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England 2013

Please click here to see our YouTube video of our 2013 trip to England.

We arrived in England on June 2, 2013 looking forward to three weeks visiting the British Isles. We started in England, went up to Scotland, Wales, then Ireland. Please click on the links below if you'd like to see the applicable slideshow.

Houses of Parliment, London EnglandHouses of Parliament - The Palace of Westminster, more commonly known as the Houses of Parliament, is the meeting place of the House of Commons and the House of Lords, the two houses of the Parliament of the United Kingdom.  The Palace lies on the Middlesex bank of the River Thames in the City of Westminster, in central London. Its name derives from the neighboring Westminster Abbey. The bridge in the foreground of this photograph is also known as the Westminster Bridge.

The first royal palace was built on the site in the eleventh century, and Westminster was the primary London residence of the Kings of England until a fire destroyed much of the complex in 1512. The Palace of Westminster as a whole began to see significant alterations from the 18th century onwards. In February 1836, after studying 97 proposals, a Royal Commission chose Charles Barry 's plan for a Gothic-style palace. Most of the work was completed by about 1870. In the course of the German bombing of London during the Second World War, the Palace of Westminster was hit by bombs on fourteen separate occasions. The worst raid took place in the night of May 10/11, 1941, when the Palace took at least twelve hits and three people were killed. Big Ben

The Palace of Westminster has three main towers.  The largest and tallest is the 323 foot Victoria Tower , located at the the southwestern corner of the Palace (in our photograph it's seen at the left end of the Palace). When it was built it was called"King's Tower" in honor of the then-reigning monarch, William IV. At the north end of the Palace rises the most famous of the towers, newly named the Elizabeth Tower, it is commonly known as Big. At 316 feet it is only slightly shorter than the Victoria Tower but much narrower. The shortest of the Palace's three main towers at 299 feet is the octagonal Central Tower, standing over the middle of the building. It was added to improve ventilation and act as a chimney for the numerous fireplaces in the Palace.

We have sailed by the Houses of Parliament on a Thames River cruise, we have walked by it and we have gazed at it in the soft, golden evening light from the Golden Eye. It always captivates us and we can't help photographing from any angle we are fortunate enough to come by.

Big Ben - now officially called The Elizabeth Tower - is the nickname for the great bell of the clock at the north end of the Palace of Westminster in London, and often extended to refer to the clock and the clock tower. The tower is now officially called the Elizabeth Tower, after being renamed (from "Clock Tower") to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II. The Elizabeth Tower holds the largest four-faced chiming clock in the world and is the third-tallest free-standing clock tower. The tower was completed in 1858 and had its 150th anniversary on 31 May 2009, during which celebratory events took place. The Elizabeth Tower has become one of the most prominent symbols of both London and England and is often in the establishing shot of films set in the city. We've seen this landmark when it was named Big Ben and now that it has been renamed Elizabeth Tower.

Westminster Abbey, London EnglandWestminster Abbey - Westminster Abbey is steeped in more than a thousand years of history. Benedictine monks first came to this site in the middle of the tenth century, establishing a tradition of daily worship which continues to this day. The Abbey has been the coronation church since 1066 and is the final resting place of seventeen monarchs. The present church, begun by Henry III in 1245, is one of the most important Gothic buildings in the country, with the medieval shrine of an Anglo-Saxon saint still at its heart. A treasure house of paintings, stained glass, pavements, textiles and other artefacts, Westminster Abbey is also the place where some of the most significant people in the nation's history are buried or commemorated. Taken as a whole, the tombs and memorials comprise the most significant single collection of monumental sculpture anywhere in the United Kingdom. The Library and Muniment Room houses the important (and growing) collections of archives, printed books and manuscripts belonging to the Dean and Chapter of Westminster, providing a centre for their study and for research into all aspects of the Abbey's long and varied history.

The London EyeLondon Eye -  is a giant ferris wheel situated on the banks of the  River Thames in London. The entire structure is 443 ft tall with a diameter of 394 ft. It is the tallest ferris wheel in Europe. We enjoyed an early evening ride on it. To see the pictures we took, please click here. When it was erected in 1999 it was the tallest Ferris wheel in the world, until surpassed first by the 520 ft Star of Nanchang in 2006 and then the 541 ft Singapore Flyer in 2008. Supported by an A-frame on one side only, unlike the taller Nanchang and Singapore wheels, the Eye is described by its operators as "the world's tallest cantilevered observation wheel". It offered the highest public viewing point in the city until it was superseded by the 804 ft observation deck on the 72nd floor of The Shard, which opened to the public on February 1, 2013.

The London Eye, or Millennium Wheel, was officially called the British Airways London Eye and then the Merlin Entertainments London Eye. Since January 20, 2011, its official name is the EDF Energy London Eye following a three-year sponsorship deal. The London Eye adjoins the western end of Jubilee Gardens, on the South Bank of the River Thames between the  Westminster Bridge and the Hungerford Bridge, in the London Borough of Lambeth. The site is adjacent to that of the former Dome of Discovery, which was built for the Festival of Britain in 1951.

Westminster CathedralWestminster Cathedral -  in London is the mother church of the Catholic community in England and Wales and the Metropolitan Church and Cathedral of the Archbishop of Westminster. The site on which the Cathedral stands originally belonged to the Benedictine monks who established the nearby Westminster Abbey and was purchased by the Archdiocese of Westminster in 1885. The cathedral is located in Victoria, in the City of Westminster. It is the largest Catholic Church in England and Wales, and should not be confused with Westminster Abbey of the Church of England. Westminster Cathedral is the seat of the Archbishop of Westminster. As a matter of custom, each newly appointed Archbishop of Westminster has eventually been created a cardinal in consistory. John Betjeman called it "a masterpiece in striped brick and stone in an intricate pattern of bonding, the domes being all-brick in order to prove that the good craftsman has no need of steel or concrete."

St. Paul's Cathedral - St Paul's is a Church of England cathedral. It is the seat of the Bishop of London and it is situated on the highest point in the city of London. St Paul's lies at the heart of this vibrant, internation city. Its dome is renowned across the London skyline but inside, there's a lot more to explore. St. Paul's CathedralThe original church on this site dates back to 604 AD. The present church dates from the late 17th century and was designed by the famed architect, Christopher Wren. Important services held at St Paul's include the funerals of Lord Nelson, the Duke of Wellington, Sir Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher. The wedding of Charles, Prince of Wales, and Lady Diana Spencer, was held here.

Buckingham Palace - Buckingham Palace is the most iconic royal building in the country and it is the working headquarters of the Monarchy, where The Queen carries out her official and ceremonial duties as Head of State of the United Kingdom and Head of the Commonwealth. It is the London residence of Her Majesty The Queen and is one of only a few working royal palaces left in the world. Buckingham Palace, London EnglandThe history of the original building dates back to the early 1700’s and finally became the official residence of the British monarch in 1837 after Queen Victoria came to the throne. The 19 State Rooms at the palace are regularly used by the Royal family to entertain guests on their State, ceremonial and official visits to the United Kingdom.

During August and September the Queen makes her yearly visit to Scotland allowing the palace to open up these lavish rooms to the public. The monumental façade of the east wing (photo at left) was built in 1913 by Aston Webb. It is this facade, facing the Mall and St James's Park, which is now known by most people.

Changing of the GuardChanging of the Guard - or Guard Mounting is the process involving a new guard exchanging duty with the old guard. The Guard which mounts at Buckingham Palace is called The Queen’s Guard and is divided into two Detachments: the Buckingham Palace Detachment (which is responsible for guarding Buckingham Palace), and the St. James’s Palace Detachment, (which guards St. James’s Palace).

These guard duties are normally provided by a battalion of the Household Division and occasionally by other infantry battalions or other units. When Guardsmen are on duty, the soldiers are drawn from one of the five regiments of Foot Guards in the British Army: the Scots Guards, the Irish Guards, the Welsh Guards, the Grenadier Guards and the Coldstream Guards.

Changing of the GuardThe Queen’s Guard is commanded by a Captain (who usually holds the rank of Major), and each Detachment is commanded by a Lieutenant. The Colour of the Battalion providing the Guard is carried by a Second Lieutenant (who is known as the Ensign). The handover is accompanied by a Guards band. The music played ranges from traditional military marches to songs from films and musicals and even familiar pop songs.

When The Queen is in residence, there are four sentries at the front of the building. When she is away there are two. The Queen's Guard usually consists of Foot Guards in their full-dress uniform of red tunics and bearskins. The Changing of the Guard is a festive occasion with many tourists, like us, weaving and jostling for a good vantage point for picture taking.

Trafalgar SquareTrafalgar Square - is the largest square in London and is in the borough of the City of Westminster. The present architecture of the square was completed in 1845 under the supervision of architect Sir Charles Barry, who is best known for  his Houses of Parliament.

At its center is Nelson's Column which was built to commemorate the victory of Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson over the French fleet at the Battle of Trafalgar on the 21st of October, 1805. The column is guarded by four lion statues at its base. There are a number of statues and sculptures in the square, with one plinth displaying changing pieces of contemporary art.

Trafalgar square also contains two fountains by Sir Edwin Lutyens, added in 1939. The square is also used for political demonstrations and community gatherings, such as the celebration of New Year's Eve.

On the north side is the neo-classical National Gallery, built between 1834 and 1838. It houses a collection of more than 2300 paintings, including works by van Gogh, Renoir, Leonardo da Vinci and Claude Monet. On the east side the square is bordered by the Canada House, completed in 1827. Opposite the Canada House is the South Africa House, which opened in 1933.

Hampton Court Palace, London EnglandHampton Court Palace and Ornamental Gardens is a royal palace in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, Greater London, and the historic county of Middlesex. It has not been inhabited by the British Royal Family since the 18th century. The palace is located upstream of central London on the River Thames. It was originally built for Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, a favorite of King Henry VIII. As Wolsey fell from favor, the palace was passed to the King, who enlarged it. The following century, William III's massive rebuilding and expansion project intended to rival Versailles was begun. Work halted in 1694, leaving the palace in two distinct contrasting architectural styles, domestic Tudor and Baroque. While the palace's styles are an accident of fate, a unity exists due to the use of pink bricks and a symmetrical, albeit vague, balancing of successive low wings.

Oxford England Oxford, the historic university town is known as "The City of Dreaming Spires". Its been a seat of learning since 1249 and the buildings in Oxford demonstrate an example of every English architectural period since the arrival of the Saxons.

We enjoyed a walking tour of the city and discovered Magdalen Collge, The Sheldonian Theater, the newly renovated Ashmolean Museum and the Martyr's Memorial and Bodleian Library which is one of the oldest libraries in Europe.

We also saw Christ Church College which was made famous in the Harry Potter films. We were captivated by the unspoiled narrow alleys and ancient squares of this naturally beautiful town.

It's easy to see why this magical city inspired so many writers; Lewis Carroll, JRR Tolkein, CS Lewis and others.

Stratford upon AvonStratford upon Avon,  the birthplace of the world's greatest playwright, William Shakespeare, is a market town and civil parish in south Warwickshire, England. It is home to the Royal Shakespeare Company and has been named one of Britain’s Heritage Cities.

Stratford-upon-Avon is picturesquely situated on the River Avon, 22 miles south east of Birmingham and 8 miles south west of Warwick. It features a nice collection of black and white timber framed buildings. It is the largest and most populous town of Stratford-on-Avon, which uses the term "on" to indicate that it covers a much larger area than the town itself.

The town is a popular tourist destination, receiving about three million visitors a year from all over the world. We enjoyed our stroll through the town center with its collection of homey shops.

Shakespeare's BirthplaceShakespeare's Birthplace is a restored 16th-century half-timbered house situated on Henley Street, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England, where it is believed that William Shakespeare was born in 1564 and spent his childhood years. It is now a small museum open to the public and a popular visitor attraction, owned and managed by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. It has been referred to as "a Mecca for all lovers of literature".

The house itself is relatively simple, but for the late 16th century it would have been considered quite a substantial dwelling. John Shakespeare, William's father, was a glove maker and wool dealer, and the house was originally divided in two parts to allow him to carry out his business from the same premises. The building is not outstanding architecturally, and typical of the times was constructed in wattle and daub around a wooden frame. Local oak from the Forest of Arden and blue-grey stone from Wilmcote were used in its construction, while the large fireplaces were made from an unusual combination of early brick and stone, and the ground-floor level has stone-flagged floors. The plan of the building was originally a simple rectangle. From north-west to south-east, the ground-floor consisted of a parlor with fireplace, an adjoining hall with a large open hearth, a cross passage, and finally a room which probably served as John Shakespeare's workshop. This arrangement was mirrored on the first-floor by three chambers accessed by a staircase from the hall, probably where the present stairs are sited. Traditionally, the chamber over the parlor is the birthroom. A separate single-bay house, now known as Joan Hart's Cottage, was later built onto the north-west end of the house, and the present kitchen was added at the rear with a chamber above it. We've attached a slide show to better show the inside of the home.

Anne Hathaway's CottageAnne Hathaway's Cottage is a twelve-roomed farmhouse where the wife of William Shakespeare lived as a child in the village of Shottery, Warwickshire, England, about 1 mile west of Stratford-upon-Avon. Spacious, and with several bedrooms, it is now set in extensive gardens. The earliest part of the house was built prior to the 15th century. The cottage was known as Newlands Farm in Shakespeare's day and had more than 90 acres of land attached to it. As in many houses of the period, it has multiple chimneys to spread the heat evenly throughout the house during winter. The largest chimney was used for cooking. It also has visible timber framing, typical of vernacular Tudor style architecture. After the death of Hathaway's father, the cottage was owned by her brother Bartholomew, and was passed down the Hathaway family until 1846, when financial problems forced them to sell it. However, it was still occupied by them as tenants when it was acquired in 1892 by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, which removed later additions and alterations. In 1969 the cottage was badly damaged in a fire, but was restored by the Trust. It is now open to public visitors as a museum.

Warwick CastleWarwick Castle is a medieval castle developed from an original built by William the Conqueror in 1068. The original Norman castle was rebuilt in the 14th century. Huge outer walls were added to signify the power of the great feudal magnates, the Beauchamps and the Nevilles, the Earls of Warwick.  The castle passed in 1604  to the Greville family who in the 17th and 18th centuries converted it to a country house. In the late 19th century Anthony Salvin, an English architect who gained a reputation as an expert on medieval buildings,  restored the Great Hall and State Rooms after a fire.  In 1978, the owners of Madame Tussaud’s bought the castle.

We had the opportunity to enter the Great Hall and see various suits of knight’s armor, including a stuffed horse in full armor. To see our YouTube video please click here. There were also displays of rifles and other weaponry. The most amazing item was the Kenilworth Buffet, a magnificent sideboard, brimming with detail, carved from a single oak tree. The most fun we had was climbing the spiral stone steps up to the top the castle walls and then up to the top of Guy’s Tower and Caesar’s Tower. The towers housed lodging for guests and defensive rooms with gun emplacements equipped with cannon and hand cannons.  From the tower tops, the views of the castle grounds complete with strutting peacocks, the Avon River and the surrounding countryside ( including a huge field of brilliant yellow rapeseed) put an exclamation point on the entire castle experience. Click here to see a slide show of the Castle Grounds and Peacock Garden.

York MinsterYork Minster, is a cathedral in York, England, and is one of the largest of its kind in Northern Europe. The minster is the seat of the Archbishop of York, the second-highest office of the Church of England and is the cathedral for the Diocese of York; it is run by a dean and chapter under the Dean of York. The formal title of York Minster is "The Cathedral and Metropolitical Church of St Peter in York".

The title "minster" is attributed to churches established in the Anglo-Saxon period as missionary teaching churches, and serves now as an honorific title. Services in the minster are sometimes regarded as on the High Church or Anglo-Catholic end of the Anglican continuum.

The minster has a very wide Decorated Gothic nave and chapter house, a Perpendicular Gothic choir and east end and Early English north and south transepts. The nave contains the West Window, constructed in 1338, and over the Lady Chapel in the east end is the Great East Window, (finished in 1408), the largest expanse of medieval stained glass in the world. In the north transept is the Five Sisters Window, each lancet being over 52 ft high. The south transept contains a famous rose window.

York England York is a walled city, situated at the confluence of the Rivers Ouse and Foss in North Yorkshire, England. The city has a rich heritage and has provided the backdrop to major political events throughout much of its two millennia of existence.

The city was founded by the Romans in 71 AD, under the name of Eboracum. It became, in turn, the capital of the Roman province of Britannia Inferior, and of the kingdoms of Northumbria and Jorvik. In the Middle Ages, York grew as a major wool trading centre and became the capital of the northern ecclesiastical province of the Church of England, a role it has retained.

The Shambles, York EnglandThe Shambles The Shambles is an old street in York, England, with overhanging timber-framed buildings, some dating back as far as the fourteenth century.

It was once known as The Great Flesh Shambles, probably from the Anglo-Saxon Fleshammels (literally 'flesh-shelves'), the word for the shelves that butchers used to display their meat. As recently as 1872 there were twenty-five butchers' shops in the street but now there are none. Although the butchers have now vanished, a number of the shops on the street still have meat-hooks hanging outside and, below them, shelves on which meat would have been displayed. The shops currently comprise a mixture of eateries, souvenir shops, bookshops and bakeries.

Hadrian's WallHadrian's Wall - was a defensive fortification in Roman Britain. Begun in AD 122, during the rule of emperor Hadrian. To see our YouTube video of our visit to Hadrian's Wall, please click here.

The wall was the most heavily fortified border in the Empire. In addition to its role as a military fortification, it is thought that many of the gates through the wall would have served as customs posts to allow trade and levy taxation. A significant portion of the wall still exists, having been rescued in the 19th century by John Clayton, who, alarmed at the destruction by quarrying, bought a number of sections. For much of its length, the wall can be followed on foot by Hadrian's Wall Path or by cycle on National Cycle Route 72. It is the most popular tourist attraction in Northern England. It was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. English Heritage, a government organisation in charge of managing the historic environment of England, describes it as "the most important monument built by the Romans in Britain".

 

Northumberland National ParkNorthumberland National Park - is the northernmost national park in England, 'the Land of the Far Horizons'.  England meets Scotland on the north-western border of this remote National Park, where the moors and grassland of the Cheviot Hills are divided by deep burn valleys.  In the east lies the Upper Coquet Valley and Simonside Hills with the valleys of the North Tyne and Redesdale to the west.  To the south runs part of Hadrian’s Wall, a World Heritage Site, riding along the imposing ridge of the Whin Sill.  Forests now cover once open moorland above them.

The area covers approximately one quarter of a million acres of protected landscape and boasts a wide range of species and habitats including curlew, red squirrel, upland rivers and burns, ancient woodland, upland hay meadows, blanket bog and heather moorland.

Grasmere EnglandGrasmere Home of Poet William Wordsworth Grasmere is a village, and popular tourist destination, in the center of the English Lake District. It takes its name from the adjacent lake, and is associated with Lake Poets. The poet William Wordsworth, who lived in Grasmere for fourteen years, described it as the "lovelies spot that man has ever found". The village is on the river Rothay which flows into Grasmere Lake which lies about a half a mile to the south. The village is overlooked from the NW by the rocky hill of Helm Crag, popularly known as The Lion and the Lamb or the Old Lady at the Piano. These names are derived from the shape of rock formations on its summit, depending on which side you view it from. A number of popular walks begin near the center of the village, including the ascent of Helm Crag and a longer route up to Fairfield. The village is also on the route of Alfred Wainwright's Coast Walk.

Liverpool, The BeatlesLiverpool, home of the Beatles. Liverpool is internationally known for music and is recognized by Guinness World Records as the World Capital City of Pop. To see our YouTube video of our visit to Liverpool, please click here.

Both the most successful male band and girl group in global music history have contained Liverpudian members. Liverpool is most famous as the birthplace of The Beatles and during the 1960s was at the forefront of the Beat Music movement, which would eventually lead to the British Invasion. Many notable musicians of the time originated in the city includuding Billy Kramer, Cilla Black, Gerry and the Pacemakers and The Searchers.

The influence of musicians from Liverpool, coupled with other cultural exploits of the time, such as the Liverpool Poets prompted American poet Allen Ginsberg to proclaim that the city was "the centre of consciousness of the human universe".

Beatles, The Cavern, London EnglandBeatles, The Cavern Club, - Talk about a Magical Mystery Tour! Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Nothing like seeing up-close such major sites as Penny Lane and Strawberry Field. And, of course, the very places the Beatles played.

It's interesting to hear about the Beatles early lives; they truly were the Fab4. Liverpool's Cavern Club is the cradle of British pop music. Impressively, 55 years after its foundation, it survives and thrives as a contemporary music venue.

This legendary cellar has seen its share of setbacks yet has played a role in each epoch of music, from 1950s jazz to 21st century indie rock. This picture is of John on the steps going down to the Cavern where the Beatles played.



Liverpool Cathedral, Liverpool, EnglandLiverpool Cathedral - is the Church of England Cathedral of the Diocese of Liverpool, built on St James's Mount in Liverpool and is the seat of the Bishop of Liverpool. Its official name is the Cathedral Church of Christ in Liverpool but it is dedicated to Christ and the Blessed Virgin. The total external length of the building, including the Lady Chapel, is 207 yards making it the second longest cathedral in the world; its internal length is 160 yards.

In terms of overall volume, Liverpool Cathedral ranks as the fifth-largest cathedral in the world and contests the title of largest Anglican church building alongside the incomplete Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in New York City. With a height of 331 feet it is also one of the world's tallest non-spired church buildings and the third-tallest structure in the city of Liverpool.

The Circus, BathThe Circus, Bath England - was begun in 1754 and completed in 1768,  is an example of Georgian architecture in the city of Bath, Somerset, England. The name comes from the Latin 'circus', which means a ring, oval or circle. Divided into three segments of equal length, the Circus is a circular space surrounded by large townhouses. Each of the curved segments faces one of the three entrances, ensuring that whichever way a visitor enters there is a classical facade straight ahead. The Circus, originally called King's Circus, was designed by the architect John Wood, the Elder, although he never lived to see his plans put into effect as he died less than three months after the first stone was laid. The Circus is the culmination of Wood's career, and is considered his masterpiece.

Roman Baths, Bath, EnglandRoman Baths - The Roman Baths complex is a site of historical interest in the English city of Bath. The house is a well-preserved Roman site for public bathing. The Roman Baths themselves are below the modern street level. To see our YouTube video of our visit to Bath, please click here.

There are four main features: the Sacred Spring, the Roman Temple, the Roman Bath House and the Museum holding finds from Roman Bath. The buildings above street level date from the 19th century. The Baths are a major tourist attraction and, together with the Grand Pump Room, receive more than one million visitors a year.

The water which bubbles up from the ground at Bath fell as rain on the nearby Mendip Hills. It percolates down through limestone aquifers to a depth of between 8,900 feet and 14,100 feet where geothermal energy raises the water temperature to between  147.2 °F and 204.8 °F. Under pressure, the heated water rises to the surface along fissures and faults in the limestone.

Glastonbury AbbeyKing Arthur's Glastonbury - The Holy Grail - Legends of King Arthur swirl about Glastonbury like a tantalizing fog from the nearby Somerset marshes. The nearby hill fort at South Cadbury has long been suggested as the location for Camelot. Indeed, excavations of South Cadbury suggest that it was in use during the early 6th century, which is the likeliest era for the real Arthur to have lived. To see our YouTube video of our bisit to Glastonbury, please click here.

The association of Arthur and Glastonbury goes back at least to the early Middle Ages. In the late 12th century the monks of Glastonbury Abbey announced that they had found the grave of Arthur and Guinivere, his queen. According to the monks, an excavation found a stone inscribed "Here lies Arthur, king." Below the stone they found the bones of a large man, and the smaller skeleton of a woman. The monks reburied the bones in the grounds of the abbey, where they were a very handy draw for pilgrims. The site of the grave can be seen today in the abbey grounds. Glastonbury Tor, the enigmatic conical hill that rises above Glastonbury, has been linked with the Isle of Avalon, where King Arthur was buried after his death. This isn't so farfetched as it may sound, for a millennium ago the water level was much higher, and the tor would indeed have been an island. Avalon was also called "the isle of glass" which does suggest similarities to the name "Glastonbury". The Holy Grail, the object of Arthur's questing, is said to be buried beneath Glastonbury Tor, and has also been linked to Chalice Well at the base of the Tor. One final myth of Arthur at Glastonbury: the landscape around Glastonbury is said to have been moulded and shaped so that the features (such as roads, churches, and burial mounds) create a zodiac calendar replete with Arthurian symbology. Like so many of the Arthurian myths, so much is open to interpretation and your own predisposition to believe or disbelieve.

Widecombe in the Moor, Dartmoor National Park, Devon EnglandWidecombe-in-the-Moor - is a small village located within the heart of the Dartmoor National Park in Devon, England. The name is thought to derive from 'Withyombe' which means Willow Valley. According to Widecombe's official website, there are 196 households in the village, although its large and sprawling parish stretches for many miles and encompasses dozens of isolated cottages and moorland farms. Tourism is a major source of income for Widecombe today, as reflected by the fact that within a small area there are several gift shops, two cafes and two pubs. The village is probably best known for Widecombe Fair, held annually and celebrated by a well-known folksong of the same name, featuring 'Old Uncle Tom Cobley and All'. Its words were first published in 1880. Also popular are the traditional 'Toby Jugs' - a type of mug, with a handle, shaped as a three dimensional caricature of a person's head - sometimes fictional, sometimes a celebrity.

Dartmoor granite upland, Devon, EnglandDartmoor to Plymouth - Dartmoor is an area of moorland in south Devon, England. Protected by National Park status, it covers 368 sq miles. The granite upland dates from the Carboniferous period of geological history. The moorland is capped with many exposed granite hilltops known as tors, providing habitats for Dartmoor wildlife.

The highest point is High Willhays, 2,037 ft above sea level. The entire area is rich in antiquities and archaeology. Parts of Dartmoor have been used as military firing ranges for over 200 years. The public enjoy extensive access rights to Dartmoor (including restricted access to the firing ranges) and it is a popular tourist destination.

River TamarRiver Tamar - The Tamar is a river in South West England, that forms most of the border between Devon (to the east) and Cornwall (to the west).

It is one of several British rivers whose ancient name is assumed to be derived from a prehistoric river word apparently meaning "dark flowing" and which it shares with the River Thames.

Port of LooePort of Looe Looe (Cornish: Logh, meaning deep water inlet) is a small coastal town, fishing port and civil parish in the former Caradon district of south-east Cornwall, England, with a population of 5,280. To see our YouTube video please click here.

Looe is divided in two by the River Looe, East Looe (Cornish: Logh) and West Looe (Cornish: Porthbyhan, meaning little cove) being connected by a bridge.

The town is approximately 20 miles west of the city of Plymouth and seven miles south of Liskeard. The town is situated around a small harbor and along the steep-sided valley of the River Looe which flows between East and West Looe to the sea beside a sandy beach.

Off shore to the west, opposite the stonier Hannafore beach, lies the picturesque St George's Island, commonly known as Looe Island.

Mayflower arch and steps, Plymouth EnglandMayflower Steps - The Mayflower Steps, in the Barbican area of Plymouth, are close to the site from which the Pilgrim Fathers are believed to have left England aboard the Mayflower, to cross the Atlantic Ocean to arrive in North America on September 6, 1620. To see our YouTube video of our visit to Plymouth please click here.

The traditional site of their disembarkation in North America is Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts. he pilgrims who came predominantly from East Anglia sought religious and other freedoms. They had no links with Plymouth, but because of bad weather in the English Channel they were forced to put in at Plymouth seeking shelter and essential repairs. Several surviving local buildings including what is now the Plymouth Gin Distillery in Southside Street and the Island House on the Quay are claimed to have accommodated some of them for one or more nights.

The 'Steps' today consist of a commemorative portico with Doric columns of Portland stone that was built in 1934, and a small platform over the water with a brushed steel rail and a shelf with some nautical bronze artwork and historical information. It is on a small pier that was built about a century ago.  Today, boat trips leave the Mayflower Steps for trips around the Sound and up the Tamar for sight of the 'Dockyard and Warships'. The best effort by local historians to place the actual site of the Mayflower casting off is roughly where a Victorian public house, the Admiral MacBride, now stands. To see a slideshow of the City of Plymouth and surrounding area, please click here.

Sir Francis Drake StatueSir Francis Drake - Vice Admiral (1540 – January 27, 1596) was an English sea captain, privateer, navigator, slaver, and politician of the Elizabethan era. Elizabeth I of England awarded Drake a knighthood in 1581. He was second-in-command of the English fleet against the Spanish Armada in 1588. He also carried out the second circumnavigation of the world, from 1577 to 1580. He died of dysentery in January 1596 after unsuccessfully attacking San Juan, Puerto Rico. His exploits were legendary, making him a hero to the English but a pirate to the Spaniards to whom he was known as El Draque. King Philip II was said to have offered a reward of 20,000 ducats, about £4 million (US$6.5M) by modern standards, for his life.

Smearton's Lighthouse, the HoeSmeaton's Lightouse, - Smeaton's Tower is the third and most notable Eddystone Lighthouse. It marked a major step forward in the design of lighthouses. In use until 1877, it was largely dismantled and rebuilt on Plymouth Hoe in the city of Plymouth, Devon, where it now stands as a memorial to its designer, John Smeaton, the celebrated civil engineer. Smeaton was recommended to the task by the Royal Society and he modelled the shape of his lighthouse on that of an oak tree, using granite blocks. He pioneered the use of "hydraulic lime," a form of concrete that will set under water, and developed a technique of securing the granite blocks together using dovetail joints and marble dowels. Construction started in 1756 at a site in Millbay where Smeaton built a jetty and workyard in the south west corner of the harbour for unloading and working the stone. Timber rails of 3 ft. 6 in. gauge were laid for the four-wheeled flat trucks on which the masonry was moved around the site. A ten-ton ship, named the Eddystone Boat, was based here and took the worked stones out to the reef. She carried the 2¼ ton foundation stone out in the morning of June 12, 1756. The work was completed in August 1759, at a cost of £40,000. Many of the men employed in the construction were Cornish tin miners, and to avoid the possibility of press ganging, which was rife at the time, Trinity House arranged with the Admiralty in Plymouth that each man was issued with a medal to confirm that he was working on the lighthouse.

Wheel of Plymouth, Plymouth EnglandWheel of Plymouth (Plymouth Eye), The Hoe - The Wheel of Plymouth is an awe-inspiring 196ft wheel with 42 capsules including a luxury VIP capsule with glass floor, leather interior and DVD player (with the option of champagne). It is the ultimate journey above the city of Plymouth. Plymouth  is a city and unitary authority area on the south coast of Devon, England, about 190 miles south-west of London. It is situated between the mouths of the rivers Plym to the east and Tamar to the west, where they join Plymouth Sound. Since 1967, the City of Plymouth has included the suburbs of Plympton and Plymstock, which are on the east side of the River Plym.

Northingtons FountainNorrington's Fountain, representing Rebecca of the well, given by Charles Norrington, former Mayor of Plymouth, in memory of his wife. The fountain, unveiled in 1881, was intended to provide a source of drinking water for boys and girls playing on the Hoe.

Plymouth War MemorialPlymouth War Memorial, - After World War I, the Royal Navy wanted to find a way to commemorate sailors who had died at sea and had no known grave. An Admiralty committee recommended building memorials at the three main naval ports in Great Britain, Plymouth, Chatham, and Portsmouth.The memorials at all three sites were designed by Sir Robert Lorimer with sculpture by Henry Poole. Following World War II, the naval memorials were expanded to commemorate the dead from that war.The Plymouth memorial also bears the names of sailors from Australia, South Africa, and India. The Plymouth Naval Memorial commemorates 7,251 sailors of the World War I and 15,933 of the World War II.

Our CruisePlymouth Sound (Our Cruise) - we sailed from The Barbican Landing Stage, off the  Mayflower Steps, Plymouth across the Plymouth Sound flanked by the beautiful Devon and Cornish coasts.

We passed Plymouth Hoe,  Drakes Island, and  then headed up the River Tamar and right by the Devonport Naval Heritage Center, passing a large military vessel as we sailed by. We continued up the River Tamar to the Cornish village of Saltash. We disembarked underneath the Tamar Bridge and were greeted by a pair of swans and their six cygnets.

The Hoe, ForeshoreThe Hoe, Foreshore - Plymouth Hoe, referred to locally as the Hoe, is a large south facing open public space in the English coastal city of Plymouth. The Hoe is adjacent to and above the low limestone cliffs that form the seafront and it commands views of Plymouth Sound, Drake's Island, and across the Hamoaze to Mount Edgcumbe in Cornwall. The name derives from the Anglo-Saxon word Hoe, a sloping ridge shaped like an inverted foot and heel.

Stonehenge - is a prehistoric monument in Wiltshire, England, about 2 miles west of Amesbury and 8 miles north of Salisbury. One of the most famous sites in the world, Stonehenge is the remains of a ring of standing stones set within earthworks. It is in the middle of the most dense complex of Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments in England, including several hundred burial mounds. Archaeologists believe it was built anywhere from 3000 BC to 2000 BC. Radiocarbon dating in 2008 suggested that the first stones were raised between 2400 and 2200 BC, whilst another theory suggests that bluestones may have been raised at the site as early as 3000 BC. StonehengeThe surrounding circular earth bank and ditch, which constitute the earliest phase of the monument, have been dated to about 3100 BC. The site and its surroundings were added to the UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites in 1986 in a co-listing with Avebury Henge. It is a national legally protected Scheduled Ancient Monument. Stonehenge is owned by the Crown and managed by English Heritage, while the surrounding land is owned by the National Trust. Archaeological evidence found by the Stonehenge Riverside Project in 2008 indicates that Stonehenge could have been a burial ground from its earliest beginnings. The dating of cremated remains found on the site indicate that deposits contain human bone from as early as 3000 BC, when the ditch and bank were first dug. Such deposits continued at Stonehenge for at least another 500 years. The site is a place of religious significance and pilgrimage in Neo-Druidry.

Salisbury Cathedral EnglandSalisbury Cathedral -  located in Salisbury, Wiltshire, England is a Church of England (Anglican) cathedral. It is formally known as the Cathedral Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The foundation stone was laid in 1220 and other sections, including the cloisters, chapter house, tower and spire were finished by 1320. The cathedral spire is the tallest church spire in the United Kingdom at 404 feet. The cathedral also has the largest cloister and the largest cathedral close in Britain. The cathedral contains the world's oldest working clock (from AD 1386) and has the best surviving of the four original copies of the Magna Carta (all four original copies are in England). As we walked about the cathedral grounds,  we also came upon several modern art sculptures . London

London is the capital city of England and the United Kingdom, and the largest city, urban zone and metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its founding by the Romans, who named it Londinium. London's ancient core, the City of London, largely retains its square-mile medieval boundaries. Since at least the 19th century, the name London has also referred to the metropolis developed around this core.

WickedWicked - seen at the Apollo Victoria Theater, London - We saw Wicked at the Apollo Victoria Theater, London. Wicked is based on Gregory Maguire's novel,  Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West. This musical transports audiences to a spectacular fantasy world of wizardry, witchcraft, sorcery and spells to tell the incredible untold story of an extraordinary friendship between two girls: the blond and popular Glinda and the misunderstood green girl, Elphaba, whose destiny is to become the infamous Wicked Witch of the West. We thoroughly enjoyed it - the cast was engaging, the sets were dramatic and captivating and the music and storyline kept us interested throughout.

Jersey Boys - seen at the Prince Edward Theater, London - we saw this at the Prince Edward Theater, London. How did four blue-collar kids become one of the greatest successes in pop music history? Jersey Boys, Prince Edward Theater, London

This is the story  behind the music and formation of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons. The story is interesting enough but if you enjoyed and continue to enjoy the great songs of The Four Seasons you'll love the authentic renditions of  "Sherry", "Big Girls Don't Cry," "Can't Take My Eyes Off You," "Dawn," "Marianne", "Rag Doll", "My Eyes Adored You," and more. The Four Seasons changed their name from The Four Lovers(good move) added the excellent song writer Bob Gaudio and went onto fame.