Visiting England

Heathrow, Cambridge, Wimbledon, Leicester Square, Oxford, Birmingham, Oxford, Heathrow - Whew.


tall arching windows of a cathedral in England

Read about other travel trips

Last week we were in the UK to visit her family. Cambridge, Wimbledon, Oxford, and Birmingham. The weather was cold, but mostly clear. I was riding shotgun and thus had the interesting task of navigation. I will be the first one to say that a bad workman blames his tools. However, the AA map of the UK I was given shows the motorway stopping at Oxford; it now goes all the way to Birmingham! And, the A to Z London was so old that the pages were brown and falling out of the binding. OK, I admit that we got lost following a web obtained map too, but still...

Girl on a bridge over a canal in Cambridge

We walked through the "backs" of Cambridge - this is just the back side of the colleges that front the river. It is a beautiful part of the schools. Since the river floods every year, the backs are lovely, large meadows and fields.

canal in the backs of Cambridge



We stayed with Alan and Pat in Wimbledon. Of course we got lost on the way there, but eventually made it. They were wonderful hosts. (Alan pours a nice glass of sherry.)

We took to train in to meet Paul, who just happened to be in London that same week. We needed to document our meeting and here's the result. I feel good that the Mr. Jerk sign in the background isn't pointing at any of us!

three people looking into the camera on a London street


girl in the quad of Keeble College, Oxford

She went to Keeble College at Oxford, and this is a view towards the center. The brickwork is done in this fancy white and red. We bought a couple of whisky glasses with the logo on them. Drinking in style!

Dining hall in Keeble College, Oxford

I had heard a lot about the process of dining. Quail night. The old port from the cellar. And sitting at high table, which is at the far end of this picture. A bit different than the dining hall at Cal Poly, but not much.


small street in Oxford

We found Sue and Curt on this cute street within walking distance to the center of Oxford. The walk to town goes through the backs of Oxford and thus in the winter you need a canoe, or a high bike with flood pants.

Woman at stereo microscope looking at a moth

Sue is learning to identify all 70 bee species in England and Curt is working on the 250 species of moths. They are collecting one of each and then keying them out. This 3d microscope was a ton -o- fun. While we were there Curt caught a moth in the house and we worked to id it.


We want to do a Burns Night party in February. It's a time to celebrate the poet. The gathering involves kilts, scotch, haggis, and bad poetry. Sue told us about a vegetarian haggis and here we're buying one.  The main ingredient in this was a well flavored brown rice.  Since then we've eaten it and it was great - much better than what I imagine real haggis to be. We're looking for a source in the U.S. now. (I also hope to find a place to buy Pork Scratchings; much better than the chiccarones we get here.)

Sisters in a butcher shop in Oxford buying Vegetarian haggis


Family standing on stoop in Birmingham, England

In Birmingham, Alan and Jen were nice enough to host us. They have a fantastic house in the burbs. Jen took us on a hike through a huge local park. It was muddy, but we avoided any rain. Tim is 9 and he gave us lessons in modern dance, fencing, and magic. Katie is a cutie. She's in first grade and gave us a tour of the school. She is a prolific artist, and I have to say that they are very good drawings. I hope to get a few through the post.

boy and woman dancing. boy looks normal, woman is crazy
woman and girl coloring a book


three people standing in a botanic garden near Oxford, England

We ended up back in Oxford where we stayed again with Sue and Curt. One night we watched a new play about the early life of Van Gogh. Interesting and fun. I love to go to the theater in other countries.

They also took us to a nearby botanical garden. The place is a converted orchid farm and has two large green houses converted to year-round warmth and wet. You can see from the picture above that the plants are gigantic. I'll end this with a few pictures of the plants that I think came out very well.

A very large pitcher plant


Inside closeup of a tropical plant, artsy. Reminicent of Geogia O'Keefe