Subject: Trip to England
Hi Ziners One and All,

I won't dignify this report by calling it a travelogue, but I glean so much information and pure pleasure from other Ziner's trip reports that I feel compelled to report the highlights of ours. A longtime friend and I, who have traveled together a good bit, flew to London where we spent the day and one night before beginning a week's tour (with Trafalgar) to Cornwall and Devon. I'd traveled most of England but not that area, and my friend had never spent much time there. It was delightful. The weather held for us, which we so appreciated. It was very warm in London the day we arrived, and following advice re jet-lag avoidance, we stayed out and walked for miles -- from our hotel to Trafalgar Square and then to Buckingham Palace, eventually back to our hotel to "crash" briefly before dinner. Our tour included a good stop at Oxford, where I had my first Cornish pasty. Really got hooked on them. Then on to Bath and the Roman baths and then to Bristol overnight. Lovely hotel, with no AC, and it was HOT, so we were forced to spend the pre-dinner hour in the bar having wine, in order to cool off.

It was the coastal towns I was interested in, so Plymouth was a favorite stop for a couple of nights. Imagining the courage of those 102 people who left from those steps on the Mayflower was very poignant. Just loved walking around the harbor and cruising the harbor. At Penzance, Land's End and St. Ives, the wind was so strong, it was really cold even with all my weather gear, but I loved being there. I decided some years back, when enjoying Rosamond Pilcher's books so much that are set in that area, that I had to see it for myself one day. Now that wish has been fulfilled.

Our second week was in London. Really liked the hotel, the Victoria Park Plaza. New, very contemporary style, large rooms and great bathrooms, with robes and other amenities. We were only two or three blocks from Victoria Station, which was quite convenient, as we put our unlimited tube/bus passes to very good use. We saw the Changing of the Guard, took in some excellent shows, and did most of the usual touristy things for Bonnie to experience. Had to go to the British Museum and National Gallery twice, because it's just so awesome you can't take in enough in one visit. I'd not seen the Elgin Marbles before, and the presentation of them is truly wonderful. I still think they belong in Greece, but that's an issue I don't want to debate. We had three days of solid rain and strong winds in London, but it didn't slow us down. We had the proper gear and just kept on trucking.

One thing I was really pleased with is that finding good places to eat in London is so easy any more (though paying for it can be a problem if you aren't careful). There are lots of Italian restaurants and French bistros scattered about and even in the tube stations you can pick up great quiche, croissants, and other pastries and dishes very reasonably, and they were delicious. I would strongly recommend to anyone spending time in London to find the nearest Sainsbury Supermarket. They seemed to be everywhere. We used the one a block from our hotel for cheese and crackers, great fresh strawberries and other fruit, and a big selection of wines -- also a great deli. On days when we had enjoyed a substantial lunch, we would have a leisurely picnic in our room in the evening. It was nice on the rainy evenings not to have to get out to a restaurant, although there were several good ones pretty close by.

All in all it was a great trip, albeit ending with a 7-hour delay in Dallas due to weather problems backing everything up. Once we finally got on a plane it was less than thirty minutes to Austin and home. Like most people after a long trip, we arrived here thoroughly worn out but happy and already talking about the next trip. Once travel is in your blood, it's like a disease you don't want to find a cure for. Even the things you grouse about at the time wind up being threads in the tapestry that your memory weaves and are just part of the wonderful experience. So I'm ready to go again. France anyone???

Lou Matthews, back in Lakeway and back to work but loving that, too................