Travelogue: Aug 8, England

Travelogue, August 8, 2014:   I am sitting beneath the white cliffs of Dover waiting to board the ferry to France.  Our English summer has come to an end and we are on our way to Croatia.

We spent our last week in the Lake District/Cumbria resting up and finalizing preparations for the big road trip across Europe.  I will miss our little cottage on the River Eden.  It served as a cozy “home base” for several weeks while we explored the English Lakes, the Scottish borderlands and much of the Northern part of England.  Mostly I will miss Charlotte, Roy and baby Anna, the lovely family who own the cottage and live next door.  But, they haven’t seen the last of us – we will definitely return to Jitty Cottage (Appleby-in-Westmoreland) on our way to Scotland next summer.

On our way down to Dover, we stopped for one last round of genealogy research in Oxford University’s Bodleian Library.  It was a thrill to read the papers in the Dawkins Collection whilst sitting amidst the stacks in that beautiful, historic old library.  As a special treat, our friends Steve and Sue flew to Oxford and took us for a spin over the Cotswalds in Steve’s two-seater Grob airplane.  It was a sunny, summer day, perfect for gliding through the sky over Blenheim Castle, Oxford University, and the lush green countryside of the Cotswalds.

After we left Oxford, we drove to Steve and Sue’s home in Surrey, where we continued our medieval history deep-dive.  We toured Henry VIII’s ship, the Mary Rose, which was only recently opened to the public. The ship’s watery grave was discovered many years ago, but it wasn’t raised until 1982 and it is still drying out in its museum home at the dockyard. Continuing with the Tudor theme, we took a boat ride over to Henry’s palace, Hampton Court.  I have been to Hampton Court in the past, but I never seem to tire of it; this time I got to focus on the extensive gardens (which my children vetoed on our last visit). 

Last but not least, I spent a glorious two hours with Sue walking through Wisley Gardens.  I tend to gravitate toward historic gardens that have been restored to a particular time period, but Wisley is a garden that is not to be missed.  It was a blanket of blooms, even though it is now well into August.  The best part of our visit was returning to Steve and Sue’s lovely home for great meals, good French wine, and fascinating conversation (not surprisingly, they are great fans of their country’s history too).

Great memories to end this chapter on!  I’ll get my photos organized and write more on our English summer soon.


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