England 2016

6 May 2016

Elizabeth Ross

The poster was actually in Oslo, but we will use it as a transition to the UK.

We flew from Copenhagen to Gatwick England — long queue through the foreign passport check, a long walk to the rental agency, then a very slow drive around London, and finally on our way for pleasant visits with Craig and Carolyn in Solihull, then Kate and Nigel in Uphampton who we would see again in France.

Cornwall gardens were the focus of the British part of our trip and we had found a B&B run by descendants of the founder of Glendurgan, a garden dating from the era of the plant hunters in the early 1800’s.  It was lovely to wake up to views of the garden and to walk through it whenever we wished.  Negotiating the narrow roads with high hedgerows quickly became tedious and we limited our excursions to nearby sites: Trebah, Penjerrick, Bonython, Bosvigo…

Trebah tulip tree

Massive Tulip tree, with the old woodsman for scale.

Trebah maze

Maze, well maintained but pruned short, according to EU regulation, so no one would become lost—no wonder the Brits voted to leave the EU.

We drove to St. Ives to the Barbara Hepworth museum. Her sculptures and Tony’s were strikingly similar.  Tony was awake that night mentally sculpting unfinished pieces.  At the museum we requested a recommendation for a coffee shop.  The locals at the “Art Cafe”  included an artist and poet who gave us a guided tour of the St. Ives Arts Club, and Martin Turner of the old music group Wishbone Ash.  It was a pretty, serendipitous day.


Barbara Hepworth

We dined at a pub in Falmouth, a city with a rich sea heritage, and chatted with two local men:  “Do you have a boat?  Most Americans who come to Falmouth come by boat.”  They might have confused us with the owners of the yacht, Paraffin.  “No, we arrived in a rented Vauxhall.”

On Kate’s recommendation, our next stop was in Padstow, an old fishing village when Tony had visited over the past 40 years.  Now it’s been gentrified and is ironically also known as “Padstein” because the chef Rick Stein has transformed numerous buildings into hotels and seafood restaurants.  Good food and lodging by the sea on a busy holiday weekend.

Next stop, Two Bridges, a country hotel in the moors of Dartmoor that Tony first visited in 1971.  The ancient miniature oaks of Wistman’s Woods, (home of the Stannary Court since 1305) had always been surrounded by primroses, but in four visits, never seen in the bloom.  Because the primroses were in prime throughout Cornwall,  we thought we’d see a big show.  Surprisingly, there wasn’t a primrose to be found; they have been replaced by encroaching grasses–climate change perhaps….

Whisman's Woods

Then to Plymouth for a day and the overnight ferry to Roscoff, France.

(Sidenote:  our credit cards had been blocked while we were making reservations.  According to the bank, one of the sites we were using was “trending for fraud”.  I am guessing that would be Brittany Ferries with all the refugees looking for a means to cross the channel.  Hard times.)

Oslo 2016

On the day of departure we received an email that the hotel workers were on strike in Oslo and our hotel was relocating its guests. Norwegians on strike! Our new hotel was in a residential neighborhood where the compensation was discovering the Kampden Bistro which was so good we ate there three times. Here is Tony playing super hero after a beer, or two.


Lots of building was evident – a very fancy area of apartments with docks on the waterfront and lots of Teslas. We were also surprised the increase in ethnic diversity since prior visits and by the contrast between the apparent wealth and beggars on the streets.

IMG_2288 IMG_2289

We walked tranquilly past the royal palace and later saw a fortress of fencing and security and an American flag — it was our U.S. embassy with a guard shouting at me that photos were not allowed! What a contrast to the royal palace!

The highlight of the city was Vigeland Park with its statues of people in real life.


From Oslo we took the overnight ferry to Copenhagen – lovely trip leaving the fjord at sunset, and at breakfast we caught sight of Elsinore then docked in Copenhagen.


Copenhagen is ecologically green. We stayed at Hotel Axel Guldsmeden who reminded us all the ways we were saving the planet. Bicycles were everywhere.


Restaurants asked about allergies, assured us their food was organic, no GMO’s, gluten-free, etc. Perversely, the streets were littered with cigarette butts. When we asked our waiter about the inconsistency of eating organic and smoking, he told us cigarettes are cheap and there is no anti-smoking campaign. Odd.

We walked to city hall and the opera house, the national museum, the botanical garden, lakes and parks full of people enjoying blue skies after a long winter.

Gefion fountain
Gefion fountain

Our favorite excursion was a trip to Louisiana art gallery (named after the collector’s three wives, all named Louise.) Each sculpture and mobile was perfectly placed in the landscape and there was a special exhibition called Eye Attack that pulled together an incredible collection of op-art.




Landscape, architecture, collection were all to our taste.