Katie and Joel.com



England Vacation



In May of 2005, to celebrate new, Katie and Joel took a trip to England.  We spent 11 days wandering around England and Wales, and these are some of the pictures we took.  Some = too many, I know, but that's what you're supposed to do.  It was a hell of a trip - exhausting and expensive and really, really cool.  Katie's hip didn't slow us up at all, and she simply wouldn't have been able to do the trip two years previously.  The surgeries have sucked, but the results are awesome.  Anyway, here are the photos.

Oh - the narrative.  It'll get a bit confusing, as Katie and I switched off a bit in putting this together.  Basic rule of thumb:  If it's sarcastic, it's probably Joel; if silly, Katie. 

And, to set the record straight, I, Joel, am rarely SARCASTIC.  I am verbally ironic.  Sarcastic means bitterly caustic, specifically trying to insult someone and cut them down with malicious intent.  My intent is usually quite indifferent - only occasionally malicious.  There - I feel better now.


First picture in England - the King's Chapel in Cambridge.

I was impressed with England's traffic control

My first meal in England. Yeah for BULMERS!


A gargoyle with a sense of humor

Cambridge again. I really wish I'd labeled these when we took them. King's College, I believe.

Not tired of the perspective shot. Yet.

Poor bloody whale. It only wanted to be friends with this new object, which it suddenly decided to name a building...

Cricket game in Cambridge

A short time later, the entire place was put to the flame.

The burning town lights up the previous cambridge shots. So we go again.

Paddington Station, waiting for Katie.

And here she comes.

Done waiting for Katie.

Extraterrestrial evidence in the countryside near Bath.

Almost a postcard of Stone Henge.

Nope, this one couldn't be a postcard.

That stone is a very comfortable sort of stone.

Another postcard?

Just to prove that we were there. There's no way we could have photoshopped this.

Okay, we're done now.

Near stonehenge - the mounds are burial cairns. The landscape is covered with them.

The big mound in the distance is weird. No one knows what it is. It's 400 ft tall, man made, and no one knows why. Katie and I believe the "Wee Free Men" live there. ;)

Avebury Circle - so much cooler than Stonehenge - you can still touch the stones here. More importantly, these sheep are clearly about to evolve into the most sentient species on the planet.

Well, the other sheep. These ones are going to be crushed. Ironically, so was a guy working on this stone several thousand years ago. They righted the stone early last century, and there he was. Very short. And entirely intact prehistoric briton skeleton, captured in the act of being crushed.

More of Avebury circle.

Just to give you a sense of the scale. There's a village in the center of this circle.

They had an unhealthy obsession with standing stones on end. In the late 1800s, the local priest had convinced the locals to demolish the circle. Stone by stone, they destroyed them and used the rubble to build their homes. Fortunately, they were stopped in time.

And these are just some wicked cool roots.

A barn half made of Avebury stones, I'm sure. They have no respect.

What a perfectly framed shot - it's like we were trying or something.

Avebury the town. Oddly, a fully functional building with gift shop, indoor plumbing, restaurant, and television is less impressive than a big rock standing on end just outside the door.

Here's that 400 ft mound again.

Avebury - from a totally unexpected angle.

Avebury - from an even better angle.

It's not what a horse looks like - it's what a horse IS.

Katie's parking brake demonstration

Yup - they're purple flowers. On a stone building no less. The wonders never cease.

Apparently the village was used for certain scenes in Harry Potter. We haven't figure out which ones yet, though, perhaps possibly "diagon alley".

A Norman-era church - I'm not sure if it's in Lacock or Castle Combe.

Because you can never have too many doors. When is a door not a door?

A small English Garden in Lacock.

We took a shot of this just for Jim, to make him drool. You find the oddest things in tiny English villages.

We go too far sometimes.

Kind of obsessive, really.

More of Lacock.

Lacock has a bit of a problem with the water, and the children pay the price. It's quite sad really.

Castle Combe (another picturesque <can't you tell?> village in the countryside near Bath.

More of those freaky purple flowers, in Castle Combe.

The flora doesn't seem to like that guy very much (in the graveyard of a norman church).

In case you were wondering about the purple flowers.

No trip is complete without a couple of shots of a bridge. This one is on a golf course just outside of an imposing club house, again in Castle Combe.

Said "imposing clubhouse".

So imposing we had to take its picture twice.

Bath - Royal Crescent

The full affect of the Royal Crescent. The building is absolutely symetrical, or at least it was when it was built. Another building nearby was built in the same architecture, but one end of it was unsteady and started sliding down the hill. Now it's not quite so symetrical, as the "detached" end is a separate building.

More of Bath architecture.

Bath, external staircase. On another portion of the building (we couldn't get a picture), there are external privys (built as additions, hanging out over nothing). A few have fallen off, much to the consternation of anyone with some intestinal distress.

Joel was getting bored with Katie and struck out on his own.

She caught up with him. He's still suffering.

CLEAN building in bath. This one is new construction.

For comparison, this building is dirty. Apparently most of bath looked this way, from the burning of coal. It's expensive to clean them, and they still get dirty from disel emissions and the such.

Bath Abbey. Imposing and impressive enough in its own right, but apparently there was a Norman Cathedral that preceded it, and this Abbey could have fit INSIDE. Henry the VIII took umbrage, however, and no more Cathedral.

Inside of the Bath Abbey.

Inside of the Bath Abbey. Seriously, taking it at different exposures is VERY important.

Roman Baths. The Romans drained a swamp, built some bathhouses, and thus "Bath" came into being. They started excavating them around 1900, and found the old lead pipes and flooring mostly intact, despite having been in the basement of an Elizabethan townhome a the time.

Quite warm. And fetid. Seriously, I drank the "clean" version of the water (not from the lead-laden pools, but from a separate pump that links into a well sunk into the spring). It tasted pretty much like Dexter water. They used to advertise it as curing everything from heart palpitations to ghonorea to consumption and the gout. And did I mention infertility?

Roman Baths.

The more "ancient" baths. Only some are Roman, and some were built afterward. There are, if I recall correctly, 5 baths, and some of them have been essentially running for the past 400 or more years.

Another bridge. This one isn't fortified - it's lined with shops. Bath.

To show the turgid rapids at their meanest.

Conwy, North Whales. Now we've abandoned Bath and headed NorthWest. This town still has a contiguous city wall (He didn't like the native Whelsh much, that Edward I). Here's a fire truck trying to negotiate the truly one-lane gate.

Castle Conwy. Part of Edward's Ring of Iron to subjugate the Whelsh. It's in pretty good shape, though in ruins inside.

More of the castle - but less of the flag. It's all about your priorities.

The castle was built on an outcropping of rock. Like all of Edward's castles, it was built seperate from the town (the city walls are separate, and isn't the responsibility of the castle garrison to defend - that's up to the townspeople, and if they fail, well, on their head be it).

All of his castles were built to be accessed and resupplied from the water (it has its own docks), and here you see the Irish Sea. Also, it has a well with fresh water, so it can hold indefinately. This view is from the city wall on the oposite side of the village.

More of the coast. You can see a rather magnificent bridge, too.

We seemed to like this castle. Mostly because of our tour guide. He was English, but that was only fitting, when you think about it.

Really, we're almost done.

The Whelsh flag is just sort of cool, isn't it?

Inside of Conwy castle. Most of the walls are standing, though not all, and the ceilings have mostly fallen away. Here you can also see some of the layers of defense, including shortened doors along the top of the walls leading to the "Keep". The English would, if the walls were breached, fall back behind them with axes, and chop the fingers off the much shorter native Whelshmen as they tried to climb over the doors.

There were two porticullis, with murder pits and arrow slots a plenty. I can't remember exactly, but I think they said that something like 20 men could hold the castle against 200.

Some of the inner buildings have disappeared, including the stables and armory.

Just another blasted tourist.

One wonders why we took the shot twice. Honestly, I don't know.

Inside one of the towers, minus the floor/ceilings.

Bloody tourists, can't even wait to find a privy.

And then they look inordinately proud of themselves. It's ridiculous, really.

Katie looking out to sea. Looking quite silly, really - on the Town walls.

Katie looking a different kind of silly, looking over the town from the walls again.

The smallest house in England. Occupied by a married couple at one point. It's about 5ft wide, and maybe 9ft long. There's a "loft" with a bed up above. Downstairs has a bench, a chair, and a stove. The last occupant, before it was deemed unsuitable to human inhabitation around 1910 (it had been occupied for several hundred years) was a 6'4 sailor.

A local girl playing in the sand.

Oh, don't act so surprised.

Just be glad he's honest about it.

Joel on the walls. They were nice enough to put up some railings.

Katie on the walls again.

Looking along the wall - it's really quite impressive. Only 400 people lived inside the village, and they had to build and maintain a massive wall. I guess it's better than the alternative.

More of Conwy.

Now we've moved along the coast to Caernarfon Castle.

Caernarfon Castle - a symbol of English dominance over the Welsh. I guess that's why the Welsh sacked and burned it.

Our "we were here" picture right before they kicked us out.

Back in our B&B in Conwy. The classic "Joel in bed" shot. Alan, the owner of the B&B was fantastic and the moldy shower curtain was something else.

Manicale Joel leaving Wales.

Katie finds a little friend and hears the life story of the woman next to her.

It was an adorable puppy.

We arrive in York. Look Mom, the York Minster.

The York Minster is the largest gothic cathedral in northern Europe. King Henry VIII didn't destroy it because it wasn't an abbey.

So, I like taking pictures of Joel and I by holding the camera up with one hand and pressing the button. Joel wasn't being to cooperative here. I took the picture anyway.

After a good laugh, he let me take this one.

Inside the Minster.

More Minster

Perspective shot

We stayed for the Evensong service. Wow.

Practicing with the camera.

Why is it that pictures of stained glass windows never work out the way you intended?

But you are compelled to try anyway......

Ahhh - now this was a moment. I made Joel climb to the top of the Minster and here was the view of York.

It was beautiful and a long way down.

The grounds of the Minster.

A different direction.

Katie has a fascination with the classic english telephone both.

Once again we see Joel on the bed in the B&B. This time we got the family room. One queen bed and two singles. The room was great but the B&B hosts had no personality.

Another shot of the Minster. It just looms out of nowhere.

The Shambles - an SUV-friendly shopping environment. Some of the buildings look like they're going to fall into the street. As with a lot of the leaning and crumbling building we saw, they weren't like that even 50 years ago - the vibrations from automobiles is causing them to inexorably shake to pieces.

York wasn't much for castles. This is all they had (Clifford's Tower - all that remains of York Castle) - so I wore it as a hat.

A family of geese just finished with the museum we were going to see. I wondered if they enjoyed their experience as much as we did?

Instead of building out, York built up. Here you can see the Roman wall on the bottom followed by the Normans and then the English. Unoriginal bastards.

Here you have Roman ruins (wall) next to an old abandoned hospital (St. Leonard's). The hospital is the reason that the wall remains intact, as the wall was on "hospital grounds". The visible portion of the hospital is the crypt.

There was once St. Mary's Abbey in York and it was HUGE. Here are a few of the remains from that abbey. It would have dwarfed the Minster had it remained standing.

More abbey ruins. I hear the stones made great housing building materials.

An egg

Still standing after all this time

Katie plotting her next move.

She has no clue that Joel is secretly snapping pictures of her.

Another secret picture. Joel is so sneaky. Here we find Katie admiring jewlry and looking for the perfect souvenir.

The Shambles from another angle along with a very cold Katie.

And life goes on in York.

These family style pews have shifted around a bit. This is the Holy Trinity church, built in the 15th century. It's one of the smallest churches in York, and has its 18th century interior.

More pews

A different perspective

I think we get the point now.

London - home of Trafalgar Square and lots of pigeons.

London Taxis - So much more elegant than the American variant, and with equal disregard for human life.

Kids - Big Ben. Parliament.

Big Ben.

Inside the British Museum - a huge open area inside the building with "The Reading Room" as a seperate building in the middle, apparently where Marx wrote "On Capitalism". It was one of London's great dead spaces until not too long ago (closed off from the world).

The Rosetta Stone. Seriously cool.

Probably hard to see at this resolution, but just to see the three languages all written out in such a beautifully regular way...

Big stone creature.

Topless woman.

Incredible (and inedible) tiled murals. Inspiration for Katie.

Just a mosaic we especially liked.

Because you can't go to London without seeing an American musical - staring Brooke Shields.

Now with overexposure.

Our luxurious hotel room in London. From the doorway. There was about a 2 ft walkway around the Full-sized bed. The toilet was down the hall. Still, it was clean, very cheap, and close to the tube. Great breakfast too.

Yeah, yeah, I was tired. So bite me.

Waiting for the tube.

Londoners have a bad habit of being all freakishly blury. It's terrifying the first time you see it, but you get used to it.

A Beefeater tour of the Tower of London.

The Tower. It's a pretty cool place, but it's kind of hard to be comfortable in a place where so many people were chopped into kindling. Kind of disconcerting, really.

London bridges falling down... (The Tower Bridge)

Inside the Chapel of the Tower.

A window of the Chapel.

A model of the Castle, showing its defences at one point in its evolution. Its now defended by nuclear bombs strategicly placed about the perimeter.

Guards on patrol. Sure, they look big, but their patrols are extremely predictable. Then again, I saw a glance of the "real" guards. They weren't wearing red, and their guns were much bigger.

Beefeaters have their Crow. These were the size of small dogs.

More of the Tower.

The Tower Bridge.

The HMS Belfast. One of the last gunned cruisers built.

The Thames.

Mass transit, London style. An enclosed moped.

Once again, Joel was there. Definitively. With photographic evidence. Can you see Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in the background?

Katie too (though Joel was obviously photoshopped)

St. Paul's Cathedral. At this point, I was a little desensitized to glorious religous imagery and architecture. Nonetheless, I suppose it was stunningly impressive and all that Mostly, It freaked me out when Katie tried to make me climb to the top. We made it up to the listening gallery, but I tell ya - it's freaky to be so bloody high up, to look over the edge, and realize that there's no structure below you - you're just on a balcony. I know, I'm a chicken, but I was TIRED.

The cleaned section of St. Paul's Cathedral.

Pigeons on the steps.

Just a friendly reminder that you aren't in Kansas anymore. Or Ann Arbor, where cars will actually stop if you walk out into the street.

The perimeter defences of the Imperial War Museum. God I wish we had an empire - then we could have a cool museum. And colonies. And foreign legions. And a lot of roads, all leading to Washington.

Okay, now it gets cool. This is a V-2 missile, the first ballistic missile. Innaccurate, tempermental, and prone to exploding on their launching pads, but these things formed the basis of our early space program.

And a V-1! The original cruise missile. Powered by a pulse jet engine, these things rained down on London. They were impossible to aim, flew in straight lines, and were easy to shoot down, but they still gave the Londoners hell.

Just a couple of big guns. I keep trying to convince Katie that we should have a couple for home defense. I doubt she'd go for these, though. 14" of explosive goodness.

Okay, this is quite simply the coolest restaurant in history, and simultaneously the freakiest. Its located in the catacombs beneath, um, some church (I can't remember). It's weird to look down and see the names of the interred carved into the floor.

We liked it so much we took two photos.

A bizarre local. They're blonde over there, too. I'm assuming she was drunk. Or maybe that was me... So ironically, we found out when we got back to the States that she's dating Katie's cousin. So, we have a spare bedroom ready for her, just as soon as she hops the pond, evades the INS, and makes it to Seattle.

Buckingham Palace. Kind of like the postcard, but with lots of cars and people in the way.

Look at all those people waiting for the Queen to peek out her window.

The band started playing "Mambo #5" shortly thereafter. I shit you not.

Lots of guys in red inside. I'm sure they felt quite silly. Or maybe when you're carrying a gun, and British, wearing a bright red coat isn't quite as strange as it would be in, for example, downtown Seattle. Then again, if I saw a guy in a bright red coat with an assault rifle, I probably wouldn't laugh.

A view of Buckingham Palace from Hyde Park.

As close as we could get to #10 Downing Street.

In an alley off of a street market.

Evening view of London, from near the London Eye.

More of London, still in the evening, but now the angle is slightly different, totally changing the relative value of the shot.

Big Ben. Parliament.

Big Ben. Parliament.

Big Ben. Parliament. Do you ever get the feeling that you're watching National Lampoon's European Vacation?

The London Eye, operated by British Airways. I'm not sure if you can get frequent flier miles on it.

Heading up the London Eye

Still going up - not getting uncomfortable at ALL.

Now that we're looking down at the one below us, well, yeah, starting to get a <tiny> bit unsettled.

Up, up, but not away.

View of London at sunset from the Eye.

Katie and Joel, looking oh so comfortable. Once again, clear evidence that this entire vacation may in fact have occured.

Okay, overdone, but damn it, this shot is cool.

On the way back down.

One last look out over London.

Okay, I lied - one more.

This one hardly counts. Honestly, it's not even a very intersting picture. Keep moving.

Big Ben. Parliament. This time from above, and that makes ALL the difference.

The Thames, from above. Notice how the boats moving on the water cause a "V" shape to form behind them. We learned that this is called the "wake".

See how this "wake" thing forms? It's amazing what they can do in Europe.

What else are you going to do on the Eye except take a hell of a lot of pictures.?

Now it's dark. Big Ben. Parliament. They're some how even more cool, you know, when blurry.

And even more so when totally dark.

The Eye at night, with the rising Moon.

Okay, so when you overexpose it looks like twighlight. You pick.

Just saying... Opodo knows all...

Okay, we're done with the boring stuff, now for the PLANES. (At this point, I'm on my own. Katie left me to go home.)

An Me-262, the first operational jet fighter, in the last days of World War II. Oddly, a company in Seattle is building 5 new fully functional Me-262s from scratch up here at Paine Field.

British airplanes don't age well.

Even the engines fall off (quite embarassing, really)

This is just cool. I hope you can still read it after we downsized the pic..

An early guided missile. It was controlled from a pilot in the launching airplane via radio, and steered into the target ship.

In case you don't believe me. Untrusting conspiracy theorists.

Once again - this was just cool. It was a 30 minute video on the Battle of Brittain. There was a movie screen in the background, with a translucent gauze screen closer up that they would project a few images on (such as the german cross here). Plus, it was in a hanger with various relevant airplanes. The airplanes would be partially lit up when appropriate, with sound of aerial warfare coming from all directions.

Here's the spitfire.

More of the movie - talking about the duels between British fighters and German bombers.

Early radar installations.

A German Stuka - dive bomber. They had a siren that wailed as they dove, scaring the hell out of anyone below.

I'm assuming that "kerb" is slang for "cluleless tourists, most commonly from the colonies, probably dressed gaudily, being loud and vulgar, and demanding gratitude for 'saving <our> asses in WWII.'"

And that's it. This was the ride I took to Picadilly, and from there to the airport. 9 hours later, I was home, and really, really sleepy. (Katie did pick me up at the airport. She's so nice.) A week later we had new jobs in Evertt. A month later we'd moved and were engaged. 5 months later we bought a house. And another 4 months after that we'll be married. And that, as they say, is that.