Saturday, August 18, 2007

Stratford upon Avon

William Shakespear was born, lived and buried in Stratford England. We enjoyed visiting his birthplace, home, workplace, burial place and we did find the city most fascinating. Of particular interest was the thatched roofs in this area of England. Thatched roofs are made up of thousands and thousands of river reeds, layer upon layer. These rooftops are only built in the very wet regions of England. If these reeds would dry out, the roofs would leak. There is an entire eco-system that lives in these roofs. Spiders, bats, mice, bugs, etc... all make this habitat their home. BUT....they are so wonderfully English. Each thatch architect has their own signature style. Some of the roofs have a pattern, or sculpted, or they use a rounded pattern around windows or a square pattern. Some architects design very manicured shapes, others have a "hawaiian" thatched look. Another thing we loved about English homes were the gorgeous English gardens.

Edinburgh Scotland

July 12, 2007

Everyone needs to see Edinburgh Scotland. We ended up in Edinburgh around 5:00 pm. The sun was shining when we got here (which is quite rare), so we headed out of our hotel to take pictures of the sun shining on the old city of Edinburgh. The old city is across the river and the view of the ancient city from the modern side of the river is quite the view. Edinburgh is known as the “Athens” of the north. There are many, many philosophers, financiers, doctors, scientists, and literary artists that made wonderful contributions to society. There are many, many statues all over this city commemorating the great people who had lived here. We attended a Scottish entertainment evening where we witnessed the famous "Ceremony of the Haggis", which is a delicacy of intestines, kidneys, liver, etc....all rolled into a sheeps stomach and served on top of sheep horns. Do you think we ate the nasty stuff? You'll have to ask us when you see us!

Lake District of England

July 12, 2007

We began our tour at 7:45 am this morning as we headed to the Lake district of England. The lake district was glorious! Perhaps one of my favorite areas in England thus far because of it’s uniqueness. We drove through the city of Windermere to catch our boat cruise across the Windermere lake to the little city of Grasmere. It was misting (which we are finding out that misting is a norm here – it is always misting) but the lake was lovely sporting pastures lined with stone fences; large stone farm houses laden with rose gardens and honeysuckle draping the stone walls surrounding them. I wish I could paint the picture that we saw with our eyes. There is no way to captivate the green misty glory of this region – our pictures are not adequate, I guess the pictures in our minds eye will be the souvenir that we will take back with us.

Back in England; Chester

July 11, 2007

It was rather fun to take a steamship from Ireland back to England. Check out this picture of this 18th century Victorian city of Chester. This little town is nestled on the border of Wales and England on the River Dee. This city actually had roots dating clear back to 100 BC when the Normans and Vikings settled in England - then in 79 AD the Romans took over and ruled for 200 years leaving behind all kinds of Roman ruins. The half-timbered buildings were built in the 12th century by the Celts, but re-decorated in the mid 18th century in the "Victorian/Edwardian" style of architecture when Queen Victoria celebrated her 25th year of rule. I think if you double click on the picture, it will enlarge the picture so you can see how beautiful this city really is.


July 10, 2007

We went to Trinity College to see the famous Book of Kells. These books are copies of the gospels written in 521-597 AD. moved to Dublin (particularly Trinity College) in 1663. There were also other valuable manuscripts – The Book of Armaugh, the Book of Darrow, the Book of Mulling and the Book of Dimma. These books were highly decorated with Celtic art, made on animal skins and calligraphy quills. They were amazing. Then we visited the Long Room – or the main chamber to the Old Library which contained 200,000 of the Library’s oldest books in oak bookcases reaching to the ceiling of the highly arched 65 meter long room. If you love antique books you would have loved this place.

I really enjoyed the day as we were set free to explore the city of Dublin Ireland. The Ha’Penny Bridge was fun to see - and of course we had to walk across the Ha'Penny Bridge to "prove" that we were not "poor" and we could afford to pay to cross the river! The city of Dublin is a mixture of old and new. One place of particular interest to Jayna was where Handel's "Messiah" was first performed on April 14, 1742.

Ring of Kerry in Ireland

The Ring of Kerry was a long 128 mile stretch of road filled with lots of glorious mountains and scenery. We took lots of pictures – The tour guide talked a lot about Ireland’s history, but most of the trip was pointing out particular plants, mountains, terrain, brightly colored farmhouses and lakes or coastlines.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Killarney, Blarney and Waterford

July 7, 2007

Okay....I was a bad girl today. I spent Steve's money. Yes, the Waterford Crystal was just too tempting. But, I really have a lovely pedestal bowl. Steve actually was more impressed with the one-of-a-kind trophies that were made for sports. He is holding the formula one racing trophy (under supervision).

We then headed to Blarney for an afternoon of castle touring and shopping. The Blarney castle was quite humorous. The Irish are full of crazy stories – full of baloney! I think it is the Guinness beer that they drink here, they are so “blasted” that they can’t tell the difference between truth and their stories. There is a difference between blarney and baloney however. Baloney is a story that no one can believe because it is so flowery and over schmaltzy. Blarney is a story that you could believe – not stretched too much, just enough to question if it is truth or not. Thus, Ireland has gnomes, trolls, fairies, leprechauns, and….the Blarney stone - which Steve did try to kiss!

When we arrived in Killarney we boarded a horse drawn “jaunting cart”. The Irish driver was filled with blarney – none of it true, and yet his blarney stories were quite humorous and a little crass – funny though. We boarded this cart with 6 other people and took a “jaunting ride” through the 28,000 acre National Killarney Park to the Ross Castle. It was a delightful ride, with lots of picture taking opportunities.

Hampton Court, Stonehenge, Bath, Salisbury

July 5, 2007

We began our tour of England today by visiting the Hampton Court which was the home of King Henry VIII - and then King James (who had the King James Bible translated into English). The palace was old, very medieval....but it was the gardens that were the highlight of this place. The Queen's Annual Flower show was hosted at Hampton Court today. It was very crowded, but a real treat.

The palace was nice, but our next stop was the highlight of the day. Stonehenge! I thought I would just look at the standing rocks and say "that's nice", but this place was captivating. We did have an audio tour device that explained the stones, the structure, the altars, the calendars, etc.... See that flat stone in the picture to your left? That is where sacrifices took place around 200-500 BC.

Salisbury England has a Cathedral that is the oldest cathedral in England. This cathedral houses the Magna Carta. We also saw where William Golding wrote "Lord of the Flies". The English pubs are famous for thier fish and chips - and we now know why. Yes, they are deep fried, very greasy and quite delicious. We only bought one meal and shared it...however, it was very hard to share. Right next to where we bought our fish and chips there was live bagpipe entertainment - in full bagpipe uniform and everything.

Our last stop of the day was Bath England. This place was quite a surprise to me. I knew we were going to see Roman Baths - and I had seen Roman Baths in Israel. But what I had seen was ruins. this roman Bath - that was built in 400 AD is still in working condition. I have never seen anything like it in my life.