By the Sea

By the Sea…repeat. Repeat with additional of beautiful. Raise your glass and drink with your companions.

We arrived in rain, at deep dusk, after a two hour drive turned into three and a half. So don’t feel surprised that we headed to our rooms instead of the beach.

Ahhh. Morning. A different story. The rain was gone. Locals were walking dogs. (One man on skateboard with dog on leash caused a double take.) It was exactly right for a short walk before breakfast.

Wear shoes on this beach. Stones of multiple sizes have been rinsed, and washed, and smoothed by years of waves. Shells left by sea critters blend in with the rocks and sport sharp edges where broken.

Due south and out of sight you’ll encounter France. Turn west and the next land will likely be Boston.


English channel on a peaceful morning.


Honor Granted

This weekend is a holiday in the United States. On Monday we officially remember those who served and sacrificed in defense of our country.

My father was a WWII veteran. Memorial Day will always remain in my mind as his holiday — no, he was not killed in action. He recovered from his physical wounds, lived an active life, and died when elderly.

On my recent vacation in England (are you tired of the photos yet?) I saw many memorials honoring the soldiers and sailors from a particular place or those who saw service at a specific time and place. The African War. The Great War. Animals in War. Admirals and generals and statesmen tested by events larger than themselves.

This quiet little gesture in Salisbury Cathedral touched me and flooded my heart with thoughts of my father, his comrades-in-arms, and their children.



Circle Game

Now join hands. Everyone step to the left and sing. “Ring around the…

The song changes from generation to generation and from one culture to another. The idea of children (or adults) joining hands and moving in a circle could be taken as the first step in developing or learning a folk dance. Perhaps a drum was added first – a stick against a hollow log. Flutes and harps are older than Bible stories. And the human voice may have been the very first musical instrument.

But not all circles are fun and games.

“Circle the wagons!” The cry is heard in multiple American West movies and television shows. Two or more people with their backs together make a good defense.

A circle with the people facing in allows many to see the same object or event at the same time. (Think theater in the round. Or a boxing “ring”.)

This circle has stood the test of time. It wasn’t created in a hurry and if they designed it as a puzzle they were successful. Even the best of scholars include lots of qualifiers  – may, believe, approximate, unknown – in their explanations.


“Ring around the giant stones.

They’ll be standing when we’re bones.”


Timeless Design

The water source is at Location A.

Water is required at Location B.

Humans have been working on this problem since the dawn of civilization. (Or before. Depends on your definitions.)

Gravity gives a big assist. Men have scratched trenches of various sizes into the earth. Sometimes the water flowed from point A to point B without soaking into the ground or evaporating into the air. Tools and technology able to carve a channel into rock aided in the soaking away problem.

But then along came a group of people with excellent engineering skills. They combined materials. Refined and shaped metal. Experimented. Passed knowledge gained to the next generation – via oral and written language.

Computer modeling in recent years verifies the excellence of their work. Even though today we would choose a different material, the principle continues.

lead pipe
This Roman era lead pipe is still functional to transport hot mineral water into a pool.



Standing Tall

The Reformation did not come peacefully to Great Britain. Land, money, and valuable assets were at stake. Monasteries and convents suddenly were under attack, instead of protection, by the crown.

Clergy converted. Or scattered. Or died.

Their buildings were left behind. Some in better condition than others. The best built remained standing in their communities. After the roofs were removed, some of them collapsed. Others were viewed as convenient stone quarries for other building projects. (Need some dressed stone for a bridge? Build a road or barge it from the old monastery.)

A few remain in ruined splendor to this day. This example near the border of Wales and England has become a tourist attraction.




An Artful Welcome

First impressions are strong. Objects as well as people will at times give an instant surge of emotion – either positive or negative.

Our tour group stopped at a “typical English village”. Translate to lots of old buildings and shops selling tourist items including candy, photos, books, and clothing.

I saved money that morning. Our stop occurred before many of the businesses were open for the day. With the bookshop closed, I got out of town cheap.

It was also pleasant to take a stroll. I found a thatch roof to admire. And the village church to photograph. (It would be considered old in the United States. I’m not sure how “old” to be “old” in England.)

But the first thing that caught my eye – gave that first impression – as I walked away from the bus was this lovely cottage door.



Mister Twig

Our group arrived in the village a mere week before the 400th anniversary celebration.

No — not of the town. Not of the house. Rather, the death of the most famous of residents.

Tourists arrive from every portion of the globe. (Fitting since his work was performed in The Globe Theater.) Like many historical sites they begin with a video and then you are “turned loose” to explore within the fence, listen to docent, or spend money in the gift shop. (Or Shoppe.)

The house is his birthplace. A portion of the house was his father’s glove shop – made as well as sold. The building was also his home during the early portion of his marriage. (Adult children staying with parents is not a new thing.)

It was difficult to select a favorite portion. Historical houses intrigue me. The gardens were lovely. On this fine afternoon it would be natural for a servant, or the unemployed son of the house, to be assigned some garden work.


Was Mr. Shakespeare as thin as a twig?


Conservative Celebrity

Photographers appreciated her long before the movie debut.

Students studied, joked, and prayed within her walls.

The entire English town has a reputation for excellent education. A visit would not be complete without a visit to at least one of the grand buildings.

So I paid my fee and entered with several others from our tour group. A beautiful, serene quadrangle greeted us. And then we entered the cathedral. Captivated by stained glass windows and intricate wood carving on pulpit and choir, I failed to notice when the others departed.

No harm done. I remembered my way to the market and lunch.


The exterior was featured in a popular movie series. But the interior has her own sort of ability to awe and charm.


The Garden Assistant

Gardening can be difficult work. A person can use an assist with many of the tasks.

Two to dig a hole and plant a post. One to bring a wheelbarrow of dirt or mulch and the second to spread it. Sometimes the assistant can be a child in training for simple things.

And some gardens are simply too large for one person to keep up with. All the trimming, planting of seasonal blooms, care of the pathways. The work requires an entire crew. A team of professionals works in many public gardens in all parts of the world. And even the team needs a small, quiet assistant now and then.

Cherb holding gardner's jacket
Cherb holding gardner’s jacket.

This silent assistant was spotted at Hampton Court Gardens.