Jumping Across a Pond
1: Thursday, June 26 - Saturday, June 28, 2008
England Trip '08 has arrived, and is starting out in style. Sara used her superior travel arrangement abilities (and airline points) to upgrade our flight to Premium Economy. As far as I can tell it is first class! Being upstairs in the plane provides a smooth and quiet ride. Good food, good service, and an excellent start to the trip.Written at 11PM on Saturday, June 28th, 2008.
We land in Gatwick at 8:30AM local time after an almost 8 hour flight. The two customs lines are named "UK Passports" and "Rest of the World". Sara waits 25 minutes in the UK line, while I wade through the Rest of the World in 1 hour and 15 minutes. Membership has its privileges.
We rent a Ford Focus and confront the challenge of driving on the left side of the road while sitting in the right side of the car and shifting with my left hand. Sara navigates with a map that does not have any of the roads we are using. Needless to say, it is a little stressful. Did I mention I've been up for 20 hours?
We arrive in Royal Tunbridge Wells in time for lunch and a nice walk around the area. Traveling to Aylesford brings us to The Friars Priory for a brief visit and more coffee. By now the coffee no longer does any good.
Just around rush hour we are off to Suffolk via the M25, which we share with every other car in London. Next, a toll tunnel under the River Thames and the A134 deliver us to Bradfield Combust.
The first stay is at the 18th century Church Farm Bed and Breakfast, preceded by dinner at The Manger and followed by a full English breakfast, all of which are excellent accomodations.
In the morning, we drive 6 miles to Lavenham for a VW show. Having been to dozens of VW shows in the states, we are both very curious to see how it's done here. The structure is very interesting; instead of displaying all the cars in one location, they are in 4 clusters spread throughout the town. The nicest and oldest cars are in the center of town, and include many split window Beetles. Two other clusters have the early and late 60's Beetles. At the end of town is a large field with a swap meet and the remainder of vehicles. We are at the show until 1PM, having found time to see all the cars and even have coffee and scones at Munning's.
Next we travel about 4 hours to Liverpool to enjoy a wonderful dinner with Sara's family and celebrate her Grandparent's 60th Wedding Anniverary. The food is wonderful and the conversation lively and entertaining. Truly a great group of people.
Turning in around 11PM, we look forward to a full day in Liverpool.
The "English Rose" jet shortly after arrival.
The Ford Focus rental car. I prefer the simplicity and styling of old cars, but must say this one performs well. It has good mileage, handles well, and has no significant blindspots.
One of the first backroads we encounter outside of Gatwick.
One lane under a bridge in Kent.
Backroad in Kent.
Tourist Information building in Royal Tunbridge Wells.
The Ragged Trousers Pub in Royal Tunbridge Wells.
Rear side of the Shrine Altar at the Friar's Priory.
Piazza in front of the Shrine Altar at the Friar's Priory.
Friar's Priory Cafe.
The Manger Pub in Bradfield Combust.
Church Farm Bed and Breakfast in Bradfield Combust.
Church in Bradfield Combust.
VW Busses at the Lavenham VW show. These busses are 1967 and earlier, known as "Splitties" for their split windshield design.
VW Camper, complete with bathroom.
Row of VW Busses.
Early Beetles, 1966 and earlier. Most easily recognized by their laid back headlights.
A few more early busses. The middle one is a "deluxe", complete with trim, bumper guards, and overriders.
Oval window Beetles (1953 - 1957) and one Split window Beetle (pre 1953) on the far left.
Munnings Coffee Shop.
Depending on which one of us you ask, this is a cool camper.
Early Beetles, 1958 - 1966.
Driving Into Liverpool.