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English Gardens


The Plan


It’s been five years since we visited our family and friends in England. Five years is a very long time. In that time Julia’s niece Daphne was born and is now a post-toddler and runs about and chats to everyone. They say that you spend the first few years teaching a baby to walk and talk and the rest of their life asking them to shut up and sit down. But what would I know about kids.

The plan for this trip is to spend time with family and friends in Canterbury. Then pick up our electric car and drive east and then north, visiting as many gardens as we can. According to the oracle Google, April is the driest month in England. This is hard to believe and could be an A.I.’s deluded mistake. We’ll keep our fingers crossed.

Tesla Model Y Long Range

Yes, we were able, for the first time ever in our world travels, to rent an electric car. We are so excited about this as it means we’ll be able to offset, a little bit of, the copious amounts of carbon we’ll pump into the atmosphere from our commercial flight from Portland to England. Given global warming due to human pollution, everything one can do will help slow the monster from destroying human civilization.


Our first English garden visit will be Sissinghurst Castle Garden. This is a world-famous garden and not too far away from where we plan to stay in Canterbury. The story goes that Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson fell in love and their love created this historic, poetic, iconic and world-renowned garden. This is what Chat-GPT has to say about Sissinghurst Castle Garden:

 Sissinghurst Garden

Sissinghurst Garden is renowned for its stunning design and beautiful plantings. The garden is set around a ruined Elizabethan mansion, which provides a stunning backdrop to the carefully arranged garden rooms. The garden is divided into a series of intimate spaces, each with its own distinct character and planting scheme. These include a white garden, a rose garden, a cottage garden, and an herb garden, amongst others. The garden is open to the public and is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful gardens in England.

In addition to its beauty, Sissinghurst Castle Garden is also significant for its historical and cultural importance. Vita Sackville-West was a well-known writer and gardener, and she was a key figure in the Bloomsbury Group, a group of intellectuals and artists who were influential in the early 20th century. Sackville-West and Nicolson created the garden as a reflection of their shared artistic vision and their love of plants and nature. The garden has since become a symbol of English garden design and has inspired countless gardeners around the world. Today, it is maintained by the National Trust and continues to be a popular destination for garden enthusiasts and visitors to England.

Of course, no visit to Canterbury could be made without visiting the Canterbury Cathedral. This is what Chat-GPT has to say about this place.

 Canterbury Cathedral

Canterbury Cathedral is a historic and iconic building located in the city of Canterbury, Kent, England. It is one of the oldest and most famous Christian structures in the country and has been a site of pilgrimage for over a thousand years. The cathedral was first established in the 7th century and has since undergone numerous renovations and expansions, resulting in a blend of architectural styles, including Romanesque and Gothic. The cathedral is known for its stunning stained-glass windows, intricate stone carvings, and towering bell tower. One of the most notable features of the cathedral is the Shrine of Saint Thomas Becket, who was martyred in the cathedral in 1170. The shrine is a popular destination for pilgrims and is considered one of the most important pilgrimage sites in England.

Julia’s Mum’s home in Canterbury

In addition to its religious significance, Canterbury Cathedral has also played an important role in English history. It was the site of the murder of Thomas Becket, which led to King Henry II's penance and the creation of the Magna Carta. The cathedral has also hosted several notable events, such as the coronation of Henry IV and the marriage of King Henry V to Catherine of Valois. Today, the cathedral remains an important cultural and religious landmark, attracting visitors from around the world. With its rich history and stunning architecture, Canterbury Cathedral is a testament to the enduring power of faith and human achievement.

And so, the AI has spoken.


Next stop on our English gardens tour will be South Kensington, London. We’ll be staying close to the Natural History Museum and the Kensington gardens. We always enjoy London and even though this will be a short visit I’m sure we’ll find many things to keep us distracted. We also plan to spend time with friends here. So little time and so much to do.


Not this Woodstock

By the time we got to Woodstock,

We were half a million strong,

And everywhere there was song and celebration,

And I dreamed I saw the bombers,

Riding shotgun in the sky,

And they were turning into butterflies,

Above our nation.

No not that Woodstock, Woodstock in England. Here we plan to visit the amazing Blenheim Palace, home to the controversial man, Winston Churchill. This is what Chat-GPT has to say about this place:

 Blenheim Palace

Blenheim Palace is a magnificent country house located in Woodstock, Oxfordshire, England. It was built between 1705 and 1722 and is one of the finest examples of English Baroque architecture in the country. The palace was designed by Sir John Vanbrugh, and is surrounded by 2,000 acres of stunning parkland, which includes formal gardens, lakes, and wooded areas. Blenheim Palace is the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Visitors to Blenheim Palace can enjoy a range of activities, including guided tours of the palace, walks through the gardens and parkland, and a visit to the Churchill Exhibition, which tells the story of Churchill's life and legacy. The palace also hosts a variety of events throughout the year, including concerts, exhibitions, and festivals. There are several places to eat and drink on the estate, including a café, a restaurant, and a traditional pub. Blenheim Palace is a must-see destination for anyone interested in English history, architecture, or nature.

Derbyshire Dales


Our next planned destination is Bakewell in the Derbyshire Dales. It is a little town on the river Wye and happens to be where Julia grew up from age two to thirteen. Here we plan to visit Chatsworth House and Haddon Hall.

Chatsworth House is a stately home located in the Derbyshire Dales, England. It is the ancestral home of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire and has been passed down through 16 generations of the Cavendish family. The house was originally built in the mid-16th century but has undergone significant renovations and expansions over the years. Today, Chatsworth House is one of the most impressive and iconic country houses in England and attracts thousands of visitors each year.

 Chatsworth House

The house is known for its stunning architecture and beautiful gardens. Visitors can explore the grand rooms, which are filled with a vast collection of art, furniture, and other treasures. The gardens at Chatsworth are equally impressive, with 105 acres of formal gardens and parkland to explore. There are numerous water features, sculptures, and other decorative elements scattered throughout the gardens, making it a true feast for the senses. Chatsworth House is also known for its role in literature and film. It has been featured in numerous novels, including Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, and has served as the backdrop for several films and television shows, including the most recent adaptation of Emma.

Haddon Hall is a fortified medieval manor house located in the Peak District of Derbyshire, England. Built in the 12th century, Haddon Hall has undergone several additions and renovations over the centuries, resulting in a unique blend of architectural styles, including Norman, Gothic, Tudor, and Elizabethan. The hall is particularly notable for its well-preserved interior, which features beautiful tapestries, ornate woodcarvings, and intricate stone carvings. Visitors to Haddon Hall can explore the historic rooms and gardens, which offer stunning views of the surrounding countryside.

 Haddon Hall

Haddon Hall has also played a significant role in the arts, serving as a filming location for numerous movies and television shows, including Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, and The Other Boleyn Girl. Today, the hall is open to the public for tours and events, and visitors can experience the rich history and culture of this iconic English landmark. With its stunning architecture, picturesque surroundings, and cultural significance, Haddon Hall is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in history, art, and architecture.


As one of my fathers-in-laws once told me: “If you look deep enough into someone’s history, you’re bound to find a horse thief.” And so, it is true that in my history I have a deep and dark secret. I was born in Leeds, England. Having moved to Australia when I was three, I really do not consider myself English, but technically I am a Pom. Here is what Chat-GPT has to say about the word Pom:


The term "Pommy" or "Pom" is a slang term used to refer to people from England. Its origin is uncertain, but it is thought to have originated in the early 20th century and is believed to be derived from the word "pomegranate," which was a common fruit in England at the time. The term was used by Australians and New Zealanders, among others, as a derogatory term for the English during the early 20th century. However, today it is used more playfully and is often used by English people themselves.

Leeds is a big city and there are many things to do here. I’m sure we’ll keep ourselves busy.


Continuing our English Garden tour, we’ll leave Leeds and drive north, in our electric car, until we reach the northern most point of this trip: Harrogate.


Harrogate is a charming town located in North Yorkshire, England. Known for its beautiful parks and gardens, stunning architecture, and rich history, Harrogate is a popular tourist destination that attracts visitors from all over the world. One of the town's most notable features is its mineral springs, which have been renowned for their healing properties since the 16th century. Visitors can still sample the waters from the Royal Pump Room Museum, which also offers a fascinating insight into the history of Harrogate's spa culture.

Aside from its spa heritage, Harrogate is also home to numerous other attractions. The town center is filled with delightful independent shops, cafes, and restaurants, as well as larger chain stores. The Valley Gardens is a must-see destination for nature lovers, with its beautifully manicured lawns, colorful flower displays, and tranquil lakes. And for those interested in history, the Mercer Art Gallery is an excellent place to explore Harrogate's rich cultural heritage. Overall, Harrogate is a delightful town that has something for everyone, whether you're looking for relaxation, culture, or adventure.

And so, the AI has spoken.

I’m sure we’ll have a great time in Harrogate and its surrounds.



We’ll head south and drive on to the hometown of William Shakespeare. Here we plan to attend a production, by the Royal Shakespeare Company, of his play: Cymbeline.

Cymbeline is a play written by William Shakespeare that tells the story of a British king named Cymbeline who faces various challenges as he tries to maintain his power and his relationships with his family members. The play is a complex and intriguing drama that weaves together various themes, including love, betrayal, revenge, and political intrigue. The character of Cymbeline is a fascinating study in leadership, as he struggles to balance his responsibilities to his people with his personal desires and the ambitions of his advisors and enemies. The play also features a number of other compelling characters, including the villainous Iachimo, the virtuous Imogen, and the heroic Posthumus.

One of the most interesting aspects of Cymbeline is the way in which Shakespeare incorporates elements of several different genres into the play. There are elements of romance, comedy, tragedy, and history, all woven together in a way that creates a unique and engaging experience for the audience. The play also features a number of memorable scenes and speeches, including the famous "Fear no more the heat o' the sun" funeral song and the dramatic confrontation between Posthumus and Iachimo. All in all, Cymbeline is a rich and rewarding play that rewards careful study and thoughtful interpretation, and it remains a favorite among Shakespeare enthusiasts to this day.

And so, says the AI.

There are also many gardens and other attractions in this famous town. We should keep busy here too.


We’ll continue south to the little village of Faringdon in Oxfordshire, where we plan to visit the White Horse Hill.

White Horse Hill, also known as Uffington White Horse, is a prehistoric chalk figure that is located on the upper slopes of White Horse Hill, in the county of Oxfordshire, England. The hill is approximately 1.6 km long and has an elevation of 261 meters above sea level. The White Horse is a stylized representation of a horse that is approximately 110 meters long and is made by cutting through the turf to expose the underlying chalk bedrock. The figure is estimated to date back to the late Bronze Age, between 1400 and 600 BCE, and has been listed as a Scheduled Ancient Monument since 1924.

 White Horse Hill

The origins and purpose of the White Horse Hill remain a subject of debate among historians and archaeologists. Some theories suggest that the horse was created for ritualistic or religious purposes, while others propose that it was a symbol of a particular tribe or a territorial marker. Today, the White Horse Hill is a popular tourist attraction and a place of interest for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts, as it offers stunning panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. It also forms a part of the Ridgeway National Trail, a 139 km long trail that follows the ancient trackway that runs along the chalk ridge of the Berkshire Downs and Chiltern Hills.

We are so looking forward to this trip now and seeing our family and friends in Old Blighty.

Old Blighty is a colloquial term used to refer to Great Britain, particularly England. The term is believed to have originated during the First World War, when soldiers serving in the British Army used it to refer to their homeland. Old Blighty became a nostalgic symbol of home, and soldiers would often refer to it with a mix of affection and longing. The term gained widespread popularity during the war, and it has since become a popular way to refer to England, its people, and its culture.

England, or Old Blighty as it is affectionately called, is a country steeped in history and tradition. It is a land of castles, cathedrals, and palaces, and its rich cultural heritage is reflected in its literature, music, and art. England has also been at the forefront of many significant historical events, including the Industrial Revolution, which transformed the country from an agricultural society to an industrial powerhouse. Today, England is a vibrant and diverse country, with a bustling capital city, a rich cultural scene, and a strong economy. Whether you are interested in history, culture, or modern-day innovations, England has something to offer everyone, and its enduring charm continues to captivate visitors from around the world.

So says the AI.


Before we left


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