Sunday, September 21, 2008

Travel journal -- Sept. 15-16

Friday, September 15, 2006
This was my travel day toward Lincoln, and I started at 9:30. It took hours to cross Norfolk, because there aren’t that many roads across the farms and marshes called the fens. It was interesting to see remnants of the Danish and Saxon words in place names. At one point, there was a mile and a half backup to get over a drawbridge. Big trucks, small cars. Crawling and stopping. The diesel exhaust was horrible. Then a few miles later, we got stuck in at least seven to ten miles of stopped traffic for a tiny little construction zone less than one block long. Unbelievable. I could get that for free in Southern California! I felt worse and worse, certain I was experiencing a cold, with runny nose and miserable feeling. I stopped and bought cold medicine, but there was no antihistamine, only decongestant, which doesn’t stop the nose at all.

Finally, I made it to Lincoln, where I would visit the Lincoln Cathedral and the Castle there. But I didn’t feel good enough to take on the Castle. I visited the tombs of Katherine Roet Swynford and her daughter Joan Beaufort, and of Eleanor of Castile. Then I booked a B&B in North Hykambe, a few miles out of Lincoln. Apparently every B&B is full not only for the weekend, but because there’s a university graduation now. I went to bed by 9 pm, this time with antihistamine from ASDA (British Wal-Mart). Even though the bed was moderately hard, I slept very well until 7 am. And my cold was gone, but I had little itchy welts all over me. The room was spotless, and didn’t have fleas or bedbugs, so I’m not sure why I had bites all over me. The hives lasted one more night. Maybe they were a reaction to the cold medicine.

Saturday, September 16, 2006
I awoke without any cold symptoms whatsoever! Wow, British cold meds rock!
This time, my first destination was in Lincolnshire, at Kettlethorpe, where Katherine Roet Swynford lived for a number of years while married to her first husband. I found the farm, and by following my atlas, I found the Kettlethorpe church and village manor house a few miles away. Of course, one would expect that the manor house has been rebuilt since the 1300s, but it is almost certainly located on the same site. The stone gateway from manor house to church is the original, I believe.
Although it seemed like a little thing, I was pretty close as the crow flies to Sturton-le-Steeple, ancestral home of Rev. John Robinson and his wife Bridget White and their forbears. John Robinson, my 12th or 13th great-grandfather, was the pastor of the Mayflower Pilgrims when they lived in Boston, England and Leiden, Holland. The rest of the flock emigrated to Massachusetts, but John's family stayed in Leiden for one more generation before moving, because John's health was so poor. He died in his early 40s.
Sturton-le-Steeple is just a tiny don’t-blink-you’ll-miss-it village, and the church was locked, but I took some pictures of the church and the farmlands surrounding the village. Not a lot changes in 500 years. With one exception: there’s a nuclear power plant with three cooling towers about a mile north of the village. You can see it for many miles.
I posted a photo of the village church (with the famous steeple, of course) on Google Earth. So go look it up!
Then it was time for a lickety-split drive up to Yorkshire, on the A-1 motorway. What a nice change, with 80 mph driving on straight roads, compared to crawling on some minor roadways with twists and turns, big trucks surrounding me, and having to decipher directions from junctions and roundabouts. I easily found Masham, a village in the Yorkshire Dales. Mass-um, as it’s pronounced, was the home of one of my branches of the Scrope family, and by asking, I found the site of where their manor house must have been. There’s a very nice, big and beautiful home there now. At a gallery on the square, I purchased a lovely watercolor painting of Masham and talked to the artist.
I drove on through Middleham and Leyburn, and many tiny villages between, and passed thousands of sheep on emerald-green hillsides divided by dry stone walls. At the bottom of the dale, essentially a very long and wide valley, is the River Ure. I remember that my James Herriott books spoke of the scent of the Dales. It was wonderful! Smelled of new-mown grass and flowers, and not a bit of sheep poo or car exhaust.
About halfway through Wensleydale, situated on the south-facing slope of the valley, is Castle Bolton, the stronghold of the other branch of the Scrope of Bolton family. I had two generations of ancestors build the castle and then hold it, until a daughter married into another Scrope -- the Scrope of Masham! [I did the pedigree some months later: they were 2nd cousins twice removed.]
The castle closed at 5 pm, and it was really way past time to look for a B&B. Everything for miles was booked, because it was the weekend and because we were in Yorkshire Dales National Park, where lots of people spend weekends. I was told I might need to drive to a town like Ripon and look for a hotel there. But a B&B proprietor told me to try the pub hotel in Masham, so back I went. I got their last single room, and quite possibly, THE last room in all of Wensleydale! I stayed at The King’s Head Hotel, which is mostly a pub restaurant with a few rooms.
In the early evening, I bought some great fried fish from a "roach-coach" truck (with a kitchen in back). Normally, I don't like fish, and I did "grill" the proprietor to see if the fish had skin on before the breading. Yuck. I hate skin and bones, and undercooked fishy fish! Anyway, the fish had a crispy batter and was overcooked just as I like, so I was happy.
Then I wandered over to the Masham churchyard and sat on a bench in the twilight. Apparently, everyone really was resting in peace. Good to know on a misty night!
I climbed the stairs to my garrett. The room was extremely tiny, with a single bed by the dormer window. Strangely enough, the bathroom was large and sported brand-new fixtures.
All was well until about 2:00 a.m., when I started coughing from the cigarette smoke. It was stronger in the bathroom, but I used a towel to try to block the smoke coming from under my door. This bed was just as hard as every other English hotel bed! I woke about every 90 minutes with a backache and have to change positions.

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