We received our second snowfall this year and it was a big 'un Al Bundy. The storm started on the 14th and shut down a lot of the UK for those not watching the news. Over 500 schools were shut down in the Midlands from the radio news I was listening to. We had about six inches from the storm at our house and it finally started melting away on the 23rd due to the unseasonably cold temperatures that hovered around freezing. Almost all of the snow is gone now as we received rain and warm temps over the weekend (I think we did at least, one of the parents told me there was a heavy snowfall Friday night followed by a heavy rainfall Saturday night). Back to upper 40's and rain this week.
Snow picture from the 21st.
Carol Seppanen Book Update - I read The Lady in the Lake by Raymond Chandler, 284 pages, since we chatted last. It was another fine Chandler book that I thoroughly enjoyed although I will not be including any of his memorable words or phrases from this one. Next up are some works by Dashiell Hammett although my reading has slowed down a bit with all of the vacation planning I am working on now.
The Better Halves Club met last week at The European Bistro. Since people are still on vacation and getting into the groove of the new year I selected the same location as our previous lunch with a slightly better turnout this time. There were three of us with sick kids and appointments eating into our group number this time. I opted for a pancetta and pasta dish that was very good.
On an expensive and happy note we have booked our May Bank Holiday long weekend trip to Cork, Ireland and our Easter break trip to Italy and Barcelona. One of our travel rules was not to visit places/countries twice but we decided that we didn't give Ireland enough time on our trip last summer plus Lori wants to kiss the Blarney Stone. Italy and Barcelona will be a big trip; start in Venice and work our way down to Rome with a short stop in Barcelona on our way home. We can't hardly wait for that one Ma.
Now onto the weekend. This weekend we knocked off my final pre-trip To Do List attraction. For those non-regular blog readers, before we came over I wanted to see five sights while we were here. Land's End and Stonehenge (disappointing), Beatles day in Liverpool (good time), Big Ben (brilliant on a sunny day although you can only see the clock tower, Big Ben is actually the nickname of the bell inside the clock tower so no one actually sees Big Ben), and the White Cliffs of Dover which ended being another disappointment. But I'll get to that later.
We had an Inset Day for one school so we decided to squeeze in Dover this weekend. We probably would have had better weather if we went this spring but calendar wise I wasn't sure when we could fit it in and didn't want to miss out seeing it so this weekend won the prize. Lori took a vacation day so Friday morning we woke up normal time, got ready, and headed south to check out Canterbury and Dover. The drive was uneventful, we apparently missed all of the bad weather which was good. Our first stop was Canterbury, most famously known for Thomas Becket (Wiki link) and the Canterbury Tales (Wiki link). The kids hadn't heard of either so this looks to be an interesting and educational trip. A sunny trip would have been a nice kicker but we settled for cloudy and cold instead.
Giant mask outside Marlowe Theatre on our way to lunch.
Kevin Coleman Pic - Cold day (mid 30's F) usually requires a coffee for lunch but they had Italian beer on tap so I started prepping myself for Italy. At least that's what I told Lori but I don't think she was buying it.
Dana Johnson Pic - Stilton and broccoli quiche with fries, coleslaw and salad. Lunch was at a tasty Italian cafe called Caffe Venezia (link). I almost ordered the White Chocolate Cheesecake desert but erred on the side of caution. Karl tried it and liked it while Kalle had a fudge cake she liked. For meals Karl had a meat pizza he loved and Kalle had a pannini she loved. Lori abstained from lunch.
Straight ahead is the Sun Hotel. On the plaque it says the hotel was The Little Inn made famous by Charles Dickens in his travels through Kent. Never heard of it myself but it was built in 1503 which I though was neat. Canterbury very much had a York/Chester type feel to it. A little Roman stuff here, a little Norman stuff there, a little Tudor mumbo jumbo in the middle. Throw in a huge cathedral, a town circling wall, some castle ruins and the comparison is complete.
The Butter Market outside the Cathedral. I believe this was the main square in medieval times.
The Canterbury Cathedral (link). The starting of our mildly disappointing sites. It started out good with me printing off free child entry vouchers but didn't end good as there was some graduation ceremony taking place so we couldn't view all of the inside. We did have reduced admission but I would have rather paid the four pounds extra to see everything.
From the Cathedral website: The Cathedral's history goes back to 597AD when Augustine, a monk, sent by Pope Gregory the Great as a missionary, established his seat (or 'Cathedra') in Canterbury. In 1170 Archbishop Thomas Becket was murdered in the Cathedral and ever since, the Cathedral has attracted thousands of pilgrims, as told famously in Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. It's hard to see this style and not think of Notre Dame or York Minster - similar Romanesque style buildings built in the 1100's.
Edward VI - the son of Henry VIII and followed his father on the throne. He was followed by Bloody Mary (so called for burning Protestants on the stake as she unsuccessfully tried reviving Catholocism in England) and Elizabeth I the Virgin Queen (so called because she never married but was far from a virgin according to legend). Childless Elizabeth I ended the Tudor reign which ushered in the Stuart reign. Edward tried installing his cousin Lady Jane Grey (Wiki link) on the throne as he was dying and was successful for nine days until Mary recaptured her "rightful" throne. (Edward, Mary and Elizabeth were all Henry VIII's children so they all had blood claims to the throne.) Edward tried outflanking Mary because she was an ardent Catholic and he didn't want her on the throne. The timing of this trip was perfect as I saw a TV show on Mary and Elizabeth just before we left which explained all of the above and more. The Nine Day Queen should be worth another Trivial Pursuit pie piece at some point so you are welcome.
The arched ceiling of the Cloister hallways. Not sure what all of the shields are for but there were tons of them.
From the Cloister looking at the front towers. The Canterbury Cathedral, St. Martin's Church, and St. Augustine's Abbey all comprise a UNESCO World Heritage Site. They earned the WH designation since this town is where Christianity is credited with spreading in the UK. The Romans originally brought Christianity to the Isles but when they left and the Isles were overrun by the pagan Anglo-Saxons. Cue Pope Gregory and monk Augustine from above. From a local parishioner at St. Martin's, the monk Augustine was granted Saint status for spreading the seeds of Christianity in the pagan and brutish Isles. Apparently it was a big enough deal to reward Augustine.
Sarah Anderson Pic - Lori gave me "The Look" for taking this picture in the No Camera Zone Crypt. It is of the 7th C building columns. Also in the crypt were some 12th C tombs which were worn but neat. They also had a mini museum with local church artifacts like chalices, dishes, croziers and figurines. One of the larger and more interesting crypts we have toured. One note from the pamphlet is the Cathedral employs fourteen full time stonemasons and seven stained glass conservators to "safeguard the Cathedral for future generations."
The Cathedra in the Cathedral.
The shrine location which was the focal point of the pilgrimages and also the inspiration for Chaucer's Canterbury Tales.
The tomb of Henry IV and his wife Joan of Navarre. Per my English rulers wall poster Henry IV was king from 1399-1413 and was pretty boring.
I think this was the Miracle Window which shows some of the miracles that happened at Thomas Becket's Shrine.
The Trinity Chapel.
Looking past the Shrine Candle down the Quire towards the Nave. Half of the Quire and all of the Nave were blocked off for the graduation. Crumbs.
Stained glass close up.
The tomb of "The Black Prince" Edward Plantagenet (Wiki link). Per the link he was son of King Edward III and father to King Richard II. He died before his father so he was never king. According to the literature he spent a lot of time in the area and in the Cathedral in particular which is why his tomb is here.
Stained glass close up of Saint Anselm (Wiki link).
The clothes The Black Prince wore during his funeral procession in 1376.
A side Chapel.
Standing in the Quire looking at the Nave. We couldn't visit The Martyrdom (the actual site of Thomas' killing) or look at the Bell Harry Tower ceiling. Double crumbs.
Same spot looking looking towards Trinity Chapel. This is a pretty large Cathedral.
A fancy bishop's tomb.
The Chapter House, the largest in England per the literature.
The impressive stained glass windows.
Gate to the Cathedral grounds. After the Cathedral we wandered the streets and did some light shopping. I was debating going to the Canterbury Tales Museum to learn a little more about the famous book but the online reviews of overpriced and poorly put together kept me away. Sounded like I made the correct choice when I asked a local about the museum and she hemmed and hawed before basically saying it was overpriced for what it is.
The Eastbridge Hospital (link), sounded old and charming but was more small and semi-interesting. It was founded as accommodation for poor people who visited St. Thomas' tomb and didn't charge anyone to stay here. The cashier has some interesting background on the place and time but overall it was a pretty brief stop.
Painting from the late 12th or early 13th C. Read about it below. I guess this is worth the four pound family admission price.
For above Part 1.
For above Part 2.
An inside shot of the Norman style arches.
Pilgrims' Chapel, check out the wooden rafters.
We also learned about Blackfriars, Whitefriars and Greyfriars which were all named after the colour robes they wore.
Instead of the Canterbury Tales Museum we opted for the Canterbury Heritage Museum which was a wise decision. Here's the outside of the museum which covered Canterbury and the surrounding area through the eyes of time. It was well put together and full of interesting bits and bobs for a bunch of Canterbury noobs like us.
70,000 year old mammoth tusk found near Swalecliffe (close to Canterbury) in the 1930's.
I thought the gouges on this knife was interesting as it shows how the knife was chipped into shaped.
"Gold 'ribbon' twist bracelet" dated to Middle Bronze Age 1300-1000 BC. Kalle liked this.
Artistic impression of late Roman Canterbury, about 300 AD. Canterbury was the first Roman town, they called it Durovernum Cantiacorum.
The Romans abandoned the town in 410 AD and the Angles and Saxon occupiers from the North Sea settled in groups in the countryside so the town fell into ruin.
Enter Augustine in 597 AD.
Queen Bertha and Aethelbert, King of Kent. Kent is the shire, or county, that Canterbury and Dover are part of. Not sure why it is called Kent instead of Kentshire.
Anglo-Saxons move into the town walls in 700 AD, clean up the Roman ruins and built their own thatch roof houses. 400 hundred years later and look how far civilisation has declined as compared to the Romans above.
This oak roof is from 1373 AD. Amazing.
There also was a sixty foot frieze telling the story of Thomas Becket in the museum. Here Thomas is about to have the top of his head cut off by the knights.
Here they have brought his body down to the crypt where they removed his robes to find a monk's habit underneath which made them happy. But not nearly as happy as seeing the hair shirt and pants under his habit which was full of fleas and lice which left his body as it cooled. My how times have changed.
The above proved Thomas was "utterly holy" which meant he "won". Seeing his tomb became a pilgrimage for many people and he eventually was made a saint. Henry II saw the error of his ways, payed his penance, and everyone was happy. Especially the church which accepted all of the gifts the pilgrims brought to the tomb (then the shrine) which ended up making the church very rich.
11th C Norman Canterbury.
Pilgrimage info board.
Occasionally we come across items that really excite the kids. One of the items on this trip was this medieval poo that you could smell. Teenager Karl smelled it about six times.
Artistic rendition of the destruction of Becket's Tomb.
Read below. I guess England "borrowed" the Three Lions from Canterbury.
For the pic above.
Read below. We've come from 70,000 years ago to 500 years ago.
For the man above.
Remember the giant mask by the Marlowe Theatre? Well, here's Marlowe. He was a contemporary to and influence on Shakespeare, you can read about him on Wiki here.
"Funerary Armour From Sir Roger Manwood's Tomb." I've never heard of him but you can read about him on Wiki here.
Some Canterburians were on The Mayflower. Reminded me of our Plymouth trip.
Check out the scary Mickey Mouse gas mask from World War II. We are in the present part of the museum now. I skipped posting anything from the 1800's Victorian era.
Not sure how many people were aware that James Bond's creator also wrote Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
A Chitty Chitty Bang Bang racing car that inspired Fleming.
A World War II Morrison Shelter. Read about them below.
For the pic above. Kalle learned about these earlier this year.
I found this unexploded WWII incendiary bomb interesting.
For the pic above.
After the museum we walked a bit through the city centre then hopped in our car for the twenty-five minute drive to Dover and our hotel.
Relaxing in our room at the West Bank Guest House before dinner. This place was a doozy. It was located in Slumville, had poor beds and worse pillows, we woke up a little stuffy both mornings due to the kinda dusty room, and worse of all it didn't have a hair dryer! What a dump! At least Lori helped pick this one so I was off the hook. They served a full English breakfast which didn't help their cause. Egg, bacon (ham for the Yanks), sausage, tomatoes, baked beans, mushrooms, toast, orange juice, and coffee. I'm sure its good to the English but just didn't float our American boats.
From our walk to dinner. Read below.
I found this to be fascinating.
Dana Johnson Pic - I had pasta, sausage, onion, peas, and tomato sauce. We ate at an Italian place called La Scala which was very good. Everyone liked their meals - they worked with Lori to make a gluten and dairy free dish; Kalle loved her chicken topped with eggplant and cheese; and Karl liked his ravioli. Very good meals all around. A little expensive but worth it.
Dana Johnson Pic - A rare after dinner dessert for me, vanilla gelato. Usually I stick to the packaged stuff over here where I can read the ingredients before eating it.
On Saturday we spent the day in Dover. First up was the 10 AM opening Dover Castle (Wiki link). Laverne from my better Halves Club gave me a couple of pointers - the best one was go to the Secret Wartime Tunnels first then explore the rest of the castle. I can see where the tunnels fill up fast during peak tourist times, we were first in line for the 50 minute tunnel tour then had a six minute wait for the 20 minute tunnel tour. I can't imagine what the waiting times are for summertime tours. The worst part of the tunnels was no pictures. The first tour was Operation Dynamo - Rescue from Dunkirk and was my favourite part of the castle. That tunnel was partially carved out during Napoleonic times and was renovated during WWII. The tour took you from the beginning of the war (Karl learned that Neville_Chamberlain was Prime Minister of Britain when the war started but was replaced for the tougher Churchill) to Germany overrunning France forcing the mass Allied evacuation at Dunkirk, France. They did an excellent job summarising the high points with facts and figures then blending in wartime motion picture footage with radio broadcasts. The tour ended with the evacuation and how England welcomed back the soldiers as heroes who wouldn't give up even though the soldiers felt like failures for having to flee. It defined the British mindset for the rest of the war of never giving up, no matter the outlook. The second tunnel was The Underground Hospital which was interesting but sanitised after people passed out from the operating theatre demonstration. It used to have an operating table and floor covered in fake blood and smelling of open wounds but the people who passed out slowed down the tour so they sanitised that part of the tour. The tunnel was built for WWII to be a working hospital but the humid and stuffy conditions were not suitable for a hospital. Throw in frequent power outages/black outs and the hospital idea was kind of a clunker. It was used as a hospital during part of the war but never fulfilled its purpose. The tour was mostly a walking tour with the knowledgeable guide providing most of the commentary which was fine, just not as interactive as the first tour. A third set of tunnels, the Medieval Tunnels, were closed so we couldn't tour them.
Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsay, architect of the Dunkirk rescue and protector of Dover during the war.
Guns and radio station facing France.
On our way up to the castle. The gate ahead (called Colton's Tower) was from the 1500's if I remember correctly. And yes that is snow.
The troop trooping their way to the Inner Bailey. According to the Wiki link this is the largest castle in England although I am not sure what the size criteria was.
King Henry II (Thomas Becket's buddy) built this and many other castles in England.
Henry II was considered one of England's stronger kings and is credited with uniting England under one ruler. His French connection isn't widely publicised however.
In Arthur's Hall was a few panels setting the stage for Henry II and Dover Castle.
His wife - on one of the info boards it said he locked her up near the end of their marriage.
I knew he spent very little time in England but didn't know he barely spoke English. Kind of gives you a different view of him when you realize he was more French then English.
King John who inadvertently gave us the Magna Carta.
In the bottom of the keep was the kitchen area. Here's some steaks and the meat slop bucket. Yum.
The brewer's tub, ale/wine casks, and various jars.
Check out the fire in the background and clothes lines on the right.
Dining room. The colour combinations here reminded me of the colour combinations at Chepstow Castle in Wales.
Early 1700's graffiti in the walls.
Another bedroom, this one has a fireplace so it must have been royalty rooms as opposed to the first bedroom.
Cool chain mail undershirt.
The Castle Chapel.
Required stained glass window shot.
Replica of the Mappa Mundi, advertised as the world's oldest medieval map. The original is in the Hereford Cathedral and I plan on seeing it in person in the next few months.
On top the Great Tower, looking towards London.
On top the Great Tower looking towards France. Straight out on the left side is St. Mary's Church which was built around 1000 AD before the Norman invasion. The crumbly tower to its right is the Roman lighthouse and is the oldest building in the castle. The Georgian barracks right in front were built in the 1740's. The inner curtain wall on the right was built by King John between 1199-1216. I wish we had a crystal ball at this point as we skipped touring the church and barracks so we could walk the White Cliffs while the sun is still shining. It's after 1 PM at this point.
On top the Great Tower looking towards the White Cliffs.
One of Kalle's hobbies as we are looking around the rooftop was finding awesome coloured rocks. She was really excited to find these beauties although my picture doesn't do them justice.
A wall passage from 1188 AD. It's original purpose was to provide extra light and ventilation to the colourful state apartments.
The Great Tower as we are leaving. It certainly was great in size.
This window caught my eye as I walked past.
Last view of the Inner Bailey and hovering Great Tower in the middle. With it opening at 10 AM you could easily spend all day here if you looked at everything and walked around the walls, or had to wait in lines. But we didn't have the time to spend here so we drove the five minutes to the White Cliffs of Dover car park
Onto the White Cliffs of Dover (Wiki link). What disappointed me was the views. You see all these great white chalk cliff pictures but don't realise they were taken from a boat in the Channel or from a plane above the Channel. I was hoping for a nice long view down the cliffs but that doesn't exist. Plus the day was partly cloudy which didn't help. Worst of all was the trails were pure mud and we didn't bring our Wellies. I knew the weather may not be great but it didn't dawn on me to pack some mudding boots.
We had to stop and pet this beautiful Akita dog. She appreciated the extra ear scratching.
We've finally made it to the cliffs. Nice view but I was expecting more.
The kids occupied themselves for a while looking for the perfect white piece of chalk.
Dover Castle from the White Cliffs. Dover ferry terminal to the left.
After slipping and sliding our way about a third of the way down the path we asked a returning couple about the views all the way out and they said it was about the same as where we were. So after another near miss - Kalle two hand planted herself at one point preventing a total face first wipeout - we called it good and started making our way back. Kind of a bummer. If I had known the views and walking paths were in the condition they were in I would have poked around the castle awhile longer before heading here. Or been prepared and brought proper boots then we could have had fun walking on the muddy trails.
Interesting sights with the jet black flint in the white chalk cliffs.
Final shot of the cliffs and English Channel. Temperatures were in the mid 30's F and the sun played peek a boo with us all day so the weather wasn't bad and wasn't good.
Since we had daylight to burn we followed up that disappointment with St. Margaret's at Cliffe, a stretch goal. I read about it online and it sounds like this quaint little village sitting by the cliff. Not quite. It's more like a medium sized town stuffed into a village setting. Tight driving lanes and blind turns, poor signage, no city centre attraction we saw; it brought back some unpleasant memories of driving in Mousehole in Cornwall. Laverne from the BHC said it was okay (which matched the online reviews) but her and Tim walked the cliffs then to St. Margaret's so I'm thinking it probably has a well laid out walking path which didn't help us out. So after following the one museum signage to a Private Drive - Do Not Enter driveway we decided to call St. Margaret's a bust and head back to Dover. I considered going back to the castle and looking at the rest of the buildings we missed but instead chose the Roman Painted House (link), the self described most intact Roman house in Britain. I ran it by the family first as we have seen a lot of Roman attractions and didn't want to bore them but they said yes so we checked it out. And got as far as the front door. It is closed for the winter, apparently I misread the opening times on the website. Fail, as teenager Karl would say. Now we are in the museum/attraction nether region - close enough to closing time that we probably won't have enough time to finish any place we start so we headed back to the hotel until dinner.
Spooky moon and castle pic 1.
Spooky moon and castle pic 2. Looking at this made it feel like Halloween.
We were early to dinner so we ducked into this pub which was visited by Albert, The Prince Consort in 1842. The name change probably brought more business in the day but sure wasn't the case that night. I had a Carlsberg as we waited then a stretch goal Budweiser before the Chinese restaurant New Moon Something or Another opened. Kind of expensive combined with average tasting food didn't match our Italian meal.
On Sunday I planned on hitting two attractions in Canterbury then drive home to arrive at a decent hour which worked out great. At home we entered the grocery store thirty minutes before it closed so we were able to pick up a few supplies for Monday. I love it when a plan comes together, to quote that crazy foo' Hannibal.
Our first stop was St. Martin's Church (link). Not only is it part of the Canterbury UNESCO World Heritage Site trifecta it is the oldest continuous worshipping church in England. Pretty impressive I thought. Here is the Wiki link for the Wiki lovers. Queen Bertha herself worshipped here over 1500 years ago. The church itself is small, plain and obviously old. Not run down but not sparkly and bright which is typical of the smaller rural village churches you see over here. A neat experience that we all enjoyed. We even had an older parishioner give us the background on the pagan King and Christian Queen as they meet Augustine. We did have to wait a few minutes for the service to end as it was open from 9:50 to 10:15 on Sundays but I knew that before hand so it wasn't a surprise.
Queen Bertha was thought to have worshipping at this church before Augustine arrived. You can see and touch the Roman walls which makes this a rare church, most churches this old date back to the site and not the building.
The cemetery was jam packed with graves.
Inside the church, this is original Roman construction which would place it 4th C or earlier. Amazing that it is still standing and being used to support a wall. I had to touch it.
The altar of the small and plain church.
Karl and I discussed the meaning of this window. My take was the kneeling person on the bottom pane met Christ and spent the rest of his life spreading The Word of Christ. He must have led an eventful life as he is on his deathbed on the top pane dictating his life's work to the scribe.
One of the remaining 4th C Roman walls. Queen Bertha is standing in the old Roman doorway.
The original section of the church. One the right is the Roman wall from the pic above, on the left mostly out of sight is the other remaining Roman wall.
A discriminatory female only stained glass.
The new wall dated to Norman times, 11th/12th C construction.
St. Martin (link) as a young soldier cutting his cloak in half to give to a beggar in the bottom pane the day before he had a vision of Christ that caused him to retire from soldiering and dedicate his life to Christ per the legend. The top pane shows him as a young Roman soldier. I did not find any evidence of him having been in Kent which puzzled me however.
The squint - the angled hole in the wall where medieval lepers could view mass.
The Baptismal Font dates to 1155 to 1165 and was made from a well head from the Cathedral cloisters.
Final interior shot.
Exterior shot of the entrance.
Angled side shot with stone wall. This feels like I am back in the 1500's.
Funny and rare mailbox in wall we encountered on our walk to St. Augustine's Abbey.
Our final stop of the trip was St. Augustine's Abbey (link), the last leg of our Canterbury World Heritage tour. The three buildings "tell the story of the re-introduction of Christianity to England from the late 6th century." Where as the cathedral and church were existing buildings this was a mostly excavated site which didn't do much for me but Karl liked it so I'm glad we stopped. Plus it was free with our English Heritage memberships. By now we are well versed on Pope Gregory, monk Augustine and the King and Queen of Kent so a little history on the years afterwards were nice to listen to on the audio guides and read on the information boards. This abbey wasn't as well put together as other ruins we have toured but it was a nice, short stop.
Dug up grave. A lot of the skeletons they found were well preserved thanks to the lead coffins.
The birth of the Church of England and death of Catholicism in England.
This was a really, really big place in its day.
Recap of the re-introduction of Christianity to England.
Looking over the site. The Normans destroyed most of the original structure then they built their own church on the site. Some religious Normans recognised the historical value and stopped the builders from destroying all of the site.
Karl found the location of St. Augustine's grave.
The Tombs, read above.
More excavations, this shows the Rood Screen location which is also your Word of the Week Auntie "B". Rood Screen is the word, not location just to clarify. <Wink, wink>
The original square cloisters and newly built (1800's I think) King's School. The monks followed the Rule of St. Benedict which included church services eight times a day
Read about the cloister.
The Norman Church crypt. Read about it above.
Chapel of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The Chapel and crypt from above.
Now the sun comes out as I am on the next to last information board. The car said it was 9.5 C (48 F) outside but the biting wind made it feel much colder. You can see the Cathedral in the distance.
How the abbey was rescued.
This explains the "new" feel of the Abbey.
We saw this slick looking Rolls Royce on the drive home.
Thus ends our trip. No crowds to battle so we battled the dodgy weather instead which is expected in January over here I guess. Some sights were interesting while others were disappointing. The trip was good overall, parts were extremely informative and refreshing which we really enjoyed. Kind of a let down for me with the Cathedral and Cliffs but I did enjoy the weekend nonetheless.
A final note on my declining camera. I mentioned that the focus isn't always working properly a few weeks ago. On this trip I had problems saving my pictures to the memory stick, a few would only go to the internal memory. Plus my zoom sometimes has a mind of its own and either my batteries aren't storing the same charge as before or my battery charger has its own problems but my batteries aren't taking as many shots as they used to. Just a few more months and it can die completely. I am getting my use out of it so I can't officially complain about it. Who knows - maybe a DSLR will be in my future.
Thanks for listening,