The Big Bus tour is an easy way to introduce oneself to London's great landmarks, especially when you've just spent the better part of 24 hours traveling with almost no sleep. You can hop on and off at any of their stops.
The Nelson monument in Trafalgar Square.
One of Trafalgar Square's famous lions.
The dragon marks the boundary of the City of London.
I love the way this old building looks squished in between the newer ones - which probably aren't all that new.
The Tower of London - we spent a few minutes here after we both realized we were falling asleep on the tour bus.
Part of the original city wall, built by the Romans. It's right across the street from the Tower of London.
The National Maritime Museum, Greenwich. We took a boat down the Thames to get here.
The uniform Admiral Lord Nelson was wearing when he was killed at the battle of Trafalgar. You can see the bullet hole in the left shoulder of the jacket.
A naval surgeon's uniform and medical kit of Nelson's time - but we didn't see the lesser of two weevils.
The Royal Observatory, Greenwich.
At the Royal Observatory, overlooking London.
Ross on the Prime Meridian.
Inside the octagonal room in the Royal Observatory.
The clock tower at the Houses of Parliament
A memorial to 20th-century martyrs at Westminster Abbey.
The Cabinet War Rooms were closed "as is" at the end of World War II. You get to explore inside a huge, fascinating time capsule.
Cabinet War Rooms, London.
One of the map rooms in the Cabinet War Rooms.
Another map room.
Winston Churchill's bedroom in the Cabinet War Rooms.
Our friend David took us on a walking tour of the South Bank. We ate dinner at the George Inn, the last galleried inn in London. Shakespeare's plays were first performed in the George's courtyard.
After dinner, we took the Tube back to Westminster. Here's the Abbey.
The London Eye from Westminster Bridge.
The British Library - what a thrill to see a Gutenberg Bible, the Magna Carta, Shakespeare's First Folio, and other building blocks of western civilization!
Platform 9 3/4 at King's Cross station. I pushed really hard, but still couldn't get the trolley through the wall. Guess I'm just a Muggle. :-)
St. Pancras train station - we thought it looked pretty cool.
A gallery of distinguished beards in the British Museum.
This Molossian hound reminded me of our dog, Daisy.
The Lewis Chessmen are wonderfully carved; each one has its own facial expression.
Checking our rental car before leaving London - it reminded us of a little gray mouse.
The entrance to a memorial garden at Christ Church College, Oxford.
I've wanted to visit Oxford for years - how exciting to finally see the home of Tolkien and Lewis!
Walking along the edge of Christ Church Meadow.
Merton College, Oxford.
Tolkien's rooms at Merton College
The protesters wanted people to boycott Oxford's Park and Ride program. Did they know one of the Park and Ride buses was right behind them?
On Addison's Walk, overlooking the Oxford Botanic Gardens. The large dark pine tree behind me to the right is "Tolkien's tree" - he loved to sit under it and smoke his pipe.
Addison's Walk, Oxford. Tolkien and Lewis's discussions here about mythology were instrumental in Lewis becoming a Christian.
Punters on the River Cherwell.
Ross put the camera down on the street while I watched for cars.
Saturday must be Protest Day in Oxford. This one was on Cornmarket Street, which is limited to pedestrian traffic.
Cornmarket Street happenings
"It comes in pints?" The Eagle and Child, where Tolkien, Lewis, and other members of the Inklings met to read their works. The "new Hobbit" (Lord of the Rings) was first read here.
A plaque in the "Rabbit Room" where the Inklings met.
"Behold! We are not bound for ever to the circles of the world, and beyond them is more than memory. "J. R. R. and Edith Tolkien's grave in Wolvercote Cemetery just outside Oxford.
The outer courtyard at Blenheim Palace.
Ostentatious (adj.): marked by or indulging in conspicuous or vainglorious and sometimes pretentious display. :-)
The "secret garden" at Blenheim Palace
Even the pheasants are snooty at Blenheim; this one turned his back on Ross every time he tried to take its picture.
Part of the dinner party wax figure display at Warwick Castle
The River Avon
Preparing to launch the trebuchet
A suit of armor in the great hall at Warwick Castle
Each leg of this table features a woman in various stages of pregnancy.
Another view of the table.
"I say, do you mind? I'm trying to put on my armor!" The "Kingmaker" wax figure display at Warwick Castle.
Part of the medieval encampment at Warwick Castle.
A peacock strutting his stuff, Warwick Castle.
The Lord Leycester Hospital in Warwick, used in the BBC Pride and Prejudice as the building where Wickham and Lydia hid in London.
The Waterman in Hatton - a pleasant place for Sunday lunch.
Hartington Hall hostel, one of the best places we stayed on this trip.
One of the common rooms at Hartington.
Peak District scenery.
We saw many stone walls dividing the fields in the Peak District.
Market day in Bakewell.
Chatsworth House, Jane Austen's model for Pemberley in Pride and Prejudice.
In one of the courtyards at Chatsworth.
This painting of Julius Caesar becoming a demigod is on the entry hall ceiling at Chatsworth.
Looking the window toward the fountain at Chatsworth.
Another cool ceiling picture, perfectly framed by the staircase.
What is it with weird tables in large English houses?
I don't remember where they got this foot, but someone dug up its twin a few hundred years later.
The dining room at Chatsworth.
Chatsworth's sculpture gallery
I loved the Veiled Vestal sculpture when I saw it in Pride and Prejudice, and it's even lovelier up close.
We were pleasantly surprised to find this is a real marble bust of Matthew Macfadyen, aka Mr. Darcy. The filmmakers left it at Chatsworth when they finished working there.
One of a pair of lions which guards the sculpture gallery exit.
The terrace isn't open to the public, so we had to take our picture at a bit of a distance.
Chatsworth from the other end of the long reflecting pool.
Rhodendrons and azaleas were blooming in Chatsworth's beautiful gardens.
This is a weeping willow-shaped metal water sculpture. I imagine it's very popular on warm days!
The Cascade looking toward Chatsworth House.
At the bottom of the Cascade.
This is another water feature, called "Revelation." Due to frost damage, it wasn't operating while we were at Chatsworth.
Haddon Hall, where parts of The Princess Bride and the new Pride and Prejudice were filmed.
The entrance of Haddon Hall.
This Lord Haddon died young in 1894.
The wall painting of St. Christopher carrying Jesus across the water was made in the 1420s. Look at the fish around Christopher's feet!
The kitchens at Haddon Hall
Haddon's main hall, aka Prince Humperdinck's office.
"Tyrone, you know how much I love watching you work. But I have my country's 500th anniversary to plan, my wedding to arrange, my wife to murder, and Gilder to frame for it. I'm swamped."
The dining room was used as Elizabeth's bedroom in the new Pride and Prejudice. Mr. Darcy spent time on this bench.
The filmmakers added a matching wood screen to hide the windows to make this room into Elizabeth's bedroom.
The window glass is designed so that in the afternoons, people on the road would see what looked like diamonds sparkling.
Haddon Hall from the garden.
A warmer than usual spring meant we got to enjoy some of Haddon Hall's roses.
Even the wall holding up the garden is pretty!
We think this is the archway through which Westley and company ride at the end of Princess Bride.
Lovely Peak District scenery
Church and graveyard in Monyash in the Peak District.
The Welsh flag flying over Conwy Castle.
Conwy Castle was part of Edward I's "Iron Ring" in his attempts to contain the Welsh.
Inside Conwy Castle.
A 19th-century suspension bridge in Conwy.
Looking toward the estuary and train station, Conwy.
Conwy's medieval town walls still enclose a good portion of the town.
Standing on top of Conwy Castle's highest tower. Can you see my white knuckles as I grip the railing?
Looking toward Conwy Bay from the castle.
North Wales from Conwy Castle.
We were looking for a snack, but the sign on the outside of this pub door didn't exactly make us feel welcome.
Just about every sign in Wales is in both Welsh and English.
Portmeirion, aka The Village in the '60s TV show The Prisoner. Was the sign true? We would soon find out...
The Portmeirion Hotel.
Did this prisoner make it to freedom, or did a balloon catch him first?
Portmeirion looks nothing like anything else we saw on this trip.
Is that one of the bubbles guarding Number Two's house?
One of Portmeirion's lovely gardens.
"I am not a number. I am a free man!"
This plaque hangs above the door of The Prisoner Shop.
Another view of Number Two's house.
The Prisoner Shop is located in what was Number Six (Patrick McGoohan)'s house on the show.
More fun buildings in Portmeirion.
Another view of Number Six's house.
It's the balloon! Run!!!
Llyn Cwellen with Cwm Cwellen in the background, across the road from the hostel.
YHA Snowdon Ranger hostel.
This sign made us laugh, especially after we'd had no luck getting something to eat while in Conwy. Look at the small print at the bottom!
Heading east across Wales.
Shrewsbury - we had lunch in this pub after we accidentally left all our food at Snowdon Ranger.
Yes, this building really does lean!
Shrewsbury has a lot of these little narrow alleyways.
Shrewsbury Abbey, home of Ellis Peters' Brother Cadfael.
The Abbey suffered damage during England's Civil War.
One of the narrow streets outside Ludlow Castle.
"But the only brew for the brave and true comes from the Green Dragon!" We saw a number of Green Dragons on our travels, but I like this sign best.
The Bell at Skenfrith in Wales, where we enjoyed a wonderful 25th anniversary dinner.
We stopped at Bourton-on-the-Water while driving through the northern Cotswolds.
A typical Cotswolds road - most of them are quite narrow with the occasional wide place to pull over and make room for other vehicles.
So many shades of green in the Shire - er, the Cotswolds!
A thatched barn in the Cotswolds.
"Oh, a cottage! A little cottage is always very snug." (thanks, Emma Thompson, for writing the line)
"They say there are no neon lights in Broadway..." (apologies to Barry Mann, Cynthia Weill, and Lieber and Stoller)
A quaint home in Chipping Campden.
Bibury is a really lovely little town.
Arlington Row in Bibury used to be a line of weavers' cottages. Now the residents have to put up with mobs of tourists walking by.
More Bibury beauty.
This rainbow appeared over the Stroud valley while we were having dinner at the Bell Inn in Selsley.
Julia met us at the Bell for dinner, and gave us wonderfully helpful advice about the Cotswolds.
The church in Uley, where we tried to go for a walk - and failed after encountering numerous large patches of mud and muck.
Berkeley Castle, "plan B" after the walk didn't work out.
A vintage Jaguar club decided to visit Berkeley Castle that day.
Lacock, where parts of Pride and Prejudice and Emma were filmed.
A picturesque shop in Lacock.
Lacock's High Street, aka Meryton in the BBC Pride and Prejudice.
Lacock Abbey; the Sharington family added the house starting in the 1400s.
The cloisters at Lacock Abbey were used in the first two Harry Potter films, and I think they make an appearance in the BBC Pride and Prejudice as well.
A springtime view of the cloisters...
...and how they looked in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.
This arch leads to stables and the brewery.
The cooling vat in Lacock Abbey's brewery - with all the lead-lined things like this we saw, it's no wonder people died young!
This Lacock lamb was quite social.
Part of the ceiling at the Bath YHA hostel.
The Bath YHA hostel is an older house, and quite lovely. Too bad the beds are really uncomfortable!
The Pump Room in Bath.
Part of the original floor in the Roman Baths.
The Roman Baths in Bath, naturally.
These ladders are carved into the main tower of Bath Abbey.
The Jane Austen Centre in Bath; given that she apparently disliked the city, I find it ironic that the centre is located here.
The Circus in Bath.
Is it a tree, or an Ent?
A copper beech; their foliage is really lovely.
Stourhead Gardens, looking across the lake toward the Temple of Apollo.
The Pantheon at Stourhead.
It was a bit odd to come across these sculptures in the midst of Stourhead's organic beauty.
Here's the explanation of the above picture.
Fern and water plants near the end of the lake at Stourhead.
I don't know what kind of tree this is, but it was striking.
If Stourhead is this beautiful in springtime, it must be absolutely stunning in summer.
"On a cold and rainy May afternoon we found this big ol' marble statue in the grotto (in the grotto)..." Sorry, Elvis fans...
The sun finally came out, and we oohed and aahed just like the English people ahead of us on the path!
The Temple of Apollo, used in the new Pride and Prejudice as the site where Mr. Darcy proposes to Elizabeth and is rejected.
Details of the Temple of Apollo.
Where the proposal scene was filmed. We found a half-glass of champagne here, and assumed some other young man must have proposed there as well. We hope he met with better results than Mr. Darcy.
The Temple of Apollo
Elizabeth runs across this bridge in the new Pride and Prejudice. Unfortunately, it has gates at either end so we couldn't run across it.
Another sunny view of Stourhead.
The original stained glass window was destroyed during the English Civil War. The people of Winchester saved the glass and put it back together after the war; it has a striking abstract beauty.
Vaulting in the cathedral roof.
Jane Austen's grave in Winchester Cathedral.
As you can see above, the grave makes no mention of her books, and an admirer erected this plaque to rectify that problem.
A 12th-century baptismal font dedicated to St. Nicholas.
St. Nicholas was not only the origin of our modern-day Santa Claus, but he was also the patron saint of sailors. The font has carvings of him reviving drowned men, putting another man's head back on his shoulders, and so forth.
When this site was a Benedictine monastery, it was the home of St. Swithun, and thousands made pilgrimages here after his death. His bones were kept in the small hole beneath the icons.
William Walker saved Winchester Cathedral from collapse by singlehandedly stuffing bag after bag of cement under the foundations. See the rings of water as he emerges?
Looking in the mirror gave us a really cool view of the Cathedral roof.
A bit of the intricate medieval carving in the quire, some of the oldest in England to survive unharmed.
A small chapel contains a stained glass window honoring Izaak Walton, author of The Compleat Angler. The modern altar and benches in the chapel echo a fishy, watery theme.
The Westminster scribes have a variety of very nice calligraphed items for sale.
Chawton Cottage, Jane Austen's home in the village of Chawton. She wrote or revised her novels here.
A plaque donated by American admirers.
Another plaque placed by the Jane Austen Society.
Jane Austen's writing table.
The garden at Chawton Cottage, which is being restored to the way it would have looked in Jane's time.