Back to Britain
|(As small as Britain is, one could spend many holidays without seeing
everything of interest. Even though we lived in England a year, and had gone on four
tours, we were ready to go back last year until the mad cow epidemic worsened. We could
have got along without eating beef, but we heard reports that many parts of the country
were closed to visitors and the idea of being where all those cows were being killed and
burned wasnt appealing. We found a European tour that went to a new country, the
Czech Republic, and several other countries where we had been but not in the areas to be
toured. Even though it was just a week after September 11, we decided to go and enjoyed
the journey. However, we were constantly on the move, having to pack up for a new hotel
almost every day, and at best every two days. When we lived there, we had taken a tour
with Wallace Arnold to Austria. It was a short trip, but we were in an out-of-the way town
in an old but well-kept hotel, for the entire time. We were the only Americans on the tour
and enjoyed the attention we got as well as meeting some really fine people.
Our last English journey, was a fly/drive. It was a great trip and we saw places we could not have reached otherwise, but I vowed not to drive in England again. The other side of the road wasnt bad, and most of the roundabouts werent a big problem. It was the tailgating, the hooting or horn blowing from drivers upset that I was slowing down to look for sometimes not existent signposts, and in general getting not lost but confused several times.
A picnic lunch in Bude
Some tour companies will make individual itineraries, or at least travel with small groups on the roads less travelled. But these were outside a retired teachers budget. So, Wallace Arnold came to mind. Their brochure seemed just the thing, with most tours locating their clients in one hotel for a week, and taking day trips in a circle around the area. The hotels were mostly old and small but seemed well appointed. The price seemed right, though it did not include transportation to England, and did not include meeting us at the airport.
I began the project last spring, sending e-mail to Wallace Arnold, where I was told to contact our travel agent. That agent, Helen Johnson, previously found by Internet, hadnt heard of the company and first said she could not do it. Then after she found out more, she said she would try. Well, obviously it worked. . . finally. E-mail passed back and forth for weeks, until she had surgery and I took over until she was home again. Sarah at Wallace Arnold was very helpful but it was frustrating sometimes not to get answers when we needed to complete the deal. Finally it all came together, with boarding passes, where to meet, hotel before and after the trip. There were still some unanswered questions, but they will be seen in the story of the trip itself.The Journey to Devon and Jersey.
We left the International Airport at Standiford Field on September 12. It did not sink in that this was the day after the anniversary of the World Trade Centre disaster until arrangements had been made, but it was about the last date that the tour to Devon could be taken. An earlier date would have interfered with a short-term class I was conducting.
The American Airline counter was not crowded, and we were soon in the line to be searched. Our already stuffed suitcases were to be sent on to London . Neither I nor my carry-on bag set off the alarm; I dont think it ever has Rosina. We noticed very little difference in security at the Louisville airport, except that there were more people operating it and seemingly taking it more seriously. The plane left exactly on time and the flight attendant hardly had time to pass out soft drinks before we landed. We were able to go straight to the plane for Heathrow which was in the same terminal but far enough away we wished the carry-ons had wheels. The plane left more than a half hour later than scheduled. For both boardings we had to show a photo ID, in this case our passports.
On that plane we had a full meal. and a breakfast the next morning, something I think is now only done on overseas flights. After landing, it took us two hours to go through customs where the attendants were polite and friendly as always, pick up our luggage and decide on the next step. That step was to get to the Master Robert Best Western. However, it did not provide transportation as some of the higher-priced ones did. We did not see taxis at first so I went in a travel shop and asked for information. The lady at the counter didnt have much information, but another worker standing by called the hotel which did send a taxi at our expense. The woman who called was so helpful that she led us out to where the taxi would pick us up, and waited until it came.
The Master Robert Hotel was very ordinary but the most expensive Best Western wed ever stayed in. After naps, I walked around to see where we were and tried to get some idea of how we would get back there at the end of our tour. I learned the hotel was on the Great Western Road, also known as the A-4, a dual carriageway in this area. There was an underground station but further than wed be able to manage our luggage even on wheels. There were not many places to eat a bite that night, but the coffee shop was open. When we asked about sandwiches rather than a full meal, the waitress told us to order from the adjoining bar. I did, and had forgotten that one orders food and drink separately. The bartender took our sandwich order back to the waitress whod sent us in; then I bellied up to the bar to order our softdrinks, with ice. Two cubes each.
The hotel also ordered our taxi next morning. The driver seemed alert enough, but when I gave directions for our "joining point", "opposite the Mecca Bingo Hall on Uxbridge Rd." he grumbled there were several Mecca Bingo Halls. He got on the Uxbridge Rd, and said this was a longer trip than hed been told. At that moment I saw a Mecca Bingo Hall on the other side of the road. With some reluctance he turned around, pulled up before the Hall, said, "Oh the Uxbridge Rd at Hayes, which Id told him more than once, and then assured us this was the exact place and the bus would pick us up exactly on time. He of course had no idea. After the proposed pickup time, we saw a white bus stop on the other side of the road, not opposite, but diagonal to the hall. I watched a moment, picked up our Wallace Arnold card and started out to wave it at the driver. At that moment, a man came up to us, and asked if we were waiting for Wallace Arnold pickup. He helped us get our luggage across the street, and we were on our way to the rest stop where the yellow and brown Wallace Arnold coach would pick us up. We had not been told that the pickup would not be the coach to Devon, so it was fortunate that we made this connection.
Our driver, Mark, was a friendly fellow who was also our tour guide. He gave us information and funny stories as we "made our way" towards Devon, going southwest towards the Atlantic coast.
We left on the Ring Road around London, a dual carriage way, The roads kept getting narrower as we neared Lee, and by the time we got to the hotel it was one lane with hedges or stone walls on either side. When we met someone, one or the other, usually not the coach, backed up to a layby where the road widened just a bit, then each vehicle would gingerly edge by. We kept thinking someone would scrape, but the only thing touched was hedgerows. Our hotel wasnt quite as great looking as the brochure, but not bad. We walked in and gravitated towards a table where two ladies were sitting. We didnt know then we would then be expected to sit in the same place each meal but it worked for us. It took a while getting to know some other interesting people, but we got to know these "Essex girls" fairly well. They looked nothing alike, but were sisters, widows with grown children. During the week we told them how and where we lived and they reciprocated. They were part of a large family, and they remembered life during World War II.
One thing we learned, but didnt always remember, is that the ground floor in England is just that. Next one up is first floor. We were on the top floor, or second floor, and Id missed the part of the brochure that said "No lifts." That was okay for us; we needed the exercise, and luggage was delivered to our room, but I wondered how some almost feeble people using one or two canes or crutches could manage. They did very well, actually. No whining!
Next day was Sunday and an invitation to St. Matthews Church was on the bulletin board. Those going to church could request breakfast early and we did. We had been told we might want to save bread crusts to feed the ducks There was still time to feed them and they came in droves. In addition, a few seagulls and blackbirds sometimes flew around for a handout. In a day or two our bread crusts got wider and wider, sometimes the entire slice.
We went up the hill towards the church. Just ten minutes we were told, and although it wasnt straight up, we got our exercise. This was the main part of the village, with the church and the old school house. One house had the designation "The old Post Office"; now there are just a couple of red mail boxes, one placed during Elizabeth IIs reign, the other during her fathers.
The Fuschia Tea Room was across from the church, and nearby a wide footpath that passed a store or two we never saw open. I quickly learned that the footpath narrowed down as the road did, but it was much less steep. and went from town centre to the bay. There were a good many people for the small church, but the vicar apologised that so few were there; that night was the harvest festival, and he said some people werent about to go to church twice!
We were handed a hymnbook--words but no music--and a revised Book of Common Prayer. The organ was in the balcony at the back. The sanctuary was already festooned by various types of fruit and vegetables in the front, and on a ledge around the sides. The vicar sat at the side in the front and never did go to the main pulpit. After the sermon came the Communion, with the congregates going to the altar. We knew that non-Anglicans were not invited to take communion, but otherwise we were welcomed and invited to the festival that night.
Our English Tour Coach
The church is over 150 years old, but brighter inside that most, with various symbols high on the wall, and a dark wainscoting which a guide book said had been taken from even earlier churches.
There was a tour that afternoon. Mosg opted out, walked down to the sea, looked for shells and interesting rocks or sat and talked. The hotel advertised a beach, but it was not the strand one looks for in Hawaii or Florida.
We realised that afternoon that a road to the beach, ran against the back of the hotel. We were glad we were on the top floor; those below us on that side thought the vehicles were going to come through the wall; we hardly heard them.
Sunday evening we watched Songs of Praise; wed enjoyed this BBC program when we lived in England. It was said then that more people watched Songs of Praise than had gone to church in the morning.
Then after dinner (still supper to me) I went up the footpath to the Thanksgiving Festival. The bishop, who was the speaker, preached about conservation, being thankful for what we have and not wasting it. Everyone was invited to the meal,, but I went back to the hotel where Rosina was resting.
On Monday we went across the moors to Lynmouth and Lynton, the first at the bottom of the hill and the other at the top. These were interesting coastal villages with much old architecture or so it seemed, but we were told that a disastrous flood had destroyed a large part of the area a few years before.
We went then to the town of Minehead, which, as it sounds, was once a mining town. However, it did not look run-down and certainly not deserted as some old mining towns in eastern Kentucky do. Its rail station and train rides seemed to be an attraction.
From there, we went to nearby Dunster in Somerset. This was a small, but even older town, with its pavilion-like market reminding us of the one wed seen in Malmesbury in the Cotswolds on our last trip. Each is a landmark of its respective town. There was a castle, too, but it was a long way up!
The hedges make a patchwork quilt.
We passed through Lorna Doone country, and I later bought a paper-back copy of the book written in the 1800s. Id tried it before, but faltered. Now that Ive seen the country, Im getting into the book. It was a world of smugglers, clan warfare, etc.
More than anyplace I remember in England, there are still hedgerows dividing the fields and the scene looked like large patchwork quilts. One of our driver/guides told us that once these moors were covered with timber which had been cut to build the English ships. While talking to the driver, I asked about getting to Barnstaple and would he be going through there on journey back to London? He said he would and dropping us off at the rail station would be no problem. Knowing that was solved made the week go more smoothly.
The driver mentioned that there were gnomes in the moors, according to the old-timers and you didnt want to do anything to upset them.
Most nights there was some sort of entertainment, and we went to the first one where a local fellow who was among other things, a church organist and a school teacher, first sang, then entertained us with his humour. It was enjoyable, but somehow we never went back again, worn out from our day, I suppose.
There were various extra trips during the week, and the price was not so high as on other tours weve taken. Also, we werent pressured to take them as we had been on previously. Some did not take the entire day, so we had some time to rest or take part in other activities on our own. One trip included Combe Martin where we went into a National Trust area. The land there had once been in small hillside farms, many containing orchards. Apparently they were not self-supporting in the 20th century. The land had grown up wild over the years, but now an effort was being made to bring back some of the orchards. Buildings which fit into the overall scheme, such as the buildings made of natural stone, remained, whilst eyesore structures were being taken down. A former out building had been restored and was stocked with various items connected with the National Trust. It was indeed an area "where every prospect pleases, and only man is vile," but that can be said of many of the rustic areas in England. It is certainly to their credit that on this crowded island, so much open space has been preserved. The down side is that many are crowded together in row houses, wall-to-wall, and several stories high. Conservation of old buildings has not gone perfectly, but in many cases, buildings have been adapted to completely different uses than what they were to begin with.
This was a day we got back early, and I decided to go to Ilfracombe, a nearby town. In fact when we saw the village of Lee mentioned, it usually read "Lee nr Ilfracombe" It was only about three miles going along the "coastal path", but that path was over hill and dale with a lot of very steep climbing.
I started out that way another day for exercise which I certainly got. I also saw some farms that were closer to the hotel than Id realized. The first part of the path was wide enough for a car to get to those farms, but finally it narrowed to a footpath, and then through a gate to National Trust land. Farm animals were grazing there, About half way, I decided it was time to go back to Lee.
But this day, I went on the local bus. By road it was a much longer journey. I went to the stop up from the hotel, although someone said that because of the road works, or repairs, going on, they did not know what schedule would be in effect. However, the bus came almost exactly on time and a number of people boarded it.
I saw a sign on the bus that said because of the roadworks, the bus would not pick people up at the garage (the service and petrol station.) So, when I got off, I asked the driver where he would stop on the way back. He said something which, in my deafness sounded like Cottage. I walked through the town centre, going to the charity shops Rosina and I had enjoyed in Walton-on-Thames. I asked about the Cottage several places. Most had no notion what or where it was, but someone opined that it might be a restaurant called Swiss Cottage. Others said I should go to a hotel on the next street down towards the water. The bus would not run again for over two hours, so there was no hurry. I knew I could take a taxi back, or even walk if I had to. One reason for coming there was to cash some travellers cheques at a bank. There were several, so I went to Nat West, or National Westminister, the bank chain wed used in Walton. That done, I went to their cash point, as the money was going faster than Id expected, and at Lee neither travellers cheques nor credit cards were accepted. I was uneasy, because Id got a new ID before leaving and hadnt tried it out. In seconds the numbers and bar code had been sent through space and the pounds sterling started shooting out. I would have been uneasier, had I known how much my credit card company charges for cash withdrawals.
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As the time approached, I walked to the Swiss Cottage, but there was no bus stop sign there. So, I started down hill, but couldnt find the named hotel. No one I asked--I do eventually ask directions even though Im accused of not doing so--could help. But, I didnt locate the hotel, and decided to come back to the High Street to look for a taxi if I didnt see the bus. I could flag the driver down--taxi or bus-if I saw either one. As I stood there, the light dawned. In England, "garage" is pronounced to rhyme with "carriage", not exactly like cottage, but what does a deaf old man know? Maybe the part of the road works which would affect that stop hadnt begun. So, I scooted over to the Gare-idge, waited a few minutes and the bus came into view. I stepped on as though thats what Id known all along and handed the return ticket to the same driver who had confused me..
I even had time to rest a few minutes before supper, that is, dinner. In the evening some people "dressed for dinner," but others did not. Rosina did some times, but with what Id brought, dressing up meant changing from a knit shirt to a woven one. I had brought one outfit to wear to church, but there were guys there dressed from blue jeans to shirt and tie, just as it is in local churches here.
Even at breakfast we only picked up our juice or other starter and the young men, and a lady or two, served us with what we wanted. At night, even the starters were brought to us. There was not too much choice of the main course, but with about three , we could select something that sounded good.
The desserts were out on a table as we came in, and the hotel brochure mentioned a dessert cart, but instead the "pudding course" was brought to us. Sadly, the waiters, who were really very helpful, couldnt always describe items from the list they read off to us. But, we managed! There is so often not time at home with various activities to linger over meals, and I was out of the habit with all those years of 20 minutes in the school lunchrooms. Here there was so much to share, that we talked on and on.
Another day we went as far south as Bude, which is just over the border into Cornwall. It was the coastal town below the small village of Marhamchurch where we had spent Christmas in 1991, We had time to eat a bite, and we bought that bite in a store, eating in a small park there. In the afternoon we "made our way" to Clovelley, almost the reason I brought up the idea of Lee Bay in the first place, as that was the only Wallace Arnold tour found that went there. We had driven to it on that 1991 journey, but it was almost closed down for the winter. The main street down to the sea, is cobblestone and so steep that it has steps. Obviously a vehicle couldnt manage that, so during the season, we heard, they had donkeys carrying goods or dragging them on a sled. It didnt exactly work that way. In the first place, wed lingered behind the others for a loo stop, and when we got around the bend, I was sure, I thought, of the direction. Rosina disagreed, but went along. Very quickly we realized we were on a service road, but going back up was mind boggling and we had to save our strength for coming back up later anyhow, though wed been given an out on that. Even the service road was steep enough that Rosina stumbled and scratched her leg. We did get down, looked at the bay, then stepped on to the cobblestone street. It was quickly obvious that Rosina might get hurt worse on these stones, as much as she admired them. Maybe this is part of the reason so many people carry canes in England. The out was that one could take a Land Rover back up the service road for a nominal fee. It worked out well for Rosina who has a thing about gift shops. She was in her glory as I trudged on up the street. Several buildings were open to the public. I remember most the small Methodist Chapel and for Anglicans who had trouble with the hill, the even smaller branch of the larger church at the top of the hill. But, where were those donkeys? No doubt the streets were cleaner without them, but they, along with some horses, were in a barn lot near the top of the hill. After taking some pictures, I joined Rosina in the gift shop before we returned to Lee Bay.
Probably the most unusual day out was the trip to Chambercombe at Ilfracombe. (Combe, by the way, is a "deep narrow valley." There are a lot of them in north Devon.) Chambercombe itself is an estate dating from 1066, and has the Ilfracombe address. It is famous for several reasons, one being that Lady Jane Greys father once owned it. There was smuggling in this area, and stories are connected with that. One man who lived there was a smuggler and pirate. One dark and stormy night he went out to capture a ship that had hit shoals, and found out too late the fine lady on board was his own daughter. He hid the body in the house, closing off the room where she was entombed.
Many years later someone repairing the house noticed an unaccounted for window which led to discovery of her skeleton in the bedroom. On the way to that room, there was a "priests hole", another hidden room where the Catholic priest could hide out when there was a Protestant government, and presumably the other way around. What was so unusual about the house were the ghosts people thought they had seen there, or on the lawn. Sometimes on a tour, the guide said, someone would seem quite startled and see someone that no one else could see!
Although we would pass through Barnstaple on the return journey, that was a town where we spent a little time. The journey there was unusual in that we went for several miles along one lane roads with the hedgerows on both sides. Wed been on these roads before, but usually just a short stretch. There were many stops while it was decided, as before, which vehicle would back up into a farm lane or one of the laybys. The driver, Mark, began to tell an American joke. The other members of our party immediately shushed him, on our account, so then he told one where the Americans were the good guys. They were in that area anyway. He told later how the American military, waiting to land on the continent in World War II, built the road on which we returned to Lee. It was much better than the morning road, but not as interesting.
We had wondered what there was to see in the area when wed arrived the last Saturday, but the week went all too quickly. On Saturday morning we left, with the other passengers going back to London. As he had promised, the driver took Rosina and me directly to the rail station in Barnstaple, now the end of the road. The driver had pointed out the old roadbed from days when the rails went on towards the coast. We bought tickets and waited on the platform, talking to a lady who was traveling with her dog, something fairly common in England.
We passed through some interesting country, but also saw where the English put junked cars and other refuse, along part of the track. When we got to Exeter, there seemed to be a problem: steps. With our luggage that would not be fun. But then we were directed to a ramp that led to the bridge over the tracks, and were able to roll our luggage to the bus/coach station two long blocks away. There was some confusion over where we would meet our coach here, and after talking to a couple we met, decided to stay where we were. The man came all the way back from the station to tell us the joining point was at the other end of the station. A number of people were waiting here, but it turned out we were right in the first place,
so we got a little more exercise. The coach took us to the seaside town of Poole where we caught the ferry, which was called a catamaran, but not like the Hawaiian ones. It was what was described as a hovercraft in pictures Ive seen. After waiting in the station, we were loaded on a bus of sorts, and taken to the boat. It took about four hours, meaning we got to St. Helier, Jersey, our next destination, late in the evening. However, other ferries in the area took eight hours. When we got off the boat, we could see a castle on a hill, lighted up so it could be seen for miles.
Liberation Square, St. Helier
We were not the cohesive group wed been in Devon. We were dropped off at various hotels--several had been available to select. We had reservations at the Mayfair, one of the two lowest price hotels on the list, but it was quite adequate and handy to the town centre which had a pedestrian mall in the middle.
We were too late for the evening meal, but the receptionist took us door to the dining area where we had sandwiches, and then turned in after a long day.
The hotel was much larger than that at Lee Bay, and somewhat more formal. We went back to the dining area for breakfast and learned that we had a reserved table with a number on it. We were to use the same table the rest of the trip. Six of us were at the table, and we enjoyed talking to all except a lady who hardly spoke a word. However, the lady next to Rosina made up for her. She was a combination of Mrs. Bucket and Mrs. Slocum from two British comedies weve enjoyed first on BBC in England, and then on public television in Kentucky. She sometimes meant to be funny and sometimes not, but either way, we enjoyed the comedy. We also talked with two couples, one from Scotland, at nearby tables. They were on some of our day tours.
When we arrived at the hotel, we had a note to call Caryl and Nigel Perree, the couple who had lived in the flat next to us in Walton on Thames. She is from New York, and he from Jersey. They had continued living in Walton for several years, adding three children to the family there, and then another had arrived after they moved back to Jersey where they lived in the St. John area, but on the 45 square mile island, that was not too far away. His parents had farmed, but sold the farm in recent years and built a house next door to his fathers birthplace.. Later they built a "cottage" attached to their house, and this two story, five room structure is where the Perrees live. Nigel is an accountant. (Jersey is a banking center in much the same way that Switzerland is, and some of our guides hinted at some hidden bank accounts. We didnt find out, but anyhow Jersey is much more prosperous than it was not too long ago.)
When we returned the call, Nigel suggested picking us up to go to church the next morning and then spend the day with them. I put on jacket, dress shirt and tie and Rosina dressed up a bit, too. We found out it was unnecessary. When Nigel picked us up, he had only one child with him. We thought at first, that with the long curls, this was Immy, the only girl. Instead, it was Morgan, the baby. Nigel explained hed taken his parents to the airport (we could have come by plane) for a trip to Hungary. We thought something had gone awry, as he was wearing walking shorts. But, we went across the island to the familys Catholic church. We found that dress here also, was just as casual as at home. After church, the Perrees took us on a drive along the coast. Nigel showed the remains of German fortifications. We had a pub lunch at outside tables; the children enjoyed a McDonalds type playroom.
Afterwards we visited in their home. Nigel took us to his parents house to watch Songs of Praise, then we had supper back at the cottage.. We especially enjoyed Caryls apple dessert with custard poured over it. Then he drove us back to the hotel, but on the way he took us up on a hill overlooking the city and gave a good view of Elizabeth Castle. Sir Walter Raleigh was an early governor there and he named the castle for Queen Elizabeth. Jerseys government is somewhat confusing. The islanders owe allegence to the Queen but are not subject to Parliament. The guidebook calls it a "Peculiar of the Crown." Jersey has its own currency and its own postage stamps. "Bailiwick of Jersey" is printed on the coins. The currency is in the same denominations as British money, except Jersey has its own one pound notes. England now has only one pound coins. English money is accepted here, but we were told Jersey money might not be accepted in England. By the way, dont call a Jersey citizen English! I mentioned allegiance to the queen, but a guide told us that she is actually the Duke of Normandy to them, but he also said she isnt depicted with a crown, but she is, at least in some cases. This all came about when William the Conqueror took over England. He was also Duke of Normandy. When he died, two sons in succession ruled England; another became Duke of Normandy. It was at this time that the channel isles, which include Jersey, decided to go with England although much closer to France. We were told this choice was what gave them special privileges with the British. No one told us how the islanders made the choice, but it has lasted.
That is true even though they were a bit put out when the Germans took over during World War II. Britain announced it would not try to defend the islands in hopes it would be considered a demilitarized zone. This was not announced, though, and the Nazis came in ready to fight. They met no resistance, and the occupation was probably not so bad as on the continent. It was a glorious day in 1945, shortly after the armistice was signed, when the island was liberated. Liberation Day is still celebrated each year, and a large bronze memorial staands near the coast in St. Helier.
With some 90,000 people on the 35 square mile island, it sounded crowded, but actually there is open farm land where Jersey cows, the only breed permitted on the island graze, and Jersey potatoes are among the crops raised here where there is seldom a frost, but usually a breeze. There are other laws to protect the countryside, so far as building on farm land is concerned. Also it takes a number of years to become a citizen.
With all this information under our belts, the included trips were a tour around the coast, to the Glass Church and a large flower growing operation.
Several light houses and at least one more castle were seen. At one stop, I walked out on the beach, while Rosina shopped. Ive never seen such fine-grained sand. Just up from the beach was a long strip of garden with many kinds of beautiful, or, as they say there, lovely flowers.
The Glass Church had, as the name implies, much glass around the building. We never found out what denomination it is, but its real name is St. Matthew Church. The flowers at the floral operation were not at their best this time of year, but we were shown the Jersey lilies. (Not to be confused with Lillie Langtry, the actress, who asked to be buried on the island.) They are also not to be confused with our Surprise Lilies which put up leaves in the spring. Those die off and then in mid summer, stalks with flowers suddenly spring up without leaves. I thought these were the same, but on closer inspection they were pink and white. Some of them in one plot had no leaves, but another plot did.
One day when our tour ended early, we went to Elizabeth Castle by puddle duck. These are amphibious machines which are able to go--very roughly--on dry ground, but can also take to the water. Ours just waded the day we were there because of low tide. We did not go all the way to the very top of the castle grounds, but stayed around a sort of courtyard with buildings which were barracks for some of the German soldiers.
And, speaking of German soldiers, one morning I went to the German Underground Hospital. Rosina wanted nothing to do with it, so this was her big shopping day. On the short walk to the town centre, there is a paved area with golden calves. Well, actually they are bronze, with only one calf and its mama and papa, and they represent the importance of Jersey cows to the island.
Enjoy is not the word for the hospital, but it was well worth seeing. The Germans built tunnels underground. This one was quite long, but unfinished. We learned about the war effort both by the signs, stories and pictures along the wall, progressing from the beginning to the end. This was when Englands prime minister was convincing Parliament of the need to do something about Iraq. Ive read about Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain coming back to Britain with his "Peace in our time" speech, and how at that time Czechoslovakia had an air force that with the help of Britain and France might have stopped Hitler in his tracks. Theres a lesson there, although I know the solution isnt simple.
We also went to the Jersey pottery and to a place selling gold jewellery. There wasnt much at the pottery Rosina was interested in, but the jewellery store was too great a temptation. While the tour group was pottering around the pottery, I slipped out the back door which leading to the town centre and looked through a couple of stores. I wasnt missed.
One of our last adventures was a trip to the zoo. The Hyacinth/Slocum lady told us before we went that there was nothing to see. A video we saw before going through the zoo almost told us the same thing. Most of the animals were threatened species and preserving them was more important than the visitors seeing them. Most were in a setting supposed to be like their native habitat, and so the areas were often so grown up that the animals could hide there. So, we did see some, but the grounds were "lovely." I dont think children would like the zoo unless theyd had a real study of conservation.
The evening meal was provided, but one night we met the Perrees and took them to Burger King. Yes, there is one and a McDonalds, too. We thought the children would enjoy this more than a traditional restaurant, and they did. There one orders the meal, and if it isnt carry-out, it is taken to the dining room upstairs. .
We were also going to meet them the last evening to go to the Maritime museum., but got our signals crossed. They came by the hotel for goodbyes and brought us a tile with a map of the islands on it.
When we got to Jersey and Rosina realized how small it was, she said, "Were going to be there a week?" I wondered, too. But once again the week went by quickly. Most roads were almost as narrow as in Devon, and there were many of them, all with something to see, the Jersey cows, the interesting old buildings, as well as many flowers; it was all just another world as was Devon. We could have seen more had there been time.
We said goodbyes also to those around our table and went to the lobby to wait for our bus to the ferry. All this time I havent mentioned Pat. She is the Wallace Arnold representative who signed us up for the not-included tours and was just helpful in general. She had to go to at least one more hotel and since not everybody was on the same Jersey tour, Im not sure how she kept up with us. After the orientation talk, Hyacinth/Slocum told us she hadnt understood a word that was said. But, shed been there before, and I think she went off on her own without taking a single tour. As mentioned before most of the WA people were English with a few Scots along, but as the only Americans we didnt always understand what was obvious to most. There was a very old lady with her granddaughter/daughter who had Downes Syndrome. The lady was even deafer than I am, and people learned to speak very loudly to her, but even then she missed some tours shed meant to go on. When Pat realized that, she had them and us that she gave special attention to. At least we werent left behind on any activity.
Leaving was another hurry up and wait deal. There is a large building near the ferry landing. We were told to sit in one room, then moved on to the next room, finally back into the conveyance that took us to the ferry. This time we knew we had seats assigned and found them quickly. On the way over, we hadnt known that but chose a place close to a window and no one argued with us. The return passage was smoother than the arrival had been. I could walk around and look sober this time. Speaking of that, there is no VAT on Jersey as there is in England, though we didnt see much that was less expensive.
We could see sail boats, and then Gurnseys St. Peter Port where the ferry stopped for passengers Since the ferry got started later than scheduled we knew wed be late getting to London. There were at least two Wallace Arnold coaches at Poole. One was taking people back to Exeter. The other was going to London. We were told that that the drivers had a good bit of leeway, and I hoped this coach could get us close to our hotel or at least the airport. But, no such luck. He was going through Surrey, south of London, to Croydon, then through South London almost circling the station, it seemed. We had some idea of the location of the Victoria coach station as compared to the rail station because wed nearly missed a tour once, but that was 11 years ago. We followed the others who had gotten off there. They didnt know either, but knew how to ask. There was a line of London taxis in front of the rail station, but a queu of people in line. Still the best advice was that we should take the taxi the 12 miles to Hounslow rather than take the coach or train because wed have to transport our luggage up and down stairs but the taxi would take us right to the hotel. Our driver didnt know exactly where it was, but A4 and the Great West Road gave him the general idea, though he overshot it. The drivers to and from the hotel had helped us get our luggage aboard, but this one waited for us to haul it on. (I read later this was for security reasons.) There was enough distance between front and back seats to hold it all, and us! These were the London taxis seen in the movies. We got back to the hotel quicker, more easily and more expensively than any other way. But the end was not yet! I had forgotten that in England, ourfirst floor, as mentioned at Lee Bay, is the ground floor; next one up is first. There was only a ground floor on the side wed stayed in before, but now we were given a first floor key. There was no lift there, no porter and no ground floor room available at the desk. It was much later than wed expected to get back. I dragged the large suitcases up; we were soon to bed. Our plane
was to leave at 8:00 a.m.; so we had to be there by 6:00. Wed asked the hotel to make arrangements to be picked up by the taxi company that had brought us from Heathrow, and then to the Wallace Arnold joining point (despite almost missing Mecca Bingo Hall before.)
Next morning it was easier to slide the luggage down the steps and we had a few minutes, we thought. In the lobby there was a somewhat sinister looking man with a turban. We asked if he were the driver, and he was! Now there had been a few turbans on our plane and many in London, but we were still somewhat apprehensive. Of course he was okay, in fact, quite a friendly fellow and he helped us in and out with the luggage.
Wed thought that time of night there wouldnt be any problem getting through in time. But there was already a queue where we got our boarding passes, then through the security check, where we didnt have any problem except another queue. By the time we finally made it to our plane, it was ready to load. We had breakfast after the plane got in the air, and then lunch later on. In between we both slept. With the time difference we were "soon" back to Chicago, and again thought there was plenty of time to get to the puddle jumper to Louisville. But, coming back we had to retrieve our luggage and take it through customs. We didnt have enough to declare it, and I suppose we looked it, because once we got through the line to the customs officials, we were waved on through.
There are several terminals and signs were confusing. A train went between them, and Im not sure we didnt go around and back to where we started. It was just a long walk to our departure gate from the rail stop. But when we got our directions straight and headed towards our plane, we had another security check. We had not had to do that in Chicago on our way to England, so we werent expecting it. Not to worry though, because wed gotten through security in Louisville, and then at Heathrow with no problems. We put hand luggage on the rail and it went through the line. Or rather, Rosina did! It started beeping when I went through. I got frisked and thought I might have to strip off right there, and half way did. I told the guard I had metal in my chest from heart surgery, thinking maybe they had a more powerful check. It wasnt that. Then I remembered: with trouble Ive had lately with my back, I was wearing a brace, a magnetic brace. I know that magnets dont really work, but it was on sale, cheaper than the magnetic ones. I told him thats what it was, and I had to pull the brace up out of pants to prove it. So, once again, we were almost late, according to scheduled time and Rosina told me to calm down; the plane hadnt even started loading yet.
The plane was even smaller than from Louisville to Chicago in the first place; not even a softdrink! In no time at all we were back in Louisville where our son, Jon Es, fiancee collected us. After a short visit, we were in the car, I stayed on the right side of the road, and soon we were back to a yard full of weeds from the recent rains.