Life Lessons

"Figuring out our gifts in life is part of our journey to becoming enlightened human beings.” – Allison DuBois

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The English Countryside


The last few days we have been white knuckling through the beautiful English green....dotted with sheep & serine but we are driving!!!  We have visited 8-10 family villages & churches, all on tiny one lane roads surrounded by hedgerows.  As on pub guy said "you can't be nosy in Somerset!"   


Mr. B has been amazing with his reading of many ancient headstones that might pertain to my dad's side of the family.  


And speaking of taking one for the team......He is even willing to order a dram so he can talk to he local barkeep to find out about any connections to my family in the village. So far it's been very colorful. 


Women were subservient in that she was only listed on his headstone by her first name and that she was his wife.  

Lots of 1200-1500 a.d. churches that we explored and met some amazingly nice people along the way.  


And even a very tired Westie named Gordon who had been walking all day was at out hotel bar.  


Finding my great-grandparents headstone was worth shedding a few tears.  They were very poor and somehow their daughter, Sarah Routley Tuckfield Gore managed to make it to Canada - single - with about 9 kids.  And somehow my grandmother, Violet Elizabeth Bacon Gore Crawford, moved from Montreal with my Granddad to Oakland, California to start their family. 


Here's to my family roots - Tea & scones at the railroad station where my great-grandfather was station master. 

Word of the Day - Brilliant = good choice in America (we hear this one a lot)!!

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Arches, Arches & Arches

Day 5 - Friday

We drove from Bath to Bradford-on-Avon to Wells and then on to our final stay in Dunster.  A very long, long, very long day.  Mr. B learned to drive on the "wrong" of the road and the "wrong" side of the car today.  We are both exhausted.  Besides me being his second set of eyes on the road - street signs, round abouts, pedestrians, bicyclists, speed limits, road closures, there was so much hedgerows that there were many times you could not see oncoming traffic around turns.  Anyway 2 tire rims & 1 side mirror later we survived!


Bradford-on-Avon was such an amazing, well kept village. We went to the Tithe barn (c1300's) where the ceiling was filled with wooden arches. We also visited the town & church then headed to Wells Cathedral. 


It was closed for a funeral until 4 so we had lunch in the old city center just nearby. Then we walked over to the Bishops Gardens to see the famous Ringing Swans. However apparently the don't ring anymore.  Now if you don't know the story, I'll fill you in....there was an American couple who lived in one of the moat towers and one of them would be present all day so they taught the swans to ring a bell and they would get a little food so all the swans learned to ring the bell and they taught their babies to ring for food. Just this year the couple moved back to the states so there isn't anyone to feed them more Ringing Swans.  But.....


....there were 7 week old baby cygnets to enjoy ( I think daddy kept his head underwater most of the time we watched them!)


There were several croquet games going on with a beautiful backdrop. 


The cathedrals famous scissor arches which were built into the building to support the sinking towers in the 1300's.



And the astrological clock that goes around every 15 minutes. Can you see the jousters on horseback up near the top? They go around the pillar - 2 in one direction & 2 the other - with their lances out and try to knock off the other guy, which they do until there is a "winner".  

We will be spending the next three nights in the medieval village of Dunster.  

Day 6 - Saturday

Scones & tea for breakfast - I never thought I would see Mr. B enjoy a church or a tea room but give him some history and he's a sport!

Mr. B learn to drive - Day 2 - only 1 rim and we are both relaxing a little more. Like he says " it's like being in the dentist chair all day" (sorry John K. Certainly not yours!)


On through Exmoor park to Bishops Nympton in Devon. Found The Black Cock Inn. Had a drink & spoke to the barkeep & owner.  She was new to the area and had no history of the area or even the age of the pub.  Oh dear.  We walked over to the old RR station house next door where my dads mother was born.  Her father was the RR station manager there.  Grandma Violet & Daisy (twins)were born in 1890.  It's a residence now so we couldn't nosy too much. It began to rain so we drove along the street to view the RR arches. 


Above are the old railway arches beside the train station. 

Beautiful green countryside dotted with sheep!

Then we drove to Wiveliscombe and tried to find lunch at 3pm. No go and we were both starving so we hit the local supermarket and bought sandwiches, crisps and drinks and sat in the churchyard to eat. We found James & Maria Tuckfield's headstone with help from the photo I brought. 


These were my great grandparents. We went inside the church & spent some time looking around - old baptismal, ancient graves.  Drove down Rotton Row behind the church where they used to live and barely made it as it was so narrow. 

Exhausted from driving & navigating-coaching, we headed back to Dunster & the hotel bar.  Took our drinks out back to "The Secret Garden" & Facetimed our family. Great to see their smiling faces!!!


Showed them the castle on the hill behind our hotel & lots of beautiful flowers. I guess flowers like water even more that sunshine because they are huge and plentiful here!



Word of the day - British word "Sorted" = it's all taken care of

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Piggy Shoes

We wish we had more time to explore Bath - its buildings, history, parks and people but we are off on new adventures in the morning. 

 Today we did the HoHo bus tour - Hop On Hop Off Tour.  The first one was the scenic view of the city and the guy announcing was great.  Mr. B needed to check his map to make sure the guy had all of his facts straight.  

 Then we took a break and sat near the abbey to listen to live music.  There was also this amazing street performer who never blinked an eye or moved a muscle.  


The Roman Baths were next.  I expected touristy but they were pretty amazing.  


Guilt bronze head of the Goddess Sulis Minerva - a combination of a Celtic god & the Roman peasant god and was discovered in the 1700's. 


Lots of information about the various buildings, temples, hot baths, cold baths, Sacred Springs as well as the findings of coins, jewels, combs, tools and "curses". The Romans would write on a piece of tin about a theft or problem and toss it into the bath which was supposed to help them solve the problem or at least curse the bad guy!


There were several groups of small school children learning about the baths today. You haven't lived until you hear little ones with an English accent!  Remember that YouTube video of "Charlie bit my finger"?

After that we decided to take our other HoHo tour within the city. 


The Pulteney Bridge with lots of shops inside. 


About 3 pm we were getting a little hungry and although it seemed very Tourisy (once again) we walked over to dine at Sally Lunn's were they serve an amazing bun with toppings and with tea.  Boy was it great!  The house is the oldest in Bath circa 1482 and Sally's has been serving her buns since 1680. Mm....we finished it off with Apple Cake & clotted cream. 


Walking back to our hotel we poked into a few shops.  Our dinner reservations were not until 8 pm so we didn't want to spend time in our room where we might be tempted to fall asleep so we headed to our back garden to read. Lovely day and a great dinner at The Circus. 


Now you are probably wondering about my title if "piggy shoes".......while we were eating breakfast outside near the abbey, there was a young woman hawking magazines and yelling "piggy shoes" nearby.  I finally asked Mr. B the meaning behind this (because he knows so much about history & such).

 He replied "she is saying Big Issue with an English accent."

Pray for me my friends - we have a month to go!

Word of the day - if American fries are called chips in England the what are American chips called?

"Crisps".....of course!

***Bonus Question - Guess who has a home in Bath?  Rolling Stones rocker Ronnie Wood!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

He's Got A Ticket to Bath

This morning Mr. B took me out for breakfast.  And it wasn't one of those stuffy pretentious brunch affairs.  Oh no, he went all out and took me to Sheila's Cafe in London! Yes, a few blocks from our hotel was a little greasy spoon and in the pouring rain was the most welcoming little shop owner I have ever had the pleasure to meet.


A 5 minute walk to Sheila's for a quick breakfast. Sheila greats everyone who walks into her shop with a big smile & blares "allo darlin" like she has known you forever!! 

I felt like it should of been made into a Beatles song - like the song Penny Lane....

Penny Lane there is a barber showing photographs
Of every head he's had the pleasure to know.
And all the people that come and go
Stop and say "Hello".

And there is Shelia happily greeting customers including the sanitation man, the Tropicana salesman, the couple on vacation who dined there every morning and were heartsick that today was their last day, the mother taking her son to preschool - they were all greeted with a smile & a loud "allo darlin - whatillitbe today?" Made me happy to meet someone with that much spirit!

Then it was off to Paddington Station for a train trip to Bath. 


The Bath Abbey with Jacobs Ladder on both towers. People climb up the ladder hoping to get into heaven but some fall down to hell. 


As well as some very tender gravestones on the floor of the abbey.  Some were very wordy but then there was the one above that was...well....pretty blunt!  


And this one, like many were built over and walked upon until they were unreadable. Very sad to see but they do have a restoration project to try to repair them. 


Some were quite elaborate....


And in one of the alcoves was a flock of paper butterflies. 


Beautiful ceiling....


Word of the day - engaged = occupied (as in rest room - I found this out the hard way)

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

It's Just Like Magic

....and we are in London!  Planes are an amazing contraption as they can bring you to an entirely different reality.  Everyone who knows me knows I hate, hate, hate to fly.  But it's so worth the fear & panic when you arrive safely at your destination!  

A whole new world opens up right before your very eyes.  



Leaving beautiful San Francisco behind on Monday night. 


Circling the Thames & the London Eye!


From Heathrow we took the Heathrow Express train into London and arrived at Paddington Station.  From there we bumped around with our suitcases several blocks to our hotel nearby. 


After resting my tired toes and Mr. B's power nap, we decided to head over to Hyde Park & Kensington Gardens which really reinvigorated both of us.  Just people watching and being out in the fresh air and enjoying nature.  There were Cotton tail rabbits, Magpies, White Swans, Red Ringed Parrots, Doves, Ducks & loads of squirrels - some formal gardens and acres of open space for joggers, sun bathers & picnicking.  



The gardens in London are just lovely and are about on the same time schedule as mine at home. 


Here is a shot of a large sculpture framing Kensington Palace way, way in the background.  But what I really wanted to see was this lovely little statue of Peter Pan below.


The creator of Peter Pan, J.M. Barrie, commissioned Sir George Frampton to build the Peter Pan statue in 1902. It was erected in Kensington Gardens in 1912.

Tomorrow we take he train to Bath....see you then!

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