More miscellany, to clear out the photo file, before I return you to the geographically organized pictures.
My wonderful sister bought Cokes for Dad and me one day. We had no difficulty telling whose was whose.
The Brits have all the good ideas! (Warwick Castle.)
This young woman pulled up to a stop light in Stratford-upon-Avon. I instantly adored her entire look, head-to-toe and tire-to-tire. (Or, as I guess the locals would write, tyre-to-tyre.) I would marry her. Well, except for the fact that she doesn't know I exist.
Being kind of a car guy, I kept being distracted by the huge number of vehicles available in the UK that have never been sold here--many brands that we don't have, and even within familiar brands, models that we don't get. I especially liked the small Mercedes A-class hatchback. If that had been available when I bought my Honda Fit, it would have been a serious contender for my purchase. It's cute and efficient.
And look! It's a Dacia Sandero! This may be meaningful to you only if you're a fan of Top Gear on the BBC. Presenter James May takes every chance he can get to enthusiastically announce new features or upgrades to the Sandero. This is because it's possibly the most boring car sold in Europe, so it's amusing to feign enthusiasm for it. This is the first time I've seen one of them in the flesh (so to speak). (Loch Lomond.)
As an occasional cyclist myself, I think that this message should be painted all over our roads. (Stratford-upon-Avon.)
And while I'm on that subject, I was deeply envious of the cycling infrastructure that was in evidence many places around the isles, though not all. Look at this, in Glasgow: Bike lanes separated by islands from the motor vehicle traffic--with their own dedicated traffic lights, even! (That's coach driver Dave.)
We saw a lot of this kind of tree, which the locals call a "monkey puzzle tree." Very unusual appearance.
In York, we stopped in a pub sort of place for lunch. (I'll give you three guesses at the name of the establishment.) They had these sauce packets on the table for us to use. No ketchup, but "tomato sauce." Something called "HP Sauce." And finally, "brown sauce."
At the same place, we finally got to see and taste an item that had shown up frequently on menus, but which we had not tried up to that point: "mushy peas." I had what I understand to be a classic Yorkshire meal of "pie and peas."
It's hard to see, because my only photographic shot was through the front window of a moving bus, but this is the "Bridge House," in Ambleside, on the north end of Lake Windermere. It was built over a stream more than 300 years ago. Our tour guide told us that it was built that way as a clever way for the owner to avoid paying land taxes, since it sat on no land. I don't know if that's true or not, but it's a good story.
Later that same day, we were held up for 15 minutes or so while a local farmer worked to clear his herd of cows from the road. The half of our group in the bus ahead of us had a much better view of the fun than we did. There was a sheep dog helping to chase the cows out of the road and through the gate on the right. (If you look closely, you can see the dog just to the right of the striped line in the road.) It was just one of those "don't see that every day around here" things.
This picture is complete crap, for self-evident reasons. I put it here only to tempt you to click here to read more about the magnificent Erskine Bridge, and here to see much, much better photos of it.
Stirling Castle, another astonishing place that we didn't have time to stop and see, so it's another from-the-bus-window shot.
I don't make a big thing out of trying to do everything the locals do. But once in a while the urge hits, and I want to sample some piece of the regional tradition. So while at a rest stop in Scotland, I bought a bottle of their most popular soft drink, this weird stuff called "Irn Bru." They say it's "made in Scotland--from girders."
I wouldn't go so far as to call the stuff "vile." I did finish the whole bottle. But I think that's enough for one lifetime, thank you very much.
By the way, just two days after I had had a taste, so did a reporter for National Public Radio. Coincidence?