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Showing posts from March, 2011

Final Wrap-Up

Wow- what a trip. We had a great time. Crufts was all we'd hoped, if not even bigger than we expected. For everyone who'd like more pictures of the breed winners, I've included a link to the Pastoral group here Other breed winners can be found by doing a search for Crufts 2011 "your breed here". This year Crufts decided to charge for access to their video feed- blah, or I'd provide a link. The Mary Ray performance can be seen here England is a history buff's dream. I could easily spend a month in each of the places where we only could afford to spend a day. Do it if you get the chance!

Stratford Upon Avon

Last train trip before packing the bags to come home- Stratford Upon Avon. The entire center of town is a pedestrian zone with lots of shopping, eating and historical information regarding William Shakespeare. The home where he was born has been restored and many archaeological digs have been done in the region. A museum with research material for scholars is right next door. All of his writing is available for sale as well. Stratford itself is a small town so it was a very relaxed day all around. I got home at about 3:30pm just in time for tea and cakes with Julie. By the end of tea Barb and Jan had talked Julie into taking us all into town to visit thrift stores- you can't trust these two if there's a bargain to be had! Luckily it was late in the day so we couldn't get to very many shops before the sidewalks were rolled up at 5pm.
So packing is the priority for the evening! See you all soon.

Day in London

Our host at Elm Cottage kindly dropped us off at the Birmingham Airport train station bright and early. It took about 2 hours to get to the outskirts of London where we transferred to the "Tube" to make our way to the Waterloo tube station and our first attraction of the day, "The Eye". They make 14,000 pounds every time that beast makes a full rotation- what a money machine! It's certainly a remarkable view from the top. Have a look at the scale of the wheel compared to the building it sits next to. Each capsule holds about 20 people for the 45 minute, single rotation ride. It never stops rotating. They just open the doors and you get in or out as it goes past the platform slowly.You're locked in from the outside for the duration of the ride. That made me pause for a moment. Just as you get off the Eye you walk past the pier for the Thames River Cruise, so we hopped on.

 The down-river portion of the cruise we were on a two-decker large boat. Since I couldn…

Lazy Day

Today was a lazy day of recovery- slept in, sat out in the sun and watched the birds at the feeders in the garden. We did one small trip back down to Coventry to pick up a couple of small woven images for a birthday present, at the Coventry Cathedral. Everywhere you go there are many curious little sculptures. Today I found an elephant high up on the wall over two huge doors on the side of a building- I love it!
There was no title or explanation, just a lovely little elephant head. Quirky......

Warwick Castle

Barb and I visited Warwick Castle today. We took the bus to Coventry, then switched buses to go to Warwick. Jan took the day off back at the B&B. What an amazing sight! It's hard to believe that anyone would build such a huge place for ANY reason. They've done a great job of presenting the castle fully furnished and decorated as it would have been "in the day"- from dungeon to state rooms. Even the smallest details- like the wood carvings on the walls was very beautiful. The first sight of the castle is pretty impressive- you walk around a corner of shrubbery and there it is- massive! It sits on the River Avon- but no moat is in evidence. I don't know if it ever had one. It doesn't appear like it now. Throughout the displays they dressed very realistic looking models in the clothes/ armor/ or tools of the period. It oftened seems like their eyes were looking at you. With the complexity of the armor it was very surprising how impressive even the armor for …


Today was our first cross-country train ride. We took the bus into Birmingham where we transferred to a train to Bristol Temple Meads. There we changed to another train to Bath! After days of solid gray, it was actually sunny! Our first activity was a bus tour of the entire city- cool! A really great way to see a new area. We then headed for the Roman Baths were they had a good self-guided tour using the hand-held, dial up the topic, recorders. We spent quite a bit of time there. Our next stop was the Cathedral for me and shop with gifts for Barb and Jan. The cathedral was the largest we've seen so far and very ornate. It's walls are covered with what amounts to grave stones from down thru the ages. I got intrigued with the carved images of children especially.
Some were really beautiful. I could easily spend a month in Bath photographing. It's difficult to do it justice. There are some very large steeple chase races going on right now so the train was full of younger men …


This afternoon we spent in Solihull- a town with a 700 year old city center and a 12th century cathedral- St. Aplhege. They've done a wonderful job of combining modern stores with very old buildings, in a pedestrian walking setting. The cathedral wasn't one of the most impressive but was very peaceful and pleasant to enter in the middle of a busy day.

The stained glass window with the picture of the dog in it is in a chapel that's actually in the "basement" now but was the original church building. I had to take a picture when I saw the dog! They've got it roped off so I couldn't go down to see it all. There's another chapel directly above this one that holds the beautiful alter piece above.
For a bit of British flavor I made Jan and Barb stand for a picture in front of the old style phone booths! It was like pulling teeth to get them to do it, but in the end- success!

Bobby and Bess!

Julie, our hostess and one of the many wonderful features of Elm Cottage, her 2 ten week old terrier puppies, Bobby and Bess! These two babies are brother and sister and bred by Julie's brother on his farm not far from the B&B. Their great puppy energy and sharp little minds as they explore the wide world provides a wonderful start to each of our days!


Shopping in Birmingham! We went to a place called the "Bull Ring" that is one huge Garage Sale in many huge buildings as well as outdoor stalls. The picture on the left is of Jan and Barb buying gloves. Barb also sought out a big scarf for the chilly weather. All of the goods are stacked/ piled or displayed as high as they can make them. It's like walking thru a maze! There was a beautiful fruit and vegetable market outside that we ate our way around- yum. Just outside the "Bull Ring" is the City Center which is a massive shopping district along with the central train and bus stations. Just on the edge of the "Bull Ring" is St Martins Cathedral. There was an exhibit by a local artist of larger than life "vestments" each representing a different sentiment evoked by our modern world- quite a unique way to express concern over today's issues.
Right next door to St Martins is a huge structure that looks like a miss-shaped golf ball. I think i…


Monday Moving Day- Taxi's are an interesting event in England. First of all, we don't understand a word they say! Today's specimen of the breed wore a small clothe cap that led me to believe that he might have been Indian or Pakistani or ??? The leading characteristic however is the "bat out of hell" driving scheme they all seem to have learned. Lanes, either left or right, don't seem to carry much weight in their world. We gave him the address we wanted and he shot off and before we knew it we found ourselves in the center of Birmingham's Muslim district- what??? This doesn't look like the airport area that we'd described from our map. Uh sir..... this doesn't look right. I finally suggested STRONGLY that he call the guest house for directions. We eventually made it, after a full tour of Birmingham and two stops for him to talk to other cab drivers. Luckily he wasn't a butt about the fare. Time to recover.....

Sunday- Last Day at Crufts

Up and out early today! The Min-Pins are in the ring at 9am and we want a good seat.  This is Jan's breed and there's 132 dogs to see- yikes! In England the first class is always the veteran dogs (8 yrs old or more). Then they move onto the Puppy dogs- but wait- they don't proceed simply by age from class to class, but by how many points you've previously won, so the classes can be somewhat more mixed than we're used to here in the states. They show "rare colors" here- I'd never seen a "blue" Min-Pin before. Jan adopted a 10 yr old girl and her mother who are interested in learning to show, so I got the benefit of her many years in the breed while she coached them thru the show. Barb was over at the bulldog ring taking some movies for friends back home. Finally at 4pm it was time to get in line for the "Best in Show". Security immediately removed the wheeled bag Barb had been dragging about for 3 days, filling it with all her "…


Many apologies to all- we discovered that we were staying in a cell phone and wifi "whole in the grid" at our B&B in Coventry. We just couldn't get anything out. We're now located at our 2nd B&B in Birmingham and are hopeful of better connections.  Saturday morning was my day to explore Coventry! The town was bombed to oblivion in 1940-1945. Their beautiful old cathedral is now an "open-air" affair. Only the bell-tower remains. I climbed to the top (slowly), viewing the bells on the way and then gazed about the countryside while holding on for life in a gale-force wind. Coventry was a weavers town back in the day and still make some gorgeous small pieces for the tourists. They've also got a nice art museum called the Herbert where I saw an exhibit of Egyptian artifacts and a small collection of "Old Masters" paintings.
Lady Godiva lived here! Who would have thought? She still has her detractors however as is evident by the picture of he…

Crufts-Day 2

The Corgis were in the ring today! 132 dogs and bitches starting at 9am. It was after 2pm before we got to best of breed, a very nice tri bitch, CH Craigycor Irish Luck at Meitza who came out of the Open Bitch class, also winning the bitch cc today. The dog cc winner was Highworth Cut the Mustard for Twinan, out of the Limit Dog class. He is a good size handsome red and white boy with a manly tail! The judge was Mrs Diane King of Bymil Kennels. It gets to the point that you're not SSOOOO amazed by all the tails after awhile, but it does indeed change the look of the dog. When they're on the move most of them carry their tails high, so the tail-set is quite different than we're used to in the US. We sat next to 2 very nice breeders from Holland, Hanne Sigtermans-Brugman and Yvonne Gouweleeuw-v.Mierio who gave us the European point of view throughout as well as many wonderful personal experiences. We did a bit of shopping afterward to pick up some things we'd seen yester…

Crufts- Day 1

Whew! What a day. We got up at 6am, breakfast at 7pm-"the Full English breakfast", then down the road to the bus stop. The show site is MASSIVE (and the signage is not always obvious) so we walked and walked and walked... They anticipated 80,000 visitors today alone! We watched agility, obedience, gun-dog competition, conformation for Labs and wandered 5 huge halls filled with exhibitors/ vendors and still didn't see it all. Tomorrow the corgis are in the ring at 9am so our morning is planned. There are so many dogs that each day has it's own separate catalog. I see some new event every time I watch agility lately. We were so tired at the end of the day that we bought prepackaged sandwiches on our way out to have for dinner rather than try to do anymore shopping for groceries or walk to a restaurant. We're not in shape for this much fun.... sheesh. The wifi here so sloooooooow that I can't upload any movies! Today I'll shoot stills instead- si…

13 Hours!

13 hours in a flying rock-crusher with endless movies, snacks and games of Solitare- what more could you ask? Well- a smoother beginning could have made it a bit easier. Just as we got in line to check in at SeaTac, Jan says, "I forgot my passport!" Holy #**#!*!! Barb grabbed her cell phone and called Becky, who had kindly driven us to the airport and just pulled away to go home. "Could you please blast back over to the airport and take Jan home to Mercer Island to get her passport and then return her forgetful butt to the airport in time to not miss any of the numerous security checks they are so fond of these days. Mission accomplished! Thankyou Becky aka Wonder Woman! Seat-back movie screens are an interesting experience- little tiny movies! I watched The Kings Speech and The Black Swan. Our 2 hour lay-over in Amsterdam brought a long-distance march from one end of the place to the other with a stop half-way to take pictures with wooden shoes and Dutch lace hats and …

And We're Off!