Return to Index

Notes from England

by John Herrick

Go To

Day 1 Arrive in London - Roger Gray

Go To

Day 2 London - Natural History Museum - Tavian and John Richards

Go To

Day 3 and 4 - Mansfield - Tony Allsop and Beryl

Go To

Day 5 - London - British Museum

Go To

Day 6 - London - Piccadilly Circus / Westminster

Go To

Day 7 – London - Westminster - Anastasia

 Go To

Day 8 - London Eye

 Go To

Day 9 - London to Beaumanor

 Go To

Day 10 – London - Tower Bridge and London Bridge

 Go To

Day 11 - London to Windsor - Roz Savage

 Go To

Day 12 - British Library and St. Pancras

 Go To

Day 13 – Stonehenge and Roman Baths - Susie

 Go To

Day 14 – London to East Preston on the south end of England - John Richards

 Go To

Day 15 – Day 15 - East Preston down to the town of Ryde on the Isle of Wight, then back to London

 Go To

Day 16 - London - A 5 mile Walkabout, Baker Street and Sherlock Holmes!

 Go To

Day 17 – London - Brick Lane, The Welcome and Chinatown

 Go To

Day 18 – London to Dover - Courtney

 Go To

Day 19 – Dover Castle - back to London

 Go To

Day 20 – London - Sir John Soames Museum - Roger Gray

 Go To

Day 21 – London – Tampa

Day 1 - London - Roger Gray
One thing I have noticed here in London so far is that the majority of people are young and fit. Everyone walks miles every day. In Florida I am a young person (I am 68), here I am the oldest by far! Here you walk down a street and everyone is walking very fast. Many beautiful girls, but way too young for me! I have yet to see any of the older people, not like Florida where in South Pasadena where I live the average age is 89. Here the average age appears to be 29, and not an obese person in sight. The obese would never make it in the subways with all those steps and long distances to walk. An amazing time. Years ago I would have never have met people, but traveled on my own. Now the world has opened up!

I met a FaceBook friend Roger Gray. Last year I had mentioned that I would be in England on June 2. Roger said (back then) that we should meet up. I had not heard any more. Then this morning shortly after I had arrived I turned on my laptop, and there was a message from Roger! He said that he was a short distance away and I should walk over and see him! I did, he was in a Pub with a group of friends. They made me feel right at home, like a friend!

There was a film crew there, they spotted Roger and filmed him relative to the upcoming vote! Very interesting!
Roger took me to his office and handed me a phone - take this to an O2 shop he said, they will give you a package so you can make calls here in England! 15 minutes later I got a $10 package installed and I was online! Roger also gave me an umbrella! Amazing!! Only a couple of hours in town and I had a glass of wine, a phone and an umbrella! From a man I had never before met!
Then Roger took me a short distance away to see the place where John Snow had proven that the water, not the air was causing a sickness!

Roger Gray and I where the water well had been polluted by a septic system 3 feet away - John Snow figured out that the water not the air as believed was causing the cholera Roger said! Note the 50 or so patrons at the Pub. A usual sight evenings at so many pubs around.

Roger being interviewed!

Roger at his office.

Go To Beginning

Day 2 - London
I had another great day! I met up with two FaceBook friends, Tavian Oladapo (microbiology) and John Richards (author) and we did the Natural History Museum. Tavian is super interesting with a huge background in fossils, John is an science teacher turned inventor and author.

Five hours was enough to catch some of it but certainly did not see it all! I stayed until closing time. That is one HUGE place!! 80 million items within five main collections: botany, entomology, mineralogy, paleontology and zoology. To see all 80 million would take years! The dinosaurs and other ancient things are amazing!

Lunch of fish and zucchini with strawberries for desert.

I am getting used to the subway now, with no bags to deal with it is a piece of cake!
One note, no one here in London wants or will take the US dollar. Not even for a tip! Our money is just so much colored paper here. Of no value.

I was asked to poll people here as to what they thought of Trump. At breakfast I asked a lady from France what her thought was. "I am from Europe, what do you think my idea is?" was her answer. Then she pretty much bashed him. Every single person I asked did not like Trump.

Typical street and buildings. This is the street my hotel is on, one way vehicles down the middle, two bicycle lanes, one on either side going opposite directions. People walking talking on their phones.

Shops all around, this is a gay shop. The trash is in plastic bags ready for pick-up. They used to have containers for the trash, but people put bombs in the containers. Now they do not use the containers any more.

Fruit shop - he was there every day.

In the Natural History Museum, our ancestors.

Tavian by an exhibit.

John Richards by another exhibit.

We are talking a big bite here!

Go To Beginning

Day 3 and 4
I got up early yesterday (day 3), had a shower and ate breakfast then hiked the 1/2 mile to catch the 9 AM train.

Glad I got there to the Kings Cross train station early as there I was directed to go to Pancras Station. I walked over to Pancras Station where they told me that, as it was Sunday, they were not running, and I had to go back to Kings Cross! I made it back, got my ticket and was on the train with 5 minutes to spare.
Changed trains in Grantham, then again at Nottingham to get to Mansfield at noon.
Tony and his wife picked me up and they decided that I was to stay the night (I was only going to stay a few hours and take the 7 PM train back - but they insisted!). Off we went to the Sherwood Forest - yep, Robin Hood's den! There is a huge tree there that would have been a great one for Robin Hood's men to have been in.
Then we went to town to a very nice pub for dinner, I had their world famous meat pie!

I slept in a larger bed than the one in my hotel, and it was quieter too!
This morning we got up, had a nice breakfast, did some Suduko and off to the market. Tony's wife went shopping while Tony and I hiked a mile around a lake, me taking photos of the birds all the way! Back to the train station to return to London. The trains are really nice, and very convenient. Every route has multiple trains. If you miss the 12:10, just wait until 12:40 and another one comes along going the same way to the same destinations! Much more convenient than I had imagined. The 12:40 may get there at 12:41, but they really are punctual.

Someone asked "Who is Anthony?"

Anthony is a chap who is a super walker. Tony has walked probably 20,000 miles here in England, or maybe more. From the top of England to the bottom. And from the bottom to the top, and again! And from one side to the other and back, several times. Tony made it to the Guinness World Records for his last walk! Tony is setting out in a few days to hike a new path. Just 380 miles this time (he says he is slowing down - he will be 77 - I do not consider that slowing down!!!) and will do it in 20 days. I am a fan of his and volunteered to go with him (driving of course) but Tony wants to do it his way. (Tony's wife) says that this will be his last big hike, but knowing Tony, who knows??< Tony has a traveling companion named Darwin (photo below). Darwin reads the maps and makes sure Tony stays on course. Good luck on your next hike Tony!!!!

Countryside riding the train to Tony's

Tony and his wife Beryl

Tony's Guinness World Record letter on the left in their living room!

Tony's Darwin, Tony's all time companion!

Modern day Robin Hood!

Go To Beginning

Day 5 - London - British Museum

  Up early, tea, shower, breakfast, off on my 1 mile hike to the museum. Got there about 9. They had the center open but the rest did not open until 10. Wandered around and saw the LIFE and DEATH portion. Someone put together a tapestry with thousands of pills woven into it. The number of pills the modern day person takes in a lifetime. Hayley Bell said that the museum was "unmissable". She is right! I was there 9 hours today, and I still did not see half of it! There are 110+ large rooms full of awesome things!!!! You need 15 minutes per room minimum, that amounts to 1500 minutes, or 24 hours if you do not stop! If you come to London, that needs to be high on your list.

Looking at the map, I missed many interesting things, there are rooms full of Africa, North America, Mexico, many Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Greece, Rome, and on and on and on. Rooms full of interesting clocks, watches, money, mummies, and one of my favorites (because of my heritage) Vikings! Things from 12,000 years ago, some from more recent, collections from all over the world and every age. Sculptures, fancy things, and every day things from long ago. At 11 AM they came over the loudspeaker to tell us that there was going to be a minute of silence for those who died in the recent attack.

Well, it was a wet, windy cold mile walk there (the umbrella Roger Gray gave me self destructed when I came around a corner!), but the walk back was not so bad. It was cold and windy, but twice as long. (I got lost and went too far north, missing my turn). On my way back I found three umbrellas (brollies here) people had left on the ground at a bus stop. Two were well beyond repair, but I picked up the third that was not so bad, so I am good to go. I was going to try the Gordon's Wine Bar tonight, but it is rainy and windy again. I will save it for another day. For some reason there is a lot of helicopter activity out tonight, odd.

Another note on London, the postal code here is for a tiny area, not like the US. Thus it is most important that you include it. Each postal code (this hotel is WC1H 9RE) is in the West Central 1H area which has only two streets in it and is only two blocks long. Thus it is easy to find were the general area of the place is without the address. Same with almost any address in London.

Awesome lunch of salmon at the British Museum! Nice salad and great tea.

All conversation here in London has gone to the election. I went by 10 Downing Street this afternoon. There were police with Uzi's all over. I went by a squad of about 50 guys at the back corner of the property. They were all dressed exactly alike in white shirt and tie being prepped. They were all huddled around a guy who was talking about some very serious stuff it seemed.


Just outside the clock room, tables for lunch. Baby was having lunch too (mother covered them with blue cloth).

Statue in the corner of the main hall.

Thousand year old chess set, made of whale bone and red stone.


Go To Beginning

Day 6 - London - Piccadilly Circus / Westminster

Up early again, took the underground to Piccadilly Circus. The area has so many huge buildings. I had thought that my destination for the day (research at the Royal Society) according to the Internet was just at the terminal and it opened at 9 AM. Well, the address was a ways off! Thanks to my Roger Gray phone, I was able to plot the walk out and got to see the area. I got to the building at 9:15. The entrance said to have your employee ID ready, I thought I was at the wrong entrance. I went down further and found my second location to visit open! The Royal Academy of Engineering. Interestingly that was only offices and had no public space! I went back to Society. It did not open until 10! They let me sit and read until 10. Luckily I had filled out the form on the Internet - otherwise they would not have let me in! All it had available to the public was an immense library. I sat at a terminal and looked for articles on epigenetics. It came up blank. I went to the librarian - she found 4 articles and a book. I spent until noon there reading, one item of note was that drugs act differently depending on what time of day you take them! If you take a statin, it turns out that it is better to take it in the evening! A boring morning actually.

I decided to take a walk. Down toward the river. I went past the Buckingham Palace Gardens on my right and some huge buildings on my left. Also on the left was the Horse Grounds (and it smelled it!). Turns out I was right in the middle of everything, the back side of 10 Downing street! TV cameras rolling, Police with Uzi's everywhere. They were getting ready for the vote tomorrow! I continued on and found myself at Winston Churchill's War Room! I just stumbled on it! The War Room is not just a room, it is an elaborate series of rooms and a nice museum. Oh, would it be wonderful if our Trump was anything like Churchill or Roosevelt. Trump I am sure never has read anything about the presidential office as it can be. The power they had and the composure. The Atlantic Charter (below) was amazing. The heights they reached was amazing. I think Churchill had Trump in mind in the quote below about truth. A must see! If only to understand where we came from. A three hour tour. Then on to a very nice shepherds pie and tea. On the way back I stopped to purchase some tea and some cuff links (I did not realize that one shirt I brought needs them).

Bicyclists and walkers.

Statues everywhere.

In the War Room.

Amazing declaration!

Churchill on the phone to Roosevelt in the US.


Map of how Germany was to be divided up for rule after the war. This is how East and West Berlin were created.

Go To Beginning

Day 7 – London - Westminster - Anastasia

I cannot believe that my trip is 1/3 over! A shower, quick breakfast and I was off. Another cool but not cold day, a light jacket when it was windy, but not bad. The sun never came out and we got a sprinkle for about 5 minutes, but no problem. I have not said it before, but today was an exceptional day. I had no real destination in mind. I just got on the subway and got off at Piccadilly Circus (I just liked the name). I decided to head south to Westminster.

About a block out, I found that I was beside a beautiful lady! Her name was Anastasia, and she was from Russia. She said that her English was very poor, but it really was excellent. We walked together for the next six hours! It was a wonderful day; we talked, laughed, had coffee and walked all over Westminster. Anastasia had been to Fortnum and Masons and shared a liquor filled chocolate with me!! We saw the changing of the guard up ahead and ran together to get a better view. We saw the Queen’s home (Buckingham Palace), walked through a wonderful park (Green Park), saw great flower gardens (picked a rose), saw the Queen’s carriages being drawn by horses, walked and enjoyed Hyde Park (many little birds, statures, and squirrels), walked along The Long Water (swans, Canada geese – Anastasia said that clearly were NOT Canada geese, they had to be London geese!!), and many other birds, walked by Diana’s Memorial Playground, and down to Royal Albert Hall. She did not want to tour it, but there we parted. She gave me a big hug, and then a second hug, told me that she hoped that I would not be alone for long, and then she was off. It was a wonderful time. Best so far. We really had a wonderful day.

I asked a bus driver where the nearest subway station was, he said continue the way I was going and turn right at the end of the road. After a number of blocks, I looked to my left, and there was the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A)!! Judy Renka - another happenstance adventure day!! Hayley Bell said: V&A - totally unmissable. I spend hours in here. Particularly on the upper floors. Nice cafes and garden cafe too. The V&A museum was on my list as a good place to go. I was quite tired after hiking for 6 hours with nothing to eat, so I went in and had a wrap, apple juice and milk at the Garden Cafe. I went to the facilities, they just had one location, all stalls were available for men and women! Interesting but not unsettling. OK…..

I was there for three hours. I need two more days here! This has so many wonderful things! The actual books from 2000 years ago!! Pliny the Elder’s “Natural History” - 77 AD!! Other books written in the 1st century! Leonardo da Vinci’s actual books! Michelangelo’s works!! Huge paintings by Rafael and others to rival the Louvre in Paris! Ancient musical instruments, sculptures (a cast of DAVID!) full rooms of ancient things. This museum rivals any I have seen, and may just exceed them!

Westminster horse parade

Anastasia feeding the squirrels, she said she had not seen such before!


With the ducks

A baby

In the Royal Gardens.

Watching the Royal Carriages go by.

At the gate to Westminster.

Royal Guard leaving Westminster.

Guard arriving.

Changing of the guard.

Top of a statue.

A guard. Anastasia thought he was really handsome!

The Royal pair.

Feeding a bird.

Kids collecting feathers.

Go To Beginning

Day 8 - London Eye
Very nice weather today, some clouds, some sun. Temperature just right!

Up, shower first, get my soap and shampoo (courtesy of Anthony W Allsop and his wife Beryl), put my room key in my housecoat, and grab my (still damp from yesterday) towel. There are three bathrooms here, two with shower, one with a tub. I usually go down one flight to bathroom #1 for my shower, but it was in use. I went up a flight to #2, it has the tub, so I went up to #3. Got ready to take my shower. The shower has a button to push to turn the water on and heat the water. I pushed the button. Nothing, then I noticed that the light was not on. Broken, does not work. Back to Bath #1, it was free! Got my shower in, then down to breakfast.

By the way, yesterday I asked the guy that manages this place (Mohammed...he is from Pakistan) about how I would go about doing a load of laundry. He said to give it to him and he would do it! I took the laundry down to the room beside the breakfast room and stuffed it in the washer. Mohammed added the soap and turned it on. The washer was a really fancy computerized one which was really out of place in this 400 year old building!

Off to the walk to the railroad station, this morning I decided to go to the Thames and go to the other side to explore. As I can get to the railroad station just as easy as the subway (I am mid way between them, each a half mile away) I pick what seems to be the most direct route. In fact I took the train there today, walked a mile or so and grabbed the subway back! Next, here is a bad recommendation from someone on the Internet, do not take his advice. "There are a couple really tempting things that are really expensive; top of the list for me in this regard is the London Eye. It does give you an amazing view but getting there means wading through lots of crowds >>>{today there were no crowds, I got my ticket and in five minutes was in the cab}<<<, it costs a lot >>>{24 pounds is not that much for this}<<<<, the queues are long and once you’re up there, while it’s a great view but given all the development in London it’s now not as unique as it used to be. "Instead, for a wide sweeping view. go to the middle of one of the many bridges. My favorite views are from Blackfriars Bridge. >>>{Nothing of interesting from there but the brown water and some boats in the distance.}<<< While you’re in the neighborhood you can get another perspective from up high (not as high as the Eye but pretty great) go have a drink at the top of the Mondrian Hotel near the Sea Containers Building on a beautiful day - it’s spectacular." >>>>{I tried this, the Mondrian must have suspected that people may have done this in the past as you cannot just waltz up to the top and have a drink. You have to have a room key during the day, and the bar at the top only opens at 5 PM. The gate keeper prevents any free loaders. Forget that. }<<<So, roughly $30 and you get to go up in the London Eye. Very nice views and you get plenty of time to take photographs. If you visit London you will be asked if you went up in the London Eye, I now can say I have. The engineering to construct it was amazing, that part I liked just as much!

I had lunch under the railroad station (expensive, beautiful to look at but tasteless) walked across the Blackfriars Bridge, grabbed the subway and was back at my hotel in a flash. These subways are clean, fast and come every 5 minutes or so!

The cute French girl that does the housekeeping got me a clean towel, I guess you get two a week? {Actually she told me later that if I throw it on the floor she will give me a new one!!} Tavian Oladapo has invited me out to a Pub for dinner, so I came back early to the hotel to take a nap. After 7 days of running, time to slow down!

The London Eye with Big Ben between the ladies.

Big Ben

The group of French kids I went up with, none spoke English that I could tell!

The Embankment train station

Waterloo train station.

Another photo of Big Ben as we got higher.

Quite the machine!

Go To Beginning

Day 9 - London to Beaumanor (ancestral home) -Trust, but verify

>>>{Imagine you were in Sarasota and you wanted to go to Countryside Mall. The train leaves Sarasota on track 2. The sign says it is going to Tallahassee stopping in downtown Dunedin. You ask the conductor how to get to Countryside Mall, there is no train that goes there directly. (I had Googled my trip for today and the Google map was odd, it did not figure it out.) The station master says - take the train on track 2 and change trains in Port Richey to get the train to Countryside Mall. I took the train, it stopped at Dunedin, I did not get off as directed, but ended up 26 miles out of the way in Port Richey - it cost me $17 for a different train that left an hour later to go back south. It stopped the equivalent of the bridge to Tampa, not at the mall! If I had known better I would have gotten off at Dunedin and walked or taken a bus or cab to the mall, but I did not know.}<<< In reality I still had to take a cab for the last three miles (at a cost of $17) as that train #2’s stop was 3 miles east of Beaumanor where the earlier train #1 stop (where I should have gotten off and take the cab) was 3 miles north of Beaumanor. It took an extra 2 hours to get where I was going but I made it in time for tea. (Actually, I had planned to go to another museum today, but at the last minute decided to get to my ancestral home, one of the main reasons for this trip to England.)

Background:  In 1595 Sir William Herrick (jeweler to the King) purchased an estate and built a castle. He had three sons; the youngest (Henry) got the maid pregnant. Sir William had his two older sons take Henry to America in 1632 to put him to work on the new plantations in Pennsylvania. Henry escaped his brothers grasp and disappeared. He ended up in Salem. Several generations later I was born. I wanted to go back to where Sir William and Henry came from. Last night I had started to investigate Beaumanor some more when I found that today, June 10, was one of two days a month that they had a formal Tea at Beaumanor. So this morning off I went.

I caught the 9 AM train and got there at 1:30, just in time for the 2 o’clock tea. I toured the grounds a bit and then went in for tea. After tea (it was 3:55 at the time) I asked the mistress where Sir William’s chair was. I had heard that he had an exceptional chair that had been cut from a single tree which had grown on the property! The mistress said that the chair had been moved to a museum! She said that she would check see when the museum closed to and would call a cab for me to go there. It turned out that it was a ways away and it closed at 4:30!! The cab finally got there and got me to the museum (another $20 fee) at 4:25. It was still open, but was closing! I ran in and found the chair! I found another patron, gave him my camera, climbed under the barricade (don’t tell anybody) and had him take my photo in my ancestor’s chair, the huge chair that he had sat in when his serfs had come to ask favors!! This was even better than having tea in the home!!

I walked the mile from the museum to the train station, hopped the train, got back to Kings Cross and walked the half mile to my hotel by 7:30 PM. Very pleased with the day! I have included a photo below of last night’s dinner of asparagus in a cheese sauce, and a photo of the tea service in the pub where I waited for the first taxi (a Jaguar).

Last night my bed collapsed! One slat was missing (I found it in the closet), two others slid out of place and I went down! It took a few minutes, but finding the slat in the closet and putting it all together was fun!

Today's weather was great in England! I did not need a jacket and the sun was out about half the time. My travels today were Kings Cross in London to Derby (pronounced Darby) (150 miles), then train back to Barrow Upon Soar, a taxi to Beaumanor, a taxi to Leicester, then a train back to London.

My castle (actually the second replacement of our ancestor's original home).

One of many stained glass windows, but the one of my ancestor Sir William Herrick

Detail of the stained glass.

Me in the Herrick chair!

Tea, before I tucked into it.

The stained glass windows were behind me.

Stained glass window wall.

Second world war at Beaumanor

Front door with the Herrick bull (part of our Coat of Arms)




Go To Beginning

Day 10 - London - Tower Bridge and London Bridge

Breakfast this morning - two gentlemen from Iran, and one from Thailand. The younger Iranian spoke flawless English with an American accent. He was quite the intellectual. I brought up Trump. The consensus was that Trump is not an intellectual, not in the way Obama was, he said. "He is bad for the United States and bad for the world. He is taking money from the poor and putting it into more weapons. That is a very bad thing for the world." “Trump likes to cozy up to the moneyed; he has no regard for those who are not so well off.”I have talked with people on trains and on subways. I have yet to find anyone that has a good word to say about Trump. It generally goes, "How could you elect such a person?"

I decided to see the London Tower today. I slid my card on the yellow dot at the subway gate, it opened and I was in. I jumped on the subway and got off at the Tower stop. It is easy to get all over London that way but you have to be able to go up and down a LOT of steps. It seems that most of the subway tubes are something like 10 to 15 stories underground. You go down a long set of steps, then down a very long escalator (stay to the right or you will get trampled by those running down - or up), then down another very long escalator, then down a set of steps, turn a corner and down another set of steps, and around a corner and another set, finally you are at the platforms….then you have to pick the right platform, are you going east or west (or north or south). If you are not sure you can look at the map to see if your stop is on the list. If the subway comes and goes while you are figuring it out, that is OK, another will be there in a minute. This morning after I had gotten on and we had gone a few stops I second guessed myself, did I get on the right one? I hopped off at the next stop and checked the map. Three routes (Northline, Municipal, and Circle) all were using the same set of tracks. I needed the Circle Line going east to get to the Tower. I was on the right track. I waited and watched a Northline and a Municipal go by (they had signs on them) and within 5 minutes another Circle Line going east came by, I hopped back on and was on my way.

At the Tower stop I got off. Up three sets of stairs, more escalators (or in other cases elevators) and you are at the location where you have to place your Oyster card on the sensor to go through the gate. Up one more set of stairs and I was all the way across town, Tower Hill. The line already was long to get into London Tower so I walked past and stumbled upon the Tower Bridge! No lines there at all. I work with kids building balsa wood bridges - I then crush them with a machine that tells how much of a load that they take (highest load wins!). So I was much more interested in the bridge than jewels in London Tower (besides I have seen videos of those). It was very interesting to see how the bridge was built. Then we went up an elevator to the upper deck. I had no idea that they had a glass portion of the deck! It was kind of scary looking down! There was no electricity in those days, so they used coal to run a steam engine, the steam engine did not have enough power to raise the bridges, so they pumped water up into tanks up high. The water then operated a set of gears to open the bridge. It took 80 men to shovel the coal and operated the bridge. Nowadays when we build a similar bridge we use a 5 horse electric motor to do the same thing!!

I started to head back to the hotel, but decided that while I was out I would wander a little. I went down some streets (Cottage Lane, Pudding Lane, and East Cheap) and arrived at another subway entrance – Monument. I asked a waiter at the pub (at that corner) if the flowers placed at the base of the monument were for the victims of the latest attack. He said that they were. I went back to the subway entrance with the intent again to leave, but found on the map that I was one small block from London Bridge where the attack happened. I walked over to the bridge and went over the river. There were several people (who appeared to be Muslims) at the far end of the bridge handing out roses to the pedestrians. A good looking lady approached me and said that they wanted to show their love for their fellow man, and gave me a rose. I went a few feet further with tears in my eyes and laid the rose with the other flowers. Then I found another subway entrance and came back to the hotel.

Having an electric pot in the room along with tea, milk and sugar (which I do not use) is very nice. I fix myself a hot cup of tea before going down for breakfast, and several cups in the evening! One of the curtains in my room (the room has a ten foot ceiling - which makes the width look even smaller) was only held up by two hooks in the middle, not the eight. I used two safety pins and fastened it up. Bathroom 2 had a shade, the pull chain to open and close it had broken and was on the counter. I fixed it. The soap dish had been pulled from the wall, I fixed it. Bathroom 1 has a wood case over the heater, it had pulled away from the wall. I fixed it using wet toilet paper that I fashioned into the right shape and let it dry overnight. The house telephone has been totally destroyed, I could not fix it! I am all ready for my trip to Windsor tomorrow!!

Tower Bridge!

Pre suspended bridge!

Glass walkway looking down on the bridge deck!

Looking out on the city of London, the tall building in the middle is nicknamed the Walkie-Talkie. To the right of that is the Cheesegrater, and then the Gherkin.

Top of The Monument.

Looking over the south shore at the City Hall in the middle.

Coal fired boiler raised the bridge.

Bridge from the shore.

Bridge from the boat dock.

The foot of The Monument (a monument to the Great fire of London) where people placed flowers in remembrance of those killed on the London Bridge June 3, 2017.

New barricades

Some of the memorials.

Where I placed my rose.

Lady giving me the rose.

Go To Beginning

Day 11 - London to Windsor

One of the major reasons for this trip was to meet up with Roz Savage again. I met Roz years ago at the MOSI in Tampa and followed her travels for years. Before I met her she had rowed her little rowboat across the Atlantic in a race! Then I met her and her mom Rita in Hawaii. I had presented a toy paddle to Roz in Hawaii because she had broken her four oars on her trip across the Atlantic. Roz did not have a space for the paddle in her boat, but she went on to finish rowing across the Pacific Ocean and then the Indian Ocean!! is her web page.

I wrapped up the paddle in pink paper (so hopefully no one would think it was a weapon, there are police with machine guns out now, never before seen) to present it to Roz. A paddle that had traveled 12,000 miles to make it back to its rightful owner. So, to that end, today I got up early, took a subway, then a train to Windsor and met up with Roz and her friend. Roz showed me around town, it is a very quaint town built around the Windsor Castle and includes the Eton College, most of the PM's for England went to Eton! We met the house mum from one of the houses the boys are housed at. They come in at thirteen with their toy boats and leave at 18 with their photos of pin-up girls she said! They wear white bow ties, formal white shirts and black coats with tails almost down to their calves! It costs $50,000 a year to go to this school!

Then we three took a boat ride on the Thames River! It was cold but an immensely enjoyable ride. We spotted an otter swimming across the Thames! Lots of swans (including a black pair), ducks, etc. We went by the Windsor Racecourse where the gentry go then up to a lock and back. Very pleasant. OK, now, if you ever want to go to a REAL pub, you have to go to Windsor and go over the little bridge to The George. The George is what I call a pub. The tables and benches are real church pews and appear to be at least 200 years old. They have a lighted candle on each table. The menu is on slate, Roz and I had wild boar. We had a very spirited conversation, Roz thought that Trump was crazy to open up our National Parks to development of oil wells and for coal or whatever commerce they could find. Another very interesting conversation about the anatomy of the ear and of the brain, also philosophy and other subjects. An appropriate conversation for that setting!

The Windsor Castle, Roz said, was filled with weapons, it was built to defend London from anyone coming from the west. The castle is the Official Residence of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, who was, according to the flag, in residence today. We went by the line of people waiting to go in, it was a really long line, I wanted to spend my time with Roz, not spend $75 and see another museum! Another fine day with friends!!!!

Pub The George in Windsor.

Windsor Castle.

Roz with the paddle I gave her.

Windsor Castle

A gate to the Castle.

Police now have machine guns at the Castle.

Roz and her boyfriend headed to The George.

The Queen's swans.


Go To Beginning

Day 12 - British Library and St. Pancras

Today was a really beautiful day or walking. The walk to the King's Cross area is quite busy. Lots of people all the time coming and going to that travel hub where trains, subways, buses and cabs converge twenty four hours a day.

This morning I spent getting ready for my upcoming trips to Stonehenge, Bath, and Dover. You need to know the name of the rail or bus along with the end of the run as well as your stop for each leg. And there are MANY options! My trip to Dover had options every 10 minutes, some had 1 leg others 3 legs. Plus the tube ride to get there. They ranged from 1 to 3 hours to get there all with different costs . I set out to spend my time at the British Library and St. Pancras at noon.

On my way I found a very nice pub. I stopped in for fish and chips. Awesome! I was photographing the outside of St. Pancras (now a HUGE hotel/train station/subway stop) when I met a young lady who was from Hong Kong. We talked for a bit, she was a student here in London having been here 7 years getting a degree in Economics, another in Business, and a third in Cooking. We parted ways as she was going out of town to a meeting. I proceeded to inspect the interior of the train station and some of the interior of the hotel. I then went to the British Library. It is huge. I ended up at a display of old books/maps/letters. I missed the small sign that indicated that no photos were allowed and was able to get a few photos (no flash). Of main interest was one of the 160 ever printed Gutenberg Bible!! Printed in 1454!!! I did get a photo of it! Also the 1610 book by Galileo of his sky research using his telescope!

After my expedition I headed (along with probably 500 people) back toward my hotel. All of a sudden, there in front of me was my Hong Kong friend returning from her meeting! The odds of seeing the same person twice in a day in this area (where 100 million people go through here every year) is less than imaginable! She was heading to a supermarket that was at the end of a mall - the whole thing (mall and the supermarket) was up and inside a huge building that I have walked by 20 times and did not know it was there! The building is the Brunswick catty corner to the Russell Square Station, the station I have been to many times as it is the closest to my hotel.

Statue in the train station.

Lady at the base of the statue, looking at her phone?!?!

St. Pancras train station and hotel, the hotel was to be torn down, but it was saved!


Right hand side of hotel.

Middle section.

Staircase inside the hotel.

Book by Galileo in 1613.

Original Gutenberg! February 23, 1455 as the original publication date for the “Gutenberg Bible,” the first mass-produced book in Europe.

Entry into the British Library.

Go To Beginning

Day 13 – Stonehenge and Roman Baths

3 AM phone beeps, battery is dying, I wake, find the spare battery. 6 AM Wide awake. Dress and go have breakfast of corn flakes. Mohammed wakes and says breakfast is not until 8. I tell him I need to be across town at 8 AM, I know where he hides the corn flakes and milk so I help myself.

Off on a ¾ mile walk to the Euston train/subway station. Hop on the Victoria line and get off at the Victoria station. Google says exit, turn right and walk ½ mile to bus station. I walk a 1/2 mile and no station, then mile and no bus, in fact there is nobody around. The Buckingham Palace Street turns into something else. Well, I guessed that it must have been the other way, glad I started out early! I walked back past Victoria and ½ mile away I find the bus station! I talk with others, they say the bus station used to be down to the right but they moved it.

OK I am one of the first to board so I get the front seat on the double decker, a huge picture window! Around me are a flock of people from the Philippines. All talking at once, and I have no clue. Two hours later with some chatting from our guide we arrive at Stonehenge. Steve our guide says to leave our stuff on the bus. I grab my camera, hat and sunglasses. We walk down 100 yards to the mini busses to take us to the site which is a little more than a mile away. We hop right on and shortly are 100 yards from STONEHENGE!

We start to circle the site, my camera battery dies. I had left the spare in the bus. Usually I have my cell phone as back up. Cell phone is in the bus, I have the cell phone extra battery, but that is of no help. I walk back the 100 yards, catch a mini bus back to the welcome center. Our bus is gone to get gas. I wait, he returns, I grab my spare battery and start to return to the site. The bus driver says look at the line for the mini bus. It is an hour and a half long and we will be leaving in an hour. So much for my Stonehenge visit!

 He said to check out the museum, which I did. A gentleman from Guatemala and I took photos of ourselves in front of the huge stones on display. In the museum I find out that what we see today is nothing like what it looked like years ago. For years people would come to the site and be given a hammer and chisel to cut off a piece for themselves! It was a real mess, no two stones on top of each other, the site was a disaster. I am sure glad that someone cleaned it up and stopped the destruction.

Back aboard the bus, Suzie from downstairs came up and we shared the front seat. She since emailed me three of her photos of the site. Off we went to the city of Bath. Steve our guide had her ticket to the Roman Bath. We understood Steve say go get something to eat (which we did – I picked something on the menu I did not know what it was, it was so spicy I could not eat it!) then meet him at the entrance to the baths to get the tickets. Well, we got there and no Steve. Apparently we missed the directions, but we worked it out.

The Romans had built the baths eons ago and when the city as built later, they built houses where the baths had been, not knowing that the Roman’s baths were under there! Just plopped houses there. The home owners had complained that there was hot water filling their basements! They tore down the houses, excavated and found Roman streets, swimming pools, spa’s, all kinds of things down there. They cleaned it up and built a new balcony around part of it, and let you walk through the rest. Amazing! It was worth the trip.

Back aboard the bus, Suzie was kicked back downstairs and I tried to catch some sleep on the ride back. Steve came on the loudspeaker a number of times to point out the rolling hills, this building or that. I got little sleep!

Back in London, down into the tube, whisked me back to Russell Square, stop for an orange juice in the shopping center and walk to the hotel. Passed out on the bed for four hours of needed sleep!

Today we're headed back in time, to the green sloping plains of southern Great Britain, where a great circle of ancient standing stones has fascinated us since before recorded history. Stonehenge is not only one of the most recognized landmarks in the entire world, it is also the focus of pseudoscience, pseudohistory, and New Age mysticism. Today we're going to look at Stonehenge myths — not in the context of debunking them, but from the perspective of characterizing the scope of what remains unknown about this most iconic of all monuments.

Questions about Stonehenge that we often hear are who built it, when, and why. You may well have heard the popular legend that Merlin the magician directed magical giants to lift the mighty stones to create it — a story that comes from a fictional text written by Geoffrey of Monmouth around 1136 CE, a time when Stonehenge had already been well known to the Britons as an ancient enigma for at least 1200 years. Later, the prevailing archaeological theory was that it was built by the druids — and we'll talk about that shortly. The question that looms over all of this, and to which we still don't have a solid answer — is what was the purpose of Stonehenge?

When pondering this, a rational question to ask is why don't we know? People obviously lived there when it was built, and people still live there now; it would seem to follow that its purpose would have always been known via this continuous thread of history. And that's where the breakdown occurs: it turns out there was no continuous habitation. In fact, there have been at least five known distinct periods of human habitation of what we now call the Salisbury Plain, each probably separated by periods of disuse.

Although prehistoric humans have occupied Great Britain for much longer, evidence of farming on the Salisbury Plain goes back to around 3500 BCE, in the form of trees having been cleared for agricultural use. But the first evidence of a monument at the Stonehenge site is considerably older; a series of three to five postholes where it appears timbers may have been placed upright by an unknown stone age culture. This dates to an incredible 10,000 years ago.

It's worth noting that all these dates given are approximate and have error bars, as they come mostly from radiocarbon dating of artifacts from the site: mostly timber, bones, and antlers, which were used as digging implements. Various sources give slightly different dates for most of these events, and those that I give here are my own synthesis from multiple sources.

The earliest known people at Stonehenge were those of the Windmill Hill tradition, consisting of various neolithic stone age cultures. These were the creators of the original Stonehenge, who made its first earthworks over about two centuries circa 3000 BCE. Deposits of bone indicate the Windmill Hill cultures were there for about five centuries. Stonehenge then stood abandoned.

The next contributors were the bronze age people of the Beaker culture, approximately 2500 - 2000 BCE, who began their work using wooden posts but soon switched to stones. By the end of their stay at the site, the iconic large stones, called sarsens, were in place. It was during the Beaker period — named for their ceramic vessels — that Stonehenge appears to have been most widely used. Isotopic analysis of bone fragments reveals that some of the animals brought there had come from all over Great Britain, and a village just a few kilometers away shows evidence of occasional mass occupation. Once the Beaker culture finished this main body of work, creating the most familiar face of Stonehenge, they too appear to have abandoned the site.

The people of the Wessex culture were the next, and last, builders of the great monument. Their most notable contribution were what's called the Y and Z holes, two concentric rings of pits outside the main sarsen circle. Their intended purpose may have been to hold upright stones or timbers, but they appear to have never done so, and were filled in not deliberately, but by natural accumulation of wind-blown soil.

Centuries after the departure of the Wessex culture, the fifth and final habitation of the Salisbury Plain began. By the time of the Romans, permanent structures like the iron age hillfort at modern-day Salisbury (about 10km south of Stonehenge) had begun to appear, and the towns that grew around them continue thriving today. It's only from that point that a consistent, continuous thread of known history in and around Stonehenge has been recorded.

The Romans had no knowledge of the Wessex culture, let alone any insight into what they'd used Stonehenge for. Similarly, we've no evidence that the Wessex had any idea what the Beakers had used it for, or that the Beakers knew the reason the Windmill Hill culture had created their earthworks. It's likely that humankind didn't just lose the history of Stonehenge once, but possibly as many as four separate times. None of those four earlier cultures left any written histories; we know them only from their archaeological telltales.

Given this history, it's clear that the actual druids had nothing to do with Stonehenge, as it predated them by thousands of years. But it wasn't until the twentieth century that archaeological science had progressed far enough to make this determination. Ironically, this was about the same time that modern followers of Neopaganism and the New Thought movement began calling themselves druids and holding their solstice celebrations there. The original hypothesis that Stonehenge was the creation of druids had come from one eighteenth century archaeologist, who worked at a time before we had useful tools for dating sites.

So with this basic framework in hand of what we do know about Stonehenge, we can begin to make reasonable assessments of some of these alternative history claims about it. Generally the alternative theorists leverage the fact that much remains unknown about Stonehenge as support for their new or fringe idea — a logical progression that's hard to support. We can assert this because Stonehenge, like many ancient mysteries, has a relatively limited scope of uncertainty.

What is meant by the scope of uncertainty? Often, when we discuss any ancient mystery, some detail remains uncertain. For example, in an article about Pumapunku, an ancient megalithic site at Tiwanaku in Bolivia, there are certain stones that could have been fashioned and moved using any of a variety of methods that we know about. But in some of the cases, there wasn't enough evidence left to tell us for sure which was used. So archaeologists might say something like "We don't know how the ancients did this," a statement which often has the unfortunate effect of communicating that we have no idea how it could have been done, leading some to wrongly infer that it wasn't possible by any earthly means. In fact, the scope of uncertainty is quite small. We're familiar with the methods used by the Tiwanaku culture, but don't always have enough evidence to determine which method was used on a given stone; yet all too often, this uncertainty is misinterpreted as ancient aliens being as likely as anything else. In my experience, this disconnect is a widespread problem. It applies to Stonehenge as well.

A specific example of this is the question of how the mighty sarsens weighing 20 tons were lifted 8 meters or more into the air. We've done geochemical analysis on the stones and we can tell where they were quarried, and there are a variety of perfectly serviceable methods to transport them, but we still don't know how the ancients lifted them. Does that mean we must invoke giants? No. The scope of uncertainty in this case is very small. There are at least two methods we know the ancient Britons used to lift megaliths: sliding them up timber ramps, and also levering them upward by rocking them back and forth, adding a bit more structure to the fulcrum with each tip. Understanding the scope of the uncertainty is crucial to anyone who wishes to avoid chasing some fanciful hypothesis like giants or alien influence.

What of the modern claims, stemming mainly from alternative science theorists, that Stonehenge was an advanced solar observatory? These claims are based on creative interpretations of precise measurements of the stones' positions and alignments. However, Stonehenge as we see it today can best be described as a "reasonable facsimile" of the main sarsen stone arrangement constructed by the Beaker culture. Ever since it was first studied from an archaeological perspective in the late 1600s, Stonehenge has gone through renovations, reconstructions, cleanups, and repairs. The Stonehenge we see today does not match what's depicted in the earliest photographs, and even those photographs differ from pre-photographic illustrations and paintings. There's hardly a stone on the site that hasn't been adjusted, straightened, picked up from where it had fallen, or repositioned onto a stronger concrete footing. More than anything else, all this restoration is what puts the alternative theorists' claims of ultra-precise astronomical alignments at risk of fatal error.

But even more dramatic than the restorations made in recent centuries were the destructive activities in the preceding two thousand years. The reason Stonehenge appears incomplete is that many of its great stones were toppled over and stolen by locals who needed big rocks for whatever reason. Anyone trying to read anything into the precise position of the stones does so at his peril.

Neither should we read too much into the hyper-popular belief that Stonehenge is aligned with the summer solstice. It's not, exactly; and the claimed alignment depends on stones that are not in their original positions. However, this is not to say that any alignment is nonexistent or accidental. It's easy to pinpoint the direction of the sunrise or sunset on the solstices, and many ancient structures throughout the world incorporated these headings, just as many others are built to the equally easily-determined ordinal directions. Chichen Itza, Chaco Canyon, and Newgrange in Ireland are just a few examples. What we can't say is that this means Stonehenge was used as a calendar or an observatory. There's no evidence either way.

The scope of uncertainty surrounding Stonehenge is reasonably small. The uncertainty of who built its various stages is very small, limited to the known margin of error of the radiocarbon dating. The uncertainty of its purpose is also manageable. Today, we build courthouses, churches, and community centers, even festival sites like Burning Man — all traditional ceremonial structures, to handle the same cultural needs as most societies worldwide have always faced. We've no evidence that Stonehenge had any darker or more mysterious purpose than this. When we say we don't know what its purpose was, we don't mean that we haven't any idea. We have a very good idea, tempered with a modest and reasonable degree of uncertainty that we fully expect to fall within a predictable range. "We don't know" does not mean "It was probably giants and druids and Merlin."

And so, through all the oddball theories and pseudohistories, Stonehenge itself abides. It is evidence of great ingenuity, and above all, great passion, whatever the inspiration may have been. From the fortitude of those who hauled the mighty stones and erected them, today's visitors can draw a sense of pride in the longevity and gravity of some of our greatest creations — no druids needed.
By Brian Dunning


Entrance to the Roman Baths.

Part of the excavated Roman Baths.

Go To Beginning

Day 14 – London to East Preston on the south end of England.

Not too rushed this morning. The train for Angmering leaves at 9:47. I got up, had my corn flakes, walked to the train/tube/bus station at Euston, found the access to the underground, found the Victoria Line on platform 5 south to Victoria Station. At Victoria Station I had to find the trains. I tried to get a ticket to Augmering in the automatic machines in Victoria Station, I tried twice, it did not give an error message, just no ticket. Glad I was early again, I had to wait in line to get the ticket from a teller.

It may have been that at some locations the machine wants me to sign for the purchase, thus it just dumps me out. I asked at the Information counter and found that my platform was 19 and he pointed where I was to go. I went in that direction and found the platforms here only went up to 15. I then had to ask again as to where the platform 19 was, I was told that I had to go around the station for away to find the platform, I made it with 4 minutes to spare. These trains are always exactly on time so there is no slack! Next I find that the train is going to split in two, one portion goes to one destination, the other to mine. I find on the screen that I am in car #7, whew, the right portion of the train to Littlehampton then to Angmering. The station manager at each stop outside London signals the engineer that everyone is out of the way so we can continue. That is NOT the same as in London, there you are on your own.

The train closes its doors and is off. No ifs and or buts. I had decided to wear my “Florida” shirt. Splashes of purple, yellow, black, white, and red. I really stand out in the crowd. A thousand people in the station and they all have white shirts and black pants, and sometimes black shirts. No color at all! While traveling, for the most part you are on your own. No one checks your ticket, if you get on the wrong train it is up to you to figure it out. Only twice has anyone bothered to look at my ticket. You slide your ticket into the machine, the gate opens, you go where you need to go. It seems that I could purchase a ticket to the next town and stay on the train for 100 miles with impunity. Once onboard it is very pleasant, plenty of room, tables for putting your paper or computer on.

Clitty clack we go as we enter some terminals, otherwise it is silent as we speed along 80 to 125 miles an hour. The patrons are a varied lot. All ages, all races. Ladies with scarves over their heads, Americans, English, every nation. One main stop of this train is Gatwick Airport, so there are many going there. Once out of the city it is lush and green with villages. We go by people’s back yards, but we are going so fast you cannot make things out. Just a blur. I am headed to the Isle of Wight as my great grandfather on my mother’s side came from there and I am interested in finding out more about him if I can. The island has a huge sailing regatta that even the Queen attends, but this year they moved it up a month, so I will miss it.

A FaceBook friend met me at the train station. He took me to his home (a structure built before the US was a nation he says…photo below). Then we went to the water for lunch where two ladies were kite surfing! This evening we went to see Paul Duncan McGarrity, an entertainer and archeologist. He was funny and informative.

John Richard's home.

Impressive castles everywhere.

Very old buildings

Shops end and castle wall begins!

And churches everywhere.

And pubs (note the thatched roof on the building next door!).

Huge square bales of hay.

. Lots of money to build churches!

and castles.

Then there are the towns.

And homes.


Go To Beginning

Day 15 - East Preston down to the town of Ryde on the Isle of Wight, then back to London

Up at 6 AM, packed up my kit. John asked if I wanted pancakes for breakfast, but said we had to leave in ten minutes for the train. Ate the pancakes with orange juice, said Hi to “mommy” and off we go to the train station. I had one minute to get my ticket, two minutes on the platform and 15 seconds to get on the train and I was off! They do not fool around here!

Today there are a lot of school kids getting on and off the train, girls in their burgundy jackets, guys in their black jackets and ties, and white shirts all around. The other patrons are all reading the newspapers, the newspapers are free and, like the Metro, are about 60 to 70 pages with lots of color photos. A lot of news on the fire. Only one article about Trump, that of an Australian PM mocking the Donald. “We are winning in the polls, not the fake polls, we are not winning there.”

As usual the trains are really quiet and not a conductor in sight, people get on and off at each stop. I am typing this as we race along towards Portsmouth where I get on a ferry to the Isle. My train ticket included the ferry ride to the island! Lots of farming country, I just passed a beautiful lake – on the far side were two beautiful white swans and about 6 cygnets! As we get closer to Portsmouth there now are rows of houses on one side and industrial on the other. Lots of truck trailers, ready for the shipping I guess, now at Fratton Traincare. Next stop I get off.

A nice gentleman guided me around at the station at Portsmouth, I would never have found the ferry without him! On to the ferry, they did check my ticket as I got on. A very nice catamaran, with space for about 260 passengers, but there were only 11 of us. I went up top to the sky terrace. There were a number of about 20 meter boats just coming in to the port. I wondered if there had been a race? The hovercraft passed us coming into port as we were leaving, an interesting craft that I figure would have a hard time in heavy weather! On land, and then a taxi ride to the library. They opened at 9AM and I was five minutes early. They opened up at exactly 9 and a nice young man set me up on one of their computers. They had a computer program called “Find my past” which they let me use….. As I posted earlier I had had the information that my ancestor on my mother's side James Butt had come from here, he lived with his wife and three children at 109 High Street.

I headed back to the dock to catch the boat, but saw a little café just opening. I stopped in for a pot of tea and a quiche. In talking to the customers (a native Islander and his wife from Scotland) I found out that High Street was only a block away! So off I went, found High Street and hiked up over the hill. They do not have numbers on the front of the stores, so I had to stop and ask several times. 2…47…..83….105….and finally 109, and 109 was written over the front door! I took a photograph of the front – the store downstairs was closed. A gentleman just to the side asked me if he could help. I said that my ancestor in 1881 lived here. He said that he was the proprietor of the store and opened up for me, he said that he was on the way to the dentist, but wanted to show me around. He sold stones. He said that stones had magical powers and he put them on necklaces for sale. I told him that I would like to purchase one, he said no, just take one. I took a very small, very polished white stone with gray streaks. He said that it was good for sleeping and would help my relationships. Maybe!!

Off I went down over the hill and to the boat landing. I had found my mother’s father’s, father’s, father… and mother, and saw where they lived before coming to the USA. Awesome!! Queued up for the catamaran, the passengers were getting off, all 216 of them. Many kids about 10 to 13 all pulling small suitcases. They did not appear to have any chaperones, just about 50 kids all together! It is Friday someone said, they are back from being at school all week on the mainland. Up to the train platform, hopped on the next train to London, Waterloo station. And they did look at my ticket about half way there.

I sat across from Jane for all of the 2 hour trip. I asked her what she thought of Trump. “I think that he is stupid.” She said, “He may be intelligent but does so many stupid things. The US deserves so much better.” Then we talked about our kids and grandkids (she has 9 grandkids), she lives on the island but is coming up to see the grandchildren here in London. I told her about my ancestor who came from the Isle and had come to America. “Why would he have left?” she asked. I had no idea, but her tone was one of she would never leave her wonderful home on a hill.

Back in my hotel room, time to get a bit of shut eye, did not sleep much last night, or the night before. Traveling now for 15 days without a stop, hiking miles each day, I hope that I am losing weight!

THE WEATHER HAS BEEN SPECTACULAR. 76 degrees for a high, sunshine. Could not be better. The spotty rain that was on my first day has not returned.

Arriving in Portsmouth, the observation tower!

An amazing tower!

Detail of the tower.

Our transport a catamaran.

On deck of the catamaran on the way to Isle of Wight.

The alternative craft, a hovercraft, his landing spot is on the right!

We go around smaller boats.

Arriving at the Isle of Wight!

The cafe where I had breakfast of a wonderful quiche!

109 High Street where my ancestors lived in 1881!!! B'ZAR is today a hair salon, my ancestor on my mother's side in 1881 was a hairdresser!

Walking back down High Street to the harbor.

My ancestor 1881 census.

Go To Beginning

Day 16 - London - A 5 mile Walkabout, Karin & Vanessa, Baker Street and Sherlock Holmes!

Breakfast with three ladies from China and two ladies from Germany. I had to ask the 17 year old from Germany if she had plans of being a model, she was so beautiful. She said that she had been asked that a lot of times but that she was too short (not to my eye, she was truly beautiful). Her mom was quite proud of her! The ladies from China remarked as to how warm it was and commented on the beautiful weather. Yes 84 degrees and total sun today! No clouds!

I set off on a walk, first to a farmer's market, they had awesome goodies for sale (picture below). Then down the street toward The Wellcome. I was looking at all the architecture and the huge, huge buildings and must have missed the place. I stopped at a park and rested under a huge tree. I have a big toe that I had scraped in the USA, it has been infected and now the swelling has spread to under the toe and makes walking not so much fun. I stopped at a clinic across the road, they said that they were a private hospital, not part of the English Health Care system and would charge me $150 for a doctor to look at it plus any x-rays, medicines, etc. I decided it was not THAT bad!

Next thing I knew I was at the Madame Tussauds Wax Museum. I was passing a huge line when I saw a small sign that said 2 1/2 hours wait from this point! It must have been a 4 hour wait to get in! Not for me. As I continued I saw a small sign "Baker Street", looked down the street, and there was a museum at 221b Baker Street with a short line. I bought a ticket (and a tiny violin) and waited in line. A nice couple from Chicago were behind me. He had lost a leg due to a construction accident, but he was doing very well.

I went in and saw the museum and had my picture taken (with a hat and pipe as props they provided) with the "policeman" outside. What fun!! On the walk back I went to another outdoor market, the first thing I saw was a whole pig you could get a slice off of if you wanted! The guys working there said that they had gone "whole hog"!! And they had!

I passed several parks - today full of people, many guys shirtless, enjoying the sun. Karin, Vanessa, and I had sushi for dinner then they wanted to go to Kings Cross railroad station. We explored the station, then went next door to Starbucks. Then, suddenly I remembered that Kings Cross was where Harry Potter left for school! So we went back over and found Harry Potter's buggy!!

Stall at the Brunswick.

Huge building for the people with sight loss.

Another pub, one one every corner it seems!

The Rocket, a famous pub.

It was hot, but high heels?

So many huge buildings.

Just another building front!

Small piece of grass to play on.

Posh living quarters across from a park.

The park.

A magpie.

Line for Madam Tussauds Wax Museum, four hour wait from her to get in.

A 15 minute line to get to see Sherlock Holmes museum.

Inside the museum,

It would have been better if I was scowling!

Going "whole hog"!!

Me at the Harry Potter train platform!

Vanessa at the platform!

Go To Beginning

Day 17 – London - Brick Lane, The Wellcome, Karin and Vanessa and Chinatown.

Mary Ann Renfrow suggested that I check out Brick Lane.

First, breakfast with Karin and Vanessa. They wanted to see the Tower Bridge, so I was off on my own to Brick Lane via the Hammersmith subway. Brick Lane and many of the streets in that area of Aldgate are closed off with hundreds of small tents set up with new and old things for sale. They include many antiques, food and junk/treasures. There is a lot of street art there as well. Some of it is quite good! Those looking for clothing should go to Wentworth Street: Wentworth and Middlesex streets are also closed off for the Petticoat Lane Market. You can find clothing for 50 pence up to 100’s of pounds.

By the time I had finished the walkabout I was at a Metropolitan subway, so I took it back to Euston Square, right at The Wellcome museum! The Wellcome is another amazing museum, quite unlike the rest. First I sat down to a lunch of a veggie hoagie, after hiking all over East London I was hungry. One exhibit they have is a list of what makes up our genome, in microscopic text! The listing takes up the entire bookcase! Now, to see about what part of that is my eye color, let me look........ how they can do it is amazing! The books labeled "1" are the chromosome pairs in chromosome 1, and so forth. The X chromosome is the one that tells you your sex.

The electrical exhibit is interesting. One item on display is an original copy of “Frankenstein”, Frankenstein was a handsome guy in the original! Then went to the library to check it out. They have sign that cautions you “This Library has human body parts”. The medical exhibit there was fun, they have an original dentist chair and an original x-ray “chair” where they could take x-rays of any part of your body by making adjustments without you moving! I sat to read and promptly fell asleep. They have a staircase with huge pillows along each side – people were draped all over the pillows reading!

I walked back to my hotel to wait on Karin and Vanessa. Karin called me via FaceBook and invited me over to Piccadilly Circus. I hopped on the subway at Russell Square and in minutes I was there. They wanted to go to their favorite Vietnamese restaurant. I had noodles and veggies, it was way too much for me to eat but it was very good. We went off exploring all over Chinatown and then down to SOHO. Lots of interesting shops and very interesting people!! When we returned to the hotel Karin said that her tally was 22,000 steps today (about 8 miles), I think I hiked the same, or more!

88 degrees they said today, it was warm, people were all over the parks staying outside in the shade as that was cooler than their homes I guess. We snuck out onto the unused patio out back here at the hotel when we returned to enjoy the weather.

One of the newer (2003) buildings here in London nicknamed the Gherkin. There are a staggering 455 tall buildings in the pipeline, according to the NLA. This includes 108 in the planning system, 256 that have already been granted permission and 91 which are already under construction. Next year another 28 towers of at least 20 storeys will be completed, 40 more the year after that.

Many buses have no top for tourists, I did not take one.

The subway, just follow the signs "Way out" to get to the street above.

The Walkie-Talkie in the background. Just look for the sign "Underground" on the top left for access.

Street art on Brick Lane.

In one of the many stalls.

Many food stalls!!!

On to the Wellcome Museum

X-Ray chair


A print-out of all the pairs in our genome, in tiny tiny type (all 4 billion).

The original Frankenstein!

A corset and slippers for taped feet.

They electrified beef to make it more tender!

Checking to see what electrodes would do to a recently deceased.

1730's guillotine blade.

Wellcome entrance.

Karin and Vanessa


Interesting person in SOHO on his cell phone. A mime?

Patio out back.

Go To Beginning

Day 18 – London to Dover >

Up, had my wonderful “Continental Breakfast” of cornflakes and toast. I wished Karin and Vanessa a goodbye (big hugs) and off to the St. Pancras train station. I still marvel at the number of bicycles here, they pile up 20 deep at the street lights! Then when the bicycle signal light turns green, off they go!!

I bought my ticket with the last of my cash this time at the kiosk, it worked easily this time. I was expecting to wait a while for my train. To my surprise one earlier one was leaving in 4 minutes! Up the escalator and onto the train! My seatmate is the stiff upper lip Englander Hayley Bell told me about Anthony W Allsop and Frank Flyman. A guy in a suit with a dark purple shirt and a clerical collar. It is going to be a long hour. He has out a stack of papers. I asked him if he knew about the attack about 3 miles from here. “Yes”, he said and back to his shuffling papers. He got out a nice fancy fountain pen. I make pens like that, I said. A grunt. Are you off to a conference, I said, “yes, to Canterbury”,--- the Cathedral, I said,--- he just smirked. Yep, a long hour! His demeanor was certainly “I am so much better than you, I don’t need to talk to people that low.”!

There are four of us around two tables, Each taking up two seats so we each have a half of the table available. The lady diagonally has a calendar out and her cell phone working on something, it looks like she is grading papers. The guy to my left has his computer out and what looks like engineering design or lab report papers with his cell phone on top. The cleric sharing my table is reading the minutes of a meeting – the list of those at the meeting is very long – maybe 40 people. I ask if the cathedral is his home, his stop is coming up so he avoids answering. He gets off at Ashford to change trains. It turns out that the guy to my left across the aisle said that he is working on an invention, he would not tell me about it though! He said he owns 10 homes and rents them out. There are always interesting problems. I said that I used to own one duplex and sold it as I was losing money. He said that he was making good money so the troubles are worth it. We are two of the five people on this train car with 64 seats! He said that the cleric was the head of the Canterbury University!

On to Dover, my niece Courtney and 2 year old Isla came shortly after I got off the train. Isla said “I love you Uncle John. We have to pick up the dog poo in the back yard.” Interesting what 2 yr olds have to say!! We hiked over to a bakery and then took a bus for a ways. Thirdly we walked to a wonderful area of triplexes. They have a beautiful home with a great back yard. I babysat for Isla while Courtney went after Philippa (7) and Freyda (5) from their schools. What a fun afternoon with three kids running around (and they are nonstop!). All three were competing for my attention. Isla is the big lover and loves big hugs!! Shortly Richard and his parents came. We had a great evening talking and had fish and chips for dinner. The fish was awesome, and it was so nice to be at home with loved ones!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The train station had interesting departures, I wanted to jump on the Paris train and see Paris again!

The white cliffs of Dover, many millions of layers of bodies of sea animals that once lived in the ocean and floated to the bottom. They were in a deep ocean at one time, but plate tectonics pushed them up. The chalk that makes up these cliffs - if under pressure - create the chert that they made buildings out of.

Courtney and Isla walking across the street at the train station, the usual pub right there!

The local castle we climbed all over the next day.

Fun times with the girls!

A new outfit for school next year.

The church.


Go To Beginning

Day 19 – Dover – with my niece, her husband and three little girls!

A night in a real queen size bed. Up to a breakfast of a bagel, with real butter and cream cheese, along with a cuppa tea!

About 75 degrees out and sunny.

Daddy takes the 7 year old to school, then the five of us are off to see Dover Castle. It is a neat castle that includes a lighthouse built by the Romans almost 2000 years ago! And it is still standing! The castle was built as a home away from home for the King. In the 1180s Henry II remodeled the castle, planning its great tower as a palace in which to entertain great visitors as well as a last redoubt for a strategically important castle. At 83 feet square and with walls up to 21 feet thick, it has three floors of rooms, the topmost being state apartments for the king himself.

In 1216–17 the fort was twice put to the test when Dover withstood a long siege by an invasion force led by Prince Louis of France in support of English barons rebelling against King John. The fortress resisted ten months of bombardment by siege engines, undermining by tunnels and eventually hand-to-hand fighting. We had a great time here, we went through all the rooms and to the huge kitchen! Up and down stairs then into the underground tunnels they built during WW II (fitbit says we went up and down 23 floors in all). An amazing hospital down there! It was not used as a hospital for long, but more as a home for those on lookout – looking out to the east from the top of the high chalk cliffs.

Richard had brought along a nice lunch in a cooler. Three kinds of cheese, fresh breads and sliced ham. We ate out on a picnic table overlooking the English Channel! Several hundred feet up on the chalk cliff. Ships coming and going down below our lookout. A gull came by to see if we had anything for him, then flew up to the top of the hat of the statue.

After all that climbing about we went back to the house for a short nap. Their home is very nice, three floors and four bedrooms. They have a garage in which Richard keeps his model airplanes – as well as many other things. He has a flying wing and a remote controlled helicopter. And not just any old helicopter, one that the youngest might even be able to go up in! The rotors are eight feet across! They also have two dogs that love to chase a tennis ball.

We next went down to the ocean – the English Channel. The Dover waterfront is undergoing a HUGE rebuilding. We saw a plaque which commemorates the evacuation of Dunkirk. 200,000 men were rescued and brought here from the debacle in France. We walked along the “beach” (people were swimming here), the beach really was small rocks down to the water. We stopped in a small convenience store and I got a sandwich and an orange juice for supper. I have picked up a stone from the beach and a piece of chalk this trip! Nice to have relatives wave you off at the station!!

 At the railroad station, my train was the 5:49 to St. Pancras in London. They apologized as it was coming at 5:50, not 5:49…wow. I ate my sandwich and very soon the train came. I got on and the train started along the coast - going through several tunnels cut into the chalk. The next stop Folkestone Central, another town with ancient structures nearby. The area of Folkestone has been occupied since at least the Mesolithic era.  The coach was quite cold (air conditioned) and so I was glad I had changed into my long sleeved shirt and long pants! This train stops 4 times on this end, but zips along the rest of the way, making it to London in 1 hour 4 minutes. This coach holds 50 people but there are only four of us scattered about.

This stop is Ashford International. There are 7 sets of tracks parallel to each other here! The sign says that it is the “Home of Ashford Designer Outlet”, whatever that is! Ashford is alluvial plain formed by the historic courses of the River Thames on fairly fertile but gravelly soil in centuries past covered by deciduous forest for wood gathering, with clearings of meadow for pasture and to a lesser extent arable farming to supply the London market; sheep grazing continues today around the reservoirs. In common with western fringes of Greater London, gravel commences often within three feet of the surface which has led to 20th century gravel extraction partly for the rail beds, which has formed the lakes to the north of the railway line.  The coach sways as it switches to a different track, now it winds up like a jet engine, pushing us back into our seats as it accelerates, we must be doing 100 mph at least as the trees and fields flash by. The coach leans a bit as we round a slight curve. Another train passes going the other way – it only takes 2 seconds for it to flash past. Through tunnels, over bridges, there is nothing stopping us. It must be amazing sitting up in the front of the train manning the throttle!

Now racing through wetlands and then an industrial area with wind turbines spotted all over, and now a very long tunnel as we approach Stratford on the outskirts of London. 80 miles – 1 hour including stops. In one hour and 20 minutes I went from Dover to my hotel room. On the way is the St. Pancras/ Kings Cross area which is one crush of humanity. The sidewalks are full of people working their way in both directions, the streets are a river of traffic. From the quiet/slow floating feeling in the train to the absolute hustle and bustle of the station, to the relatively quiet street where the hotel is, that is London.

Isla on her bike!

Dog in the pool!

Part of the castle.

Thick walls, 21 foot thick at the bottom!

Mike at the well, he dropped a coin in and it took about 10 seconds to hit the bottom!

Stirring the pot!

The kitchen.


On to the tunnels underneath (3.5 miles of tunnels!)

A 23 foot long cannon.

Chalk cliffs over ferry port.

Town of Dover, 28,000 inhabitants.

On top of the tower.

Juvenile magpie begging from adult!

Park on top of cliff for lunch.

Back in town, Mike and Isla waiting to cross the road.

Cliffs and highway down from the top of the cliffs.

Beach of rocks.

Bridge that pivots to open.

Track that bridge rides on as it opens.

Dover cliffs and castle.


Sculpture of famous people from Dover.

Train back to London.


Go To Beginning

Day 20 London - Sir John Soames Museum - Roger Gray's home

A short note tonight, I packed my conversion to 220 and am too hot and tired to find it so I can plug in.

I walked to the museum. Sir John Soames was quite a collector, he was an architect and had a lot of friends. He filled his house, then bought the neighbor's house moved in there and filled that. No photos allowed, but that was OK. He had so many things and not enough wall space to put them all, so he added some (six that I saw) fold out walls and covered all of those. He even has a sarcophagus!

Then I took the tube to Roger Gray's place. Roger gave me directions via the river but I got late. Partly because my Visa card as deemed stolen and they canceled it - a new one should be in Florida! I had no cash and my spare card that I thankfully brought will not let me get cash. Anyway, I got to somewhere near where I thought Roger lives (Plaistow Station, NOT Prince Regent Station) and got off the subway. I thought that I was lost. I was looking for the DLR to Prince Regent but there were only buses here. I found where a bus listed Prince Regent as two of the stops, so I got on that one. None of the stops we were hitting seemed to match what the board said, so I asked the driver which stop was Prince Regent. He said "We are ON Prince Regent". OK, my next clue was Burley Road, so I asked him where Burley Road was. "Never heard of it" he said. A minute later a lady came up and said that it was the third stop up ahead. I thanked her and sat down. One stop. Then I was looking out the window and saw Burley road on a building! I got off and walked back.

Suddenly I heard my name and turned around, Roger was right there! We got there at the same time!! I had done it perfectly even though I was quite confused for a while there! Roger has a really nice place and fixed a great meal! We talked for two hours and ate a fabulous meal. Then, time for me to return already. Roger gave me a book which I will treasure!! Back on the bus, took me right to the train/subway station. My train direct to Kings Cross was expected in 3 minutes.

Then a lady came on the speaker system - the coach was damaged and we would have to wait for the next one. Two other came and went, the board said Kings Cross -3 minutes. Then that was erased. Two more trains came and went. The board said Kings Cross 5 minutes. Then that was erased, the another train and a sign on the board read: "Read the front of the train". Then that was erased. I went to the map to figure out how I could take one of the other trains and change at another station. I was wandering back when a voice came over a speaker. "You look like you are lost." ???? "Yes, you in the blue and white shirt." Me! "Yes", I said, "I was trying to get to Kings Cross."

"They are having troubles due to the burned building and we have to change routes. Take the next train and change to the Northern Line at Monument." OK, got it, I had been to that station (it is right by the London Bridge). The train arrived, I hopped on. I watched the map as we went station to station. At one point I knew the next station toward Monument was Tower Hill.....but the next stop was called out "Liverpool". Wait, we are not going to Monument, we are going to Kings Cross, where I wanted to go in the first place! A few minutes later I was back at Kings Cross...a short 1/2 mile walk and I was in my hotel room.

Another adventure, another great day! Sad, but glad all in one, about going home. I missed going to Oxford (but I went to Eton), and Salisbury Cathedral, but there will always be next time!!


Graves in Sir John Soames home.

End of the sarcophagus in the lower room in Sir John Soames home.

Bust of Shakespeare in a closet in Sir John Soames home.

Park across from Sir John Soames home.

Crepes with cheese sauce (to die for sauce) in the park across from Sir John Soames home.

Roger Gray's place, note the red brick at corners, etc. The brown brick made of chalk will not hold a corner, so red clay brick needs to be used!

Roger's kitchen/dining area.

A great meal before us!!

Roger's chess set, but he does not play!!

Lady on subway - I saw several hats like this!

Subway patrons.



Go To Beginning


Day 21 – London – Tampa

This morning my bed collapsed again. Picked myself up, re-assembled the bed, and out the door. On the way home!!

On the day I got here 21 days ago, I asked at the information desk at Gatwick how to get to my hotel. She hit a few keys and printed out my itinerary. I had to take a train to one point, take a subway to another point, then take a second subway to Russell Square, then walk 1/2 mile to the hotel. It was a grueling task. On the train, off the train. Find the right subway going the right way, twice, down flights, up over and down again, it must have been 10 flights of stairs dragging my 60 pound bag and two other bags, in all it took two hours and cost 24 pounds ($30).
Last night I did my own research. I only had to walk 1/2 mile in the opposite direction to St. Pancras, down an elevator, onto the train, and got off at Gatwick Airport 37 minutes later! What a difference it would have made if she had taken the time to find what I did! Not only that but it cost 10 pounds! I paid 1.50 pounds for a pint of orange juice and I am set here, plugged in and typing away!

Security went easily enough and I have time to check out the shops, Harrods is huge here! OK, they settled on a gate and I walked to the gate. On the way here on the train it was bright and sunny. On the way from the waiting area to the gate I looked out the window, it is raining! The first real rain since I got here and I am inside the airport!

Well, after scooting about for 20 days I have learned the streets and the subways (the tube) and the Railroads fairly well. I have had beautiful weather, met a LOT of friends and relatives, and had a wonderful time. After a very long flight (but uneventful) I landed in Tampa. David Westmark drove to the airport, waited around for me and brought me home! How great is that! Thanks Dave!!

Bicyclists all waiting for a green light on my way to the subway.

In summary:
I met Roz again and gave her the paddle.
Met four FaceBook friends, two of which put me up for the night!
Found where my ancestor on my mother's side lived in 1881.
Found where my ancestor on my father's side lived in 1595.
Went to a dozen museums, castles, and gardens.
Went on about 50 subway rides and half dozen trains. Two taxi rides and one bus. One catamaran. Walked over 150 miles!
Met my niece and stayed the night.
Met and spent time with several ladies from Russia, Germany, and Hong Kong
Saw the Queen's guards, carriages, and palaces.
I was there during the London Bridge trouble, the election, and the residential tower burning.

All in all an exciting and informative trip.
Thanks for all the helpful comments and encouragement from all my FaceBook friends!