Archive for November, 2015

Nancy’s 1992 Journey to the British Isles

November 30, 2015

Nancy Gokey’s  2 ½ week journey to the British Isles was about to begin,  her and her mother  leaving their Columbia home,  spending the night at Don and sister Kay’s residence in Foster City.   Departure time, Nancy leaving her car for her return,  Kay then chauffeuring her sister to San Francisco International for the afternoon United Airlines flight to London.  United airlines,  having acquired Pan Am’s  overseas routes after the iconic airlines demise in 1991.  The adventure beginning,  an enthusiastic Nancy boarding the 747,  settling in for her 11 ½ hour nonstop journey to Heathrow airdrome.  she would not be alone in her quest,  good friend Monica Johnson would join her the following day in Tenby Wales.

It was a 7:40 morning arrival at London Heathrow, Nancy bustling with activity, going thru customs, then securing a bus for the 37 mile ride to the Reading railroad station.  Boarding the train for the one hundred sixty two mile,  5 hour excursion to Tenby Wales, the  starting point for viewing the scenic landmarks and  historic monuments of the United Kingdom. Arriving,  Nancy checking in at Ivy Bank Guest House for the nights lodging,  somewhat bushed with all that had transpired that day.

Nancy’s  day beginning with the sites of Tenby, finding the wall that enclosed the original 12th century town very impressive with its 4 gateways and several small towers, built in 1133.  in 1457, the walls were raised in height and widened to allow the garrisons movement.  The moat surrounding the town was also widened to a width of 30 feet.  She was somewhat disappointed when discovering all that remained of the 1133 Tenby castle on a rocky promontory facing the sea, was a token ruin.  Standing on Castle hill she could viewing the 2 ½ mile of pristine beach, Nancy humoursly rationalizing to herself,  it was the Santa Cruz of Wales.


Viewing the fort on St. Catherine  island from the beach, noting it was not accessible at times because of its isthmus status.  The fort being commissioned in 1859 as a defensive measure for the aggressive Napoleon the third,   but wasn’t built until 1870,  and by then the threat was gone, as was Napoleon the third.   On the way to lunch viewing the Deer Park Baptist church,  built in 1885, and upon entering, deciding the interior not as lavish as the exterior.

The Pembrokeshire Coast National Park consisted of 243 square miles of landscapes, rugged cliffs, sandy beaches, wooded estuaries, the moorland of the Preseli Hills and the wooded Gwaun valley.  Although it was on her list to see,  Nancy  accepting, there wasn’t enough time to take in everything.  Her  first stop was viewing  the Carew Castle, then moving on to the site where the Celtic ancestry lived and built their hilltop fortresses some 2,000 years ago.   Nancy soon discovering that Celtic heritage was integral to the national identity in Wales,   Welsh,  the Celtic language was still widely spoken and printed for use in  directional signs.

From the coast, she was able to view across the channel at the 13th century Abereiddy Tower.  Then moving on to the township of Saint  Davids  viewing  Saint Davids Cathedral.  The monastic community was founded by Saint David, Abbot of Menevia, in 500 A.D.      In 1081, the infamous William the Conqueror visited saint Davids to pray,  bestowing it as a holy sanctuary.  Later In 1115, King Henry the first of England in recognition, commenced the construction of a new cathedral and in 1123, Pope Callixtus the second  bestowed  a  papal privilege upon the cathedral, making it a center of pilgrimage, with a papal degree,  “Two pilgrimages to Saint Davids is equal to one to Rome.

Nancy returning to Tenby, the travel agency having made a reservation for two at the Boulston Cottage Guest House B&B. and with Monica arrival at 8:00 p.m. the air of enthusiasm abounded.  The morning found them saying good bye to Tenby, the two walking to the depot, boarding a train for the short 10 mile ride to Pembroke Dock and the ferry to Rosslare Ireland,  but on their arrival not expecting the 12 block walk to the Ferry terminal.  The four hour crossing taking much longer to Rosslare with  rain and rough seas.

Once again on firm ground, a stop at Budget car rental,  picking up their Renault Clio, but having an immediate problem, having to ask someone how to put it in reverse.  With directions in hand, the two arriving at the Clifford House B & B, built in 1898 as a Victorian summer house with beautiful landscaped gardens overlooking the Irish Sea.  It was getting late the two  walking to the Kilrane Pub and restaurant in the rain only to find,  because of the late hour the restaurant  had stopped serving,  deciding that Chips & Ale would suffice.

The two adventurers more than satisfied with the service at the Clifford House . a visit to the Johnstown Castle an eighteen minute drive.  The inaugural  castle and  tower house built in the late 12th century by the Esmonde family after the Norman invasion,,  The family,  Catholics, were expelled during the anti-catholic Cromwellian years in the sixteen hundreds,  the Brogan family taking possession.  In the eighteen hundreds,  the family created the Johnstown Castle as it stand today on the bones of the original castle.  The only disappointment,  as the Castle was Nancy’s favorite thus far,  was,  it wasn’t open to the public.  The exploration continuing, driving through Ferrycarrig to the Irish National Heritage Park, a parkland of 35 acres with estuary trails, and wetland forest.

Their first stop was to view the huts of the Neolithic settlers introduced cereal cultivars, better known as grains, and  domesticated animals such as cattle and sheep, plus the stone monuments.  Viewing an exhibit of the  Bronze Age,  beginning around 2500 B.C.  where people’s everyday life changed with the  innovations of the wheel,  the harnessing oxen, the weaving textiles.  A continuous march through history, viewing the results of a later Celtic ancestry, the building of  their ringforts, numerous  throughout all of Ireland, and then the arrival of the  Vikings in 795.  Nancy and Monica thoroughly enjoying their walking tour through Irish history, remaining for lunch on the grass at the park.

On the road again, stopping at  Ennscortly  to view the Ennscortly Castle,  Nancy and Monica entering, expecting to see 12th century furnishings, instead finding that each room was furnished according to a different time period in the castles history.  Some what disappointed, but recognized the importance of the display.   The two in the Renault Clio getting turned around, having difficulty finding their directions, but finally on the road to Waterford their next stop, an accessible seaport municipality of over 45,000 being the country’s oldest city,  founded by Vikings in 914 A.D.   the city being world renowned for its Waterford Crystal, the city’s glass and crystal making industry its legacy dating back to 1783.   The travelers B & B but a ten minute walk to the iconic Waterford glass factory,  the two entering and being introduced to the art of glass blowing.

The explorers on the road again, traveling from Waterford down the coast, then journeying west to Kenmare,  the  3 hour drive a little long, but enjoyable.  The change of scenery presenting a different view of Ireland, the rural life,  slowing for a farmer and his dog herding sheep on the road, and later another,  only with cattle.  Kenmare located at the head of Kenmare bay where the Roughty River flows into the sea. The entire area was granted to the english scientist Sir William Petty by Oliver Cromwell,  as part payment for completing the mapping of Ireland.  Arriving in Kenmare, the two having a need for directions and a bite to eat,  having red the signs for fine food and beverage at the sailor’s bar, Pub,  F. B. O’Sullivan’s, the two not hesitant, enjoying both the meal and the Irish Ale.

The Ring of Kerry is a hundred and eleven mile circular tourist route, running clockwise south from Killarney, following the highway to Kenmare, then the up  around the Lveragh Peninsula to Killorglin,  going through several hamlets before returning to Killarney. The scenic route takes in the sea coast beaches, Tore Waterfall,  Ross Castle, as well as other historic presentations.  the adventurers having entered the realm of the ring in Kenmare,  viewing the Greenland Circle of stones,  the site being  what is called a disturbed site,  at one time having nine stones standing, but only four remained.  The hour waning,  having secured directions to Misses Lovett’s Farm, 2 miles out of town,  their host for the nights lodging, it was time to call it a day.

The morning brisk sea breeze giving notice of where they were, viewing an unbelievable treasure,  the Kerry Cliffs,  poised 1000 ft. above the Atlantic, mother nature presenting an unprecedented landmark from an hostile desert environment 400 million years ago.    The Renault Clio continuing its  ring of Kerry drive,  introducing them to Ballinskelligs Castle,  more commonly known as McCarthy Mór Castle, but in reality, a Tower House built in the 16th century by McCarthy Mór.   it’s purpose was twofold. first to safe guard the bay from pirates, and the second was to see that incoming trade ships paid their tariffs.   The two travelers on their way to Kilarney, crossing the Sneem River,  taking notice of the picturesque  community of  Sneem.

With their arrival in Kilarney, they were somewhat surprised at its size of 13,000.  The citadel sitting on the banks of Lake Lough Leane, the largest of three nearby lakes, and home to Ross Castle.  After checking in at the Cottage guest house,  Nancy and Monica were ready for a night of relaxing, visiting Murphy’s bar and restaurant for dinner, and deciding to extend their night, remaining until eleven thirty,  listening to live traditional Irish Music.

After a clothes washday morning before checking out.   It was time to say goodbye to Ireland and Hello to Scotland, the two again heading north,  a four hour drive to Dublin,  the sea coast Irish capital.  the travelers having no difficulty finding their nautical destination,  the route was well marked with directional signs having a picture of a ferry on them.  Nancy and Monica also saying goodbye to the Renault Clio, parking their reliable transportation at the dock.  The petitioners of yesteryear boarding the Irish Ferry for Holyhead Scotland,  their voyage of discovery to continue,

Nancy’s 1992 journey to the British Isles Pt. 2

November 29, 2015


Nancy and Monica having addressed a week long walking tour of Ireland and Wales historic past were comfortably seated aboard an Irish Ferry for their journey to the port city of Holyhead Scotland. the Ferry Terminal and the train station sharing the same location.   Because of their  late arrival, the next available train was at 4:25 in the morning.  Nancy, Monica,  and another couple from Hong Kong,  making a decision to wait in the mostly unoccupied station.

The hour and half journey to Chester somewhat uneventful for the tired travelers, discovering the Westminster Hotel but a short walk from the station.  The two deciding, after some needed sleep,  to walk the walls of Chester.  The defensive wall construction was started by the Romans in 70 A D.  Following the Roman occupation came the ruling of the Vikings,  followed by the Norman conquest in the 12th century,  extending the walls to form a complete circuit of the city.


The two mile wall providing another walking history,  viewing the Morgan mount, a gun emplacement platform added to the wall in 1845.  Continuing to the Bonewaldesthorne’s tower section of the wall that was  added in the 12th century,  then the East Gate, having replacing the initial structure in 1768, the wrought iron clock tower was added in 1899 to celebrate the diamond jubilee of Queen Victoria.


The historic Water Tower on the wall was built in 1322,  and   at one time stood near the River Dee,  but due to silting, now stand some 200 yards distance.  the old Dee rRver bridge across the river was built during the Roman era, but rebuilt in 13 eighty seven.  In 17 seventy nine   the Chester Canal opened to instill commerce,  connecting the river dee to the town of Nantwich.  Before calling it a day, the two viewing the Chester Castle,  initially built in 10 seventy, but fortified in the 12th century.  On their return, entering the Bear & Billet, its name  symbolizing a bear tied to a billet,  or stake.    The structure  built in 16 sixty four as a town house for the Earl of Shrewsbury, the building becoming and remaining an inn and pub since the 18th century.


Nancy and Monica again on a journey,  a 3 ½ hour bus ride to Glasgow, arriving at 2:30 in the afternoon, checking in at the Chering Cross B & B, located within walking distance of the train station and theatre.  Their evening plans having been already arranged, but a late afternoon, Hop on,  Hop off bus sightseeing tour of Glasgow  was in order.  Nancy’s impression of Glasgow was,  it was clean and safe,  nothing like a lot of traditional big cities.  The two attending an evening  kings theatre production of My Fair Lady, taking notice of the interior beauty of  the theatre, and the professionalism of the play


An overcast morning walk to the Glasgow train station,  the two adventurers boarding for a 40 minute ride to Sterling, looking forward to  an exploration of the Sterling Castle. The castle was one of many that were used by Scottish royal residence,  including Mary Queen of Scots in 1542.  Scottish legend, William Wallace defeated an English army at the Battle of Sterling Bridge in September 12 ninety seven,  then later captured in Robroyston, near Glasgow, and handed over to King Edward I of England, who had him hanged, drawn, and quartered for high treason and crimes.  The two travelers partaking of fish and chips while waiting for the train for their return to Glasgow and the 7:30 Theatre Royal presentation of The Mikado.  It wasn’t planned,  but because of the late hour,  they went directly to theatre from the train station,  still dressed in jeans and sweats, not exactly copasetic for a Gilbert and Sullivan Operetta, both agreeing the play was first class.


The morning found Nancy and Monica again on a train, this time a 30 minute ride to Linlithgow,  Monica’s friends ,Ann and Bill Watts meeting them at the Station.   The two spending the morning at the couples residence.   The afternoon found them on their way to Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, Bill having taken them to the train station.  The two subscribing to a tour, starting with the Edinburgh Castle, built by King David the first on a rocky summit overlook, in 1103.  Entering the large grounds with a host of several buildings, discovering again, the tour was a walk through history.  Viewing Sir William Wallace and Robert Bruce, two of Scotland’s most celebrated historical figures, standing guard outside the castle. They could feel the ambiance of the past as they ventured on the historic grounds. A brief drive down to what is known as the Royal Mile, viewing a millennium of historic structures.


Nancy couldn’t resist, she had to see Greyfriars Bobby’s fountain.   As the story goes, Bobby was a Skye terrier belonging to John Gray, who worked for the Edinburgh city police, as a night watchman.  When John Gray died,  he was buried in Greyfriars Kirkland,  a Franciscan order of friars cemetery.   Bobby having become locally known and would spend the rest of his life sitting on his master’s grave.   A year later,  the English philanthropist Lady Burdett-Coutts,  was so moved by the story,  she had a drinking fountain topped with Bobby’s statue,  erected opposite the entrance to the churchyard cemetery to commemorate him.

The Palace of Holyroodhouse was a home for Scottish royalty, located on the opposite end of the royal mile from the Edinburgh Castle.  It was the reigning  monarchs official residence when in Edinburgh. The palace was built between 1671  and 1678 and  currently Queen Elisabeth II spends one week at Holyrood during the summer, at which time investitures,  and audiences are held.  The inquisitive found that only the historic apartments of Mary Queen of Scots and the state function rooms could be visited, because the palace was an active governing parliamentary edifice.

It was getting late and beginning to sprinkle, the two making a return to the esplanade of Edinburgh Castle to experience the Edinburgh Military Tattoo.  The term “tattoo” derives from a 17th-century Dutch phrase,  doe den tap toe, “turn off the tap”,  a musical signal to tavern owners each night, played by a regiment’s Corps of Drums,  to turn off the taps of their ale kegs,  so that the soldiers would retire to their billeted lodgings at a reasonable hour. The bands in the presentation are from the British Armed Forces, along with drill and display teams.  The event takes place every weekday evening and twice on Saturdays in the month of August,  and has never been cancelled due to inclement weather.


Nancy and Monica enjoying the late night performance but not the rain, thankful that Linlithgow was but a short ride back.   Arriving,  giving bill and Ann a call, having accepted their invitation to spend the night, the two  envisaging what the morrow would bring.

Nancy’s 1992 journey to the British Isles Pt. 3

November 27, 2015

Nancy and Monica continuing their journey, having spent the previous day and evening viewing the sites of Edinburgh,  returning to Linlithgow by train, accepting the invitation to spend the night at Monica’s Scottish friends,  Bill and Ann Watts.  The morning found the two inquisitors viewing the Linlithgow Palace, and the birth place of Mary Queen of Scots.  The palace initially a 12th century manor house, a  fortification, and becoming a Palace in the 14th century, but burned out in 1746 and never restored,  the palace fountain so admired it was replicated at Edinburgh.

Nearby St. Michaels Church caught their attention, the church was consecrated in 1242, following a fire in 1424 it was restored,  but in 1559, at an early stage of the Scottish Reformation, the Protestant Lords of the Congregation destroyed the statues adorning the exterior and interior of the church.  The church remained pernicious until addressed in the 19th century,  and  rededicated in 1896.

Their visit to St. Michaels completed, the two walking the four blocks to the post office so Monica could mail some items home.   It was lunch time, Bill having suggested a place, the two  discovering a long walk.  Their timing was great, Bill finding them finishing their meal, driving them to the Hopetoun House Estate, deemed one of the most beautiful structures in all of Scotland.  The house,  within sight of the Water of Leith river, was built for Charles Hope, the 4th Marquess of Linlithgow,  and was an ongoing project for a half of century starting in 1699.  The two viewing it magnificence,  Nancy deciding that of all the Palaces and houses she experienced, without a doubt,  this was her favorite.

It was a goodbye to Bill and Ann in the morning, bill driving them to the train station for  their 3 ½ hour journey to Hexham.  The travelers arriving at 1 pm, checking into the Hexham Town Bed and Breakfast, then boarding a bus for  an afternoon tour of Hadrian’s wall.  Hadrian, The Roman Emperor Caesar Traianus Hadrianus,  ruling from  117 to 138 A D,   instituting  a 80 mile defensive fortification wall in the Providence of Britannia, the wall to separate the Romans from the neighboring barbarians.  Their viewing of the impressive wall and related ruins completed, the two looking forward to an  evening at the Queens Hall Theatre, and a live performance of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s,  The Hounds of the Baskervilles.

A late morning start and a five hour, changing trains twice, ride to Coventry, their next itinerary stop.  Completing their b and b afternoon check in, ready for their visit to the Coventry Cathedral but first a walk through history,  a visit to the ruins of St Mary’s, a monastic cathedral built in 1095 , of which only ruins remain.  A second cathedral was built in the 14th century, dedicated to  St Michael, but it was destroyed during the bombings in world war two. The current Coventry Cathedral,  St Michael’s,  was built after the destruction of the former. With their visit completed, he two taking a night off, but looking forward to their journey to Avebury in the morning,  summing it up with one word, Stonehenge.

A morning departure by train to Swindon, a bus to Avebury, the two registering at the Avebury Lodge.  The B&B uniquely within Avebury’s  large circular ring of stones.  Nancy and Monica joining a local tour excursion, viewing the acclaimed Stonehenge phenomena, the historic stone creation constructed to  commemorate an unknown event some 5000 years ago.  The ring of  stones a wonderment, the stones 13 ft. high, 7 ft. in width, weighing 25 tons,  set in circular pattern,  Neolithic and bronze age monuments.  The group moving on, viewing a round tumuli, a burial mound,  one of the several hundred documented mounds.  entering the underground tomb of West Kennet Long Barrow, a burial site built around 3650 B C,  its excavation having discovered partial remains of individuals inside.  With their return to Avebury, enjoying  an evening walk, the twilight surrendering to a canopy of stars, the two absorbing the serenity of the countryside’s stillness.

A long day ahead of them, a hour and half morning bus ride to view historic Salisbury before going on to London.  Nancy and Monica’s  entering the Salisbury Cathedral, its main body  completed in 38 years, from 1220 to 1258, the 440 foot spire added in 1549 and opened for those who desired to walk the 332 stairs to the top, Nancy and Monica declining.  The Cathedral notable  for its long and narrow nave,  Seating area , and chapter house for its octagonal shape, and also for its display of  the best-preserved of the copy of the 1215 Magna Carta.  The explorers experiencing  the historic statues,  Madonna Walking, William Lomsespee the younger, a true Knight of the realm having died in Egypt during the crusades, and a treasure of other eminent icons .  The day waning, an appointment with London still to come.

The two departing Salisbury,  arriving at London’s waterloo station, having reservation at the London House Hotel.  Their morning agenda starting with a hop on hop off tour bus.   Nancy and Monica’s first stop, St. Paul’s Cathedral,  the initial church was founded in  604 AD and dedicated to Paul the Apostle.  the present cathedral,  a result of the 17th century. The entrance adorned with a  Statue of Queen Ann, the original statue was sculptured by Francis Bird in 1712, but through the millennium  suffer reprisal damage, . and was replaced in 18 86..  The cathedral interior was unlike any they that had viewed, both agreeing, of all the churches and cathedrals they had toured,  Saint Paul’s  was the most breathtaking.  Continuing on viewing another historic classic, The Royal Exchange, it officially opened in 1571 by Queen Elizabeth as a center of commerce for the City of London, its entrance displaying a large bronze figure of the Duke of Wellington on horseback, on a granite pedestal sculptured in 1844.

Their tour of London continuing on the banks of the Thames River, viewing the Palace of Westminster,  where the two houses of Parliament meet, the House of Commons and the House of Lords.   observing the Whitehall bridge with its magnificent Whitehall Palace overlooking the river.   both taking notice of the busy waterway, continuing their riverside scenic voyage.  As the evening hours approached,  their bridge viewing wouldn’t be complete without the London Bridge, but finding that in reality, what they thought was the London bridge was the Tower Bridge.  They couldn’t help but notice during their London travel, seeing a six foot fire discharging dragon,  discovering there were 13 such statues,  placed as markers to designate the boundary of the city of London. They long day coming to an end,  returning to the London House, this their final night before returning home.


The morning found Nancy and Monica not only saying farewell to London, but to each other, they didn’t arrive together,  having made separate roundtrip reservations.  .  Nancy boarding her United Airlines 7 47 for the 11 hour return flight to San Francisco, and a return to the real world.   Sitting back, the gentle sound of the engines whispering their assurance,  her mind trying to process all that she experienced,  having spent the past weeks walking through  history, baring witnessing to  its accomplishments,  attempts,  frustrations  and failures,  reconciling what she observed,    monument are not what you engrave in stone but what is woven in the lives of others.  recalling an Irish blessing  .  .  May the road rise up to meet you and may the Wind always be at your Back.  May the sun shine warm upon your Face and the Rains fall Soft upon your Fields.  And until we meet Again…May God,  Hold you in the Palm of his Hand….