Shortly after our earlier trip, Owen suggested that we ought to take his mother, Nadine, to England, since she had always talked about seeing the white cliffs of Dover and Shakespeare’s home of Stratford. We were living in Detroit at the time, and I thought it was an excellent idea.
So we got everything together, flew her up to Detroit in May, and took off for England. We did not realize that she was showing early signs of dementia, but she was alert enough that she was able to put together an album with descriptions of each place we photographed. As it turns out, her memory of it was better than mine.
We landed in Gatwick, and because it was morning, decided to drop down to Brighton on our way to Kent. Luckily, we had a pretty day, found a place for lunch and then headed over to the place we had reserved to stay, Eastwell Manor. Next day we headed to Sissinghurst to see the garden, and it was another perfect day for that. We had it almost to ourselves, and then you didn’t have to have an advance reservation as you do now.
Checking out of Eastwell, we headed up to Knole, and toured the sprawling house and grounds, then down to Canterbury to see the cathedral. After that, down to Dover to see the White Cliffs. We also saw Dover Castle–not all that impressive. Nadine seemed to enjoy it, but really didn’t have a lot to say, as she did not for most of the trip. She dozed a lot in the car, and Owen was constantly trying to wake her up to see the views. I told him to leave her alone, but he kept trying. At one point, he told her to look at the cows, because
she liked cows. “No,” she said, “I don’t like cows, I like paintings of cows.” A line that we have always enjoyed.
From Dover we went west, to Leeds Castle, which we liked. Surrounded by a moat, but easy to get around in.
And then on to Hever Castle, more of a touristy one, but still pleasant to see. Nadine was a trouper about marching through all
the places, but we were determined that she would see as much as possible, since it was unlikely she would return.
We found really lovely places to stay–I had actually researched and generally reserved in advance, and that only worked out badly in one case.
Since we were a party of three–two Sullivans and me–the hotels made the assumption that I was a driver and therefore was to be relegated to a small, inferior room. So we were constantly having to switch Nadine to the larger and better room. Generally that wasn’t a problem except one place near Chatsworth, which we were supposed to stay several days in, but ducked out of earlier.
From Hever we went to Wakehurst House and gardens–the house wasn’t open but the gardens were in full bloom.
We also saw Longleat and several others on our way to Bath, where we stayed outside of town in a beautiful inn that was hosting a wedding. We got to see the piper playing in the garden.
One of Nadine’s favorites, oddly enough,
was Cheddar Gorge outside of Wells, where we say the cathedral. She said it was her favorite place up to that point. It also is where I got one of my favorite pictures of Owen.
We visited Bowood House, Stonehenge, Wilton House and of course the great home of the Marlboroughs. From there we saw the Cotswolds, and then drove up to Stratford, and then to Chatsworth, and finally down to London for several days.
In London, Owen got up very early one morning, left me sleeping, and went to the flea market. I had no idea there was such a thing or how
to get there, but when he wanted to find a possible bargain in antiques, he could always find the way. We stayed in Brown’s, which was a lovely hotel near Picadilly, so were able to have high tea at the Ritz.
Saw all the major sights using the underground, so Nadine had the trip of a lifetime, I think.