as you went around. Failure to
position ourselves in the correct lane when approaching usually meant we were forced off the roundabout into a multilane road going somewhere mysterious. After a few dozen of these mishaps my language had become something it should not be, and we were both reaching the end of our patience. Unfortunately, during this endless period in Leicester, it got dark, and that multiplied the problems as well as the stress level. Somehow, probably due to Beth's great navigational skill and not my
driving, we eventually came out of the nightmare and found ourselves driving away from Leicester and toward Oakham. Lessons learned from this unpleasant turn in an otherwise wonderful day - don't drive in the cities, don't drive during rush hour, and don't drive at night.

One last bit of joy occurred as we drove through what we thought was familiar territory - Oakham. Having had no problems with my driving technique throughout the entire day, here at the end of the day, I drifted too far left, smashed viciously into the curb, and blew the tire. The driving portion of our day ended with the car on the jack, and me installing the spare in the dark. Lesson learned from this
experience - keep the car rental agreement in the car at all times (we did not have any means to call the rental agency even if we wanted to), and NEVER DRIVE IN THE DARK!!!! Fortunately, there was no damage to the car, only the tire.

Piloting our wounded steed into its parking place at the lodge, we both slumped in our seats and breathed a prayer of thanks. Thanks for a beautiful day at Warwick, and thanks for safety on the roads in spite or our many mistakes and learning curve.

England Trip Notes - 10/10/2004

Day 2. I awoke about 8:00. As I write this, it is 10:30, and Beth is still sleeping.

She did eventually get up, and we had a beautiful and stress-free day in Oakham. The light Sunday traffic and the simple layout of the city made driving easy, so we drove into town, parked, and spent a couple of hours just walking the streets of Oakham. We enjoyed a "Sunday lunch" at the Rutland Coffee Shop, one of the few establishments that was open on Sunday. Interestingly, not much happens in England, apparently, on Sunday. Our Sunday lunch consisted of roast beef and gravy, roast
potatoes which were so hot I seared my palette on them, cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, and Yorkshire pudding. Quite delicious.

After lunch we toured the Oakham castle, which was built in 1180, and then toured the Oakham CO-OP supermarket, which was somewhat newer. We bought groceries and headed back to the resort. After a quiet couple of hours resting at home, we returned to Oakham for the evening services of the Oakham Baptist Church. There were only about 17 in attendance, but it was a very moving and spiritual service. The speaker did not show up, but the group carried on with testimonies and singing, and Beth and I both agreed it was a wonderful service and a great experience.

Of course, the day was not all rosy. I did go the wrong way on a roundabout in Oakham, nearly killing Beth, myself, and several Brits. But other than this minor mishap, it was an idealic day.

England Trip Notes - 10/9/2004

Travel day. We spent the day sitting on planes and in airports, flying out of Cleveland at 4:30 PM on October 8, through Philadelphia, and on to London's Gatwick airport, arriving at 8:30 AM Saturday, October 9. The flight was as comfortable and uneventful as any flight ever is, and, per my norm, I found myself unable to sleep much during the flight. We arrived therefore with a mix of excitement and weariness.

Our first business (after immigration and customs, which was a formality and very quick) was to "hire" a car. I had been anticipating my first few hours of British driving with trepidation, but it was not as bad as I feared. My first experience was on the M23 motorway, which was just like driving the freeway at home, except everything is reversed. You enter from the left, and the slow lane is on the left, and you "overtake," or pass, only on the right. I was just getting comfortable
with the car and the environment when Beth decided we would drive south to Canterbury. Yikes.

Once off the motorway, things got interesting quite quickly. The first time I experienced a two way road where heavy traffic was flying toward me on the right, I actually experienced a wave of nausea. It took some getting used to seeing them coming from the wrong side. And, I had difficulty with curbing my left wheels, as I tended to drive too far to the left. Hopefully this trait will wain with practice. Otherwise, I may wear the car out before I turn it in.

Canterbury was a nightmare. Extremely tight streets, seemingly millions of roundabouts, coupled with an annual Canterbury Festival that was occurring and my sleep deprivation, made for a tense time. Once in the city, all we could think of was getting out alive, so we did not see much. We may return later in the week, when we are more prepared, rested, and able to cope.

From Canterbury we drove north and stopped for lunch of fish and chips and peas at the First and Last Freehouse in Herne. From there, it was on to our resort in Barnesville, where we arrived about 5:30 PM. The resort is beautiful, and we could not be more pleased. For our first week, we are settled into a lovely A-framed cottage containing four bedrooms, full living room, dining room, kitchen, and two full baths, each with a jacuzzi tub. We unpacked, enjoyed the jacuzzi for a few
minutes, and then went to bed early. So ends day 1.