Tuesday, July 26, 2011

England/Europe - 1994

September 19-20: Harrisburg – Atlanta – London

Susan, Emily and Caroline took us to the airport. Emily wants to see the real airplanes. The weather is fabulous – clear, cool and sunny. Arrived in Atlanta on time but left 1 hour late as our plane just came in from Paris and had to be cleaned, etc. An almost full plane took off in gorgeous 75 degree sunshine for a very smooth trip to Gatwick. Sixteen bicyclists ready to have 16 days of fun on wheels – BUT our bicycles went to Frankfort, Germany. John’s worst nightmare on our first day has come true. We are tired and the drive to Norwich is long. Delta is retrieving our bicycles and bringing them to Norwich tonight. We visited Norwich Cathedral – the second highest steeple in Britain (Salsbury is #1). Came back to put our bikes together – we are bleary eyed. Had a supper in the bar at 9 p.m. and went to bed at 10:55 Tuesday which equals 4:55 in Pennsylvania. No sleep since Sunday. Up early in the a.m. for a long biking day!!

Visited “Adam and Eve,” the oldest pub in England – great little (3 tiny rooms) spot.

September 21: Norwich – Thetford

Woke to sunshine!! A gorgeous day; approximately a low of 50 and a high of 65 degrees. These Trust Forte Hotels are excellent so far. We had a fantastic bicycle route – a few miles of fast narrow, dangerous roads, but mostly gorgeous country – flat, sparsely traveled thorofares. We totaled 34.6 miles and weren’t tired as we expect to be, as most are still fighting jet-lag. We stopped at a free house in Effingham for a long lunch break – slow service, but nice lunch. Food is fairly high-priced, but we don’t eat enough to really mind as 5-course meals are usually too much. A minimum lunch runs about $8 and pub dinner with wine and beer can run to $18-20 for two. We visited Wymondham Abbey and ruin – the most beautiful angels on the altar back and hand-carved natural wood ceiling. Arrived in Thetford about 4 p.m. – cocktails at 6 p.m. – dinner at the Bridge Pub. Lots of laughs – tired – home to bed by 10:30. Great day!!

(This is the birthplace of Thomas Paine, Father of the American Revolution, and has the largest area of woodland in the entire country).

September 22: Thetford to Ely

How can this be? Another sunny day in England? We are in shorts. We visited the bowling green across from the Bell Hotel and the gardens are still lovely although it is late in the season. We were surprised to see Southern Magnolia trees and yews trimmed into columns like giant pillars. The bowling green was perfection like green silk. Everything is real – no plastic. I love it. A long day of biking but a pretty nice ride. The traffic is fast and roads are narrow but drivers are very good – most give you lots of room. The trucks scare me. Arrived in Ely bout 4 and went directly to the Cathedral. It is magnificent. I bought more angel Xmas cards. Also, on the road we stopped at a chapel called St. Marys in Santon Downham. Beautiful and small with the needle point kneelers – each one unique. The Cathedral in Ely dates from 1081.

We opted for our room for cocktails and Jim and Jeannie’s friends, Sadie and John Chester from Bury St. Edmonds, joined us. Upon going down and off to dinner, Bernard and Rosemary met us in the lobby. What a happy surprise! Then we all went to dinner at the “Old Fire Engine House” Restaurant and Gallery. They had a room set up for us and all 18 had a great time. Dinner was superb – fine restaurant – not inexpensive ($100 for 4 including wine). Bernard and Rosie stayed in a B&B and we’ll see them again today or tonight, as it works out. We stayed t the “Lamb.” We had nice accommodations, but the others weren’t much and there was a bit of grousing. All in all a good day.

September 23: Ely to Kings Lynn

Another great day – a cooked breakfast and off by 9 to Downham Market; 20 miles along the Ouse River, a lovely road. At Downham Market we met Bernard & Rosie. She took my bicycle for the rest of the trip to Kings Lynn and had a great ride and I went with Bernard to our hotel “The Dukes Head.” It is pink and white stucco with flowing flower boxes in the windows – so pretty. Rooms are also very nice. The Forte Chain is excellent. We bicycled next to the river – lots of barges and power boats. Bernard and I had tea while we waited for the bicycles to arrive. All met in Royers room for cocktails and then across the courtyard to a small restaurant – we killed a bottle of merlot with Bernard and Rosie, and stopped in our hotel lobby for a nightcap. Very interesting – beautifully dressed dowagers enjoying coffee, tea and liquors in many little groupings of sofas and chairs. A lovely way to close the day.

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