Monday, December 10, 2007

"This Scepter'd Isle"

Andrew and I are done with our Christmas shopping.

Most of our gifts we ordered online on Friday and Saturday nights, and tonight we hit a few stores to pick up the small number of gifts we did not buy online. One of the stores we visited tonight was a toy store, where we bought Andrew’s nephew’s gifts.

The gifts we ordered online will be delivered to Andrew’s parents’ house. The gifts should arrive this week, and we will wrap them this coming weekend. We are having them delivered to Andrew’s parents’ house because we are not home during the week, whereas Andrew’s mother generally is. She will not mind signing for and accepting the packages.

This weekend Andrew and I will also package and ship my family’s gifts to Oklahoma. Even though Andrew and I will arrive in Oklahoma on the afternoon of December 22, we think we will be better off shipping the gifts in advance rather than attempting to take them with us on the plane.

Andrew’s middle brother has been preparing preliminary plans for a trip next year to occur during the last two weeks of August, and of course he wants us to accompany him. Tonight he sent us a proposed itinerary for a trip to Southern England for that time period.

Andrew and I will not be able to go anywhere until the last two weeks of August, but he and I have earmarked that two-week period as the ideal time for us to go somewhere. That time is ideal for us because I plan to leave my current job two weeks before law school begins. Andrew’s brother is aware of our tentative schedule.

Tonight the outline he sent to us was a prospective itinerary for sixteen days in Southern England.

Andrew’s brother likes the idea of traveling in the English countryside next August. London may be hot in late summer, and English air-conditioning is not up to American standards, in hotels or theaters or museums. Further, there is not much going on in London in August except for the Proms, and we all got more than our fill of The Royal Albert Hall last summer.

His idea is for us to rent a car upon landing at Heathrow and to tour Southern England for sixteen days and nights, beginning in the Southeast and proceeding all the way over to Southwestern-most England before making our way back to London.

His proposed itinerary is:

DAY ONE—From Heathrow, drive straight to Canterbury and spend the day exploring the town of Canterbury and Canterbury Cathedral. Spend the night in Canterbury.

DAY TWO—Drive to Rye, and spend the day exploring the town of Rye. Spend the night in Rye.

DAY THREE—Drive to Arundel, and spend the day exploring the town of Arundel and Arundel Castle. Spend the night in Arundel.

DAY FOUR—Drive to Chichester, and spend the day exploring the town of Chichester and Chichester Cathedral. Spend the night in Chichester.

DAY FIVE—Drive to Salisbury, and spend the day exploring the town of Salisbury and Salisbury Cathedral. Spend the night in Salisbury.

DAY SIX—Drive to Plymouth, routing ourselves through Wessex and Dartmoor, stopping en route to explore Stonehenge and the village of Widecombe In The Moor. Spend the night in Plymouth.

DAY SEVEN—Spend the day exploring Plymouth. Spend a second night in Plymouth.

DAY EIGHT—Drive to Saint Ives, stopping en route to explore the village of Looe, Mount Saint Michaels and Land’s End, the westernmost point in England. Spend the night in Saint Ives.

DAY NINE—Spend the day exploring Saint Ives. Spend a second night in Saint Ives.

DAY TEN—Drive to Lynmouth, routing ourselves through The West Country, stopping en route to explore the villages of Launceton, Holsworthy and Bideford, and stopping en route to explore the town of Barnstaple. Spend the night in Lynmouth.

DAY ELEVEN—Drive to Bath, routing ourselves through The North Devon Coast, Exmoor National Park and Cheddar Gorge, stopping en route to explore the village of Glastonbury and Glastonbury Abbey. Spend the night in Bath.

DAY TWELVE—Spend the day exploring Bath. Spend a second night in Bath.

DAY THIRTEEN—Spend the day exploring nearby Bristol. Spend a third night in Bath.

DAY FOURTEEN—Drive to Stratford-Upon-Avon, routing ourselves through The Cotswolds, stopping en route to explore The Cotswold villages of Broadway and Stow-On-The-Wold. Spend the night in Stratford-Upon-Avon.

DAY FIFTEEN—Spend the day exploring Stratford-Upon-Avon. Spend a second night in Stratford-Upon-Avon.

DAY SIXTEEN—Drive to Oxford, stopping en route to see Churchill’s grave at Bladon. Spend the day exploring Oxford. Spend the night in Oxford, and drive straight to Heathrow the following morning.

This itinerary sounds pretty good to me, since I have never visited any of these places.

However, Andrew and his brother have already seen almost everything on the list at one time or another, and I hate for them to have to go back to these places solely on my account. Indeed, six of the destinations on the list Andrew and his brother have already visited more than once: Canterbury, Rye, Salisbury, Stonehenge, Bath and Stratford-Upon-Avon.

Andrew says that all of these destinations are worth another look, and that he would love to go back and visit each and every single place on this list again. In fact, Andrew says that he and his brother did not devote enough time to see everything in Chichester, Plymouth, Saint Ives, Bristol and Oxford when they visited those places before.

Andrew’s brother told us tonight that he can prepare an alternative sightseeing schedule for Scotland instead, or a sightseeing plan including attractions in both Southern England and Northern England. Andrew told him to wait, so that we could talk about it at Christmas, and make tentative plans then. As for me, it really does not make much difference where we go, because any place in Britain outside of London will be completely new to me.

One thing seems clear, however: Andrew’s brother has a case of England fever! Excepting 2006, he and Andrew have been to Great Britain at least once a year since 2000, and he is eager to return yet again. This is because he loves England more than he loves France or Germany or Italy. He loves the English countryside, and he loves English churches, and he loves the historic English country houses, and he loves English historical attractions of all kinds.

One thing Andrew asked me tonight was whether I wanted to go back to Britain or whether I preferred to go somewhere else. I asked Andrew what HE wanted to do, and he said that it made absolutely no difference to him where we went, except that we should keep in mind that we would be wise to avoid Europe’s largest cities during the month of August, given that the weather may be hot and given that air-conditioning is not as widespread or as effective in Europe as it is here.

I would love to go to all of those places on Andrew’s brother’s list, if Andrew and his brother can stand visiting them again.

It gives us something to think about.


  1. wow! what an itinerary!

    of course, when you get back, we still have to tour good ol' akron!


  2. Hey, J.R.

    Nothing is set. Nothing is even in the planning stages yet. It is far too early for that.

    Yes, Akron remains at the top of MY list, without question.

    Nothing could possibly compete with Akron.


  3. You Americans and your air conditioning!

    You were in London in September, and you said the air conditioning was perfect. What's the problem?

    You will have a better time in London, or by combining London with the countryside.

    Your itinerary includes too many places that are not interesting. Widecombe In The Moor, Looe, Land's End, the three West Country villages, Barnstaple, Lynmouth, Broadway and Stow-On-The-Wold are not interesting. I would eliminate those stops, and substitute Dover, Portsmouth and Brighton in the South, or add Cambridge and Coventry in the North.

    Do you sincerely believe that Bristol and Plymouth are worth a full day?

    I would devote some additional thought to what you have planned.


  4. Calvin, we don't even have any plans.

    That's just an outline of a method to explore Southern England if we want to devote 16 days to doing so.

    There is a story behind each place Alex wants to visit, but I don't know the stories. I suspect I'll find out at Christmas.

    Andrew and Alex have already spent a full day in Bristol and two full days in Plymouth, and they said it was not enough time. I assume there must be something there if they want to go back yet again.

    The air conditioning was fine at our hotel, but that's because we stayed at a very expensive hotel in order to suit Andrew's parents. On our own, we would never spend so much money on a hotel.

    There's a lot of time between now and August.