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

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….



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