Great Britain April 2009


[April 17-19, 2009, Great Britain] Mike Nunamaker thought it would be cool if I joined him and his wife to go on a weekend jaunt to the UK and meet up with his sister Claralynn. So he generously forked out mileage on AA so the three of us (Mike, Sue, me) flew First Class on a Boeing 777 from the US to UK. It was a whirlwind tour but Claralynn and I crammed in a day’s worth of trekking in London via the tube on Friday; then on Saturday, we took the British Tours tour of Canterbury Cathedral, Dover Cliffs and Leeds Castle. Flew back on Sunday. Here are the pics (the red dots on the map are where we went):

Great Britain 2009

On Friday, Mike and Sue decided to take an afternoon nap so Claralynn and I went tubing,and hit the road, I mean rails. We started from our hotel at Marriott County Hall, walked across the Westminster bridge, and popped into the Westminster station, got my Oyster card, and we hopped on the Jubilee line to Green Park, popped over to the Piccadilly line to Hyde Park Corner.

Went up and waked through Hyde Park, cut out way back to Knightsbridge to hit Harrods. The place was packed, I mean there were more people in there than you can cram in a tube station. Got my Harrods Earl Grey No. 42. (purported to be a favorite of Douglas Adams and a possible origin of 42. Cool beans, or I should say cool leaves.

Great, off to the Knightsbridge tube, back on the Piccadilly line to Piccadilly Circus, then switched to the Bakerloo line to Charing Cross. Got off and headed for the Sherlock Holmes Pub. I got fish and chips of course and had the Sherlock Holmes ale. Claralynn had tea with milk. Running late! Back to Charing Cross and hit the Northern line going south to Embankment, switched to Circle line and hit Westminster. Got to Mike and Sue’s room and told then about the pub and we took a proper British cab to the pub. Ate, walked back and zonked out.

Saturday, got up early and met our guide British Tours Guide, Keith Sugden. We were off on our merry way to Canterbury Cathedral and as luck would have it, his water pump blew a hole. He called for road assistance and they tried to use sealant but the hole was too big. He called in a replacement guide and we waited for an hour or so. Soon, our replacement guide came by and we waved good-bye to Keith and we were back on the road to Canterbury. We found out that our guide was non other than Lovett Bickford who used to work as a Director at the BBC! As you know, I am a huge Doctor Who fan so of course I said, “I am a huge Doctor Who fan.” Among the many things he has done at the BBC, he directed The Leisure Hive (Tom Baker as the Doctor and Lala Ward as Romama).

“Doctor Who: The Leisure Hive”
Directed by Lovett Bickford

But I digress. So, we go to St. Dunstan’s and take a peek at vault where the beheaded head of Sir Thomas More lies. Then off to Canterbury Castle, but first, we stop off at Falstaff Hotel, a Coaching Inn for a break. Then to Canterbury Cathedral we go. Okay, people complain that there are too many Starbucks eveywhere. Well, let me tell you. All of the Starbucks crammed in all cities in the United States of America pales in comparison with where this particular Starbucks was located. Right in the gatehouse of Canterbury Cathedral! Good grief man, they should be hung upside down, dragged through the streets then drawn-and-quartered then their head impaled on a stick right next to Sir Thomas More! (Please don’t get bent out of shape, this is just a hyperbole.)

But I digress further. So of course, while we are touring Canterbury, I am trying to take a picture of Lovett Bickford, but it was going to be tricky because he said he didn’t want any pictures taken of him. So every time I succeed, you can see him scowling at me 🙂 We went back to the Coaching Inn and had lunch. I had genuine Boddington’s Ale of course.

But I digress even further. So, after finishing up our food and ale, we head to the White Cliffs of Dover – where the coolest thing happened. A plane buzzed us. Good thing it wasn’t a Messerschmitt because we’d be dead. I identified the plane as non-other than a Britten-Norman BN-2A-26 Islander, G-BCEN, Air Atlantique (AAG), or to be more precise, it was a plane of Her Majesty’s Coastguard! (Look at the tail picture I took… I also added Sue’s pics to fill out the plane sequence. She got the pic of the plane going over the top of the cliff, so that was a good catch!) Then off to Leeds Castle. Did a real quick tour, took great pictures. On the way back, got a pic of the Mi6 building. After we got back to the hotel, Sue said I should get an autograph from Lovett Bickford. I said that was too tacky, by Mr. Bickford obliged and I have his autograph. Cool beans. We said our good-byes and we’re off.

Off to the London Eye, that is. We get there and get in line but since Mike was walking with a cane, we get to go to a will call line and get in quickly. Then we also got to go straight on into the capsule. So that was cool. Took a boatload of pictures and then we were done for the day. Whew! Sunday, we were off to the airport and flew back home…