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John Clayton: London Part 2
Tantalizing Takeoffs,
Trains, Trips and Tennis
Photos and words by John Clayton
Part two of a five part series

ow excited are you when you go overseas on a trip? Do you tingle with anticipation at all the nifty things you’ll do? Do you wonder if you'll find new friends? Even though I’m a travel journalist and have taken countless trips overseas, I’m as thrilled today as much as I was when I took my first flight years and years ago. So when I arrived at San Diego’s International Airport on July 4th I was eagerly looking forward to my London Adventure.

Since British Airways (BA) and the folks at Visit Britain had invited me on this trip, I wondered how bookings on their new San Diego to London service had been since service began June 1st. Good, very good said the American Airlines ticket clerk, as I checked in.

As noted in the first part of this story, I had some concerns about taking off from this airport, as the runway is much shorter when compared to other airports in America. The average length of US runways for international flights is about 13,000 feet long - and most don’t have any obstructions at either end of the runway like San Diego does. Its airport runway is just 9,400 feet long. It’s the busiest single runway airport in the USA, and the 2nd worldwide after Gatwick, London. In fact it’s far too short for a fully loaded 747 to take off.

A Thrusting, Thrilling Takeoff!

Our BA departure was scheduled for 8.05pm and, right on time, the doors closed on the sleek looking, huge B-777 and we pushed back from the gate and moved to our take off position at the far eastern end of the runway that was, it seemed to me, only a few yards from the nearby Freeway. The two General Electric engines are so big and powerful that their diameter is as wide as the passenger cabin of the Boeing 737. We sat there as the engines silently purred away and I wondered about our take off. At 8.25pm the pitch of the engines became even louder, and I knew they were being revved up to full power.

a Boeing 777 of British Airways taking off

I sat there as if glued to my seat, totally transfixed, while every fiber in my body felt the enormous mechanical energy inside those two huge engines. Then in a fleeting millisecond, the Captain released the brakes on this giant bird of the skies, pushed the throttles forward to, it seemed to me, their limit, and we punched forward as if shot out of a huge gun. We roared and pounded down the runway at an incredible speed, reaching V1 almost immediately, followed again almost instantly by V2, and fractions of a second later the large B-777 lifted off the concrete and asphalt runway and pointed her nose skywards, and headed for England and Heathrow Airport. This was one of the most thrilling of all the countless take offs that I've enjoyed around the world. (Aviation note: V1 is an aviation term to denote the speed at which an aircraft can safely stop. V2 is the speed at which the plane IS committed to take off, and can do so safely with one engine inoperative)

The Heathrow Express – Getting into London

When you arrive at Heathrow and need to get to London Central, there are a many options. Car, taxi, bus, Underground Tube, or the Heathrow Express. Any time I go to London I’m appalled at the constant gridlock with road traffic moving – if at-all - in slow motion. A car to or from the airport takes about 80 minutes. Then there’s the London Underground and the Piccadilly Line. Here you can also figure around 80 minutes – but there are frequent stops, and lots of crowds on every train.

The fastest way to reach London (I use it every time I go there) is the incomparable Heathrow Express. When you return to Heathrow it leaves (and arrives) at Paddington station at Platform 6 or 7. It was opened on June 23rd 1998 by then Prime Minster Tony Blair, and the operation has a train leaving every 15 minutes in each direction, from 5:10 in the morning to 11:25 at night. Best of all, it’s non stop and speeds you either to or from Heathrow in the stress free time of 15 short minutes! It covers Terminals 1,2 and 3, as well as the new, gigantic British Airways Terminal 5 where just about every arriving and departing BA flights are located.

Heathrow Express train at a terminal

A OW fare is sixteen (British) pounds fifty pence online; eighteen pounds at ticket offices and machines, or thirty two RT; and twenty three if purchased on board. FC is twenty six pounds or fifty pounds round trip. All trains have free Wi-Fi and video monitors for BBC news; and you can use cell phones (or mobiles as they’re called in the UK) even in tunnels. At the time of writing (late July 2011) the dollar versus the pound was approximately $1.60 to get one British pound. Financial markets change daily, so check online before you go. The service, as noted, is frequent, and with one going to or from Heathrow every 15 minutes, there are 150 trains every day.

The Heathrow Express, especially for business people, is a real time saver. They’ve recently introduced another top notch service that we enjoyed when we arrived at Paddington station. That’s the Silver Wing Service that takes passengers to and from Liverpool Street station in a superbly upholstered and totally luxurious Mercedes Benz limousine.

A Tennis Tour for Tourists!

New Yorkers love it when you spill your guts out there. Spill your guts
at Wimbledon and they make you stop and clean it up.

-- Jimmy Connors

Even if you don’t like tennis, most people are so conditioned to retain certain things in life, that as soon as you say “Tennis Championships,” one’s almost automatic response is “Wimbledon.” I love the quote above, not only as it comes from one of the most colorful, brilliant and even outrageous American tennis players, but also because it captures how clean Wimbledon is. As I found out when I went there in July this year.

direction sign board at Wimbledon, London

The Championships ended on Sunday, July 3rd, and our travel media press group was there on Wednesday the 6th. Although I spent the early years of my life in London’s Kensington, I never went to Wimbledon. Not even to the Tube station. So when I saw our trip included Wimbledon, I was mildly interested.

When I got there, I was mesmerized by everything.

You can enjoy the same tour we did, with an online reservation. Let me suggest you Google it and type in “Taking A Tour of Wimbledon” and you’ll see a large list of tour options. The most fascinating tour was the one given by our guide, Mr. Ashley Jones, the Commercial Manager, who’s been at the Tennis Icon for 14 years and, as we found out in the next hour or two, he has more news, information and facts in his head about tennis, than even the biggest tennis Encyclopedia known to mankind. Whether you like tennis or not, and I’m in that latter category, a tour around this world famous series of buildings and grass tennis courts, is absolutely intriguing.

When you watch big time tennis at Wimbledon, do you ever think about – now get this - the grass? I mean come on now, how boring is that!! Yeah, boring! And yet it is a critical part of how balls bounce, where they go and how they are “played” by tennis super stars.

There are 19 courts plus 22 for practice (!) since 1991 and, according to Eddie Seward the Head Groundsman, all Wimbledon courts are sown with 100% perennial ryegrass, as it improves durability. The grass has been cut and maintained at a height of 8mm since 1995, and all are rolled, covered and constantly tested for their firmness and yes, would you believe, their speed. I thought it was interesting to learn that if the grass is too damp and soft when play commences, it will cut up, become unstable and cause the ball to bounce irregularly.

Two other areas of interest on the tour, are the press room which looks like a scene from some 1940s movie about a large big city newspaper where lots of harried and yes, hurried reporters, dash off to get their stories filed, as the room seemed to have at least 100 special booths for the sports media. The other intriguing place is the room where all the players’ are interviewed by the media. We were told that one star was fined for not agreeing to be interviewed, because it’s written in their contracts that if requested, they MUST do the interview.

a notice for Tennis Museum visitors at Wimbledon

walkway at Wimbledon

view of courts at Wimbledon

Some tennis Trivia. In October 1940 the Nazi Luftwaffe dropped five 500lb bombs on the Center Court – which makes me ask, Come On Now, were they actually aiming for that?! In 2009 a retractable roof (costing 80 million British pounds) was installed on the Center Court so play would always continue in the event that the rains came, and in 2003 the Duke of Kent ordered that the long standing tradition of bowing or curtseying to the Royal Box be abolished because, he said, "It is an anachronism in modern times.”

Finally, how about this – up until 2006 women were paid LESS than men who appeared at Wimbledon, but the chairman of the Committee who manages the site, Mr. Timothy Dewe Phillips, CBE, said that was not “right or correct,” and in 2007 men and women earned equal prize money – a decision that overturned an incredible century of inequality.

Tennis buffs will love the Tennis Museum that’s filled with tennis memorabilia dating back to 1555 from all over the world – plus a marvelous holographic display with John McEnroe in the Dressing Room, to many world famous trophies, and more tennis trivia, artifacts and “stuff,” than you ever knew existed.

An Unusual Fashion Display

Talking about tennis – and I think we were – and even though it’s probably still the remnants of my British born humor, I must share a photo with you. When we all traipsed to the Wimbledon Gift Shop I, along with my colleagues, were stunned by a display of those in stores dummy models on which clothes are usually placed. As you see here in THIS photo, that was – for sure – NOT the case, and it generated a lot of smiles from the American media folks. How about you, is there now a smile spreading over your face?

dummy models draped over with black plastic bags at the Wimbledon Gift Shop

Wimbledon’s Crown Jewel – Center Court

It’s said that one always saves the best until last. If that’s true, then the Center Court is nothing less than magnificent. And the best. When we all trooped in there was an eerie stillness and quiet that seemed unreal. It was as if this were a sacrosanct religious site, to be viewed in private by small groups. It affected all of us, as we just sat there in silence while Mr. Ashley Jones told us about it in reverent tones.

the Center Court with retractable roof overhead, Wimbledon

When one of our group asked if they could go down and actually touch this piece of what we were now convinced was hallowed ground, Mr. Jones seemed appalled at the idea that someone would even ASK to do that. He then said in a somber voice that in all his years at Wimbledon HE had never been allowed to touch it or walk on it. ”In fact,” he said in a whisper, “it’s in my contract not to walk on it.” As I looked at this small patch of grass, and saw the 3,601 empty seats, I was struck by how it seemed so small from the image one sees on TV, to how gigantic it really is. As big as it is, it all seemed to be so intimate and up close and personal and, as strange as it may sound, when I looked at the small entrance where the top tennis stars actually entered the court, it reminded me of the gladiators coming out into the arena in the days of the old Roman Coliseum.

In part 3 see why you should have an Oyster when you travel around London; plus getting around this huge city by fantastically fast Catamarans on, would you believe, the River Thames no less; renting a Blue Bike and seeing London with a unique eye. Read it HERE on Traveling Boy, and be the FIRST TO KNOW

Related Articles:
The Ritz, London; Buckingham Palace; Yorkminster, England; Unusual Museum, England; An American Student in London

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For "Ride With John Aboard Europe's Most Dazzling and Luxurious Train":

You and your trains and boats and planes, you always make me want to get off my more-than-ample behind and travel! Thank you again for yet another vicarious adventure.

Richard F., Saugerties, NY

Yes, Richard, THANK you for your kind words, so delighted you (with all YOUR worldly travels) enjoyed it. Travel journalism has given me the opportunity to be aboard and relish, some of the best and finest in train travel. The Orient Express was THE thrill, THE total enjoyment, of the best of the best. So good to hear from you.

From "Always training John."

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For "Harry Potter's 'Hogwarts Express'":

Loved the Hogwarts Express article.

Nancy – Hawaii

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For "Tantalizing Takeoffs, Trains, Trips and Tennis":

Dear John,

Lovely story as always, and your photos are superb. You do have a way with words.

Corinna – Washington DC

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That is indeed an interesting and enlightening article. I will remember how to get away from the airport and to London proper. Wimbledon looks spectacular; I suppose they're going to use some of it for the Olympics?

Mary J. Purcell – London

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John - excellent as usual and full of interesting details and anecdotes. Masterful writing!

Agnes Huff – London

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For "Exciting Adventures in London — By Way of San Diego":

Hello John,

I enjoyed reading your article on London by way of San Diego, it was a fun and informative read. You flew past Carlsbad on your way to San Diego. Have you visited Carlsbad lately? When you have a couple of days available I would like to invite you to visit Carlsbad. You can get to Carlsbad by train as well. I look forward to part 2 of the article.

Frankie Laney – Carlsbad, CA

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Thank you very much for your story to me and Old Town Trolley Tours. I am happy you had a nice tour and that we were referred to you! I enjoyed reading your story and can't wait until I forward this email to my Manager and the General Manager tomorrow,

Yoli – San Diego, CA

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That is wonderful! I really enjoyed Part one of five....awesome writing skills you have!! A true gift!!

Best regards,

Agnes Huff, PhD – Los Angeles, CA

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Great stuff, thanks for sending this through and the other emails – great read…

Val Austin, Senior Visit Britain International Press Visits officer, London, UK

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As a subscriber to Traveling Boy, I love reading your stories John. I send them through to my Mum as she appreciates them too!

Lisa, Australia

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For "Must See Attraction" in Northern Spain:

Hi John! Loved your article and Castro de Santa Tegra is added to my "want to see" list. Would love to visit Portugal and Spain and this added to the desire.You are a marvelous source of information and I'm sure Travel Boy will appreciate your experience and information. I look forward to reading more of your articles.

Nel Stingley, Hermosa Beach

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Mr. Clayton,

Thank you for your intriguing article on Castro de Santa Tegra. Quite literally, I have never even heard of the place, but it it is now officially on my 'bucker list.'

Brock Alston, Boulder, CO

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I saw that! That was so cool! I wasn't expecting it, so when I started reading it I was thinking, "Wow, another person wrote something similar to what I was saying to John!" Hahahaha! I didn't recognize it at first. :) That was really nice - thank you for answering me regarding the UK. I'm going to buy a travel book and check out the places you were talking about. Your experience about Normandy got me appreciating visiting battle "destinations," if you will, so I'd like to check out a couple of those that you mentioned.

Always a pleasure,

Cristina Lovett
Museum Educator, The Banning Museum

My dear Cristina,

If you go to the current Traveling Boy website, and click on my current story about crazy signs around the world, at the end of the piece you’ll see your question and my answer/suggestions about your travels.


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John, your ardent love of travel and discovery, seem to be the grist for your excellent writing skills.

Having just returned from a visit to France, to visit old friends, and enjoy that lovely country, it is not hard to comprehend how travel truly spawns, witin all of us, inspiration out the "gazoo."

Terry Hare

My dear Terry,

Thank you so much for your wonderful and very, very encouraging words. They made my day - hey, it made my month!!!



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(The letter below was sent in response by a reader to the article A Most Unusual Tourist Attraction)

Did you ever serve in the army? Were you in a combat zone? This affinity/hobby of war for the sake of the competitive and challenge is beyond me. I served 3 years (mandatory) in the Israeli army and was only involved in it while I had to be there (even that seems like too much). This article is inspiring to me because of the answer of the cemetery official and the figures of dead on both sides. I can not understand saluting to a person who did his best to kill as many people as possible. If you live out of fear or brainwash you will never stop killing and harming. Does that deserve a salutation or pity?

On Behalf Of Etan, USA

Etan, Greetings:

Many thanks for your thoughtful email with regard to my Traveling Boy story about my visit to the German cemetery in Normandy. To answer your first question, yes I did serve in the Army although NOT in combat. I‘ve been in this great country, the USA, for 48 years and was born in London, so when I was 18 I had to spend time in the Army doing (what was then called) National Service. I was in North Africa and Malta. Although I wished I’d been in combat, I never was. As a travel journalist I was, obviously, very happy that you found what I wrote inspiring, based on the comments of the French manager of the cemetery, and of the tragedy of how many young lives were lost on all sides due to that dreadful conflict.

He, the old, guy, was a fascinating individual, and I really enjoyed chatting to him. I’ve always had a (and let’s call it what it is) fascination with war, and the military, and have watched (almost!) every show on the Military channel, the History Channel and the Discovery Channel, countless times. I’ve also been to many WW2 sites around the world. Yes, I agree with your view that war is terrible, but what if we – the Allies - had not done anything about Hitler? Could we, or should we have allowed him to run amok around Europe and the rest of the world? I think not.

As terrible as war is, it seems human beings cannot find another way to settle certain problems – although I’m hugely encouraged by the approach of the EU and how so many people now realize that fighting is NOT the answer. So I live in hope war might be a thing of the past, but I doubt it.

My saluting M. Wittman’s grave. As I stood there I was, to be totally honest, in awe of the fact that I was standing above the grave of this incredible Nazi tank Ace who was the top, or among the top scoring tank commanders in the Panzers. I saluted not who he was, nor – certainly – what he stood for – but for his talents as a tank tactician. Most British and American historians of that war, and who are really interested in such things, will confirm to you that whatever else one might think about Wittman, he was a brilliant tank commander. That, and only that, was what I was recognizing.

For 16 successful years – 1992 to 2007 – I was on three top LA radio stations (KABC, KKGO/KMZT and the KNX) with my show “John Clayton’s Travel with A Difference” and I always enjoyed hearing from my listeners - even though at times what they sent me might not have been what I was expecting. In other words, I found it fascinating to hear both the upbeat, offbeat and down beat. When I wrote what did I knew that it would generate some responses like yours. While I do not (NOT!!) advocate TBoy's writers' doing stories that are provocative, the fact remains that human beings (whether they admit it or not) like controversy - witness Glenn Beck, O'Reilly etc and of course R. Limbaugh. What I am saying is that if you, as the writer, feel strongly about something, you MUST put those thoughts down in your story. While I abhor all things that guys like Wittman did as a Nazi, the fact is he was a brilliant tactician.

I must share with you yet again how delighted I was – and still am – by your words, and I’m so glad you wrote and said what you did, and that you took the time to share your feelings. I do hope you can – at the very least – accept my thoughts and ideas that I’ve laid out in this email on this very sensitive subject. Perhaps even more so, for someone from Israel.

With best regards,.


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John, Your refection on how young those can be who die in war reminded me of the A.E. Houseman poem at the entrance to the Fighter Command museum in London (beside the photo and engine of the RAF fighter pilot who died in the Battle of Britain): "Here dead lie we because we did not choose to live and shame the land from which we sprung. Life, to be sure, is nothing much to lose; But young men think it is, and we were young."

Eric, San Diego, CA

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Ringo and Deb can have their Oasis - this to me smacks of heavenly travel - thanks for the article and photos.

Brenda - Richland, WA

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Hi John,

I have read a few articles about R for Robert, but yours by far is the best. My grandfather was co-pilot John Slatter (my Dad's dad). It is so neat to hear about ancestry. There is actually a book published called R for Robert. Another interesting detail.... I live in NH, and in 1985 a lawyer with many interests from Concord,NH and a sonar exploration company from Salem, NH were the ones who started the project to pull the Wellington out of the Loch. I am always trying to find information about that side of our family, and love to read articles such as yours. Thanks for the piece.....

Cyndi - Raymond, NH

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Greetings my dear Cyndi

I was born in Kensington in London, and although I've been in this great place called the USA for 48 amazing years, if it is still true that Brits ARE noted for understatement, let me tell you that your email not only made my day, but gave me a huge, huge thrill.

I am a WW2 aficionado, and had one of the biggest "thrill sensations" of my life, when the French government invited me to the 60th Anniversary of D-Day on June 6th, 2004. In fact, I sat 50 feet from world leaders like Bush, Putin, and Queen Elizabeth. When I went to Loch Ness and heard (and saw!) that a wonderful Wellington had crashed there, and that it also pin pointed WHERE it had happened, I was in nirvana. I stood on the side of the road and, as I gazed out at the cold and forbidding waters that day, I was instantly transported back to the time and day when it happened - and in my imagination I saw and heard it all. So to get your amazing and (to me) riveting letter, was and is totally amazing - and wonderful.


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Hello John,

Ed Boitano (who I met on a Star Clipper cruise in the Mediterranean last July) has sent me a link to your above article on the 'Little Steam Trains of North Wales' which I read with interest. One of the photo captions mentions a sign above the train in Welsh, which says: FFORD ALLAN GOFYNN'R DEITHWYR DDEFNYDDIO'R BONT I GROESI'R LEIN. Rougly translated it is a Notice to travellers to use the bridge to cross the line. In Welsh bont is a bridge or archway, Groesi is a crossing, Lein a line, (in this case a rail line or alternative it could mean a line-out (as in Rugby football - but that's another game!) Although born in Wales as Ed may tell you my Welsh is very limited, but trust this answers your question and it amuses! Kind regards,

John Dann - Hove, East Sussex, England

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How wonderful to know that people in Hove (for heavens sakes!) are reading Traveling Boy. I remember -- with much fondness --- visiting Hove during my early years in the UK - charming and very British, so I hope it is still that way and that it has NOT been over run with neon signs and crass commercialism.

Thanks too for your comment about the Welsh wording on the bridge. There were so many wonderful things that intrigued me about Wales, and one of them was - and is! - the language. I mean you'd see this long series of words in Welsh, and then underneath it would give the British translation, and it'd very often be only one or two words. I attach a photo I took of a road sign to illustrate my point. In any event, thanks for your kind words and interesting feedback. MOST appreciated.


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Dear John,

Your website is fantastic. I am building a Messerschmitt BF109E Model in Balsa Wood and I have a problem in finding the numbers of its original colour (BF 109E-3 with a Donald Duck painted at rear of Romania.)I've been looking around and tried to see through the internet but can't find any help. Please if you have this information and can help me, I would appreciate it very much and I thank you in advance I send you my best regards,

Philip Vella - St. Julians, Malta

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Hi Philip,

Very nice to get your email and I'm so glad you like what you've seen and read on Traveling boy. Sadly, I do not have the answer to your question either. I do, however, have one suggestion and idea.

Among all my aviation books form that period, I have one called "Aircraft of World War 2." It is published by Chartwell Books, 114 Northfield Avenue, Edison, New Jersey 08837, USA. The editorial and design was done by Amber Books at Bradley Close, 74-77 White Lion Street, London N1 9PF, England. Their website is

As the above book is jam packed with fascinating facts about all the aircraft from WW2, I feel that if you write to both of them with your question, they might be able to help you. The book is written by Robert Jackson and he seems to be a mountain of information. Google his name and see what comes up.


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Hello John, I don't know if you remember me or not but my name is Cliff Pleggenkuhle, Jr. I flew for Cal from 1964 to 2003. I got the article you did on Wes Coss from the Cal Chief Pilots office. The communications people forwarded the article to them. Anyway, I sent the article to the Golden Contrails editor and he is going to include the article in our next edition. The contrails is the publication of our retired group the Golden Eagles.

I have read the book and it was great. It would make a good movie. I also sent your article to my old banker, who is a airplane and WWII nut and I think he is sending you an article about the underground in WWII. He writes articles of interest in a weekly local paper in Liberty County, TX.

I will quit rambling and just wanted to let you know your fine article on Wes will be appreciated by many.


Cliff Pleggenkuhle, Jr., Huffman, TX

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Sir...A good friend, a captain with Continental Airlines, Cliff Pleggenkuhle sent me your website. Indeed, your story about the great escape (albeit brief) was one that should be shared. Chuck Yeager also made his way to Spain and his story was somewhat similar. But it takes a real writer to set the plan in motion (and I really mean...motion) as you have done.

I'm taking the liberty to send you a copy of my newspaper column about another hero that I have known. Ironically, your mention of the escape of Wes being true can set aside the Great Escape of Stalag whatever. The untrue part that it was led by an American pilot when actually it was a Dutch pilot named Bob Vanderstock and others. When I went to Belgium with my friend Pieter Cramerus, a Dutch ace who flew Spitfires during WWII for the RAF, he told me about his friend Vanderstock's escape. Then, he introduced to me this fantastic former agent of the Belgium Underground who married his cousin. The rest is in the article. I hope you enjoy it. Thanks again for your expertise in writing the word.

Bob Jamison, Dayton, TX

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You're getting some serious journalism on your site! Literary indeed. Award-winning potential, and I'm not just talking about YOUR stuff!!

Terry Cassel

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Of all the stories I've written in my lifetime, I cannot think of any one that gave me as much pleasure and joy, in writing the piece about Wes. It required all my best "creative juices," and also - truly thrilling for me - gave me a marvelous opportunity to put words together about battle, about flying and about military history. Knowing how important editing is to any story, and to a reader's enjoyment of same (in other words it has to flow freely and be very concise) I wrote the article in one sitting, and then re-wrote it six times.

I have no idea who this Terry Cassel is, but I cannot tell you how thrilled and how, yes overwhelmed I am, by his brief (editing again proving that less is more) comments about my story. Thank you Ed for giving me this opportunity to put THIS story on the amazing Traveling Boy website. And Wes, thank you for allowing me to chat with you and glean from you (and then your book!) all the fascinating stuff that came together as my article.

Thanks must also go to my wife and my two daughters who have always believed in me, and who (as Father's Day has just passed) gave me the most wonderful and heart wrenching Father's Day cards imaginable. I have always told them that anything is achievable and possible, and that one should NEVER give up. Keep on knocking on doors and even if 20 are closed in your face, if you find yourself knocking on the 21st one, that'll very probably will be THE one that opens up for you - and demonstrates that your determination to never take NO as any sort of answer is a key part of success.

Finally, all of this has only been made reality, by my living and working in this place called the United States of America. Thank you all for everything.


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Thanks so much for sharing this great story - I am going to copy it to VB who runs the Travel Journalism awards.

Fiona Stewart, Edinburgh

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Nice piece. I adore Scotland, wish I could live there someday...

Chris, Pawling, NY

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I enjoyed reading your piece on France; it was very informative. Unfortunately, I've spent very little time in France; it's more to the favor of my oldest brother. But your words painted a good picture.

Danny Simon

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Hi John, I am a friend of your daughter Heidi and she sent me your link so I could read your articles. I have heard so many things about you from her but reading your article I can see why she is so proud to call you her Dad. Your writing transported me to Chewton Glen, I hope to one day be lucky enough to stay there!

Frances Crymble, Auckland, NZ

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You describe a city on wheels - er, wings - and an absolutely perfect way to travel. SHOWERS & FLOWERS! Amazing! I love that your passion for all-things-aviation comes through in this story about an almost unbelievable airplane. Thanks for breaking the news in such an engaging way!

Richard Frisbie, Saugerties, New York

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Good article on the biggest commercial airplane in the world. Very interesting. Love your easy personal writing style. Can't wait to get inside one of these sky monsters. I wonder how they will ever recoup their expenses. But then again, with the Arab nations overflowing with cash I shed no tear of sympathy. If anyone has to beta test these babies, it should be them.

Peter Paul, South Pasadena

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Dear John Clayton:

Thank you very much for your enthusiastic report on the Zeppelin Museum. I am very pleased you like it as we -- the people working there -- do. We try to collect everything on Zeppelins and to make it available to visitors. Only the number of visitors I would like to correct: since the opening in 1996 we hosted more than 3,600,000 people. So we are among the most visited museums in Germany.Thank you very much again -- and kindest regards,

Ursula ZellerDirector

Hi John,

I know the places you describe in your aticle, and I usually feel exactly the same as you did, when I wander in the countryside - I live in this region. How could this places, so peaceful today, be such a hell for some men? But if you're attentive to many details in the ground and the scenary, finding shell shrapnels and tumb stones for example, then you begin to understand

Thank you John.

Florence L.
City: France


It's as if I was there with you. I grew up with Sgt York comic books. To see the real place where a real person so heroically saved the day is something I never expected to experience. Thanks for the historical detail and great photos.

Richard Frisbie
City: Saugerties


As a history and Churchill buff, I found your article to be chilling. I hope someday to make it to the museum. Is the CWR at all part of the Imperial War Museum? I don't know how I missed it in my only trip to London back in 2000.

Thanks again,

Gary Avrech
City: Santa Monica

* * * *

Hey Gary....

Yes it is. If you go online and click on the IWM website, you'll find out even more information about this intriguing museum. Thanks for your times and words.



Very excited to see your appearance in the Boitano Blog. I don't know who the hell all those Boitanos are, but I know who John Clayton is! Hey, I wrote a note on your column on the Cabinet War Rooms. I'll be a regular reader. I certainly hope all are well and happy on the Peninsula and that all your travels are still terrific.

Ed P


I urge anyone traveling to London to put the Cabinet War Rooms high on their "must see" list. All who've taken my advice have thanked me, just like I thanked you, and do so again, for recommending the museum to me years ago. But then, it's just one of many suggestions of yours, every one brilliant!

Port St. Lucie, FL

Stay tuned.

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