Thursday, November 16, 2017

Off to visit a Palace

It's so nice in England you can visit the tiniest of cottages one hour and soon visit the grandest of palaces.  They even call some of these grand palaces a house!  This afternoon we are going to Blenheim Palace!

To say Blenheim is enormous is an understatement!  This UNESCO World Heritage site took my breath away when we walked from the car park to the palace gate.  It is now the home of the 12th Duke of Marlborough and his family.  The palace was originally intended to be the reward of the 1st Duke of Marlborough (John Churchill) after the Battle of Blenheim in 1704.  The palace has been in the family of the Spencer/Churchill's for over 300 years.  It is the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill.

Inside Blenheim, is grand and extraordinary as you can imagine.

The ceilings are beautiful.

So much plaster work full of opulence!

Beautiful tapestries adorn many walls.

Tromp L'loeil painted room by Louis Laguerre.  

Most of these grand palaces have libraries and Blenheim is no exception.  This is the Long Library designed by Christopher Wren.  It houses the pipes for the organ that serves the chapel.  It is the largest private pipe organ in Europe.  It was built by Henry Willis and Sons in 1891. 

The chapel had a music service that was lovely to hear.

 If one is invited to the coronation of a king or queen you must supply your own chair and your robes to wear.  These were used by the family.

There is a whole wing dedicated to Sir Winston Churchill and his memorabilia.

The room where he was born.

Winston Churchill married Clementine Ogilvy in 1908.  They had five children.

As beautiful as the interior is we are anxious to explore the grounds.  First we need to have something to eat.  It's a lovely afternoon to dine alfresco.  

The grounds have evolved over the years at Blenheim.  The latest genius to take over here was Capability Brown.  In 1764 he moved the more formal garden idea to an idea that all nature was a garden.  He reshaped the surroundings to suggest a never ending view. 

The Column of Victory was completed after the death of the 1st Duke of Marlborough.  It is 134 ft. tall and is surrounded by elms that represent the troops in the Battle of Blenheim.

We enjoyed our visit to Blenheim Palace.  We are just beginning our journey.  I hope you will enjoy the places we visit.  There's plenty of walking, so wear comfortable shoes! ♥


Friday, November 10, 2017

Beautiful England

When the Queen Mary 2 docked in Southampton sometime during the early morning hours we were excited about beginning our adventure.  We made sure we were all ready to step off the ship as soon as we could.  The evening before we had packed all of our suitcases, except one, and placed them outside of our stateroom door for the staff to take down to be picked up later.  All we had to do was walk off the ship and retrieve our bags.  UK Customs personnel was on board to check passports during our voyage, so there is no hassle upon arrival.  This makes it so easy and is so smart of Cunard to have this feature.

Southampton Port

I've mentioned that before we left home we planned what every day would entail.  We took a taxi to the rental car agency and picked up our car.  We were reminded we would be driving a brand new vehicle with only 9 miles on the odometer!  Oh dear!  Here we go....let's ride on the left side of the road again!

Grayden had set our GPS before we left home, with all of the places we are going to visit,  so all I had to do was put in our destination.  On our way to the Lake District (so excited) we are going to be making a couple of stops.  First up is the gorgeous town of Bibury!  It's in the Cotswolds so you know we are in for a treat.  Here's our exit.  Now I must say it takes some getting used to riding on the left, but so far, so good.

I've read so much about Bibury.  William Morris said it was " The most beautiful village in England."  Susan Branch wrote about her visit there in A Fine Romance ~ Falling in Love with the English Countryside.  If you are a serious Anglophile you must read her book.

The River Coln,  a tributary of the Thames, flows through the center of this quaint village. 

So let's find the car park and get out and do a little exploring in Bibury.

There were many swans and ducks to welcome us to Bibury.  I wished I had some bread to offer.  When they realized we didn't they paddled to folks that did.

This fellow was downright indignant at our lack of bread!

Let's walk over to Arlington Row.  These cottages were built in 1380 as monastic wool stores.  They were later weaver's cottages that lived and worked in Bibury in the 17th century.  Their cloth was sent to Arlington Mill on the other side of Rack Isle.  Rack Isle was the place where the wool was sent to be hung on racks to dry.  Today this marshy area is a National Trust Wildfowl Reserve.

It was such a beautiful fall day.  I'm so happy that there were still many flowers blooming. 

 The leaves were just beginning to turn.

Walking along the path we came to the beautiful Arlington Row cottages.  Henry Ford tried to buy these cottages and have them shipped back to Michigan to reconstruct in Greenfield Village!

It would be a shame if that had happened!

These cottages now belong to the National Trust.  You may rent one of these beauties if you wish!

How would you like to live in this charming village?

If you would like, you can catch your own trout for dinner at the Trout Farm on the right of the photo.  On the left, the very large building used to house the old Arlington Mill.


Arlington Mill now a private residence

Oh England, you are so beautiful!

We are now on our way from small little charming cottages to a grand palace.  I hope you will join us! ♥

Saturday, November 4, 2017

On Board Queen Mary 2

Before we arrive in England we first must cross that big ocean between us!  You can go by plane or by ship.  After having traveled by ship on our visit there in 2015, we knew we would want to make it our means of transportation for our Golden Celebration. 

Many of you have asked questions about this means of traveling.  No, it's not the fastest way to go, but the fastest way is not always the most pleasant.  We wanted to savor every moment while on board this beautiful vessel celebrating our Golden Anniversary.  Folks have been crossing the Atlantic on these ocean liners for many years.

 There is so much to do on a voyage to Southampton and on the return to New York city.  From watercolor classes to ballroom dancing classes to many very interesting lectures, the Queen Mary 2 offers a great variety to enjoy.  On our last trip we tried not to miss a thing the ship offered.  This time we decided we wanted to relax. 

"Slow down, you move too fast"  Simon and Garfunkel 

After breakfast each day we checked the weather to see if we could take our walk around the promenade deck.  Walking three times around the ship adds up to 1.1 mile.  Most days were acceptable to walk.  Some days when we had a slight drizzle we still walked.  Putting on our raincoats and hats made us comfortable.  Who doesn't want to see the beautiful ocean that is surprisingly blue in the North Atlantic?  Breathing in the salty air and walking with my sweetheart was just exhilarating.

You can swim (in a pool) if you wish indoors or out.  Way too chilly for me!

Foggy and eerie can add an air of foreboding and magic.

Maybe a program would interest one of us and we would attend.  Or maybe we would go to the Chart Room and read and relax.  Maybe I'd have my travel journal and write my thoughts about the day.  I bought a lovely poppy covered journal before we left home that just said England to me.  It is full of all of our adventures.

 Every evening after dinner we always attended the evening entertainment.  On the crossing over, the British National Symphony Orchestra was on board to entertain us.  I must say it was my favorite!  So very special.  Under the direction of Anthony Inglis it was pure magic!  

The crossing back home featured RADA (Royal Academy of Dramatic Art)  and was another favorite of ours.  They performed a  play about the missing skull of Shakespeare and an Oscar Wilde play , The Importance of Being Earnest.

The magical moon kept us company as we gazed at its beauty from our stateroom.

Seven days passes quickly even when we relaxed more.  The meals are exquisite on the QM2.  I must admit I enjoyed not having to prepare meals!  Having a break from daily cooking was so enjoyable.  We did enjoy the Galley tour showing the huge kitchen with immaculate conditions.

 Afternoon Tea was a must for us each day.  We decided on our return voyage to skip lunch so we could enjoy Afternoon Tea!  We really had to pace our eating.

There were always wonderful musicians playing for Afternoon Tea in the Queen's Room.

This voyage was a fairy tale for me.  I told Grayden on many occasions that this wonderful journey was not wasted on me! 

Our voyage to England and back was Golden.  Soon, I'll be sharing more about our time in England and Scotland.  The best is yet to come.  We visited the most amazing places that filled our hearts with gratitude and love for our fifty years together. ♥