June-July: Great Britain

June 16-17: Oakland to Salisbury

Tom and Terry Daniels, Joel & Elaine Daniels gathered in Oakland for a flight on British Air to Gatwick Airport south of London. 

Joel waiting to board. British Airways Boeing 777 in the background

The flight was smooth and uneventful and got us on foreign soil at about 10 a.m. Of course we were more than ready for bed which wouldn’t do, so we trundled over to the car rental to pick up our car.
We were told that our small SUV was in stall 3 and we found this little black Peugeot. It was awfully small and we had to cram everything in. Elaine and Terry had this piece shoved in between their heads like a surfboard. Then Tom started to look for where the starter might be. There was a place for a key, but he had to disassemble the key fob to get to it. Still nothing. A couple employees came along and told us OUR CAR was the other black car behind it. They were giggling so hard they could hardly help to get us moved to our Kadjar. "Kadjar," well ok. (It was a Renault. It had considerably more room and we felt a lot better. These people should not be let loose.

Tom drove away in 3rd gear, not realizing it until the engine died a couple of times.  The car has 6 forward gears!


This is a picture of our luggage in the "wrong" car.

Then it was off to see some sights with all eyes on keeping us to the left and adroitly entering and exiting the many, many roundabouts. Europeans and others don’t believe in automatic transmissions but must believe in lots of gears. Tom is pretending it’s like Uncle Perry’s fluid drive and skips some of them as we race down the narrow lanes on the motorways. No speed limits are posted and as a man told Joel, "we just know what they are and don’t have to have signs. Occasionally there is a SLOW DOWN NOW or QUEUE LIKELY sign. The UK still uses miles so that makes it easier.

We headed south for Brighton thinking we would look for a place to buy sim cards for our phones. We saw the store, but with hordes of tourists and narrow streets, parking was not readily available. We decided to go on driving west on the coast toward Portsmouth & Southampton.

Brighton Pavillion

We stopped for tea and a RR break in the delightful little town of Arundel. Prominently on the hill is the residence of the Duke of Norfolk, a cousin we’re sure. As you can see it is a storybook castle where the current duke still resides though it was built in the 19th century. We could have spent more time but we still had a way to go to our hotel and we were wilting fast.

Turret of the home of the current Duke of Norfolk

Old city wall of Arundel

Tom had the most sleep on the plane and it was good he was driving. Righthand drive seems to cause one to hug the outer line making it unnerving for the passenger side. Tom says he relies on the groaning, wincing, and screams of panic to keep him in the narrow lanes. At least in this car the windshield wipers and turn signal levers are on the "correct" side of the steering wheel, unlike the cars we rented in Australia. There we would see the car ahead turn on the wipers and know it must be getting ready to turn.

We reached our destination of Salisbury in late afternoon and found our hotel out in a new development about 6 miles away from Stonehenge. Dinner was in the hotel. And we all fell into a deep sleep, until 2 p.m. at least.


Hi Tom, What a beginning to what sounds like a great trip, WOW.  Glad you finally got the right car at last. I don't know who packed that car but not an inch of spare space was left unused, packer extraordinaire.  Enjoy.... Tom O

Thank you for keeping me in the loop.   It calls up wonderful memories I have (albeit dim, but made brighter by your notes) when my pen pal, Christine Howard and her mom, Flo, ushered mom & me around via car, train, & tube, and marched us THROUGH  (pushing and shoving - they're so good at that) crowds right up to the fence to view the queen riding w/the horse guard into the castle grounds and moments later appearing on the balcony with the whole family,  celebrating the Queen's birthday.  ( year 1974 +-).  Almeta

Hi guys, We are hoping to see you early next week, however we now need to be in London on Tuesday 20th June. We are free all day and evenings Monday 19th and Wednesday 21st. Hopefully one of those will work! Let us know.   Michael and Douglas 

Thank you for the photos.  Nice start.... I look forward to the rest of your trip. Hugs to all!  Jan S.

Oh thanks, I enjoy reading about and seeing the photos of your vacations. Have a great time. Cheryl

Thanks for sharing! I love following you on your trips. Will you be at Fromm in September? Rosemary J.


Dear Terry, It sounds as if you all are having a great time and the weather looks simply wonderful. We celebrated Don's birthday at Tropicale last evening. Inside was packed and evening a few dozen people outside though it was 110 plus. We love your commentary and your fantastic pictures. Keep them coming our way. Missed you last evening. Love, John and Joey

Hi Tom! Since we find your accounts so informative, John and I are delighted to read you’re on the road again. Quite a laugh with the “wrong car” episode. Please give our best to your travel mates. We look forward to the days ahead as we explore Great Britain with you. BTW: some reports have Stonehenge as disappointing; we await your coverage. Jon and Jill

Thanks for the awesome photos!  Joe and Carol

It's fun to travel with you again...many chuckles.  Thanks Tom for including us.   Kae and Gary

Hi Tom, You are a traveling man! I look forward to your reporting about you adventure.  Drive on the correct side!!! Dick P.

Dear Tom, I love seeing these! Safe traveling to you all.  I cannot believe how brave you are to DRIVE in the UK. The roundabouts would really send me over the edge (probably literally) if I tried to drive there. Good luck, and carry on!  Love,  Krista P

Stonehenge!  Ooooh, how exciting!  Smile  As usual, I’m anxiously anticipating the next epistle, since I’ve never been to any of these places you go to.  Do take care driving on the ‘wrong’ side of the road, and don’t strip the gears out! Love,
Nancy D

June 17: A Day in Salisbury & Winchester

After a full English breakfast at our hotel, a quaint olde British B and B called the Holiday Inn Solstice, we were off to spend the day in Salisbury.

As we were leaving the hotel, we asked about a big store across the street called Home Bargains.  They sell "bits and bobs" there.  (Kind of like a Target store.)

Terry, Joel and Tom at the Holiday Inn - Salisbury/Stonehenge

We drove about 20 minutes away to Salisbury.  Here we found that the parking machine wouldn't take "new" pound coins. What?? So we met some very nice people exchanging the new for the old. Speaking of money, Tom had brought some old coins, half crowns, shillings, etc. He wondered if he could spend them. We have had some interesting conversations with people about that. The young ones had no idea what he was talking about, but one older lady was quite interesting. She thought the 1939 George VI half crown silver coin might be worth something. She said the conversion to decimal money was in 1971 and there was a short period for people to make the exchange.

Terry, Joel and Tom looking at shillings and half crowns.

Salisbury Market Day

Elaine and Terry at the old Salisbury city wall.

The weather reached about 28C (83F) under cloudless skies, and everyone was out for the Market Day strolling around the city centre. (Bill Bryson writes about an English newspaper headline: "England Sizzles in the 70's." so you can imagine how it was today.) We finally got to our Vodafone store and got sim cards for several of the phones for navigation and to call each other.

Tom, Joel and Terry at the Vodafone store.

Salisbury Cathedral was a short walk and we spent quite a bit of time there. It is surrounded by a park setting it off spectacularly. There is no charge for admission, but you are asked nicely for a donation to set off the £12,000 per day ($15,000) cost of maintaining the 13th century structure. We strolled around the sanctuary, the grounds and courtyard before a tea break and a viewing of the best of four existing copies of the Magna Carta. Runnymede would not be too far from here.

Salisbury Cathedral


One of 4 of the remaining original 40 copies of the Magna Carta is on display here

Tom, Terry, Elaine and Joel having tea at the cathedral

Tom, Terry and Joel at Salisbury Market

We decided to end the day with a drive to Winchester to see the cathedral. Our route took a little longer than we thought, and it is almost impossible to drive the last few blocks to it. We couldn't see exactly where Winchester Catheral was, or we could have parked and walked to it. After going around and around in circles, we finally got to it only to find the parking was all by permit and we risked getting a £100 fine if we were to get caught. Since the cathedral was closing, we said to each other, "we've seen it" and drove on.

It was Joel's turn to try driving. He managed to drive out the so-called two-way street.  It was so narrow that there wasn't enough room for one car!  We ended up driving with left tyres on the carriageway and with the right tyres on the pavement (sidewalk)! Oops, a lapse into Brit talk: street, tire and sidewalk.

Bonne route.   Amusez-vous bien!   Jon S.

Your photos are gorgeous, the strawberries in the market make me envious, and your luck with the weather there is phenomenal!  Love,    Nancy D.

Thoroughly enjoyed the two-day travel diary!  Love it.   Jon H.

Hi, Tom...top of the day to you! How absolutely delightful that you are having this experience with family!  I am actually feeling envy, as see my siblings so rarely.  Love Great Britain, and love your travel tales! My dad's nurse, Sylvia Kalberg, and also neighbor on my street when growing up, was British, and in 1966 I got to go with her to visit her mother and family in the countryside outside of London. Never have forgotten that.    Keep having fun. (and get someone to eat some fish and chips for me!)   Thanks for the photos... Sandra/Buck

It looks as if you and your family are having quite the adventure. Salisbury Cathedral looks absolutely stunning. Please bring home some of those fabulous looking baskets of Strawberries. I bet they taste as good as they look. It is very quiet here with the temperatures approaching 116 degrees and 119 predicted on Tuesday. We spent time in the pool this afternoon but even that was pretty hot unless you were submerged in the water. Hope your great weather continues. - John and Joe

Thank you for including me in your adventures.  I love it!  Carol Scola

Dear Tom, Joel, Elaine and Terry, Looks like you're having a wonderful time.  I enjoy the photos, and wish I were there!  Be safe. Richard is still looking for a car to replace his RAV4.  He went to Seattle on Friday on a shopping trip, but came back without a car.  Best wishes, Kim S.

Hi Tom,

Hope things your are wonderful with you and you are having fun on your trip. Please, please eat a fish and chips for me! My email address is <<<snip>>> Safe travels, Miriam

Hello Tom, I enjoy reading about your adventures.  Have a Jolly Good Time!  Mike H.

Dear the Daniels, Thank you for sending me beautiful pictures. I hope you will enjoy your trip to the full. Yours, Tetsuya O.

Tom- I have fond memories of the beautiful Salisbury cathedral.   Dick D.

June 18: Stonehenge
Today the exploration of ancient Britain began with 9:30 AM tickets for entrance to Stonehenge, the iconic World Heritage site known worldwide. We were especially excited to go since Joel, Elaine and Tom wanted to see the changes that had occurred since their last visit 52 years ago. It was Terry's first encounter.

Stonehenge Visitors Center, Cafe and Museum

Four years ago, the road that went right by was moved 500 yards off site, and a new visitor's center built about a mile away. Shuttles are run from the center to the stones or you can walk through the fields watching out for the cows and cow pies. We chose the walk and so glad we did. Strolling past burial mounds, you round a corner and in the distance see it. Since we were early, we beat the tour buses and were nearly alone on the trail. It is a great way to be introduced, or reintroduced to such a magnificent site.

The walk through fields to Stonehenge

Tourist high atop a burial mound (Barrow) trying to get a cell signal

Cows with SH in the background

The Stonehenge

In 1965, we drove up in our bright blue Austin Mini, climbed the fence and walked in after driving about 80 miles SW from London. We had read the book and seen Stonehenge Decoded that year leading us to the site. There might have been a dozen other people there. We learned today that in 1964, the turf around the stones had been removed, and gravel put in its place to protect from erosion.

As it looked in 1965

Barbara, Elaine and Tom under a lintel (1965)

Elaine, Barbara and Joel (1965)

Approaching the stones, we activated the audio devices we rented and began to hear about how this monument had been made and something about its significance. Normally one can encircle the stones, but in preparation for the summer solstice next week, a section has been closed where the ancient grand avenue went several miles to the Avon River.

A ranger told us that on the 21st, they expect upwards of 30,000 people. Entrance will be free (we paid £20) and a large parking fee will be charged for a lot to be set up near the stones. The fences will be down and one will be able to walk among the stones for that day. Druid priests, who greeted the Romans at the beginning of the Common Era, never had anything to do with Stonehenge, but modern-day druids have had ceremonies there since the early 20th century. No doubt they'll be there Wednesday.

Those pesky Tourists

Tom, Joel, Elaine and Terry

After several hours, we took the shuttle back to the visitor center and looked at the exhibits. We learned that around 1900 several of the stones fell over, and the largest one was leaning precariously. Restoration began and concrete was used to shore up some of the them. One can see an actual sized stone with ropes on log rollers to get an idea about how it might have been possible for huge numbers of people to move them from a considerable distance.

Reproduction of system to bring stone from 19 miles away

We very much approve of the changes made in recent years. Considering that over one million visitors come each year, they have done an outstanding job of accommodation. We really enjoyed our visit. By-the-way, we found out that Stonehenge Decoded was never very well accepted and has largely been debunked through the years.

Huts similar to those housing the workers erecting SH

In early afternoon we left to travel about an hour to another World Heritage site: the henge at Avedon. On the way, we saw a huge white horse on the hillside. In 1780, the grass was taken away exposing the white chalk soil that is underneath all the land around. It has been restored recently. We learned from a postcard that the designer had stood back from the horse and shouted directions to workers with a megaphone.

Horse figure in chalky soil on hillside near Avebury

Picnic at cricket match at Avebury

Trail in chalky soil at Avebury

Unlike Stonehenge, Avebury is an old village built amongst the stones of a very large circle. Many of the stones had been carted away and the buildings were derelict when the area was purchased by an eccentric in the early 20th century who came and began restoring the buildings and replacing many of the stones.

Large stones and "moat" at Avebury

Elaine with one of many, many large stones at Avebury

As we walked in, we passed a local cricket club holding a match. A little further on we came to High Street (high is main here), the only street with some shops and a famous pub right in the center of the stone circle, The Red Lion. There is a restored farm with a manor house. We were getting tired out by all the walking, and affected by the heat. We got some water and sat on the grass under a very large tree. After walking up a hill with a view of the surroundings, we decided to begin motoring back. Shortly, we passed the huge conical mound, the largest in Europe. No one knows where the material came from or its purpose. Nearby is a large burial structure. We got as far as scoping out where we will park on our next trip to check these out.

Thanks for sharing! --- Almeta P.

I'm really surprised they allow you to get that close to it. I guess they don't think much damage can happen to it considering how many years it's been in existence. Everywhere else you go they put blockade so you can't touch any special objects.  Pretty amazing.  Carol S.

Thanks Tom.  Informative commentary on your visit.  Yes, 52 years ago that Alice and I visited Stonehenge and walked around the site nearly alone except for the cows.   We were on our way to N. Wales before meeting up with you in Venice and the orange tent adventure through So. France and Italy.     Bonne continuation!  Jon S.

Interesting how they've added a visitor's center to Stonehenge.  I believe I was there sometime in the 90's.  Have fun!  Richard L.

Thanks for sharing!  Julia P.


Good Morning. Thank you for always sharing your trips with us.  Have a good and safe trip Aloha from Hawaii ... Sharlene I.

Standards of dress were higher in 1965!   Marcus D. 

Thank you so much for sharing the picture of June 17 and the wonderful June 18 tour of Stonehenge!  What a treat! Please let Joel and Elaine know that I replied.  Jeanne M.

Reading your comments about Stonehenge and seeing the pictures makes me think of the fiction series by Mary Stewart about Merlin Ambrosius, and how he engineered the building of same, for Uther Pendragon.  Nancy D.

Thank you Tom, It seem very interesting. Fred

Hi Tom, Enjoyed your SH photos.  The photos from 1965 were fun to see.  Richard still is without a new vehicle.  He may be visiting you, Tom, in Oakland, on a shopping trip. Best wishes, Kim S.

June 19: Bath/Cheltenham


Our last breakfast in Salisbury/Stonehenge Hotel

This morning we checked out at Salisbury and headed for Bath (Baahth, as we were corrected.) It’s naturally occurring hot springs has been known through the ages for its curative powers.

Tom in Bath

Elaine, Terry in downtown Bath

Joel listening to Roman Bath audio: Bath Abbey in backbround

Water seeps through the limestone over 1000's of years and percolates back up since it is heated and effervescent. When the Romans came about the time of the beginning of the Common Era, they immediately realized its significance and built an elaborate complex for health and religious reasons. It served for centuries until the Romans left and gradually was lost as subsequent people filled it over.

Hot springs pool in Roman Bath. Statues and Tourists on terrace above.

In the 18th century, it was rediscovered and excavated. New spas were built and it became a destination for rich Londoners to come for the cure. Today, a beautiful large museum has been built incorporating the Roman ruins where you can see the main Roman bath and many artifacts that have been uncovered.

Roman hot spring pool

Elaine, Joel, Tom, Terry with The Abbey Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul (Bath Abbey)  in background

We could have spent more time in this delightful small city but we were off to see Michael and Douglas, friends of Terry who live in a small town near Cheltenham in the Cottswolds. Terry has known them for years as they also have a house in Palm Springs where they spend the winters. We checked into our hotel in Cheltenham where they met us and guided us to Montpellier Street where we had lunch and sat around enjoying another hot day. It got up to 31 (87) and was quite muggy. We are told that they have about two weeks of summer every year and we're in it. Good thing we packed our heavy jackets and wool pants.

Avon River in Bath

Driving in Great Britain: There are other challenges over here aside from driving on the wrong side of the road, narrow roads with no shoulders, no speed limit postings other than those that are below "normal". Our problem is determining the “normal” speed. Douglas gave us some good pointers. 70 MPH on the dual carriageways, 50 on the single, and 30 in towns. One can go those speeds legally, but when can one ever go that fast?. You may on the motorways, but the 2-lane highways usually have so many cars and are so twisty that attaining 50 is nearly impossible. Cars are often parked in the roadway, a challenge to make 2 lanes out of one. It takes steely nerves to avoid sideswiping a brick wall or a car with inches to spare. Cars behind don't hesitate to let you know if you slow up. Using a cell phone would be fatal. Texting? See you in the next life.

Then there are the roundabouts. Every intersection has one. There are rules for who enters and who yields. Break the rules you will be shamed with a good horning. You enter in a clockwise manner unlike the counter clockwise that would be normal for us. If there are two lanes, you must decide which one will allow you to leave at the correct road. Of course, you can go around several times until you make up your mind where to exit. We have visions of spending 10 or 15 minutes going round and round as we consult our maps and make a decision. We have 2 GPS systems going, and often they are fighting with each other as well. Fortunately only one of them talks, and she doesn't have an English accent so we don't really trust her.

Tom, Elaine and Michael in Cheltenham

Late lunch in Cheltenham: Michael, Tom, Terry, Douglas, Joel and Elaine

Douglas said that in the 1950's a British couple was assigned the task of designing a comprehensive system of road signs to be uniform throughout the country. They are just beautiful, and we admire them while shaking our heads about what they might mean. One today said "Check Your Distance" followed by "Allow Two Chevrons." Or "Queue Likely"??? More about this later.

When you described the round abouts I had a vision of European Vacation and Clark and family driving around for hours!  Sounds like you are having a great time.  Love the pictures  Beth K.

So glad I don't have to try driving in that place..I would probably have a breakdown.......but sounds like you are having a great adventure... Cheryl K-S

June 20: Hidcote Gardens/Chipping Campden

Bright and sunny today so we decided on an early start to one of the best gardens in the country-Hidcote Manor Gardens in the Cotswolds. We thought we were choosing the fastest route, but that turned out not to be the case. We are a little more than nervous on the map's "yellow" roads which have 4 numbers.  They can be one car-width wide for 2-way traffic. This video shows one of the roads we were on:

Driving the Cotswolds

Our hotel in Cheltenham: Double Tree by Hilton

Looking back we feel fortunate since we toured through some of the loveliest farmland one could imagine. It had it all, rolling green hills, stone fences, trees & bushes that looked manicured. And NO roadside trash. We don't think there are "adopt-a-road" crews either. Although we had some miles of single lane road with turnouts, we met few cars. Even without the speedier itinerary, we arrived at the gardens just as they opened. We were met by a most persuasive young lady, who sold us on buying a membership in the National Trust rather than a day pass. If we visit three of their sites, we would pay for it. We don't think we will have any trouble doing that.

A farm house and stone wall on our way to Hidcote Gardens

Appearing in a big grassy field as we drove by was the Broadway  Tower ... a turret without a castle.  It was a "folly" built by the biggest, richest land owner in the area.  He could climb the top and survey all of his holdings.  For £5 you can do the same.

Broadway Tower

Manor House at Hidcote Gardens

A guide came by and took the four of us on an introductory tour as he waited for a group to come.

Many agree that Hicote is the quintessential English garden though it was designed and built by an American who later became a British citizen, Lawrence Johnston, whose parents were from wealthy New York families. He went to school in England and fought in the Boer War after which his mother bought him this farm. He added on to the manor house and set about designing a 10 acre garden with a multitude of plants and hedges that are outdoor rooms. To add space and blend into the surrounding sheep fields, there are ingenious fences. Looking out from the garden, the pastures seem to naturally extend out. What you don't see is a submerged stone fence and a ditch. If you looked back to the house, it would look like a wall.

We enjoyed all the school children spending a day out from school. They all had sketch pads and were very busy and attentive to their tasks. There was more exuberance when they found the tennis court. We were told by our guide that the school system had tightened up on parents taking their children out for holidays. Now it is pretty much forbidden, but before, the headmaster had to give his permission. If he said no, and the parents took them out anyway, they would be fined. They are in school until the beginning of July, hence we only saw families on holiday on the weekend.

Terry, Tom and Joey with our guide through the gardens




Tom, Joel, Terry and Elaine in Beech Alleè

Joel, Terry and Tom in the "Long Walk" garden.

We spent several hours strolling around and left to visit the nearby picturesque town of Chipping Campden. All the houses are built out of the yellowish brick & stone from the area and have slate roofs. High (main) Street is the only commercial one and after we were happy to find a hotel where we could have coffee and scones. It was nice that it had a bit of air conditioning on such a hot day, not too common in England. In the center of town is a stone market structure that was built in the 1600's in this prosperous town that owed its wealth to wool. There is Sheep Street that is narrow so that when they were driven through they could be counted easily.


War Memorial in Chipping Clampden

Ancient Market Hall in Chipping Clampden

Terry, Tom and Elaine in Chipping Clampden

Over a street is St. James Church, a "wool" church we were told by the volunteer lady who greeted us, since it was built with wool money.

St. James Church

We found a faster way back to our hotel.

When you described the round abouts I had a vision of European Vacation and Clark and family driving around for hours!  Sounds like you are having a great time.  Love the pictures  Beth K.

Hi Tom, What a  unusual and fine exploration
of places in the UK. The gardens are extraordinary and worth the trip. Your accounts are very well written and make the places seem alive. Many thanks for including me. Best, Dick P.

Lovely, lovely ,lovely who would have thought wool could be so prosperous...Cheryl K-S

Ah, gorgeous England!  Sylvia S.

Very nice.  Wish we were there! - Richard L.

So glad I don't have to try driving in that place..I would probably have a breakdown.......but sounds like you are having a great adventure... Cheryl K-S

Hi Tom and Fellow Travelers-- I enjoyed your photos of Hidcote Gardens.  The Brits really know how to make beautiful gardens! Local guides at castles and gardens can be great sources of local information and "color."  In Scotland, Richard and I discussed our guides after our tours, and compared one with another.  Several had Scottish accents so thick we could understand only about 20 percent of what they said.  And, we picked up lots of unusual Scottish phrases and terms.   Best wishes and happy journeys, Kim S. (and Richard)

June 21: Oxford and Abergavenny (Wales)

We decided to drive to Oxford this morning before heading west to Wales. It was a pretty straight shot and luckily. we could get on-street parking near the city center. The biggest problem was to find enough "old" pound coins to feed the meter. Fortunately, a nice lady offered to help. It's a big problem since fewer and fewer old coins are being used. One man told us he has to save them as he gets them to build up a stash for parking.

Old pound coins are small, gold and thick.  The new pound coin is like the 2 pound coin in that it is bi-metal.  It also has 12 sides (hard to tell). 

Oxford Street Scene

"Bridge of Sighs"

Joel, Tom and Terry in front of the "Library in the Round", the Radcliffe Camera

Joel in the Oxford Market Hall

Tom and Terry climbed the steps to the top of the tower of the University Church for a good view of the city.

The Radcliffe Camera from the tower of University Church.

Oxford, a city of about 150,000 is home to the oldest universities in the English-speaking world, rated among the top in the world. It is made up of numerous colleges and is famous for its tutorial method of teaching.

Oxford College

Tom and Terry from the University Church tower

An area close to the university and where we were parked was blocked off with barriers.  There was to be a special parade of college dons who were receiving honorary degrees.

At 11:00 AM,we heard the church bells ringing and watched the short procession of robed dons.  From the street, we could hear the trumpets and singing of "My County Is of Thee" (God Save the Queen).

March of candidates for honorary degrees.

Holding the train

Here's a video of this procession:

Oxford Graduation Procession

Leaving Oxford, we drove about 75 miles to Wales for our first night there. We knew we would need to cross a bridge across the Severn River, but were surprised and pleased to see the impressive suspension bridge (toll £6.70 or $8.50 lots of options for payment including cash!).

Bridge over the River Severn Estuary

Soon we were in the beautiful small city of Abergavenny. We hadn't thought there would be much there, but soon discovered otherwise. We are in a small hotel (Angel Hotel) right in the center, and we enjoyed wandering down the streets looking in the shops. It is impressive in this day and age to find 3 drug stores like we knew in our youth within a couple blocks plus numerous clothing stores and specialty shops.

We went in a grocery store and bought a few snacks. Tom could find single serving dried soups he likes and obsesses about. Elaine was enamored with the flat peaches she saw, about the size of a donut (sans hole.)

Flat Peaches

She was also excited about the knitting shop-best ever! with a pattern for knitting a teddy bear, and making the clothes for.

Knitted teddy bear

Little "Westie" greeted us at our hotel

Street scene of Abergavenny, Wales

Street signs in English and Welsh

Tom with eco-friendly run-about at our hotel

Tom's red rice salad topped with tofu

Joel, Tom and Elaine eating supper at our hotel (The Angel) in Abergavenny.

We are gradually getting the hang of roundabouts. There are small and large ones and may have as many as 5 exits. Those entering must yield to those already in the circle. You have a lot to watch for. If you make a mistake, it can be disastrous, but other drivers will quickly let you know you are in the wrong with a horn or flashing headlights. We can only think how much easier it would be with an automatic transmission rather than a 6-speed. That, and trying to decide how and when to signal your intentions. It's really an efficient system.  If it's apt to have lots of traffic, they will use signal-lights. It must be cheaper to put a roundabout on a 4-lane freeway rather than build an overpass since that's what you often find.

Very nice.  Wish we were there!  - Cheryl K-S

Tom, Thank you for the interesting photos, you must have a great time in UK. Fred K.

Loving the travelogues ... as are Bev, Sharlene, Jeanne and my architect friend, Jim, who you  met over lunch during one  of my visits (Jack London Square). Looks like you  are having great fun! Hugs, Ruth K.

You are such a great photographer and I love your descriptions of each place!  Carol S.

Wow, wow, wow – “rice salad topped with tofu“ ?
Those darn Asians are taking over – imagine, TOFU made it to Wales? Jon H.

Hallo Tom, Elaine, Joel and Terry, Thank you for the mails about your journey in Great Britann. We wish you all a very good time in this country.
Should you want to come to Germany please visit us in Pracht/Bitzbruch. But you have to mail early about this, so we can prepare somthing. Best greatings from Renate. Best greatings also from Willi.

Thanks for delightful travelogue. Sylvia S.

Loved seeing Oxford again. Stanford U. sent my brother and 5 other doctors there for 6 months. Lucky for them. They used a those coins for furnace(?) heat.  Rosemary J.

June 22 Abergavenny & Aberystwyth, Wales Say that 3 times fast!

Yesterday: Selfie Sticks at Summer Solstice at Stonehenge.
(we were not there that day)

After a record heat wave, we awoke to cloudy skies and cooler temperatures. We got all packed up and left our car parked while we walked a couple blocks to the remains of the castle at Abergavenny. What we could see was impressive.

Abergavenny Castle is the remains of a Roman fortress (built around 1000 ad)

Joel, Terry and Tom at Abergavenny Castle

Elaine at Abergavenny Castle. Town in background.

We drove from there toward Sugarloaf Mountain. It was a beautiful route, but for 1 ½ miles it was so narrow that the grass touched the car from both sides. Fortunately, we met no one until we got down to a turnoff. Terry thought he had read that the car coming downhill had to back up if it were to meet another car. Luckily, we didn't have to test it. At the trailhead we walked a short way trying to identify all the plants in the hedgerow. We think the row may start with a wire fence and then plants and bushes grow up on it. Either way it's impenetrable.

Terry and Tom on Sugarloaf Mountain outside of Abergavenny


Abergavenny in the distance.

A sign warned us not to park with the car sticking out in the roadway since farm machinery came through frequently and would cause damages.

At Sugarloaf parking lot

From there we drove on secondary roads about 70 miles to the Welsh coast. It is very beautiful countryside with numerous farms of cows and sheep. The roads were in very good shape although they narrowed considerably when we got to a town. Usually there is just barely room for one lane each way. Parking is allowed on one side. That means that traffic has to dodge each other to get by.

People here are remarkably easy going and make do. Even the honks of the horns are polite and used sparingly. As we understand it, pedestrians have the right to walk on the sidewalk or the street and cross wherever they like. That doesn't mean they have the right of way, so if they don't watch carefully, they had better be prepared to jump out of the way. When It comes right down to it, the only alternative is to destroy historic villages for the sake of the car. We would rather see them preserved. When compared with Oregon, Britain has 64 million people, Oregon 4 million. Oregon's land size is slightly larger. No wonder it seems a bit crowded here.

Elaine in Aberystwyth, Wales on Irish Sea

In the afternoon, we arrived at our destination, Aberystwyth. It is a small town on the Irish Sea that reminds us of, well Seaside, OR, except that the buildings are older. Along the water, there are three story lodgings attached to each other. They had fallen into some disrepair, but we are happy to report that they are being renovated. Our hotel is one of those that is probably due for a makeover, but it is well-located and has a lively pub/restaurant business on the ground floor.

Tom, Joel and Terry in front of our hotel (Hotel Glengower) in Aberystwyth.

Terry, Elaine and Tom on street in Aberystwyth

We went for a walk around town and decided to take a small narrow gauge steam railway (Vale of Rheidol Railway) up into the hills to Devil's Bridge. We're all fans of "Hinterland" a detective show set in this area. In fact, that's one of the reasons we were drawn to it. We remembered the body lodged in the falls under the bridge and how our hero climbed down there in the rain risking life and limb to recover it. The bridge is actually 3 bridges built one on top of the other through the ages. Unfortunately, we would have had to pay and walk down a lot of steps to actually see the bridges.

Hinterland is shot twice: once with English dialog and again in Welsh.

Tourist steam train to Devil's Bridge, Aberystwyth

The views from the train were stunning, mostly farm land. Occasionally there were tailings from long extinct lead mines.

From the train

One of the stations on the narrow gauge steam train to Devil's Bridge.

Joel and train conductor at the end of the line

Waterfalls and steps at taken from Devil's Bridge

Terry in front of the train's steam engine

Fueling engine with coal

Train cars on the "Vale of Rheidol Railway"

Elaine, Tom and Terry near our hotel in Aberystwyth


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Aloha Tom, I am enjoying your travelog.  I don't know if I would have the nerve to drive in the UK - especially on the roundabouts.  I loved Hinterland and Richard Harrington.  I would sometimes pause while watching to see if I could make out what brand of jeans he wore.  I love British Detective shows!  Have you watched Sheltland?  What about Cucumber (not a detective show)?  

I noticed how warm it was in the UK.  Nice the heat wave broke.  Enjoy the trip and sharing it with friends and family. Hugs, Mike

Wish I were there!!! It's 96 degrees at my house, 3pm on Saturday. More of the same if not worse on Sunday. Pam  L.

Thanks so much for sharing your pictures and your travels with me.  I feel like I am there with you.   Looks like you are having a great time.  I applaud your group for renting a car and driving.  I be too scared of getting into an accident. Keep sharing Love Gladys Z.

 Your photos are beautiful!  That Welsh language could use a few more vowels! Thanks for "taking us along."  Say hi to everyone.  All is well here!
Blessings,  Deb P.

Lovely!  Terry is right about the downhill car needing to back up.  It was that way in the early days of California when my dad was a carpenter at Yosemite and driving in the back way through the mountains.  When you think about  it, it makes sense. Backing downhill is very dangerous and hard on the brakes.  Backing uphill, while annoying, is safer as you have gravity working with you to stop the car if you make a mistake.

Keep the travelogues coming.  We all are enjoying them!

Hugs, Ruth K.


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