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Tuesday, July 31, 2018

The National Train Museum in the City of York

The Duchess of Hamilton

This train was pulled by horse. It still had 3 classes. Third class rode the bench outside.

You could view the train from skywalks

The York Cathedral downtown. 

Crosskeys Pub - chicken sandwich - bacon - cheese - chips - salad - plus a pint of wild berry cider - 12 pounds

Monday - all of our guests and Lulu were busy - on tours or in class. I wanted to see the National Train Museum and time was running out. 

At 8 AM - I walked to Kings Cross Station. I bought a round trip - anytime ticket - to York. Because I bought it the day of travel it was not cheap - 72 pounds. It is 209 miles to York - yes that is the city New York is named after - and it took about 2 hours to get there. My little iPhone app was saying were were going 127 MPH! The train was full of day trippers like me - some were going on to Edinburgh in Scotland. 

We pulled out at 9:15 AM and got there around 11 AM. You can walk directly to the train museum from the station. The biggest train museum in the world is in France - but this museum kicks their butt with attendance - because it is FREE. It is so nice seeing large families going into the museum - not having to fork out 10 pounds per kid. You do not feel like you have to stay there forever to get your money's worth. There is so much there to see - giant buildings - and lots of outdoor displays. 

First thing I did when I got there was to have lunch. There are 2 food courts - and you eat right in the middle of the trains and displays. They serve food with nice china and silverware. Much of the food is made from scratch. 

It is overwhelming - with plenty of good signage to explain each historic train. My eyes glazed over quickly. You can read about each train on Wikipedia. Even the building is an exact replica of the 1849 - largest train concourse in the world then. 

Another nice thing -you are very close to Sheffield - Manchester - and Leeds. We have passed through here on trains to Durham - Glasgow - and Edinburgh. With a little bit better planning I could have seen this much sooner. I suggest if you are passing through York on a train - you get off - walk around for an hour or two - and continue on. 

After 3 hours - I had enough. I had to pace myself. I took a little train tram to downtown - now I wish I didn't. I will tell you why later. The tram takes you to the famous York church. They call it Yorkminster - I don't get it - so I call it Cathedral. 

I had a nice supper in the Cross Keys Pub. Cross keys is the symbol of the city. It has something to do with St. Peter having the keys to the kingdom. I had a nice Hunter's chicken sandwich with a wild berry cider. I am not a big drinker - but cider goes down real well over here - it is sweet - and toxic. 

The best part of York for me - is the old Roman Wall. The Roman's settled here around 50 AD. They stayed until 410 AD. They were there longer than the USA is alive. They build a wall around the city - common in the days before guns - bombs - airplanes - etc. It is about 20 feet high. This wall is in such good shape - you can walk along the top. I did that for about 2 miles. The walkway on top is about 6 feet wide. Some places have parapets and iron fences. There are places where you can shoot bow and arrows out. The wall is a great place to take pictures. Maybe Trump was here when he decided to build a wall. Of course it is worthless now for defense. 

You can walk all the way back to the train station on the walk - that is why I wished I took the wall into downtown - instead of the tram. I could have saved 3 pounds :-)

I had purchased a round trip anytime ticket. I could take any train back to London I wanted. I could stop at any city - get off and on - same ticket. I got to the train station at 5 PM. There was a 5:06 Train going straight to London - no stops - 2 hours - Kings Cross Station. The train stopped - I got on - I sat next to a sleeping guy. I had plenty of power for my iPhone - I read and watched videos the whole 2 hours. He slept. Maybe he was just avoiding me - who knows?

I got off the train around 7 PM - walked home - and told everyone around the table about the trip. The whole trip - 400 miles - two meals - no admission fees - cost me 100 pounds. Not a bad day. Thanks Simon for the suggestions. 

140 more pictures on the following page - Editing is an art I do not have. I love them all. 

Saturday, July 28, 2018

I Saw Mamma Mia Today From The Front Row Between Two Tallahassee Girls

Tallahassee Girls - Sabrina - Nancy

Today at noon - Lulu and I left the flat to walk downtown. After 69 dry days on our trip - it rained last night - and really cooled London off. Today it barely reached 70 - it was bright and sunny - but windy. The rain knocked any humidity out of the sky.

Our first stop was at the theatre to check if we could get tickets for the Tina Turner Show. It has been sold out for the last two weeks - the only seats left were a couple of single seats at list price - 95 pounds. We walked on those.

A theatre right down the block has a 3 PM matinee - Mamma Mia. We were lucky to get two tickets in the front row for 25 pounds each. Lulu calls them pity tickets because I point out my hearing aids to the box office person. They have discounted tickets for us "concessioners." She teases me but always has me getting the tickets.

A young lady was sitting in the front row alone. I sat down next to her - and got my phone out. On my phone it said there was a "sabrina" network nearby. I am 70 - but I still recognize a good intro line when I see one. I just said - you must be Sabrina. She was startled but I asked her if she were a local. She said no - she was from Florida. I asked what city - and she said Tallahassee.

The curtain went up. We watched the first act - and it was great. It went so fast. Simply - the story is a girl was getting married on a Greek Island - and she invited 3 men to the wedding. She knew one of them was her father. No more info.

Back to the girl next to me. It turned out Sabrina is a senior at FSU and she has been here all summer studying at FSU Study Center. She lives about two miles from us in Tallahassee. She will actually be going home on the same flight as us - from London to Atlanta. She just loved her London study experience.

The second act is really nice - but the finale is really the crowd pleaser. It is a real rousing medley giving each cast member a chance to show off their chops.

They are really picky about people recording music and video. I had my iPhone in my pocket - and to my surprise the camera was turned on and sticking out. I just got 8 minutes of the finale. The second half is better than the first because I was sitting down and the camera was in my pocket. Still you can see the nice seats we had for 25 pounds.

Some of these actors were in Billy Elliot and Calendar Girls - plays we saw.

I really suggest Mamma Mia as a fun - cheap play.

The place was full - 4 levels.
We were in the front row. 

Here is the video of the finale -

Friday, July 27, 2018

Lulu's London Class This Year

Lulu made a nice dinner for her class.
Picture taken in our back yard.

Lulu started teaching in London in 2008 for FSU. Each year it seems to get better and better. The professor is a walking London Tourist Manual. She knows the streets - the parks - the theatres - the pubs - and the places to shop. She knows who was born where - and who lived and wrote here or there.

We have had lots of visitors through the years to our flat - Drew - Keith - Robin - Jack - Kate - Liz - Max - Marylou - Jeans - JP - Wanda - Sandi - Robyn - Dan - Ann - Dan - Kathy - Manny - and Mia. The first year we stayed in a small efficiency apartment. Later - we learned we could opt for something bigger if we paid extra. Since then we have been staying in this 3BR - 3BA townhouse at 12 Bedford Place.

Probably the biggest improvement we have had is that we buy local sim chips for our iPhones. That way we have our maps and transportation schedules with us all the time. It keeps us up to date on things from back home too. Lulu uses Applepay on her watch and phone - but I still like getting cash out of an ATM machine. A pound is worth $1.30.

We can still watch our TV from home on slingbox - but we do that less and less - instead listening to Sirius radio for CNN and Howard Stern.

We eat all our breakfasts at home - usually eat one meal out - and then gather for supper. We like using the bus and tube - but when 4 people travel together - a black cab is about the same price. The cab takes you door to door - it is good when our tourist guests are trying to save their legs. Mine too.

Today is day 69 of 75 of our EuroTrip. It went way too fast. We have had 2 hours of rain the whole time - and the last 3 days have reached upper 80s! Saturday is supposed to be back to the 70s. It has been good sleeping - it gets down to the 60s at night - and we leave doors and windows open. We have no AC - so we take lots of showers. This is nothing like you expect for London. I have not touched my London Fog raincoat.

Here is an old tour video of our apartment - since this video they added an extra bathroom.

Lulu has two more classes - we go home Thursday.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Flooding In Pennsylvania

My friend Sally Bair just posted these pictures. She lives near Knoebel's Grove in Pennsylvania. When Pennsylvania gets 6 inches of rain - it is much different than Florida. In Florida it soaks in and runs to the sea. In Pennsylvania it funnels into the valleys and the rivers become torrents. Sadly - most of the people live the valleys.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

A Day Alone At The Farnborough Air Show

Red Arrow Pilot - that will be 10 pounds!

Real hero of the show - American Miss Helen - P-51 Mustang - this singular airplane destroyed 519 Nazi planes. Look it up on wikipedia.

I spent some time in the Pimm's upper deck.

The second biggest air show in the world is held at Farnborough - a small town 40 miles southwest of London. It was 8 years ago that I went to see this air show with my son Keith - and could not pass up the chance of a repeat. Honestly - it was not as good for me this time. It is much better sharing an event like this with your son. But heck - I am here in England - I have the opportunity - the time - and the health - so I said here we go.

At first - Lulu said she would like to go with me. But after giving her a few chances to drop out - she took one. She was having a dinner party for her students and guests - and could really use the time to work out the logistics. I spent about 100 pounds on admission - train - and food - for the day. She said the extra time and money could really throw a nice gig - and she was right. We had a wonderful party Monday night - photos coming.

Sunday morning - I had a nice breakfast at the apartment - Lulu makes fantastic eggs - toast - and bacon. I felt like a kid going to school for the first time. I left at 9 AM.  Lulu did not pin my money and directions on my shirt - but she did send directions on my email. I took bus 58 to Waterloo Station. There I bought a roundtrip train ticket - I had 2 minutes to get to the train. It pulled out just as I crossed the turnstile. I was bummed thinking I would have to wait an hour. The conductor looked at my ticket and said - track 12 - in 4 minutes - another train. It was a quiet train - it just made 3 stops. Farnborough came up quickly.

At the Farnborough Station - they were shepherding us onto free buses to the air show. It only took me about 90 minutes from my door to the air show. I was the only person in the cash line for a ticket  - it was 45 pounds for seniors. Stupid me - if I bought online it was 37 pounds.

At 11 AM - it was already hot - but we had some cloud cover. There were hundreds of displays in the pavilions - companies selling planes - weapons - hardware - services - you name it. It was a real weapons festival. Outside there were hundreds of static displays - historic planes - modern planes - missiles - and drones.

There were a lot of great food trucks - drinks - souvenirs - clothing - typical festival stuff.

At noon - the aerial displays began. The 4 hottest items for me were the Airbus 350 - the Harrier Jumpjet - the F-15 Falcon - and the Autogyro. I include video.

Pimm's had a cool double decker bus with a bar in the bottom and a lounge in the top. That was a great relief about 3 PM - even the 6 pounds for an 8 ounce drink made sense to me. A couple ladies came up to the bus top lounge and sat at my table with a pitcher of Pimm's. They asked to sit with me - I was hoping they would share that pitcher. They didn't. If you do not know - Pimm's is a drink made something like an air tea cooler. Lots of fruit floating in it. Lulu loves them.

At about 5 PM - I walked a long way back to the gate. Planes were still flying. I caught the bus back to the train station. They were running extra trains back to London. Lots of people fell asleep on the ride back to Waterloo Station. It took no time at all to get back to the apartment.

As they say - the first time is the greatest. I saw a lot of great airplanes - lots of neat displays. The price seemed much higher this time. I did pace myself through the day - plenty to eat - drink - and rest in the shade. It is not as much fun with no one to talk to. I took a lot of pictures - but sometimes they blend together. I took way too much video.

The one irony I did not enjoy - was the Red Arrow Pilots. Britain has an acrobat flight crew like the Blue Angels called the Red Arrows. They have 9 planes they fly in a diamond. The pilots were walking around with a handful of pictures. They looked cool in their flight suits - writing personal messages on the pictures - all the way up until they said - that will be 10 pounds! I hope the Blue Angels do not do that.

I waited all day to see the Red Arrows fly. At 5 PM - they flew - for about 2 minutes. They did one flyby - turned on their colored smoke - and hightailed it to another place they were flying. Bub-bye.

The real star of the show was the USAF F-15. This guy performed twice at 1 PM and 4 PM. He flew a really hot plane - did some wonderful moves - and made a lot of noise. The Brits who seem to love everything American - except Trump - saved their best applause for the F-15. He delivered - and I did not see him selling autographs.

The Red Arrows.

This town is 40 miles southwest of London.

My buddy Pete worked on smart bombs.

Parts manufuacturers.

Belgium Aerospace.

Bowing Pavilion.

Vertical takeoff Harrier.

USA C-17 Transport. From Dover. It brings the bodies home. 

Big generator keeping plane powered.

Ice cream trucks.

USA brought a lot of stuff here - Apache Chopper.

Cruise missile

Engine display. 

This F-15 put on a great show.

F-15 Fighting Falcon. 

Stearman trainer. 

Cessna observation plane

This Mustang killed 519 Nazi planes. 

Harrier Jumpjet

Bombs bombs and more bombs.

Eastern European T-100 trainer. 

Ultimate Drone. 

Lots of heli-planes

Spy Drones.

Experimental planes. 

Russian pavilion was empty - just a place for spies to hide. 

RAF simulator.

It is called a giraffe - good for trimming trees

Sandwich shop used this Morris Minor to heat the buns.


Waiting for the show. 


Wing walkers.

Sub chaser. Catalina.

Double Decker.

WWI fighter demo. 

Red Arrows

9 Red Arrows

Plenty of good bathrooms

Private jets.


Airstream food trailer. 

Little flyer.

Pimm's park

Drinks on the deck. 

Battle of Britain. 

WWII Brit aircraft. 

B-25 Mitchell Bomber - polished. 

P-38 - WWII attack aircraft.

Corsair WWII carrier plane

DC-6 Used for the Berlin airlift. 

1960 Drone 

The famous hero of the Battle of Britain - Hurricane.



WWI Sopwith Camel. 

First plane to cross English Channel.

Young flyers. 

I loved the Autogyro. the top blade spends from the wind. 


these guys should be heroes - instead of hawking autographs.