Day 41 – Monday, June 4th

Beautiful Blenheim Palace

This morning we waved good-bye to Michael as he went to work, and then Roy, Diane and I picked up the bus to the town of Woodstock and to Bleinheim Palace which was the birthplace of Winston Churchill.

It was a beautiful building and had some wonderful stone sculptures around the outside of the building. Once inside there was an animated video tour that took you through some of the stories about incidents within the palace. It helped for us to get a better handle on our British history.

There was one area where they had framed photos displayed much as we do in our homes. Diane and I were looking at the pictures of people that we didn’t know and she commented that “for all I know, they could be the photos that came with the frames!!”

We had lunch at the café and I enjoyed a Tomato/Basil soup, while Diane had Carrot/Coriander. Roy picked up a packaged sandwich and asked about mayonaise. After they looked, they apologetically said that they couldn’t find any more small packets. Roy said OK and went back to his sandwich. A moment later, one of the women YELLED “Who needed mayonaise”. Roy reluctantly raised his hand and they brought a huge bowl of it to our table….. we told Roy that he had to eat ALL of it!!!!

We enjoyed going through a special exhibition about the life of Winston Churchill. It was filled with letters between he and his father. There was also one from the Head Mistress of his school to his Dad, saying that “he has only scraped through his exams”. Another letter from his Nanny said that Winston had been hunting and had killed 5 rabbits and frightened 50. Finally, one from the school nurse saying that “Winston has fallen from his tricycle and suffered a mild concussion of Brain”.

One interesting one from Winston to his father said “I will take your advise about the cigars and I don’t think I shall often smoke more than one or two a day – and very rarely that.” It was also interesting to note that he wrote home to request money from his family…..just like a teenager.

There were various election posters and paraphernalia from his political career. I was interested in seeing the sheet music to a song entitled “The Man With the Big Cigar”.

I hadn’t realized that Winston was a fairly prolific painter and we really enjoyed his pictures. Apparently, many of them were reproduced for his wife’s Christmas cards by Hallmark Cards. The founder of Hallmark (Mr. Hall) and Winston were very good friends.

There was a newspaper article about his death that reported that the town where his body was lying in state was closed to cars because of the congestion. So, people simply left their cars along the roads and walked into the town to pay their respects, some walking over 2 miles each way.

We took a brief walk through the beautiful gardens, but opted for a warm bus rather than a cool, windy garden.

The bus was pulling up just as we were walking to the bus stop, so we made a run for it and caught the bus before it left. Since it was a double-decker bus, we decided to go on up to the top level for the trip. It was interesting to sit in the left-hand side seats and have the tree branches hit the front window and then scrap along the side windows!!! We were able to really see the countryside and enjoy the 15 minute journey.

We came back to the house and then immediately headed out to the “Eagle & Child” pub which we had been to before. Michael and Diane had a wonderful fish and chips platter, while I had a steak and grilled onion sandwich. Roy had a dish called Hunters Chicken which was chicken, bacon and cheese cooked with a barbeque sauce. Both of the fish platters had a glob of mushy peas which were still there when we left.

I left the group early and went to Oxford Brookes University for the Oxford Quilt Group Meeting. It was fun to see some of the ladies that I had met last month along with a bunch of new ones. I put out 15 Fat-Quarters of US fabric and told each of them to pick one out…..it was great fun to watch them try to decide which one to accept.

All in all….another wonderful day!!!!!

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