Sunday, October 30, 2005

Chocolate Heaven

Cadbury World is a chocolate lover's Heaven on Earth. When you first enter the Cadbury World exhibit, you are presented with two different kinds of Cadbury chocolate bars to munch on during the tour. About 1/3 of the way through you get another two bars (different kinds), and about 2/3 of the way through there is a demonstration area where live demonstrators give you information about certain processes and give you all the samples you want. The exhibit has a very comprehensive history of the business, dating back to the early 1800's... and a complete tour of the factory and a bunch of other displays. Of course, at the end, there was a large gift shop to buy anything and everything "Cadbury". I bought quite a bit to bring home, hoping there will still be some left by the time we actually get home!

The Cadbury chocolate business was established by a strict Quaker family who, over time, developed one of the most impressive business models in the world. They paid a fair wage and, eventually, the entire town of Bournville was created around the Cadbury chocolate business. The Cadbury's wanted their workers to have good housing, medical facilities and everything else to make life pleasant so they built housing and hospitals and parks and other facilities for the families. The name Bournville was chosen because the "Bourn" water canal ran through the area... and, of course, "ville" was added to denote this was a village.

So strict were the Cadbury's in their faith and hiring practices, no married woman was employed at the factory until the time of World War II. The Cadbury family felt a married woman's place was in the home, and a woman working would encourage her husband to become lazy and live off her income. During the war, however, when the man labor was in short supply, they changed their employment policies and have continued to employ single and married women ever since.

Bournville and Cadbury World are only about 1/2 hour from our homebase, in Solihull. This is really a very central location for touring from. We've certainly seen a lot so far and ALL our adventures have been day trips.

Have a wonderful day (and be sure there is chocolate involved),

"There is nothing so valuable as a good friend... except, perhaps, a good friend with chocolate".

Friday, October 28, 2005

Real Estate Report From England

For those interested in real estate information, please visit my real estate blog, where I have posted one article and hope to do more as time permits.
Cheers from the olde country,

Picture is sunset over Broadway, England.

Usk At Dusk

These pictures are dark because our last tourist stop of the day was just before dusk at the ruins of the old Usk Castle. If you click on that highlighted link, you will see lots of great pictures and some additional information. There is also a link to the official Usk Castle website.

The pictures above are of me on the castle grounds and the second picture is of Lana and all three girls. The site caretaker was extremely friendly and informative. We are glad we made the effort to get there before returning to homebase for the night.

Bravo to Lana, the official chauffer for this trip. She's been working overtime, getting us to and from all the sites safely... and cheerfully. Truth be known, she is absolutely loving England and has really gotten into the English history. She is sometimes a better tour guide than the real ones. We haven't gone on any official group type tours, but I'm referring to those tour guides on-site at the various places.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

China, Cathedrals & Countryside

Well... today we spent the entire day out and about with Lana and all three girls. Our main destination was Wales... specifically the town of Usk where Max's ancestry is traced back to the 1850's.

On our way to Usk, we stopped in Worcester (pronounced Woorster) where they sell fine bone china. We didn't buy any, but we did look through the various shops. We saw everything from a tea cup for as little as £7.50 (about $15 US) to a soup ladel for £595 (or about $1200 US dollars). Don't even ask how much the plates or other items were! The currency is "pounds" and "pence" here. Prices for goods are very similar here, except for the horrid exchange rate.

The first photo above is of the Worcester Cathedral, which we did not have time to stop at. The second picture is that of the Wales countryside as we travelled to Usk. There are miles and miles of beautiful countryside just like this. The third picture is taken from the bridge (over the River Usk) going into the town of Usk.

Oh... and after we left the town of Usk, we stopped at the Records Center in Cwnbran (pronounced Coonbrawn) to try to find some birth records for some additional family history work Lana is doing. She was quite thrilled to be in THE location where the original records are on microfiche and microfilm.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Country Lanes

Here is a sample of the narrow country Lanes one must drive down in order to get to some of the attractions we've been visiting... beautiful, but a bit narrow when you meet an oncoming auto. There are sheep everywhere, and a few cattle as well. For lunch Max & I had lambs liver at Baddesley Clinton, with potatoes, carrots, peas and bread (and shared a piece of carrot cake).

Remember, you can always click on any photo to enlarge it.

Medieval Buildings

Today Lana took Max & I touring some of the medieval period mansions in the area not far from Solihull. These are manor houses of their time. This particular house was owned and occupied by one family , passing from father to son, for about 500 years... eventually being offered for sale in 1940, and now owned by The National Trust.

These photos are of the Baddesley Clinton House. The term Baddesley refers to a Saxon called Baeddi, who first cleared the site in the Forest of Arden. The house became Baddesley Clinton when the de Clinton family dug the moat in the thirteenth century (1200's). John Brome, a wealthy lawyer from Warwick, who acquired Baddesley in 1439, built some of the house from stone quarried on the estate. When John Brome's son, Nicholas, died in 1517, Baddesley passed into the Ferrers family, as Nicholas's daughter and co-heir had married Sir Edward Ferrers.

The first photo shows the original house, and the second is a closer look (with Max & Carol), showing the moat which surrounds the house. Like most of the ancient houses, Baddesley has a complex building history. Most of these ancient structures were much smaller than today, with add-ons over various centuries. It's hard to get a handle on the centuries of history for these buildings... literally going back to medieval times. It started to rain significantly, and we were running out of time, so we did not get to spend time in the vast gardens on the property.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Rainy Day

Monday was a cloudy & rainy day, but we did drive to Redditch, not far away, to check out some Caravans, which is the English term for travel trailers. Lana has a bug to buy a Caravan so they can motor around the country sightseeing. We've been pretty lucky with the weather, with much of the rains coming at night. It does rain a lot here and that is why the hillsides are so green.

After looking at a few caravans, we had our first lunch at a Pub. It was a nice Pub and the food was really good. I had a lentil and potato soup, which was pureed. I prefer junky (oops... I mean chunky) soups, but it was very good, especially the super fresh thick cut bread served with it! Max had some salmon/broccoli cakes, which were quite good too.

Tomorrow, or the next day, we're going to the Cadbury chocolate factory. Hope they give out free samples!

Today, I have a lunch appointment with a local real estate agent to pick his brain. I'll report in about what I learn.


Sunday, October 23, 2005

Fixer-Upper: Snowshill Manor

Here are some more pictures from our Saturday excursion. This is the day we left Max home to rest. It's a good thing, too, because there was quite a bit of walking and going up and down stairways... so he wouldn't have faired very well.

The first photo is that of the Snowshill Manor. There are a lot of "manor houses" around the countryside. These homes are where the owner of the surrounding land lived and the village people were the ones who served him and worked the land. Most of these manor houses are hotels these days, but this particular one is a museum.

Snowshill Manor was built in stages from the 1400 - 1600's, but was bought (as a fixer-upper) in the early 1900's by a man named John Paget Wade. He was a rather eccentric architect and artist who totally filled the manor house with his collection of things from around the world. His collection ranged from huge Oriental furnishings to tiny bone carvings from French prisoners. The manor house was used solely for his collection and he actually lived in a primitive home off to the side of the manor.

The second photo is the view of the countryside from up at the manor house. After leaving the manor house, we drove out to an old medieval tower overlooking the countryside. We got there just in time for sunset. This tower looks like a castle should be attached but, apparently, was just used as a watch tower from high atop the hill. The last picture is of me standing very near the tower. The views are fabulous from this vantage point.

Remember, you can click on any photo to enlarge.

That's it for today,

Miles of Rock Walls

As we drive around the countryside, I am fascinated by the miles and miles of walls/fences made from thin slate type rocks. There is no cement or other reinforcement, just artistically placed stones to stand the force of time. The first picture shows a close-up of these walls, and the second picture shows a wall (on the left side of the road) of the wall stretching into the distance. Be sure to click on any image to enlarge. These walls run along the roadside, divide plots of property and are common in the villages, as well. The fields were full of rocks, so guess they figured this was a good way to clear the fields and find a use for the stones... instead of trying to dispose of them.

The third picture is that of sheep grazing over the area of a village called Broadway. The next picture is another typical countryside scene. These pictures were all taken from the Cotswold area. "Wold" means hills and "cots" means combination of... so "Cotswold" is a collection of hills. This is beautiful countryside with lots of hills... perfect grazing country for the sheep. We see sheep grazing everywhere... whereas, in the northwest US, it would be cows.

These pictures were some of many Lana, Michelle and I took on our excursion Saturday. Max stayed back at the house to rest up.

Stay tuned for the next installment,


Here are some photos, from Friday, of our day in Stratford-Upon-Avon.

The 1st picture is that of William Shakespeare's birthplace and where he grew up, and perhaps, spent the first little while after his marriage to Anne Hathaway. Shakespeare's father, John Shakespeare, was quite a successful glove maker and merchant but later got into financial trouble.

The 2nd photo is that of the classic thatched roof cottage of Anne Hathaway's childhood home. The third photo is the streets of Stratford-Upon-Avon. Many of the villages take on the descriptive hyphenated name of their surroundings... like Stratford (Upon Avon), which is along the Avon River. Yesterday we were in a village called "Bourton-on-the-Water", because there is a lovely (clean) shallow, but wide, canal running right through the middle of the village.

The 4th photo is that of Max, with Lana and two of her three girls (Rebecca on the left and Michelle on the right). We rented Max a wheelchair because he would not have been able to do all that walking. Actually, everyone (except me) took a turn in the chair sometime during the day! We had a lovely day meandering through the city, full of shops and restaurants, and touring the various buildings of interest.

Shakespeare was the third child of eight, and the first son. Click here to view a picture of Shakespeare's family tree. His first two siblings died before Shakespeare was born. At the age of 18, he married Anne Hathaway who was 26 (and 3 months pregnant). They had 3 children, including twins. Shakespeare went to London shortly after their twins were born, and was a huge success within just a few years. He then moved back to Stratford, bought a big house, and lived the rest of his years there, writing prolificly.

As for what kind of foods the Brits eat... we haven't really experienced that much local food because we eat in mostly, or pack our lunch for our excursions. They do seem to eat a lot of meat pies (what we call small pot pies) and cheese. Last night we had the classic English fish and chips. Very yummy. Before we left Wenatchee we asked Lana what they wanted us to bring. They requested some things they can't get here, like: Lucky Charms cereal, Reese's peanut butter cups, fruit roll-ups, and Aplets and Cotlets. The other thing Rob has had to bring back from the U.S., after traveling on business, is Bisquick. There actually is a Costco somewhere around here. I have been to Starbucks, in the Solihull Mall, once and I have seen a Woolworths and McDonald's (of course).

Yesterday, Lana & Michelle and I, took an all day trip through the Cotwolds countryside... enjoying the view and toddling through some of the various villages. I love all the old buildings and will try to post some pictures and a little narrative later today, or tomorrow, on that.

TaTa for now,

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Hotel Mayfield

Here are some pictures of our "free" hotel and taxi... and the gardens. Here they call their yards "gardens".

If you enlarge the first picture, you can get a better view of the "taxi" Lana motors us around in. Sometimes, there is a steel blue Jaquar in the driveway. This is Rob's company car. How sweet is that? Enlarge the second picture and you'll see the "lord of the manor"... not really that is Max, the father of the matron of the manor. The "lord" of the manor, our son-in-law Rob, was at work earning money to pay for the lifestyle they are showing us!

Yesterday, Friday, we went to Stratford-Upon-Avon, where Shakespeare grew up. I will post pictures of that and Anne Hathaway's house (Shakespeare's wife's childhood home) tomorrow, after I have a chance to sort through the 45 pictures I took during the day. Anne Hathaway's childhood home is the one you may envision as the classic thatched roof home... only these days they use a mesh wire over the thatch to protect them from the birds. I'm not sure what they used in the olden days.

Cousin Peggie is asking questions about life over here, but it's 2:45 in the middle of the night (still suffering jet lag, I guess)... so better try to get some shut eye so I can be alert for tomorrow adventures. I will be more informative next time (I hope).


Thursday, October 20, 2005

The Fruity People

Here is a picture of Max and Ray & Jean Williams (no relation) fromFailand, England near Bristol , about 90 miles away. Max has known Ray for nearly 30 years through their scientific work in tree fruit production. Ray is a retired fruit scientist, like Max.

Ray & Jean drove up from Bristol yesterday to visit with us. They spent the night here at Lana & Rob's and will be returning home today.

Ray & Jean love to camp and hike, so they love the Cascade mountain range of the Pacific Northwest. They are widely traveled, and have been to the U.S. many times. I believe the last time we saw them was when they came to our house on Skyline Drive for Max's birthday party in 1998.

It's a beautiful day here... the best so far, so I will get out and take some pictures of the house and gardens.

Cheers from jolly old England,

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Red Eye Special

We now know the true meaning of the saying "red eye special". We are grateful to have arrived in England safely, but not without considerable delay and much ado! The karma of our day was established at 5:00 a.m., on our way to Pangborn airport (in Wenatchee), when we lost a hub cap off the front driver's side of the Mitsubishi. Little did we know, there would be delays and snafus at nearly every turn to England.

We arrived in Seattle on time at 6:45 a.m. and promptly settled in for our scheduled 4 hour lay-over. As if this weren't bad enough, the 4 hours turned into 5 hours, which caused concern because we only had a 90 minute plane change lay-over scheduled in Chicago. This was cutting it close. We did finally board the plane to Chicago, but sat there for an additional 30 minutes because the vehicle pushing the plane away from the gate broke it's tow bar. So, we had to wait for another which was on the opposite side of the airport. Our plane connection in Chicago was now in serious jeopardy. We did make up lost time inflight, but lost it again taxi-ing around the terminal waiting for a gate. We finally deplaned in Chicago with 20 minutes to spare before our London departure. We hurried off the plane and scurried to our assigned gate. I haven't seen Max move so fast since a bull jumped the arena at the Ellensburg Rodeo many years ago and headed directly for me and Max!

We arrived at the gate, only to discover it was loading a plane destined for Japan! A new panic set in. But, there was no need for panic because the London plane was supposed to pull up as soon as the Japan bound plane got out of the way. As it turned out, there was no rush to get to the gate afterall. Unfortunately, you never know these things until after you've nearly given yourself a heart attack by running through the terminal, throwing all caution to common courtesy. Anyway, we sat at the gate for a while until they announced the gate assignment had been changed and we had to move back down the terminal... one gate from where our incoming plane had landed. Aaarrrgh. Finally, we got out of Chicago only about 1 hour late. This didn't really concern us because we knew our daughter, Lana, would wait for us at the airport in London. No worries. We were on the last 7 hour and 30 minute leg of this, already, long day.

Well... when we got to London's Heathrow airport, the fog was so bad that the incoming traffic was so stacked up and there was a 1 hour "holding pattern". Unfortunately, our plane did not have enough fuel to circle for 1 hour, so they diverted us to Birmingham to refuel. We got fueled, no problem, in Birmingham but the tower in London told us it could be another 3 hours before they could put us back into the landing schedule. There were big sighs throughout the plane over that news! Because we were an international flight they could not let us off the plane in Birmingham because they were not prepared to handle the required immigration and customs inspections, so we just had to sit on the plane and wait. Finally, only two hours later, we were cleared to go back to London. We flew off, with our full tanks of fuel, and landed in London 4 1/2 hours after our original scheduled touchdown. Fortunately, I had ordered a wheelchair for Max because of the long walk to the baggage claim and immigration inspection station. What a blessing this was. Our assigned helper literally whizzed us through the airport, to baggage claim, and through customs. At one point, during the ride, Max asked this guy if there were brakes on the wheelchair... and the answer was NO! Anyway, we sailed through customs. We didn't have to wait in line more than 1 minute at any point. This, we could fully appreciate because it routinely takes an hour or more to get through customs at Heathrow.

Lana, bless her soul, was waiting for us with a smille right outside of customs. We were in safe hands. Our strife was not quite over, though. When we got to the parking garage to load our bags, Lana could not remember where she parked the van. She was in such a rush to get in to fetch us that she didn't pay close enough attention to where she parked. Little did she know, there was no rush! We must have spent an hour searching for the van, searching all 5 levels of the parking garage... getting to the point of thinking it may have been stolen. It was finally located, and she took us home via the scenic route of the original Stonehenge and the historic town of Bath...home of the old Roman Bath Houses. We did have a lovely dinner of Lamb, new potatoes, and vegetables at Sally Lunn's Buns, a quaint little restaurant in the heart of Bath. It was nearly dark by the time we got to Bath, so I only took a few pictures which I haven't even looked at yet. I'll tell you more about that, and post some pictures later.

We finally got to bed last night about midnight local time, which was 4:00 Monday afternoon in Wenatchee. This means we had been up for 36 straight hours, with the exception of a few winks on the plane. Thank goodness, our son-in-law, Rob had upgraded us to Business class. This took some of the discomfort out of the extreme length of the trip.

This is the loooong story of our loooong trip to England.

More later...


Friday, October 14, 2005

Last Call For Passengers...

D-Day (departure day) is sneaking up on us. It's Friday, and we leave for England (from Pangborn airport in Wenatchee) on Sunday morning at 6:00 a/m. We have a 4 hour lay-over in Seattle then fly to Chicago where we have a short lay-over before flying off to London. We arrive in London at 8:15 a/m, which is 12:15 in the middle of the night here. They are 8 hours ahead of us.

Our ultimate destination is Solihull (in the middle of the map) where Lana, Rob and the three girls are living for two years. Rob will pick us up at the airport and drive us to their house. I think it's about 2 hours from London. It's going to be a long travel day, but worth it once we're settled. Watch this blog for pictures and lots of ramblings about our adventures. Plus, I will be posting real estate related articles on my real estate blog and the site of the Real Estate Blog Squad (the national consortium of real estate bloggers and journalists).

Saturday, October 08, 2005


My Mother's side of the family has always confused me because my Mother's Father, Grandpa Frank St. Clair, was married 3 times and had children from each wife. The reasons for multiple marriages, in those days, were different from today. His first two wives died. These days, people just get divorced and have more than one family. Anyway, I digress.

My Mother's side of the family has always confused me... because of these three wives, and I fear I may be permanently "geneologically challenged". Even my cousins (from these other families) admit their confusion, though. My Mother was the only child from the second wife, so she was sandwiched in between the other two families.

My cousin Peggi, who lives in Portland, not Alaska, pointed out my confusion. Oddly, I actually knew it was my cousin Nancy (Peggi's cousin too) who lives in Alaska. I must have been sucking on a Slurpee at the time (causing brain freeze), because I said Peggi lived in Alaska. I'm working hard to sort all of this out. To confuse matters even more I have two Aunt Marions. Actually, I have one Aunt Marion and one Aunt Marian. Marian is the daughter of Frank and his third wife, Pansy (who could make wonderful applesauce). Marion is the wife of the first son from the third wife. Any of you St. Clair cousins out there? Do I have this straight? Help me, if you can!

Here's what I know, as family from Grandpa Frank...
He and first wife, Edith Eskridge Tarbell, had four children:
1) Leroy Francis, born 1907
2) Jessy, born 1909
3) Lewis, born 1910
4) Oba Leonard (Obie to us), born 1912

Frank and his second wife, Amy Nora Henderson, had one child:
1) Amy (this is my Mother), born 1916

Frank and his third wife, Pansy Fay Reeve, had seven children:
1) Frank Willard (Bud), born 1921
2) Fay Rose, born 1922
3) Harold Lee, born 1924 (Still living)
4) Laurence Victor, born 1925
5) Howard Ray, born 1927
6) Marian Ruth, born 1929 (Still living)
7) Glen Dell (just Dell to us), born 1932 (Still living)

That's it for now. Whew, I need to go rest my brain.


Friday, October 07, 2005

Kitchen Pictures

Dear Cousin Peggi (and everyone),
Here are some pictures of my kitchen area. The old buffet was my Grandma Oma's and, if you click on the photo to enlarge it, you will see the nativity scene I leave up all year long.

The rug on the floor is one Max Jr. sent us from Iraq earlier in the year. He also sent a larger one that goes well with the colors in the living room.

I had another gal help me repaint nearly every square inch of the main level of the house before we moved in. Previously, the walls were ALL off-white and I wanted the extra color. We also did the new wallpaper border, which is a "fruity" theme. I found some dishes that go with the kitchen decor perfectly. And, my other dishes go with the dining room/living room decor. How cool is that? :-)

Next time I will post some pictures of my office... where all the action is!


Thursday, October 06, 2005

Max In The Rose Garden

As I mentioned yesterday, my cousin Peggi asked for some more pictures of the house and yard. Here is Max in the rose garden this summer. The roses were very prolific, and Max was bringing me fresh flowers regularly. You can click on the picture to enlarge it.

This was "before" the new exterior paint job. :-)

We have a very small yard, which is just fine with us. It takes about 10 minutes to mow the lawn, so we have more time for fun! Max loves to wander in the yard, but it doesn't take a lot of work any more. He can spend as much (or as little) time in the yard as he wants.

Have a great week-end everyone!

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

The Fearless Foursome

My cousin, Peggi, who lives in Alaska (and hasn't seen me for over 40 years), asked me to post some more pictures. This is a picture of me and my husband and my brother and his wife, Clair & Beverly. My husband is the gray haired one. My brother is the one with (almost) no hair. This picture was taken last Christmas day, just about three weeks after we moved into the house.

Peggi also asked me to post some more pictures of our house and yard... so I'll try to find some more pictures (that I'm willing to post for God and everyone to see). For now, this will have to do.

Hope everyone is having a great week. Life is good at our house.