Archive for the 'The UK' Category

14 moments from our summer 2014 trip to the UK

Just a few days after Peabody’s last day of 5th grade, we headed to the UK for two weeks. Leaving right after school usually means better weather and smaller crowds, especially when travelling to Europe. It also starts the summer off big and sets the tone for the next couple months. Here are a few of the adventures we had in our two weeks in Stratford-upon-Avon, York, Edinburgh and London.

  • Calling on Sir John Soane
  • Meeting Henry VIII and George II at their home in Hampton Court
  • Stepping onto the set of a 18th century TV pilot
  • Visiting the Land Rover assembly plant in Solihul
  • Staying at the Ace and having tea in the lobby every morning
  • Touring the RSC’s theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon and seeing Roaring Girl
  • Exploring Lincoln’s Inn with LEG
  • Shopping and eating in Shoreditch
  • Playing games at the National Museum of Scotland
  • Walking the York Wall at dusk
  • Time travelling to Roman Britannia
  • Mudlarking for clay pipes, roof tiles and potsherds
  • Saving the world in 60 minutes and 45 seconds
  • Drinking homebrew with friends and getting inspired to make our own

Exploring Roman Britain in York and St. Albans

Sting sings, “The teachers told us, the Romans built this place. They built a wall and a temple, an edge of the empire.” With every trip to the UK, we look for opportunities to walk along those walls and touch the foundations of those temples. In 2012, we walked through the remains of the Roman baths in Bath, and in 2010, we visited the Museum of London and followed the Roman Wall trail in London. This year we visited two museums which had some great Roman displays. The Yorkshire Museum in York has a very nice collection of artifacts and some surprisingly good exhibits. While there is a gorgeous theater with a nice movie on the history of the town and a high-tech display that lets you meet a number of locals from York’s Roman past, our favorite presentation was a video produced by some local students on the story behind the museum’s interesting bust of Constantine the Great. The Yorkshire Museum is one of York’s best attractions. While in London we took a quick day trip to St. Albans to visit the Verulamium Museum. The museum was built in 2005 and holds a great collection of Roman archaeology pulled from the surrounding area. The current city of St. Albans grew next to, not on top of, the old Roman city of Verulanium, so the collection is remarkably well preserved. We loved the mosaic floors (much better than the British Museum’s collection) and the drawers full of little Roman artifacts. St. Albans also has a gorgeous cathedral and shrine to England’s first martyr. If you visit, have lunch at Baked Nation, about half way on the walk between the train station and the center of town. For explorers of Roman Britain, St. Albans is very much worth a visit!

Hitting the Road in the UK

We got summer off to a quick start this year, heading straight to the UK just days after Peabody’s last day of fifth grade and Nettie’s high school graduation. It was our longest trip yet, almost two weeks that would take us as far north as Edinburgh. Our first stop was Stratford-upon-Avon, Shakespeare’s hometown and a typical destination on many English holiday itineraries. While we enjoyed the Elizabethan sites, a fun production at the RSC and a nice B&B, the highlight of this stop for me and Peabody was a tour of the Land Rover factory in nearby Solihul. We were the only civilians on the tour – the other half dozen people were car dealers from Russia and South Africa. The three hour tour started off in the modern plant where massive robots assemble hundreds of Range Rovers each day. It’s impressive to see how a vehicle is put together piece-by-piece over a 15 hour span. Across the complex we also visited the original factory building which still bares some of its of WWII era camouflage paint from when they made airplane engines. This is where the classic Defender is built in basically the same, human intensive, manner it was in the 1950’s. There was a line of military spec trucks being prepped for shipment to Iraq. These are some of the last Defenders to ever be built as the vehicle is being discontinued in 2015. While we were there we also got a sneak peek at what they’ll be making instead – a new Jaguar. It’s the end of an era. Anyone can visit the facility for a fee. Information can be found here.