The UK Adventure Begins

We had expected to wait about a week for our truck to appear, but plans have a habit of going awry and the ship carrying the 917, the Hawaiian Highway, was about 2 weeks late! 

Because of the delay, Denise’s brother ended up hosting us for a total of three weeks, which really was above and beyond the call of duty.  We were, needless to say, very grateful.  And, as always, we had great fun together!

Easter included plum pudding napalm.

While near Chichester, in Sussex, we were able to explore the area a little. We made several visits to Chichester, a lovely Roman town with fragments of wall still existing and the traditional Roman cardo layout, with four main streets leading to the medieval cross in the center of town.  (“Chester” comes from the Latin, “castra” meaning fortress. See also Doncaster, Leicester, and all the rest.) There are lots of fun shops (for a few important purchases) and wonderful coffee shops for a coffee or light lunch.

Little hill in a city park? Yup! Original motte from a motte and bailey castle.
Chichester cathedral

On a rather chilly day we went to the Wetlands Reserve at Arundel, a nearby town, to view its amazing selection of different ducks, coots and swans.  They are free to leave if they wish but most obviously do not.  They looked quite at home.

Photographing the geese.
Arundel castle as seen from the wetlands.
Local pub had Scotch eggs.

Fred and Denise’s brother, Trevor, snuck out for a quick visit to the little Air Museum at Tangmere. Devotees of the Battle of Britain will have heard of Tangmere, one of the many RAF bases. ( The little museum is well worth a visit for the extensive memorabilia and, next time, the flight simulators!

Crashed Hurricane, dug out of the ground.
Peering into an intake you find the engine inside.
Pondering the difference between a Harrier and a Sea Harrier.

In 1937 the Gloucester Gladiator became operational with the RAF; the last biplane. It even served during most of WWII. ( In 1943 the Gloucester Meteor became the first operational jet fighter on the allied side – a span of only six years. ( Considering that the first jets were only conceived of in the late 1930, this was an insanely short time. The Meteor was so secret that pilots were no allowed over German lines least one crash and be recovered. The Meteor was used to intercept V1 flying bombs and to tip them over with the wing so that the gyro would fail and the bomb would crash. That would have been a wild maneuver.

Fred was amazed; he knew that the Allies were working on jets, but did not know that any were ever operational.

Gloucester Meteor. (The Jordanian air force used these as ground attack aircraft into the 1950’s.)

Chichester also has a Ship Canal and we enjoyed a lovely walk along the towpath one morning.  In the early 1800’s, there was an idea to connect London with the sea near Chichester. The goal was route to carry heavy cargo that was protected from French raiders on the Channel. The canal never reached London or made any money, but it did make it to Chichester. Quite an interesting little artifact. ( Again, we saw a selection of ducks, coots, and moorhens.

The final basin in Chichester,
Clever art. Expand the image and look closely at the wings.
Waling the tow path.
Little tug used to move barges, now only for maintenance.
Old machinery
Chichester cathedral from the canal.
And in 1828, by Turner.
End of the canal near Bosham. The lock gate is due to tides.

We were back in Arundel a week or so later to visit the Castle and to explore the gardens during the Tulip Festival.  The Festival had been delayed for a week as with a chilly spring, the tulips were not flowering!  

The displays were wonderful, though some flowers were still not open. 

The tour of the Castle, which is the home of the Duke of Norfolk, the Earl Marshal of England, was most interesting.  ( (You don’t want to meet the current Duke on the road; he is under a six month driving ban!)

The castle is old, parts are Norman, huge, in good condition, and still occupied by the family. Needless to say, it has been expanded and altered many times. Some of the bedrooms you can visit are still used for guests! This leads to the odd anachronism of telephones and modern magazines in odd places. Arundel should definitely be on your short list of castles to visit, if only for the only intact portcullis the first that we have ever seen. (

The Dukes of Norfolk are hereditary Earls Marshal. While this used to mean tending to the king’s horses, now the primary duty is to organize major state occasions. For example, the funeral of Elizabeth II and, more recently, the coronation of Charles III. (

Those are real watch towers, once manned day and night.
The portcullis was the emergency gate to a castle. Should an enemy succeed in arranging a sneak attack, a swing of the sledge hammer and the portcullis would drop to bar entry. This would allow time to close the gates and raise or burn the bridge.
Counterweights made it easier to raise the portcullis. Usually, there were two; outer and inner. In the event of a sneak attack you dropped both to trap the attackers in the gate house where they could be killed with arrows or noxious things dropped through the “murder holes” in the roof and walls.
Looking from the old, Norman tower and walls to the newer living quarters which were added when the castle no longer had a military purpose.

Denise admires the great hall.
Simply stunning stairway.
The third Duke of Norfolk, aged 66.
Victorian loo
The family is still staunch Catholic. There is much Catholic art everywhere.
The Norfolks built a beautiful Catholic cathedral, just across the street from the castle. Castle gardens in the foreground.
Teeny-hopper tourists
Unusual fountain of Mary, Queen of Heaven.
A royal telephone. When not open to tourists, the family use the public parts of the castle for guests.
Denise, celebrating the sun which is peeking out.
The second effigy, underneath, is the “momento mori,” the reminder of mortality.
The effigy on the top of the tomb is pretty strait forward, dripping with symbolism.
Some of the original color remains, a reminder that these were never cold, stone images.

If you read the Bayeux Tapestry in the original latin (doesn’t everybody?), you will learn that Edward went to the church at Bosham before leaving on his ill-fated trip to what is now Normandy. WE went to Bosham to have fish and chips at a great pub with Denise’s cousin, visiting with his wife from Iceland. (Small world. His wife’s nephew is a great guitar tech at a guitar shop in Arlington and performed an amazing setup on Fred’s Strat!)

Bosham is an interesting little town as parts of it flood every high tide. And even though it has been doing this since Edward’s time, people still park in the wrong places! And, fish and chips enjoyed, we also visited the church, which is still there, if greatly expanded. (

Mary Collins and her son, who died in 1918 at age 24.
And Thomas, who drowned in a storm in 1759, age 23.
Denise, believing the sign.
Ya think?
In this case, the threshold doesn’t hold the thresh, but keeps out the tide.
Ice creams available – limited time offer!

We spent a lovely morning at the Weald and Downland Museum.  Our first visit in about 30 years!  ( The Weald and Downland museum is a large, open air collection of “vernacular” buildings from the Middle Ages on. Basically, the buildings in which real people, not the nobility, lived and worked. It has parallels in Colonial Williamsburg and Old Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts. If your image of the past begins with castles and stately homes, this museum completes the picture with houses of more ordinary people. It has expanded a bit and there were new exhibits.

Beautiful roofing work, but no chimney.
Bedroom with “bed clothes.”
Table set for dinner.
Pegs to hold your shingles in place.
House of a wealthy merchant or farmer.
Early RV
Wealthy merchant, a garderobe.
Nasty job, cleaning the cess pit.
One of our family pastimes is noting family names that are actually professions. In this case, Thatcher.

This is one of the more modern houses; it has a chimney – required after the fire of London.
Medieval radio
Fans of Georgette Hyer will approve of “The Toll Gate.”
This is simply one of the houses you can see from the museum.

I suspect that this one has indoor plumbing, heat, and power.
A reminder that when these building are relocated, every single stone and beam has to be marked for reassembly.
And here are the tolls to be collected.

Finally, we had word that we could pick up the 917 in Southampton.  We really appreciated the train system around that area.  We had taken the train from Gatwick Airport to Trevor’s local station, Barnham, when we arrived.  Later we took the train from Barnham to Chichester to shop and now we took the train from Barnham to Southampton to pick up the truck.  A great system.  The Brits always complain about the trains, but would that we had similar service around DC. Oh, we did. And we had street cars in DC – until the great Firestone/General Motors campaign of the 1950’s. Breaks your heart.

And she has arrived, in perfect condition.

We spent a day unpacking our clothes as we had shipped some in the camper.  We had also locked most of our possessions in the back garage, so that all needed to be organized and sorted. 

Those who know our family know why this was an ESSENTIAL provision for the trip!

Then we visited the camper storage facility that we had thought to use during our returns to the States only to find that they thought us to to be “inappropriate.” So we are currently looking at alternatives – stand by; trains may be involved again!  We had our first shopping trip and then headed back to prepare for departure.

The M-25 awaits!

1 thought on “The UK Adventure Begins

  1. mikruiser

    A lovely description of the area we only recently moved to, the down land museum is still on our list to visit. I will enjoy reading of your travels around our small island, welcome!


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