Our Travels to the UK and a bit beyond, Part 3
By Diane, with comments from Holly and Allan.

Note: The photos used here were chosen to go with the narrative....to see photos of all of the places visted on each trip, go to our home page and click on "Vacation Photos".

2000 – November 7 through November 17 – London (Allan and Diane)

We stayed at the St. Ermin’s Hilton in Westminster, and the Fish Court apartment at Hampton Court Palace.

Quest No. 1: to visit Old Sarum having read Edward Rutherfurd’s wonderful book Sarum. Quest No. 2: To return to the spot on the Castle Mound in Warwick where we’d taken a beautiful of photo of Holly in 1990 with the Avon River behind her.

Highlights: Making it to the Warwick Castle Mound and having a rainbow appear! [Allan: Fire drill at the Hilton St. Ermins. Some guests coming coming down in evening wear. Diane coming down in her PJs. What a hoot! I enjoyed that immensely. Kenilworth is always a highlight for me.]

Lowlights: We'd planned to spend our first two nights of this trip in York; however, upon our arrival in the UK, we were unable to reach York because of major flooding in the North of England. Luckily, the Hilton St. Ermins was able to take us a few days earlier than our reservation. Other lowlights: (1) Allan was so tired and jet-lagged on the first night he left the bag with our camera in a pub across from our hotel. When we went to look for it the next morning, the person working there receiving a delivery kegs was too busy to look in the lost and found for our camera bag. We were going to Stonehenge that day and COULD NOT go without a camera, necessitating the purchase of a new camera in Salisbury. Of course, later that evening, when we returned to the now open for business pub, our camera bag was in their lost and found; (2) After stepping from the shower one night at the St. Ermin's the fire alarm went off! Allan and I raced down several flights of stairs to join the rest of the displaced hotel guests standing outside in the rain directly across the street from New Scotland Yard. A holiday party was being held in the hotel, so most everyone standing outside was in a ball gown or formal attire. I seemed to be the only person out there in green satin PJ's with a hotel towel on my head; (3) Holly again wasn't there to enjoy HCP with us since she was still in college. (4) Pulling a crown off my tooth by biting into a wonderful English candy bar called a Curly Wurly. Unfortunately, I pulled it only HALFWAY off, and it wouldn't push back down or pull out and I was unable to speak properly. Allan and I spent an entire morning in Kingston Upon Thames trying in vain to locate a dentist to remove the cap or cement it back on. Some helpful person on the street actually directed me to the POLICE STATION, where I took number "4" and sat to wait my turn so I could ask a policeman for a dentist referral. Realizing the absurdity of my situation, I grabbed a tissue and yanked the damn cap out of my mouth and put it in my coat pocket. I took it home and had my own dentist re-cement it back in. Lucky for me, it was a back tooth and this incident happened just one day prior to our return home to Los Angeles; (5) disembarking from our train at Wickham Market at an un-manned train station which appeared to be pretty much in the middle of nowhere. There was a sign saying "Wickham Market Station is at Campsea Ash" (huh???) and not a soul around. There WAS a phone booth, but no phone book. Fortunately, I'd had the foresight to print out a list of possibly useful phone numbers before leaving on this trip. I called the local taxi company, but got an answering machine. Next I tried calling a "coach company". A sweet lady answered and put her husband on the phone. I told him we were hoping to visit Framlingham Castle. He asked how many in our party and I told him two. He said that was OK, he'd come by to pick us up and drive us to the castle on his way to the DIY store. Well, he did - in a coach (bus) meant to transport about a dozen people. This guy was exceptionally nice and drove us around for some great views of the castle which we'd not have known about or seen otherwise, then he dropped us off at the castle and made arrangements to pick us back up after his DIY shopping trip. All this for just 20 pounds. He explained to us that "Wickham Market Station is at Campsea Ash" simply meant that the train station was not actually IN Wickham Market, but several miles from it in Campsea Ash. Why didn't they just call it the Campsea Ash train station??


Places visited:

Old Sarum
Warwick Castle
Framlingham Castle

2001, June 23 through July 7 – (Holly only)- backpacking trip to London, Paris, Amsterdam, Prague and Munich. See Holly Travel pages.


2001 – November 7 through November 19 (Allan and Diane) November 15-19 (Holly – Long weekend at Hampton Court Only)

On this trip Allan and I spent a couple of days at the Plaza on Hyde Park in London and then took our first trip through the Eurotunnel to Paris, where we spent two nights at the Ibis Gare de L'est Chateau Landon hotel. Upon our return to England, we immediately boarded a train for York where we spent a few nights at the Novotel Hotel on Fishergate. We then returned to London and checked into Hampton Court's Fish Court Apartment for our third stay there. We were met at Gare du Nord in Paris by our old friend Vincent and his lovely family, who spent a entire day giving us a whirlwind tour of Paris including visits to Sacre Coeur, a walk around the outside of the The Louvre and through the Tuilerie Gardens, a drive up the Champs Elysee and around the Arc de Triomphe, a visit to the Trocadero for a spectacular view of the Eiffel Tower, and a fabulous lunch at Hemingway's old haunt, the Brasserie Lipp in St. Germain du Pres. During our time spent in York, we met up with Allan's old Canadian drummer friend, Paul, who lives in Doncaster, just a short distance from York.

Quests: to get to the top of Notre Dame Cathedral to see those famous gargoyles.

Highlights: (1) Spending time with Vincent and getting to know his family; (2) having Gaby laugh hysterically at my lame and inept attempts to repeat French words and phrases (3) having to push start and then run alongside and jump into Vincent's car every time we stopped in Paris since his car's starter went out the morning of our arrival (yes, this was a highlight!); [Allan: Vincent bringing me in the back door of the Paris Opera House and shouting out some sort of rapid fire French comments to the protesting security guard, who obligingly let us walk in and take a look around while Sophie was illegally parked outside with the car running. Pork Roast and Sauerkraut at the Brasserie Lipp.] (4) meeting Allan's old friend, Paul and his dad, Bob; (4) rendezvousing with Holly at Heathrow and all of us taking a taxi to Hampton Court for her first stay there (we were SO excited she could finally join us on one of these special trips; (5) introducing Holly to all of the friends we'd made at Hampton Court the prior two years; (6) the guided Jack the Ripper walk conducted by a very knowledgeable guide named Simon; (7) the beautiful and strange rainbow effect made by ice crystals in the York sky.

Lowlights: (1) Holly was completely and utterly jet-lagged for the entire three day weekend [Holly: I would strongly discourage anyone from either a) taking the 8pm flight out of LA to London rather than the 5pm or b) taking a long weekend in London or c) heaven forbid doing BOTH] ; (2) we left York in plenty of time to get back to London and meet Holly's arriving flight at Heathrow, but did not count on the construction going on at Kings Cross Station – consequently, we waited more than an hour for a taxi, which then literally crawled down Euston Road. I think we'd have done better walking, but we did eventually make it just in time to meet her coming out of customs.


Places visited:

London (the usual spots)
Hampton Court Palace (of course)
Castle Rising in Norfolk
Corfe Castle in Dorset
Peterborough (started out for Lincoln, but train problems prevented completion of journey – just as well, this is where Holly started her shot glasses from holy places collection) [Holly: do they sell crack pipes at cathedrals as well? One can only wonder . . .]
Doncaster (including Conisbrough Castle)
Paris (see above)

On to Part 4