Apr 30, 2009


We're back home after two wonderful weeks in England, the highlight of which being the fantasy wedding at Banwell Castle that my darling sister in law conceived, planned and implemented to perfection.

I highly recommend getting married in a castle because it is indescribly romantic and comes as close as you can get to feeling like Cinderella, or Cinderfella as the case may be. Since this is our first day back I don't have time to tell you all about it because I have to go to work and see how many inches of paperwork are covering my desk. However, here are a few photos to show you what a beautiful day we had.

Here's a shot of the castle--exactly as advertised, except better. Much, much better:

And here's a photo of the wedding party. You'll note that the groom is not wearing a tie or belt. This is because the groom forgot to pack them which he didn't realize until he started to get dressed an hour before the ceremony:

We had a pre-ceremony reception in the castle's drawing room so everyone could mingle and get to know each other. We also enjoyed a pre-ceremony cocktail which went a long way towards calming Cinderella's and Cinderfella's nerves:

By the way, the drink we call "mimosas" are called "Buck's Fizz" in England.

I highly recommend Buck's Fizz. Buck Fizzes. Whatever.

After the reception we moved to the gatehouse which had been beautifully decorated with flowers and candles and had our ceremony. I would show you photos of the ceremony but I was too busy at the time to take any; however, I can report that it was touching and romantic and my groom read a very sweet reading to me that made me all misty eyed.

And after we were hitched for the second time--two ceremonies on two continents makes us good and truly married I reckon--we enjoyed a feast:

Later on our wedding night we got the opportunity to try out the English health care system. The groom started running a fever early in that morning which only got worse as the day went along, plus he started having a hard time catching his breath.

Since there are no "doc in a box" clinics in England we called the local health service and they sent a very nice English doctor around to pay us a housecall castle call. He arrived at Morley's bedside a little after midnight, and after examining him the doctor loaded him up on antibiotics and recommended that he rest and stay warm for a day or two.

"Staying warm" is easier said than done in a castle--that stereotype about castles being drafty and hard to heat? True. Here's the groom the next day camped out in bed waiting for the meds to kick in, wearing all the bedcovers we could find plus his sweatshirt.

I might mention that if you have to put in a couple of sick days while on vacation, you could do worse than spending them holed up in a suite in an English castle with a guy named William bringing you trays of hot tea and freshly baked scones all day. I'm just saying.

And in case you are wondering, we don't believe my groom has swine flu. At least I hope it isn't swine flu because I started coming down with the same thing on the flight home last night.

And now I'm off for a shower and the office to uncover my desk, and unless a nice English doctor rings my doorbell, visit a "doc in the box" to get some meds of my own.

More soon.

Apr 26, 2009

Married. Again.

We're getting married again today at this place, Banwell Castle, in a traditional English service.

I believe the way it works over here is first an evil knight locks me in a tower and throws away the key. Then I cry out for help and Morley hears me and vows to rescue me. So I let down my golden tresses and he climbs up my hair, squeezes thru the little window in the tower where I am being held captive, and we share a passionate kiss.

Then we suddenly realize that now both of us are trapped in the tower forever and ever, with no possible means of escape. Allegorically speaking.

Or maybe we just have a nice ceremony followed by a big lunch and a few drinks. I'm not exactly sure how it works but I'll let you know.

Apr 25, 2009


Morley's hometown has a very special relationship with the Concorde: the facility where these amazing aircraft were built is just minutes from Morley's mum's house and many people in the area, including Morley's dad, worked there.

After one of the Concordes crashed outside Paris in 2000, the decision was made (by the wimpy French) to retire the entire fleet. On the last day of service every Concorde in the world made one last flight, arriving in London at the same time to land one right after the other. One of them paid special tribute to Bristol on its way to London by flying over the facility where they had been built and wagging its wings in salute to the Bristolians gathered below to pay their last respects.

Morley's mum is very attached to the Concorde. She tells great stories about the days when she would stand in her back garden watching it in test flight overhead, but she had only seen them from afar, never up close and personal. So on her 80th birthday we fixed that--we arranged for her to tour the Concorde that had been donated to the Bristol area for a museum that is in the works (it might be open by now for all I know).

She had no idea where we were taking her but as soon as we pulled up to the Filton facility she guessed what we were up to. She was delighted.

The volunteers who gave her the tour made a big deal of it being her birthday. They ceremoniously waved her onboard where she had it all to herself for a few minutes to soak up the swanky leather smell and luxurious interior, then they invited her to have her photo taken in the seat by the Mach 2 sign that used to light up when the airplane broke the sound barrier.

The volunteers who take care of the Concorde keep everything exactly as it was when the plane was in service, right down to the fine linens and china dinnerware. There was no "first class" service on Concorde--every seat was "supersonic class".

By the way, the bathrooms looked like normal airplane bathrooms except for fresh flowers and marble countertops--but how often do you get to take a whizz going faster than the speed of sound?

Apr 24, 2009

What I'm craving by now

Ordinary, nothing special, drip grind American coffee. Don't get me wrong--English brew is delicious but it just isn't the same.

By the time this post shows up we'll have been in England for over a week and I bet I'm craving a pot of plain old American coffee.

Also, email.

Also, the internet.

Also news, most especially the Drudge Report.

Also, Survivor and American Idol.

Also, you.

Apr 23, 2009

middle of nowhere

Once we were driving aimlessly through England as we typically like to do when we spotted this ancient footbridge out in the middle of nowhere.

We pulled to the side of the road to take a closer look and to walk across a stone bridge that untold generations of Englishmen before us had crossed.

Then we found a rock to sit on and so we could enjoy the peace and quiet and watch this bird admire himself in the stream...

...and make plans to have watercress sandwiches with our afternoon tea.

Apr 22, 2009

Doors, and houses with names

Every house in England has a beautiful front door and every house has a name.

When we get home I'm going to give our house a name.

I think I'll call it Rodney.

Apr 21, 2009

The Moors

England has several areas known as moors. I'm not exactly sure what makes a moor a moor, all I can tell you that one minute you can be driving through the lush, verdant countryside that is so typical of England and the next minute you are in a place that is utterly different--a moor.

They are empty, almost arid vast stretches of land that extend as far as the eye can see. Moors are slightly eerie yet oddly compelling places.

There are no people living in the moors but lots of sheep call them home.

And there are no fences to keep the sheep in any particular part of the moor--they pretty much have the place to themselves and go wherever they please.

Q. Why did the sheep cross the road?

A. To get a starring role in Morley's home movie.

"I'm ready for my close up, Mr. DeMille. Just don't shoot my baaaaaad side."

Apr 20, 2009

career dilemna

Although the opportunity was tempting, I quickly calculated that would only allow me to buy 168,000 sticks of rock, which is not nearly enough sticks of rock to get by on.

PS I have no idea what sticks of rock are but since they were being sold in a sweets shop I assume it is some sort of candy. But it sounds like something you'd buy in an ally from some guy wearing a hooded sweatshirt and sunglasses.

PPS Any American store advertising sticks of rock would get a visit from the popo

Apr 19, 2009


One day as we were driving around going nowhere in particular, we spotted a village named Beer on the map. So we headed off to find Beer.

You know we had to go there....just so we could say we had a beer in Beer. We stayed overnight at this hotel:

Thus, we can truthfully say we have slept in Beer.

PS: there is a little creek that runs through Beer.

Apr 18, 2009

Corn Exchange

Back in the days of merchant ships, the Corn Exchange in Bristol was where the big boys went to cut big deals. The outside of the building positively reeks of power and big deals. Its a huge building that almost fills a city block and the architecture is spectacular.

Back in the olden days, merchants gathered there to buy and sell staples of European life--things like spices, silks, and grains. Today the Corn Exchange is where tourists gather to buy wheatgrass smoothies and refrigerator magnets shaped like English phone booths.

I took a pass on the wheatgrass smoothie but I had to have one of those magnets.

Tomorrow: the night we slept in Beer

Apr 17, 2009

villages by the sea

We love them, can't get enough of them, crave the very sight of them.

As soon as we land on British soil we head for a pub the sea and a quick fix of Old Speckled Hen fresh salt air and natural beauty.

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Hey! How did that one get in there?