|On the road again, this time not by boat|
For this trip, we wanted to go back to the UK, decided to focus on day trips outside of London and Wales for the 10 days we have to spend. I hope to blog as we go, and I'll let you know through Facebook. Meanwhile, here is our itinerary:
We are taking off from Akron-Canton in the evening, then to Chicago, both places I hope to walk and write and then board and sleep and arriving in London…
...in the late morning. As I have sometimes had jet lag migraines, we are taking this day slowly, checking into a hotel in Virginia and Leonard Woolf’s last neighborhood, Tavistock Square and roaming the city: Bloomsbury, maybe the Dickens museum, maybe Chelsea (especially Cheyne Walk where Rosetti was barred from raising peacocks because they made too much noise), maybe I iwill be lying abed with a cold cloth while Paul does these things.
If we are really revved and not too worried about our 6 am wake-up call day 3, we’ll take in “We Happy Few” (http://www.timeout.com/london/theatre/we-happy-few), an outdoor version of “Henry V” that includes puppets. If not, maybe tomorrow night.
I wanted another easy day, so we are taking a one-day package tour to Stonehenge and Bath (http://www.premiumtours.co.uk/tours/tour/stonehenge-and-bath-day-trip.id229.html). We have only taken a package day trip one other time, to Roslyn Chapel, and this time for the same reasons. In both cases, the tours didn’t seem too repressively led (i..e., they mostly give you time to wander around on your own) and the places can be hard to get to on one’s own. Also this way, we could just ride for a day and not worry about train reservations and luggage and cars. I really never cared about Bath, not being a big Austen fan, but I am jazzed now. Still, I decided not to read Northanger Abbey or Persuasion but just eat Sally Lunn buns while I am there.
We get back at 5 p.m. (dios mediante, as they used to say in Spain), and if we haven’t seen We Happy Few, maybe we will, or maybe roam Cheyne Walk, where Mrs. Gaskell also lived.
We take the train to Cardiff. Going to Wales is in part my desire to find out a bit about my ancestors’ homelands. Not much on this: my mother’s maternal grandmother was born here. We know little more about her except she died when my grandmother was only five years old, and my grandmother told me what she could recall about her, the main thing being that she was from Wales and sang in Welsh. A Massillon librarian genealogist has helped me find that she did come from Wales, in her twenties, but we can’t find anything else: not parents nor siblings nor what city. (More on this later.)
We are staying in the center of the city and hope to roam it that afternoon, the Cardiff Market and Craft in the Bay. (Paul, the better shopper, bought a big suitcase to buy stuff on this trip.) I hope to find laverbread. In the evening, we are going to The Norwegian Church to hear Scottish singer, Terry Neason (http://www.norwegianchurchcardiff.com/), who has won an Edinburgh Fringe Festival Award (Listen to her here http://www.terryneason.co.uk/). Paul has discovered that the Welsh language festival is going on too. And all I can say is, "Taliesen."
Tentatively, we plan to take the train to Swansea for the day (if not Day 7). We’ll see the Dylan Thomas Center (http://www.swansea.gov.uk/index.cfm?articleid=1629) and Dylan Thomas house (http://www.5cwmdonkindrive.com). This is the closest I may get to my great-grandmother, who was named Gretta Thomas—though no relation, sorry to say. Maybe have tea here with a Welsh poet and editor who has published me and was a great friend of Thomas’ daughter Aeronwy, whom I met in Salem, MA four years ago and who has since died. Maybe get down to the water at this beach town. Maybe it will remind us of Old Orchard Beach. We’ll go back to Cardiff at night.
It’s the start of the Folk Dancing Festival in Cardiff. They will be dancing all over town from 11 to 4:30 (http://gwylifan.org/en/events). If we can get to the Museum of Welsh history, where they have erected a whole 16th century outdoor village, we will, to see how my ancestors lived, and then, in the evening we will have dinner in Cardiff Castle (http://www.castlewales.com/cardiff.html) , to see how the other 2 percent lived. Both Prince Charles and Matt Rhys have been at the Castle recently, so now the crowds may have died down and we can have it ourselves.
Train to Bridgwater, then taxi to Nether Stowey, to see where Coleridge lived(http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/coleridge-cottage/) and wrote and Wordsworth wrote, hike quite a chunk some of the path that Coleridge took, including the road that the man from Porlock would have taken. A walking day.
We’ll leave for London, go back to Tavistock Square, and try to check a few London things off the list: revisit the library (love that place) next to King's Cross and Harrod’s, say. In the evening, we’ll be seeing Pinter’s play “Hothouse,” (http://www.trafalgar-studios.co.uk/The-Hothouse.html) with Simon Russell Beale and John Simm.
Today, we set out for Stoke Poges (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stoke_Poges), the closest train being Slough, from whence we will walk or find a taxi to this town which holds the graveyard (and grave) of Thomas Gray and his poem, “Elegy in a Country Churchyard.” Another walking day as the church has a garden (probably the cemetery) and a coffee shop that has fair trade coffee and snacks and handmade gifts. A downhome sort of day, I imagine, in a cemetery sort of way.
We may go to see Tennessee Williams’ play, Sweet Bird of Youth this night or tomorrow or never.
Today, our last day, we go to Thorpe Abbotts, the town where my father was stationed in the 100th Bomb Group during WWII and where the air base has been turned into a museum, The 100th Bomb Group Memorial Museum (http://www.100bgmus.org.uk/) . We’ll take the train to Diss, then bus or walk or cab the four miles to this small town. My mom and dad visited here in the 1990s when Daun lived in England, and I have met the directors at Dad’s reunion two years ago. I look forward to reporting back to the 100th BG Facebook folks and Dad's great 100th BG buddy in Texas, Joe Urice, another former tailgunner..
We leave London in the afternoon, maybe time to squeeze in some running around in the morning. Stay tuned!