littlereview: (Default)
Self-Portrait, 1969 )

It was another glorious spring day in the DC area, with everything in bloom from the trees to the tulips and high fluffy clouds that turned an amazing pink at sunset. I had lunch with the lovely [ profile] beeej, whom I have not seen since I left town, with whom I discussed such matters as the Highlander gathering in Australia in two weeks, last night's Smallville and what our husbands would say when faced with a room of drooling slash fans. [ profile] perkypaduan, hope you are feeling better -- we missed you!

Thursday afternoon always means carpools, as one son has a violin lesson while the other stays late at school for math club, so I wrote articles in between running around and trying to catch up on post-trip phone calls that I still hadn't managed to make. I must admit that I really enjoy writing about Desperate Housewives; it's a very guilty pleasure, but today I got to write up bits of the infamous Vanity Fair article and the other day I got to write up an interview with the show's creator in which he described recreating his coming-out experience with his mom on the show.

LiveJournal Username
A secret must be told to you bykay_wray
A compliment must be left bykarasu_hime
A complaint about you should be left bydernhelm_3019
Song lyrics for you to guess should be posted bybits_n_baubles
A memory of you should be posted byunanon
Ten words that bring you most to mind should be posted byfangirl_lizzie
A haiku (5,7,5) should be written about you byariestess
Quiz created by Lissa at BlogQuiz.Net
New Quizzes at Blog Quiz

Ahahahaha. Tonight I watched the fifth episode of The Barchester Chronicles (in which Alan Rickman and Geraldine McEwan SO deserve each other and I SO want to watch her make him have nasty filthy sex with her but she's playing an uptight bitch even though he's playing a sleaze). Then we watched the special on Peterborough Cathedral, which was fascinating -- apparently it had been an abbey, but Henry VIII spared it, in part because Catherine of Aragon is buried there and in part because the abbot had a friend at court. It has a spectacular painted ceiling and in other ways reminded me of York Minster and Durham Cathedral, so it made me nostalgic and now I want to go there next trip. Oh, and I was reading about Anthony Trollope, who wrote Barchester Towers, and apparently the reason there are all the mean jokes about how Rickman's character, Obadiah Slope, changed his family name from Slop to Slope is that Trollop(e) did the same thing.

The Nationals won their first home game. I would be more excited about this if my UPN affiliate was not pre-empting the only shows I ever want to watch on that stupid network in favor of baseball. Now I am bowing to my allergies and going to bed, so that tomorrow perhaps I will have the energy to clean up all the stuff I didn't bother with today, as obviously I had to take a walk and watch the glorious sunset.

Silbury Hill, the largest manmade prehistoric mound in Europe, just south of Avebury. Long believed to be a burial ground, no skeletal remains or significant ancient artifacts have ever been discovered in this 4600 year old enigma. Note for [ profile] ldybastet: this is in the heart of Wiltshire, so Malfoy Manor could be right nearby, though we didn't see it -- we suspect that our Muggle blood foiled our efforts.
littlereview: (Default)
From 'Gitanjali' )

Though it was cooler today than Monday, it is still very much spring here; my allergies are being reasonably cooperative but again I keep wondering whether inability to stay awake is supposed to be an allergy symptom or whether I somehow still have jetlag. My kids have a terrible case of spring fever and getting my younger one to do homework tonight involved a full-out war; then, at bedtime, he had a complete crying meltdown because another boy in the neighborhood had broken one of those stones with secret compartments that people hide their keys in, which belonged to yet another neighbor who has since moved away, but my son apparently found it wasteful that the stone was broken and was brokenhearted about it. Earlier I had lunch with [ profile] vertigo66 though I forgot to bring her souvenirs and I didn't have photos with me so could only bore her to a moderate degree blabbing about England. *g*

I had intended to watch Veronica Mars in the evening (which UPN has renewed! Yay!) but our local UPN station carries the Nationals baseball games now, and the show was preempted. I am worried that the Enterprise finale will be preempted as well, as the episode a week from Friday will be, and I will have to scramble to find and review it. Being thus deprived of Veronica Mars, we watched the third and fourth episodes of Barchester Towers, which I had received before we left town but didn't get around to opening let alone watching. We had watched the first two parts over the weekend and loved them, even though Alan Rickman -- the reason I sought out this BBC miniseries -- does not appear until part three. He plays a wonderfully sleazy selfish character in ministerial robes who is great fun to watch and even more fun to listen to (what a preacher that man could have been), but the entire cast is superb -- Donald Pleasence as a minor theologian who's far too honest for his own good, Geraldine McEwan as the most overbearing, completely wicked "good" woman in the history of television, Nigel Hawthorne as the archdeacon you first want to throttle and then end up rooting for. I am enjoying this enormously.

Once again I can barely keep my eyes open -- will catch up on comments tomorrow.

A hovercraft ferry leaves the beach at Southsea near the Clarence Pier amusement park. A few yards away, a memorial marks the spot where Nelson embarked for the last time.
littlereview: (Default)
I got the first batch (!) of England trip photos uploaded, and a report full of links to official sites etc. The report is here. If you want just the photos, they start here and you can click through the links on the bottom through the whole set. Or here are direct URLs:

London / Greenwich / The Thames / The Rollright Stones and Birmingham / Lake District / Rievaulx Abbey / Castle Howard / York / Whitby / Scarborough and Goathland / Fountains Abbey / Hartlepool / Durham / Carlisle and Gretna Green / Hadrian's Wall / Barningham / Sherwood Forest and Avebury / Stonehenge / Portsmouth Historic Dockyard / Portsmouth and Southsea / Portchester

Some of these may (nay, will) show up in this journal at some point. We were not allowed to take photos inside Westminster Abbey, Her Majesty's Theatre, the Maritime Museum, the galleries at the Birmingham Museum, Wordsworth's Dove Cottage, Castle Howard or Durham Cathedral, and we were not allowed to use flash in the Nelson Gallery at the Royal Naval Museum nor the Mary Rose Museum, so there are some gaps and some slightly blurry images.
littlereview: (Default)
Ambassadors to the Dead )

Soccer went longer than we expected so we decided to put off seeing the cherry blossoms until Sunday (when hopefully the crowds will be smaller as well, as the Cherry Blossom Festival parade was Saturday). My son's team won their first soccer game of the year, so they ended the afternoon on a happy note, after which we drove to Seneca Creek State Park which is near the school where they were playing and hiked in the surprisingly damp and muddy woods. It has been gorgeous here, 70s and sunny, but I hear that the DC area got a lot of rain while we were in England and the creek gave evidence of that.

Otherwise, I transcribed an Enterprise trailer, updated my Louise Fletcher web page as the publicist for her movie Aurora Borealis had sent me some information and links to photos, resized a great many photos and worked on the web pages about our trip. Watched the first episode of The Barchester Chronicles while folding laundry this evening; no Alan Rickman yet, but the series is quite engrossing, particularly since I am nostalgic for all things in England at the moment. And the Nationals won again, so it must be considered a successful day. I didn't see the wedding at all but I hear Camilla wore a terrible hat; if so, will someone post a photo to [ profile] fanfic_hats, pretty please? *g*

Today's poem seemed to call for a graveyard, so here is the one at the priory church in front of the keep of Portchester Castle.
littlereview: (Default)
From 'The White Witch'' )

I wanted a poem with a vampire in it to go with today's photo from England, but after searching for the perfect one, I realized that what I really needed to do was to print an excerpt from the book that made the steps and gravestone in this photo famous. And so, I give you Bram Stoker's 'Dracula'. )

The steep steps to the pier below St. Mary's Church and Whitby Abbey.

Today I worked on my trip report and photos, did some work, did some chores, was thwarted in plans to see first [ profile] perkypaduan, then [ profile] gblvr, learned that my children had discovered Runescape at a friend's house and spent half the afternoon trying to wrest first one and then the other away from the computer, took a walk in the glorious weather, tried to see the partial solar eclipse that was largely obscured by clouds, had dinner with my parents and attempted to work up some enthusiasm for the Washington Nationals whom I now fear will preempt the final episodes of Star Trek: Enterprise, as our UPN station is carrying their games. In other words, nothing of great import occurred!

[ profile] fridayfiver: Telephones )
[ profile] thefridayfive: Bookworms )
[ profile] fannish5: Spoilers )

I think we may try to see the cherry blossoms late tomorrow afternoon, as we have a very small window on Sunday between Hebrew school and soccer. Our neighborhood was gloriously in bloom today, with lots of yellow on the bushes and pink and white on the trees; I need to get downtown and see the city in its spring glory.
littlereview: (Default)
Opus From Space )

Hey, I made it up till midnight! But my kids have no school tomorrow, so the knowledge that I can sleep slightly later may have something to do with that. I had to get up early (not a problem as part of my brain is still on Greenwich time) as it was [ profile] apaulled's early day in the office for teleconferencing with Asia, but that meant he could take time off for lunch so we very belatedly went out for his birthday lunch (Indian food, natch) and stopped in Best Buy to get Finding Neverland, which we attempted to watch with our kids tonight though they were distracted by the Return of the King Top Trumps game we found in the game store in Whitby -- Toys R Us in the US had carried The Two Towers game, and we had the Fellowship game via a friend in England, but that was the first any of us had seen of the ROTK version (I bought a deck of Harry Potter playing cards there too which I'd never seen here). I also went back to Barnes and Noble to get a couple of people the making of M&C book (still on the bargain rack, yay!) and spent an hour and a half trying on spring clothes in Kohl's before deciding I didn't really like anything and leaving without spending any money. I also wrote three articles on the theory that with the kids home tomorrow I won't get as much done. And I put away laundry and wrote some thank-you notes. So I am fairly exhausted and STILL haven't read anything on anyone else's web pages, but am getting there!

K/S fans need to go ASAP to and download Liz Shatner's interview with her father, not so much to hear Bill talk about how great he and Invasion Iowa are, but for the new ad for Shatner and Nimoy's Mind Meld: Secrets Behind the Voyage of a Lifetime DVD at the beginning and end of the hour-long interview. "They share more than just being of the same generation," intones the narrator, promising that their relationship will "boldly go where neither man has gone before!" Shatner says that while filming Star Trek, he was in the midst of a divorce, and he "took affection from wherever I could find it, not every week from one of those beautiful girls that were on our show." He also talks about how his life and Nimoy's have fallen into patterns in terms of their marriages, their careers, their emotional states, and how it would all have been worthwhile if for no other reason than that Leonard became his best friend (Nimoy is giggling while he says this). Nimoy, meanwhile, talks about his bond with Shatner and says this interview reveals aspects of himself to which he's never been privy before. Meanwhile the narrator keeps talking about how intimate the discussion is (the two are in Nimoy's house), and how passionate these two men are about their work and each other. I'm sure these quotes are completely out of context but oh, the slashiness! reprinted an editorial about John Paul II and the Jews that I appreciated. I was having weird feelings about seeing flags at half-mast for the Pope -- I have a great appreciation for his character, his accomplishments and his importance to people, but I can't recall another time when US flags were lowered everywhere like this for a non-American leader other than those who died in assassinations or terrorist incidents. It feels to me like a blurring of church and state, but I'm not really sure what etiquette governs when the flags are lowered; I remember there was a huge outcry in England after Princess Diana died because at first one of the royal residences did not lower its flags and later bowed to public pressure to do so, and I'm sure the US did not lower flags for her or any of a great many foreign administrative and religious figures. I don't mean to disrespect the Pope or those in mourning for him, but if the flags go to half-mast this week, might they go to half-mast for the death of some widely-followed Fundamentalist leader in the US, where a far more directly political message might be suggested by such a decision?

Anyway, I must sleep since I have to entertain the kids at least part of the day tomorrow, so I won't see the funeral until the evening news in all likelihood. We're trying to figure out if there's any time we can get downtown this weekend to see the cherry blossoms that does not interfere with Hebrew school or soccer games and practice, and it does not look hopeful...

Hogsmeade Station )
littlereview: (Default)
Delta )

Once again I can barely keep my eyes open and it's not even 11 p.m. yet -- my body is still somewhat in Greenwich time. Still swimming in clothing, souvenirs and power converters, am very proud of having managed to get three articles written today when my eyes were refusing to focus, and had to take a walk before dinner despite all the things I have to do because it went over 80 degrees and the scent of springtime outside was irresistible. Also had to run out to Target for some necessities, wandered into Barnes and Noble next door and discovered that B&N has the hardcover edition of The Making of 'Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World' on the bargain rack for less than $6 (still going for nearly $30 on the web site unfortunately so you'd have to find it in your local store). The web site and store both have Clint Willis' High Seas, which contains excerpts from both O'Brian and one of the Hornblower novels, for $3.98, here. So that's my PSA for the day.

Meanwhile I have an urgent question for transplanted Brits: is there anywhere in the US where one can obtain Kendal Mint Cakes? We had them in Yorkshire and now I am dying for one and the only place that carries them on Yahoo! Shopping is out of stock and I can't find anyone in Britain who will ship just a few rather than by the caseload (and I can't find whatever retailers in the US buy those caseloads and sell them!) We brought enough Cadbury back with us that I am not craving the high-butterfat variety of chocolate yet, and I know I can get that from British Traditionals on the web.

Loved this week's episode of The West Wing (was that the season finale?) but my eyes were crossing from being tired and the funky camera work was not helping any -- the Blair Witch Democratic National Convention! I was happy with the outcome but, having missed the last two weeks without even reading summaries, the VP nomination came completely out of left field for me -- was that foreshadowed or was it a total bombshell for everyone? I was utterly lost on the storyline with the astronauts because I missed the first six minutes getting older son's reading project in order, so need to be filled in on that, too, when I am more awake.

Still haven't dared try to make a crack in my friends list. Come tell me your news of the past couple of weeks!

The Nereid Monument, a tomb from Xanthos in southwest Turkey, now in the British Museum.
littlereview: (Default)
Singer )

By the time we left for Heathrow on Monday afternoon, the weather had cleared up and we found ourselves looking out the windows at spring flowers and the fewer sheep in the fields of Surrey than those of Yorkshire. I had hoped to meet [ profile] elanor_isolda in the airport but we ran late at the rental car return (warning to anyone going to England: beware National Car Rental, no matter how good their rates, we have ugly stories from both picking up and returning vehicles), and I never managed to find her.

The flight home was quite smooth however. I watched National Treasure and Being Julia, two excellent films for leaving England, as one has to do with the American Founding Fathers and has a British bad guy (Sean Bean, no less!) while the other is set in London and is about shenanigans on and off the English stage earlier this century and has Jeremy Irons. We had forgotten all the CDs to which we intended to listen while we were in England and had been stuck with freebies from the Daily Express, and I found it ironic that United Airlines was playing Loreena McKennitt, one of the main CDs I missed, as we took off. Once again it was cloudy as we passed over Ireland, but we had a clear view of the glaciers in northeastern Canada and a lovely sunset landing at the airport outside DC after seeing the monuments just before landing.

So I'm back, very tired as my body has not yet adjusted to the shift in time nor the extra several hours in my day yesterday, but the laundries are done and I actually managed to get two articles posted in addition to answering a boatload of comments and monkeying with a handful of photos. Shall finish answering comments in the morning as I can no longer see straight. I still haven't looked at my friends' list beyond a couple of people's journals to see if they were silent just because I was gone or because of some crisis. Hope everyone is well!

The Rollright Stones, near Chipping Norton.
littlereview: (Default)
...friends-locked because I don't want photos of my children on LiveJournal, so please don't try to link to these. Shall post more photos of the locales pictured when I get around to cropping, sorting, etc.!

Yes, We Actually Went to England )


Apr. 4th, 2005 11:23 pm
littlereview: (Default)
Today we got up early so that we could go to Portchester and its castle, with the best-preserved Roman wall in northern Europe and a huge intact keep with paintings on the walls from when the upstairs was used as a theatre. Richard II had rooms added on, Henry V used it as a base of operations and Elizabeth I made the last official royal visit there. There are numerous ghost stories associated with the place, which has perfect atmosphere for it, with the floors missing from several levels of the castle despite its high walls and the amalgamation of architecture. From the roof of the keep one can see Victory docked in Portsmouth and a lovely view of the surrounding water, even on a misty morning like this one. We were all intrigued by the 17th and 18th century graffiti carved into the upper walls of the spiral staircase. The wall completely surrounds the castle and the little church with its graveyard, and flowers bloom in the cracks between the stones.

I'm too tired to type any more -- more details tomorrow!

One of my sons found a bird's nest in a dark corner of the ground floor of the keep. The mother bird fled temporarily when she saw us so we got to see her eggs.


Apr. 3rd, 2005 05:41 pm
littlereview: (Default)
Another extremely quick report on a nearly perfect day, marred only by my inability to see [ profile] evildrem who couldn't come to Portsmouth. We got up, ate the hotel's huge buffet breakfast and headed to the historic dockyards, surrounded by old pubs named after ships and people connected with Nelson. We went first to the HMS Warrior, an 1860 fully rigged sailing ship that also traveled under steam power -- whose wood had once been considered in condition too poor to be worth anything if the ship was broken up -- now completely restored, one of the most impressive ships I have ever toured. Son #2 got to climb into one of the hammocks and carry one of the horns, though he was most intrigued by the cat-o-nine-tails hanging on the orlop deck.

Then we went to the amazing HMS Victory, the oldest warship not afloat (the USS Constitution being the oldest still in the water). The ship has two magnificent great cabins, the main one which was Nelson's and the upper one which was Hardy's, and there are three gun decks with nearly all the 110 guns in place, plus a restored gunroom, magazine, numerous crew cabins, galley, etc. But the most moving spots on the ship are two small plaques: "Here Nelson Fell" on the quarterdeck, and "Here Nelson Died" below beside a painting of the scene. Trafalgar anniversary displays were in place all over the dockyards, at the Royal Naval Museum and the Victory Museum, and we all learned a great deal about Nelson though we'd known a reasonable amount when we arrived. Son #2 was particularly amused by a feature showing clips from three films about Nelson, including a horrible 1918 silent where the actor's reaction to being shot was utterly comical, and he proceeded to reenact the scene in which he fell all afternoon.

We went through at least a dozen other exhibits, including an absolutely superb interactive walk-through recreation of the battle on Victory, a display of one of that ship's original sails in a climate-controlled room where video clips of Master and Commander were being shown, and a series of activities for kids from tying knots to computerized "command" of the ship (we had a mutiny for not bringing enough rum on ours). We also saw the Mary Rose, a Tudor ship that went down in the 1500s and was brought up a few years ago, which is currently being displayed inside a giant tank and sprayed with protective chemicals until the wood is strong enough to withstand air; there is also a museum of artifacts connected with the vessel. There's enough in the historic dockyards for a week-long trip, though we left at five thirty when the various museums and ships began to close for the evening.

While [ profile] apaulled took the kids for a swim at the hotel, I walked down the Southsea waterfront to the shore, where I wandered into the surf and watched ferries head toward the Isle of Wight. Then I went back to get the family and we all walked through the park with the Nelson statue and over to the amusement park, which could have been any seaside town I've visited from Ocean City to Santa Monica, where we ate, watched teenagers on the roller coasters and played miniature golf. Eventually it got dark and chilly and we wandered back through the park away from the waterfront.

HMS Victory. Her flags, and all of the flags at the Naval base, were at half-mast; I'm not sure whether this is an ongoing tribute to Nelson or whether they were lowered in mourning for the Pope.
littlereview: (Default)
Extremely quick report as we have had a busy day today and will have a busier one tomorrow! Our original plan was to spend lunchtime in Nottingham, visiting the castle and driving by the new ice rink that's on the site of the one where Torvill and Dean trained -- a place I've wanted to visit since I was in high school. But we turned onto the wrong road on the way down and ended up at the Sherwood Forest visitor's center, which seemed like a must-see as we are all Robin Hood fans, and which had big old oaks and archery demonstrations and explanations of the relationship between Robin of the Woods and the Green Man, so we spent some time there. When we arrived in Nottingham near lunchtime, it was absolutely mobbed and the parking lots were like a maze. Nottingham is what I expected Birmingham to be like -- crowded, neither antique nor freshly contemporary, though it has a very diverse population from what I could see -- everyone was converging on the shopping centers which are in the same part of town as the castle and museums. Having concluded that we could lose half the day just finding our way to the castle (we'd given up on the ice rink already), we decided to leave so we could make sure to get to Avebury and Stonehenge before the latter closed in the evening.

It was a gorgeous near-70 degree day, just like the last time we visited, and both places were exactly as I remembered them -- despite being warm in the perfect weather I had chills nearly the entire time. We got ice cream from a truck and walked around the stone circle at Avebury eating it -- is there anything better than mint chip in a place of that kind of power? Then we went to Stonehenge, arriving around 5 p.m. when the sun was visibly descending but still very bright, surrounded by sheep and burial mounds in the nearby hills, with ravens and other birds flying over and around the stones. The audio tour there is superb, but after awhile I shut mine off and just sat and looked; this is one of those places to which descriptions and photographs can't begin to do justice. I never believed that people could sense magnetism in the earth until the first time I visited it.

And then we drove to Portsmouth, to our hotel down by the water (though son #2 actually cried at bedtime as he missed the cottage and the animals!) While unpacking we saw part of the new Doctor Who! [ profile] apaulled took the kids swimming before our very late dinner but I had to walk down to the waterside, and to my delight there was a statue of Nelson in the park between the hotel and the quay. I watched the gorgeous pink sunset before returning so we could all have dinner and get to bed early so we can make an early start tomorrow to see the HMS Victory.

One of the great stones in the circle at Avebury. Look familiar? See my icon.
littlereview: (Default)
Today we went to Scotland! We started out in England in Carlisle, the Celtic settlement that became a Roman town, then Saxon, then part of Norman Britain, holding off invaders from the north. Mary Queen of Scots was held in a tower in Carlisle Castle, which was also taken by Bonnie Prince Charlie's troops, as we learned when we toured it (and after seeing the dungeons and imagining the conditions with dozens of people packed down there, I have great admiration for the courage of anyone who chose to be political rather than staying out of it!) There are excellent displays in the Keep of the history of the city and the castle, with great views from the battlements of the rooftops, the cathedral and the remaining cannons at the castle. It's been a strange experience being in so many former Catholic churches and abbeys during what seem to be the last days of this Pope, seeing people praying around the world during the spare moments when we catch the news.

We drove across the Scottish border to Gretna Green, where we ate lunch and took photos in a touristy historic blacksmith's shop that's a popular place for weddings, as England had a higher age of consent and people apparently used to sneak across the border to elope. We also discovered a Cadbury factory outlet there. After the chocolate, we went to several Roman sites along Hadrian's Wall, including the fort at Housesteads where sheep were wandering among the ruins, the Mithraic temple at Carrawburgh sunk in the mud, and the museum and bath house ruins at Chesters which descend a hill toward the beautiful North Tyne River. There are wonderful intact stone carvings of gods and animals at Chesters, while Housesteads sits high on the moors and the sun broke through the mist to create absolutely amazing views.

We drove back to the cottage by way of Raby and Barnard Castles, where we stopped to take pictures (and to pick up groceries for dinner in the town of Barnard Castle, which has a 12th century church, a museum in a French-style chateau and a circular butter market which was once used as a prison). Barnard Castle itself is quite decayed, while Raby Castle is still inhabited by the family that took it over in the 1600s, and there are lovely grounds where we saw several pheasants during our very brief stop. We came back to Dove Cottage relatively early to pack, so we can get a very early start tomorrow (Portsmouth via Nottingham, Stonehenge, Avebury and Salisbury), and the kids watched The Living Daylights in between baths and bedtime.

Sheep wander around the Roman ruins at Housestead beneath Hadrian's Wall.
littlereview: (Default)
We had a very full day Thursday starting at Fountains Abbey, whose enormous tower is more intact than any of the buildings at Rievaulx, Whitby or St. Mary's and which is set in a gorgeous valley on the Skell River amidst the woods and adjacent to water gardens. The abbey was Cistercian -- founded by monks influenced by what they perceived as the lax living at St. Mary's heading for Rievaulx, which was in turn founded by monks from Whitby -- and its aesthetics were more austere, but because of the good condition of the stones there are actually more intact angels and figures in the architecture. The quarters and infirmary of the lay brothers is almost completely in ruins, but the monks' quarters and larger structures remain standing.

After eating lunch at the abbey we drove to Hartlepool, which has England's equivalent of Connecticut's Mystic Seaport -- a reproduction of a historic quay and the refitted HMS Trincomalee, built in 1817 and restored with nearly 20 percent of her original timbers. We did not take the lengthy audio tour but had a knowledgeable (and cute) guide, an O'Brian fan, who chatted with me about Jack Aubrey but had nothing good to say about the USS Constitution, which he claims cheated in the battle with the Java (hmmph). A publisher was doing a shoot for a book cover in the great cabin, so there was a model in a captain's costume there as well. The quay features recreations of Trafalgar-era stores, including a chandler, a nautical instruments shop and a nobleman's rooms, plus a number of exhibits on everything from press gangs to fighting ships to prisons. The sun had come out by the time we arrived there and the light on the water was beautiful beyond the old town.

I could have spent all day in Hartlepool but we wanted to see Durham Cathedral, so even though we knew we would arrive too late to tour the castle, we left to go to Durham. Leaving the car park and crossing the footbridge over the river was like stepping back several centuries; we ended up on the grounds of the university whose buildings are former civic and church structures from the 1600s, and the streets are cobblestone. Nonetheless the cathedral felt more alive than any other we've visited, though it dates from before 1100; some of the damaged ancient stained glass has been replaced with more modern designs, and the grave of St. Cuthbert, which has made Durham Cathedral a pilgrimage site for nearly a thousand years, has a beautiful modern screen painted with Cuthbert's image over it. This cathedral is also where the bones of the Venerable Bede rest, and John Washington, an ancestor of George Washington, served as prior of the church for thirty years.

[ profile] peregrinuscanus and I had discovered last week that my family would be staying only a few minutes away from where she lives in a beautiful old town with a castle, and she had told us that there was a public swimming pool in her town, so we met up with her and three of her children at the pool, where the kids got along famously considering they had never even heard one another's names until that very day. She invited us back to her house for dinner, and my kids were highly entertained with the backyard trampoline, older son's Playstation and hide-and-seek with the younger children while we chatted with [ profile] peregrinuscanus and her husband, who are utterly lovely people and we are hoping to be able to see them in the US at some point! By the time we got back to the cottage it was well after 10 and we had to throw the kids into bed so we can go to Hadrian's Wall tomorrow.

Spiral staircase that no longer leads anywhere, Fountains Abbey.


Mar. 29th, 2005 05:48 pm
littlereview: (Default)
Tuesday we drove into the magnificent walled city of York to find both [ profile] liars_dance and [ profile] friede -- the latter an uncanny experience for me since I first met her online at the tender age of 13, though I didn't know her age at the time! I am pleased to report that she seems to have survived corruption by myself, [ profile] beckyo, [ profile] madlorivoldmort and others and it was so much fun to finally meet her across the Atlantic from our homes. We all met up at Clifford's Tower, built by Henry III after the original was burned during riots in 1190 when the Jews who had taken refuge in the tower committed suicide rather than being taken alive by an anti-Semitic mob. The views from the tower are amazing, but knowing this history, it was hard not to feel ambivalent about the tower itself and about York Minster, the spectacular medieval cathedral with the most beautiful, stories-high stained glass I have ever seen, and with huge Gothic western towers that are seen most impressively from the city walls, though there's no clear view for a photograph without trees or roofs in the way. Many people had said that we should walk around the walls, which we did, with [ profile] liars_dance and [ profile] friede pointing out the architecture and important buildings.

We had planned to eat lunch at the pub above the ruins of a Roman bath, but after touring the museum below the ground with the artifacts from the baths themselves, we ended up eating in the Italian restaurant in the renovated Grand Assembly Rooms, where we had pizza and pasta amidst gilded marble columns. From there we walked to the Yorkshire Museum, which has a collection of Anglo-Saxon, Roman and Viking artifacts from the area, plus part of the ruins of St. Mary's Abbey whose larger structures remain standing outside, by the River Ouse. We had tea and scones (well, some of us had scones and some of us had ice cream sundaes) at one of the many local places serving afternoon tea, then walked to the National Railway Museum underneath the tracks by the York station. This place is fabulous -- in what little time we had, we saw the Mallard which once set a world record for steam speed (and was the basis for the Thomas the Tank Engine train that Son #1 called "tipped blue diesel" in his extreme youth), a big green train on the roundabout, mail and military cars and -- most importantly to the kids, who have outgrown Thomas -- a sign for Platform 9 3/4 in a huge warehouse of train memorabilia.

[ profile] liars_dance and [ profile] friede had both departed earlier and we wove our way back across the city to where we had parked, stopping at the World War I memorial obelisk, different spots along the walls and bridges and a quick look at the amusement park beside our parking spot near Clifford's Tower. Once again, though it was overcast for most of the day, we saw no rain. Because we had had a big lunch and afternoon tea, we came back to the cottage and made sandwiches for dinner. Tomorrow we have had a change of plans: originally we were going to go to the art museums in Leeds and Nottingham, but we decided to skip Leeds and go to Sherwood Forest on the way south on Saturday so that tomorrow we can go to the east coast of northern England and see the sea at Whitby and Scarborough Fair!

Heading into York beneath the city walls.
littlereview: (Default)
Quick update as we are getting up early tomorrow. After all these months of knowing her online, I have finally met [ profile] liars_dance! And we met at Rievaulx Abbey -- a place I heard of first because of photos that she had posted in her LiveJournal. The place is soaring and magnificent, better preserved and grander in scale than the Glastonbury Abbey ruins which we saw last trip to England. To get there one must drive almost straight down a hill in the moors, past what's left of the similarly crumbling Helmsley Castle. It is really hard to articulate the grandeur of Rievaulx, which we saw overcast and with relatively little blooming on this early spring day; I would love to see it in all the seasons. [ profile] liars_dance, who has been there many times and gave us a guided tour.

From Rievaulx we drove to Castle Howard, the great house that was the setting for Brideshead Revisited, which was not originally on our schedule -- we were going to drive to the sea at Whitby, where the Endeavour docks, though she is sailing in the Pacific now -- but absolutely everyone we knew who had ever been there insisted that we needed to go to Castle Howard, and they were right. Leeds Castle in the south bills itself as the most beautiful castle in Britain, and as fortress-style fairytale castles go, its moat and gardens are glorious, but Castle Howard (which is much newer, dating from about 1700) has a fantastic collection of furniture and art, original wallpapers by William Morris, and a chapel that alone is worth the price of admission with stained glass windows by Burne-Jones and gorgeous painted ceilings and walls. The grounds are spectacular too, with flowers, fountains and sculpture near the castle and a lake a bit further on. Son #2 had wanted to return to Leeds Castle to see the peacocks and was pleased to find four walking around the courtyard. The Temple of the Four Winds, mausoleum and obelisk are lovely too, and there is a big playground on the lake that the kids loved and got very muddy in.

We were all pretty tired from a long day yesterday and needed to stop to buy food on the way back, so we returned to the cottage relatively early and watched Billy Elliot on the BBC (a neat movie to watch with kids, despite a lot of cursing, as the story is about a father coming to terms with his son's desire to study ballet rather than boxing in the midst of a miner's strike in a Northern town where there aren't many options for children with unconventional interests). The news is very different here; five minutes on the Indonesian earthquake and ten on a Parliamentary scandal. Now we are going to sleep so we can go to York tomorrow and see both [ profile] liars_dance and [ profile] friede. Again, apologies about the long delay on answering comments; I promise I am reading them, I just can't stay online long enough to answer!

Rievaulx Abbey, founded 1132, stripped during the Dissolution
littlereview: (Default)
This morning I was awoken for the first time in my life by sheep bleating. When we arrived last night in the fog, we did not realize that the farm run by the people who own the Dove Cottage where we're staying is literally our backyard; we have chickens, sheep, two donkeys and an unseen yet heard cow in close proximity. The owners had said that it was fine to feed the hens, who will eat anything, so after breakfast we brought them the burnt toast ends and the kids had a wonderful time feeding them and petting the sheep, who have several lambs. The hillsides all around here are covered with sheep and their babies; we saw thousands as we traveled, plus geese, rabbits, dozens of other birds and some horses, donkeys and cows.

We drove this morning to the Lake District visitor's center, where we went through the exhibits, walked a bit around Lake Windermere, watched an Easter Egg roll, let the kids play on the playground and ate a picnic lunch. Then we went to Wordsworth's Dove Cottage in Grasmere on the River Rothay, where we toured the museum and the cottage where Wordsworth lived in his young married life. It has a number of wonderful paintings of the area by people associated with the Romantic poets and some of their artifacts, including some of Wordsworth's drafts and an original painting of William Godwin -- Mary Wollstonecraft's husband, Mary Shelley's father. The day had been cloudy with intermittent drizzle and some fog, and it was easy to look at the hillsides and see what the poets had seen in them. We walked into the town to the church where Wordsworth is buried, for famous (and excellent) gingerbread baked in the building that was once his school. We had expected a lot to be closed today for Easter, but several of the towns we drove through were having street fairs and most of the dining establishments seemed to be doing good business.

In the mist high in the moors, we drove to the stone circle at Castlerigg -- a much more scenic locale than the Rollright Stones, with taller and wider standing stones that look more like the ones at Avebury. I would have liked to stay longer, as we had the place all to ourselves and got the same kind of chills from it as I did at Avebury and Stonehenge, but the kids were cold in the rain and I managed to slip on the hillside and slide flat on my back until I was covered in mud. We stopped on the way back to the cottage at two decaying castles, Brougham and Brough, before coming back to the cottage for a late dinner and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves which happened to be lying around on video and which the kids requested.

Tomorrow I am meeting [ profile] liars_dance at Rievaulx Abbey! Then we are going to Castle Howard of Brideshead Revisited fame, and the train station that stands in for the one at Hogwarts in the Harry Potter movies.

The Castlerigg Stone Circle in Keswick
littlereview: (Default)
Where we are currently drinking whiskey and eating Cadbury Eggs. We are having a fabulous trip and this is the first chance I've had to sit down with any sort of internet connection in two days! So I am attaching a report, but will beg forgiveness for not answering comments -- I need to make plans to see [ profile] liars_dance, [ profile] friede and others who might prefer to remain anonymous. *g* In the meantime here's the long-form report: London, Greenwich, Birmingham, Barningham! )

Temple Church, London, just before Holy Thursday prayers. Happy Easter!
littlereview: (Default)
We have had a marvelous day mostly church-hopping (Westminster, Temple Church, St. Paul's) plus museums in Guildhall and downtown (Pre-Raphaelites), and are on our way to the British Museum after dinner because it's open late. We have no internet access in our hotel, either from the room (the phones won't let us dial AOL) or from the lobby (where all five machines in the hotel itself and coffee shop are down) so I am in a pay through the nose internet cafe and must keep this short; am only technically online to tell our relatives that we got here safely. I will probably not answer any notes until next week at least and that's assuming I can get access more easily/cheaply from Yorkshire -- hope everyone has a great Easter-Purim-Spring this weekend!
littlereview: (Default)
Prayer To Escape The East )

In an airport hotel waiting for pre-dawn wakeup and flight...and for the kids to finally fall asleep (how long can two boys keep themslves awake?!) so I went looking for reading material and found this. Spent all of today before leaving the house doing last-minute chores like the bank, the grocery store and last-minute laundries. I think we remembered everything...if not we will find out on the other side of the Atlantic. *g* Watched Veronica Mars at the hotel, ate fast food for dinner (I did get to have lunch with [ profile] gblvr before I left and talk fannish stuff, so yay!) I can't settle down with a book yet, though my older son has already finished one of his.

Tomorrow before this time I will hopefully have seen the coast of Ireland from above. My favorite thing about the flight last time was seeing it at sunrise; this time hopefully it will not have gotten dark too soon!


littlereview: (Default)


RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags