Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Travel Tuesday (December 30, 2014) -- Ten Years After . . . English For Sure, But Not The English Blues-Rock Band.

On Christmas morning this year, a short piece on our local NPR radio station noted that it had been ten years since England awoke to a white Christmas. We had to smile as we were instantly transported back exactly one decade to our trip to Scotland and England.

In December 2004, our older son Jonathan was completing a little over a semester abroad at the University of Edinburgh. Molly, our son Christopher, and Molly's sister Kathy decided we would go over to visit him in Edinburgh for several days and then pack him up for a tour of England before we all flew home on New Year's Day 2005.  [See an earlier post about this trip here.]

After being shown around the city of Edinburgh by Jonathan -- including a behind the scenes private tour of Holyrood (the new Scottish Parliament where Jonathan had interned for an MP), we did a driving tour to the Highlands and Glasgow in the mini-van we had rented in London. And then it was off to the little village of Ditton Priors in south Shropshire, England. We had a cottage rental in Ditton Priors for the week of Christmas before we headed back to London for two days and our flight home on New Year's Day.

Our cottage in Ditton Priors to the right of our dark mini-van. The church yard wall is seen to the right and the Howard Arms pub is to the left with part of the red sign showing against the stone. 

The view out back of our cottage on a grey day just before Christmas Day 2004.

After enduring the mother of all traffic jams just after we crossed from Scotland into England, we had to adjust our plans, skip a stop at Hadrian's Wall, and crawl to an exit (which took us several hours) so we could meander our way south to our cottage.  We arrived at about 3:30 AM -- almost 12 hours later than expected!

From Ditton Priors and our cottage home-base we went on various adventures to Liverpool and The Beatles museum, to Iron Bridge (birthplace of the Industrial Revolution), to the city of Shrewsbury, and other destinations in the English countryside. Each evening we returned to our cottage in Ditton Priors, which sat directly across the village road from the Church of St. John the Baptist (which dated back to the 12th century) and the Howard Arms village pub, which we visited every night for some local chat, a few pints, and some local eats.

The Howard Arms Pub across from our cottage. The public entrance is the stone vestibule. 

On Christmas Eve Molly and I were the only ones who ventured across the road to join the locals in their Christmas Eve service and caroling. It was an odd experience with the carols since we recognized some lyrics, but the tune was completely different from the one we knew and sometimes vice versa. The locals were quite friendly and welcomed us to the service in the virtually unheated stone church. When we left for our cottage across the road after midnight, there were sporadic snowflakes, but nothing more. And then when we awoke Christmas morning . . . .

The view out our cottage window on Christmas morning 2004. 

Jonathan welcoming the snow Christmas morning 2004 in front of our cottage with the church in the background. 

Our cottage in Ditton Priors, Shropshire, England late on Christmas morning 2004.

A view across south Shropshire later Christmas morning 2004.
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All photographs by the author.
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Copyright 2014, John D. Tew
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