Sunday, August 21, 2005

Our 2005 Visit to England, the Netherlands, and France

Barbara and I visited our daughter in the UK in August 2005. After our visit, we rode the Chunnel to Brussels, then visited the Netherlands and France.

We visited Lakenheath, London, Bury St. Edmunds, Cambridge, and Bocking (Essex) in the UK. Then we took the Aerostar ("Chunnel") to the Continent and visited Amsterdam, the Hague, Versailles, and Paris.

RAF Lakenheath August 10

Our plane landed at London's Heathrow Airport on Wednesday, August 10, We managed to navigate the Metro across London, then took a train to Cambridge. While awaiting a train to Brandon, we took this photo of a taxi. (We briefly considered taking a cab to Lakenheath, but changed our minds.)

We considered taking a taxi, but changed our mind.

We caught a train to Brandon.

Waiting at the Brandon Station
We soon met our daughter, who drove us to her home in Lakenheath.

London August 11

The next day we drove from Lakenheath to the outskirts of London and then took the Metro to London.

Headed to London
Our first stop was Trafalgar Square. Here is the Church of St. Martin-in-the-Field:

In front of the Parish Church of Saint Martin-in-the-Fields
Next stop: the National Gallery (also in Trafalgar Square).

The National Gallery in Trafalgar Square
 We proceeded to the Tower of London.
With our granddaughter at the Tower of London

Within the grounds of the Tower of London

According to Alan Nesbitt, this man is not a Beefeater, but a Guardsman.

The Tower of London Bridge, being raised for a ship to pass.

Another Beefeater—I mean Guardsman—at the Tower of London

Bury Saint Edmunds and the Magna Carta, August 12

On Friday, August 12, we took a bus tour from Lakenheath to Bury Saint Edmunds.

Our first view of Bury Saint Edmunds as we exited the bus.

Bury Saint Edmunds' main attraction is the Cathedral there. Here is an example of the gardens we passed as we proceeded to the Cathedral.

One of the gardens at Bury Saint Edmunds

We passed the ruins of an older cathedral at Bury.
Then we caught out first glimpse of the present-day Cathedral at Bury Saint Edmunds:

Approaching the Cathedral at Bury Saint Edmunds
The Magna Carta was signed at Bury Saint Edmunds in the year 1214.

Plaque that tells of the signing of the Magna Carta

About to enter the Cathedral at Bury Saint Edmunds

Inside the Cathedral

Our guide introduced herself to us.

Some of the cathedral's stained glass.

The Cathedral organ

Statue of Mary and Jesus

Happy grandbaby at the Cathedral

Saint Edmunds Pew, where the Bishop of Ipswich sits

A smaller organ at the Cathedral
After visiting the Cathedral, we visited the market.

In the market at Bury Saint Edmunds
We found a restaurant for a light meal, then joined the bus tour for the return trip to Lakenheath.

Second Trip to London, August 13, 2005

On Saturday, August 13, we decided to see London from the Thames River. Here we're waiting to board a boat to ride up and down the Thames.

Waiting for the boat

Big Ben from our boat on the Thames

The British Houses of Parliament

The Houses of Parliament and Big Ben

Looking at the London Eye, beyond the Westminster Bridge

A closer look at the London Eye

Royal Festival Hall (blocked from view by trees)

London IBM Building (It made my heart race ...)

Shakespeare's Globe (half-timbered)

Tower of London Bridge as seen from the Thames

Going underneath London Bridge

The dome in the background is St. Paul's Cathedral
Following our boat ride, we wanted to eat at the original London Hard Rock Cafe (that's where Hard Rock Cafes started). To our disappointment, a bad fire had burned it out, and it was closed for remodeling. We settled for a meal at Pizza Rotti instead:

Pizza Rotti, a substitute for the Hard Rock Cafe

Cambridge, England, August 14

Sunday, August 14, was a bit more relaxed. After attending church in the a.m., we drove to nearby Cambridge to see the University there. We saw a sign directing us the the Whipple Museum of the History of Science.

Sign pointing us toward the Whipple Museum
We found the Whipple Museum door locked. It was closed on Sundays.

Me, standing outside the closed Whipple Museum
We wanted to see more of Cambridge University.

Statue of King Henry VIII at King's College, Cambridge

King's College, Cambridge

Some bridges over the Cam River. (Hmmm ... "Cam" + "Bridge" = "Cambridge")

Cambridge is one of England's oldest universities

Returning to Lakenheath from Cambridge

Visiting Whipple Origins in Bocking, Essex, August 15

Starting at the Royal Air Force base in Lakenheath (northeast of Cambridge), we headed south and got on the A11 expressway, which became the M11 expressway and continued to its intersection with the east-west A120 expressway. (Bishop's Stortford is on the west of that intersection; London's Stansted Airport is on the east.) We drove east on the A120 to Braintree, then to north to Bocking. We knew we had arrived when we saw this:

Gate leading to St. Mary's Church
Entering through the gate, we saw the church:

St. Mary's Church, Bocking, Essex, England
Approaching the church, we passed the St. Mary's Church Hall and Parish Office on our left:

St. Mary's Church Hall and Parish Office

We noticed the entrance to Bocking Hall:

Entrance to Bocking Hall

We didn't go through those gates (as far as I can recall 13 years later), but it might be interesting ...

We proceeded to the church:

St. Mary's Church is over 1000 years old

Our visit was on a Monday, when the Church is normally closed, so we initially walked around the outside. We tried entering the front door:

The front door of St. Mary's. It was locked, being Monday.
With the door locked, we explored the yard. The gravestones were in the church yard:

Gravestones in the St. Mary's church yard. I looked for Whipples, but found none.
Circling around the church, we saw this beautiful window:

Another side of St. Mary's
Looking more closely at the stonework ...

Closeup of stonework

Continuing our walk around the building:

Rounding the corner to the next side of St. Mary's

We looked for a place to peer into the church.

Continuing our walk around the building ...
We found a promising window to look through:

Looking into St. Mary's from the outside

We continued to explore from the outside of the church:

We managed to get this photo from the outside, looking in

Another door

We managed to take interior photo through another outside window

Rounding another corner, we spied the Church Hall and Parish Office in the distance

We saw this clock beneath the bell tower. It would soon be noon.

Clock beneath the bell tower at St. Mary's, Bocking

We also saw this statue of St. Katherine holding a spiked wheel. During the 4th century, she refused to make sacrifices to pagan gods and was put to death by being crushed between two spiked wheels.

St. Katherine, 4th century AD

I'm uncertain about this statue:

Unidentified sculpture
The following two seem to represent a king and queen?

My notes wonder if this might be King Henry III  (1206–1272)?

If married to Henry III, this would be Eleanor of Provence, Queen Consort of England (1223-1291)
Continuing to check around the outside of the church, we read the notices of local events. In the process we learned that the full name of the church is The Deanery Church of St. Mary the Virgin Bocking:

Local notices

More notices

I noticed this gargoyle (?):

Gargoyle at St. Mary's Bocking

Before leaving, we decided to try the door of the Parish Office. To our delight, it was open. We walked in. "Anyone home?" we wondered.

Inside the Parish Office

We saw a picture of St. Mary's hanging on the wall:

Picture of St. Mary's on the wall in the Parish Office

No one seemed to be there. We were getting hungry, so we went to the gate. The road to the left looked promising. We proceeded down the street and found a place for a light lunch.

Street to the left when exiting the gate to St. Mary's
After lunch, we returned to take a few more photos:

We expected this to be the end of our visit to St. Mary's

Another photo of the tower

I hadn't noticed this tree previously:

One parting photo ... or so we thought

"Why did we have to come on a Monday, when the church and offices were all closed?" we asked ourselves. (I knew why: on Tuesday we would take the Chunnel to Belgium, the Netherlands, and France ... but I asked it anyway.)

We decided to check the Parish Office one more time. 

Les Vail, a Church Warden, had stopped by the office. When I told him I was the webmaster of the Whipple Website, he graciously unlocked St. Mary's for us!! (Hmmm ... Maybe he would have unlocked it for anyone?) Here is what we saw when we entered:

Les Vail, Church Warden, greeted us warmly.

We saw this monument to Mary Grinsell Moore (d. 1624) on the north wall of St. Mary's chapel:

Monument to Mary Grinsell Moore

The organ at St. Mary's was recently refurbished at a cost of £35,000:

Organ at St. Mary's Bocking

Looking north inside the chapel, we saw this:

Looking north inside St. Mary's Bocking

Les Vail took us up into the bell tower. Here is what we saw when we looked up in the bell tower:

Looking up in the bell tower at St. Mary's Bocking

This photo shows the the striped ropes pulled to ring the bells:

Inside the bell tower at St. Mary's Bocking

This plaque shows the Deans and Rectors of St. Marys from 1232 through 1996:

Deans and Rectors of Bocking

Perhaps this man was the current Dean of Bocking?

Poster at St. Mary's Bocking

Now that we had seen the inside of the church, we decided it was time to leave. We noticed the Bocking Cemetery as we headed back to Braintree. We took many photos, but saw no Whipples.

Traveling to Amsterdam, August 16

On Tuesday, August 16, we rode the Chunnel beneath the English Channel to the European Continent. First, however, we took a train to London.

From the train window: Leaving Brandon for London
We boarded the Eurostar in London, destined for Brussels, passing through a part of France on the way. At Brussels we activated our Eurail Passes, then headed for Amsterdam. The train ahead of ours derailed in the Netherlands, so it was almost midnight when we reached our hotel in Amsterdam.

Amsterdam and the Hague, August 17

Our goal for the remainder of our trip was to see major art museums Here is the entrance to Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum:

Barbara at the entrance of the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Barbara standing by Vermeer's "Woman in Blue Reading a Letter"

Vermeer's "The Milkmaid"
We took a train from Amsterdam to the Hague to see the Mauritshuis.

The Hague's Mauritshuis has many wonderful paintings—including some Vermeers

At the Hague's Centraal Station, we were impressed by the large number of bicycles.
We returned to our hotel in Amsterdam for the night.

Versailles and Paris, August 18

We awoke early on the 18th to take the Intercity Express (ICE) from Amsterdam to Paris. Fortunately the derailment of two days earlier had been cleared and repaired. The train traveled cautiously in the Netherlands; as soon as it crossed into France, it sped up noticeably. Arriving at Paris' Gare du Nord station, we took the Metro to our hotel near the Moulin Rouge, then headed to Versailles.

At Versailles' Rive Droite station

Approaching the Palace at Versailles

Equestrian statue of Louis XIV

An organ in the Palace at Versailles
Versailles had many beautiful rooms. Here are a few:

Louis the which, I wonder ...

Looking out a window from the Palace at Versailles

King Louis' throne

Another of the Palace's seemingly endless rooms

A bed

Another ceiling

Marie Antoinette and children, perhaps?

Numerous tourists
Leaving the Palace, we headed for the gardens at Versailles

Louis built a full-size toy village for Marie Antoinette:

Marie Antoinette's full-sized toy village

The toy village's vegetable garden
Two more of the numerous gardens at Versailles:

It was early evening when we decided to head back to Paris from Versailles. It seemed like we had to walk "forever" to get to the station in Versailles. We were tired when we arrived back at the hotel in Paris.

Paris, August 19

On Friday August 19, we headed for the Louvre, and immediately sought out Vermeer paintings.

Johannes Vermeer's "The Lacemaker" at the Louvre, Paris

A pyramid at the Louvre

Winged Victory of Samothrace—what's left of it

The crowds around the Mona Lisa were huge. It was probably the most popular place in the Louvre

The crown jewels at the Louvre

My finger between two pyramids at the Louvre
Exiting the Louvre, we walked along the Seine River in search of more delights

Barbara walking along the Seine River near the Louvre

The Isle of Paris in the distance

Approaching Sainte-Chapelle in Paris

Entrance to Sainte-Chapelle, Paris

Inside Sainte-Chapelle—Paris' first church

Barbara inside Sainte-Chapelle, Paris

Stained glass windows in Sainte-Chapelle, Paris

This Paris police station is an integral part of the Sainte-Chapelle building

Outside Sainte-Chapelle, Paris
Next we walked to the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris

Cathedral of Notre Dame, Paris

Christ and the Last Supper in the Cathedral of Notre Dame

The Birth of Jesus and the Flight into Egypt

The Three Kings visit the baby Jesus, in Notre Dame, Paris
Our next stop was the Musée d'Orsay, where we saw more recent art.

"Whistler's Mother" at Musée d'Orsay

"Ballet Rehearsal on the Stage" by Edgar Degas

"The Little Dancer" by Edgar Degas, at the Musée d'Orsay

Portrait of Claude Monet at Musée d'Orsay

"Self Portrait" by Vincent van Gogh

"The Bedroom" by Vincent van Gogh, at the Musée d'Orsay, Paris

As the afternoon progressed, we prepared to go for dinner at the Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower in the distance

Closer view of the Eiffel Tower

Barbara dining in the Eiffel Tower, at 95 meters

The Eiffel Tower at night
After our visit to the Eiffel Tower, we headed back to our hotel.

The next morning we awoke very early to catch the train to the Charles de Gaulle Airport. From there we headed back to our home in the USA.