Archive for June, 2010

30 June 1995

June 30, 2010

No chicken! Cereal for breakfast than Nick and I walked to the bus stop to the school. We waited for the rest of the group once there.

Once we got to the Abbey of St. Alban, we were briefed on its history.

In 209, a Roman named Alban was beheaded and became the first Christian Martyr. Legend has it that the executioner’s eyes fell out when the blade struck Alban.

In 793, King Offa established an Abbey and monastery at the execution site. Alban’s remains became a shrine. It stayed that way until Henry VII pillaged the Abbey and destroyed the monastery. A group raised £400 to buy it, but they were to poor to take care of it so the Abbey went to ruin.
The 1800’s was a rebirth for it when a Lord formed a committee to restore it. The shrine had escaped destruction by a pile of rubble.

The nave is the longest in the world able to seat over 1000. Three types of arches were, here. Now classified a cathedral, the bishop’s throne was carved from a solid piece of wood, the altar screen contains 76 beings. Much stained glass was to be found in the abbey. A 144 ft. bell tower, built from parts of the Verulamium ruins, was closed to us. The shrine had been cleaned. Ceilings were painted with care.

We walked to Verulamium.

Verulamio was a Celtic town conquered by the Romans in AD 43. They called it Verulamium. In AD 60, the city burnt to the ground but was completely rebuilt in 13 years. The city is one of the few that buried their dead.

Liz was at the school to pick Nathan and me up. Jonathan was ill with a fever and couldn’t lead us “home.” We dropped Nathan off and picked up Rachel and her friend Catherine. We headed “home.”

I noticed American influence in town. I joined an expedition to get hamburgers – beefburgers-. In the plaza was Burger King, Pizza Hut, and the smallest Toys–R-Us I’ve ever seen.

I spent the rest of the evening watching the news.


– eat about the same foods

– but –


– eat less beef and more green vegetables.


napkin = serviette

pickle = gherkin

rent = to let

potato chips = crisps

fries = chips

Future Ryan says: I think Wikipedia has me bested on the histories of both St. Albans Cathedral and Verulamium. However, an event that gets no mention in my journal was the camera trouble that struck me here. At St. Albans, I dropped my camera on stone steps, and the back door of the housing popped open, exposing the film to daylight! (Digital cameras are so much more reliable. Yay progress!) Mr. S____ was able to salvage my film by improvising a darkroom in his hotel room. Thanks, Mr. S____!

Thankfully the Cold Chicken Curse lifted when we exited London. But that was before we encountered Scottish food….

29 June 1995

June 29, 2010

After breakfast, we ran out of time to walk and visit the Cutty Sark. I really wanted to go. We then boarded the coach after checking out. We rode to Parliament and waited to get in.

Once inside I saw many works of art, mostly paintings and sculptures. Sir Andrew Bowdajin (Future Ryans says: Andrew Bowden, I believe) gave a speech on how England’s government works and what the future holds for our two countries. Questions were answered and we proceeded to present gifts. Bag lunches followed in Victoria Tower Park. NO CHICKEN! HURRAH!

We walked to the Tate Art Gallery. I’m not much for art, but the guide was able to keep my interest, though I was quite hot.

The coach took us to Simon Balle School. We played a social game on the way.

As we leave London, I must reflect on what I’ve seen. A city with prosperous businesses but crammed with poverty. Millions of shops, but people too poor to buy. Millions spent scrubbing buildings but litter lining the streets. A city with a death grip on heritage but pressing onward to the future. Mass transportation is widely used and plays outnumber movies.

My homestay people are: Liz, David, Nick, and Rachel Arnold. Nick is 14 and Rachel is 6. Pizza was served for dinner than Nick’s friend Jonathan with Nathan dropped by. I then took a shower. These folks know how to make a chap feel right at home.

Future Ryan says: Our London hotel was a hop skip and jump away from the Cutty Sark. We had to walk right past it to eat at the Meridian Cafe the other night. A bunch of us wanted to take a detour and spend more time at the ship, but we never got around to it.

The first thing I remember about Parliament was that it was the first non-airport place where I encountered a metal detector. The second thing I remember about Parliament was that the corridors were lined with artwork, a density far greater than at the Tate Gallery later that day. Andrew Bowden was the UK sponsor of the People to People program, and he spoke with us within that capacity. It felt so important to be in another nation’s legislature hall that I didn’t move a muscle the entire time. To this day, I’ve never been inside my own country’s legislative hall, despite living only 20-odd miles from it.

London was hit with a rare heat wave during my stay there. I wore a blazer to Parliemant, and for some stupid reason refused to take it off during the whole day, even after my fellow students had ditched theirs. This made me very overheated and uncomfortable all day, out in the 85 degree sun in a wool jacket. More than anything else, I thanked the Tate for its air conditioning!

Where on earth did I get this idea that London was riddled with poverty? In retrospect, it wasn’t much worse than I’ve since seen in New York or Washington.

The Arnold family lived in Hertford, a suburb north of London. They hosted me for almost a week. Hey, Arnold family! Whatever became of you? Find me on FaceBook!

28 June 1995

June 29, 2010

I had breakfast at the hotel and then boarded a coach. We saw many sites in London including Westminster Abbey, Tower of London, and other sites. Many were so interesting, that I wanted to visit them longer.


Lunch at Ye Olde Cock Tavern Charles Dickens dined at. Food was good. Mr. S_____ then, after sightseeing, took a group, including me, shopping in Covent Gardens, a Roman market. Saw a neat candle shop. Ate dinner at the Prince of Wales restaurant. More cold chicken. Proceeded to Albery theatre to see Five Guys named Moe, a play. Five men helped another improve his life. Good use of audience. Returned to hotel. On the tour, I forgot to mention the Changing of the Guard. There were so many people I could only see a bit of it. What I did see was a group of traditional guards march by playing instruments quickly followed by some military people. The Horseguards never showed up.

Similarities – like to shop

Differences – have a monarch

Future Ryan says: Now this is what I came to see, and I regret that we had to pack so much into such a short time. I stood too short in a crowd to see the Changing of the Guard, but held my camera up to photograph what I couldn’t see. I saw the grave of Michael Faraday. I rode a moving sidewalk past the display of the Crown Jewels. We… ate more cold chicken.

The candle shop that I mentioned was very interesting. There was a woman making candles outside the shop. She dipped inflated balloons into black wax, building up layer upon layer. Then she popped the balloon and filled the hollow black shell with white wax. The finishing touch was to carve "BOOM" into the side. Get it?

I think it was this point in my London excursions that I set foot into a Games Workshop store, where dozens of men and boys played early WarHammer on a sea of plywood. Future Me would have paid more attention. Also, at some point during this shopping trip, my companion Jason, against all of our protests against the idea, bought a switchblade knife. Sure to our word, it was confiscated by airport security at Heathrow before our return flight.

The stage show "Moe" was very colorful and lively, and made incredible use of audience participation. Performers came down from the stage into the aisiles and called upon audience members with aisile seats to get up and dance with them. At one point, large confetti fluttered down from the ceiling. I picked one up off the floor. It read "turn me over". I did, and there, printed on the back, were the lyrics to the song they were singing, with a request to "join right in"! Nifty!

27 June 1995

June 27, 2010

After landing, we boarded raced through security, grabbed our bags, and met the bus that took us to Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum. Wax replicas went from Roger Moore to Gandhi. Many celebrities, movie stars, and political leaders were set to wax.

(Note: This and tomorrow’s posts are photo-heavy. The rest of the travel journal won’t have so many at once.)

Another frenzied lunch had Mr. S____, Justin M____, and I separated. We had to ride a educational ride to, guess where, a planetarium. We finally made it out and the bus driver took us on a tour. We checked into the Clarendon Hotel in London and went to Café Greenwich Park for lunch dinner.

A group meeting was held then we returned to the hotel.





  • bus = coach
  • elevator = lift
  • give way = yield
  • truck = lorry
  • napkin = serviette


– driving on other side of road on other side of car

– license plates, on each end like bumper stickers. Back yellow, front white.

Future Ryan says: I was very excited to arrive in Heathrow. I was in Europe! On the coach ride from the airport, we were given a crash course in British coinage. If I were as much a coin geek then as I am now, I would have paid a lot more attention to the coins that I encountered on the whole trip.

Before the Tussauds franchise expanded to the US market, this was a premier museum to see, but I was bothered by this choice as our first stop. It just didn’t say London to me, not as much as the 1,500 years of history around the city did. Here we were in one of the world’s oldest and largest cities, capital of an empire, and we were gawking at fake celebs. Ick.

Speaking of ick, the cafe we dined at was situated on the Prime Meridian. The thing I remember most was that the chicken entree arrived below room temperature. Haven’t these so-called civilized Brits discovered fire yet? It was the first of several instances of cold chicken that was to taint my London adventure.

And here is the first major nugget of my language observations. As the famous quote goes, "America and England are two nations separated by a common language".

26 June 1995

June 26, 2010

My family arrived at Michiana Regional [Airport]. I turned in my luggage and lined up for a group photo. After passing security, we waited for the plane, said our goodbyes, and I boarded a DC-9 bound for Detroit. A brisk walk through that airport brought us to our 757. An hour later we arrived at LaGuardia, New York. A bus transferred us to JFK. After checking in, we got a frenzied dinner and boarded a 747 bound for London. The service has been the best so far. Looking forward to tomorrow.

Future Ryan says: This was the first time I had ever flown on a commercial flight, and after returning from the British Isles I would only make one more flight before 2003. These days I fly out to Los Angeles each year to visit my in-laws. It was very difficult to sleep during the overnight flight to London. When I was younger I used to be very light sensitive when I tried to sleep, and even the No Smoking signs kept me awake. The noise and motion didn’t bother me nearly as much as the tiniest amount of light.

24 June 2010

June 24, 2010

We gathered at Bendix Woods Park. I met a kid named Smitty. He taught me to play bocce ball. We listened to announcements then drove to the airport. Once there, we got to the Northwest terminal, weighted our luggage, (22.5 pounds!) then waited at the gate after clearing security. The delegation drove back to the park to eat. We then gave cut roses to our parents then Mrs. K____ started a “eat and run” relay. My team came in 5th.

Some of the students I spent the most time with on the trip:

Future Ryan says: I took a bocce set with me to college, and played pick-up games on the campus courtyard. I’ve since learned that the rules I play with bear more similarity to French petanque than to Italian bocce. I actually enjoy the simplicity of petanque, since the playing field is far less defined and I can setup a game nearly anywhere.

This meeting was our official dress rehearsal for D-Day (Departure Day) two days later. The luggage weigh-in was very important since students with heavy luggage in years past had to do last minute triage to their travel gear. I think the weight limit was 50 pounds, and I was proud that I came in under half that. I used a black duffel bag with mounted wheels, rather than the rigid box-on-wheels that has since become predominant in luggage design. I wouldn’t choose that duffel bag design today; it was too heavy and not as collapsable as intended.