|A Choir Trip to England: Tuesday, July 14|
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Keith Middleton said goodbye at breakfast, and Sheila took us in her even smaller car (a Fiat Punto) to meet the coach.
Our roommate for the stay, Dawn Church, automatically tried to get into the right front side of her car, then realized Sheila had to drive from there.
The route out of Bristol took us past a restored dock area and through Avon Gorge under a suspension bridge. Our coach driver said it's the #1 suicide place in England, averaging one a week, and four police officers are each paid £1 extra per month to carry bags and shovels in their cars to clean up.
Blenheim Palace was the next stop. It's Winston Churchill's birthplace because his American-born mother was visiting family there on a shooting holiday, and he came early. The main open court reminded me of early scenes in "Man in the Iron Mask" minus Louis XIV's fountains.
It was overwhelming to think of this palace being a family's home, by the sheer size of it. We felt the weight of all the Dukes of Marlborough history, while seeing state rooms, topiary mazes, the private lake with swans, actual furniture from the French court at Versailles with the Sun King emblem on the upholstery, 10,000 volumes in the library (Churchill actually used lots of them, they said) and the famous 10 tapestries. These tapestries were the best historical record of the first Duke's campaign. Male craftsmen stitched the battle scenes by candlelight. We also saw a toy soldier collection one of the Dukes got as a birthday gift. Including all the units of Napoleon's army, it is one any collector would covet.
We had too little time in Oxford afterwards to see much. We did break down and get a hamburger at McDonald's for supper. We skipped most sightseeing to look around the food department in an M&S, where Larry found some Earl Gray for his office. Then we took a city bus to the hotel.
|© 1996 Larry and Bonnie Arnold, updated September 26, 1998|