We had our first meal near Piccadilly Circus (Mike in the middle) . . .
where we enjoyed our first pint of English beer.
Walking down the street from there, you pass Downing Street.
From then on, it was a lot of sightseeing with lots of walking, tube and bus rides, and one boat trip down the Thames River to Greenwich.
Our first day we tried to get into Westminster Abbey. The queue was ridiculously long, and we decided against the wait. And even by the end of our week there, the crowds were daunting, so we never did get in. I guess everyone wanted to see the trees and flowers brought in for the Royal Wedding.
All over London you see what a passion for gardening the residents have. They do so much with pots and small bits of soil.
London's situation on the River Thames makes it impossible to avoid the many bridges across the river. Here's a great view of Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament.
We really enjoyed a boat trip down the Thames to Greenwich.
And then a day in the British Museum, just touches the tip of the iceberg, so to speak. One could spend weeks and not see everything there. We only got through Egypt, Assyria, and Greece.
Do these cat statues remind anyone else of the Pink Panther?
And, of course, the Greek Elgin Marbles are there, too.
We could easily spend a month or two in London and not see and do everything. We did our best to cram in a lot, while enjoying ourselves, but then on day six, we packed up and headed to the airport. We met up with my sister, Barbara, niece and nephew, Cathy and Dave at Heathrow Airport and flew to Scotland.
St. Andrews, Scotland is where Cathy and Dave's daughter, Emily, is winding up her term abroad. We all found that was a great incentive to visit Scotland.
We rented a people mover, which is what the Scottish call a 6 passenger van. Mike, somehow, became the first driver. I'll tell you, it's not easy being a passenger traveling on the wrong side of the road, so I can only imagine how terrifying it is to be a driver. At first, every time a car came around the corner on the left side of the road, we would all gasp. Luckily, Mike handled the driving quite well. We didn't add any dings to the vehicle, and we didn't kill any bike riders!
Our Scotland crew, left to right: Mike, me, Dave, Emily, Cathy and Barbara. The ruins of St. Andrew's Cathedral are behind us.
Oh my, Scotland is beautiful and rich with history. First of all the countryside (and there is plenty of it) is stunning.
The yellow crop is rapeseed, which is made into canola oil.
The fields abound with sheep, lambs, cows and calves. The Galloway cow, or belted cow (in the middle of this photo) is an amazing example of breeding for color.
Scotland's history is rich with dramatic, bloody, and romantic stories. The castle and abbey ruins we visited in Southern Scotland were built in around 1100 to 1300. The British raided and took possession for awhile, then another bloody battle would lead to the Scottish taking over again. And so it went for hundreds of years. Here are some of the ruins we visited.
Hermitage Castle, which has a great story involving Mary Queen of Scots. Oh, and it's haunted, too!
Famous for it's great exterior sculptures.
It was a fabulous trip full of fun, a bit of adventure, with a new interest in the history of the British Isles. Maybe we can return someday.
But now I'm home, fighting moles, unpacking, doing laundry and sending Mike off for his first-time-ever rafting trip down the Grand Canyon. I hope to make my way out to the studio once the jet lag is over.
If you've made it this far and aren't sick of photos, here is the link to our picasa web album.