There is no excerpt because this is a protected post.
The sound of the tracks was calming as my railway car glided effortlessly through Northern England's breathtaking countryside. Watching the miles pass from a train window allows a perspective that is not offered by plane travel. And now, heading to Carlisle in Cumbria, nothing else seemed to matter besides the little farms and villages and sweeping green fields in England's north. Our life-long London friend, Trish, sat beside us, occasionally offering a soft-spoken narrative of its history, a history where the green fields were once soaked in the color of red from the Celts, the Romans, the Vikings, the Angles and Saxons, the Normans, the Jacobites and the Border Reivers
I’ve spent much of my life first 17 years of life dreaming about the boulevards of Provence and street cafes of Paris. I ended up instead as an exchange student in industrial town in the coal and steel region of in Lorraine, France. But that didn’t daunt my love of travel.
It all began in 1978 when John Colclough, an avid reader with a quick wit who is blessed with a rare photographic memory and enough intelligence to share with an army, began exploring the history, culture, and traditions of Ireland. Following his heart and with a profound affection for the island, Colclough explored the untrammeled backroads lined with ancient hand-designed stone fences that appear as if they were created by a master artist and designed for horse-drawn carriages. He negotiates postal lanes that carve their way past rolling grass fields with the most brilliant green on the planet, dotted with elm and lime trees, and glorious castles that appear like an astonishing vision in a landscape bordered by blankets of green and stands of leafy trees.
Located beneath the Treasury building in the Whitehall area of Westminster is the Churchill War Rooms. Previously called the Cabinet War Rooms, this where leading government ministers, military strategists, Prime Minister Winston Churchill and a dedicated staff of 500 people conducted war operations during WW II.From this network of underground rooms, you’ll see how they lived, where they strategized and survived unimaginable attacks by Hitler’s Nazi Germany. When World War II ended, the staff simply walked away leaving everything just as it had been, which included maps, phone banks, typewriters, signs that said ‘No whistling inside,’ and sun lamps for staffers who never saw daylight for months.
After my arrival at London's Heathrow Airport, I was whisked away in one the city's famous Black Cabs. I was relaxed and feeling carefree, well aware that a London Cabbie knew every part of the city like the back of their hand. Unlike U.S. taxi or Uber drivers where the gig is often a part time one, its purpose to stretch out incomes like a waiter or parking valet while waiting for that big break. But in London to be a Black Cab driver is nothing less than a proud full time endeavor. Three and a half to four years of training requires the driver to be one, which includes person-to-person non online tests. By simply naming an address, establishment or even a landmark you will be transported to your place of interest without any form of hesitation. The drivers can be chatty, too; interested in who you are and where you're from, and most importantly serving as an ambassador of London.
Ask anyone what they think of when they think of Scotland and you’ll probably hear bagpipes, kilts, tartans – maybe Scottish Brogue and haggis (but more on that later). If the year were 1746, you would have heard the same thing. But it was in that year, after the Battle of Culloden when the British decimated the Scots, that the British set about to systematically rid the country and its people of their identity and traditions. It didn’t work, which makes it all the more remarkable that everything that defines the Scottish people today is the same as it was centuries ago – and it was my mission to explore them all: kilts, bagpipes, whisky. Even the Gaelic language.
Having recently read a story in the New York Times about the resurgence of roller blading acrobatics, I wanted to share a personal tale about the roller blading experience of a 45-year-old fellow, so long ago, while living abroad in Norway, so far away.
My nephew and I were swimming in the water a short distance away from our boat when a woman snorkeling not too far away from us suddenly surfaced and shrieked in terror. A whale shark was headed straight towards her, its faint outline gliding under the waves. I smiled knowing that whale sharks pose no threat to humans and feed almost exclusively on plankton. But when I dropped slightly underwater to snorkel and view the spectacle, I realized just how massive this animal is. No wonder that lady was frightened to death.