Archive for November, 2013

We’re going to very cautiously try some limited blogging. The reasons this has fallen off are numerous:

1) too busy
2) exhausted
3) writing about the traveling that makes me exhausted makes me even more exhausted and cranky as well
4) I lost the use of my regular camera back in March and I really dislike the substitutes I’m working with. An iPod and a cell phone aren’t the same thing and I despise spending an hour doing nothing but re-sizing photos to upload to a website with limited space.

What we’ve been up to since June:

  • a week in the Lake and Peak District
  • trip to Ireland
  • Bear played tour guide with friends from America for about 3 weeks
  • college friends from America came for about two weeks
  • long Birthday weekend on the Jurassic Coast
  • went to London several times including a show (We Will Rock You)
  • a week in Cornwall
  • family from American came for 10 days which included 4 days in Paris

Geez, I got tired just typing that.

Bear kindly made breakfast and wisely brought a Diet Coke along as well. I was dragging after a kind of long work week but it had ended really well and we went to see Catching Fire on Friday night for our Nando’s date. (The movie was really excellent, btw.)


He had picked out some sites around Shropshire that we hadn’t hit on previous trips and it’s easy to talk me into going to Shrewsbury. First, we went to Wall to see the Roman site of an encampment that had been an outpost there. It was a wall. As in, you find the Roman baths in Bath and the wall in…Wall.



On the way back to the car pack, I spotted a library in a phone booth. Really.


Then we made a quick stop at the White Lady Priory which is like a related site to the bigger Boscobel House.


When Charles II made an ill advised attempt in 1551 to reclaim his throne (his father Charles I having been executed in 1549 during the English Civil War, thanks Cromwell), he lost big at the Battle of Worcester and had to hide out before escaping back to France.


The first place he hid was at the White Ladies Priory and then moved over to Boscobel House which was owned by a family of Catholic sympathizers. (It seems not very many people liked Cromwell as he canceled Christmas, literally). Fortunately, for Charles II to blend in, the Penderel family were all very tall as he was.


We signed up for the tour of the house after some confusion about when it started. They said 11:30, I checked my watch and said, Oh, 5 minutes, great, and they said, no, 47 minutes. Turns out, that’s precisely how long the tour takes. Not sure why they thought  the duration was what I meant, but there you go–welcome to England.



We also got to see the famous Royal Oak which Charles II hid in for a day as a part of his escape attempt while the soldiers and dogs were searching for him below. The oak has suffered recently, having been struck by lightning in 2000, so Prince Charles came back to help plant a sapling from an acorn of the original oak and it’s growing well.

Royal Oak

Royal Oak

After a snack and some drinks, we headed over to Lilleshall Abbey another Augustinian abbey where Bear climbed to the top of a tower without telling me and scared the crap out of me.

Lillehall Abbey

Lilleshall Abbey

Bear in the tower, all is clear

Bear in the tower, all is clear

View from the tower

View from the tower

Moreton Corbet Castle was next, and it did deserve the castle title at one point although it looked more like a decimated manor house.

The most interesting thing at the castle

The most interesting thing at the castle

We stopped by Haughmond Abbey which is completely sealed at this time of year, but that didn’t stop us from going to Buildwas Abbey (also in Shropshire) so we’re getting credit for that one.

At that point, food seemed like a good idea so we headed into Shrewsbury which is a surprisingly good place to find food. However, you also have to pay for parking and all I had was a paper ten pound note which won’t help you when you have to go to pay and display.

A note about Pay and Display. That’s the term for putting money in a meter, getting a paper ticket, putting it on your dash, then inevitably having a misunderstanding and getting a ticket later. If I were crazy enough to permanently move to this country, I would open a strip club and call it Pay and Display. I’m so serious. The girls would dress like cops and meter maids. You think I’m joking.

We were turned away from several restaurants at 3 p.m., places with several open tables, and finally got tired or walking around and feeling cold and hungry. The last waiter was nice about it and said it was because the kitchen was slammed with simultaneous orders, but I wasn’t very impressed with their management. He was being cheerful and laughing, but said, “Well, there’s a McDonald’s one street over” which sort of snapped something and I said, “We’ve been here two years and haven’t eaten in one yet so I think we’ll keep holding on.” Just because you’re American doesn’t mean you want to eat at McDonald’s.

We wound up at the Loch Fyne Seafood Grill which seemed delighted to see us, promised “there would be room at the inn” and found a window table right away.

However, we did have a small revelation, besides that you just have to keep walking and asking and asking to find anywhere to eat. Like British drivers who do not move over when you’re trying to merge on to the highway, British diners do not believe it’s their responsibility to scoot their chairs up to let you through to your adjoining table, even when the hostess is there and asking them to do so. The woman in question simply stared at me uncomprehending and didn’t budge. We’re just lucky I could go on tip toe and squeeze behind her and then she still stared at me like she had no idea what I was up to. Bear’s theory is that when you’re from a tiny island, then you don’t have much space but you really feel protective and want to retain it. We’ve had this happen also in Waitrose when people simply block entire aisles with their carts and look at you like you’re the crazy one for trying to ease by them.

I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to catch up with the backlog of photos or that I want to since it makes me tired just to look at, but at least here’s proof that we’re not dead. 🙂


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