The huge barn at the Wealds and Downland Museum had displays scattered around. But I was interested in the building with so much space under a wood-supported roof. I think that very few of their buildings are significantly different from Medieval buildings, but the authentic one got photographed the most. This provided my concept of a hall house as a campfire enclosed in a building.
It was a special day when I visited and Arundel Castle was crowded. I wanted to find the medievalists at once—which wasn’t easy. I loped past room after room of wonderful china and came at last to a little tower room where four women were doing handwork by the light from an arrow loop. No, three, one was a mannequin.
Two of the men were soon deep into the history with me. We sorted out that Margaret Wydeville became Countess Arundel. But she didn’t live at that castle.
The fighters demonstrated how ineffective a sword is against plate armor. Then three without armor set upon the 'knight'—who licked them all. Later, I saw the armed show over again and still didn’t get a picture of the knight rolling over in his armor. He was quick!
I got to wield a sword briefly and to try on a gauntlet.
There were so many people speaking French that I told a castle employee that it was too late to even lower the portcullis.
May 5, 2012
I fogged around, asked many directions, and followed some of them. Finally, the combined efforts of two old women got me to the Leicester bus station. I caught one to Ashby de la Zouche. (This castle still belongs to the descendants of Will Hastings, but English Heritage runs it.)
To me, out in the roofless ruin, the audio guide was a waste of time. I can recognize a second floor fireplace after all. I was so cold that the best part was hanging around and talking with the young saleswoman in the castle shop. She had more interest than information about the history. She has more now. ;)
The young woman gave me directions to the museum. She assured me that there were eateries along the way.
It’s a nice old & new town high street. I went through The White Hart and looked at their menu. I also saw a pair of the largest great Danes I have ever seen. They were stretched out next to the bar, watching people. I decided it would be rude to eat in front of them and moved on to a different pub.
By running some, I caught the train from Canterbury. The connection at Ashford was a cinch: cross the platform and walk onto the train. At Borough Green, I learned that the buses don’t run anywhere near Ightham on Saturday. The taxi people wanted about £19 and had another run to make first.
It was God’s turn to do a trick. About the only place open was the 'Corral,' a gambling place. I asked the ‘cashier’ if somebody might like to make a quick pound by driving me to the Mote. ‘No.’
But a young man overheard this. He said he would do it for £ 7. As I climbed into his car, I knew some of my friends would be horrified. At Item Mote, he gave me his phone number and offered to come get me.
In lovely sunshine, I hiked down to Ightham Mote and went through the manor. Volunteers in each room were able to talk about the building. The first one told me that the Wydevilles never owned it. Their cousins, the Haut family did. [Maybe.]
By wandering the gardens, I met Mark and his little son. I took their picture. His wife took mine. They gave me a ride back to the train. Good job, God!
At St. Peter’s Methodist Church, I learned about an ecumenical service for Christian Aid Week at the cathedral. Aha! I could experience the cathedral and donate the price of a ticket to Christian aid instead.
About 5:00, I headed for the cathedral. A vegetable wrap including raw spinach left me fifty minutes to walk a block. In the cathedral compound, a few people were strolling toward a side entrance. There I was greeted by a woman who said to go ‘through the middle.’ I had to follow others to learn that meant into the choir.
There I was joined by Margaret, a Methodist mother hen I had met in the morning. Nevertheless, I got to gaze about in peace.
I couldn’t sing a note, but it didn’t matter. A choir of twelve plus organ rang the vaulting—four stories up.
Margaret would have given me a tour of the whole place had it been allowed. As it was, we saw the martyrdom site, the arch bishop’s throne, and a medieval painting. Then she gave me a ride home. The route, by car, has no resemblance to the pedestrian one.
At my hotel in King's Lynn, I dropped off the heavy stuff and headed back to find the museum. Explaining my quest, to the women at the desk, got me a file folder of material on Middleton Manor and its moat. I also got the name and appearance of the buses that go to Middleton about three times an hour.
The museum's main exhibit is the 4000-year-old ‘seahenge’ they brought up from the sea floor. They have both the real posts behind glass and a full-sized replica of what it probably looked like new.
As I was leaving, the lady told me that Middleton Towers is not entirely closed to the public. People have events there. Then she gave me the phone number of the family that lives there. The business day being almost over, I phoned the lady. The upshot was an appointment to meet with her husband at 11:15 am. I had to bubble over to the hotel receptionist. My expectation had been training a zoom lens on the manor from beyond a fence. Now I had a chance to go to it!
I got off the bus in Middleton village about 10:00. The only open business in sight was a garage. The mechanic gave me simple directions to Middleton Towers. The countryside was lovely--yellow with blooming rape. I boldly went between the gate piers marked private. Being early, I walked slowly around the building and considered taking a picture of the peacock. Finally, at 11:11 or so, I went to the door. Mrs. Barclay saw me and came to the door. She gave me the booklet she had about her home!
The grown daughter showed me around the oldest part of the house. I took a few pictures. One thing I pointed out gleefully: among the coats of arms worked in the window glass was one with the Wydeville quarter.
She even gave me a ride back to town and I learned that her name is Antonia.
At the White Hart, I explained my mission and the hope that somebody would be as eager to show me Grafton as I was to see. A man got on the phone and searching for such a person. Soon, he told me that Sue Blake was working in the garden behind the church and she had a key.
It was so warm that I left my coat at ‘The White Hart’ and hiked back to Grafton. At first I didn’t see anything but foliage deep enough to hide a woman.
She was clearly into Tudor things, and said that Henry VIII stayed there with Anne Boleyn. So Grafton was the site of a royal marriage and, two generations later, figured in a royal divorce.
Inside this functioning church, Sue showed me some Wydeville tiles and a tomb. She also settled the question of “The Queen’s Oak.” The traditional tree is much too young to have shaded a 15th century meeting.
A Change of Title
My hotel room in Hounslow looked like a copy of the one I just left except that the chair had a cushion and the drapes ran from wall to wall.
A barkeep at the hotel started to tell me how to get to Windsor Castle by bus, but got interrupted. I was too impatient to wait for her, consequently--
I set out before 9:00 to learn a route at the railroad station. The man made me a note about four trains to Windsor. I waited until my ‘underground’ ticket was useable at 9:30. I believed it was good all the way.
I changed trains correctly at Acton Town, but at Ealing Commons, I followed my neighbor off instead of going on to Ealing Broadway. I realized my error just as the train's doors closed.
The next train was over half an hour late. I met couple from Georgia. We hared off together, caught the next train, and continued our conversation. At Ealing Broadway, I learned that my ticket was only good on the ‘underground’ trains and I was out of their zone and on national trains. (It's hard to recognize a tube train out in the sunshine.)
At Slough, I was glad when I missed the train because I had time to buy a sandwich. It was such a short run into Windsor that I hadn’t finished it.
The castle came into view right away and we curved around toward it and arrived about 11:30. Through the big station entrance, all I could see was castle wall.
What a day for a tour! The sun was shining and yet there was no great queues anywhere. [Great tour.]
Back on the railroad platform, I found one man. But, for nearly an hour, no train. Gradually, the crowd grew to an SRO trainload including some people I had met.
I caught a train quickly in Slough and then, foolishly caught the wrong train at Acton Town and found myself doing a 180 at Ealing Commons again.
At one of those places, I gave up on the idea of a sit-down dinner and bought a pasty to eat on the train. I renamed my projected book: How\not/ to Visit 15th Century England.
[It is now available on Amazon.]
When I reached Norwich, the digital clock on the platform said 14:52. I said, "Perfect." That would give me eight years to get oriented before the beginning of my novels.
The Great Yarmouth Potteries and Smokehouse was one of those weird and unexpected pleasures. A woman enthusiastically pointed out the pillars and beams of the museum. They had been masts and keels of ships—sometime wrecks. She pointed out that one wall of the building was actually the city wall. Then there was the ancient well—they were still using.
When I moved along into the next room, I expected to leave the woman to her work with the pottery molds. But she came buzzing out to tell me about her work and show me a wall of forms for mug molds. Many had realistic faces on them. Some were celebrities I could recognize. She said that many depict lifeboat crewmen.
There was plenty of evidence that the place had spent a century or two as a fish smokehouse--including models of the fish hanging on racks.
The mug-form artist was happy to tell me about the city wall. It had been a big half-circle and everyone lived inside the space between the wall and the river.
I got a chance to talk about my history-related project although I only know of one quick trip my fictional hero is likely to make to Great Yarmouth.
After many struggles to find a way to Lavenham, I was starting from the right place. I simply walked to the Bury St. Edmonds bus depot and caught the Chambers bus to Lavenham.
I had the whole top story to myself and sat in the front port position. I felt disconcerted when the bus moved and realized that I was in what I am used to as the driver’s corner.
It was a twisty but pretty drive adorned with donkeys and rabbits and a pheasant.
I shot a couple pictures of Lavenham with its marvelously crooked buildings. The postman provided good directions to tourist information. I walked around and admired a gold on gold building. It was a pottery place as well as a very old home. It was open because of an art show in progress. Consiquently, I saw the arrangement of the house. The wooden beams were whatever shape they had taken over the centuries.
The guild hall was a similar hike under the beams—except that, in their main room, the beams were nicely finished and beveled.
It is a museum and I spent quite a while on the displays about wool and fabric. In one room a recording repeated of children singing “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” because it too is a Lavenham product.
Back at my room in Bury, I discovered that my money pouch was missing—with over £20 in it. I must have just stuck it in my pocket as I was getting on the bus in Lavenham. So I fared forth to the bus depot with a big umbrella. (The wind made it a wrestling match.)
All they could say there was to call the Chambers company. "I may stick around this town a bit longer than I’d planned." I called Chambers buses. They said they hadn't cleaned the buses yet—call in the morning.
June 1, 2012
I re-called Chambers buses. "What does it look like?" the man asked.
'The pouch is covered with embroidery—some of it purple.' They had my money pouch! I think what saved it was that it looked more like a make-up pouch. Had it been a billfold, it surely would have been long gone.
The man said he could send it tomorrow and I said I'd be in Colchester. He said they had no place to put it there. But their bus toward Colchester runs right past their office. So we arranged for me to take the bus back through Lavenham and on to a change of buses at Sudbury. When I boarded, the driver said he'd mind my suitcase but I'd have to walk a few yards to the bus stop to catch him. I didn't. The man was at the door of the office. He handed me the pouch and I stepped right back on the bus. (The pouch had nearly £31 in it!)
Colchester Medieval Fayre 6/2/12
I saw a play of St. George which had elements that differed from the one in Lutin. George introduces himself as a paladin. The fair maiden is played by a man taller than George. George gets so into talking to her that she has to point out the dragon behind him. He kills the dragon rectally. The devil appears with a flaming torch, but the maiden overcomes him with holy water. Then George and Saladin square off and talk and talk. Eventually, Saladin runs George through. A man of learning comes and after much mumbo jumbo (including juggling a ball, a bean-bag, and an apple) revives him.
I saw a play of the miller’s guests and even got to dance. I might have done so a second time if I hadn’t been in conversation with one of the actors.
After they’d started packing up, I had another visit with the merchant lady from Western Wales. She gave me a brochure for a medieval event in Knutsford, Cheshire—two weeks later. I had nothing booked!
So to Cheshire 6/15
On the train, the man across from me was a professional story teller—with lots of Gaelic material. Inconveniently, he told me stories I already knew. We acquired a silent seat partner who turned out to be nervous because he was on his way to his wedding.
At Manchester, I found the train in plenty of time—even though it was only two cars. There was no reader-board inside. I got a bit concerned about hearing my stop announced. I asked the man behind me to allert me. He gave me good notice, got my suitcase unjammed from between the seats, and boosted it down onto the Knutsford platform.
A young woman at the gate gave me directions to my hotel. When I got to the super-busy corner, they didn’t make sense. So I asked a man. He led me back the other way and pointed down King Street. It was a walk, but P.T.L. an essentially dry one—not counting puddles or dripping eaves. It was a rather hazardous street with a sidewalk that was often less than half normal size. Occasionally, the corner of a medieval building went clear to the street.
Once settled in another medieval hotel, I went looking for dinner. I poked my nose into the “Penny Farthing Museum” which turned out to be a tea room full of goodies and antique bicycles.
That evening, the wifi didn’t work. I ended up carting my netbook around to three men before one, at the reception desk, got me on line. Once I got into my email, I read President Obama’s message to the bystanders. The man looked a bit hurt and said, "The queen doesn't email us."
About 10:40, I set out down the Knutsford street. Two young women said I didn’t need a bus and pointed up King Street.
They were right about the park—but the event was another matter. I walked for over a mile past 21 deer in the velvet and among the skimming swallows. I met a woman walking a large dog. After quite a visit, we started on. A car stopped and the driver said she had told him to pick me up. He drove me to the car park and I had only a brief hike to the event. He volunteered the information that Knutsford was named for Hardy Canute. (After that, everybody seemed to know it.)
The tournament consisted of six fighters on foot. The first pair had swords, the second pair had two swords each, and the third pair had pole axes. One of the second pair got his sword tangled briefly in his surcoat. The third duel turned into a wrestling match repeatedly. At least once it was because one had lost his weapon. The two of the six who had the most points had a final round with two swords each. When they finished, and again when the winner was announced, they embraced.
After that, I flitted making sure I was under cover when it rained. I had a cheese & spinach crepe for lunch. I didn’t get a knife and ended up chewing it off the plate. Meanwhile, I met a well-dressed medievalist.
I met some nice women at the Methodist church. Maria delivered the miracle. She offered me a ride to the fayre. First she drove home and picked up the card that admits her to Tatton Park for free. As an employee of Knutsford, she was one of few people to have one.
It was close to 1:00 and I had free-range sausage on my mind. I went straight for that. Once fed, I walked into the re-enactors encampment.
There I met Chris. He could discuss the Wars of the Roses and believed that Richard III was power hungry. He was one of two people who recommended visiting the armory museum in Leeds. He lived near Pontefract and told me that Anthony was buried in a Norman chapel at Pontefract and people did pray to him for a while.
It had sprinkled a little in the morning, but the sun came out for the afternoon.
I asked a fayre organizer if there was any plan for getting stray people to town and he recommended asking Chris to announce a request. I went out to the sound truck and found Chris. He said he could make such an announcement after the battle.
Scores of men, and some women with banners, came onto the field. It was a brief melee on-foot leaving "bodies" scattered on the grass.
Chris announced that a woman doing research needed a ride to town. A pleasant woman named Jan, volunteered. So I was back in town with time to mosey down to the river and take a picture of ducks.
I left my suitcase at the B&B and, even though it was raining, headed straight for Alnwick Castle. In places I was doing a bit of wading. Then there was the children, several classes of them. I slipped into a Hotspur room where they had a video of one child telling another about Hotspur. (For me the pictures were an irritating shadow show, but the telling was clever.)
After that, I was repeating the line about calling demons. In time, I came to a lady who knew it. She also knew that “Stay not upon the order of your going…” is Comedy of Errors.
I couldn’t hear the woman guide but learned that Peter would be leading a tour at 11:40. I had time to climb onto the wall before joining Peter and about a dozen visitors. He told us about the tunnel from the kitchen to the dumb waiter and promised to tell us why it was called the whistling tunnel. He showed us places the Percys added onto the castle. We also learned that Duchess Elizabeth (1716-1776) harassed other ladies into giving her the over-sized figures that now grace the roof of Alnwick. Peter pointed out that she not only had a small hill built so that the castle would appear quickly and dramatically as one arrived, but had the river moved a few yards farther so she could see it from her window.
We didn’t go into the barbican because it was full of children throwing balls at each other. (Months later, I realized they were playing muggle quidich.) When we got back to our starting point, Peter told us that it was the whistling tunnel because the servants wheeling the food to the dining-room were required to whistle so they couldn’t sample it.
I hiked to tourist information and learned that they can do nothing to help find a room in Durham—two days away.
I chucked the whole project and caught a bus to Warkworth Castle. There I visited with the women in the reception/shop. One was fairly knowledgeable about the wars. Mostly, of course, they know Percys.
It was a beautiful, sunny day. There were classes of children to work around.
The audio guide was very clear and easy to follow. I certainly established that you can see the river mouth from the solar windows and the North Sea from many places.
Directions for a short-cut to the village became muddled, so it was a good thing I asked somebody else. Once I got started along the river side of the castle (quite a steep bank), it was easy. I did not let a sign for a hermitage distract me.
About the first eatery in the village was The Jackdaw Restaurant. I think the man was French. My salmon mousse certainly had a French style to it with a wedge of tomato on two lettuce leaves. The little strips of toast were served wrapped and on their own plate. It was all delicious too.
I hurried the man for the bill and he told me exactly where to catch the bus. To my surprise, I caught the 1:06 bus and was back in my room by 2:00. (Meanwhile, I had a Cadbury brunch bar full of flakes and raisins nested in chocolate. Yum!)
I found dinner at “Carlo’s Fish and Chips.” My beef steak pie looked slapped together by an amateur machine, but it tasted good.
I'd visited a nice hotel for three mornings to use wifi. This time I actually got the job finished! J I got confirmation of my room in Durham and booked a room in Guildford for my last nights in England. I rambled off in search of lunch. Not wanting to hike the full length of the street in teh rain, I ended up at Carlos’ again. This time I tried a spam fritter. Once again it looked hopeless and tasted excellent.
Rain sent me back to the library. I got to the bit I was looking for: stories of Alnwick Castle changing hands in 1462. One book mentions Lord Scales and the other ignores him and mentions three other guys. The story of what happened is muddled too: when did the Scots come down and relieve the siege? I learned that they were motivated to do so partly because there were Scots in the garrison. I wanted to discuss it with somebody. The librarian phoned the museum, but the woman she had in mind wasn’t there. If the weather had been fine, I would probably have gone back to Julien at the castle gate.
I thought the bus ran a bit after the hour and I was exceedingly early. Nope, it came through at 9:45 soon after I’d worked out which stand. It left me in Alnmouth across the street from where I had boarded it on Monday. At the railroad station, I met a young woman who needed directions to the bus. That I was able to provide.
After Newcastle, my seat partner turned out to be a Scottish equivalent of a mother in running shoes: a member of the Scottish parliament with major concerns about the environment. She was pleased to hear that Seattle recycles.
In Durham, I stepped off the train at noon. I looked into the hotel's elegant dining room and went off to find an affordable lunch.
Meanwhile, God had worked out the place and the timing to perfection. I went into a church, which was selling lunches, and had a pasta, tomato, and mushroom combination.
I asked the couple at the other end of the table: “What should I be sure and see in Durham?” Did I ever ask the right person: a woman with a special interest in local history.
“We’ll take you there,” she said. She meant on foot. We hiked up the hill. Suddenly, she opened a door and showed me a tower from the ancient city wall.
At the library, I also saw a 10 minute show about the castle-turned-university.
A tour guide in an academic ‘duster’ told about the oldest part of the castle(c1072). It was a palace of a prince bishop. We saw the oldest functioning kitchen in Europe: a modern kitchen tucked in the ancient one. Cooks were preparing dinner for several hundred resident students. The dining-hall is a three-story great hall where I expected owls to deliver the mail. That was accurate! Their dining hall became Hogwarts's in the movies.
It didn’t take half an hour to walk to the bridge, so I got to the Fulling Mill Archeological Museum forty minutes early. With a little help from passers-by, especially a young man shooting pictures of just about everything that didn’t move too fast, I managed to wait. After all that, the fulling mill had vanished into a museum about Roman things and about what can be learned from skeletons. The woman did say something about treading on the soaking fabric so it would take dye better.
For lunch, I found a Mexican place—a rarity in England. There I had a burrito assembled to my specifications with rice, steak, black beans, lettuce, cheese, and sour cream. Not bad.
I spent a while drifting through the cathedral from the modern art to the shrine of St. Cuthburt and the chapel of nine altars. The massive pillars are indeed an experience.
It was sprinkling when I went out, so I hurried to the library. There I got to telling about Pontefract. The woman believes that a train goes there from York. She encouraged me to phone them again.
A major goal of my trip was to visit Pontefract Castle on June 25th. I called Pontefract again and got a man who not only assured me that I can get there by train but that bringing flowers shouldn’t be a problem. J
I was so excited that I went down to tell the receptionists. The result was an hour or so of conversation. One receptionist was a connoisseur of castles and her favorite was Rabe.
I went to train schedules and Google maps and concluded the Pontefract Castle is tucked in between three railroad stations. I don't think they are what the castle was built to defend.
On arrival in York, I bought a train ticket to Pontefract. Then I bought myself a whole wheat Cornishpasty. J
Having my course pointed out and the map in my hand, made it easy to find Lady Anne Middleton’s Hotel. This elegant hotel is an amazing, rambling establishment concocted out of six historic buildings.
The next thing I wanted to see was the flooding. I walked a bridge across the Ouse and took a couple pictures of water among the trees in a park. Then I tried walking the wall. (I didn't like not having a handrail or anything on one side.) I did reach Miklegate bar—more pictures.
In the evening, I intended to go to the main lounge area, but I came upon two senior couples in the solarium. We had a great chat. The upshot was one of them saying that if they had the leisure she would like to go to Pontefract and commemorate Anthony. (She had been reading The White Queen.)
I didn’t do a lot of sleeping. What I did do was write a poem using the same rhythm and rhyme as Anthony’s death-day poem. Mine was a farewell to England. I still choke up if I try to read it.
The hotel's receptionist advised going to Mark and Spencer for flowers. The eight white roses came as a package deal for only £3.50.
I spent a ridiculous amount of time sitting around the railroad station. Eventually, I realized that the train to Sheffield was sitting there—and got aboard. But I wasn’t very secure about it until Pontefract was announced. On my way, I was working on things to say to some dyed-in-the-wool Richardian to get to leave even a flower.
There was no one at the lodge outside the ruined castle gate. I wandered on in and found Joan sitting outside her ‘office.' I told her my interest in Earl Rivers and she came promptly on board with it. She even devoted a plastic pitcher to the cause. She not only encouraged me to write something but provided paper and a plastic sheath for it.
To the best of my recollection, I wrote, “Worthy to be remembered:
Anthony Wydeville…” And then I listed his titles. I called him a martyr for peace and quoted—to the best of my recollection—the last stanza of his death-day poem. I think I was off by no more than a couple words.
I left these in the minimal remains of the Norman chapel and took pictures—partly as evidence that I had really succeeded. After that, I walked around the castle with the map Joan had given me. I wandered with the strange, spacy feeling that I had finished my agenda in England.
When David arrived, Joan showed him the memento and they both promised they would keep it watered.
This leaves me with a sense of having finished what I set out to do even though many things got left out. I felt ready to fly home.
On the train, I met a woman visiting her homeland from Rowanda. She had an African girl with her. We had a good conversation. I was pleased to hear how she conversed with the girl and explained things to her.
The trip ran about three and a half hours. I had to buy a BLT off the cart. On this last trip south, I changed trains at Reading instead of going under London.
Two women in the Guildford station strongly advised me to take a cab because the Mandolay Hotel is ‘at the top of the town.’ They were right, it would have been a heck of a hike with the suitcase, and I probably would have taken some wrong turns too.
My map indicated a closer railroad station. Once settled, I took a walk and found it—without an employee anywhere. There was one Asian. The speaker system announced a train. It came in, picked him up, and rushed on. I didn't see or hear another soul. It was way too spooky for me.
By the time I got to the minimal remains of the castle, it was so late that it wasn't worth the price of admission. I did get pictures of the excellent garden around it.
By backtracking people with orange Sainsbury bags, I found groceries for breakfast.
The bus to Farnham ran along a very lengthy ridge with views on each side rendered nearly invisible by trees planted beside the road. They were probably to stabilize the ridge.
A couple inquiries in Farnham got me to the castle--after rather of a hike. There I learned that, because it was Wednesday, there would be a tour in the afternoon. I visited a room of automated museum with sound and projections. Farnham Castle had been a home of prince-bishops. I hiked back down the hill barely early enough to lunch on an excellent breakfast.
(Months later, I realized I had been in Farnham twice. The first trip, I arrived by train and went south to the ruins of Waverly Abbey.)
Having hiked back to the castle, I climbed the minimal remains of the keep. The tour of this Anglican building focused on portraits—most of them 19th and 20th century churchmen. After a while, I got bored and excused myself on the grounds that I had a bus the catch.
The bus was very late, but that gave me time to get acquainted with two good friends named Ann & Anne. We even rode back to Guildford together.
My last dinner in England was arguably the best. I wanted meat pie. One pub I auditioned was dominated by a raucous drinker and one by over-loud music. I asked a woman on the street—who turned out to be a vegetarian—but she gave me good directions. I wouldn't have found the Tudor Lounge otherwise—up a stairway off an alley.
Climbing the crooked stairs to the restroom was the best evidence of its great age. The dining-room was 21st century! While eating excellent beef pie, I watched electronic water-lilies, leaves, clouds, bubbles, and daisies float across multiple screens on the wall.
It wasn't a straight shot from Guildford to Heathrow. I had to start earlier and change to a bus.
I asked a handsome young man to mind my suitcase while I ran back into the station. Of course, we had a visit. He turned out to be a newly professional cricketer.
I didn't have enough time at Heathrow for a proper lunch, but I was loaded up on snacks when I boarded the plane. After a while the staff served excellent cheese calzones.
My Sikh seat partner closed the shade and watched a very festival of violent movies—because his wife didn't allow it at home. After he ran out of time for another, he helped with my crossword, but we still didn't add much.
I did learn that the woman across the aisle had gone to England intent on genealogy and had a lot to read. At one point, I had to walk to the very back of the cabin because the stewardess, who was coming, was slightly wider than the aisle.
We finally got to Detroit. I took their cute train to the wrong end of its run—and back again with a bottle of juice. At the correct gate, I learned that the plane would be late.
I have crossed the Atlantic on three trips. As I recall, things went smoothly on the European end. But every time, I was delayed in an American airport on my return.
Joyce came along just before my suitcase appeared on the Sea Tac carrousel. Linda, her sister, picked us up and drove me home to Lynnwood.
I thought they had keys to both my security building and my apartment. Nope. I had to get somebody to buzz me into the building. While Linda waited insides to let me back in, I had to go out in the dark and find my hidden key. Close to midnight of my twenty-six hour day, I got inside. A bouquet of balloons on my dining-room table read, "Welcome back."
When did you get into writing?
As soon as I could misspell enough words.
I was fascinated by the primers with the word lists in the back. I started writing primer-level booklets. Over the school years, I also wrote some miniature newspapers and magazines that rarely lasted beyond one issue. But the desire to put stories onto paper has stayed with me through every era and career.
How did you 'meet' Anthony Woodville (or Wydeville)?
Back in 1983, I read Jan Wescott's The White Rose. [Yes, it is availabale on Amazon.] I fell for the noble, brave, able, and affectionate knight she painted. I began writing sketches about him. Within three months I was main-lining history. To my relief, he turned out to be what Jan claimed--and more. In those days research meant going to the Spokane library and the EWU library.
Was this really behind your move to the Seattle area?
Yes indeed. One day at the EWU library I met an acquaintance. "This isn't a research library," he told me. He recommended the University of Washington. I moved to the Seattle area to use the library. Now, with Wikipedia, I could just as well live in a miniture town in Idaho. (But I do love it here.)
Who are the Albin and the Jouster books for?
They are intended for whoever is interested, mainly teens and adults. But a special concern for people challenged to read English has me keeping the words and sentences, simple. That allows English language learners and people who cannot read as they used to, to get in on the fun.