Saturday, July 17, 2010

Wednesday, July 14, 2010 On The Road Again

Bewley's Hotel inside Manchester Airport.  It was really a normal hotel, but after two weeks of London's smallest bathroom, Bewley's felt like The Ritz.
Last night I stayed at a hotel right in Manchester Airport.  Very convenient!  Bewley's is a U.K. hotel chain, but their claim to fame is American style rooms.  That means they have queen size beds, (almost unheard of in London!) a love seat and table, a full sized t.v., and an iron and ironing board in every room.  I'm embarrassed, but I will admit that it took me about fifteen minutes to figure out how to turn on the lights.  I tried everything I could think of, but no luck.  I had figured out how to turn on the the t.v. and change the channel, (always hard for me) how to turn on the bathtub and shower, (more confusing than you would think) and how to adjust the thermostat (I was surprised they let the customers do that).  But, the lights were a mystery.  Finally, I swallowed my pride and called the front desk.   The woman informed me, rather snippily, that you must enter your door card in the slot inside the door.  Who knew?!?  Certainly not me.

This is not a joke!  These are real instructions.  At least
this bathroom had instructions.  Most of the time I just
fiddled around until I stumbled on how to flush the toilet,
 turn on the shower, or run the bath.
But the best thing about Bewley's was the bathroom.  It had a tub! A tall, deep bathtub!  And joy of  joys, the bathroom was big enough for me to spread my arms open wide and twirl around, which I did.  It was also big enough that I could shave my legs without having to open the shower door.  Luxury! 

Bewley's also had ice machines.  Hooray!!!  But, no ice bucket.  Huh?!?  I finally figured out that guests were suppose to take the tiny juice glasses provided in the room down to the machine where you fill up each glass individually and then walk back to your room.  Why do the Brits fear ice?

The ice machine was in a small vestibule which had a few vending machines.  One sold cokes and juice.  Another sold "sweets" and "crisps."  The third was larger so I figured it sold sandwiches.  Wrong.  It was a vending machine for alcohol!  Each of the little bins held a wine cooler or a bottle of beer.  Some of them even held cans of soft drinks and those little bottles of booze.  That's something you would never see at home!

See the down comforters?  There is no top sheet under that
fluffy comforter, nada!
I experienced another first, as well.  All the rooms had down comforters covered in duvets, but no top sheets on the beds.  I knew this was how most Europeans make their beds, but I had never experienced it.  It worked well that night because it was chilly.  But what do people do when it is warm?  It's the down duvet or nothing.  You can't fold down the comforter and cover up with the top sheet on warm nights.  And, what about the cleanliness?  Does the hotel change the duvet covers each time they have a new guest?  Bleh!!! I'm glad that didn't occur to me until the next morning at breakfast. 

I don't think I will ever get use to seeing
 police officers carrying machine guns!
I got to the airport around 8:15 and spent the next 45 minutes going through security.  Let me tell you, British airport security was definitely more stringent than American security!  First, all the passengers had to go through a one on one interview with a security officer who asked about our luggage and why we had been to the country.  Who packed your luggage?  When did you pack?  Did anyone else have access to your bags.  Where are you going next? 

"And madame, did you let a crazed terrorist
pack your luggage this morning?"
Next, the baggage check person asked about electronics, lithium batteries, hand held computers, and weighed the luggage.  I was a little worried about that.  I would swear my bag weighed twice as much as when I left DFW.  It weighed 14.1 kilograms, whatever that means.

Then, we did the put-your-things-in-the-bins, take-off-your-shoes, and check-your-311-bag routine.  Unlike the DFW security people, these security people really checked the 311 bag.  One of the security guys cheerfully told me that my bottle of contact solution was too big.  The same bottle that successfully made it through security in DFW and JFK, didn't pass inspection in MAN.  They did let me put some solution into my contact case before they threw it away, though.  Thank goodness for small kindnesses!

The Security Officers took their job, very seriously!
After that, I thought we were done, but no!  We had to go through another security check before we were allowed to enter the waiting area for our gate.  Two female officers wearing scary, blue latex gloves gave me a thorough, but polite pat down and minutely searched my purse.  Whew!  I heard a security officer explaining to another passenger, who had gotten his feathers ruffled, that we were on a high security flight.  Always curious, I asked my officer, why.  I thought the flight might have tighter security because we were flying into New York.  The officer said that it wasn't because we were going to New York, it was because we were going to the U.S.  Apparently, all flights going into the U.S. are considered high security risk flights.  That was an eye opener!  They had certainly increased security dramatically since my previous trip just last summer.  I have to admit that after I heard that, I did take a look around at my fellow passengers to see if anyone seemed suspicious!  They all looked like normal ol' people to me.  After all this rigamarole, the only thing left was to get on the plane and fly home, and I was quite ready to go at this point.

Ah!!!  Airplane travel is so sophistocated.
Three hours into the flight I decided that plane engineers are all sadists!!!  They must all have had terrible childhoods, are confirmed misogynists, and must be related to the Grinch.  Can there be anything more awkward and uncomfortable than trying to eat a meal on an airplane?  Trying not to spill anything on your neighbor who is 10 centimeters away should be an Olympic event.  Salad should never come in a plastic covered container that you have to tear open with your teeth!  And, whose bright idea was it to put Thousand Island dressing on a flight full of Europeans?  The British man sitting next to me looked totally bewildered.  He also seemed mighty confused as he tried to figure out what Laughing Cow spread was and how we were suppose to eat it.  No wonder they laugh at the idea of American cuisine!  I bet the flight attendants had a good time laughing at how ridiculous the passengers look trying to eat their "meal." 

Passport Control and Immigration at JFK.
Arriving at JFK was awful and wonderful.  I don't know what it is about airports that seems to make people feel more frantic and rushed, but it always seems to happen.   Take that situation, put it in New York, and add rude French tourist who have no concept of standing in line and you have a sure fire recipe for stress.

But, it was wonderful to hear American accents again and see the relaxed, more casual style of interaction we have with each other.   The first thing I saw and heard while standing in line at customs was two JFK customs officials joking around and flirting with each other.  A younger man was pretend flirting with a middle age woman who was clearly his boss.  They didn't try to lower their voices like the British would.  They knew all the bored passengers waiting in line were listening to everything they said, but it didn't bother them.  He kept cheekily asking her to go out with him, and she kept rolling her eyes and telling him to get a life.  It was great and so American!  It felt good to be home.  It was like a big ol' glass of ice tea filled to the rim with ice!

Mother met me at the airport with a big ol' glass of ice tea and tons of ice.  What a treat!

Mexican food, how I've missed you!!!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Tuesday, July 13, 2010, Coming Home

icture a similar scene but in the 1850's.  Imagine settlers six months into their bumpy, uncomfortable, Conestoga odyssey, but knowing the mountains are only days ahead.  Suddenly Grandma's sideboard doesn't feel all that fact, it feels like an unnecessary monkey on your back! 
Who needs it?!?  Who wants it?!?  We can always buy another one!  Let's dump it!

This morning as I was packing up to catch the train back to Manchester, I felt like those pioneers in the Conestoga wagons on the Oregon Trail. Remember how the trail was littered with family heirlooms and once treasured possessions. I literally weighed and evaluated each item I put back in my tiny rolly bag. Do I really need to wash my hair AGAIN before I get on the plane? Why did I bring that Sham-Wow? Yea! I used up all the astringent. I can throw that away. Why did I think I had to have those gargoyles from Canterbury Cathedral?!?  I guess some things about travel never change.  We may have different modes of transportation, but what we think we need to take is still a monkey on our backs.  There's a life lesson in there somewhere!

The land gets hilly as you approach

The train ride to Manchester was gorgeous!  It was overcast and cool today.  I think England looks loveliest when it's a little grey.  We passed a field of early heather.  I wanted to yell, "Stop! I have to get a picture!!!"  But, better judgment took over.  Instead I satisfied myself by watching the lambs frolicking in the fields.  The cows lay down in the fields quite often, here.  We passed several herds placidly lounging around having a mid-day chat.  Maybe it's too hot for the American cows to lay down.  Who knows?

Manchester is an old working class town with deep industrial roots.  But to most people it is probably known best for being the home of Manchester United.  They say that JK Rowley based her rabid quiddich fans on the Manchester United fans who are more than a little devoted!  The quiddich stadium is a cross between the O2 stadium in London and the Manchester U stadium.  But I think it looks a lot like the new Cowboys Stadium.  

Manchester United's Stadium
Lately, Manchester has been going through something of a Renaissance.  It has become the young, hip town with lots of new, modern architecture. But frankly, that type of stuff doesn't interest me much.   It's a dime a dozen at home. I don't need to fly over an ocean to see new!  Plus, I'm knackered!  There is nothing dignified or glamorous about public transportation! We are just so much cattle.  Move 'em out!  Move 'em on!

Sheep scattered around the fields like spilled popcorn.
I will miss England, terribly! Just being in the land and smelling the clean breeze and smelling the flowers feels like coming home. I've always been interested in how the setting influences literary characters and real people. But although I feel the ancestral calling of this lovely place, it doesn't have my family and my friends. It doesn't have my more recent roots. I'm ready for some Texas heat. I'm ready for some Mexican food. I'm ready to know how to shop in the grocery store and how to turn the lights on!  I'm ready to come home.  Maybe part of the pleasure of traveling is coming home.


The Greyfriar is the village pub just down the street from Jane Austen's house.
The "Pen and Parchment."  What an appropriate name for a pub in the bard's home town.
The Marquis of Granby - a London pub.
The Bear and Staff was close to my B&B.

I loved noticing all the flower covered pubs! 

What a great name for a pub!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Monday, July 12, 2010 Ginger and Rhubarb Cheesecake

This is the view looking from Trafalgar Square down Whitehall towards Parliament and the Thames.

Last night was the final game of the World Cup.  Did you know that? Believe me if you were here, you would!  No one has talked about anything else but the "hot" weather and who should win the World Cup, Spain or Holland.  The match started last night at seven.  In the two summers I've been here, I have NEVER heard the city so quiet. There was almost no traffic on the streets. just disgruntled cabbies and bus drivers.  Everyone else was at home or in a pub glued to the tele.  I knew when the game was over though, because an almighty roar reverberated up and down Gower Street at just about 10:30. Spain won.  Aren't you excited!  Londoners were.  This morning, everyone seemed to be nursing hang overs! The pubs had stacks and stacks of bottles outside waiting for the dust bin men. There is a decided drinking culture here. I'm not sure how I feel about that. But it added atmosphere for my morning walk.

Just a teaser of the fantastic view from the restaurant at
The National Portrait Gallery
For lunch I decided to treat myself! The National Portrait Gallery has a restaurant on their top floor. I had read that the restaurant had a great view of central London. It does. It was stunning!!! The lucky diners, me included, enjoyed a panoramic, roof top level view of Nelson's monument, Big Ben, the blue clock of St. Martins in the Field, Parliament, and of course, the London Eye. When the girl showed me to my table, she had to slow down and wait for me because I couldn't take my eyes off the view. Unfortunately, the restaurant was a little of the snooty side, so I couldn't take pictures!

One of the water themed sculptures in Trafalgar Square
The lunch was good, too. Ordering was a bit intimidating, though. The menu was set up in courses! But I'm learning that acting as if you are confident even when you don't feel it, can carry you through a lot of situations! When you make a mistake but do it confidently, people just think, "Oh. That must be the way they do it in the states." Hee hee. I ordered a very fancy salad with a French name. It turned out to be a really nice Caesar salad with smoked chicken. It had some types of delicious cheese on it. It might have been Gruyere.

For pudding, I ordered a Ginger and rhubarb cheese cake. That probably doesn't sound that good, but I decided to be a culinary adventuress. After all, I've already had potatoes in a Waldorf salad while I was here, and that was pretty good! All I can say is: Yum! Yum! Yum! The cheesecake was beautifully displayed on the plate with a drizzle of honey and a little portion of delicious rhubarb. Next to the excellent cheesecake was a small scoop of Ginger parfait. It wasn't ice cream; it was kind of like ice milk, which doesn't sound that good, but was! It had a sprinkle of superfine crystallized Ginger sugar all over it! Wow! I wish I could have had a big bowl of just that. I wish I could wiggle my nose and send you all a piece! It was fab!

The restaurant started filling up right after I got there. Let me bust one cultural myth right now. The British are not always quiet! They may be soft spoken in public places like museums, but they are not quiet when they are socializing! That restaurant got noisy. Another cultural myth I want to bust right now, the British - not so classy! I think the accent lulls Americans into giving them more credit than they are due. They are just like us. Sometimes the salad falls off their forks, just like ours. And, the backwards way they hold their forks - not superior - just different. It's not even efficient with some foods.

The only painting of the Bronte sisters painted during their lives.
It was painted by their brother, Bramwell, who was somewhat
of a disappointment to the family. 
The day was great! I wandered through The National Portrait Gallery, avoiding the annoying school groups, and gazing lovingly at my literary heroes like Samuel Pepys and Charlotte Bronte. Then, I went next door to The National Gallery and saw a special exhibit called "Fakes, Mistakes, and something, something, something." The National Gallery is one of the top art research museums in the world. Over the years they have pioneered many ways to authenticate art. This exhibit showed various paintings and the way the museum discovered if they were forgeries. Sometimes the paintings were not forgeries, just copies made by students who were in training.
The fake Botticelli

The real Botticelli
Apparently, some of those students were so good that down through the centuries their copies came to be mistaken for the true artist's work. Other paintings were believed to be fakes, but when the experts analyzed the work they found it to be authentic. Some of those painting were just so dirty, no one could tell they were real. Others had been restored so poorly in the past, particularly in the 1800's, that they were believed to be bad copies of lost originals. Can you imagine thinking that old painting you have in the hallway is just a mildly interesting bit of work, and then finding out it is an Old Master! It was an interesting show.

I got my wish! On the way home, it started to rain. Just a little, just enough to be irritating. All the tourists whipped out their umbrellas. All the locals just kept on walking. I would have whipped out my umbrella, but I had left it in my room. So, I just put on my sun glasses so the rain wouldn't blur my contacts. Ten minutes later, the dun was back out! Ah, London weather.


One of the four lions in Trafalgar Square.

This tiny space in Trafalgar Square is the smallest police station in London; it has just enough room
for one bobbie to get out of the rain.

The National Portrait Gallery is the centerpiece of Trafalgar Square.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Sunday, July 11, 2010. Blenheim Palace Oxford, and Paddington Station

The front door of Blenheim Palace

Today I decided to go see Blenheim Palace, the "house" where Winston Churchill was born.  The common misconception was that Churchill lived here, but he didn't.  The house belonged to his uncle and passed to his cousin.  But Winston was born at Blenheim because his mother had gone to a weekend party at Blenheim and danced too much and took a bumpy pony cart ride.  Well Winnie was ready, and that's all the encouragement he needed!  We got to see the room where he was born and the little gown he was put into.  The 1880's onesies were very sweet!

The palace was built around a courtyard that was about
 the size of a small mall.  This is East Wing of the Palace.
The Palace defied description!!!  The land and money to build the house as well as the hereditary title, the Duke of Marlborough, were given to John Churchill, as a reward for winning the Battle of Blenheim. It turns out that Blenheim is in Germany.  I wondered about that because Blenheim doesn't sound or look like an English name.  The title of Duke, by the way, is the highest title in English nobility other than the royal titles.  Prince Phillip's own title is the Duke of Edinburgh.  So John and Sarah went from Queen Anne's dear friends, the Churchill's, to the Duke and Duchess of Marlborough.  Not bad! 

Isn't it astounding what lots and lots of money can do!
The Palace was enormous and very GRAND. It was filled with portraits painted by all sorts of famous artists.  There was even a full sized pipe organ at the end of the long, lovely library.  It was obvious that the library was well used and loved!  It did my heart good to see that! 

The house took 27 years to build, and the Duke only got to live in it for two years before he died.  It wasn't even finished.  His wife, Sarah Churchill didn't even like it!  I asked the guide why.  He said very politely, "Well, would you want to live here?"  I had to think about it a second, then I answered, "No, it's too big!"  And the lady next to me added, "I bet it's freezing in here in the winter time."  All the British people rolled their eyes and said, "Too right!" and "Cor blimey!"  It was adorable.

I also asked about the unusual golden color of the house.  The guide told me that the house was built from limestone, and over the years the embedded iron ore has leeched out to created this lovely ochre color. 

Blenheim was also one of the first great houses to join the National Trust.  It turns out that these grand houses were more of a curse for these rich families than a blessing.  The first generation was usually given lands and money to create the estate, but the future generations usually struggled, mightily, to maintain the house.  This was the reason some of the great families started marrying rich American heiresses in the late 1800's.  In their minds, they were marrying down, but exchanging a title for ready cash was appealing. 

The State Dinning Room
When England introduced the national income tax some time after World War II, many old families simply couldn't afford these grand properties any more.  Some just gave up and gave the house to the government.  That's when the National Trust was formed to preserve these treasures.  Some families like the present Duke of Marlborough's family, worked out a compromise.  They continue to live in their ancestral home, but in exchange, the property was opened to the public at certain times.  The money raised was, and is, used to repair and maintain the houses, the grounds, and the works of art inside.  Even with tourist money rolling in, these palaces are expensive to maintain.  But, the system seems to work well.  It would break my heart to see these art collections and beautiful homes broken up, or worse, fall into disrepair. 

Just one of the many gardens on the grounds.
I paid extra to take a behind-the-scenes tour. These "secret peek" tours are always worth every penny, and this one was no exception. A very posh, head butler type man took us into the section of the house where the current Duke of Marlborough and his family live. They're away on the continent right now. Cor blimey! The family lives in the same part of the palace where the first Duke and Duchess lived. It was the first wing to be completed and and the entrance was very low key. It's was a simple, nondescript, side door that looked like a servants' entrance.  We even had to walk down several steps to get to it like we were going through a basement door. How deceptive!  The inside looked like those pictures of English country houses you see in Architectural Digest and Veranda. Comfortable, squashy couches. Expensive tapestries and rugs. Pictures of kids and dogs in silver frames. And, incredible views of the rose garden and the Long Walk in the park. There was also an adorable marble lined baking room left from the original kitchens.  It over looked the rose garden and was full of light.  Now they use it to display all the different sets of china the family has collected over the years.  Our guide said that every time he takes tours into this room, all the women sigh and coo, and all the men roll their eyes.  It was my favorite room.  In my next life I want to be stinking, filthy, rotten rich! Well, maybe just stinkin' rich.

The other entrance which provides a front view of the Palace.
Later in the tour as we were standing in a long hallway looking at a portrait of Winston Churchill, our guide told us that during World War II, Blenheim was never bombed, even though there were and still are several military bases close by. Of course, I asked why. He said that Hitler gave orders to leave Blenheim untouched because after the war he wanted to use his arch-rival, Winston Churchill's family home as his personal residence in England. He also planned to set up the headquarters of the Third Reich in nearby Oxford. Oxford was the first university ever created in the entire world.  It has been a home for free thought for over a thousand years.  The thought of Hitler setting up his Nazi empire in Oxford sent chills down my spine! Thank goodness for Winnie!

The Long Walk approach to Blenheim Palace. 
That's it in the distance!
Every other tree is a linden wood tree.
The house and grounds were so lovely and peaceful! When I arrived, I walked down the Long Walk about a quarter of a mile to the house. It's an old and very effective trick in the art of the power play. You look down this vast vista at this impressive house, and as you get closer, the house only grows in size and impressiveness! Ah the English! The Long Walk is lined with trees. I noticed that there was a delicious, sweet smell all down that drive, but I couldn't see any flowers. As I was leaving at the end of the day, a German man told me that the aroma was coming from the trees. Every other tree was a Linden wood tree. I had read about them, but I didn't know this was what I was seeing and smelling. It's been a little frustrating looking at all these beautiful and unfamiliar plants, trees, and birds. Most of the time when I ask someone what they are, I get a shrug and a, "Beats me, luv."

A picture of beautiful Paddington Station from the Internet.
I was so busy trying to figure out where to catch the train,
that I forgot to take a picture.
This morning when I left Paddington Station, the train was packed! There were three cars reserved for a huge group of French teenagers. Mon Dieu! There was no question of having an empty seat next to me; many people were standing in the aisle. A young girl from Malaysia sat next to me. Her parents were in London for a week because she was about to graduate from college. She studied law and is about to spend a year studying for the bar exam. She told me that since Malaysia is a British Commonwealth country (I didn't know that), if she gets a law degree in England, she can practice in any commonwealth country. That's convenient. She was very talkative and very up on American TV shows, movies, and celebrity gossip! I didn't know that that many of our TV shows were shown over here. And, why would anyone in the UK care about Miley Cyrus and Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie? No wonder they tend to think we are shallow if that's all they have to judge us with! Hollywood has a lot to answer for.

Tomorrow it is suppose to rain! I know it sounds crazy, but it has not rained, or even been overcast once since I got here.  I want some good old miserable English weather to complain about.  After all, I bought a new umbrella and I want to use it!


I'm pretty sure I saw this bridge on "To The Manor Born." 
I can just picture Penelope Keith strolling across.

At the end of the Long Walk, you finally reach the gates to enter Blenheim.
How's that gate for One-Up-Man-ship?

The inner gates of Blenheim just continue the suspense.  Where's the house? 
 If these are the gates, how grand is the house?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Saturday, July 10, 2010 "My Vicar of Dibley" and "To The Manor Born" Moments

Arundel Castle where they filmed parts of The Young Victoria
I seem to be seeing scenes from all the British comedies and Masterpiece Theater programs, and English period piece movies I have ever watched.

This village shop looked like it was straight out of Harry Potter.
Today, I took the train from Victoria Station to Arundel. The village of Arundel is about an hour and a half southwest of London and very close to the coast. I was reminded of this because the sound of the sea gulls screeching and fighting echoed all over town, and the humidity level was through the roof!  This area of England is called the South Downs.  I guess it got this name because the land literally rolls down to the sea. There was chalk under those hills. I saw it peeking through on some cliffs. Arundel Castle is still the home of the Howard family who have been one of the most powerful families in English History. One of Henry the Eighth's wives was a Howard.  The Howards have always been staunch Catholics. In fact, one of the Lords of Arundel (they all seemed to be named Thomas Howard) was declared a martyr because he refused to suppress his faith.  This didn't sit well with some king, probably Horrible Henry, so he had Thomas Howard executed. The church quickly had him declared a martyr to the faith and then a saint.

The castle was a true military fortress built in 1067 to protect Norman England from invaders. Vikings? The French?  All the history was starting to swim around in my head! But, because it was built for defense, not cultural shock and awe like Windsor, it looked just like you would think a castle would look like. Thick walls, narrow arrow slits, towers, turrets, a castle close, and incredibly narrow spiral stair cases. You know those movies that show the Anglo-Saxon peasants running up and down the towers trying to defend the castle from invaders. Well, I don't think any running took place on those staircases! I was holding both walls for balance and looking carefully to make sure my foot made it onto the tiny pie shaped stair! Running was not even a question!

To get to the castle, we had to walk up and around a steep hill. I couldn't see the town or any paved roads. There were just tall trees, tall grass, and chirping birds. At one point, pictures from illuminated manuscripts of the Medieval peasants going about their work for each season popped into my mind's eye. It was so easy to picture. For a second I saw my own foot in wool stockings and pointy leather shoes! And, then the image was gone.

The other part of the castle has been lived in continually by the Howard family. It really looked like our image of a rich British family's ancestral manse. Very grand. But of course, since it was so gorgeous, we lowly tourist were not allowed to take any pictures!  It had it's own private chapel which was peaceful, serene and oh so expensive. The chapel had individual chairs instead of pews, since it was a family chapel.  After all, they weren't going to invite the locals in to worship services!  There was also a long hall filled with family portraits from the last thousand years, and finally, a gorgeous long library. The library was paneled in dark English walnut and even still smelled faintly of pipe tobacco. The west side of the room was filled with gigantic floor to ceiling windows each with it own private reading nook.  Quite the thing, I imagine, on a cool Autumn afternoon.  It was quite easy to picture myself as a Victorian lady of the manor, in a crimson velvet dress, worrying about the servants and the roses and trying to decide on a suitable husband for my daughter.  I've always thought I would fit right into A Room With A View. 

Cornflowers and Poppies
The gardens were fittingly fabulous. They were filled with a huge variety of salvias. That surprised me. I always think of salvias as hot climate, low water flowers.  In the kitchen gardens they had planted a large patch of fragrant  strawberries.  The scent was absolutely intoxicating.  I felt very tempted to steal just a couple of strawberries right off from the plants.  But my favorite part was a section of the garden that they had skillfully seeded with English wildflowers. There were daisies, blue corn flowers, poppies, and nasturtiums all mixed together and almost as tall as me! Gorgeous! I just wanted to send all the tourists home and lay down in my field of cornflowers.

Fields, hedgerows, and clouds.  Ahhh!!!
Because the castle was built on hill and the village was small, there were breathtaking views from every direction. In the distance were hills covered with a patchwork of fields in varying shades of gold and green. Each of the fields was separated by hedgerows and dotted with sheep and cattle. I kept thinking that the scene looked awfully familiar, but I couldn't think why. Suddenly, it occurred to me that it looked just like the English countryside they show at the beginning and the end of "The Vicar of Dibley." I wondered if it was the same place? It was beautiful, pastoral, and peaceful. I really need to learn some more adjectives!

On the way back to London, I realized that I only have a few more days left until I have to go home. Sad! But I am looking forward to air conditioning, large glasses filled to the brim with ice, and my own soft sheets and squishy pillows.


The private quarters of Arundel Castle where the Howard family still lives.  We were not invited into this section of the castle!

The River Arun and the surrounding countryside

Arundel Cathedral - in the village, not the castle.

Isn't he gorgeous!!!  The guy's not too bad, either.