Archive for the ‘Travels’ Category

England 2014, Friday Aug. 15: Sutton Hoo!!!!!

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014
From a staff, at Sutton Hoo Burial Ground, near Woodbridge, Sussex, England

From a staff, at Sutton Hoo Burial Ground, near Woodbridge, Sussex, England

Back in 1978, I saw the Sutton Hoo artifacts at the British Museum for the first time.  And I NEVER forgot them.  The incredible artistry in the gold and silver works was stunning, especially because they were made in circa 625 a.d.   Seeing them again so many years later, they are still astounding.   As I mentioned in this post, which has lots of photos, you can see them at the museum and go to the burial grounds now (the lands were not public back in 1978).

This post is about our visit to Sutton Hoo Burial grounds.

Eli and I arrived before the facililty opened, but after the grounds opened.  Owned by the National Trust, families may come and visit, picnic, hike the grounds.  So we did!  This photo is shortly after we began our walk looking at Woodbridge in the distance, just across the river.  Think of rivers as the interstate highways of the days of yore--if you wanted to get some place in a hurry, going by water rather than overland was the way to do it.  It's only a few miles up hill from the river to this place.

Eli and I arrived before the facililty opened, but after the grounds opened. Owned by the National Trust, families may come and visit, picnic, hike the grounds. So we did! This photo is shortly after we began our walk looking at Woodbridge in the distance, just across the river. Think of rivers as the interstate highways of the days of yore–if you wanted to get some place in a hurry, going by water rather than overland was the way to do it. It’s only a few miles up hill from the river to this place.

On the way to the path in the photo above, we passed a playground for families with squirrelly kids who need to burn off some energy.  This includes 16 year olds .  As we found ourselves saying across England, isn't this a great playground, gosh this would never exist in the US because somebody would sue somebody else if a kid got a skinned knee.  Imagine, a zipline (low down obviously) in a playground!

On the way to the path in the photo above, we passed a playground for families with squirrelly kids who need to burn off some energy. This includes 16 year olds . As we found ourselves saying across England, isn’t this a great playground, gosh this would never exist in the US because somebody would sue somebody else if a kid got a skinned knee. Imagine, a zipline (low down obviously) in a playground!

There were blackberries and these in abundance.  Eli and I snarfed quite a few blackberries, reminiscing about San Juan Island.   I think these are currants, but wasn't sure so we didn't test taste any.  Great art inspiration though.

There were blackberries and these berries in abundance. Eli and I snarfed quite a few blackberries, reminiscing about San Juan Island. I think these are currants, but wasn’t sure so we didn’t test taste any. Great art inspiration though.

Trees.  England does trees.  BIG trees.  Majestic trees.  Trees made for climbing.  Eli is a climber.  By 6 months of age he could clamber out of his high chair, climb into his high chair, in and out of his crib by 18 months (hence the early switch to a bed with guard rail).

Trees. England does trees. BIG trees. Majestic trees. Trees made for climbing. Eli is a climber. By 6 months of age he could clamber out of his high chair, climb into his high chair, in and out of his crib by 18 months (hence the early switch to a bed with guard rail).   Keep in mind it would take multiple adults to hold hands and hug this tree, that’s how big it is.

Now look UP.  Waaaaaay Up.  Yep, that's my boy!

Now look UP. Waaaaaay Up. Yep, that’s my boy!  He is 5’9″ tall, so he’s WAY UP.  I did not pass out from holding my breath.  Barely.  I have this irrational fear of falling which extends to my kids, too.  But Eli LOVED it!

On the walk, we passed a farm and these awesome four-horned sheep, which someone on Facebook (where I posted some of the pics during the trip) told me these are Jacob's sheep.  Cool!  More inspiration.

On the walk, we passed a farm and these awesome four-horned sheep, which someone on Facebook (where I posted some of the pics during the trip) told me these are Jacob’s sheep. Cool! More inspiration.

At last, time to go in to the facilities, then go on our walk of the grounds.

At last, time to go in to the Sutton Hoo facilities, then go on our walk of the grounds.

And wouldn't you know it...opposite the register/till where you pay your entry fees, a quilt!  WOOT!

And wouldn’t you know it…opposite the register/till where you pay your entry fees, a quilt! WOOT!  Wish I knew who made this.  If anyone knows, please tell me and I’ll add the information!

I bought a book about the site which has this photo that shows some of the area that was excavated.  Burial mounds were subject to frequent raiding over the centuries and many of the magnificent artifacts were looted.

I bought a book about the site which has this photo that shows some of the area that was excavated. Burial mounds were subject to frequent raiding over the centuries and many of the magnificent artifacts were looted.

A burial ship being excavated.  The burial mound that was source of the most stunning Sutton Hoo artifacts, however, had partially collapsed, so the grave robbers missed the center point (where the good stuff is usually buried with the deceased).  That meant it was STILL THERE, and now lives in the British Museum.

A burial ship being excavated back in the 30s. The burial mound that was source of the most stunning Sutton Hoo artifacts, however, had partially collapsed, so the grave robbers missed the center point (where the good stuff is usually buried with the deceased). That meant it was STILL THERE, and now lives in the British Museum.

I took about a thousand (well, maybe a hundred) photos in the exhibit area, and as many as I could manage while we had our tour of the mounds. This was the only day it rained, and it POURED.  The heavens opened.  We got rather wet despite having good rain gear.  But it was still cool!

Here are some of the artifacts of a horse bridle at the Sutton Hoo facility.   Other items at the facility are reproductions, as the British Museum has a huge building and massive security for the gold works.

Here are some of the artifacts of a horse bridle at the Sutton Hoo facility. Other items at the facility are reproductions, as the British Museum has a huge building and massive security for the gold works.

A closer iew of the goldwork.  Aren't those designs amazing?

A closer view of the goldwork. Aren’t those designs amazing?

Our guide and some of the mounds in the burial grounds.

Our guide and some of the mounds in the burial grounds.  In this photo we are standing atop the mound where the most stunning artifacts were found.

And Eli on the left, daypack under the jacket, walking back to the exhibits area.

And Eli on the left, daypack under the jacket, walking back to the exhibits area.  A dream of 15 years to visit here, since I heard the public could finally get access.  Contended sigh.

And that photo up at the top, here's the staff/sceptre.   Incredible!

And that photo up at the top, here’s the staff/sceptre. Incredible!

Here's the Woodbridge train station that afternoon, where we began our 4 hour journey (three trains) to York.

Here’s the Woodbridge train station that afternoon, where we began our 4 hour journey (three trains) to York.

More design inspiration in the supports at the train stations.

More design inspiration in the supports at the train stations.  A thermofax screen perhaps?

At the YHA (Youth Hostel Assn.) York Hostel, my first ever Pimm's.   It will NOT be my last:  cucumber, strawberries, 7 Up, Pimm's, citrus over ice.   Summer perfection.

At the YHA (Youth Hostel Assn.) York Hostel, my first ever Pimm’s. It will NOT be my last: cucumber, strawberries, 7 Up, Pimm’s, citrus over ice. Summer perfection.

Next up on the England trip, York!   But quilty goodies in between, too.   Stay tuned!

England 2014: Thursday the 14th

Saturday, October 11th, 2014

Thursday was a travel day for us, with the morning spent in London at the National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, and wending our way to East Anglia for our week on the road with our BritRail passes.   The trains are lacking in quaintness now (no more compartments with sliding / slamming doors and wrought iron overhead luggage racks), but they are modern, clean and fast, and go nearly EVERYwhere!

The view of the alley behind our hotel in the Gloucester Road/South Kensington  part of London.  Notice the silver car on the left.

The view of the alley behind our hotel in the Gloucester Road/South Kensington part of London. Notice the silver car on the left. The cool funky one.

So we went down to see what it was.  It’s a Morgan, a make I’d never heard of before.   I now know why:  I could save every penny I earn for the next two decades and I’d still not be able to afford one.  It is a new car made to look old–really cool, roadster old.

The Morgan.  Oh my.  Beautiful REAL wood dashboard, leather everywhere, oh my.  I remember the ferries to San Juan Island...so low-slung it probably couldn't get on/off the ferry!

The Morgan. Oh my. Beautiful REAL wood dashboard, leather everywhere, oh my. I remember the ferries to San Juan Island…so low-slung it probably couldn’t get on/off the ferry!  Made by hand.  I’m not sure Tom Cruise could even afford one of these!  According to Wikipedia there is a six month waiting list to buy one, but has been measured in years at some points!  We chatted a bit with the guy in the photo who worked there…if I recall, they start around 200,000 pounds sterling.   Start at that price.   As I shall never be a Saudi prince, I don’t think I can afford one.

Next we went on to the National Gallery.  Eli was enchanted with the street artists.  This shot is from the entrance to the gallery which overlooks Trafalgar Square.  Though it doesn't look too crowded, it was.   An English friend had been the day before and said the crowds in London were as thick as she had seen in some 70 years!

Next we went on to the National Gallery. Eli was enchanted with the street artists. This shot is from the entrance to the gallery which overlooks Trafalgar Square. Though it doesn’t look too crowded, it was. An English friend had been the day before and said the crowds in London were as thick as she had seen in some 70 years! I love England, I love London, but I think if/when I return it will be in early February to avoid the hordes of tourists.

It's not the best photo, but I have always been captured by this painting of the Execution of Lady Jane Gray.   The silk of her gown glows.

It’s not the best photo, but I have always been captured by this painting of the Execution of Lady Jane Gray. The silk of her gown glows.

Just look at the mastery in the painting!

Just look at the mastery in the painting!

And a close up of the velvet gown of Lady Gray's lady in waiting.

And a close up of the velvet gown of Lady Gray’s lady in waiting.  It was fascinating to see what bits were in exquisite detail, and which were less finely detailed, like the straw (see first photo), causing your eye to focus on the sharply defined items.   The luster of the pearls, too, in the rosary she holds here.

An Odilon Redon...look at that seductive color.

An Odilon Redon…look at that seductive color.  The face in the lower right, the soft and crisp edges.

Eli, of course, wasn’t as enchanted with the art, but humored me.  He is a good traveling companion.  He grasps the concept of Mom needs to see some stuff, Eli gets to see some stuff.  We allow for the other person’s interests.  What a concept!

As I was whizzing through one of the galleries when Eli had temporarily disappeared (it turns out to find a men’s room, which of course is located in the distant basement reached by stairs at the end of the building so it takes forever to get there and back), I snapped these two photos while searching for my disappeared son:

I think this was one of the Cranachs, the Elder?

I think this was one of the Cranachs, yep, Cranach the Elder.

Look at the detail on the textiles!

Look at the detail on the textiles!  Think quilt designs!

Back in the Impressionist rooms were a couple Van Gogh paintings.  Love this humble village.

Back in the Impressionist rooms were a couple Van Gogh paintings. Love this humble village.

Does this Van Gogh look vaguely familiar?  Add a night sky with sworls of gold and you've got Starry Night....

Does this Van Gogh look vaguely familiar? Add a night sky with sworls of gold and you’ve got Starry Night….I LOVE being able to go up close and see the brush strokes.   I may need to try to do a sky like that in a landscape quilt.

And of course I had to take a picture of St. George slaying the dragon, though I prefer my dragons friendly and alive, thank you veddy much.

And of course I had to take a picture of St. George slaying the dragon, though I prefer my dragons friendly and alive, thank you veddy much.  By Gustave Moreau.

And how can you not LOVE a nation that has a sense of humor.  There were some wonderful mosaic floors in the National Gallery (so many people forget to look UP and then look DOWN):

A pub sign that says Rest and be thankful in the mosaic floor.

A pub sign that says Rest and be thankful in the mosaic floor.

And my very favorite of the mosaics:  MUD PIES!

Mud Pies mosaic floor, UK National Gallery, London, England

Mud Pies mosaic floor, UK National Gallery, London, England.  And I’m sorry this is sideways–Photoshop Elements and whatever are NOT cooperating with letting me turn it right side up.  Anyway, ya gotta love a nation that will made a mudpie mosaic!

In the afternoon, we took the train to east of London to Woodbridge, because the next day we were going to the site of the Sutton Hoo burial ships.  I shared photos of some of the phenomenal artifacts that are housed in the British Museum earlier, here.

We stayed in a small B&B at the Station House, and our room was literally on top of the train station in Woodbridge, in East Anglia / Sussex.

We stayed in a small B&B at the Station House, and our room was literally on top of the train station in Woodbridge, in East Anglia / Sussex.

Our view looked over the train tracks to the river.  Apart from a group of 30 or so inebriated 20 somethings heading to the last train at about 10 pm, it was lovely!

The view from our room to the river, across the tracks.

The view from our room to the river, across the tracks.

There is beauty everywhere:

Flowers popping up by the picnic table

Flowers popping up by the picnic table

We wandered about the small town, which Eli and I decided was about the same size as Belfast, Maine, just north of us.  Eli found a shirt and pullover jacket for school!  And I spotted this pillow in the window of a shop–so want to pull out my paints and play and sketch!

Don't you just love hedgehogs?  If you do, you'll like what we did a week later.  Stay tuned!

Don’t you just love hedgehogs? If you do, you’ll like what we did a week later. Stay tuned!

And we had the most scrumptious dinner–one of the best I’ve ever had.  I think it was called the Table restaurant.

Dinner--Eli had salmon, I had massuman (?) curry.  SLURP.  I was well behaved and did NOT lick the plate.

Dinner–Eli had salmon, I had massuman (?) curry. SLURP. I was well behaved and did NOT lick the plate.

And since dinner was so good, we had dessert.

Chocolate mocha pot de creme with fresh mint (homemade) ice cream, with crushed chocolate cookie bits

Chocolate mocha creme anglaise with fresh mint (homemade) ice cream, with crushed chocolate cookie bits.  At least I thought to snap a picture after just the first bite.  Because it went as slowly as I could manage, which wasn’t too slow at all.  SLURP.

As you can see, I continued to exercise Herculean restraing in not licking the plate, but managed quite well with my spoon.

As you can see, I continued to exercise Herculean restraint in not licking the plate, but managed quite well with my spoon.

Next trip when I get to London, I shall schedule some alone time so I can dawdle to my heart’s content in the art galleries, but it was a wonderful day.  I got to see the painting I most wanted to see again (Jane Gray) as well as more.  And finish with a top notch supper in a very pleasant small town.

England 2014: the 13th, Stonehenge

Saturday, October 4th, 2014

This late afternoon visit is one of the memorable moments of my life.   If you stick with me and go through this post, you’ll not only see photos, but two short videos I took while walking inside, so you get to walk along with me!

On the perimeter path at Stonehenge at about 7 pm

On the perimeter path at Stonehenge at about 7 pm.  On a typical summer’s day, some 3000 tourists visit Stonehenge, which is located on the Salisbury Plain.  They must keep to this walkway around the stones because they were being loved to death, with folks compacting the soil so much it was disturbing the structures.  But with our after-hours tour, we got to go inside.

The tour Eli and I took, with Premium Tours and here, visited Bath, Lacock and Stonehenge (first part of the day blogged about here).  For a considerable (but worth it!) sum, a few companies are allowed to bring a tour bus in at either sunrise or sunset, before or after the general public is allowed in, so you have the grounds to yourself.  Since at least when I was in school in England in 1978, you couldn’t walk near to the stones but on a path a distance away (where I took this first photo).  Now, these groups are allowed (in groups of 25) INSIDE the CIRCLE!  Keep reading…the best, longest video is toward the end of the post in sequence.

The Salisbury Plain as seen from the grounds at Stonehenge.

The Salisbury Plain as seen from the grounds at Stonehenge.

Eli on the approach road toward the stones, which are to the left of his face.  The new wonderful visitor's center is some distance removed so you get a feeling for the vastness of the plain and the size of the stones as you approach the circle, as people would have eons ago.

Eli on the approach road toward the stones, which are to the left of his face. The new wonderful visitor’s center is some distance removed so you get a feeling for the vastness of the plain and the size of the stones as you approach the circle, as people would have eons ago. Just to the left of Eli’s head, about the level of his chin, you can see a structure beyond the fence post…that’s it.  Seems small on the broad horizon.  Just wait!

The official sign near the visitor's center

The official sign near the visitor’s center

From that perimeter pathway.  As the sun began to set and the clouds began to disperse, a rainbow appeared!

From that perimeter pathway. As the sun began to set and the clouds began to disperse, a rainbow appeared!

I moved a bit around the path so that it looks like the end of the rainbow is in the middle of the stone.  Just looking at this I am transported to the cool evening air, the rustling of the strong breeze....

I moved a bit around the path so that it looks like the end of the rainbow is in the middle of the stone. Just looking at this I am transported to the cool evening air, the rustling of the strong breeze….the hush as we all stood looking.  There were the 50 people on the bus, our tour guide and two security guards.  LOTS better than a throng of thousands like during the day!

The site allows only 25 persons at a time inside the circle, and you are not allowed to touch the stones.  Luckily, Eli and I got ourselves into the second group.

At one of the signs on the perimeter path--yes, we were really there!

At one of the signs on the perimeter path–yes, we were really there!

Even a teenager could be impressed, getting out his camera and checking the photo.

Even a teenager could be impressed, getting out his camera and checking the photo.

Metering the camera on the sky led to this stunning silhouette as the sun started to go down.

Metering the camera on the sky led to this stunning silhouette as the sun started to go down. Notice the guard on the left, to give a sense of how BIG these stones are!

And Eli, moving away from the path and the circle to get a wide angle shot.

And Eli, moving away from the path and the circle to get a wide angle shot. Just by the trees on his right is a major road, the equivalent of a US interstate.  They are working on relocating that major road farther away from the site.

After the first group, it was our turn to go inside.  The guide (the guy in black pants and white shirt on the left) had the kids go first and pretend to push the stones apart.

After the first group, it was our turn to go inside. The guide (the guy in black pants and white shirt on the left) had the kids go first and pretend to push the stones apart.

From inside the circle.

From inside the circle.  That tallest stone in the center has a nipple on top:  at the top of each of the standing stones is a nipple with a corresponding divot on the under side of the lintel / cross-piece.  Amazing to think considering what tools they had when this was built.  

At the top, where the cross beam rests atop a post, a bird's nest.

At the top, where the cross beam rests atop a post, a bird’s nest.

And about five feet above my head, a stray bit of wool blown from a sheep somewhere, stuck on the lichens.

And about five feet above my head, a stray bit of wool blown from a sheep somewhere, stuck on the lichens.

Here’s the first video, me turning around inside the circle; if you click on the four arrows at the bottom of the screen it will go full-screen (then press escape to go back to regular view):

Stonehenge 1-Inside the Circle from Sarah Ann Smith on Vimeo.

 

Decided to lay down on the grounds--no, didn't feel any deep vibrations or c ommunication from the other side!

Decided to lay down on the grounds–no, didn’t feel any deep vibrations or communication from the other side!

Eli at Stonehenge.

Eli at Stonehenge.

And me, carefully NOT touching the rock!

And me, carefully NOT touching the rock!

The sun begins to set on the Salisbury Plain.

The sun begins to set on the Salisbury Plain.

And the second video, walking around the stone circle.  Remember, if you click on the four arrows at the bottom of the screen it will go full-screen (then press escape to go back to regular view).  Come walk with me and listen to the wind and sigh:

Stonehenge 2–Outside the Circle from Sarah Ann Smith on Vimeo.

 

Then the sunset began to glow…OH MY!

Sunset at Stonehenge, August 13, 2014.   SIGH.  Contentment.

Sunset at Stonehenge, August 13, 2014. SIGH. Contentment.

Sunset, again, at Stonehenge, August 2014.

Sunset, again, at Stonehenge, August 2014.

And it seemed the horizon was ablaze...Stonehenge, August 2014.

And it seemed the horizon was ablaze…Stonehenge, August 2014.

Everyone was just awed–we were all walking around smiling and awed from ear to ear.   It was a long day, and at about 8 pm we began the trip back to London and our hotels.  Worth.  Every.  Penny.   Expensive, but worth it.   A memory for a lifetime, and so glad I got to share it with Eli.  SIGH.   Contentment.

England 2014: Wednesday the 13th: Bath and Lacock

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014
Minerva Sulis, from the Roman Baths in Bath, England

Minerva Sulis, from the Roman Baths in Bath, England–simply exquisite.  I SO need to get out my pencils and watercolors and sketch this head.

Wednesday, August 13 was such a packed day that I’ve had to split it into TWO posts.  When I planned the trip, I wanted to give Eli as good a feeling for various parts of England and times in its history as I could manage in two weeks.  We went from over 2000 years ago to early Roman Britain to medieval to Georgian to Oxford/universities to modern in various places.   Stonehenge is really hard to reach (impossible) by train, and I didn’t want to drive, so that meant a coach tour.  Very early on in the planning, I discovered a special tour that ran from an 11 a.m. pick up in London to Bath, Lacock and Stonehenge, home about 10 p.m.   This post will be the first two stops.

On the way to meet the coach, I had to hug a pillar box (for mail) just in case they ecome a vanishing artifact, like the red phone booths (after all, how many pay phones are there in YOUR town now?  Precious few!)

On the way to meet the bus tour, I had to hug a pillar box (for mail) just in case they become a vanishing artifact, like the red phone booths (after all, how many pay phones are there in YOUR town now? Precious few!) .  Yes, happy to be back in England!

As with my earlier posts, I’ll put most of the info in the photo captions as there are so many photos.

The English countryside, headed west from London to Bath.  Wales is in the distance.

The English countryside, headed west from London to Bath. Wales is in the distance.

In Bath, our guide had the bus stop at the top of the hill so we could walk down to the center of town.  He said these trees were planted July 4, 1776.  Not sure how they know that, but the ring of trees must date to about them.  They are in a circle in the center of Georgian homes on a circular area/park-let.

In Bath, our guide had the bus stop at the top of the hill so we could walk down to the center of town. He said these trees were planted July 4, 1776. Not sure how they know that, but the ring of trees must date to about then. They are in a circle in the center of Georgian homes on a circular area/park-let.

Our guide wanted us to see the view down to bath but also to see a quintessential Georgian “crescent” of homes.  These would have been for the well-to-do as they are tall.  Transport yourself to something Jane Austen-ish!

This neighborhood in Bath has been well-to-do for a good 300 years.

This neighborhood in Bath has been well-to-do for a good 300 years.

We then walked down the hill through town to the Roman Baths.  The building on the other side of the horde of tourists is the Roman baths.

We then walked down the hill through town to the Roman Baths. The building on the other side of the horde of tourists is the Roman baths.

Not sure of the date of this building, but obviously it isn't Roman.  But it was decorated incredibly beautifully with "classic" themed images.

Not sure of the date of this building, but obviously it isn’t Roman. But it was decorated incredibly beautifully with “classic” themed images.

One of the triangular panels beneath the dome--just love the artwork, the "fit the space" composition, the delicacy of the lines of the figure

One of the triangular panels beneath the dome–just love the artwork, the “fit the space” composition, the delicacy of the lines of the figure

Drum roll:  the Roman Baths.  A tad green, eh?  But folks have gone to take the waters and regain health in Bath for nigh on to 1700 years.  And The US of A  is scarcely 300 years including many colonial days...

Drum roll: the Roman Baths. A tad green, eh? But folks have gone to take the waters and regain health in Bath for nigh on to 1700 years. And The US of A is scarcely 300 years including most of our time as colonies…

Never one to miss a sewing opportunity or idea, however, I snapped this young woman's backpack with button pocket while at the baths.

Never one to miss a sewing opportunity or idea, I snapped this young woman’s backpack with button pocket while at the baths.

As always, I am fascinated with "how did they do that back then?"  This is a hollowed out brick used in creating an arch, with deep scored patterns to help the mortar stick.  My thought:  what a great rubbing that would make!

As always, I am fascinated with “how did they do that back then?” This is a hollowed out brick used in creating an arch, with deep scored patterns to help the mortar stick. My thought: what a great rubbing that would make!

And carvings.  Now can anyone tell me that whoever created E.T. (remember the movie, "phone home" and the trail of Reese's pieces?) had NOT seen this carving?

And carvings. Now can anyone tell me that whoever created E.T. (remember the movie, “phone home” and the trail of Reese’s pieces?) had NOT seen this carving?  It is TOTALLY E.T.!

A thousand years ago when I was in England in college I visited the baths, but I had not realized or remembered that the waters are WARM.  This interior waterfall that directs the mineral-laden water to the bathing pools clearly shows *how* warm!

A thousand years ago when I was in England in college I visited the baths, but I had not realized or remembered that the waters are WARM. This interior waterfall that directs the steaming mineral-laden water to the bathing pools clearly shows *how* warm!

And when I entered the room with this Green Man it simply took my breath away.  I KNOW they displays and museum weren't this good in 1978!

And when I entered the room with this Green Man it simply took my breath away. I KNOW the displays and museum weren’t this good in 1978!

Back outside of the baths is the Cathedral in Bath.  I hadn't realized that in England a city is a place that has a cathedral.  The rest are towns.  Makes it pretty straightforward, eh?  And as always, incredible artistry in the carvings.

Back outside of the baths is the Cathedral in Bath. I hadn’t realized that in England a city is a place that has a cathedral. The rest are towns. Makes it pretty straightforward, eh? And as always, incredible artistry in the carvings.

The next ones are for my dear friend Marie Z, who has a thing for angels:

On one of the towers of the Cathedral.  Note most of the angels are going up, but one is falling.

On one of the towers of the Cathedral. Note most of the angels are going up, but this shot of a portion of the tower shows how one is falling, too.

We were to meet the bus near to the Cathedral, where there was a park down by the river, with this beautiful angel.

We were to meet the bus near to the Cathedral, where there was a park down by the river, with this beautiful angel.

I loved the wings so much that I had to take this close-up.  And I must say, traveling with a digital camera and being able to take a gazillion shots, delete the flubs and not worry about how long one's supply of ten rolls of 36 negatives each would last, is really nice!  And being to see that you FLUBBED all the shots before you leave so you can take them again!

I loved the wings so much that I had to take this close-up. And I must say, traveling with a digital camera and being able to take a gazillion shots, delete the flubs and not worry about how long one’s supply of ten rolls of 36 negatives each would last, is really nice! And being to see that you FLUBBED all the shots before you leave so you can take them again!

Professor Slughorn's home

Professor Slughorn’s home.  Our next stop was a tiny town, Lacock.  Wikipedia entry here; the town dates from the 1200s and is now largely a National Trust property, but folks live in the old homes.  This is a more modern house on the outskirts of town and was in the Harry Potter movie with Prof. Slughorn (we wanted to do favorite books on this trip).

An intersection in Lacock; these homes are still lived in, with wiring and plumbing added 500+ years after they were built!

An intersection in Lacock; these homes are still lived in, with wiring and plumbing added 500+ years after they were built!

I took a number of photos of "chimney pots,"  often with birds. Love the feathers ruffled by the wind on this gray day.

I took a number of photos of “chimney pots,” often with birds. Love the feathers ruffled by the wind on this gray day.

In the Harry Potter films, this was Harry's parent's house when he was born.  Cool, eh?

In the Harry Potter films, this was Harry’s parent’s house when he was born. Cool, eh? (And look at those clouds!)

And one more typical street in Lacock.

And one more typical street in Lacock.

We had a pub supper here, then went on to Stonehenge, which will be my next England post.   It was an experience of a lifetime…AND I actually have a 2 minute video for you all when we walked near the stones.  It is so wonderful to re-live this trip–now I need to find time to SKETCH!  We were so busy doing so much on the trip that I scarcely lifted a pen or pencil.

 

England 2014: the first Tuesday, London

Monday, September 22nd, 2014

Back in 1989-91, Paul and I lived in Libreville, Gabon, where he was the deputy US Ambassador and, since I wasn’t allowed to work under him according the State Department rules, I was on leave without pay (which was fine by me).  Our nearest neighbors and dear friends were the British Ambassador and his wife, Mark and Lynn Goodfellow.  Mark passed away years ago, but we keep in touch with Lynn.  We were to meet her on Tuesday afternoon, so in the morning Eli and I did the hop-on, hop-off tour of London (which took HOURS), then met Lynn for the afternoon and evening.  It was if 23 years evaporated–such fun!

With Lynn and Eli at Lynn's home in Putney Heath, near WImbledon, after a lovely day

With Lynn and Eli at Lynn’s home in Putney Heath, near WImbledon, after a lovely day

And I apologize in advance for so many photos, but gosh, this is maybe five percent (or less) of the photos that I took–things to remember and design inspiration EVERYWHERE!

Some of the things I noticed:  how CLEAN the air is compared to 30 years ago.  Gone are the diesel-spewing lorries and busses.  The vehicles have much stricter emissions, many are hybrids, and the air is actually CLEAN!  No more coughing on choking exhaust.  And the building–there were huge construction cranes and building and upgrading going on EVERYwhere.   Alas, I had told Eli to expect people to queue up nicely, no pushing, to wait for lights and so on.  At least in London that is no longer the case–it’s more like a big city anywhere.  And the dress:  in 1978, Americans looked American, Brits looked British, the Germans German and so on.  Now, MAYBE some of the French flair will pop out at you, but otherwise  from Japanese to American to British to generic European we all dress alike.  Except for the Muslim women in veils, but even there is a wide range!

Imagine, design inspiration even on the double decker buses.  Loved this take on steampunk!

Imagine, design inspiration even on the double decker buses, here on Regent Street in the heart of London. Loved this take on steampunk!

This beautiful building reinforced the dictum to "Look Up."

This beautiful building reinforced the dictum to “Look Up.”

Look at that cool critter up on top and the ornamentation in the base.

Look at that cool critter up on top and the ornamentation in the base.

I wish I had thought to switch the camera over to video, here on Regent Street at Oxford Circus.  A "Circus" is a roundabout or traffic circle.  This was about 10 am on a Tuesday  morning.  Talk about a swarm of humanity...it made me laugh, and really glad I was on the bus and not IN the swarm!

I wish I had thought to switch the camera over to video, here on Regent Street at Oxford Circus. A “Circus” is a roundabout or traffic circle. This was about 10 am on a Tuesday morning. Talk about a swarm of humanity…it made me laugh, and really glad I was on the bus and not IN the swarm!

SWOON--that half-timbered building is Liberty, as in Liberty of London, as in all that glorious fabric and more.   We did get back there but only for half an hour.  Just as well, if I had stayed longer I would be even more broke and have needed a suitcase!

SWOON–that half-timbered building is Liberty, as in Liberty of London, as in all that glorious fabric and more. We did get back there but only for half an hour. Just as well, if I had stayed longer I would be even more broke and have needed a suitcase!

Coming up on Picadilly Circus, traveling on Regent Street.  Notice the done on the building on the corner.

Coming up on Picadilly Circus, traveling on Regent Street. Notice the done on the building on the corner.

Look at that utterly amazing sculpture up near the dome, a woman diving...way cool!

Look at that utterly amazing sculpture up near the dome, a woman diving…way cool!

So much of the old architecture is laden with inspiring ornament, but even new buildings proved interesting.  Think how dull this modern building would be without that design up the front.  Hmmm...that could get translated into a really cool thermofax screen now that I think of it....

So much of the old architecture is laden with inspiring ornament, but even new buildings proved interesting. Think how dull this modern building would be without that design up the front. Hmmm…that could get translated into a really cool thermofax screen now that I think of it….

Soon we came to Trafalgar Square, with the National Gallery, St. Martin in the Fields church, Lord Nelson's column, and this blue rooster.   This plinth (base) has been the home for some rotating art.   I'll let you google to find out more about it... but a big blue....ummm...let's go with rooster.....someone has a sense of humor!

Soon we came to Trafalgar Square, with the National Gallery, St. Martin in the Fields church, Lord Nelson’s column, and this blue rooster. This plinth (base) has been the home for some rotating art. I’ll let you google to find out more about it… but a big blue….ummm…let’s go with rooster…..someone has a sense of humor!

National Gallery on the left....

National Gallery on the left….

And take a look at the design work on that dome.  What a great quilting pattern or background design!

And take a look at the design work on that dome. What a great quilting pattern or background design!

Next we went into the City of London, the original small city.  This clock is at the Inns of Court, the justice departments.

Next we went into the City of London, the original small city. This clock is at the Inns of Court, the justice departments.

Here's the fairy-tale-like building to which the clock is attached:.

Here’s the fairy-tale-like building to which the clock is attached:.

Next we drove along Fleet Street, home to the London press.  LOVED the dragon!

Next we drove along Fleet Street, home to the London press. LOVED the dragon!

And for my friend Jacquie who loves owls, this clock on a building on Fleet Street.

And for my friend Jacquie who loves owls, this clock on a building on Fleet Street.

One of the old narrow b uildings next to the raised light rail lines--if you look up a bit, you'll see the trains.  I used to take the train in from Lewisham when I was in school in the 70s.

One of the old narrow b uildings next to the raised light rail lines–if you look up a bit, you’ll see the trains. I used to take the train in from Lewisham when I was in school in the 70s.

The old and the new:  the Tower of London (another place we regretfully decided to skip because it was wall-to-wall people), with the modern building called the Gherkin behind it.

The old and the new: the Tower of London (another place we regretfully decided to skip because it was wall-to-wall people), with the modern building called the Gherkin behind it.

Going across Tower Bridge.  The Bridge is a stunning architectural beauty!

Going across Tower Bridge. The Bridge is a stunning architectural beauty!

A neighborhood (Belgravia or Chelsea I think) in London

A neighborhood (Belgravia or Chelsea I think) in London

A most stunning artwork-in-progress at The Tower to commemorate those slain in World War 1, as this is the centennary anniversary of the start of that war.   Learn more about this Fields of Blood installation here.

A most stunning artwork-in-progress at The Tower to commemorate those slain in World War 1, as this is the centennary anniversary of the start of that war. Learn more about this Sea of Red  installation here and here.  Red poppies, which grew in Flanders Fields, are traditional in the UK to commemorate those lost in war.  These are ceramic poppies; the last will be installed on November 11th, 2014, armistice day (the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, our Veterans’ Day).  The Smithsonian article (the second link) said “All told, 888,246 poppies will flood the Tower’s moat, equaling the number of British and Colonial soldiers who perished in the war.  The project, titled Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, comes from the creative minds of ceramic artist Paul Cummins and state designer Tom Piper.”

At 1 pm, we met Lynn at Westminster Pier.  She said she'd have on a hat.  Well, as we walked up I saw a woman in a hat with her back to me in a stance that looked SO familiar, so I called out and indeed it was Lynn!  We went on a cruise ship up the Thames from Westminster (home to Parliament, Big Ben and Westminster Abbey) to The Tower and back.  It was tons of fun!

At 1 pm, we met Lynn at Westminster Pier. She said she’d have on a hat. Well, as we walked up I saw a woman in a hat with her back to me in a stance that looked SO familiar, so I called out and indeed it was Lynn! We went on a cruise ship up the Thames from Westminster (home to Parliament, Big Ben and Westminster Abbey) to The Tower and back. It was tons of fun!  Lynn on the left, Eli wishing I would stop taking pictures with him in them.

I also  had a lot of f un taking pictures of chimney pots everywhere.

I also had a lot of f un taking pictures of chimney pots everywhere.

The Golden Hind, a replica of Sir Francis Drake's ship.  Depending on which side of the sword you were on, he was either a hero of Britain or a miserable marauding pirate.  He explored the San Francisco bay area and the main artery near where I grew up is called Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, and the public high school is Drake High School.

The Golden Hind, a replica of Sir Francis Drake’s ship. Depending on which side of the sword you were on, he was either a hero of Britain or a miserable marauding pirate. He explored the San Francisco bay area and the main artery near where I grew up is called Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, and the public high school is Drake High School.

American theatre impresario Sam Wannamaker is a hero in England for his successful efforts to reconstruct Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, complete with thatched mossy roof, on the banks of the Thames.  We didn't get to any plays...maybe next trip?

American theatre impresario Sam Wannamaker is a hero in England for his successful efforts to reconstruct Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, complete with thatched mossy roof, on the banks of the Thames. We didn’t get to any plays…maybe next trip?

London Bridge is not falling down, and is still in place.  It is also NOT the beautiful Tower Bridge, but this rather bland thing.   At least I can now say I've been under, over and ON the Thames.

London Bridge is not falling down, and is still in place. It is also NOT the beautiful Tower Bridge, but this rather bland thing. At least I can now say I’ve been under, over and ON the Thames.

Eli recognized this building immediately as having been the location for MI6, the spy agency, in the last Bond movie, Skyfall.  Luckily, it did not really blow up, as it is the new Charing Cross Station (rail and tube).  The boat guide told us there was a design competition with the goal to design a building that has train-like...I can see the hint of the old engines in this--can you?

Eli recognized this building immediately as having been the location for MI6, the spy agency, in the last Bond movie, Skyfall. Luckily, it did not really blow up, as it is the new Charing Cross Station (rail and tube). The boat guide told us there was a design competition with the goal to design a building that has train-like…I can see the hint of the old engines in this–can you?

And our next day, the first Wednesday, was a day to remember for a lifetime….stay tuned!  I’ll blog about it in two parts…..