Dancing Lessons

Well, as Bokonon said, “Peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God”. So as a result of the usual mix of misconceptions and coincidences, we’ve got the house-sitter to stay in the house when we’re gone, and the ladies and I are going to England. The ladies, in this case, are my gorgeous ex-fiancée and our daughter, she’s 21. They’ve been to England before, but I’ve always travelled in the third world, never made it to the land of my ancestors, or at least some of them.

In any case, here’s the current travel plan, subject as always to time, as in “time yet for a hundred indecisions. And for a hundred visions and revisions. Before the taking of a toast and tea.”

We arrive in London on Monday the second of September, and we’ll be there for four days, ’til Thursday. Then a week or so to drive up the west coast of the island, and another week or so to go across and drive down the east coast.

Anyhow, that’s the scheme. If you happen to live along that route and wanted to say hi, post your town and where it’s near, maybe a few words about yourself. If we happen to go by there, all I can say is we MAY get in touch … or not. Heck, once I get to London, I may never make it out of the city much, who knows? I just attempt to follow the dancing lessons, but it’s generally not as simple as when you have the dance steps painted on the floor …

Best to all,



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Good luck and have fun! 🙂


If you are stuck in London, then you must do all the “touristy” things, like famous squares, museums, and a play or two. But to really enjoy England, get to the countryside–at least 40 miles from a major city.
(Don’t forget to drive on the wrong side of the road!)

I was in England once. The two biggest problems I had driving were
1) Getting into the proper lane after a turn
2) I kept driving too far left, e.g. off the pavement, into the curb, etc.
Rotaries were not a problem – the international road signs have a gap where you shouldn’t turn, and that was an appreciated first reminder.

Robert of Ottawa

Everyone says go to Stonehenge. Yes, famous, but try Avebury, more off the beaten path but larger.
While in London, just down the road from where Karl Marx lived, is a pub locally known as Frenchy’s. It is the only pub in England that doesn’t serve beer. Well, it will if you absolutely insist, but wine is the preferred beverage. Across the road is an 18th century Huguenot church which maybe provides a clue. During WWII, it was home to the Free French armed forces. Be prepared for photos and speeches of Charles de Gaul on the walls. Also remember that Voltaire was exiled in London around the 18th century; his “Letters from London” are an essential read.

I live and work in London. Will try to send an email.

Luther Wu

Remember those books by that English veterinarian, James Herriot? Not that I’d presume to offer any suggestions about the Yorkshire dales, or anything.
London, they say, still has fab music stores with all the latest…
See you when you get back! (more or less)


Well what a shame. I am on the west coast, in a place called Manchester. I have a spare room or two, but I fly out to SA on Wednesday for a month.
As a British ex soldier I would have enjoyed teaching a yank ex-sailor how to drink 🙂


Nor does the Autumn leaf.
Yet it must.

Lord Galleywood

Geran is right, come to Galleywood south of Chelmsford Essex, I’m a middle Englander and moved down here last year and didn’t know anyone, the people here are the friendliest folk in the London area – P.S. Thank you for all your posts on WUWT over the years and keep them going – Our pub is good too 😀

Robert of Ottawa

About driving in the UK. It’s not so difficult as the driver position is also on the opposite side. There are two problems:
1: On leaving the airport car rental, you have to consciously think where you need to go at the lights. “I need to go OVER THERE”
2: If you are accustomed to driving a manual in North America, then occasionally, you will accidently open the right-side door. Do NOT PANIC.

Enjoy your holiday, Willis!!


…and please report back to us after doing some super sleuthing around the University of East Anglia…

Dodgy Geezer

Like any country, there are many different things to see and do, depending on what interests you. Museums, shows, historical buildings, scenery – there are far too many topics you could cover. What is it you want to get out of the visit?
By the way, if you drive up the west coast from London, and then drive back down the east coast, you will miss out on the entire West Country – Somerset, Devon and Cornwall. Quite a distinctively different part of the country, and well worth a visit…

If you want real country, come to Scotland. I’ll be in Edinburgh till 19 September.


I would think that a sailor, you would appreciate visiting Flamsteed House which houses the works of John Harrison, a fellow yorkshireman of humble stock, who solved the problem of longtitude.
Some details above.
If you drive up thw west coast far enough, you will come to the lake district and you may well not want to leave, EVER.
Enjoy your travels.

Charlie A

@Ric Werme, my problem when jumping back and forth between USA, Japan and Malaysia wasn’t staying in the correct lane (at last if the road wasn’t empty).
My problem for the 1st week was signalling with the windshield wipers. I found this problem of activating windshield wipers instead of turn signal was very common with other USA expats living in Japan.

Steamboat Jon

History around every corner.
If you plan on doing some of the heritage sites, it may be worth getting an annual pass (you end up saving a great deal if you do several sites). Driving is pricey (petrol is expensive) but most things are not that far apart. Recommend Snowdonia and Conwy Castle in Wales, the Lake District in West England (especially for Beatrix Potter fans). If you drop down through Yorkshire, the Yorkshire dales, visit the Bronte Parsonage and have some fish and chips (Harry Ramsdens is good, otherwise most any corner “chippy” will do). York Minster and the wall of York (nice walk if you have the time for some or all).
Enjoy and keep safe!

Duke C.

Looks like you’ll be passing through Norwich (via the A47 Motorway) on the east coast leg of your journey. If you get a chance, please stop by the University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit and say Hi from all of us at WUWT to Phil Jones, Keith Briffa, and Tim Osborn.


Driving is indeed pricey in our green and pleasant land, but don’t forget our gallons are much bigger than yours 😉
Do drop in to Piccadilly Circus – I’m easy to spot!

@Lord Galleywood. It wouldn’t happen to be the Groom, would it?

David L. Hagen

I lived in Scotland for a few years and getting used to the driving was easy. I rode a motorcycle at the time, but even without the driver offset hint getting used to driving on the right was no problem. I did save my Dad’s life about a dozen times when my parents came to visit. Always stepping out into the road and looking to the right!

John another

Don’t let Evil Big Oil cancel your return flight.


Be careful crossing the road. Look the OTHER way. Be especially careful crossing the road at intersections where cars may come at you from directions you did not expect. And when you make eye contact with the driver of a car to look for intentions watch out. You are probably staring strangely at the front seat passenger instead.

Julian in Wales

West Wales
Also just done a piece about my area – Dylan Thomas country – http://drawingandillusion.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/young-families-at-wisemans-bridge.html
You are welcome to stay as we have a largish country house with plenty of room or guests. I cannot talk about science but I can about art, if you are passing this way – I have engagements this coming week Friday to Monday from Tuesday onwards it would be a pleasure to see you if you are coming in this direction.


If I can drive on the wrong side of the road, so can you. It wasn’t nearly as hard as I thought it would be. Have a grand time.

East Anglia has many rarely visited places that are still typically English. Try Hedingham Castle, Ely for its cathedral, Cambridge for the University buildings, Kings Lynn for its old market square, and Wisbech a small rural riverside town in the Fens that hasn’t changed much.
Wisbech was where I first tried to learn to drive. A hill start is a mandatory part of the UK driving test. Problem is that the land around Wisbech is dead flat for 30 or 40 miles as the Fens are a large drained marsh. The only place there was any kind of incline was where a road went up the side of one of the large canals that drain the Fens and the road terminated at the edge of the canal. After a couple of attempts that nearly resulted in me driving into the canal, I decided I’d learn to drive somewhere else.

Jeff Alberts

I highly recommend the Imperial War Museum.

Mike Ozanne

There’s all the museums and shows and shops etc but for at least a couple of hours, get on the northern line to Camden Town exit the station to Camden High Street, turn right and walk over the canal to the Stables Market, some of the sixties is still swinging just a little bit. HMS Belfast is worth a visit if the womenfolk can stand a cruiser that helped sink the Scharnhorst.
Outside London, ifyou are anywhere near Cambridge and you are keen on aviation, make sure you visit the Imperial War Museum site at Duxford just south of the city off the M11. Got lots of your second rate Yankee crap there as well…. 🙂 There’s the 8th Air Force cemetery and battle monument west of the city if you have any obligations there.
Please consider the south-west, Bristol Docks, Exeter Maritime Museum, The Bovingdon Tank Museum, the national motor museum at Beaulieu, the new forest national park, and maybe Portsmouth dockyard if you can get that far east. If you do the Royal Armouries artillery museum at fort Nelson is free..
Try some decent barrel kept ale (warm beer as some ignorant Shermans label it) and some Fisn and Chips out of the paper. above all have fun….

First, look up James Delingpole the author of “Watermelons”, UK Telegraph blogger and Ricochet “Radio Free Delingpole” podcaster. He lives in Corby 23 miles north-east of Northampton in the county of Northamptonshire. It would be most awesome if you were podcast interviewed by James Delingpole either before/after visiting the windfarms encroaching upon his home.
Second, visit Pevensey Castle, mentioned by Dr Soon during his July-2103 Doctors for Disaster Preparedness conference in Houston. Recall he described it as a Roman-fort/medieval-castle in the English county of East Sussex. A thousand years ago it was described as being on the sea-shore. Today, not so much.


Ah! Thank you, Willis, for another great post. As Bokonon says: “Nice. Nice. Very nice!”.


James Herriot, the writer of the rightfully beloved books, lived as Alf Wight in Thirsk, Yorkshire. I dragged several friends there once but if you weren’t a fan the village was probably anticlimactic. The area is dropdead gorgeous, though. The traffic can be difficult. We sat in a traffic jam in the middle of Yorkshire for hours, probably waiting for some old lady in London to make a right turn.
If anyone is in London forget the tube and get tickets on the “Big Red Bus” or the “Big Brown bus.” They both run double decker buses on circular routes and provide a running commentary. One uses a recording and the other is live commentary by a trained human. You can get off and back on at many stops. In a few hours you can most of the main attractions in London. The tube is easy to use but you spend a lot of time running up and down non-working escalators and the trip down underground tunnels misses a lot of the magic of London that you see from the back of a bus.
The British Museum should be required. The Natural History museum over by Harrods is fabulous.
The village, Stratford-Upon-Avon, is a charming place to spend an afternoon. I’d skip the Shakespeare stuff and go for a canal boat; but that’s just me.
If you only have time to see only one castle the one at Warwick is the best. Expensive but the castle is arranged to display the several lives of the original castles. There is the dinnerparty with Churchill (with wax figurines by Mdm Tussaud’s) and the “King Maker” display as the original castle. The grounds are wonderful and in the summer they have jousting and other attractions. Purists would probably rather see the more historic, but ruined, castles scattered about.
Have a great time, see what you see well and don’t try to see it all. The British people are great hosts. It should be an honor to be a descendent in this troubled time for Western Civilization.
Brad Ervin

My thanks to all who replied. I am looking forward to the fun. After 17 years in Fiji and the Solomon Islands, driving on the other side of the road isn’t too much trouble. If I’m country-hopping, I move my wristwatch to the arm on the side I should be driving on, right or left …
All the best, keep the travel ideas coming, I’m a total noob when it comes to Old Blighty and environs.

Luke Mullen says:
August 31, 2013 at 7:35 pm

First, look up James Delingpole the author of “Watermelons”, UK Telegraph blogger and Ricochet “Radio Free Delingpole” podcaster.

Thanks for the reminder, I’ve met James but he totally slipped my mind. I’ll send him a note.
All the best,

Michael Larkin

Personally, I find London to be soulless. Not worth more than a day or two to check out the famous bits, but YMMV. The further north you go, the more earthy and friendly the people are, and the more incomprehensible you might find the accents. Wales to the mid-west and Scotland to the north are breathtakingly beautiful in places, but almost all counties have their attractive areas and places of interest. You’d be surprised: within a thirty-minute drive of many towns you will find yourself in glorious countryside.
You will probably find most roads other than motorways narrow, and take special care on foot when crossing busy roads; look *both* ways at least twice. Be specially careful in London: cars can seem to come from nowhere. Also in London, be sure to get an Oyster travel card (you may be able to get one at the airport): it’ll save you a lot of money on the Tube. Much easier to get around by tube/bus than to drive. Not so in other areas of the UK.

david moon

@Robert of Ottowa
While on a business trip in the UK I was in the back set, right hand side, and the person in the LH front seat was constantly turning around to talk to me. My brain was reeling because he should be driving, not talking.
Didn’t Winston Churchill get injured in a visit to America by not looking in the right direction and was hit by a car?


Go to the Salisbury Cathedral and see one of the four copies of the Magna Carta,,,,saw it in May this year. The cathedral is awesome.

Eschenbach is a German name.

The Churchill War Rooms of the Imperial War Museum has a FANTASTIC interactive15-meter projected display timeline table.
This technology and visualization technique could be used for so many things, yet this is the only place I’ve seen it done. A great visit for anyone interested in history and human-computer interaction.

I work at Stonehenge, and live near by on a farm, and would be very happy to show you round a pile of rocks (Avebury, as suggested, is also good). http;//www.sarsen.org has my work, archaeology is great, the experts welcome the intelligent amateur who challenges the consensus.

Neston, Wirral Cheshire.
Picturesque coastal market town about 30 minutes by car away from both Chester (ancient Roman walled city) and Liverpool (Lots of historical exhibitions and lots to do) both being major tourist magnets.on the west coast.
Contact me on 0152 353 1899 or 0151 336 4884 if you get the chance but enjoy the trip regardless.

Alexander Feht says:
August 31, 2013 at 9:36 pm
Eschenbach is a German name.
So are Hanover, Saxe-Coburg Gotha & Battenberg.
Willis, like the royal family, might have a Scot, Englishman or Welshman in the German woodpile.

Crispin in Waterloo

Tickled to see Beatrix Potter get a mention. Lake District is lovely. You can get a room in summer next door at my Aunt Miranda’s. Her daughter Cressida (now Fletcher-Vane) took the photos for the 100th anniversary book honouring Potter’s literary creations. It includes each spot where Potter sat to make the sketches for Peter Rabbit – the hollow tree, the stump, etc. All good girls deserve a trip to see where childhood memories were created!
Travel safe!


Enjoy your Trip! My wife and I spent 4 years in the UK and we were very sad to leave. My favourite spots:
– Glastonbury (Make sure to have a pint of hecks cider at the pub)
– The rooftop pool of the Thermae Spa in Bath.
– The Bookshops of Hay-on-Wye.
And for a laugh, here’s our take on navigating roundabouts: http://www.braevitae.com/content/comics/england/10

Geoff Sherrington

Highly recommend you pick up a Nikon 1 V2 camera at airport shop. Light, small, very versatile, highly automatic for fleeting shots and makes beautiful HD movie. Unless, of course, you are a Canon fan.
Travel safely, Geoff.

Willis says:
We arrive in London on Monday the second of September, and we’ll be there for four days, ’til Thursday. Then a week or so to drive up the west coast of the island, and another week or so to go across and drive down the east coast.
You have had so many good suggestions from natives & visitors alike that I feel my tuppence worth can’t add much.
I lived in Merrie Olde for two years as a grad student. During each holiday not spent on the Continent, I organized tours for my fellow North American Oxonians. The fave by far was the Celtic Fringe Tour, which took in Cornwall, Wales & Scotland, via the formerly Celtic Cumbria. This seems to jibe with your itinerary, returning through the Danelaw on the east coast. The North, especially Yorkshire, might well have remained the independent kingdom it wanted to be for so long, but for the Norman Conquest & subsequent expeditions & suppressions by the Crown, whoever wore it.
I appreciate country, but if you can swing it, at least en route to the West, drive through Oxford to view the dreaming spires, checking out the Bodleian Library, Ashmolean Museum & History of Science Museum, then on the return view the Backs at Cambridge. Go punting on the Charwell (tributary to the Thames at Oxford) or Cam, should you have time & the inclination.
The Bear in Oxford may be the oldest bar in the world, in business since 1242.
To paraphrase Monty Python, “‘Nuff said, word to the wise, elbow, elbow, nudge, nudge, wink, wink, nod, nod”, but that referred to New York, not Britain.


There’s a major US air museum at Duxford, just off the M11 motorway by Cambridge & near where I live. It also has many British and other civilian & military aircraft, plus some restoration workshops.


Hi Willis
I’m in South Devon which if you drive up the west coast you will miss out on as its in the South West.
If so you will miss out on Exeter-home of the Met office but also a very pleasant cathedral town and also nearby Dartmoor, an upland area where climate change evidence is obvious and admitted to by the Govt run Dartmoor authority.
You can see there the Bronze age remains of Grimspound-abandoned when the climate cooled- and also Hound tor where ruins from the MWP can be seen. Again they were abandoned when the climate cooled.. Your 21 year old daughter and the ex fiancée might be interested in this as ‘The hound of the Baskervilles’ was filmed here for the popular TV series ‘Sherlock.’
All the best

PS: An American once asked the Warden of Rhodes House (aka Rodent of Ward’s House) how Oxford got its greens so smooth. He replied without missing a beat, “Roll them for 400 years.”

Tony B’s mention of Devon, famous for its cider, the Moor & Exeter Cathedral, reminds me that before you enter Cornwall on the Celtic Fringe Tour, if visiting Dorset & Devon en route you would not go amiss.
If in Dorset, I’d recommend Lyme Regis for its Jurassic fossils, quaint town & the ghost of Mary Anning, amateuse paleontologist who convinced the world that Cuvier was right about extinction. Also the inspiration for “she sells sea shells down by the sea shore”. Then as now, the amateurs helped to rescue science from the authorities (I won’t call them professionals).