Friday, January 29, 2016

1/29, Friday, London

Our flight wasn't to leave until 3pm, but we just decided to get up at our normal time, have breakfast, and head to the airport. We did not know if there would be long lines at the security checkpoints. Fortunately, the lines were relatively short.

The flight left on-time, took a little over 9 hours to get to Atlanta. Getting through customs was not as bad as when we came in through Philly last trip. Once we got through, we still had well over an hour until our Gainesville bound flight was supposed to board.

Here is a compilation of all the video I shot:

Thursday, January 28, 2016

1/28, Thursday, London

Ending on a high note, the rain has stopped and the sun is shining. We took the fast train from Windsor to Paddington Station and then got on the Tube to Westminster station. As you emerge from the station, the first thing you see is the Thames River with the London Eye towering over it.

Turn around, walk up the steps and there is Big Ben and Parliment.

From there we walked up Whitehall. The first thing we see is 10 Downing Street. The home of the Prime Minister David Cameron.

There are several monuments down Whithall including the Women of World War 2, and a statue of Monty.

The museum I decided to visit was just a little further down the road called The Household Calvary Museum. 

The Household Calvary was formed in 1661 by King Charles II. 

Currently their role is to protect the Queen on ceremonial occasions and Royal pageantry.  

Our timing was pretty good once again. We got to see a changing of the guard.

Continuing our walk down Whitehall we came to Trafalgar Square. When you see old movies, he square is covered with pigeons, but in 2003, the mayor of London wage a war on them by introducing Hawks to the area. 

Then we walked down The Wall next to James Park that leads you to Buckingham Palace.

Continuing on we walked down Knightsbridge to our favorite department store on the planet, Harrods, where you can buy almost everything. The first thing I saw in the window was a trio of Astin Martins, one of which look like the original James Bond car.

As usual, we bypassed the jewelry and found the food.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

1/27, Wednesday, Windsor

Ok, now we really went off script. Because of the poor weather and the lack of things to do indoors, we decided to end our stay in the Cotswolds a day early and head towards London. I did a last minute search and found a guest house in Windsor just a short walk from Windsor castle.

We were here in 2011, but there is just so much more to see, do and eat! Tomorrow we will check out of this guest house, leave the luggage in the car and catch the train in to London.

Our timing couldn't have been better as we approached the castle. The changing of the guard had just completed and the old guard came marching out of the castle. Unlike last time we were here, the guard came out wearing kilts. I don't have a picture yet because I was using my camera to take video. 

After we checked into the room and had a brief rest, we decided to make a test drive to the Heathrow Hertz drop-off location which was about a 30 min drive. I have to have the car back tomorrow by 9pm. The last thing I wanted was to get lost trying to get around Heathrow Airport's busy traffic when I am pressed for time.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

1/26, Tuesday, Warwick

Today we went off script, mainly because of the windy rainy weather that has made its way here from the U.S.  We drove about 30 miles to Warwick to see the Warwick Castle. This seems to be the closest thing to a theme park England has. During peak season, this place would be mobbed with visitors; however, we were able to walk right up to the ticket booth.

Warwick castle was built in 914. 

The first part of the castle was actually the mound that the stone wall is built on. The first wall was originally made of wood to keep the Vikings from raiding the town. Later, William the Conqueror in 1068 established a motte-and-bailey castle to maintain control of the midlands as he advanced north. 

Inside the castle was spectacular. I think there was a better display of armor than in Windsor Castle. 

There is also some impressive furniture like this hand carved buffet.

Unfortunately, because it is off-season, no one was outside with period clothing, nor was there jousting or trebuchet demonstrations. We did see a falconry exhibition.

1/25, Monday, Cotswolds

Today was a tour of the Cotswolds, starting with Rollright Stones a short distance from the hotel. This is another ancient stone circle, not as famous as the others and off the beaten path.

Then on to a unique sight in the vast fields of the Cotswolds called the Broadway Tower. This folly was completed in 1798.

It is perched on a high hill in the countryside called "beacon" hill that over looks a pre-medieval trading route.

Although you see lush green fields everywhere, the land is not the greatest for growing crops. We were told it is full of the small rocks that are used to build the stone fences that seem to go for miles. Instead of crops, we've seen quite of few sheep.

The place we are staying is called the Coach and Horses. It has a neat little pub.

Monday, January 25, 2016

1/24, Sunday, Bath

We checked out of the hotel early and headed down to Bath only 2 miles away. I parked in a parking garage downtown that was so small I felt like I should have rented a Smart Car. A few blocks away are the famous Roman Baths.

Which came complete with Romans.

Another dominant structure right next to the Roman Baths is the Bath Abbey with it's huge engraved wood doors.

From there we drove north to Bourton-on-the-Water

Sunday, January 24, 2016

1/23, Saturday, Avebury

We had breakfast, packed up the car and headed out towards Avebury. So now I've driven on motorways, main roads, and small narrow country roads. One thing you don't see is traffic lights. Just about every intersection is a roundabout.

We could have stopped at Stonehenge that sits in the middle of a field with nothing else around it but tour buses. Instead we headed a little further north. Getting to Avebury around noon, we parked the car and walked around a Neolithic stone circle that dates back to about 2500 BCE, which is before the pyramids were built. The circle has a diameter of approximately 470 yards.

The ditch and resulting mound around the perimeter is a henge feature.

In Avebury, there is a house that was the centerpiece of a British show called "The Manor Reborn" where they are restoring the 500 year old manor. Unfortunately it was closed. 

We stopped in for a drink at the Red Lion which sits within the ancient stone circle. It was established in 1802 and is famous for its 86 foot deep well that dates back to the 1600's.

There was plenty of other things to see around Avebury like this old church named St. James. The earliest parts date back to 1000 CE. It was actually colder inside the church than is was outside.

Many people brought there dogs to the area. It was like one giant dog park. Here is an 18 week old fuzzy white German Shepard. 

Moving on to our next hotel outside of Bath. It was an old flour mill on the Avon river. 

The stone arch bridge was built in 1872. It is a toll bridge that charges 70 pence for cars to traverse. Two guys that look more like longshoremen stand at one end of the bridge to collect.