Thursday, August 31, 2006

Railroads and Miami

I have been coming over here for what is now approaching two years and just today it struck me that I have not seen one single freight train on that time! I ride at least once or twice a week on the passenger rail system, the subway or the light rail. Trains are ubiquitous here in the UK but it just occurred to me that I do not remember once in the time I have been here ever seeing an actual freight train.

I know that they have them because I have heard reports on the BBC about how freight is the bread-and-butter of the Channel Tunnel. More money is made off freight trains passing through the tunnel from The UK to the continent than is on the passenger rail.

Back in the states I see trains all the time in Denver. There is a major rail switching yard for one railroad visible from the building to the north, and another from a different rail line visible from the western windows a little further on. I cross three or four (I cannot remember exactly) different rail lines to get to the light rail and pass a major railroad engine yard on the way to the office once I board the commuter train.

I wonder where they run all the freight trains. It is not as if they can run them in the vast expanses of land between the cities. (It is not as if there are vast expanses of open land between the cities, well, at least there aren't any in the area of the country I live in.)

I guess that it may also be that I am just in the wrong part of the country to see the trains. If I had been visiting the area of Southwest Miami centered around the house I grew-up in for the amount of time that I have been visiting the UK, and if I had traveled from that point in no further a radius than the one I have covered from the house in Thames Ditton I think I still would have crossed a freight line or two.

Of course, If I had been spending as much time over the last two years in Village Green (the section of Miami that I grew up in) as I have spent in Thames Ditton, I think I would have been suicidal by now. My blog would probably read more like this:

January 05 - Cockroaches the size of Volkswagens stole my PC today from the office. I guess I need to order a new one; and perhaps a can of RAID.
February 26 - Fires in the Everglades today.
March 13 - Gosh It's Hot and Muggy Here!
April 23 - Help Me! I'm melting... All my beautiful wickedness! What a world! Oh, What a world!
May 31 - The news paper said there was a dead body found in the canal today. Nice. We are down to only one!
June 16 - Gosh It's Hot and Muggy Here!
July 08- Drive by shooting scheduled for three o'clock this afternoon.
August 03 - According to the Miami Herald, the crack dealers are going on strike for better working conditions.
September 19 - Gosh It's Hot and Muggy Here!
October 10 - Hurricane Xavier hit today. (Yawn!) That would be the twenty-first hurricane this year. Hmmm, maybe there is something to this global warming thing. Nope, nope! The president still swears there is no such thing!
November 28 - Put Turkey in the Oven and hit the Beach, God! I Love Miami!
December 21 - Gosh It's Hot and Muggy Here!

Or something to that affect. On the whole, I am glad that I am here!

I hope wherever you are today it is somewhere you like being!

Don Bergquist - 31 August 2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK

Wednesday, August 30, 2006


You never appreciate it until you lose it! It is a statement that applies to so many things. If you have ever sat in the dark during a blackout, or are stood in the rain because you forgot your umbrella you know exactly what I mean.

My current sense of loss is for my phone line back to the states. I have been coming over here to the UK for much of the last two years (almost all of the current year) and most of that time I have not had a phone to make calls back to the states. The cost of calling on my mobile is prohibitive. The cost for my family to call me is likewise, a bit steep.

Then, earlier this year, we got a VoIP phone for The Villa and all of the sudden, my London home had a phone with a Denver telephone exchange! What a great idea! We were able to call back to the states any time we wanted to and our relatives over there could call us. It was only in the rarest of occasions that someone back in the states forgot the seven-hour time difference and called me or one of the other people staying in the house in the middle of the night. (Usually with the excuse that they thought they were dialing a Denver number and it is only early evening in Denver.)

That came to a crashing end a few days ago. I entered the lounge at The Villa the other day to find that a piece of the molding at the top of the wall had given way and came crashing to the floor stopping only momentarily to destroy the phone, a couple of the more fragile furnishings and light bulb on its way to the oak floors.

My frequent calls to touch base with my family were put to an end. I picked-up the pieces of plaster and inspected the phone. Yep! It is beyond repair. Oh well, one has been ordered and I expect it within the week. I cannot wait to talk to my family again in real-time!

This has made me aware of one thing that I wasn't before, the fact that should I ever move over here on a permanent basis, I will be bringing a VoIP phone and having a US number for it. It is just so convenient (when it works) and makes keeping in touch a breeze!

I hope wherever you are today you will take a moment and talk to someone who is important to you.

Don Bergquist - 30 August 2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK

Tuesday, August 29, 2006


Can you believe the equinox is still nearly a month away?

As the Summer wears on and the hurricane season starts back home, the difference between home and here is once again driven home to me. Just a fortnight ago I could ride home from the pub in the twilight without the aid of lights; the morning sun awoke me as it came streaming through my windows at 04:45. I can now easily oversleep until the sun rises at 06:30 and it is dark well before the first bell rings.

It is a bit sad really, the long daylight hours are nice. I enjoy the difference in daylight between Summer and Winter. Perhaps not as much as we experience here in London, but some difference is nice. Back in Colorado there is a pronounced difference that is noticeable but less extreme than it is here. Having grown up in the tropics, phrases like "the long nights of winter" that I read in books or poems didn't make any more sense to me than the descriptions of autumn colors.

I now appreciate the phrases and the implications. Soon, it will be time to start thinking of the affects of Seasonal Affective Disorder; time to verify that the lights on my bike have good batteries and that spares are around; time to dredge-up the gloves. It will be time to get ready for winter.

Oh well, at least here, the winters are not usually accompanied by snow that is measured in feet! There is that in its favor. Winters in London tend to be on the mild side compared to other places I have lived, like Colorado and Minnesota. Both of which have latitudes considerably further south than here. I guess I shall have to embrace the mild days I have left this Summer and just prepare for the Fall, it is only a few short weeks away!

I hope that wherever you are today, there are plenty good, pleasant days of Summer left this year!

Don Bergquist - 29 August 2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK

Monday, August 28, 2006

A Country Affair

The holiday weekend, as usual, brought out a celebration on Hampton Court Green. This weekend's celebration was A Country Affair. It is part town festival, part "Krazy Dayz" part church carnival. It was very festive.

Angie, Terry, Kevin and I went to the festival yesterday to listen to the bands. Apart from ending earlier than it did last year, was bigger than it was. There were food and beverage booths, craft stalls, and all manner of things to spend money on.

We wandered the stalls, had a couple ciders, and then went to ride the rides. As the sun started setting on the festival grounds, we stayed to hear a Beatles tribute band. They should pay tribute with a little more reverence. But, hey, if it was easy to be The Beatles, everyone would be John Lennon or Paul McCartney.

At one point, one of the lads on stage tried doing a George Harrison impersonation. It was pretty good, but sounded more like Don Kirchner. We left before the band had finished and headed over to the pub for a drink.

Today is a bank holiday here so I am doing my weekly paperwork from The Villa (to stay on top of it) and am going over to Molesey for dinner tonight. It will be a pleasant evening and a lovely ending to a lovely weekend.

I hope wherever you are today, you are having a great day!

Don Bergquist - 28 August 2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK

Happy Birthday to my Cousin, Todd

Happy Birthday to my Cousin, Tim

Sunday, August 27, 2006

All Grown Up!

I believe I may have mentioned my friend Renee (name changed to protect the identity for the sake of discretion) from the pub. Renee is a gregarious young lady. By far the youngest of my friends in the UK. Yesterday I was invited by Renee's parents to her fifth Birthday party.

In response to a comment on how grown up she acted, Renee explained. "When I was this many" she said holding up her fist with only her pinkie finger extended "I was just a little baby."

"Then when I was this old" at this point, Renee extends a second finger, the ring finger, from her balled-up fist "I was just a toddler."

"When I was this old" she adds the middle finger to the two extended previously "I was just a little kid."

"Now I am this old" she adds the index finger to the extended digits.

"And soon I will be this old" out comes the thumb "and then I will be an adult."

"Ah, and are you going to get married then?" I ask

"I'm not getting married on my birthday!" she explains to me as if it was the stupidest thing she had ever heard of.

The party was nice, but I did learn that I come in third in the men Renee fancies. Coming in ahead of me are Kevin, my friend the police officer, who is second only to Paulo, the barman at the King's Arms.

Ah, young love!

I hope that wherever you are today, you can spend some time with someone you fancy or who fancies you!

Don Bergquist - 27 August 2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Rave Reviews

A few months back, I wrote in my blog about going to a rave with friends and staying out all night. (The entry was titled Experimental Log published 04 March 2006. q.v.) I should have learned a lesson that evening. But it probably isn’t the lesson you are thinking of. The lesson is why raves run 'til the early hours of the morning. For those of you planning a visit to London, please take this as a lesson: The Tube and the Rail service do not run all night long.

Last night on my way home from the pub a friend called me; he was over here on business and got my mobile number from a mutual friend. He apologized for calling and said he hoped that it was okay that he had my number.

"Of course! Of course!" I replied. It was good to hear from him.

It turned out that he was over here on business and that his mates from work were planning a night out and he wanted to know if I wanted to tag along. So I diverted my path from home to the train station in Surbiton and caught the next train into London.

It was real fun, we went to a pub for a couple drinks and then headed out to a dance club. It was good seeing my friend and meeting his new co-workers, but I was not in a mind to be out all night so I said good bye around midnight and headed off to the tube station. Arriving at 12:30, I saw gates down over the entry. When I asked the woman in the London Transit uniform, she said that this station closes at midnight and that I would have to take a bus back to Waterloo.

I caught a bus two bus transfers later, I was arrived at Waterloo only to find that the last train to Surbiton had left already and the station was in the process of closing for the night. There were no more trains to Surbiton (or anywhere else) and wouldn't be until the early train at 06:00 (four hours away).

I stopped a few of the staff and asked if anyone knew of a night bus to Surbiton, Kingston, or anywhere in my general area and was told that there were none that far to the south. I got the same story from some of the bus drivers that I asked. (The ones that spoke English enough to understand my question.)

So, I took a cab from Waterloo back to Surbiton. An expensive ride (£45.00) but it was better than waiting out the morning in the drizzle on the steps of Waterloo Station. Next time I am in town beyond Midnight, I think I will just keep dancing. It will be better exercise and cheaper!

When I got back to my bicycle, I did take a bit of a ride and arrived back home some time after three o'clock. I made some breakfast and hit the pillows. What a morning!

I hope that wherever you are today, you are having a great morning!

Don Bergquist - 26 August 2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK

Friday, August 25, 2006

Finally Friday

This week has seemed interminable! I do not know why; sure, I have been busy, but it has not been that busy. Perhaps it is because this weekend is a long weekend and people have been out of the office.

Perhaps it is just because I want to have a weekend. I am looking forward to the weekend. Who knows! At least, the weekend is nearly upon us!

I hope that wherever you are today, you have something to look forward to today!

Don Bergquist - 25 August 2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Return of the Rains

While it does make it a bit less comfortable to ride, I am glad that the rains have returned. The temperatures are hovering in the fifties and sixties this week and the rain is falling periodically throughout the day. It is, in a word, lovely!

I have been very busy at work of late, so I am glad that last night I decided to take a ride into town to attend the weekly gaming session of the Swiggers Gaming Club. Now, the name takes some explaining. It was originally spelled SW1ggers and stood for something like "General Game Enthusiasts…" something. But since the meeting was moved from the SW1 to the SE1 postal code (they changed venue) they have changed the name to Swiggers.

I heard about them from a friend who goes to a game shop in town that posts group announcements. They are a group who get together every week to play games of strategy. Last night I wanted to make a good impression so I made sure I was looking just right when I rode to the Surbiton station to catch my train into town. It would have worked too, but for the fact that it started pouring shortly after I left the London Bridge Rail station. Too bad! It was a clear and cool evening with a scattered cloud base in Thames Ditton. I hadn't realized the difference of thirty miles could make such a difference.

But that didn't dampen my spirits or my mood. The group were a good gang and I have decided to add it to my regular Wednesday night agenda. I lost miserably at the first game I played. Came in a really close second on the second one and was in the middle of the pack for the third.

By the time I had left, the rain had stopped and it was a pleasant evening with a cool breeze blowing. At least I now know that the new splash guards and light sets I have installed on my bike work great!

I hope that wherever you are today the weather can't dampen your spirits!

Don Bergquist - 24 August 2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Question of the Evening

I must say that the question took me somewhat off-guard. It is not as if it was the first time I had been asked to support a personal opinion, nor was it the first time that I was asked to give evidence for a vague feeling, but it was the circumstances under which I was being asked for the supporting evidence that made me stop and think. "Why do I like it over here so much?" The question was raised last night when I made my brief stop off at the pub on my bike ride.

My route, as is more-or-less standard now took me downstream along the Thames to Kingston and then across the Kingston Bridge along the north and east sides of Bushy Park to Hampton Wick and then through the park to Hampton Court (where I usually stop for a diet coke and a chat with whoever happens to be there - okay, some times I'll stop for an ale or three...) along the A308 back to the river and then the A309 to Embercourt Road and then back roads back to Thames Ditton.

I was sitting at the bar and chatting with one of my friends who works at the bar when one of the other patrons at the mar noticed that I had an American accent. "You're an American!" she exclaimed. "My sister-in-law is here from the states..." Fearing that this was about to turn into one of those "You're from Denver, do you know my cousin, Fred?" moments, I took another sip of my drink.

"Have a pleasant visit." She said as she gathered her order together and headed out to the beer garden. I completed my chat with my friend and headed off to get back on my bike and head home.

On my way through the beer garden, the woman asked me over to her table and introduced me to her sister-in-law and we exchanged a few minutes of pleasantries. It turns out that she is over here visiting. She lives in California, but used to live in Denver, many years ago. I shared that I live in Lakewood but am currently living in Thames Ditton and that I have been here most of the year. She commented that I must like it to be willing to stay all year. I admitted I did and her sister, the local asked the question.

"Denver must be a lovely place! What is it about London that you like so much?"

I guess it is a fair question and it is a hard one to answer. It is everything! I like the fact that I have some excellent friends here. I like the fact that one can survive here without the absolute need to have a car. I like the fact that unless I slip and use a word or phrase that has inherently American roots (requiring the American cultural background to understand it) I seldom get people asking me what I mean. (They speak English here!)

On the whole, people are friendlier here. It is just comfortable here. Granted, I have some very dear and wonderful friends back home that should the opportunity arise to move here I will miss dearly, but I am pretty sure that I would enjoy living here permanently should the opportunity arise.

So that is it, I guess. I like it here because I do. So there!

I hope wherever today finds you it is some place that you like to be!

Don Bergquist - 23 August 2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

A Little Nip In The Air

There is a chill in the air this morning! A lovely, glorious chill! The air was cool and moist as I rode along the Thames on my way into the office this morning. Summer is losing its grip on the village, autumn will soon start.

I once read somewhere that the phenomenon of autumn colors is nowhere near as pronounced in other areas of the world as it is in the US. I guess I won't have long to wait to find-out. I am glad that the last time I was in the states I traded half of my summer clothing for some warmer clothing. I now have about half-a-dozen long-sleeve shirts and a couple jackets.

This morning, I had kind-of wished I had brought a pair of light-weight gloves. A lovely fog was rising off the water in the old catch-pits along the Thames this morning. So I know that today will be cooler than it has been. One good thing about this: It is almost soup weather! Get the crock pot ready! Time to start making soup again!

I hope that wherever you are today, you can take today as it is and see something good in it!

Don Bergquist - 22 August 2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK

Happy Birthday to my Cousin, Eric

Monday, August 21, 2006

Monday, Monday

It is dark and overcast; the clouds are hanging over the village heavy, dark, and pendulous. A stiff breeze is blowing and the skies are threatening rain. What a lovely morning in London!

My friends started leaving last night around half-ten and the last of them left just around midnight. The council has not picked-up the glass recycling bin in three weeks so my neighbor (whom I suspect of having put some of his bottles in my bin) and I have both got completely full glass bins. It was an excellent party!

I really love hanging out with friends and last night was a good time to do it. We hate some nibbles and made a considerable dent in the beer I had laid-in for the party. I am so glad that everyone had a good time! Today I hit the ground running. The small patch of sky I can see to the south over the roofs across the road continues to be a roiling black mass. I hope it will just rain and get it over with! God knows my grass needs it!

I keep wondering if I will ever know what the long-term goal for me at the office is. My company keeps sending me back here claiming it will be just "this one last trip." And when that one last trip is over, they send me back here again. Don't get me wrong, spending over half the year over here on per-diem thus far has been nice and all, but I do wish I could make some long-range plans.

Oh well, I guess it is just Monday talking. I need another weekend!

I hope that wherever you are today, you are having a good Monday.

Don Bergquist - 21 August 2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Pleasant Sunday

What a relaxing, pleasant day! I awoke early; the threat of rain hanging over the village like a specter. Today is going to be a relaxing day. I had nothing to do today but mow the lawn, take a bike ride and get some nibbles ready for tonight's party. With the lawn cut and the ride out of the way, I have a very relaxing day ahead of me!

My friends who helped me entertain Dad and Flo when they were here the week-before-last have been invited over for drinks and nibbles (beers and hors d'oeuvres) tonight. Most of the prep work for the party was done by Sainsbury's. I ordered the beer to be delivered and the cheese for the cheese tray I picked-up whilst on my fide this morning. It is now just after eleven and I have all day to get ready. Perhaps I'll cook something. Perhaps I'll just put my feet-up and finish the book I am reading.

Choices, choices! Life can be so tough some times! How am I ever to cope?

I hope wherever you are today, the choices you are faced with are easy to cope with.

Don Bergquist - 20 August 2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Victorian Faire Day

How romantic and olde world; a Victorian Faire in my neighborhood! Well, it sounds romantic and olde world. It's really just a few old carnival rides that travel around the area, setting-up in the local greens for a couple days so that people can ride them. Not much of a mid-way, no real excitement. Just a Carousel, a Ferris Wheel, Chair-O-Plane (Swinging chairs on a spinning rack) and a bouncy slide.

A couple weeks ago when they were on the Giggs Hill green over here in Thames Ditton, I was too busy to bother with it because my parents were in town. This weekend, Angie said she wanted to go and I have to say, it was much nicer here in the park by the Thames.

We headed over to the park to have a look at the rides and to hop on whatever looked interesting. So, we basically just went on the Carousel. Your humble narrator got chastised by the carnie. Apparently, here in the UK you are not allowed to stand-up in the stirrups on the Carousel. (I mean, not that I had to stand in the stirrups. My feet were firmly on the platform of the Carousel most of the ride anyway!)

I leaned they also do not have brass rings (and apparently never did) on their Carousels. I had to explain the significance of the brass ring comment. Apparently, they were not common on Carousels here in the UK. There are still some in the states that have brass rings. (Follow this link for more on this.) I guess that the phrase "going for the brass ring" would be one that is not generally understood over here, in that case.

After our ride, we returned to Kevin's place and watched V for Vendetta and had dinner. Kevin made some wonderful chili! I ate too much and was uncomfortably full. A nice ride in the evening air on the way home from the pub afterward only made me feel slightly better. I have to watch it. I am going to explode!

I hope that wherever you are today, you go for the brass ring.

Don Bergquist - 19 August 2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK

Friday, August 18, 2006

Life Imitating Art

There are those strange moments of clarity when the whole thing seems to suddenly make sense; the pieces all fall into place and the picture reveals itself. To those of us who are (at least somewhat) politically aware, those moments serve as vindication rather than epiphany. This week has been one that makes all the quotes that I love so much fitting descriptions of my life.

"No matter how cynical I get, I just can't seem to keep up!"
Lily Thomlin

The news on Thursday last that a terrorist plot here in London would totally disrupt air travel back in the states was bad. (Especially bad personally since I was flying that day!) But the cynicism was driven home hard before 08:00. The "Ah-Hah!" moment came when sitting on a plane. (Though, I guess for cynicism sake, it was more of an "Uh-huh!" moment.) I had just spent nearly two hours standing in line at the security checkpoint watching the clock tick; listening to the TSA Agent shout at all of us in line that "No liquids, gels, pastes or aerosols of any type would be allowed past the security checkpoint." and that "No such materials purchased past the checkpoint would be allowed on the plane." This was due to "heightened security measures."

I am not a natural cynic, mind you! I have worked hard to develop the ability to be cynical when the need arises. So, after having heard the list of things forbidden on the plane, coffee, pop, toothpaste, make-up, perfume, mouthwash, deodorant and other like substances, imagine my surprise when not two minutes after sitting down on the plane, the woman next to me pulls out a tube of lipstick and starts applying it. (Wait for it! It gets better.) She then pulls out a mirror and a comb and re-adjusts her coif and sprays it with the spray gel she also pulled out of her bag. Finally, she re-applies the overpowering fragrance she was wearing. Good thing we stood through a line for two hours so that we could be protected!

"Nothing is quite so powerful as a bad idea whose moment has come."
Robert Rankin

Okay, admittedly it seemed like a good idea at the time. Actually believing the airline when they told me that no checked luggage would be allowed on the plane this week, you would think that they would know. So I sent my laptop to London via FedEx. Everything else went into one big checked bag. Turns out I was allowed to carry my briefcase, MP3 player, two cell phones and PDA onto the plane.

Now, I know that you are wondering why this is a bad idea and not another example of cynicism. Well, it is because I have to write this on my laptop using an external monitor. FedEx broke my laptop monitor. It will be replaced today.

"A people should not fear their government, the government should fear its people."
(Unknown origin)

This line is fresh in my memory because I got it from a film I watched last night. A friend lent me a copy of V for Vendetta. Which I watched last evening. Good film! I highly recommend it. It is, of course, based on a completely impossible premise: a government coming to power by wielding the weapons of fear and religious zealotry on their own people. It could never happen, of course. No government would go to religious extremism to try and impose their view of fundamental Christianity as the one and only valid practice for its people.

I mean really, what democratic people would allow their government to impose their religious tenets as law? It could just never happen! What government would use fear mongering to break its own laws and commit egregious acts like, oh! I don't know... Spy on its own people?

This morning, I thought that I had fallen asleep with the movie running because I could have sworn that BBC 4 was reporting that the US Government was illegally spying on the people of the US. I then discovered that I was neither asleep not mistaken. The Federal Court in Detroit had determined that the warrantless wiretapping being done on the president's order in the name of "protection from terrorism" was (as many of us had been saying for quite some time) completely illegal.

"Curiouser and curiouser!"
Lewis Carroll
(From Alice in Wonderland)

I hope that wherever you are today, your day is a pleasant one!

Don Bergquist - 18 August 2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Another Day, Another Dollar

Anyone who travels as extensively as I do has their favorite travel books. One of mine is Dave Barry's The Only Travel Guide You'll Ever Need by Dave Barry. Among the nuggets of wisdom that he gives (like "Never get on a plane if the pilot is wearing a tank top" and "You can travel anywhere you want to go and never know that you have left Cleveland if you just never leave the hotel.") is that no matter where you go there is one thing you can be certain of: "The Dollar is always getting weaker." Until I started traveling to the United Kingdom, I never quite fully appreciated this fact.

The problem is that when one travels on business, the per diem one is given to the traveler in their home currency. So the dollar getting weaker means that the money I have to spend on the expenses of daily life is getting smaller all the time. If you live cheaply enough, this doesn’t really matter. You could go on bread and water provisions, but Man does not live on bread alone. I need the occasional beer!

When all of my travel was confined to North America I was sitting pretty. The Canadian Dollar was always weaker than the US Dollar so even if the dollar (ours) slipped a bit, it was still relatively cheap to travel in Canada. With the pound hovering somewhere in the neighborhood of $1.90, it is not as cheap to live!

When I was last home, I filled my car with petrol. Listening to the other patrons complain about the cost (about $3.00 per gallon) I had to chuckle. Over here, it costs about £0.98 per litre. That works out to being about $6.75 to the gallon. (and that's a US Gallon… not the imperial gallon which would cost about 25% more!)

But you can get used to almost anything. I am constantly finding myself forgetting to do the Pounds to Dollars conversion and thinking about what things cost in pounds. Now if only I were paid in pounds instead of dollars... Well, maybe some day!

I hope wherever you are, you're having a wonderful day!

Don Bergquist - 17 August 2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Casualty of War

My flights were uneventful. As a matter of fact I have never had fewer problems trying to make a connection at Detroit. There was practically no waiting. They were calling my flight for pre-boarding as I arrived at the gate, I queued-up and walked directly aboard. My flight was actually a good bit early into Gatwick. There was practically no line at customs, my baggage beat me to the carousel and I was out of Immigrations in less than thirty minutes after my arrival at the gate. This is almost too easy! I must have dozed off and am still sleeping on the plane, right?

Okay. I knew it was too good to be true. My laptop arrived at the office yesterday morning as I was arriving at Gatwick. (I sent it via FedEx ahead of me because I was told that we would not be allowed to bring any electronics on-board the aircraft.) Unfortunately, my laptop had more adventures along the way than I did. The screen is shattered and I have to get it replaced. They are coming out today to replace the screen.

The war on terror (or as the White House is now referring to it: The war on international extremism or something to that affect) has claimed a victim. A minor one, to be certain, but a victim nonetheless. I guess if that is the worst thing that happens this trip, I'm going to have a great time!

I hope that wherever you are today your problems are minor ones!

Don Bergquist - 16 August 2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Happy Birthday to my Brother, Denis

Couldn't ya just tell that this little guy would grow-up to be a rocket scientist?

All my life, by big brother has been the kind of brother everyone loves (and hates) to have. Denis always had an answer to everything. There is absolutely nothing he doesn't know and that can be a good thing but it can also be a bad thing. For example, Denis would tell me when the fun things I though-up to entertain myself would not work.

Once, when we were kids, I had this brilliant plan. I noticed that our climbing tree was the tallest thing around and that if we were to water it a bit more it would grow really tall and catch the moon as it passed over the branches. This would be cool, because then we could charge the neighborhood kids a quarter to climb the tree to the moon. (And who wouldn't want to do that?) Denis pointed-out the obvious flaw in my plan.

The moon is at least a half a mile high and there was not enough water in Dade County to get the tree to grow to that height. (We'll see about that!) So I left the hose at the base of the tree and running one night when we all went to bed. (He was right, of course! The tree didn't grow to remarkable heights. But we did end-up with the Everglades to the east rather than the west of the house by morning.)

Of course, his estimation of the height of the moon was slightly off. I am now higher than he estimated the moon to be as I sit here on a plane headed back to the United Kingdom. All-in-all though, Denis was usually right in whatever he told me (or at least I believed him to be right) and I maintain that illusion. Denis now lives with his family in Alabama where, yes, he is a rocket scientist. Today is his birthday and I wish him a great day!

Happy Birthday, Denis!

Don Bergquist - 15 August 2006 - Northwest Flight 31 at 45,000 feet somewhere over the North Atlantic

Monday, August 14, 2006

Pack Your Patience

It is a phrase I have heard repeatedly over the past few days. "Pack your patience." (Or, I assume thatis what I am hearing. I guess that they could be talking only to doctors and it could be "pack your patients...") Whichever it is, it is a message I will be heading today.

I am headed back to the UK this afternoon and will be certain to take a butt-load of patience (or patients) with me. I plan on being at the airport at least three hours before my international flight. I have a good book that I am reading and it will keep me entertained until I have situated myself comfortably on the plane headed into Gatwick.

If I need a moment of serenity, I will cast my mind back to last night as I was driving with my sister. We were nearing the end of the Alligator Alley (Interstate 95 through the Big Cypress Swamp) when the storm that had been brewing and rumbling to the east all evening finally let loose with a fury. Anyone who has never seen a serious thunderstorm over the Everglades cannot appreciate the impressive sight. With the expanses of sawgrass in all directions, the hammocks of cypress, mangrove, and royal palmetto, and the brilliant flashes of lightening giving a strobe affect to the scene, it can be really impressive.

I love storms anyway (I have since I was a kid) and this one was the first one that I have seen in my native land for many years. I thoroughly enjoyed watching it as we drove. It was almost enough to make me want to move back to Florida. Then I remembered the heat, the humidity, the palmetto bugs and the Republican governor. (...though with the family he is from, I am not all that certain that Jeb Bush isn’t a bug of some kind...)

Nope, it is not worth it to live in Florida. It’s a nice place to visit...

I guess I had best get myself packed and ready to go. I have a plane to catch and a number of things to do before that time! It is a lovely morning, but it is growing old.

I hope that wherever you are today, patience is a commodity that you have plenty of!

Don Bergquist - 14 August 2006 - Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, USA

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Ramp Up

After spending way too late an evening last night up with friends, I am the only one awake this morning. It is just after 05:00 AM so I have had about four hours sleep and I am ready to get on with my day.

The news says that the situation is settling into a new routine. Things are getting back to normal in airports all over the world, at least the routine that will be routine now that we are at the highest threat level. I am glad that my computer is on its way to London ahead of me. All I will be carrying on the plane tomorrow is my passport, my wallet, a book and a comb. Everything else will be checked. I suppose that in the fall, I'll be doing this all over again, just in reverse.

Oh well, right now the house is silent, except for the occasional snore. The weatherman on the TV says it is already seventy-five degrees outside. It is going to be a roasting oven day. Yahoo! Now I remember why I moved out of Florida!

Well, I guess I will just do some writing, perhaps play a crossword puzzle or two on my PDA and wait for the house to awaken. I am just getting ready for the ramp-up to tomorrow. My day tomorrow is going to be a fun one. ( that "not really" sort-of way!)

I hope wherever you are today, your day had a serene and peaceful start to it!

Don Bergquist - 13 August 2006 - St. Petersburg, Florida, USA

Happy Birthday to my Cousin, Greg

Saturday, August 12, 2006

The Philosophy Dock

My best friend and I used to sit up until all hours of the night on the dock behind his St. Petersburg home and discuss whatever came to mind. This is where we would discuss the presence (or absence) of life on other planets, whether there were any words we could think of that came from dead languages, and the meaning of "Life" in general. (And some times we'd just eat "Life." Hey, what the hey? Mikey likes it!

Unfortunately, that all ended a few years ago when a hurricane washed it out the canal to the bay. By now, that dock has probably floated past the arctic circle in the gulf stream and is headed to London. (Look for the Philosophy Dock coming soon to a pub near you!)

I bring this up because to day I am visiting with Fritz and his family in St. Petersburg. I am happy to report that while the dock itself is gone, the spirit lives on. Fritz' eclectic group of friends (a circle to which I am privileged and honored to belong) now convenes on the screened porch overlooking the waterway. The topics of discussion are just as varied and are just as interesting. (And lest my UK friends think I am a completely different person back on this side of the pond...) There is still a surfeit of alcohol to lubricate the tongue and keep the conversation flowing freely.

I must admit, the universe follows strange rules here in Casa de Fritz. I was just introduced to one of Fritz' friends who, when introduced, said he felt as if he had known me a long time. I have to say here (and not because a gun is being pointed at me or anything, but because I honestly feel this) I agree with the sentiment, I feel as if we have known each other longer than the couple hours that we chatted today. But it is more than this instant camaraderie that makes it strange, while chatting I mentioned my former local employer: WFTS-TV. Mark looked at me surprised and asked when I had worked there.

Cut to the chase. We both worked at the same television station. I left the station just before he joined the staff there, but we were probably within weeks of working together there. Small world! Anyway, it was a pleasant evening (although it was a bit warm) and it was topped off by a wonderful dinner that Fritz prepared. I do not get nearly enough time with my friends here in Florida but I treasure what time I do get.

I hope that wherever you are today, you'll make time to spend with the people who mean the most to you!

Don Bergquist - 12 August 2006 - St. Petersburg, Florida, USA

Friday, August 11, 2006

Tactical Error

I made some good and some bad choices when I left London last weekend.

Good choice: I left my house clean and ready to inhabit when I got back. This means that I will have nothing to do on Tuesday afternoon than drop my cases in my room and head back to the office.

Bad choice: I think I may have left the house void of alcohol. I know I an going to need a drink Tuesday night! This is not going to be pretty! The reports I am hearing tell me that restrictions are getting pretty severe on what I can carry on.

Good choice: I left my camera gear in my closet back in London. That is one less thing I have to worry about sending on to London via FedEx.

Bad choice: I also left all my shorts and Hawaiian shirts! What was I thinking? I am in Florida in August and all I have are long pants and long-sleeved shirts!

Oh well... I guess that is why God invented Target. I'm going shopping the moment I get a the chance to. It is sweltering here!

I hope that wherever you are, all your choices today are good ones!

Don Bergquist - 11 August 2006 - Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Like I need this?

Who could be calling at this hour of the morning? I look at Saga as I pause the game we were playing. I have not even turned on any lights yet. I look at the caller ID on the phone. It's Mary.

"Do you know what time it is?" I asked affecting a grogginess that my voice would not have had naturally. The clock by my bedside read 03:00. The fact that I had been up for nearly half an hour didn’t need to be advertised.

"Sorry to wake you," My sister responded, not really sounding all that sorry. "but I think it is time for you to get up, watch the news and hydrate your dog. If she is flying today with you she will need to be hydrated."

"I know that! That is why there is a water dish in her kennel." I reply. Instantly, I dropped the pretense at being roused from slumber.

"No liquids on the plane today, sweetheart." Was her reply. "Turn on the news."

I do not know how, but my sister is able to discover all the things that might impact my travel and tell me about them before I can hear the news myself. She would probably tell me it was a gift. (If it is, I wonder if she got a gift receipt. I'd try exchanging it for a bicycle or something.

This morning, as far as I can tell, the British police arrested some number of persons for trying to bring down jetliners headed for the United States. (Reports vary widely as to how many were arrested, and how many planes they were plotting to attack, but all the reports agree on one thing, my trip today is going to be a lot more difficult to make than the one I made three days ago when I came home from the UK.

The time compression of telling a story in retrospect is a wonderful thing. For example, you needn't hear the gory details of my calls to the airline to get details on whether or not Saga could fly today, the new regulations on what is and is not allowed as carry on, and the last-minute cajoling to get my dog to drink some water before getting on the plane.

The airport is suspiciously busy for being only six o'clock in the morning. Luckily, aside from my computer, and my dog, all the rest of my luggage can be curb-checked. My briefcase (containing my laptop) will be on the plane with me and the dog will require special handling inside the airport. But what are all these other people doing here? There cannot be this many people wanting to fly to Fort Lauderdale this morning, so what gives?

Apparently, they all heard the same thing that I did on the news: "Pack some patience, and arrive early." I don't know about packing some, but I am certainly using some up. My mobile has been beeping all morning. My first message coming from friends back in the UK; before 06:00 AM I have burned through about a quarter of the credit I topped-up with on my mobile before leaving London. That's Okay. That is why I got the tri-band phone!

The lines at security are longer than I have ever seen them. I eschew the normal route of taking the bridge to the concourse as the train station has more screeners at its entrance. It turns out to be a good choice. The line for this security screening area snakes throughout the terminal lobby and off toward the west side of the building. But the one on the bridge not only reaches the lobby from the bridge (A distance of about 200 yards) but also wraps around the entire mezzanine. I would say at a guess it is nearly a quarter mile long queue! I do not remember the lines being this long; not even the time that the trains broke down and they had to empty the airport and re-screen everybody.

It takes nearly an hour to get cleared through to the concourse. I am now sitting in the departure area. I can tell: This is going to be one interesting weekend.

I hope that wherever you are today, your day is going according to plan!

Don Bergquist - 10 August 2006 - Denver International Airport, Denver, Colorado, USA

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Brief Entry Today

Sorry! Please accept my apologies for the brevity of today's missive.

I leave for Florida tomorrow. It is the first time that I am traveling with my dog on a plane and I am waiting to see if she will be allowed to fly. There is occasionally an embargo if the weather at any point along the flight is too hot, they will not let her fly. I have toyed with the idea of just getting in the car and driving, but I really do not have the time.

Before I leave the office today, I have a number of projects I have to put to bed. I have a couple things I have to get passed-off to other people, and have a meeting to attend.

Tonight I have to get finished packing and getting ready for three months back in the UK.

Tomorrow morning will come early, I have a 04:30 shuttle. As Willy Wonka kept saying in the movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory: "So much time, so little to do! No, wait a minute! Strike that; reverse it!" I suppose I need to get into the office and get things done!

I hope you're having a productive day wherever you are!

Don Bergquist - 09 August 2006 - Lakewood, Colorado USA

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The Day Begins

I miss mornings like this! What a great morning! The sunrise was spectacular, its shadows on the Front Range turned the mountains a deep purple. You can see where that line from America the Beautiful comes from, "purple mountains majesty" indeed!

London has some great morning, but they are mostly because it is neither too hot nor too rainy to be uncomfortable. There are some lovely sunrises, but reflections off all the ancient brick buildings cannot equal this! Driving in, I was torn between looking out over the street in front and the mountains in the rear.

I actually gave a miss to the first train that pulled through the station in preference to catching the next one. I watched the purple of the sunrise fade from the mountains before boarding the second train. I must have looked the complete gobster, standing on the platform staring wistfully at the mountains as the train left me on the platform but I didn't care! It was a lovely morning and if it means I get into the office at 06:45 instead of 06:30, who is going to care?

As the last bits of the sunrise drained from the sky, I boarded the train and headed into my real life.

I hope that wherever you are, this morning has been lovely for you as well!

Don Bergquist - 08 August 2006 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Monday, August 07, 2006

...Hit the Ground Running...

Today is going to be a busy one!

I am a bit jet lagged; having gotten in at nearly 11:00 last night which is almost 06:00 or 23 hours after I woke-up the day before in London. When I got home, I took Saga for a walk in the park across from my home, sat and read a bit, to unwind from the journey, and then went to bed.

Saga was so damn cute! Whenever I have been away, she refuses to let me out of her sight for the next day or so. She curled-up in my lap on the recliner as I read my book last night. Then, when I went up to bed, she chased me up the stairs and curled-up under my arm and went to sleep. She was still there this morning when I rolled-over and looked at the clock. Damn it! It was only two!

At three, when I realized that my circadian rhythms were dictating that I get out of bed, she followed me into the office and watched as I walked on the treadmill while checking my email. She didn’t leave my side all morning.

Now, I am sitting here, I am almost caught-up on my paperwork. That's a good thing too! Saga has a vet appointment this morning. I have to get her travel papers so that she is ready to travel to Florida on Thursday. Before we leave for the airport I have appointments with my Dental, Medical and Optical doctors. (Got to get all healthy and checked-out before I go back to London!)

Sorry that this is a bit of a short entry with little news, but it is a bit of a busy day!

I hope wherever you are today, you are having an excellent, stress-free day!

Don Bergquist - 07 August 2006 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Sunday, August 06, 2006


The morning started out really slowly. We had coffee and played cards at my house until the driver from the limo service showed-up to give us our ride to the airport. The drive was uneventful until we hit the roundabout that shunts traffic between the North and South Terminals at Gatwick. For some reason, there was a glut of traffic trying to get through the roundabout.

We walked through the crush of people to the Northwest check-in desk and were greeted by more people in the queue than I have ever seen at Gatwick before. It took us about an hour to get through the crush to the front of the line and a couple minutes later we were off to get in queue to go through Security Screening. This took relatively little time and then we went to Garfield's to get a bite while passing the hour before we had to get to the plane.

This is where the crush began. The service was slower than I have ever seen it. We had to press to get through our breakfast (Dad and Flo did not have time to finish their coffee and tea). We then walked down to the gate just as they started boarding.

Dad and Flo's Plane has loaded and pushed back. I have taken a saunter over to the other side of the concourse for my flight home which should begin loading any time now. I suppose I should get my PC packed-up and get my butt ready to board.

I hope that wherever your travels take you today, you have time to stop and relax!

Don Bergquist - 06 August 2006 - Gatwick Airport, Surrey, UK

Happy Birthday to my Brother-in-Law, Corey

Saturday, August 05, 2006



What a week! We have been running all week long and now I am really in need of some downtime. Not that I am going to get any (to speak of) any time soon! Just thinking of the stuff that I have to do in the next seven days is tiring.

Today, I took a nice long bike ride and sent Dad and Flo off for a walk to look at the gardens that the people in the village have. Flo, being really into gardens, wanted to see if she got any ideas for her garden. I suspect that as you can fit almost all the gardens in my neighborhood into her yard, she will not see too much which is applicable.

We have no plans for the afternoon! We have decided that we may do some packing, I will do some cleaning, and we may play a few hands of cards. There is nothing set in the agenda that we have to accomplish today. No place to run. Nothing we have to do.

...but pack, that is. We can just luxuriate in the nothingness of our schedule.

Well! We travel home tomorrow so I need to get hopping and pack. I also have to clean the house and get it ready to be vacant for the next week. No rest for the wicked, not even if you are mildly wicked!

I hope wherever you are today, your weekend is relaxing!

Don Bergquist - 05 August 2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK

Friday, August 04, 2006

The London Eye

Today I was met with a challenge. Florence is afraid of heights; at least, she says she is afraid of carnival rides that reach heights. When I started planning my parents' visit to London, one of the things I suggested was that we take a ride on the London Eye.

Try though I might, Flo was dead set against setting foot on the eye. She had gotten scared (apparently) on Ferris Wheel once because at the ride stopped suddenly whilst she was on it and in the top position. The car rocked back and forth.

I have to admit at this point, that I do suffer from a bit of acrophobia, but The Eye does not give me any kind of problems. For one thing, the cars are completely enclosed. For another, the wheel doesn't (generally) stop. It runs continuously, one enters and exits whilst it is moving. Finally, it moves very slowly so there is little noticeable motion as the riders move along.

If you get to London, especially if you get here when the weather is nice, you have to take a ride on the eye. The views are spectacular. You can see most of the whole of the city from the top and many of the tourist attractions that you will be seeing are viewable from The Eye. Bring your camera! (But apparently, they do not like tripods, mine was taken and checked at the entry. It was returned at the exit, but...)

As we approached, I pointed out to Flo the wheel and explained that it was moving as fast as it was ever going to move. Flo said that she didn’t see it moving. I had her stand still and pointed-out that the cars were rising on one side above the surrounding trees, and falling on the other behind the building.

When we got to the ticket office, I just went ahead and bought three tickets. Flo, Dad and I went and got into line. Fifteen minutes later, all three of us were on The Eye! I was successful in getting Flo onto The Eye! She had a fantastic time. We all did.

After that, we took the train to Kingston Upon Thames, did a little shopping for the things that Dad and Flo wanted to take home, and then had a brief stop at the pub for a pint. Tonight, we're having leftovers to try and clear-out the 'fridge before we all leave for home this weekend. It has been a busy week but one that we will always have fond memories of!

Wherever you are today, I hope you'll give something a try that you think you won't like. I hope it is a pleasant experience!

Don Bergquist - 04 August 2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK

Editor's Note:
Please follow the link above. For some reason, would not allow me to insert the pictures from this entry directly on the blog so you will have to look at them on Shutterfly. Please forgive the inconvenience.



Happy Birthday to my Aunt, Gina

Happy Birthday to my Cousin, Kristin

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Central London

Walking through Green Park on this morning, I am pretty sure, Dad and Flo had no idea what my friend, Kevin, and I had in store for the day. Sure, I had given them a brief overview of the agenda, but I had left-out a few salient points about the plan. I had to have some surprises.

Kevin met us at 09:30. My day started with a surprise when a complete stranger walked up to me outside my house and showed me a winning lottery ticket. He just walked up and asked me if it looked like a winning ticket. I checked his numbers, and I'll be damned if he didn't have all six numbers. I suggested he probably didn't want to show it to every stranger in the street. But I digress...

Kevin drove us up to Hyde Park and we (and a tour group roughly the size of the population of Minnesota) walked to Buckingham Palace to watch the changing of the guards. It was full of pomp and pageantry and it was all the better because Kevin had arranged to have us see it from inside the gates! We were standing behind a girl scout troop from Canada, but we were still closer than the people with the obstructed views outside the gates of the palace.

After the ceremony, we visited the police station which is under St. James' Park. Kevin introduced us to a mate of his on the force who accompanied us to Downing Street for surprise number two. He had arranged for us to walk up to number ten to have our photo taken in front of the prime minister's residence. Unfortunately, that plan had to be postponed until later in the afternoon because the Prime Minister was to be holding a press conference; he delayed his vacation to the Caribbean because of the war in Israel.

So since we could not see number ten right away, we hopped onto the tube and headed over to the Tower Bridge station. Kevin had arranged via a mutual friend of ours to get tickets to the Tower of London. So we had a lovely lunch overlooking a harbor off the Thames and then toured the Tower of London.

Here, Dad realized that the thing he has always wanted was a horse and a set of armor. In the hall of armory, it was obvious that the thing he really wanted was to get into a suit of armor. He spent more time looking at the armor than anything else in the White Tower.

The tower tours were interesting but they ate up more of the afternoon than we had budgeted. So, deciding that number ten was nothing more than a blue door with the number "10" hanging on it in brass, we decided to skip it and took the tube back to the nearest station to Kevin's car. We returned to Thames Ditton to have drinks with Terry and Angie at the Albany overlooking the Thames. We ran all day, I am sure we will sleep tonight!

I hope that wherever you are today, your day is full of pleasant things to do with people who are dear to you!

Don Bergquist - 03 August 2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Leeds Castle / Dover

Leeds Castle, about seventy miles south east of London is a lovely location! Dad and I visited there today and had a marvelous time. Flo was going to join us but she was feeling under the weather and begged us to go on without her.

The castle is built in the middle of a lake (rather than having a moat) and had (when it was a defensive castle in the thirteenth century) a fortified mill. The rooms in the keep are all vintage 1920s through 1950s and so it is more of a mansion tour than a castle tour, but the grounds are cool and the ruins of the old mill are enough to remind one that this used to be an actual honest-to-goodness old castle. (Still is, I guess, but I suppose that the original occupants didn't expect that one day they would call the servants with the castle's own telephone exchange.

We spent a couple hours wandering the grounds and touring the rooms, and then headed back to the car to drive on to Dover. (There'll be bluebirds over, the white cliffs of Dover…)

Dover is a bit further-on down the motorway from Leeds and when we got the first glimpse of the Channel from the motorway, it was a sign that we had come to the end of the outbound drive.

The overcast of the day had lifted a bit here on the land, but out over the straits, it was still misty and it was hard to spot even the largest ships out off the coast. We turned south along the B routes looking to find the Battle of Britain memorial.

The memorial is a serene park built on the cliffs over the straits to commemorate those fallen defending England's airspace in The Battle of Britain. A black granite wall shows names of the fallen and pictures of the planes they flew to turn back the Luftwaffe. One can walk around the memorial which takes the shape of a huge aero plane propeller, enclosed in a circular berm.

Beyond the memorial, one can walk along the cliff's edge, remembering all the while (as is pointed-out on signs posted at every entrance to the memorial) the wilderness around the memorial is home to adders (poisonous snakes) and the cliffs are pretty high and falling from one could mean death.

We spent a while paying our respects to the war heroes of a bygone day and then packed-up and headed back northwest and toward home. But Dad had one more thing he wanted to do. We stopped at Sainsbury's to buy groceries for dinner. Dad had never been in a grocery store over here and wanted to see how they differ…

Well, do something new every day is a motto to live by!

I hope wherever you are today you do something you have never done before!

Don Bergquist - 02 August 2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


Travelogue: The First of August, 2006 - Stonehenge

This morning, the Bergquists discovered Stonehenge. Our trip began slightly earlier than planned. Our route is to take us along a back road that was suggested by my friend, Angie that avoids the motorway. It wends along the back roads all the way down to Salisbury along roughly the same route as the M3 Motorway, but it stays to the smaller villages and towns.

It does take a bit longer (it took us three hours to get down to Salisbury and only an hour-and-a-half to get back) but the scenery is just lovely! About two hours into our drive, we pulled over in the small town or Hartley Wintney to have a pop, review our route, and stretch our legs. It was a lovely little pub and a really quaint little village. There was even, apparently a road rally going on for the local residents.

After our break, we were off again, headed toward the southwest. When we hit Basingstoke, we decided that rather than stay on the A-Route through town, we'd hop up onto the Motorway and get through town a bit faster. It was a good choice because it gave us the opportunity to see the cattle drive.

Where but here in the UK could you see a farmer who has a heard on both sides of a major motorway with his own bridge between them? Here, the farmer is using a scoop-loading tractor to drive the cattle across the bridge.

After a quick stop to snap a couple pictures of the cattle drive, we were off again and headed into the Salisbury Plain (Which is more of a hilly lowland than a plain, but who am I to point this out?) where our first stop was Woodhenge. Unfortunately, it was at Woodhenge that I learned a bad "feature" of my camera. It does not warn you while taking pictures that there is no card in the camera. It was not until I was half way around Stonehenge that, when I went to check a picture I had taken of my folks, that I found-out there was no card in my camera. Luckily, I always carry a spare. I loaded it and off I went, taking the pictures at the link above for all I was worth.

It was a great day to see Stonehenge. The temperatures were calm if the winds weren't. It was a blustery but not an unpleasant day. The clouds that threatened rain all day long never carried-out those threats. It stayed pleasant and breezy all day.

After visiting Stonehenge, we tried getting to Salisbury cathedral but by dint of following the signs that reputed to point the way to the points of ingress, we were unable to find any way to actually get to it so we settled for looking at the impossibly tall stone tower from behind a wall a couple hundred yards from the cathedral itself.

All-in-all, it was a lovely trip to the west and when we got back around 18:15 last night, we were all tired, but glad that we had gone to visit these world heritage sights. It is unfortunate that we didn't get further west to see the Rude Man, but one cannot have everything. Perhaps next time the come to visit.

I hope that wherever you are today, your day is pleasant and breezy.

Don Bergquist - 01 August 2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK.