The subjects on this blog are mainly political and theological, but your ideas on other topics are welcome. My hope is that we can dialog honestly even if we disagree.. There are some previous posts on this blog. I will be responsible for them even though I may no longer fully support them.

Welcome again!

Friday, June 18, 2010

York: a great English ciy

Yorkminster June 15 Tuesday

A day spent walking close to the edge of heaven. We decided to spend the day with the magnificent church structure, known as Yorkminister. Just to approach this building is.an intimidating event. Never have i seen so huge and so awesome a place of worship.

                                            (a side view)
First, Judee wanted to walk around the outside. A really good choice. Half way around we sat on bench and examined the Gothic design the statues of the saints and the gargoyles placed there to ward off evil. As we turned the southwest corner we came back to the statue of Constantine--the Roman Emperor who opened the door of toleration for Christianity. He was in York when his father died, and it was there he was proclaimed emperor.  The city of York commissioned this statue a few years ago.

Inside one is impressed by the size of the place. Over 2,000 can be seated for worship. There are twelve chapels, one of which was celebrating Holy Communion as our tour group passed. The nave was built in 1300 AD.

Our tour guide spent nearly the entire hour giving the history of a thousand stained glass windows. Perhaps I am just too hickified for this sort of thing but I could have had a better experience just sitting in a corner and taking it all in.

We went down to the " Undercross" area below the main floor. There you can find three levels of history: Roman, Norman and medieval. The Romans had built a secular basilica sometime before the 3rd or 4 th century. I stood on the very street where a Roman soldier stood guarding an entrance. Many stone artifacts were on display
The Norman invasion brought with it the construction of a Norman cathedral about 80% the size of the current one.

Well, I got home before finishing this day and Yorkminster.

We did attend Evensong at the minstrel and I did purchase a small gargoyle.

The next day we rode the train from York to London and spent the night in our last Bed and Breakfast. Early on Thursday we grabbed a Tube and got to Heathrow. Got through all the red tape, Had c. ten hour flight to Houston, then a 40 minute jog to San Antonio.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Kiburn to York June 15

Kilburn to York June 14-15

Cathy, Judee's cousinto took us to Thirsk (an old Viking town) where we caught a train to York. We immediately bought tickets to London (and reserved seats). We checked into our B&B (Abbeyfield) which is the nicest accommodations of our trip. After a nap we walked around this ancient and beautiful city .. York is a must see for any visit to England.

Roman structures from the third century are here. Constantine was proclaimed Roman emperor here. The Yorkminster Abbey is awesome. We stopped off and ate pizza on the way back to our B&B.

Today, Tuesday, we will take a tour of Yorkminster and attend Evensong worship. Judee has several sights lined up. As wonderful as all this is, my heart is now pointing to San Antonio via London.

We are truly fortunate to have been able to make this trip; and blessed with great home and friends to return home to.

Tomorrow night, London. Thursday, San Antonio.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Bath, Epworth, Kilburn (NW of York) June 11-13

Bath, Epworth, Kilburn (York) June 11-13
We travelled on the Northern railway for four hours. The cars are clean and comfortable but we discovered that purchasing tickets gurantees travel, but does not guarantee a seat. So we stood up a portion of the trip

We transferred to a smaller train for the trip to Epworth. On the way I struck up a conversation with a blind man who told me that Epworth was a very small town with only a few stores and no social life. So we were surprised to find that Epworth was a market town of 6,000, many businesses and a roaring social life.

We did find St Andrew's Church where Samuel Wesley was buried. And that is
where John Wesley preached on his.father's tomb. We were not able to go into the church because we were late getting there.

We stayed at the Red Lions Inn--a place where John Wesjey stayed sometimes. And a party took place close by which was rather lively until around midnight.

The next morning Judee decided to have a "full English breakfast": eggs ,bacon, sausage, mushrooms, beans, tomatoes, toast, jam and coffee.

On to the old rectory where more surprises lay in store. The place was a magnificent building with 12 rooms, perhaps, and some magnificent furniture

(some, not much). The rectory was owned by the Church of England, but one must remember that Susanah often noted that the family lived on the edge of poverty. The house is a treasure of personal possessions and memorabilia of John Wesley. We had a fine guide but I disagreed with her on several issues.

This picture shows a wax representation of John Wesley done by Madam Tussaud's wax museum and donated to the parsonage.  My wife is five feet tall, so you can see the Father John was a rather small man.

Charles chose to sabotage a romance between John and Grace Murray because  (1)-she was a domestic servant (beneath John's status). (2)-John received a stipend as an Oxford Don so long as he did not marry. He chose to give this stipend to Charles' wife.  It follows that  stipend would stop if John married. (3)  Charles feared John's dedication to his ministry would diminish if he were to marry//fat chance)

I am very glad we visited Epworth.,

A bus back to Doncaster, and a train ride to YorK where we were met by Cathy and Nick. Cathy is cousin of Judee--the two had never met. We went to their home @ Kilburn (nw of York), had a super supper of lasagna and a good night's sleep. there is something special about family no matter how distant the connection.


A side note re automobiles: I have noticed the following types of cars in England
Vauxhall, Volkswagen, Ford, Citroen, ILT, Honda, Volvo and surely there are more.
If General Motors is selling cars here I do not recognize them

And we noticed a "box store" with the name "ASDA" and in small letters "A
part of the Wal Mart Family",

Another interesting note: a service station was selling gasoline for £1.13 a liter. That would be around $1.78 a liter. I don't remember how many liters are in a gallon but guess c. 4 If so that means gasoline is selling for nearly $7.00 ? Do the Brits pray more taxes. Why don't we , in light of our deficit?

Cheerio, Wheaties and Grape Nut Flakes

Bath, Lacock, Stonehenge, June 10 Thursday

Lacock was a waste of time to me. Judee said it was charming. The vIllage was built from the 11th to 14th centuries and is used in many movies, Harry Potter being one.

Stonehenge was a tremendous place--awesome, mystifying and, alas, only 45 minutes
were allotted to walk around it. Some spiritual motivation must have driven the massive and prolonged effort. This construction took place some. 5,000 years ago. I speculate the people worshipped a "Sun God"--but that is just conjecture. There is a mystical quality here.

We did eat at Thr Huntsman (Bath's oldest pub) and had wonderful English cuisine. judee enjoyed fish and chips and I had ia great sample of pub food: an 8 oz cheese burger And chips and a Carling.

Tomorrow we take a train (four hour trip) from.Bath to Doncaster and then a bus over to Epworth where we will spend the night, walk around the town and take a tour of the Wesley parsonage. We feel rather smug that we have learned how to get around the bus stations and.rail stations. But it Is a new day. . .

We miss everyone, and Angus!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Bristol Bath

Newton Guest House, Oxford, June 9

Did I mention that yesterday, while waiting for our bus to take us from Blenheim Palace to Oxford i met a fellow from Africa. He was visiting Oxford where he had attended college. We had an interesting conversation about the world debt crisis.

At breakfast i asked for bacon and got ham. It is the unfulfilled expectations that makes for travel frustrations--minor yet present. Our cook and waitress Is from Brazil. Combine my Texas dialect with her Portugese and miracles need to happen.

Yesterday we walked from our BnB to.the rail station. Couldn't figure out which bus to get on.

Today we are on a train going from Oxford to Bristol. Doing anything for the first time is fqull of confusion but have been rescued by very nice people.

Met a man at train station waiting for a transfer. He had a very sweet little dog named "Feather". He had gone to Oxford to buy a new car: a 17 year old Mercedez-Benz. He was a retired musician and said he appeared in a movie with "the American comic genius, Mel Brook".

We got to Bristol and managed to find John Wesley's New Room. I confess to shedding a few tears and raising some chill bumps upon entering the sanctuary. It is a plain facility but heavily laden with Wesley's spirit. David Worthington, manager of the structure, took us on a tour--enlightening, inspiring.

A bus ride to Bath where we found the Wentworth House Hotel. We settled in for a nap, then headed for downtown Bath. The Bath Abbey, Roman Baths, the Avon River. The vast majority of the buildings in this city are said to have been built in the 18 th century (surely not?). We found the pickup place for our tour of Stonehenge tomorrow.

Then off to dinner at a favorite diner: McDonalds--and that great English delicacy, a quarter-pounder, fries and a large diet Coke with extra ICE.

Another "to-do" for tomorrow is to get back to an Internet cafe and send this page out.


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Blenheim Palace (north of Oxford) June 8 Tuesday

Tuesday June 8 OXFORD
Spent the night at Newton's Guest House. the water was nice and warm. It does seem that most things here are smaller.
The transportation system is super: underground, buses, coaches (intercity buses), trains. It is possible I am sure to get around with no car quite well.

Breakfast at our B n B. Judee said it was good.

At noon we were at Blenheim Palace (some twenty miles north of Oxford). Winston Churchill was born here and is buried here. He never lived here but did spend considerable time as a youth here.

We met a couple from Boston at lunch. They had rented a car. I think it would be extremely unwise for me to try to drive on the left side of the road,

The first part of the tour was going thru the rooms of the palace and hearing about the Dukes of Marlborough. The last part was dramatic presentations of the personal lives of the dukes and duchesses.

Back to Oxford, and late lunch @ McDonalds. This is the. Way the world should eat.

We bought train tickets to Bristol and Bath for 36 pounds. We will travel there tomorrow. We will see Wesley's "New Room" and then Stonehenge at Salisbury. Time is flying past. Tomorrow will be our seventh day here (I think). CHEERIO!

Monday, June 7, 2010


We arrived in London on June 4 (Thursday) , and checked into our authentic London hotel, The  Holiday Inn Express.  This view is looking out of our window to a double decker bus.  It was a unique thing at that time.  Soon  double deckers were everywhere and not so unique.

We made the mistake of ignoring all the warnings about "jet lag"; and, went to the Globe Theater on our first day in London.  We had arrived some time before noon, took a nap (mistake) and went to the Globe Theater sleepy, sleepy, sleepy.

The Globe was restored by Sam Wanamaker (American filmmaker?) and was a great experience, except for us nearly falling off our seats from lack of sleep (no backs).

@on Friday we went to Wesley's Chapel, said to be the mother church of Methodism.  The chapel is a functioning church, and a wedding rehearsal as going on, so we did not get down into the sanctuary.  However, I did get to stand in a pulpit, said to have been used by John Wesley. 

Across the street from the Chapel was a cemetery where Susanna Wesley was buried; however we could not find her grave, as there was no map to the gravesites.  We did find graves for William Blake and John Bunyan.

The picture to the right is the home of John Wesley   
which is next door to the chapel.  But alas, Mister Wesley was not home and we could not
have a cup of tea together.  Below is a picture of his grave, which is behind the Chapel.  And a   close-up of the memorial statement on his grave.

The Wesley Chapel had the atmosphere of a cherished museum, and the guide who led us around was rather formal and structured.  He did not really want to hear anything I had to say about Wesley.

We went back to the hotel, got some fish and chips from a neighborhood vendor.  Long John Silver can beat this.  But, the next day I found a Burger King a block from the  hotel.

The next day, we got smart and took a tour bus of London, where we saw more things than I can remember.  I do remember circling Trafalgar Square the guide pointing to the Admiral Lord Nelson's statue.   As we came around to the other side of the circle, he pointed out a view of the Rear Admiral Lord Nelson.

We did get to  Buckingham Palace, but alas did not have our camera.  We say the changing of the guard, but, no offense meant to the Brits, I was more impressed with the same ceremony done at the tomb of the unknown soldier, in Washington D.C.

We did see the Texas  Embassy Bar as the bus whizzed around a corner; but, I couldn't find it again on a bet.

Yesterday was a tiring and slow day. We walked a lot. Riding the Underground to major destinations, walking in between. Must figure out the bus routes soon. Saturday wanderings :

@ it took us some time get there, but we did find an Internet cafe near Trafalgar
Today we went to the Churchill War Room and museum. Got a great quote from WC:
We are worms, but I do believe I am a glow worm."

Then on to the Methodist Center for a great salad lunch Hit the spot.

Next to the National Gallery where we saw all the famous artists that we learned about in art history. I decided I am more of. An audio responder than a visual,.
Tomorrow we go to Oxford for two days. We expect to have better wi-fi

Monday June 7 Oxford

Took a snazzy double decker bus to Oxford (it had wifi) Took a city bus to our Bed and B'fast. walking down the street I noticed the men's shoes are about two inches longer than their feet. Look like " elf" shoes to me. we walked about six blocks further than we should have . They don't have a very good system of marking their streets.

This evening we walked around Oxford, discovered how the bus runs, ate supper at a Mexican cafe & tomorrow go up to Blenheim Palace (ancesteral home of Winston Churchill).