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Last update 10/09/2k

Hagar The Horrible Comic

England Trip Sep. 2000 Pictures....

I went to a two day meeting at Conoco's England refinery near Grimsby and since this was my first time to visit England I took Sherre along.
We left on Sep. 23rd and arrived at Heathrow airport on Sunday morning about 11 AM. You loose 6 hours when going 'over the pond' and it's also about an 8 hour trip so it makes for one VERY long day. After arrival we hopped on the Heathrow Express train for our very first train ride and then on our very first subway ride to King's Cross rail/subway station where we caught another train up to Doncaster which is not too far from the refinery, this was about a 2 hour ride. This refinery was built about 1969 on a large farm near Grimsby, England. They kept the large farmhouse that is on the property and turned it into a hotel for company visitors to the refinery since there isn't a town nearby. It's a VERY nice place with 5 bedrooms, all with their own bathroom.
It's called the Walmer House. Here's a shot of the room we were in, it is the largest room and a shot of the large bath. The front looks like this and the back has a nice large yard where the rabbits like to feed in the evening. There's also a 'football' (soccer) field next door but I didn't get a shot of it. The refinery is right across the street and the tank farm for the refinery is right behind the building. It's surrounded by the big oil tanks.
All the bedrooms are upstairs, downstairs there is a nice living room, conference room (with one of the Conoco engineers doing his email there), and a large dining room. They fed us all three meals here each day, very good traditional English food.
After two days of meetings on Monday and Tuesday we took a rent car and drove to York to see the sights. I quickly learned to drive on the left side of the road and how to navigate the traffic circles. After you've done a few of them they start to make sense. It was about an hour's drive to York, I'm glad it wasn't any longer! This little car is made by Rover and was a 5 speed standard, it was really strange shifting with the left hand. Most of the cars there are very small like this because gas (petrol) costs about $5 a gallon! This is partly because they have a 75% tax on gas there! The government REALLY wants to discourage driving.
On the way to York we went over this toll bridge, the Humber bridge which at one time was the longest single suspension bridge in the world. Once we got to York we turned in the rent car and found our way to the central part of town.
The first place we visited was the York Minster which is one of the largest churches in England. It was started in 1291 and is decorated in a Gothic style. It's VERY large, here's a shot of the main room, the Nave, this is only HALF of the building. It is a Church of England church. I have several pictures of the inside but didn't notice until we got home that I didn't get any pics of the outside! Here's a shot of the screen between the two halves of the church, it has statues of several of the kings of England. I also have several shots of the various windows but they didn't come out very good.
We visited several other places in York but I didn't get any pictures of them. Late in the afternoon on Wednesday we visited the National Train Museum just before catching the train back to London. This is a VERY large museum, the largest train museum in the country. Here's a shot of me next to one of the old engines.
Everyone told us on our first day in London we should take a bus tour to get a feel for the whole city and then decide what to go back and see in detail. So, we did this, we went on a London Pride bus since we could get a 50% discount using our London for Less coupons. I found this London for Less book on the internet and ordered it, cost was $20 and we saved a lot more than that on the trip using the book and it's coupons so it paid for itself many times over. This bus tour also included a short river cruise so it was really worth the trip.
As we drove around I took shots of the most famous places. Here's the National Gallery with a church in the background, I didn't get the name of this one. Here's Westminster Abbey where all the royals get married and the coronations occur since 1066. Another shot of the front door.
Here's a shot of the Thames with the new London Eye in the back ground. I have a closer shot of it here taken while on the boat tour. This was just built in 2000 and is a very slow Ferris wheel type ride, it takes 45 minutes for one revolution but is very tall and they say you can see many miles from the top (but that's only on clear days and there aren't many of those in London, ha!). We didn't fight the crowds to ride it, too many other things to see.
Here's the Houses of Parliament with the famous Big Ben clock on the right. A better shot of Big Ben is here.
Near Trafalgar Square is this Admiralty Arch, built in 1910 as a regal entrance to this area. Not far away is Piccadilly Circus which is just a fancy name for another traffic circle, anyway it's their version of Times Square and has all kinds of fancy signs. We went by St. Paul's Cathedral several times but I didn't get a good shot of it.
A shot of the new Globe Theater which is a reproduction of the original where many of Shakespeare's plays were performed, notice the thatch roof.
Near the Tower of London is a small piece of the original Roman wall that surrounded London when it was a Roman city.
This is the type of boat we took our river tour on. From the river we could see many of the major attractions in the city. Like London Bridge and a close up of it. This bridge is called the Millennium Bridge, it was built just this year and only open one day, when it was full of people (it's just a foot bridge) it swayed so much they had to close it down!
The HMS Belfast a cruiser that is now a floating naval museum. Here's another shot of the Tower of London from the river. This is called Cleopatra's Needle, a granite obelisk from Egypt that was made in about 1500 BC. It was given to the British in 1819 in recognition of their help by Lord Admiral Nelson at the Battle of the Nile.
After seeing most of the city we decided to take in the Tower of London tour. We were able to get the last guided tour of the day and here's a shot of our Beefeater tour guide. He was very interesting and humorous. He's the youngest person to be a tour guide, he told us they are all ex-millitary men and must have at least 22 years of service before they can be accepted as Yeoman Warders. They are the official guards of the Tower and also live there with their families. The Crown Jewels are also kept there but they wouldn't allow pictures of them, they wouldn't even let me try them on! I did get one shot of a suit of armor along with horse armor, I forget who this is made for, one of the Kings of England, I think. I don't remember much of my English history but from the stories our guide told it sounded like it's not such a good thing to be an English King or Queen, sure were a lot of them executed here! ha!
On Friday we toured Buckingham Palace, it is only open in August and September and this may be the last year it is open to the public. Here's a shot of one of guards out front, we got there before the changing of the guard ceremony and stayed to watch it. It's a long and drawn out ceremony but rather interesting. Again, they didn't allow pictures inside the Palace, but needless to say, it's FANCY!
We also toured the Cabinet War Rooms but I didn't get any pics. This is where the English government worked during the bombing of England by the Germans in WWII. It was all left just like they used it during the war and was turned into a museum. It's all several feet under ground and protected by a thick layer of concrete and steel.
After leaving there we went by Westminster Abbey to see it. VERY large. We also went to see Marble Arch which was built in 1827 as the main entrance for Buckingham Palace but was too small for the grandest coaches so it was moved in 1851. This is not far from the famous Harrods store but I failed to get a picture of it. Let's just say the prices there are as large as the store and it's about a full city block! ha! (The restrooms are free, however, which isn't true of all the stores in town, ha!)
On Saturday we went to the Science Museum, I didn't take my camera because I thought pictures wouldn't be allowed but they were. This is the largest Science Museum I've ever seen and was very interesting for me. Sherre wasn't so interested but she stayed awake. We also did some more touring and shopping. We traveled around London on the tube (subway) by buying a 7 day travel card which allows you to travel anywhere in the central part of the city. I didn't get any shots of the tube but it's pretty nice except during rush hour, we got stuck one day riding it during rush hour and it was VERY crowded. Imagine the last time you had to get on a crowded elevator and then imagine that elevator moved sideways (heavy acceleration and deceleration) over bumpy rails! Not fun. Seems they breakdown often too. That happened several times to us the week we were there but not to the train we were on, it just delayed us.
On Sunday we did more shopping along Oxford street which is the main shopping district. It's several miles long as is covered with all kinds of stores. It was interesting to me to see all the McDonald's, Burger Kings, and KFCs along the street. There were also plenty of the red double decker buses and the black taxis everywhere you look.
Later we took a quick tour of the British Museum. It was amazing to me to see all the ancient Egyptian artifacts that were out in the room where everyone could touch them. They were badly worn from all the fingerprints over the years. About the only thing that was covered up was the Rosetta Stone, this shot was made while a tour guide was standing in front of it. There are miles of rooms and each area has it's own theme. You could spend days in the place if you're a real history buff.
By the way, many of these places are found on this web site for Historic Royal Palaces. Also, the English Heritage group has a website too, many of the places we visited are on this website.
On Monday we took a Frames Rickards bus tour to Bath and Stonehenge. This was about a 2 hour ride to Bath where there is a Roman bath that was rediscovered about 100 years ago. It is much larger than I imagined and about 15 feet under the present street level, that's how much the ground level has gone up in the last 2000 years or so. The museum was quite large and detailed but I didn't take but a couple of pics. We also visited the Bath Abbey which is right across the street from the Roman bath. Here's an inside shot and a shot of the newly restored pipe organ.
After we left Bath we went on to Stonehenge, this site dates back to about 5000 years ago, the stones that are there now were constructed about 3500 years ago. No one knows why the place was built but there are lots of theories. A cold wind was blowing the day we were there so we didn't stay long. Because so many people visit this site each year they were having trouble with errosion near the stones so they've moved everyone back a few yards from the stones. I didn't realize there are MANY other sites in this area that are also about the same age, some of them are burial mounds. We didn't get back to London until after 6 PM so we got caught in some of the rush hour traffic.
On Tuesday we went to Greenwich which is on the other side of the Thames from where we stayed. By the way, we stayed at a Comfort Inn very near King's Cross rail/subway station. It wasn't the nicest place I've ever stayed, in fact, it was close to the worst but the price was right. Everything is rather expensive over there. Outside our 2nd story window was this Jaguar dealership, fancy, huh?
Anyway, in Greenwich we walked to the top of the hill to visit the Old Royal Observatory. This place was established in 1675 by King Charles II to solve a  problem that faced all sailing nations. They needed a way to define the east/west co-ordinates which we call longitude today. Finally in 1884 after all those years of study they found a way to define and measure longitude and 0 degrees longitude was defined to be at the Old Royal Observatory there in Greenwich. To measure longitude an accurate way to measure time while at sea is also required so part of the problem was to develop a clock which could do that. It wasn't done until 1763 by John Harrison when he developed the H4 clock which looks like a large pocket watch. This was after he failed on the H1, H2, and H3 clocks. Oh well, enough history lessons. It was all very interesting to me and Sherre was very patient.
They wouldn't allow pics inside so all I got was a few outside. From the top of the hill where the Observatory is you can see most of London. It was a hazy day but here's a overall shot. The Queen's House was completed in 1637 but is no longer used by the Queen. The Millenium Dome was built for just this year as a tourist attraction but has been a major disappointment, I heard they are now talking about what to do with it next on the 'telly' news. I read up on it and it sounded pretty lame so we didn't visit it.
Here's Sherre in front of the Queen's House and here I am standing with one foot in the eastern hemisphere and one in the west on top of zero longitude. Here's a shot of a telescope made in the 1700s with Sherre looking out of one of the windows. They have several telescopes there but my pictures of their large 28" refracting telescope didn't come out well, it was too dark in there and too large of a room for my flash to work. They have this ball on top of the main building that they drop at precisely 1 PM every day so sailors can set their clocks, they've been doing this since 1833 and we were there when they did it that day, I didn't see Dick Clark anywhere! The clipper Cutty Sark was down near the river,  in 1871 it was the fastest ship on the sea.
We did some shopping in the downtown part of Greenwich and ate a late lunch (fish and chips again, I could get used to that!). Then took the train back to Oxford street in London to do some more shopping. We got caught in rush hour tube traffic that evening which made us homesick again. I'm sure glad I live out here in the wide open spaces!
On Wednesday the 4th we got up early to beat the rush hour and took the tube to Paddington station where we were able to check our luggage in and take the Heathrow Express train out to the airport. We caught our plane with plenty of time to spare and hopped on the big 777 headed for Chicago. After a long 8+ hour flight to Chicago we caught another flight down to Tulsa. Got home about 7 PM and tried to stay up as long as possible to get over the jet lag as quickly as possible. We were up 23 hours that day with just a few short naps on the planes.
Overall we had a good time, got to see lots of interesting things but we were sure glad to get back home! Let me know if any of these links aren't working, I didn't have time to check them all, hope you enjoyed our story.