This was the warmest June since 1976. It didn’t rain much, and the temperature often climbed into the 80’s, on days that only a Texan might label downright brisk for summer!
On June 2 fifty years ago, a young princess, a wife and mother, learned on an African visit that her father had died. Elizabeth returned home to be anointed queen of England, and solemnly vowed to dedicate herself to her people. She’s kept her vow, and even Republicans against the monarchy admire her devotion, if not her hats, some of which are on display at Kensington Palace. God save the Queen! (You all must reply, “Hear, hear!”) Her heir William, or Wills, turned 21 this month and may never take the throne before he’s 70, after his father Charles, the Duke of Wales. Wills’ birthday costume party was crashed: a so-called comedian, dressed in middle-eastern garb, grabbed the mike from him onstage after passing through security checkpoints with the guests. The palace police chief has been replaced and the insatiable press awaits even more details.
Mike and I took the train to Ely to test drive BMWs and Volvos, since foreigners get a good deal when they leave. We are thinking and reading about cars, while still riding busses in London, which I like; the tubes break too often. After the test drives, we stopped at an enormous cathedral whose warm golden stone soars over the little town. Oliver Cromwell’s house is close by, but that visit will wait for another day. However, since he lived in Ely, his Roundheads destroyed fewer medieval buildings than they might have, although all statues and paintings were destroyed in his passionate papist cleansing. The warrior interrupted his local church’s service during the Civil War (1642-6) and shut it for 11 years, imprisoning the bishop. The town was once an island amid fens—“marshes” to Americans—and was full of eels, hence Ely. It’s near Cambridge and I recommend it!
Separate men’s and women’s monasteries were first begun in Ely in early Christian times by Queen Ethelreda, a Saxon abbess who got the Isle in 652 as a dowry from her husband, a local prince. Widowed, she married another prince who became King of Northumbria. Since virginity was highly prized (like at Nazareth College when I was there!) neither hubby was allowed “full marital rights.” (Did that mean a little peek, or maybe just exploring above the waist? Did she dress in the closet?) Her shrine is in front of the altar. Danes ravaged the place in the late 800’s and Saxons rebuilt a Benedictine monastery that lasted over 400 years. Then came Henry VIII! Today, those stables, gardens, barns, school and hospital are accessible only through studying shards and ruins. To fatten their collection plates, the wily monks stole the body of Ethelreda’s sister, Withburga, to draw more pilgrims, an early documentation either of enterprise or priestly perfidy. I love the names.
Normans continued rebuilding “the Ship of the Fens” in 1083, not long after their 1066 invasion, and it’s now in daily use. There is an elaborate lantern tower (200 tons or tonnes) towering over an octagon at the joining of the transepts. A Lady Chapel from 1349, the biggest in England, is bright, with huge windows, but all the original “Roman” stained glass became Reformation target practice. A tall statue, a long haired blonde Mary in a light blue gown above the altar, either dancing or signaling a touchdown, seems a bit odd. It’s new, and Prince Charles attended the gala unveiling.
Carved stonework is magnificent. The nave offers massive concentric Roman arches below clerestory windows, and the apse has Gothic arches. The wood hammerbeam ceiling is gilded, covered by Victorians in colorful bible stories. Up in the lantern, angels painted inside are actually enormous, we are informed, though they look quite lifesize and less awesome from below. Even higher up, a tiny Christ in Majesty, barely noticeable from below, we are told, is actually lifesize. Carved niches once holding statues are empty; rows of plastic chairs seat the congregation. The Victorian organ case was designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott: near our mews house, a blue historic plaque proclaims his past residence. Refurbishing the 40,000 pipe organ for the millennium cost over half a million dollars. There is a brass-rubbing center (centre) and a stained glass museum, but we had no time to visit. England has 43 Anglican cathedrals.
We sat in the 14th century carved choir stalls for a beautiful evensong before walking to supper at the Stagecoach Inn, where I asked for a martini. Our sweet teenage waitress looked as if we spoke in Greek, finally writing gin and vermouth, after a lot of explaining; Mike went to the bar with her. The barmaid chortled, “On yes! I made one of them once! For an American, it was!” Amiable Canadians chuckled at the next table. Once outside London, the sophistication meter plummets.
I joined a Harvard Club tour of Bath’s American Museum, while Mike headed to Brussels. The museum, in Claverton Manor, which was closed on an earlier try, is more wonderful than I’d imagined, with acres of sunny lawns, formal and informal gardens, a restaurant and shop. A vast valley runs behind it for miles of green hillsides, and the director met us on the veranda for coffee and homemade biscuits, which Americans call cookies. Climbing roses offered stunning color along walls and gardens, and below, bright yellow iris added beauty to a stream. The 1820 house was designed by Geoffrey Wyatville, who worked for George IV and designed well known places at Chatsworth, Badminton, and Longleat. I’d like to see them all. Roses grow everywhere in Britain, and the red rose is often seen as a symbol of the House of Lancaster. York had the white rose. The English team wears a rose on their football shirts and the name Rose is used for pubs, brands, ships, and, of course women not christened Ethelreda.
Since over 95% of the museum’s visitors are British, and most of the volunteer guides too, early days of our breakaway colony are explained. Whole rooms were sent back from America and reconstructed inside the elegant stone manor, chronologically from the 1600’s on. Urban renewal and extensions of railroads and highways provided impetus for the collection, mostly assembled from small American towns. Some plants at Mt. Vernon today may flourish due to starting from samples of Bath’s Fairfax family.
There is a Conestoga wagon, an Amish buggy, and lots of folk art, but also a New York drawing room with a piano and gas lamps. The New Orleans bedroom, with a huge carved mahogany bed and mosquito netting, looked French whorehouse-y. Its dressing table featured a large egg, inside which gentlemen hung their pocket watches, since they were to remain erect. (The watches!!) There are American paintings and glass exhibits, and in the tavern, visitors are treated to freshly baked fragrant gingerbread from an oven alongside a big brick fireplace; it’s hung with family utensils and pots. The basement is a bit musty, so collection items, once conserved there, can’t be returned to that area. Aging and worn dusty cowboy mannequins and their steeds looked ready for the last roundup or maybe refurbishment, but I did learn that there were once 75 million Indians in the New World when Columbus arrived, speaking 2000 different languages.
The quilt collection in a separate building is the most important outside the US. A storyteller sat on the lawn amid attentive children. A volunteer on the terrace fashioned “tussie mussies” by tightly winding small bouquets; she also sold small plants. A friend has since told me she saw Indian dances there, and the Princeton Tigertones will sing there soon. Shaker box, pewter porringer, weathervanes… I thought I was back in Boston!
If you’re over 60, you qualify for “concession” theater ticket prices, so don’t ask why I paid full price to see Joan Plowright in a Zeffereli staging of Absolutely! (Perhaps), a version of a Pirandello play. It deals with what is really reality: who do we really know? Joan was Mrs. Olivier and you may have seen her in the film Tea With Mussolini. There are usually half price tickets available at the Leicester Square booth, and since it’s summer, park benches are packed with pedestrians around Shakespeare’s statue: few speak his native language! A juggler performed nearby. I love walking through London on summer evenings; it’s light till about 10. Usually a jacket is compulsory. Our roof garden and window box flowers pour brilliant color, and our green tomatoes are beginning to swell. Our B&B bookings have slowed slightly and I’ve begun to try to use up groceries I don’t want to carry back to Austin next year.
My painting of the Victoria pub made the color cover of our neighborhood area magazine this quarter, although the blues are very gray and I’m disappointed, but I had nothing to do with the printer. My commissioned drawing is on the nearby Italian restaurant’s menu; I‘m also teaching summer classes and hope to enter a couple of shows.
We traded one well-recommended Sunday morning activity, church, for another, Spitalfields market. It’s in an old section of London near the Tower, and required maps and a few queries to find; clearly the area has seen better days. St. Leonard’s church, en route, is sadly in need of repair, but fresh beds of flowers outside almost distracted us from cracked plaster and peeling paint. The porch has huge doric columns below a pediment. Memorial wall plaques inside proclaimed glorious deeds and industrial revolution wealth, but nearby worn brick factories from days past were stark, with dirty or broken windows, and littered streets.
The flower market was packed with lorries unloading countless flats of plants. Shouting vendors called, “‘OO’d tike these last free palms? Two pound each an’ the lot for a fivah! Come on, come on!!” Pushcarts (strollers), plant carts, customers with arms and bags hidden behind waving green leaves crowded together. The smell of fresh coffee cut like a knife amid the strong fragrant flowers, and nearby bakeries vied offering breakfasts, many eaten standing or walking. An accordianist played Beer Barrel Polka on a curb (kerb), kids used our legs as turning posts, and the storm clouds overhead held off and settled into a fiercely glowering gray. We’d planned to go to another market too, but they close by one and our arms were full. We took a bus and tube home with our loot, including a large blue and white ceramic antique footbath fancied by Mike, and rested reading the Times before biking in the parks. The rose gardens are so gorgeous this month that they’re nearly breathtaking, and the baby ducks and swans in ponds fare well on handouts. I think the footbath is a copy. Next we flew to Lisbon on a special fare from TAP, Portugal airlines.
Back in London two days later we partied at Ascot with the toffs and luvvies, drank Pimms in our fancy rigs, had cream tea, and made lots of £2 bets. Prior to Ascot, I’d attended a KCWC lecture on British racing by Jonathan Newell, a horseman. He explained that flat racing is done in summer, and jumps, steeplechase style, in winter. Some jumps can be six feet, possibly lower on one side than the other. Horses are handicapped, so faster horses must carry extra lead weights. (Get the lead out!” happens when jockeys try to lighten their horse’s load for a quicker win.) Steeplechase horses are usually older than flat racers. Flat tracks might be oval, uphill, downhill, straight, but are always on turf—i.e. grass. A jockey might earn only a hundred quid a ride, but a winner gets ten percent of the purse too. It’s more cat and mouse racing here than all-out American racing, we were told. Some champions run only a few races before being put to stud, since all breeding is “in person” and not via the test tube.
Here’s the tab for Ascot: Royal Enclosure tickets for the day are £73 each, which we purchased via the Embassy, and were thrilled to get, and the outfit rental, with top hat and waistcoat (vest) for the gents is £85 ($140) at Moss Brothers, which has countless outlets and enough morning suits to outfit battalions. Mike looked dapper! We didn’t book parking, which is extra. Trains run from Waterloo Station. (Ascot, Windsor and Bath are all short train rides from London.) We went on Ladies’ Day, and I know I looked nice, because little ladies watch from park benches, and comment on the passers by. They told me so! (“Oh luv, you’re brilliant!”) I photographed some of the more outrageous hats, but failed to record many mammoth mammaries on display. I wore a raspberry suit from Lisbon, good jewelry, and a black straw chapeau borrowed from my friend Judith. Nowhere are there hats like those in England!! They are truly creative, with giant hoops, feathers, platters, veils, textures, and flowers in every color and combination. No Englishwoman would attend a wedding bareheaded and Ascot has a dress code.
Our train car was filled with other race goers, and division of the classes was clearly evident. The accents of the “working class” girls near us are so very different, so grammatically incorrect and regional, that in order to move up socially, it would be crucial to change speech habits. Many of them in low cut short skirts were bare legged, a few tattooed, some gum chewers, and most took off their hats on the train. Some were very cute, but they will never be mistaken for Oxbridge grads. Correct speech and accent here is essential to class. There is sometimes resentment to those trying to climb “above their station” as fierce as resentment against queue jumpers! Always wait your turn in line!
We asked around and learned where to stand to best see the arriving Queen, the Duke, and their guests in open carriages, following lots of blonde-wigged footmen, polished leather, and gold braid. They came by so quickly that I almost didn’t drop my binoculars in time; the smiling queen looked very pale. American Ambassador Farrish was in one carriage, and has sold horses to her majesty. Countless photographers surged on a high balcony as the royal party rode past to alight at the Royal Enclosure. It’s one part of the vast complex of several tiers, with restaurants, betting windows, and area for owners. It’s on the side of the winner’s circle, offering convenient views of loving cup presentations. We saw one awarded by the Queen, and another by Baroness Betty Boothroyd, a feisty legend known for keeping order in the House of Commons. The Royal Enclosure is smaller than the others, and much less densely packed than the other grandstands, and there are races of varying lengths every 30 minutes. There are no set seats, and we wandered about on grass, concrete, and wood. We actually won a few pounds here and there, but the day’s not about money.
At day’s end, an announcement said the train would be delayed. It wasn’t. We queued about six abreast with good natured thousands after the last race. Other race-goers gathered at the station’s busy pubs, drinking outdoors under canvas umbrellas, while others opted for picnics on the grass in the car park. We were home in no time as the sun appeared. En route we noticed Russian flags with Union Jacks hanging in front of Buckingham Palace and lining the Mall, brightly waving against blue sky. Putin was about to visit.
Another summer eve brought Tosca in Holland Park after a picnic on the lawn. The opera had fabulous principals, subtitles, and a great orchestra, even though we were outdoors under a white marquee. Scenery and costume is minimal, but everything else is first rate. A few noisy peacocks vied with Puccini now and again, but never got the sustained applause awarded the cast. There were seats for about 500, so the venue was small, like most London theaters, and everyone had clear views and perfect sound. Because it stays light so late at this latitude, I hardly noticed the English translations at first above the stage.
We exchanged our Utah ski timeshare for a week in England, and delayed our holiday a day to attend a farewell pub crawl for three couples leaving for the states. We ate at a pub along the Thames that began as the Devil’s Tavern under Henry VIII, now the Prospect of Whitby, in Wapping. Outside a noose dangles over the river: Execution Dock is nearby. One judge sentenced 300 men to hang--and shipped nearly three times more to Australia and America. He enjoyed lunch while watching hangings with the enthusiastic crowds that always gathered. The doomed men, brought in a carriage at low tide, had a chance to speak before the carriage horse was whipped.
After hanging, they remained in the Thames until three tides passed over them. Capt. Kidd, a pirate who returned from Boston on promise of a pardon, was painfully hung on the third try after the rope broke twice, then dipped in tar, and displayed in a metal cage for three years as a warning to others. There was no such punishment for the press gangs who earned Admiralty money for anyone over 12 they pressed into the Navy’s service. Another way to pick up change was to row drunks into deep midriver, toss them overboard, and wait for the bodies to wash ashore, when they could be sold to medical schools. The Prospect of Whitby claims service under 22 royal reigns, but today the once teeming docks are filled with trendy loft apartments and makeovers. The Mayflower was fitted out from here, and left for Massachusetts to form the first permanent settlement in Plymouth. Dickens, Pepys, and Whistler were later patrons, and supposedly Turner painted sunsets from the balcony!
Sunday morning, we departed in our rented Ford for Keswick (Kess’ik) about 5 or 6 hours northwest of London in Cumbria, just south of Scotland near the west coast. It’s a little Victorian town built on tourism, developed when railroads brought Londoners up into the lakes—called meres or waters. All that’s there are sheep and green fells—which are hills. Cumbria is the rainiest place in England, which might explain the rich greens, but we lucked out with beautiful weather. However, I bought a cheap fleece at one of the many hiking shops because I was so chilly! The shops must sell most of the ubiquitous hiking boots we saw, but they are de rigueur for rambling up and down the fells, over little waterfalls, streams, and creeks—becks and gills—and a walking stick is also an assist. We saw many; some hikers use two. We also saw groups of school children with their teachers, swimming in freezing waters, sometimes in their clothes as they shrieked during kayak or canoe tipping drills, took boat rides, built walls, and climbed. Why they all don’t have pneumonia is amazing!
Beatrix Potter helped found the system that covers this 30 mile wide park and others like it. She bought up old farms with her Peter Rabbit money and donated over 4000 acres to the nation. If her gallery in picturesque Hawkshead hadn’t closed at 4:30, and her house nearby at 4, I’d have been able to see her paintings! We visited the old church instead, and had a view for miles above the tombstones. The gardener complained that it looked untidy because he could weed whack only areas with no wildflowers, so some graves were half hidden in tall pretty grasses. Probably good for bunnies and birds.
We revisited Wordworth’s home, Dove Cottage, which had a view of the lake in his day, before a Victorian hotel was built across the road. We sat in the rough wood gazebo at the top of the garden hill, where many years ago I wept with joy to be there. (I majored in English and had longed to go!) We visited the parish church of St. Oswald in Grasmere, which holds WW’s grave, his sister Dorothy’s, whose journals I’ve enjoyed, and his wife Mary, with some of his five children. The poet planted several yews in the churchyard, and one, now a dark giant, towers over his remains today, its thick overgrown roots uncontained by the soil, seemingly a vast threat to anything arranged nearby.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Robert Southey lived close by, and the group was known as the Lake Poets--or Pond Poets. Today Southey is better known for the Three Bears story, originally in German, with Goldilocks a little old woman.
Nobody stays open late, even though it’s THE tourist season! Americans would have scheduled extra hours for sure at the tea shops and tourist attractions. But there is not a jot of neon, the roads are tiny, really tiny, and there are bendy lanes with nobody there but a sheep or two, sometimes grazing and using half the road, or nonchalantly crossing. Every once in awhile there’s a big truck and you pull over into a lay-by, praying there’s enough room for the two of you to pass. With another car, you pass slowly. In our car, the driver is offended should the passenger gasp or shout with alarm at such times.
Miles of stone fences run up and down the fields, fences nearly six feet high and often built with no mortar. They keep the livestock penned and safe, but must be crossed by hikers using stiles, so it’s kind of an interesting negotiation with hat, stick, jacket, camera, water, and whatever you’re carrying. Some are sturdy wood ladders, some stone built as part of the wall, and some just wood planks. Maa-aah! Baa-aah! Baah! Constant music.
Finger signposts mark the paths, usually saying “public footpath” or “St. John’s in the Vale” and many guidebooks list easy hikes. Ours were usually about 2-4 hours each, and we dilly dallied a lot! There are waterfalls and flowers to explore. On the Castlerigg and Naddle Valley hike, which began at an ancient stone circle, we walked through waist high hay in a field of cows and a bull, doing his thing with the ladies. We were lost, since one of the signposts was missing a finger, but trails and signs are usually very well kept. Serious hikers carry a torch (flashlight), poncho, compass, and food in their rucksacks, but there are numerous rescues each year, especially in winter. Storms arise quickly. There’s no litter anywhere!
Red squirrels, once the darlings of English countryside, have been pretty much kicked out by bold North American gray squirrels, but early one morn we watched Squirrel Nutkin industriously using some feeders near our lodge. There are many birds, rocks, and trees that we don’t know. We visited a slate mine on our rainy day, arriving just after the last tour left, and a pencil factory, where rare graphite was discovered and then covered with wood. Today their pencils are made with California cedar. During WWII, aviators had special hollow pencils holding rolled silk maps of Germany and a compass below the eraser. I hadn’t realized that my Derwent colored pencils came from here! The lake nearby is Derwentwater.
We stopped at pretty pubs and inns with names like Traveler’s Rest, Fish Hotel (complete with chintz in the tidy parlor), The Queen’s Head, and Drunken Duck, drinking in stupendous views of the fells, some over 3000 feet. The gracious old Keswick Hotel near us has absorbed the town’s Victorian train station. We watched oldsters play deliberate croquet on perfectly flat manicured lawns, stooping or kneeling to line up shots as golfers do putts. It’s a perfect place for an Agatha Christie murder: Col. Mustard with the candlestick! Their gardens were filled with blooming flowers. Britain makes the most of summer.
Friends had insisted we see the show in Cockermouth at the Sheep and Wool Visitors Centre, and so we did, right off the A66. Nineteen breeds are ushered in, one at a time, to banked spots on stage, and we learned that some are born black and turn white, some can live in blizzards for days, some like hot middle eastern climes, some have long wool and some short and very curly. A black sheep with four horns—2 front and 2 side--looked like he leapt from medieval Satanic drawings. We were invited to investigate each wool style and color closely, but first a sheep dog herded geese for our perusal. Working dogs never bark, just run and lie, run and lie, and nary a goose dared misbehave! Even though farmers use 4wd’s these days, they still need a dog to cover large hilly fields in all weather. We had Herdwick lamb chops that night in a tasty patriotic gesture, with rosemary mint sauce!
Farmers make almost nothing on wool, sometimes paying shearers more than they’ll get for the wool. A good shearer works hundreds of sheep a day, pressing on the hip so the sheep extends his leg for one long cut. One champ sheared over 700 sheep in 8 hours. B&B’s and home industries like chutneys, cakes, and stews are how some farmers now survive. This is the area so badly hit by foot and mouth, and you saw all those piles of dead animals in the press, but Roy, the presenter of the show, told us that the herds were oversized anyway and would’ve been cut by a third, so this way the farmers got top price. National rules had changed sheep slaughter from small regional sites to larger abbatoirs more easily regulated, and that has required more shipping of livestock, which is another way to spread disease widely rather than quarantining it.
We liked the sheep show more than the 500 year old cat, displayed in a drawer at the Keswick Museum, an old building nearly as worn as the cat! In the evenings, especially after hikes, we were tired, and since we’d visited a second hand bookshop, Mike read Barbara Tuchman while I read James Joyce as a young man. Our quiet flat had 2 bedrooms and a balcony.
On Saturday morning we drove home in our rental car via Durham Cathedral, a world heritage site that I’ve wanted to see forever. (The movie Elizabeth was filmed there; I recognized the chevrons in the Norman columns and sat through the credits afterward.) It sits high on a hilltop, square stone towers dominating the busy city, and is surrounded by buildings that once held canons, monks and priests but now is part of the University. Graduation is imminent, and the gift shops were busy. A huge white marquee was erected on the lawn as we visited.
The cathedral began when some monks, fleeing Viking raids in the eleventh century, decided to bring St. Cuthbert’s bones to the area. In his coffin also is Oswald’s head, a bishop. (My father used to tell us a bedtime story about Oswald the Monkey, who got in trouble for not minding.) Their temporary church grew into another, until the present cathedral was begun in 1093. The scholar monk Venerable Bede tells us so in Life of Cuthbert, a 7th century bishop of Lindisfarne (“Holy Island”) when Bede was a lad. Bede wrote the first history of England. His tomb is there too in the Galilee or Lady Chapel, and there’s a treasury, library and cloister. The beautiful Lindisfarne Gospel, written on parchment by monks and highly decorative, is cited in most art history books.
Broad carved stone columns holding the roof are massive, as round as they are high! There is an enormous pyramidal carved wooden cover over the baptismal font, a Miners’ Memorial of carved oak, (the area is pocked by mines, once the major industry), an organ case of the same material, choir stalls, and many modern stained glass windows. One shows an assembly line at Nissan Motors nearby, and one is an abstract Last Supper, pink and purple with 12 small pale round forms, from Marks and Spencer, well known food purveyors providing many English suppers. There are Victorian windows too, and rose windows, and inlaid marble floors. The 15th century clock in the south transept tells time, date, and moon phase, and is the only wooden thing in the church to survive the Civil War.
Nearby, stone tombs of the first lay people buried in the church show many scars and hackings. There are layers of dog-tooth carving inside the wide Norman Romanesque arches. Women couldn’t worship in the main church for many years, only the lady chapel, because when a crack occurred in one chapel, monks decided it meant Cuthbert didn’t want women in the nave! The black line inlaid in the stone shows where we girls could tread. There’s a restaurant and shops, as in most historic places here. Mike climbed 325 steps to the tower while I examined these wonders below more closely.
There is a small beautiful Durham Light Infantry Chapel, with names of war dead and battle flags. The monks’ dorm has a 600 year old roof, crossed with 21 oak trees for beams. The prior, a true VIP back when, entered through a separate elaborate iron-worked door to the church, and entertained visitors, including royalty. He was only second in importance in the city to the bishop, and the area is in fact called Bishop Princes.
The church was for years a place where, if you were in trouble and made it in, you had about a month to sort out your affairs before going back to face the music. In 1623 the Sanctuary Law was abolished in England.
On the last day of June, I visited London’s answer to the Arc de Triomphe: the largest bronze statue in England, across from Wellington’s home, Apsley House. The Wellington Monument, under whose tall arch I’ve biked so many times, is a massive stone base for a gigantic black quadriga atop, with four beautiful steeds carrying the winged Angel of Peace, holding a crown. (I’d always presumed it was Nike holding a victory wreath!) In passing countless times, I’d never noticed a small boy crouched at the front of the chariot, between the angel and horses. Edward VII, Victoria’s son, chose the angel, after admiring a much smaller model on his travels. (Maybe it was my Nike he saw!)
The angel replaced a huge but unpopular mounted sculpture of the Iron Duke, pointing outward with a map or baton. Too big for the base, it gave Punch and newspapers’ cartoonists a field day, and historic cartoons on display make the point. Each bronze horse is big enough to set up a tea table inside, and you could ride a horse under its belly. The enormous angel is a neighbor to Hyde Park, Green Park, and St. James Park, part of the green lungs of this city surrounded by busy west end streets. Inside amid a museum display of photos, maps, and models, Edward VII is often shown. His Edwardian reign didn’t last long.
For the first two years when we arrived, the sculpture was under gigantic wraps for repair by English Heritage, but now visitors climb to the upper story for London views, or take the lift. Human heads look like tiny pale balls against the gray stone. Spanning the arch below is an elaborate steel gate, usually left open, decorated with sculptured lion and unicorn amid swirling vines. Nearby is a new monument under construction for the million Canadians who came to serve during two great wars. The Harvard club arranged the tour, and from the looks of attendees, their classmate may have been FDR.
Current headlines focus on ordaining an openly gay bishop living with his partner, Beckham’s leaving for Madrid, and adopting the euro. Wimbledon’s begun! Thoughts about balls: in 1869, 8000 elephants a year were shot so the British could have ivory billiard balls before plastic was invented; India rubber meant that for the first time balls could be hollow, so tennis was invented! Cheerio.
Traditionally, Scots don't wear undies beneath their kilts. Woven wool Tartan colors are tribal.
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