Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Enchanting England

Oh, to be in England now that April's there.

- Robert Browning

I’ve been so busy traveling and taking great photos for the blog that I’ve been forgetting to actually write the blog. Earlier this month Paul and I traveled to England with his parents. On the way out of Scotland we stopped at the border town of Gretna Green, Scotland's elopement capital. It was made famous by English couples seeking to escape the parental consent laws who crossed the Scottish border and took advantage of the easy marriage laws. In case you're wondering, we didn't give in to temptation and tie the knot!

We visited the small town of Market Harborough in Leicestershire (that’s pronounced Lester-shire by the English who like to ignore letters). I got to meet Paul’s 93 year old grandmother (who is in great shape!) and see a bit of English countryside. We took a walk along the Foxton Locks and it was my first opportunity to see how the old system of canals really work. It’s an ingenious method of getting boats up a hill that involves raising the water (and thus the boat) form one level to the next by allowing water through a system of locks. There’s a short video on youtube that explains this much better than I could. I’ve embedded it below.

We also spent some time in the tiny, flower bedecked village of Medbourne. We had a quintessential English lunch, strolled along the canal and wandered through the old churchyard. Think of a period film like Pride and Prejudice and then add a few cars and you will have a good picture of Medbourne. I love poking around these places, investigating old churches and reading old tombstones. In Britain, where space is at a premium, it was customary to bury several people in the same grave. Headstones come with a list of names, usually of related family members. This is often quite surprising to us Americans!

Paul and I spent a few days in London seeing the Tower, British Museum, Film Museum, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, some decent Tex-Mex food at the Texas Embassy and Greenwich Royal Observatory. If you’ve never been to Greenwich, it’s worth the boat trip down the Thames to see the Prime Meridian. At zero degrees longitude, it divides the eastern and western hemispheres. Greenwich is the birthplace of King Henry VIII (whose illustrious codpiece can be viewed in the Tower of London’s armour exhibit). The royal city of stargazing and scientific study is today a nice day out from London where you can see a planetarium show and get a sunburn in the sprawling green spaces.

Below: you-tube canal and lock video, and my own video sideshow of Market Harborough, Foxton Locks, an old Saxon church at Little Bowden, Medbourne church and village, London City Hall, Tower of London with armor exhibit, Film Museum props (including Dr. Who's TARDIS, Harry Potter's triwizard robe, and Paul with his hairy twin) and Greenwich. Friday we set off for a trip into the Scottish highlands to stay in a castle! More photos to come.

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