UK and Ireland Trip 2001
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was a dark and stormy afternoon. Chicago was backed up. Our plane was stuck on
the runway. A baby screamed. So did a few adults. Our plane was scheduled to
take off at 5:30, and we sat on the runway until 7:15 or so. The only problem is
that the flight is scheduled to last two hours. Our plane to England is supposed
to take off at 8:55. So here we sit inside the plane....
Turned out that Chicago was in a ground embargo due to bad weather on the east coast. We finally arrived two hours late…our connecting plane for London had left 20 minutes earlier. Since there were no flights until the next morning, the airline put us up in the Hyatt Regency (“We treat our international travelers right,” said the supervisor.) and gave us some meal vouchers. The next morning, we got back to O’Hare, caught our flight, then finally finally trudged to the hotel 12 hours late, only to find out that we had been moved from the place we had originally booked to one across the street. They gave us a “superior” room for the same price. We can see the spire of a church from the window. The (main) problem is that this room – like many in London - is not air conditioned. We are on the 5th floor (6th in America), and since heat rises… (Of course last week the temperatures were nice and cool, but this week it’s a heat wave. Must have brought it with us.)
Tuesday was hot, and we were mightily jet-lagged, but we pressed on. First, we took a tour bus around London. This was one where you could hop off and back on whenever you want, which we took advantage of a few times.
Found lunch at a nearby pub, then continued the tour around to the Tower of London.
We made it just in time for the last Yeoman Warder-guided tour.
Went for a cruise down the Thames…
And alighted just in time to hear Big Ben chime.
Wednesday dawned hot. 85 degrees in Dallas is one thing, but in London add the humidity of Houston and the crowds of New York City, and you’ve got it hot and muggy. We started off at the BBC Experience (no pictures allowed), then took off to 221-B Baker street to visit the Sherlock Holmes Museum.
Next, we took Chris to visit St. Christopher’s Place. This intersects with Barrett St. After a little shopping on Oxford St., we trudged back to the hotel and got some Italian take-away for dinner.
After fortifying ourselves with some of the strangest frozen margaritas on the planet we made our way to Hammersmith. We scaled the Uxbridge Road towards Television Centre, strolled through a park, then made our way to Thorpebank St., home to some of the most famous Monty Python’s Flying Circus sketches. The Pythons say they chose this street because it was so non-descript. This was the location of the “Gas Cooker Sketch,” and the “Seduced Milkmen Sketch” among others. Can’t you just imagine the line of gas cooker repairmen stretching down the street?
morning we (and a few hundred of our closest friends) saw the Changing of the
Guard at Buckingham Palace. Note the new uniforms. They call these
we visited theFamily Records Centre, where we found some information on Paul’s
great-grandparents. After lunch at the Exemouth Arms we took off north to St.
Michael’s church at Wood Green, where Paul’s great-grandparents were married.
Sadly, the church seems to be in bad shape, and they only hold services on
Sundays. Apparently confession is by appointment. The tower was built on the
church in 1874 – the same year of the Barrett wedding.
Our next stop was Hampstead Heath. We were delighted to see that the once crumbling St. Stephen’s church is undergoing a restoration. We took a wrong turn for Parliament Hill (it’s very easy to get lost on the Heath), but found a beautiful pond or two along the way. Parliament Hill is the highest spot in London. On a clear day you can see all the way to the City, but they don’t have very many clear days. In fact, it was starting to rain, so we moved on.
We meandered out onto Spaniard's Ln. at Jack Straw’s Castle and walked up the hill to the Spaniard’s Inn. There has been a public house on this site since the 1500’s, and this is where the highwayman Dick Turpin was born and lived. It is said that he sat in the upstairs room and watched for coaches to approach the toll gate. If a coach looked to have rich occupants, he would rob them. We settled for a couple of pints of Cafreys and sat at a table under an umbrella, waiting for the rain to stop.
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