Tag Archives: Family Travel

Our Trip To The UK Part~10

5 Feb

 A Slice of Life

By Bill Lites

Bill

 

Then it was up to the Moffatt Woollens Mill at Ladyknowe House, in Moffat, the most northern point of our trip, where I bought a really great Harris Tweed sport jacket and DiVoran bought a beautiful turquoise 100% Argyle sweater and matching pair of knee socks.  We both loved our Scottish items and wear them every chance we get, on those really cold (but very few) occasions we have here in Central Florida.  That is, until DiVoran washed her sweater in hot water and you know the rest of that story.  Boo Hoo! 

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While we were in Moffat, we just had to visit the home of Dorothy Emily Stevenson, DiVoran’s favorite author.  And yes, Robert Louis Stevenson was her grandfather’s brother.  It seems that D. E. Stevenson, who was born in Edinburgh, Scotland spent many years of her life with her husband James Peploe, in Glasgow, until Glasgow was bombed, in the early 1940s.  it was then that she and James moved to Moffat.  Like DiVoran, Stevenson had started writing when she was very young, but because of family duties, and WWII, didn’t start publishing her novels until later in her life.

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Not long after leaving Moffat, we saw the Scottish West Highland train moving across the famous Glenfinnan Viaduct, and what a sight that was!  Located at the top of Loch Shiel in the West Highlands of Scotland, crossing over the viaduct offers train travelers spectacular views down Lochaber’s Loch Shiel.  The view from the road wasn’t bad either.

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We had planned to travel North all the way to Inverness, Scotland but a huge Atlantic storm moved in from the West, and we decided instead to head back down the Eastern side of England.  This took us thru Newcastle and Durham, to our next stop in the city of York, as we tried to outrun the storm.  One of the things I learned on this trip was that a cup of hot tea will take the chill off of those cold windy English days.  And, one of the most popular teas used by our hosts in most of the B & Bs was called “Ty-Phoo Tea” brand English Blend, and I learned to drink it English style, with milk and sugar.  Of course, DiVoran already knew all this, having been the hot tea drinker in our family for years.

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The city of York is bounded on the North by the North Yorkshire Moors and on the West by the Yorkshire Dales, which is “Harriot Country” made famous by author, James Harriot (James Alfred Wight), who lived and wrote of his veterinary practice in the countryside around the town of Thirsk.   Also in this area is the famous Robin Hood Bay, dating back to medieval times.  A 15th century English ballad and legend tells a story of Robin Hood and his band of merry men encountering French pirates who had come to pillage the fisherman’s boats along the northeast English coast.  After a brief skirmish, the pirates surrendered to Robin Hood, and he returned the loot to the poor people in the fishing village that is now called Robin Hood’s Bay.

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We were told that a “must see” in York was the York Minster Cathedral of circa 1100, and they were right.  There is evidence that there has been a church of one type or another in this location since 627 AD.  The present cathedral now sits on the ruins of structures from at least three major time periods, and their structural differences can be seen.   There is Norman style 1070-1154, English Gothic style 1230-1472 and Perpendicular Gothic style 1730-1880.  Under Elizabeth I, there was a concerted effort to remove all traces of Roman Catholicism from the cathedral, and it became the seat of the Archbishop of York, the second-highest office of the Church of England.   It is an absolutely magnificent cruciform shaped edifice.  The outside is beautiful, but the interior is indescribably spectacular!  There isn’t room in this blog for all the beautiful pictures of the Cathedral, but you can Google the “York Minster Cathedral” and see it all for yourself.

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—–To Be Continued—–

 

Our Trip to the UK~Part 4

26 Dec

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

Bill Lites

Bill Lites

Our Trip To The UK Part 4

By Bill Lites

 There seemed to be a Pub close to most everywhere we stayed, and Whitmoor Farm was no exception.  Just down the road a short distance, was “The Nobody Inn” where many of the locals took their meals and a pint or two after work.  The food was always good, but the servings were larger than what is normally served in the U.S.   Even when DiVoran and I would share, there was still food left over, and we didn’t have anywhere to keep it over night. 

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We headed west to the Cornwall area, intending to visit the home of Dame Daphne du Maurier in Kilmarth, where she lived and wrote many of her now famous books.  But, we ended up at the now famous Jamaica Inn and Museum, in the middle of the Bodmin Moor.  We had afternoon tea at the inn, while browsing the many posters and memorabilia they have collected, related to the famous Cornwall coastal area.  The Jamaica Inn, was originally established in 1750 as a Coaching House and staging post for changing horses during stagecoach runs over the moor.  The inn is known for being the base for smugglers in the past, and has also gained notoriety, for allegedly, being one of the most haunted places in Great Britain. It is also known as the setting for du Maurier’s novel by the same name, which was published in 1936.

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As you may know, du Maurier was known for her romantic suspense novels, such as Jamaica Inn, My Cousin Rachel, and The House on the Strand.  After we finished our tea, we visited the “Smugglers Museum” adjacent to the Inn.  The museum’s focus is its collection of smuggling artifacts that depicts the history of the Jamaica Inn and the inn’s role in the smuggling trade over the years.  The museum has also recreated a room that du Maurier used to do some of her writing, using various items owned by her, including her writing desk and typewriter.  This was all especially interesting for DiVoran, as du Maurier was, at one time, one of her favorite authors, and told me all about how her novels were filled with lots of smugglers and intrigue.  As an example, in her novel, Jamaica Inn, the plot follows a group of murderous wreckers who run ships aground, kill the sailors and steal their loot.          

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As we headed north, we stopped near the city of Bristol, and enjoyed the Dunan Guesthouse, where Sandra Devereux showed us a wonderful time and another wonderful typical English breakfast.  Then it was on north to the city of Hereford, located in Herefordshire, on the Wye River, to visit their cathedral and the surrounding area.  Hereford is another of the many, what in England is called a cathedral city, and is dominated by its beautiful 12th century Hereford Cathedral and many other city buildings and structures from that same time period.

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 The name “Hereford” is said to come from the Anglo Saxon “here”, meaning an army or formation of soldiers, and the word “ford”, a place for crossing a river.  The Wye Bridge is said to be the first bridge built to span the Wye River and dates back to the 12th century.  Hereford is rich with history, and even claims to be the birthplace of Nell Gwyn, the 17th century actress and mistress of King Charles II of England. 

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While visiting the city of Hereford and the Cathedral, we enjoyed all the comforts of another English B & B.   This time it was at the Webton Court Farmhouse, run by Mr. & Mrs. Andrews, who made DiVoran and me feel right at home, with a bountiful home cooked dinner, fit for a king and his queen.  What a wonderful time that was!

 

 

—–To Be Continued—–

 

 

 

 

Our Trip to Italy-Part 1

6 Mar

A Slice of Life

 Bill Lites

Bill

 It was the Winter of 1999, and our friend Marsha was in the middle of an 18-month TDY assignment with Disney in Porte Marghera, Italy as part of the group supporting constructionof their second Disney cruise ship, the “Wonder.”  Marsha was a longtime writing friend of DiVoran’s who had worked for Disney on their first Disney cruise ship, the “Magic” and was very familiar with the surrounding Italian area.

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She asked DiVoran and I if we would like to come visit her, as she had plenty of room for the both of us, in the rented apartment she was living in at the time.  She also mentioned that she could take some time off, if we came, and escort us around central Italy to see some of the many interesting and historical sites that area of the country had to offer.  Since I had accrued enough Sky miles with Delta Air Lines to get free round-trip flights for both of us, we thought, “This could be an opportunity of a lifetime!”  It didn’t take much arm-twisting to get us to agree to go, and we started making reservations.  The next thing we knew, were on our way.2

 Our first stop was in Milan.  After a one-hour bus ride from the airport to the Metro station, we took a 30-minute underground train ride to the town center, where we had lunch at the Autogrill.  Once we found our small quaint Hotel Speronari, we had a nap and our first laugh of the trip.  DiVoran spotted the “In case of fire” instructions on the back of our hotel room door; it read “Remain in a quiet and calm mood, walk on your fours, and protect your nose and mouth with a damp handkerchief.” What a hoot!  But then, how silly that would sound if I tried to say that in Italian?  After a cup of tea, we were ready to venture out to see some of the sights of the city.

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Our hotel was just one block off the city square, which was surrounded with elegant shops, filled with beautiful jewelry, furs, and luxurious fabrics.  Every third woman was wearing some type of fur coat.  We had never seen so many fur coats in our lives.  The Duomo (cathedral) in Milan’s, city square was a must see, and we were properly impressed.  It is the third largest Duomo  in Europe and took 500 years to build.  It is beautifully decorated inside with 52 Sequoia columns, each 150 feet tall, and as many as 2000 carved statues gracing the outside.

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A Japanese couple, who had just been married, were in the process of having their pictures taken in the Piazza Duomo among all the pigeons and tourists.  What a sight that was.  After that, we got directions on how to get to the Castello Sforzesco, which was built in the 15th century and houses Michelangelo’s unfinished Rondanini Pieta.

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 Back in the city square, we strolled the streets looking at the many fresh fruit and vegetable stands.  Then we came across a candy store where their fruits looked so real we couldn’t believe it, and sure enough, they weren’t, they were Marzipan.  What a surprise!  Of course, DiVoran had to have some, and boy were they good.  They were so unusual that we brought some home and kept them in our freezer for years.

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    —–To be Continued—–

 

Our Trip Across America – Part 9

5 Dec

A Slice of Life

   Bill Lites

Bill

 

As we headed East for the beginning of our return trip we decided to camp at the famous Donner Pass camping area along the Truckee River at over 7000 ft altitude.  It had been pretty hot on the drive from Fort Bragg, so we didn’t even think about the altitude being a factor.  We cooked supper and set around a campfire enjoying the beautiful scenery.  It started cooling off as we began cleaning up the supper dishes.   We kept thinking, “Hey, it’s mid-July, how cold can it get?”  Well, let me tell you, when the sun went down, it got COLD.  We ended up running our little electric heater full blast all night and sleeping in several layers of clothes and we were still cold.

Sign

   

I don’t know how cold it got that night, but the next morning a half glass of water next to my bed was frozen solid.  You would have thought that experience would have caused me to research our campsites a little better the next time, but of course, it didn’t, because back then we were young and indestructible.

 

Statue

Our trip East took us across the high desert to our next stop in Lovelock, Nevada, near the Ute Indian Reservation, where DiVoran was born.  We toured the small town and enjoyed a picnic lunch in the city park.  As we were leaving Lovelock, we passed a group of people riding turn-of-the- century big-wheel bicycles.  What a sight that was.

 

Mts

 

Then it was on East through Winnemucca to Elko, Nevada where we experienced our firs family style Basque dinner (including French fries?)at one of the local boarding houses.

 

boardinghouse

We later learned that Elko was the site for one of the annual “Cowboy Poetry Gatherings” and was honored on the Johnny Carson Show.  We recorded the show where Johnny was impressed, as we were, with some very unusual Cowboy poetry.

cowboys 1cowboy 2

 

 

 

This inspired DiVoran to write a poem of her own, and paint a picture to illustrate it.  The poem was about an experience that took place later in Colorado and goes something like this:

 

Bridget’s Mustang

  By DiVoran Lites

Horse trader come down the draw

In a boil of red-powder dust.

I saw he had three stallions,

And own that one, I must.

“I’ll take the paint;” I say,

“He looks like he’s got soul.

The mare’s in the corral.

Next year we’ll have a foal”.

“You keep an eye on him.” the trader says.

“He’s mustang through and through,

a wild one from the range.”

Foal next year? Maybe two.

“You’ve got fine boys and pups,” he said.

The trader wasn’t done.

You need to jaw around these parts.

It’s all that makes life fun.

“My little `un,” says I, “he’s four.”

My boys are twins—them two

I can’t keep clean clothes on their backs,

Nor none will wear a shoe.

“The pups? Well, one’s part wolf,” I said

“You see those pale, cold eyes?

He has to play the alpha.

Now that ain’t no surprise.”

“You ever want another horse,

I’ll bring one out this way.

Now, watch him close, don’t leave him

For at least a night and day.”

The pups dance all around,

The boys run to and fro,

the horses mill in the corral,

And oh, the dust does blow.

painting

 

—–To Be Continued—–

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