Friday, July 29, 2011

England 1994 - Part 2

September 25: Norwich to Bury St. Edmunds

Off bright and early (8:30) – more dry weather. It is dull, but we’re thrilled. The route is fabulous – flat country roads for 41 miles. We stopped at a lovely small church where we recognized a man in the churchyard from our visit to the Wymondham Abbey. He was in charge of the bell ringing to celebrate his 40 years of marriage. They had six bells – the new ones were from 1790. Six bell ringers using chain bells play a tune. It was magnificent, and we rode off down the road to the sound of the bell ringers. We were in Bury St. Edmunds by 2:30 without a lunch stop. We had lunch in a little tearoom, which had delicious food and fabulous desserts and ice cream. We visited the Abbey Gardens and learned about St. Edmund, who was martyred, shot with arrows and beheaded for announcing he was a Christian around 800. I have a cold. Ugh. Bed at 6 – up at 8 for supper in our room. (Tired).

September 26: Bury St. Edmunds to Colchester (via Lagenham, Kersey, Hadleigh and Harwich)

The “Suffolk hotel” was fine and we left early (8:30) – about 12 miles to Long Melford, a wonderful small antique town with beautiful shops and pubs and tea shops. A pub was recommended for cream tea and we stopped as I couldn’t resist. Then we cycled on to Lavenham & Kiersey, reputedly the prettiest small town in England – not so. It made our trip much longer and we ended up bicycling 51 miles instead of 35. I am a basket case – so tired. Our hotel – “The George” looks like a flop house from the exterior, but it turned out to be OK. I had soup and a salad and fell asleep about 8:30 after a hot soak. Long hard day of cycling.

Long Milford is the nicest town we’ve seen on this trip for quaintness and shopping.

September 27: Colchester to Harwich

Our day in the van and I need the rest. The others have a short cycle day – about 20 miles. We drove to Harwich on B roads and I was in the hedgerows sitting in the left seat. We met Anne at the Tourist Office. She was so nice to John with his difficulty making ferry reservations. Then we got our insurance and assurance of packing materials from the local bike shop. We backtracked and found the chain gang. They’re in good spirits and close to Harwich. Now we are free to visit Flatford Mill, home of John Constable, the artist. We took a guided tour showing his paintings and exactly where he positioned his easel. A lovely English lady gave us the tour and told us her favorite book was “Sufolk Summer” by John Appleby which we had read about. Now were both anxious to find it. The church in Flatford Mill is lovely with many reminders of John Constable. We went on to Dedham. St. Mary’s Church is also lovely. We’ve seen so many gorgeous churches – so old – monuments to the dead of WWI & WWII. The antiquity is being preserved by the National Trust here in England. They buy land and buildings related to their interests whenever possible.

We arrived at the ferry about 6 o’clock and are waiting for the cyclists to take their panniers. Boarded at 9 and the ferry sailed at 9:30. After seeing it leave the dock, we went to the cafeteria style restaurant for a light supper. It was very bad – I had soup and a hot dog. It was gorelash soup and that was the best part. Our stateroom is minute with a private john about 4x4. I took the top bunk and had a pretty good night’s sleep. Awake at 6 to disembark at 7. All going smoothly.

September 28: Hook of Holland to Zwolle and Ommen

We put everyone and bikes on the train at 8:03 and John and I took the van to Ommen. We stopped on the road for breakfast and a very bad pankoken and 2 demi-sized coffees cost 28 Guilders, or $17 dollars. Everything is so expensive! We arrived in Ommen – pronounced “omax” and looked around. Our Hotel Zonn is very nice. We shopped for snacks, and cocktails were in our room. Getting ice from the bar is like panning for gold. They think we are nuts. We went to an Italian Restaurant. It was only OK. The food doesn’t compare to our last trip to Holland. Early to bed.

September 29: Ommen to Luttenberg to Epe

Left our hotel at 8 after conference with newspaper reporter and photographer. Dr. Ibis (Tao) called the paper as he thought our visit newsworthy. We biked about 12 miles to de Hof. Tao (pronounced Theo) and Meeka had coffee and desserts waiting, and the American Flag was flying on the flagpole in their front yard. He is the town physician and has a lovely home – quite large. Office connected and beautiful gardens, including a secret garden. Another thing I loved was a nursery for her grandchildren – 2 darling small cribs and a changing table. So pretty – lovely art, very comfortable home.

After our coffee we visited a pig farm and a dairy farm. It was revealing to me, as the pigs were in a barn – very cleaned and penned. Our row had mothers with litters – another barn had expectant mothers – one barn held infants or small pigs, etc. The dairy farm was quite automated with electric milkers. The farmer had a herd of 60 cows. Then to Fred and Bettys Royal Hunting Lodge. The first small building dating back to 1500 was quite simple and primitive. They use it for guests. The second structure is 3 rooms – gorgeous antique pieces, small kitchen, large living/dining room, and additional sitting bedroom. Very cozy – unusual, lovely garden and tennis courts on 2 acres. Quite a nice escape for four months each year. Just lovely! And so very Holand. We had a beautiful lunch that they prepared for us. Hot Bullion in mugs, sliced hams, cheese, hard boiled eggs, and many different rolls and bread. Delicious raisin bread – solid, with raisins.

Biked from there with Tao’s help to get out of town to a beautiful Catholic Church then on to Epe. Upon arriving we decided to try some Pofryers, a dutch treat: little pancakes with butter and powdered sugar. We had three orders for four of us when John started to feel strange and enquired from the chef as to whether they contained buckeat. His reciple, in fact, was 80% buckwheat. We ran to the drug store to buy anti histamines, but it wasn’t enough. He continued to worsen and the nearest hospital was 20 minutes away. We finally got a wonderful doctor and after much discussion, got a shot. It was a rough night of worry, but by morning he was fine. What a scare! We have several people with allergies and carrying medication, but it all happened so fast.

The hotel was very nice, called Dennenhaustal.

September 30: Epe to Apeldoorn

Another good day!! 25 miles to bike. Nice ride to hotel De Keizerskroon – Holland’s’ Ritz. We arrived early afternoon, as tonight is our big dinner and concert. We toured the Palace Het Loo. This place is immense and the gardens are especially lovely – formal designs, gorgeous fountains. It was the home of Queen Wilhelmina. Our dinner started at 6 o’clock with ham and melon (a parma-like thin, salty ham) then a soup course – clear soup with onion and small bits of beef. Then our entrée. The center of the plate had a tomato stuffed with broccoli and surrounded with 5 different kinds of fish – each more delicious than the last. A poached salmon – a baked salon – Dover sole roll filled with tiny shrimp – white plaice and a tempura shrimp. It was delicious. The dessert was very beautiful – a large white dinner plate with small scoops of sorbet – lemon, raspberry and orange, small dab of whipped cream and blackberries, strawberries, pineapple and a little Melba sauce. Beautifully arranged. We finished in time to walk to Het Loo for a concert – Eliane Rodriguez at the piano. The room was filled to capacity – a large ballroom absolutely gorgeous with an ebony piano raised in the center. It was fabulous. The hotel is very lovely and we are all too tired to stop for champagne being served after the concert. Another 25 miles ahead tomorrow. This was our $450 night.

October 1: Apeldoorn to Arnhem

Rainy – first day of bad weather. Today we ride through the Velume, the largest forest in Europe. Our breakfast was superb and the Keizerkroon is a wonderful hotel. They even had champagne on the buffet – scrambled and hard boiled eggs, ham, sausage, croissants, rolls, ceeal and much, much more. First stop was at the Kroller Muller Museum. Reputedly they have 278 Van Gogh paintings. It was quite wonderful. Stayed at the museum for a lunch of Brie and lettuce on a croissant and an almond pastry. Then we left in a little rain (first so far) for Arnhem, arriving about 3. The guys headed for the museum and the cemetery. We went shopping. It was busy but only a few really nice shops. Fabulous dinner awaits us here in the Groots Warnsborn Hotel. The dining room is gorgeous. Prices here are outrageous, but it was a terrific dinner.

October 2: Arnhem to Hook of Holland by train

This was quite a feat. We bicycled about 3 miles in our regular clothes with my rain suit on top. Upon arriving at the train station I removed the rain suit and put it in the van. We had a couple of hours, so we walked to the John Frost Bridge, as it is now called, and then back to the station. After a nothing lunch we got a train – first stop was Utrecht where we had to change. Getting the bikes on in a place where they don’t get in the way is a job. We were spread all over the train and had to move fast. One change we only had 3 minutes. Fortunately, the track was right across from our disembarkation. The next leg to Rotterdam, we were alone with our 2 bikes and as each platform came into view we had to move the bikes to the opposite side of the entry. Last stop was Hook of Holland and Eric and Judith Micklinghoff were on the platform. They are a darling couple. We took them to dinner at a hotel in town called “American Hotel.” We gave the place its only American atmosphere. Then our ferry ride turned out to be quite easy in spite of their announcing it would be moderate to rough. I was affected by this report enough to loose much of my night’s sleep. Awake at 6 to the news that we were in port due to a medical emergency that precipitated a speedy sail and early arrival.

October 3: Harwick to Gatwick

Disembarking the ferry at 7 a.m. – meeting Barry and our truck driver, putting our bikes in boxes and we are on our way to Gatwick by 10 o’clock. We’re all a little punchy – tired. The Forte Crest at Gatwick Airport is very nice and I could have tucked myself into those comfy beds immediately, but off we took to Royal Turnbridge Wells for more sight seeing. It is a quaint area (The Pastilles) with nice shops but it is raining and we don’t’ stay too long. Dinner at 7:30 – Scott Beihl and his wife Gwen joined us. Great young couple – they have spent the last eight years in Europe. He is with a bank – Morgan Guaranty and they have three children.

October 4: Gatwick – Atlanta – Harrisburg

Up at 6:00 – Breakfast at 7:30 and off to customs at 9. They make us open our bike boxes. The security is very night. Ready to go home – get rid of this cold and get some rest!!! Good flight to Atlanta but too much food. We had breakfast in London, then dinner about noon, then a snack about 5 o’clock London time. We changed our watches, losing 5 hours and it was time to eat again on the flight from Atlanta. I’m very tired. It appears our bicycles are on the plane also, but we’ll probably pick them up tomorrow. We called Susan to hear sad news – John Arnold died and will be buried Thursday.

Our flight stops in Allentown, then Harrisburg. Set down in Harrisburg.

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