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Browse any bookstore and you’ll see many books about English gardens and countrysides. I’m here to tell you that the photographs in those books are very real and not staged or photoshopped. Although the timing of our trip wasn’t the best for seeing the gardens at their finest, we were still able to see a glimpse of what was yet to come……..

For some reason, I’m having issues with WordPress tonight and getting captions to post under the pictures. Since it is now after midnight and this is the third time I’ve tried to caption the pictures, I’m just going to summarize them here: The first picture is a vine of some sort growing on the side of a building in Oxford (wish we could see this once it “greened” up). The second picture is a red bud type tree; the third picture is a window box in front of a dorm room window at Oxford (many of these around the university). The fourth photo is a flower from a garden at Shakespeare’s birthplace, and the fifth picture was taken in Bath, England, of a street vendor’s booth. You could smell the fragrance from these flowers from a block away – unbelievable!


In every town we toured in the UK there were awesome architectural elements and stone faces on many buildings…from over a thousand years ago to the 20th century. I could probably post a hundred pictures of all the neat gargoyles and grotesques we saw, but I’ll just upload a few of our favorites:

It seemed like every town we went through during our travels in England, there were street performers. Folk singers, guitar players, unicycle riders, opera singers, you name it. Foot traffic moved rather quickly so there wasn’t much time to just sit and listen, but there were really some talented people. One guy even had a sign that said something along the lines of “I don’t need money but if you like my music, feel free to donate.”

An opera singer at the Roman Baths

Juggling flamethrower unicyclist

A guitar player

Band of boys in the gazebo

Another guitar player

(I’m thinking I mighta had a new friend in this guy – I’m in the red coat ;-)

Our last night in London, some of the kids decided they wanted to take the tube over to the London Eye. The Eye was built in 1999 and for several years, was the tallest ferris wheel in the world. It sits on the bank of the River Thames and never stops rotating (it moves slow enough to allow people on and off the capsules). Due to the fact that it was once known as the tallest ferris wheel in the world was reason enough for me to by-pass this particular tourist attraction (read: fear of heights). Fortunately, my daughter has no fear and was able to document this part of our trip for me ;-)

This is the “Eye” from a distance (I took this picture from a good place – standing on the ground…..)

And here are the pictures Cait took…..check out the one that is looking down at the people on the ground (just looking at this picture makes me dizzy….)

(Thanks Cait for taking these great pictures and being so understanding when I begged off back to the hotel ;-)

Ok, back to trip postings……….

Due to flight delays and plane problems, we were able to spend only about a day and a half in Scotland but we got a lot of sightseeing crammed in our time there. One of the top attractions in Edinburgh is the Edinburgh Castle. It is quite a fortress and you can see it from miles away as it sits atop the volcanic Castle Rock. They say it has been a royal castle since the 12th century and continues to this day as a military base.

Again, if you left click on the individual pictures above, it brings up a larger picture with whatever description I’ve added…..I’ll get the hang of this sooner or later ;-)

In addition to taking a lot of pictures of bicycles while in the UK, my daughter also likes to take pictures of signs…..most of these were taken by her and most are self-explanatory……

I apologize for the small pictures but if you click on them, they’ll enlarge where you can halfway read them ;-)

We left early Saturday (3/19) morning to make our way to Stonehenge which was about an hour and half west of London. It was pretty much in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by sheep pastures. Here is a cut-n-paste excerpt from another website about Stonehenge:

Stonehenge is a prehistoric, mysterious circle of upright stones in southern England. Construction on the great monument began 5,000 years ago; the famous stones that still stand today were put in place about 4,000 years ago.

The great age, massive scale and mysterious purpose of Stonehenge draw over 800,000 visitors per year, and several thousand gather on the summer solstice to watch the sunrise at this ancient and mystical site.

The stones are aligned almost perfectly with the sunrise on the summer solstice, and it is almost unquestioned that Stonehenge was built as a spectacular place of worship.

Although the faith of the Stonehenge builders predates any known religion, the site has become a place of pilgrimage and worship for Neopagans who identify themselves with the Druids or other forms of Celtic paganism. It is also popular with New Age devotees, who report powerful energies at the site.

It was truly a spectacular view…..

And the stones weren’t the only thing we saw from another era……

The Roman Baths are the heart of Bath which was begun around 45 AD as a spa for Roman conquerors. They found that the hot springs cured a number of ailments – not surprising, since the mineral content in the springs/baths contain over 40 different minerals. In the 1800’s and early 1900’s it was THE destination point for Kings and Queens.

Beautiful green algae water (wonder what made them think this would be great to swim in?)

Bath was one of those quaint towns out in the English countryside… took us about an hour and half to get there by bus but definitely worth the trip. Many shops and awesome architecture….

(Note the angels climbing the “ladders” on the Abbey….such interesting detail everywhere ;-)

As I underwent the monumental task of downloading the kazillion pictures that Cait and I took on our trip, I noticed that about 20% of the 976 pictures that Caitlin shot were of bicycles…..I don’t understand it, but thought I’d share some of her pictures……

What does one find to eat in the UK? Fortunately (or unfortunately, if you asked Caitlin), most of our meals were already planned for us…..breakfast at the hotels consisted of scrambled eggs, bangers (sausage looking things), broiled tomatoes and pork n beans (along with the usual cereal, bagels and fruit). Our evening meals were set up by our tour guide and we never knew what to expect. Well, except for peas – they were served with every meal.

This is a banger…..picture was taken by Caitlin before she shoved the plate away and wished for pizza. Not sure if it was the bangers that made her lose her appetite, or maybe it was the fish pie the night before or the promise of meat pies the next evening…..perhaps it was one of the following sights….

(Yes, those are whole cooked ducks – heads, beaks and all)

(Note the sign to the right…”Goat meat now on sale”…good thing because I just hate paying full price…)

Desserts were scrumptious though….

We did get a chance to try out different restaurants for lunch – we usually ate at Italian places (read: pizza for Cait).

Here are a few of the out-of-the-way quirky places we got to eat at……

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