England 1997

Yep another trip to England....all good!

My Trip to England 1997

Thursday September 18th After months of anticipation September 18th finally arrived. Neil drove me to the airport and I boarded my flight to Toronto. A good flight with an edible meal and a film called “Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion” that didn’t take much concentration. My flight to London was due to leave at 7:15 however Air Canada announced that they were overbooked and asked for volunteers to take the later flight at 11 p.m. - the “reward” was a $500 voucher towards future travel on Air Canada. I sprang out of my seat and flew to the check-in desk and volunteered immediately. No one was meeting me in London so it didn’t matter when I got there. I also got a meal voucher as the later flight did not leave until 11 p.m. The flight over was good except for the strange man I sat beside. He brought three pieces of huge luggage on board and attempted to put them into the overhead bins, constantly moaned to the flight attendants, brought his own picnic lunch (complete with a loaf of bread, smoked sausages and carton of milk), spent most of the flight with a blanket over his head (and one around him that he nicked from me) and nearly knocked me and a few other passengers off our feet with his luggage cart on the way to passport control. A lady across the aisle and I rolled our eyes and grinned the whole way across and she told me at the end I certainly had a good sense of humour. Upon arriving at Heathrow I took a coach down to Brighton on the south coast.

In Brighton I stayed at the Kimberley Hotel which was close to the sea. The breakfasts were huge - cereal, bacon, sausage, eggs, mushrooms, tomatoes, toast and coffee - and kept me going until late afternoon. After a bit of wandering around I admitted defeat and went back to the room and had an early night - didn’t even stay up to watch “Coronation Street”!

Saturday September 20th - This morning I walked along to the Brighton Marina. On the way I ran into a lady walking her dog and as we chatted and she learned I was a tourist she recommended going to Rottingdean. I carried on to the Marina where I saw a replica of the Endeavour which is the ship that Captain Cook sailed the world in. It is really very beautiful - the wood work is fantastic and I imagine it is really something in full sail. It was leaving that Monday and now I regret not staying around to watch it leave but I had other plans. On the way back I walked along the beach which is a rocky beach and was “treated” to the sight of a pervert who had camped on the beach and was toddling around with his anorak on and nothing else. I chuckled to myself and carried on to the Brighton Pavilion. This was built for King George IV as a seaside residence and he spent a lot of time there but his niece Queen Victoria thought it “vulgar” and did not visit. Brighton bought it from the Royal family and it is furnished with many original pieces. It is really unique as the exterior is East Indian and the interior Chinese. Very interesting!!! From there I took the bus out to Rottingdean and had a look around the village. It is a pretty little place on the sea.

Sunday September 21st This morning I took the train to Arundel Castle which was beautiful. This castle was built in the 11th century by Roger de Montgomery, Earl of Arundel. It has been the seat of the Dukes of Norfolk and the Earls of Arundel for over seven hundred years. It is a huge castle with fantastic furnishings and beautifully decorated rooms. I attempted to climb to the Castle Keep but had to turn back as the stairway was too steep and the steps too narrow - I don’t climb well!! I walked around the grounds for a while and then carried on over to the Waterfowl Park which was nice. Took me a while to get back to Brighton as I got on the wrong train!!! I had to change trains at Ford and I stepped on the London train which dropped me back in - you’ve got it - Arundel! I realized my mistake the second I sat down but just as I went to open the door the train started moving! So then I had to wait and catch a train back to Ford and then wait for a train to Brighton. The two trains arrive so closely together that it is easy to get confused except the second time around I noticed the TV monitor stating which train it was! Oh well!!!

Monday September 22nd This morning I headed over to the village of Alfriston in the Cuckmere Valley. It is one of the many that are called “the prettiest village in England”. It was a pretty little village all right but the prettiest? I looked around a bit but I was a woman on a mission and the mission was to walk as far as Birling Gap on the coast. After purchasing juice (I always carry water with me), a sandwich and chocolate bar off I set. I walked along the Cuckmere River and met many other walkers that I chatted to along the way. I had an Ordinance Survey map but despite that I kept getting lost. To make a long story short I only made it as far as Exmeat. It was quite funny actually as I ran across civilization sooner than I had hoped and I saw a bus and nearly got killed running for it. It was headed in the wrong direction but luckily I found that out before I got on!!! I hopped a bus to Eastbourne and as if my feet weren’t sore enough I went to the shopping centre and invaded Marks and Spencer. I walked along the promenade and on to the pier as well. I took the bus back to Brighton and rested my aching feet while eating one of Marks and Spencers special salads.

Tuesday September 23rd Today I met my penpal Judi and her friend Erin. We had a great day together looking in the shops in The Lanes and walking along the sea front to the Palace Pier. There we sat and had a good chat. We ended our time together by going to Donatello’s for a super Italian meal - I had garlic bread followed by Fusilli with a walnut, blue cheese and cream sauce. It was delicious. Cappuccino finished it off. It was a nice relaxing day, which I needed at that point.

Wednesday September 24th I had the big “brekkie” this morning as I knew it would be a day I’d need the energy. Took the bus to Eastbourne and then from there then the bus to Beachy Head. I walked about 2 miles along the cliffs to Birling Gap (where the above picture was taken) where I had a cup of tea and sat on the beach and enjoyed the sea. The coast is spectacular with huge chalk cliffs. It was especially beautiful that day as the sun was shining - with the blue sky, the white cliffs, green downs and the fantastic blue sea it was breathtaking and something I won’t forget. I decided to carry on walking along the coast which would take me over the Seven Sisters which are actually eight hills with cliffs on the seaward side. For a prairie girl this was a daunting task but I decided I was up to it so off I went. Up and down, up and down I went. It is quite amusing to watch my video of this walk and hear my gasps for air and the comments I make - at one point I promised myself a cream tea and a huge chocolate bar at the end of the walk! Finally it was over but you know I would do it again. I walked through the Seven Sisters Country Park and back to Exmeat where I caught the bus back to Rotting Dean. I had a cream tea like I had promised myself. Back to my room in time for “Coronation Street”!!

Thursday September 25th I took the train to Rye and walked around this ancient town. Visited Mermaid Street which is a very old narrow cobblestone street. Walked past the castle and castle square and just absorbed the wonderful atmosphere of this beautiful old town. Rye is one of the original Cinque Ports. The sun shone which was a vast difference from my last trip there in 1981 when I had to run from shop to shop - however I had other good things happening on that trip in 1981 so there were no complaints then! There were plenty of tourists about though and after a while it just got a bit too crowded so I hopped the train to Battle. Battle is the site of the 1066 battle between William of Normandy and King Harold of England. Of course William (the Conqueror) won and Battle Abbey was built on the site of the battle. It is a ruin now (thanks to Henry VIII) but a very beautiful ruin. It was an interesting place to visit and they had excellent audio facilities as you walked around the battlefield area. Really enjoyed it. That evening I visited Neil’s brother Stuart and family - they have four children ranging in age from ten down to four so it was quite an “interesting” evening.

Friday September 26th - This morning I headed over to Lewes. It is a pretty old town. I visited the castle and I was able to get up to the Castle Keep on this one. Looked in the shops and just enjoyed the atmosphere of the town. I then headed back to Brighton and picked up a sandwich and sat by the sea. Then I committed a sin on a sunny day - I went to see a movie! I went to see the movie “Bean” which I enjoyed - at that point it hadn’t been released in Canada yet and I wanted to see it. It was funny but there were only two of us in the theatre so it felt a bit strange! After that I went and lay on the pebble beach soaking up the sunshine as I anticipated non-stop rain in the Lake District. From there I headed to the launderette and did two huge loads of laundry and then picked up fish and chips on the way back to the hotel.

Saturday September 27th - Hopped the train to East Croydon then on to Milton Keynes and Penrith for my week in the Lake District. The van was waiting at the station to take us to the holiday house in Portinscale which is one mile from Keswick. Derwent Bank - the holiday house - was wonderful and much to my relief I had a room all to myself. I had been told I would have to share. My room had one window overlooking the lawn down to the lake and the other window overlooked a beautiful garden. After freshening up I headed down to the bar for a drink and met a few people who were doing the high mountain walks. The meal was good - as were all the meals. Afterwards we had coffee and listened to the leaders talk about the various walks. There were three or four a day and you chose one according to your fitness level. I stuck with the low level walks the whole week!!

Sunday September 28th - Our walk left at 10 a.m. this morning so had time for a leisurely breakfast and to pick out my lunch. Each evening they would post four or five sandwich choices and we would tick off what we wanted and then every morning they had a long table full of goodies for our lunches - fruit, yoghurt, eggs, cheese, cookies, chocolate bars, fruit cake, fruit bars - the selection was endless!! Our walk today was on Catbells Terrace near the house - it was a bit misty at first so the views weren’t that great but it was a great introduction to the walking routine. All the walks today were shorter due to the fact that we had to be back for a wonderful cream tea at 4 o’clock. This was not something that happened every day - just the once unfortunately!! Dinner was roast beef and Yorkshire pudding with trifle for dessert. Very good! I sat with Linda from Liverpool and Janette from Glasgow. There were about 40 people in all - about 15 from the U.S., one from Germany, one from Canada (me!) and the rest from the UK After dinner a park ranger gave a talk and slide show about the Lake District which was very interesting.

Monday September 29th - The coach picked us up at 9:15 and dropped us at Patterdale. From there we walked along Ullswater and was absolutely beautiful. We had great weather - in fact the whole week was good. Much better than I had expected. Our leader Ann was great and let us stop whenever we wanted to - we had two mini-lunch breaks - one was overlooking the lake and it was a “million dollar view” as one lady put it. Then we stopped at a beach for another break. We carried on and stopped at a pub - I didn’t even bother with a drink - just having a public toilet was good enough for me! This getting back to nature was hard for a city girl. My first attempt at finding a bush wasn’t too successful. In the midst of things I looked down the hill and saw people going along the path and thought “wait a minute, if I can see them they can probably see me!”. So then I let the “experts” pick a bush and used it after them! We carried on walking - we were to meet the coach at Pooley Bridge. I didn’t think Pooley Bridge would ever appear but lo and behold it finally did. The last one and a half miles were hard though as it was a nine mile walk. Dinner that night was an Italian buffet which was pretty good. Barn dancing followed and I laughed at the very thought - a hot bath and bed was more realistic for me!

Tuesday September 30 - Woke up this morning to a sore throat. I had breakfast and afterwards felt faint and dizzy so decided I had better not go on the walk that day. I was grateful I didn’t go on the walk as I did not feel well all day. I sat in the conservatory and read for a while then decided to go into Keswick. The launch left from just around the corner so I walked over there and five minutes across DerwentWater I was in Keswick. I looked around the shops and did a bit of gift buying then took the launch back to Portinscale after booking a tour for the next day. I had a nap all afternoon. Had a mushroom omelette for supper and an early night.

Wednesday October 1st - woke up feeling much better this morning. I started walking into Keswick but some other guests at HF stopped and picked me up which was nice. I looked around the shops again and then sat and had my lunch in a small park. Then I took the launch around DerwentWater before catching a tour of the South Lakes at 2 p.m. The tour was done by the National Trust in a mini-van. I got to sit in the front seat with the driver for most of the way so had a bird’s eye view. Quite exciting especially on the narrow roads when we would have to back up to let other cars past! The driver also stopped to let me take photos and/or video. It turned out to be a fairly sunny afternoon and the scenery was marvellous. Mountains covered with bracken, the lakes, the sheep, stone fences - well everything that is the Lake District. We drove by Thirlmere and on through the Grasmere Valley to Ambleside and then visited Tarn Hows. The Langdale Valley was absolutely fantastic. I saw the other HF Holiday house in Coniston so hope to visit there sometime in the next few years. We stopped for tea at the Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel - a beautiful old hotel. The driver told us to go into the lounge and everything was all set up for us - pots of tea, homemade scones with preserves. It was wonderful to sit there and relax and we were the only people there. I had envisioned an ordinary tea shop so this was really special. It was a very enjoyable tour and well worth the money. We got dropped back in Keswick so I walked on the path back to Portinscale and or course I got lost but what else is new? Dinner was a buffet which was good. I sat with the same couple of ladies but we tried to sit at different tables each evening to meet different people. Everyone was very friendly and conversations were always interesting with lots of laughter.

Thursday October 2nd - This morning the coach dropped us at Crummock Water and we walked along beside it - it was so beautiful. However the path wasn’t - very rocky and boggy with a lot of jumping over rocks. Not my kind of fun. We stopped and found a dry inlet and had a break then carried on to Buttermere village. My feet were so sore I decided to stay in Buttermere village while the rest walked around Buttermere. (the lake) As it turned out the path was smooth and no problem and I could have done it but I didn’t want to carry on with scrambling over rocks. Anyway I had a nice time in Buttermere - the time flew by as I stopped into the shop and got an ice cream and sat outside and talked to a couple about their dog and then a whole group of us were busy discussing dogs, walking, Canada, etc. It was fun. I then walked over to the lake and took some photos - it looked beautiful with the Haystacks reflected in the water. The battery in my camera decided to die at that point but as I always carry a spare battery with me (I learned a bitter lesson about that back on top of a mountain in Jasper, Alberta in 1988 and have always carried one since!) I slipped it in and carried on. Met the group coming back and the coach took us back to our little home where I had pork and a decadent chocolate dessert for supper.

Friday October 3rd - After a full breakfast this morning (we could have pretty well anything we fancied for breakfast but I didn’t want to eat too much bacon, eggs, etc. so usually opted for porridge or muesli and toast) we headed off in the coach to Bassenthwaite Lake. Our luck with the weather was running out and it was drizzling a bit but still nothing like it could have been. We stopped at the ancient church of St. Bega and had a look inside then continued on through Dodd Wood where we had a wonderful view of Keswick and Portinscale. We carried on down to Portinscale and a few of us headed into Keswick for some last minute shopping. I treated myself to my last Lake District cream tea!!! Got back to the house in time to do some laundry and have a hot bath then enjoyed a fabulous Oriental buffet for dinner. A “talent” show followed featuring the leaders and some of the guests and it was hilarious.

Saturday October 4th - My last day in the Lake District. So sad!! I enjoyed one last breakfast with the group then caught the coach to Penrith station. There were engineering works on the railway so had to get the coach to Preston then the train to London. Arrived into London King’s Cross at around 3:30 p.m. and got a taxi to Cambria House which is a Salvation Army Hostel. It isn’t as grim as it sounds, honest!! It was hot in London so once I dragged my bags up the stairs I sat in front of the fan cooling myself off! I then changed and walked to Covent Garden and wandered around there for a while. Then I walked over to the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane to see “Miss Saigon”. It was very enjoyable - loved the music - but the ending was so so sad. I took the tube back to Cambria House jostling through all the crowds. London was much more crowded this trip than I ever remember it being before. Everywhere - the tube, the streets, everywhere. Eventually I got used to it - sort of!

Sunday October 5th - today I took the train up to Bedford to visit our family friend Tom. Had a great visit with him and he drove me around a bit in the surrounding villages. It was just nice to be in a home and have a home cooked meal after travelling for two weeks. Tom will be joining us for Christmas this year so our goodbyes weren’t too sad - “see you in two and a half months”!

Monday October 6th - caught the 8 a.m. train up to York then changed onto the train to Malton where my cousin’s widowed wife’s sister (got that?) picked me up. Billie is just like family. Dodo (my cousin Peter’s widow) was in the car waiting and it was great to see them both again. We drove back to Goathland which is a beautiful little village in the heart of the Yorkshire Moors (and the setting for “Heartbeat” a very popular British TV series that I watch over here)and were greeted by Harry, the Yorkshire terrier! After lunch we drove over to see Dodo’s daughter Judy who lives in a beautiful old house with a stream in her back garden! We had tea and cake and then went for a short walk with Emma, the English spaniel. After supper we went over to some cottages to visit a friend of Billie’s and then came back and settled in to watch the telly.

Tuesday October 7th - After breakfast Billie and I walked to the shops where I bought a few gifts. I got to see inside the cottage that my aunt and uncle stayed in for seven weeks in April/May and it was really cute. Dodo and Billie had to go to a funeral so Billie went back and I stayed on walking around the village and taking photos. I then walked over to the Goathland Information Centre which was very interesting. The history and geology of Goathland was interesting but what got me glued there was the “Heartbeat” display! Especially when they showed video of upcoming shows and interviews with the starsThey were going to be filming by the shops the next day but I felt I had to get back to London. Went back and had lunch and then Judy drove me to Malton station. The train from there was late as well as the one from London to York. The whole journey back was a nightmare really - but I made it back to Cambria House in one piece!

Wednesday October 8th - today I had my first bit of bad weather. I decided to visit Canterbury - a place I had never been. It was dull when I left London but by the time I got to Canterbury the rain was starting to fall and it gradually got worse and worse until it was blowing up a gale by late afternoon when I left. I was able to visit Canterbury Cathedral which was fantastic - I got a photographer’s permit so was able to take photos and video. This is where Thomas Beckett was murdered and there is a shrine to him there. Canterbury is such a gorgeous city but I did not see it at it’s best so a return trip is in order. I had to dash from shop to shop and could not wander the side streets and explore like I love to do. I managed one good thing - I got some shopping done. The trip back was another nightmare with train delays and then the fire brigade was at Oxford Circus which closed that station and any lines going through there. Another thing I have noticed - so many delays on the tube. It never used to be like that.

Thursday October 9th - Decided to stay in London today - finally!! I visited the Museum of the Moving Image which I enjoyed - it is a history of films. Good but I think you would appreciate it more if you were British as a lot of the things didn’t mean anything to me - especially retrospectives on the television shows. I went to Jane Asher’s tea room for a cream team and from there I walked over to Battersea Park which is somewhere I had never been before. Of course - my luck - sunny until just before I got there and the sun stayed away while I walked around until I left the park and was waiting for the bus!!! Took a bus (a good old double decker - love to ride in the front seat on the top!) back to Oxford Street and looked in the shops but bought nothing. I stopped by MPL, Paul McCartney’s offices and saw someone I used to be friendly with. We had a good chat and went for a cup of tea. I took the bus back to Cambria House then ran out to get fish and chips. On the way there a fella ran up to me and said (with an Irish accent) “Excuse me - I hope you didn’t hurt yourself when you fell from heaven. You’re beautiful!”. I just laughed - a drunk Irish man at that!!! Pat arrived at about 10 p.m. so we had a good chin wag.

Friday October 10th - Today was sunny so we did our “Now I know I’m in London tour”. We took the tube to Trafalgar Square and then walked on to our favourite park, St. James Park, saw the changing of the guard at Whitehall then went over to give our regards to Ben. (Big Ben to those who don’t know him as well as we do) Of course it didn’t matter that both of us were on our 13th and 15th trip to London respectively - it was snap, snap, snap with the camera!! And the video cameras were busy as well! We then took the tube up to St. John’s Wood and walked by Mecca - known to Beatle fans as Abbey Road - and then visited Paul McCartney’s London home which is nearby. Both of us have had pleasant encounters with Paul at that house so it is always on the “must see” tour of London. We caught a bus over to Regent’s Park and walked around a bit until it was too dark to get photos (we have our priorities!) then a bus back to Cambria House. On the way back we picked up shish kebabs which were wonderful. My pedometer said we had walked over ten miles that day and believe me we felt like it!

Saturday October 11th - This morning we set off for Hastings on the south coast. It was dull in London but when we got to Hastings - torrential rain. So disappointing - I felt badly for Pat as it was her one glimpse of the sea her entire trip and it was grey and horrible. We looked in the shops and had a cream tea in a restaurant overlooking the grey sea. It was no use going to the castle either. It was just dashing from one shop to the other just like in Canterbury. We walked to the Pier and had fish and chips and even that was disappointing. Hopped the train back to London and dropped off our cameras, etc. at Cambria House then headed over to the Tower of London. We admired Tower Bridge which was lit up. We then attended the Ceremony of the Keys at the Tower. It is a ceremony that has gone on through wars and disasters for 900 years - it has only been late once during the last war. It was really exciting to be part of it. Basically it is just the locking up of the tower for the night but of course there is ceremony involved. Thrilling to be at the Tower at night as well!!!

Sunday October 12th - Woke up to a sunny day. We took the tube (we always got day passes for the tubes and buses) to Tower Hill where we took daylight pictures of Tower Bridge - to join the other fifty million pictures of Tower Bridge we already have! Luckily we are both keen photographers and quite often get the same idea for a shot. Then off to King’s Cross by tube then the bus to Regent’s Park. We visited the Queen Mary Rose Garden which was still beautiful even in mid October. About half the roses were still in bloom and so many different kinds. Wonderful. I love London’s parks so much. We caught the tube to Tower Hill again and got on the Docklands Light Railway - a first for both of us. It was so interesting to see the development in the old docks area of London - cranes everywhere and beautiful buildings. It seemed strange to see such new buildings in London - as long as there are still the old buildings I enjoy the contrast. We took the train to Island Gardens and then we walked through the tunnel that goes under the Thames to Greenwich. Neither of us had ever been through the tunnel before so it was truly a day of discovery for both of us. We walked around Greenwich and had fish and chips while sitting on the steps of a church - they were delicious! Then we had a pot of tea at a bakery/tea shop. Back under the tunnel and onto the railway again to Tower Gateway. We took photos and video of Tower Bridge then met our friends Vickie and Jim at Tower Hill tube station. From there we took a Jack the Ripper walk. It had the potential to be an interesting walk but not with 150+ other people along! Like I mentioned earlier London was CROWDED with tourists. Perhaps it was because of Princess Diana as someone has suggested to me - I don’t know. It was interesting to walk the back streets though and of course the guide pointed out where the bodies were discovered and some of the grisly details which I didn’t need to hear! You could not recreate any kind of atmosphere with a mob of us though.

Monday October 13th - We walked to Oxford Street and looked in some record shops and stopped in a Marks and Spencers for some treats. We then headed to Piccadilly Circus and looked around. From there we took the tube to Hyde Park Corner and walked through Hyde Park. I had never been in that part of the park before so that was interesting - we sat and had our veggies and dip for lunch. Then we decided to head over to the Royal Albert Hall and discovered we had missed seeing Paul McCartney arrive for the rehearsal. AAAARRRHGGHHH!!!!! To say we were disappointed is an understatement as there weren’t many fans there so he stopped for autographs. We then waited all day - taking a break to grab a quick meal. He finally came out around 10 o’clock but by then there were a mob of people and we could only see him from a distance. He was friendly though and did a little dance and waved at everyone.

Tuesday October 14th - After a hearty breakfast we headed over to the Royal Albert Hall and Paul arrived about 12:00. Due to the press I was only able to catch a glimpse of him getting out of the car then he was lost from sight even though he walked just a few feet from me. Between security and the press it was just impossible. After waiting around a bit in case he came out again we headed back to Cambria House with Vickie picking up shish kebabs on the way. Then back to the Royal Albert Hall to see the premiere of Paul’s classical symphony “Standing Stone” performed by the London Symphony. Our box seats were wonderful. Before the concert began I walked to the toilet and noticed Paul’s security guard standing in front of a party room. I kept walking back and forth to the washroom and the security guard kept an eye on me! I finally felt foolish and went to the box seat which I regretted as two women in our box came in all flushed and happy - they had gotten Paul’s autograph when he left the party shortly after I left. I wouldn’t have asked for an autograph but it would have been nice to have been able to wish him Good Luck for the evening. Anyway we took our seats and Paul and family took theirs and we were able to see them the whole evening which was nice. Nice???? It was wonderful!!!! The performance began and while I enjoyed most of it there were parts that bothered me and I walked out of there with a headache. I saw his wife, son and one of his daughters leave but Paul left from another exit. I just saw the fleeing car. Lucky Pat got a wave out the window from him but I was on the wrong side.

Wednesday October 15th - Pat headed back to the U.S. today and I was due to meet Claudia, my friend from Germany, at 10:30 a.m. I was late arriving due to the fire brigade at Oxford Circus once again - I had to change tube lines and it took forever - and this was leaving an hour before our meeting time. I finally found the location where her train arrived and there she was. We had a great day together. We walked from Victoria station down to St. James Park and to Trafalgar Square where we caught a tube to Hyde Park Corner. We had lunch at the Hard Rock CafĂ© then went to Harrods and had a look around. From there we took a bus to Kensington - I got us lost but we ended up in a pub so that worked out okay! From there we found Kensington High Street and looked in the shops. Claudia bought me a book which was sweet. We then headed over to Oxford St. and we parted ways. I was going to wait in line to get a wrist band as Paul was going to be signing autographs at HMV the next day. Well I found to my dismay that they had handed out wrist bands already - what I didn’t know was that they would be handing out more but I wouldn’t be there. I headed back to Cambria House feeling sorry for myself.

Thursday October 16th - This morning I headed to Oxford St. to do a bit of shopping and then went to Paul McCartney’s office in the hopes that he would show up but no such luck. Headed over to HMV where there was a mob scene - people all over Oxford St. with traffic trying to get by. Paul arrived but of course I hadn’t a hope of seeing him so just listened to him being interviewed over loudspeakers outside the store. I then headed back to his office in case he stopped there afterwards but he was a no show so I headed down Charing Cross Road to check out the book shops. I had a pizza/pasta buffet - food always comforts me!!! That evening I started organizing my things to get ready to go home.

Friday October 17th - Got the 9 a.m. train to York and then the bus to see my cousin Betty who lives in Bishopthorpe. She had moved since I was there last time and lives in a darling little bungalow. Said hello once again to Gemma, the Jack Russell terrier . We had a cup of coffee and chatted until her daughter Ann showed up for lunch. I hadn’t seen Ann since 1986 so it was great to see her again. We had a lovely lunch of salmon mousse and salads. We sat and visited some more over a cup of tea then Ann had to leave and Betty and I chatted a little while longer. Then she walked me to the bus stop and I took the bus back into York. I had a short browse around the shops and got myself a sweater at the Sweater Shop. I love York. It’s such a beautiful old city. Caught the train back to London and had to sit on a pull down seat in between the carriages the entire way as the train was late (of course) and there were loads of people - especially with it being the start of the weekend. By the time I got back to Cambria House it was 9 o’clock so didn’t feel like going out again.

Saturday October 18th - This morning was another gorgeous hot sunny day. I decided to explore further into Hyde Park so took the tube to Hyde Park Corner and retraced Pat and I my footsteps from earlier in the week but delved deeper into the park. It was fun approaching the familiar Serpentine from a different angle - I walked over to the Round Pond where in the distance I could see Kensington Palace. On the way I was lucky enough to see the Horse Guards in full uniform on their horses doing some practice so was able to catch that on my video camera. I walked from the park to Bayswater Road and caught the bus to Westminster. I was lucky enough once again to find the front seat at the top (the only way to travel on a double decker bus!!!!) so smiled the whole way - I love London!!! At Westminster I got dropped on the other side of the Thames so walked along and took photos of the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben. I walked back along the Embankment and debated on a trip to the Thames Barrier but the queue was much too long and I had other things I wanted to do. So I walked along the Embankment and then cut across to the Strand where I stopped in a shop and got a frozen Mars ice cream - those are fabulous - and realized this would be my last one until perhaps 2000? (sob!) I looked around Covent Garden but found nothing to take my fancy so carried on to Charring Cross Road and took the bus up to Camden Lock to visit the market there. Well it was so busy and crazy I didn’t even make it to the Lock and turned around and caught a bus further north to Hampstead Heath. I walked around there looking in the shops and then headed back to King’s Cross. I had my final fix of fish and chips to take back to the room. Got changed and headed off the London Palladium to see “Oliver!”. It was good but actually I enjoyed the amateur production I saw here in Regina a couple of years ago much more. Then back to Cambria House to pack my suitcase like a mad woman.

Sunday October 19th - my last day. I had booked a van to pick me up at Cambria House and take me to Heathrow so it showed up at 10:30 a.m. I got to sit in the front seat which was fun and we drove around London picking up other people and getting stuck in traffic jams. Got to the airport in plenty of time to look around the shops and pick up last minute things - like chocolate!!! The flight home was great as there was no one sitting beside me so could stretch out - I knew in the departure lounge that there was no way the plane would be full. They showed three movies - I watched two of them “Breakdown” and “Austin Powers: Man of Mystery”. Both were good - I had seen the latter before. The other movie - shown in between those two - was a stupid movie starring Bruce Willis that I dozed through. Had a couple of hours in Calgary then an hour flight home. Neil was there to meet me and there was Miss Sandy waiting in the car for me. She was sitting behind the wheel all ready to drive home but as soon as she saw me she started crying and I got lots of doggie kisses. Neil said she cried all the way to the airport when he told her we were going to see “mummy”.

I had a wonderful holiday in England as usual - my 15th!! Wish I could fly back anytime. What do I miss about England? The green grass, English accents, red phone boxes (when you can find them), red post-boxes, the chocolate, Mind the Gap, the double decker buses, the stone fences, Marks and Spencers food hall, London’s parks, the sheep - well I could go on. What don’t I miss? Paying a fortune for a room that you can’t swing a cat around in, the outrageous prices - there is very little that doesn’t cost more than here, the public toilets (most of them), most of the newspapers (when the headline or front page on ALL the papers has the break-up of the marriage of England’s soccer coach that is pretty sad) - other than that nothing!! I can’t wait until the next trip!!!!