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Traveling in England and Wales!

06-06-2018 | By Jeff Day |

I had a really nice visit to England and Wales over the last couple of weeks, and just got back.

If you were wondering why I was slower than usual answering comments and emails, that's why, and I still might be a little slow catching up on answering email and messages as I'm really jet-lagged! If I miss answering a message, ping me again to remind me!

If you read my Facebook post about my trip, this is the same thing but with photos added. Honestly, I'm not trying to bore you all with my travel photos (and there's actually a few audio and music things along the way that I talk about), but this post gives me a record to look back on of my travels, so it is a bit self serving as well.

The British Museum.

The Rosetta Stone at the British Museum.

I stayed a few days in London (Kensington), visiting the Churchill War Rooms, Westminster Abby (the Poet's Corner in the Abby is a must see!), the Tower of London, the British Museum, St. Peter's, saw The Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty's Theatre (followed by some very tasty Vesper Martinis), etc.

The Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty's Theatre was a lot of fun!

Phantom of the Opera!

Classic "Vesper" James Bond martinis before & after the opera was a real treat!

The real standout in London wasn't seeing the Crown Jewels, which was cool, but rather dinner and a great bottle of Napa Valley wine at ffiona's in Kensington! Definitely check out ffiona's if you are in Kensington, but be sure to get reservations well in advance as ffiona's is rather small with only a few tables. Prices are reasonable. Be sure to tell ffiona that Jeff sent you!

Ffiona's in Kensington. A little slice of heaven on earth!

Then we took the train to Bath, where we visited the Royal Crescent, had cream tea at The Pump Rooms, visited the Jane Austen Centre, the Fashion Museum, did a cask beer tasting in an ancient pub (thanks Liz!), visited the Roman baths, and listened to some terrific live jazz.

The Royal Crescent.

The Royal Crescent.

The Roman baths in Bath, England.

The Fashion Museum documents clothing styles of women, men, and children through British history.

Cask beer tasting!

Gavin Lazarus (guitar) and friends playing some great jazz standards in Bath. If you get a chance to hear Gavin don't miss it, he's terrific!

We next went to the ruins of Glastonbury Abby (rumored to be the burial place of King Arthur) and Wells cathedral ...

... made a short stop in the village of Lacock for refreshments and a short walk about ...

... then went to Avebury to see the prehistoric stone circle (think Stonehenge), and had a picnic in the Tithe Barn at Avebury.

We visited the gaudy Blenheim Palace where I was able to pick up a Barbour gilet in the gift shop that I've been wanting forever at about a third the cost they go for in the States!

Blenheim Palace. Hitler wanted to make it his own after he conquered England. Didn't work out that way did it!

They were filming a movie while we were there (a new version of Around the World in 80 Days, I think), which was interesting, and then we set off for Stow on the Wold.

Visited the classy old Stanway House in Cheltenham that was so very tasteful in every way.

The Stanway House, a classy example of a Jacobean manor house.

We saw the working flour mill there, the gravity fountain, and you'll never guess what happened when I pushed a button on the wall! 

The old flour mill is still a working mill!

Inside the mill.

Before pushing the button ...

... after pushing the button the fountain erupted!

We had a nice walk on a public footpath in the Cotswold countryside ...

The Cotswolds walk was beautiful!

The Cotswolds footpath view.

Beauty everywhere!


...  and had some local Cotswold musicians play some music for us after dinner.

The banjo player reminded me of my buddy John April, an excellent musician here in Washington State who can play both the banjo and guitar superbly!

John, you would have fit right in with these musicians in the Cotswolds!

John's favorite banjo joke: "Do you know what you call a thousand banjos at the bottom of a lake? A start!" Ha, ha!

The joke can also be used interchangeably for accordions, like my older brother Bob used to play. 😉

We visited Stokesay castle and watched a bit of knights in armor fun, and had a mead tasting experience (yawn- not my favorite beverage!).

Stokesay Castle.

The fate of knights and ladies of the time ends here.

We then went to Wales and stopped at Llangollen, where I found a chocolate Harris Tweed sport coat like I've been wanting for ages.

Then we went to Conwy and met Gareth at his sheep farm, which was a very memorable experience (see my earlier post), and quite illuminating about the negative impact Brexit is having on the farmers in the UK. Gareth could lose up to 60% of his farming income when Brexit goes into effect.

Gareth at his sheep farm giving us a talk about farming in the UK. As a subtitle: never buy a used car from a farmer (note the dented roof)!

A sheep herding demo with Gareth's Border Collies ... no, no ... the BC's are out of the photo getting ready to take a run at the sheep!

Gareth getting ready to shear a sheep!

Shearing in process ...

A happy sheared sheep ... well sort of happy!

The sheared wool off the sheep in one piece!

Gareth's daughter makes lovely wool hearts by hand to sell to help pay for her upcoming college education! I picked up a wool heart for my Mom, who has Welsh genetic heritage!

Wool hearts!

We then visited Caernarfon castle, and went to the Llanberris slate museum where we watched a Jon Jo slate splitting demonstration.

The Welsh Slate Museum.

If you think your job is tough, try slate mining for a while, and you may think you've got it pretty good after all!

Slate splitting demonstration.

Who would have thought an old slate mine could be so photographable!

Slate mining.

Slate mining and processing.

In the workers quarters at the slate mine we came across a nice old Garrard integrated stereo system - beautiful!

Workers quarters at the slate mine.

A lovely old Garrard stereo unit in the workers quarters - I'd love to have that one in my audio collection!

Next we visited Bodnant Gardens, which was truly spectacular.

Laburnum Arch

The Laburnum Arch was in full bloom and was really breathtaking.

Then it was off to the Lake District for a little relaxing boat ride and some down time.

The Lake District.

The Lake District.

The Lake District.

Along the way we visited the Roman Army Museum and Hadrian's Wall at Vindolanda and Cawfields.

The Vindolanda Roman archeological site of the 2nd and 3rd centuries A.D.

Part of the Roman Vindolanda archeological site - a must see!

The museum at Vindolanda was really impressive, and I would have liked to spend more time there. Below is a photo of the exhibit of Roman boxing gloves at the museum, of which I snapped a photo so I could send it to my friend Santos, an excellent boxer, as I knew he'd find it interesting.

Boxing gloves in Roman times.

Hadrian's Wall.

Next up was York where we walked the ancient city walls with the Minster bells sounding. We visited The Shambles "Europe's best preserved medieval street", saint Margaret Clithero's house, and Cliffords Tower.

I was poisoned by the most vile martini I've ever experienced at an Indian dinner in York, and courtesy of Montezuma I missed the next morning's tour to York Minster, but Betty's tea room put a smile back on my face due to a really nice lunch and cream tea later in the day.

York Minster

Lunch at Betty's in York.

Cream tea at Betty's in York.

Also had dinner at Guy Fawkes Inn, which was a lot of fun (a local told me Guy Fawkes was the only person to go to the House of Lords with honest intent to serve the people).

Guy Fawkes Inn for dinner and a drink.

Also in York I stopped in for a quick visit to say "Hi!" to the guys at Sound Organisation, where Bob Priestly was kind enough to show me around the store to view their fine selection of audio gear: Linn, Naim, B&W, and other audio goodies abounded!

Bob Priestley at Sound Organisation in York.

If you get a chance stop in and say "Hi!" to Bob and the other cool guys at Sound Organisation!

Sound Organisation in York.

Artwork featuring the nice people at Sound Organisation in York - a fun group!

Then it was back to London for a few days for more fun and games, and then the long trip home. Still recovering from jet lag.

Thames boat ride to the Tower of London.

Shakespeare's Globe Theatre.

I'm listening to jazz on the vintage Altec 832A Corona's right now (I love them more every minute!), and am enjoying a vacation from my vacation!

A trip to England wouldn't be complete without a photo of fish & chips, so here you go - all's good! Cheers!

There will be lots more cool audio stuff to come once I get back in sync with my time zone!

As always, thanks for stopping by, and may the tone be with you!

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