Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Monday, March 10, 1997

Up at 6:30 am....I must be excited about getting home. We were all packed and on the bus to the airport by 8:30 am. Barbara had four boxes full and taped them together in two units in addition to all the luggage she'd brought with her. She talked them into putting everything on the plane without extra charges....it helped to be in business class. We were limited to three bags and that made her four. She is returning by the business class…too full to upgrade her to first class, they said.

Jim and I had to open two of our suitcases at the airport security; one was because of the camera tripod (which we’d never used) and the second due to the camera battery charger and the glass pebbles that we’d bought at Kimbles Outlet. Nice to know they are checking bags so carefully. We put the computer and cameras through the x-ray machine. No problems, but when we put the carryon luggage through we had to open one…it was the box holding the glass swan for Priscilla. Never know what triggers the guards. Patti and Randy had no trouble with the shell casings from WW I!!!!

We had time for Patti and Barbara to do last minute shopping, a bite to eat and then on to the plane for departure at 11:05 am. Newer plane with individual TV screens built into the back of each seat. Had two movies free (they played each one twice) and the opportunity to put $5.00 on your charge and play any one of about twenty. The flight channel was especially nice as it had a map showing where we were at all times plus information on times, etc. Made for an easy eleven hour flight home. We were on a direct flight to Los Angeles.

Randy and Patti had to pay duty on their excess purchases as we went through customs in Los Angeles. It took a little extra time as they used it as a training exercise for a new officer. Barbara breezed through with no extra charges...business class does have its privileges, I guess. But we were all together at last and Ed, our limo driver, was waiting with the limo to take us all home. He’d brought a bottle of champagne for us to toast a final farewell to each other. A wonderful trip had ended.

Barbara met and talked with an actor by the name of Gabriel Byrne on the plane. He was flying in to present an award on Tuesday evening. We found out later it was on the Video Blockbuster Awards show. We watched the show on TV.

That story reminded Barbara of another story. About ten years ago the actor Dudley Moore was on the same plane with her and asked her to dinner. But she was off to meet friends and told him thanks, but no thanks. Another story that we’d hadn’t heard before. She did keep us all entertained on the drive home!

Tried to sleep after we dropped Barbara off but no such luck.! Arrived home at 6:00 pm. So nice to be home again!

Starting on Sunday, September 11th...less than two weeks from today...I will start blogging the story of our three week tour by car with another couple all around Germany and Austria in the fall of 1997....including Berlin and Dresden that are still rebuilding the WW II damages!

Monday, August 29, 2011


Sunday, March 9th, 1997 London, England

Jim was up early and off to London by tube (subway/metro) to video tape the sites of London and also to go to a museum or two if time allowed. Randy and Patti are going into London…she’d like to see The Buddy Holly play if time. It’s the only Sunday play. Barbara is going into London to shop she said.

I called Barbara and asked her about going to church; she agreed so we headed to the airport and caught the tube to London. We couldn't find the Catholic Cathedral; so instead we decided to attend mass at Westminster Cathedral.

After church we headed towards Harrods Department Store. The shopping got old pretty fast and I decided to return to the hotel on the tube while Barbara continued to shop.

When Jim and Barbara returned (each on their own) they joined me for dinner at the restaurant in the hotel and then we all visited the spa for the steam room and spa. Still no AOL from Barbara’s sons, so it was an easy evening on the Internet.

Spent the evening packing our suitcases and then off to bed by 11 pm. Didn’t talk to Randy and Patti all day. They must have made the play in London.

Be sure to tune in tomorrow to see how they took all their purchases home on the airplane! Also for a previews of our next adventure.

Sunday, August 28, 2011


Before starting our new day...I found more photos from our visit to Bath...rather than changing yesterday's photos I thought that I'd add them here since so many of you love the photos.


Saturday, March 8th, 1997 London, England

We were up early and down to breakfast in record time. Dining room was crowded as the hotel is full for the weekend. Randy and Patti had a great time at the Theater last night. They’re going to spend the morning touring the Roman Baths. We’re to meet at noon in the lobby to leave for London.

It’s raining outside! Jim is off to an art gallery. Barbara and I are going shopping. Everyone had a great morning except for Patti who is hobbling and in pain because her left ankle continues to pop in and out. Yesterday’s walk really aggravated the problem. She’s looking forward to the spa at the Holiday Inn. Finally on the road we settled in for a two hour trip in the rain.

We stopped outside of Reading and had some food at a Burger King. It was here that I found an extra umbrella. Seems that Barbara saw it on the floor in the hotel lobby and thought it was Jim’s. She picked it up and put it in the car for him! Randy took over the wheel for some English driving experience. Then on to Windsor Castle for a quick walk through.

The Queen was in residence getting ready for William’s Confirmation the next day; but we were still able to have the tour. It is closed when the Court is in session. The Doll House was well worth the extra fee. It took several hours to go through. Still raining!

Jim & I watched the guard at the Guard House while Barbara shopped after we’d finished St. George’s Chapel. We were debating walking closer for photos when all of a sudden he started shouting very loudly; “Get away from my gun!” He kept repeating it until the young girl who’d walked up towards him for photos crossed back over the white line. Really scared everyone in the area. We hadn’t realized what the white line on the pavement meant until that incident occurred. Barbara came rushing out of the shop to see what had happened!

On to The Holiday Inn Crown Plaza in West Drayton, London. We got checked in and then proceeded to attempt to find a recommended restaurant. We also took some time and called the airlines to confirm our return tickets. Couldn’t find any record of Barbara’s ticket. She looked at her ticket and found that when she had them changed for the price savings they’d put her on a return flight on March 11th. The day after we are scheduled to leave. But, we were able to get her ticket rescheduled for the 10th. Good thing we decided to call early about our flights.

On to the restaurant….Randy was at the wheel and gave us a thrilling ride up and down dark streets. The recommended restaurant was too smoky so we conditioned to look at various places for dinner. After about an hour we settled for a pub called The Plough. I finally said pick one or take me back to the hotel!

The dining room was separated from the bar by a curtain so it wasn’t too smoky. Food wasn’t bad except for Barbara’s lasagna which looked bad and tasted even worst. Ale was great! We’d filled up the gas tank during the search for a place to eat so after dinner the boys dropped the girls off at the hotel before searching for the Budget Car Rental to return the car.

They were actually much faster than expected. Confusion reigned when they returned as Randy had forgotten his room number and was knocking on the wrong door. He came to our room and called the desk and finally got his room number. Barbara is upset because her sons are not answering her e-mail. Will have to see if they actually got it when we get home. Off to bed and we’re all going to do our own thing tomorrow.

Saturday, August 27, 2011


Friday, March 7th, 1997 Bath, England

Up about 7:00 am, didn’t sleep too well, beds are rather soft and the hallway is noisy. But, took the opportunity to bring my journal up to date. Ate breakfast in the main dining room….very elegant! Checked AOL and there was a letter for Randy and Patti requesting paperwork for a loan in process on their apartment building. Always something that makes it worthwhile to check the Internet regularly.

Went for a walk to find a bookstore. Barbara is still looking for the hard copy of a book for Brian. She found the paperback in Stratford Upon Avon. It is a new book and has a high demand. Jim walked with us (this was after we did AOL for messages). We found a black backpack that Jim liked . And he cashed one of the traveler’s checks. [Yes, we were still doing Traveler's Checks back then!] We also went back for the wooden duck that I saw last night. Jim wanted to buy it for me, but let Barbara do the honors. Since we live on a lake I've been collecting these for several years and they make a great souvenir.

At 11:30 am we all met Dennis (the son of a friend of Barbara and Jim’s Aunt Claska); and he took us on a walking tour of Bath. He is English and French and was born and raised in Mexico. He speaks four languages and lives and works all over the world as a business consultant. He has a flat in The Royal Crescent and showed us through it. On the lawn in front there is a Ha Ha Wall.

The wall was given the strange name because it was a two level yard separated by a wall that could not be seen from the house and you could easily fall over it when walking down the yard. The first “Ha” was for the wonderful uncluttered view; the second “Ha” was for when you fell off the wall! It was designed to keep the livestock out of the gardens; but not spoil the view.

Dennis is currently in the process of remodeling his flat. He pointed out that the Georgian style was very plain and formal on the front; but the back of the building allowed for any and all types of room additions…especially bathrooms. He also showed us where the bombs fell during WW II and how they missed their target on the Crescent and took out a church by mistake.

We then viewed "The Circus"..another grand vision recreating a classical Palladian architectural landscape for the city of Bath. He pointed out the group of large trees in the center of the Circus that had a bomb dropped directly in the center of them and they survived. We also viewed an area where the wrought iron fences were removed during WW II to melt down for the war effort (but they found that it was the wrong type of metal and couldn’t be used). They have just been restored in the last few years.

We walked up a very steep winding road to the top for a spectacular view and then back down and into the main part of town. There we got into the van and he directed us into a beautiful back country area and finally down a very narrow (one car wide) road where we enjoyed a lovely lunch at the Cross Guns Pub in Avoncliff. Right next to the river and a canal/lock that crossed over the top of the river. Very, very old pub! You could smell the history in the building!

Back on the road we made it up the hill and into town where we continued the walking tour. Throughout the trip we have seen paint markings on the backs of the sheep. During today’s tour we decided that the various color stains on the sheep stood for: Red=Slaughter Green=Mothers Blue=Fleesing Dennis said they were dyed into the wool. Never did find out the real reason for the color markings.

On our walk we went to the Abbey and then to the Roman Baths. Walked throught the Pump Room and back through the town. Dennis said that once a week all the street people could bring their dog to the town center and receive £7.00 to buy food for the dog. This has been going on for hundred’s of years. Long before they had help to feed poor children. That’s why all the homeless have a dog…generally thin as they use the money to buy food for themselves. The town also gives them a magazine to sell for donations rather than just asking for a handout.

Took a break and Patti and Randy left to go out to dinner and to the Theater. Barbara, Jim and I met Dennis at half past seven and walked to a French Restaurant that we’d seen on our walk this afternoon called Pierre Victoire. It overlooked the river and locks. We had a great evening, talking about Dennis’ early years in Paris and Brazil. Barbara told us the story about the time John was kidnapped in Mexico.

We ended the evening in the bar at The St. Francis Hotel. Enjoyed drinks and learned to soak sugar cubes in liquor and then eat them! Very Good!! Did some AOL with Barbara and then off to bed. We’re going back to London tomorrow.

Friday, August 26, 2011


Thursday, March 6th, 1997 Bath, England

Up this morning to bright sunshine. Wonderful day. We packed the car and then set out for the bus tour. Randy and Patti went to the clock shop first and we met them at the bus stop; clock shop was still closed. On to the Bus we all sat up top again. We toured all the Shakespeare homes as well as the town. John, the guide, was exceptionally good and told us the Coltswold is named after the Colts family who owned it and the wold is a word that refers to the type of hills in the area.

As we went to Anne Hathaway’s home we hit high speeds on the open highway and it became quite windy. They told us to button up or go downstairs before we went out of town. We all stayed on top as the view and the sunshine were both great! Saw lots of baby sheep with their mothers! Back in town we departed the bus and walked to the church where Shakespeare and his family are buried. (Going past the clock shop which was still closed but a note said it would open at 12:30.) Very interesting church with a gentlemen who works four hours a week for the church. He told us what a priest’s hole is…when the King changed the church this was a place that the Catholics hid the priest when they were in their homes if someone arrived who would have reported them to the authorities.

Then on to the Black Swan Restaurant & Pub…also known as the Dirty Duck by the locals. The front of the restaurant has the real name and the pub entrance in back (nearest the theater) has the common name on the sign. All the actors eat and drink at this pub when performing in the theaters. Many well known actors/actresses have their photos on the wall. Had a great lunch there; it was smoky but tolerable.

Back to the clock shop which was open by now. Everyone shopped in the clock shop but only Barbara ended up purchasing anything (a miniature clock for Palm Springs). Then off to a local Antique Faire which ended up to be a glorified garage sale. Walked to the hotel and used the toilets before heading out on the road for the town of Bath. On the windshield of the van we found a package with Barbara’s white turtleneck shirt that she’d left in her room. Later we learned that it was Randy’s shirt; not Barbara’s.

Patti did copilot for Jim and we had an enjoyable trip which lasted about two hours. Mostly back country roads so we saw more country manors, and a lot more baby sheep than before. Jim thinks that this is the birthing season and they’re all newly born. We’d seen some calves (very tiny) this morning on the bus tour along with our first baby lambs.

We found the St. Francis Hotel without too many mistakes. Barbara had called ahead and made reservations for the next two nights. It took several calls as most of the hotels were already booked for Friday night. We got some of the last rooms in this hotel. It is an old, large hotel which sits on the site of four homes which were converted to a hotel but were destroyed by bombs during WW2. The hotel appears older than 1953; because they’ve recreated the old Georgian style. It reminds me of the Del Coronado Hotel in San Diego. Queens Square is directly across the street from the entrance.

As soon as we were checked in (only Patti and Randy changed their rooms this time…I almost did when I couldn’t get into the telephone connection; but we are able to use the one in Barbara’s room); Barbara and I connected to AOL and sent and received messages. Barbara’s grandson has been accepted into the private school he wanted….she is elated!

Jim is a happy camper since he finally has a remote control for the TV and is happily surfing the four stations and he also has a pants presser again! Randy and Patti made reservations for a massage. Not an easy task as they were booked solid. Finally got one to come to the hotel tonight. The masseuse recommended an Italian place near the hotel for us to have a light supper.

It was just around the corner. The wine Randy chose was an especially good Italian bottle. Returning to the hotel, Jim and Randy went for a walk while Patti went up for her massage. Barbara and I returned to work on Barbara’s letters and a successful call to Aunt Claska’s friend Dennis who lives in Bath. He will be meeting us at 11:30 am tomorrow. He has promised a guided walking tour and lunch at his favorite pub. We then read part of the journal. The first public exposure!!!

Jim and Randy found all the great sites…Pump Room Restaurant next to the Roman Baths. The Cathedral…a really big one. A theater where they witnessed a car being put on a flat bed and taken away for illegal parking. The owner was there but unable to stop them. Then they had some fun with the theater people as they played a “couple”. Home to the hotel and a drink at the bar for Randy and Jim plus a glass of Chivis Regal for me.

But when Jim brought my drink up to the room Barbara and I kidnapped him for another walk. This time to a McDonalds for carmel sundaes. Jim and I thought that Barbara knew where she was going…after walking about five blocks we asked her how far and she said there wasn’t one on her last trip but she KNEW that there had to be one nearby. Meantime, Jim showed us the Roman Bath, Pump Room and the Cathedral. We stopped and asked for directions. Finally found it nearly down to the river. But, we did so enjoy them on our walk back to the hotel. I enjoyed my scotch that was waiting for me while I edited the journal. Then off to bed about 11:30 PM.