Written March 24, 2023, at Manchester, England.

My reward for having flown across five time zones was a night of fitful sleep. Solid slumber finally came at 5 AM and my eyes did not again open until just shy of noon. Hopefully, jetlag is mostly behind us.

We could see from our hotel room window that skies were clear. Fingers crossed that the weather would remain favorable, we quickly showered, dressed, and were on the street looking for a coffee and brunch.

Here are images from our wanderings, some self-explanatory, and others with captions.

The National Football (Soccer) Museum. If we had one more day we might have visited.
Memorial to the 22 who died on May 22, 2017 in a terrorist bombing. Many were children.
This Narrowboat “port” is in the heart of Manchester. Dockage is free for up to 72 hours.
These Castlefield bridge spans are among the world’s oldest constructed of structural cast and wrought iron.
Exterior of ancient Roman fortifications. Notice the partially excavated moats.

We were particularly taken with the John Rylands library…

The John Rylands Research Institute and Library.

…and Manchester’s Science and Industry museum. Unfortunately, much of the museum’s extensive collection is located in a variety of neighboring buildings which are currently closed for renovation.

A working replica of (1948) “The Baby”, the worlds first program-stored computer. The very first iPads we’re 10,000 times faster than this behemoth.
Restored 18th and 19th century cotton production machinery, all in working order. In the 18th and 19th centuries Manchester was one of the largest textile manufacturing centers in the world.

We enjoyed a late lunch in a fascinating restaurant. Nondescript from the outside, “The Blues Kitchen” provided me with a wealth of lowlight photographic opportunities.

The restaurant is full of antique fixtures, stained glass, and even a small Airstream travel trailer in which a party of as many as 12 may enjoy semi-private dining. The food was also excellent and reasonably priced!

On our way back to the hotel we encountered a significant police presence in the area of the Criminal Courts building. An officer explained to us that a high profile murder trial was underway, just now entering recess for the weekend. As we spoke, the street was cordoned off to allow a caravan of security vehicles, lights flashing and sirens blaring, to rocket past us at the intersection. Presumably, the defendant was secured in the van that was surrounded by police cars.

Tomorrow morning we catch the train for a 2 hour transport to Carlisle, located near the western end of Hadrian’s Wall. We have booked 4 nights in what appears to be a quaint “old-world” hotel. One, and possibly two days will be spent taxiing west to walk the 15 miles from the coast back to Carlisle.

Many of you who follow know that I often “dig deep“ in writing my narratives. In deference to time with my wife Christine, I am hoping to spend fewer hours at the computer while still presenting a good variety of pictures. It is easier to apologize to you than it is to her! Wikipedia may satisfy those who are curious for more details.

Peace Everyone! Pete

Written March 23, 2023, at Manchester, England.

No lengthy overseas flight is “fun“. About the best one can hope to say is that the flight was uneventful. On that count, ours qualified as “pleasantly uneventful”. Actually, that is a bit unfair. While our ticketing was through Delta Airlines, the actual carrier from Atlanta to Manchester was Virgin Atlantic. Given the option we would definitely choose Virgin Atlantic in the future. The meals were excellent (for airplane food), the staff was very friendly, and the plane was well-maintained.

At 8:30 yesterday morning our neighbor, Mary Murphy, graciously drove us to the new Kansas City International Airport. This was our first experience in the new facility. It was bright, pleasant, and most of all, efficient. Passing through security was a breeze and we found a plethora of dining establishments, most of them local purveyors.

We walked the length and breadth of the entire facility. It is a real step up for Kansas City. Kansas City was once the corporate home of TWA, one of the world’s largest air carriers. In those days KCI was a major international point of departure. Sadly, with the demise of TWA those glory days are over. Perhaps this new facility will see them restored.

With a tailwind of nearly 150 miles an hour our flight to Atlanta took less than an hour and 20 minutes. Ground speed exceeded 650 miles an hour. We were literally flirting with the speed of sound.

Christine and I spent a pleasant few hours in the Atlanta Delta Sky Club lounge as we awaited our evening departure for Manchester England. If you ever get the chance to spend time there, we invite you to look up Francine, a most delightful hostess of “a certain age”. We could’ve easily spent hours exchanging jokes and pleasant barbs with her.

The seven hour flight actually chewed 12 hours off the clock because of the 5 time zones that we crossed. We landed in Manchester England to 50 degrees Fahrenheit, overcast skies, and intermittent showers. We better get used to it because that seems to be the predicted weather for many of the days to come.

A 20 minute train ride into the heart of Manchester saw us off at the Oxford Street Station. This was fortunate as it is from this station that we will depart in two days northwest for Carlisle England. I had previously made reservations for four separate train connections, Manchester to Carlisle, Newcastle to Liverpool, Liverpool to Middlewich, and Middlewich back to Manchester. It was necessary for us to pick up the physical tickets at the Oxford Street Station.

It should have been a relatively easy task but we were travel weary and one station agent proved less than helpful, printing one set of tickets and directing us to figure out how to use a machine to print the remaining ones (no one else was waiting for assistance). An angel of mercy in the form of Susan, a different ticket agent, correctly interpreted our half panicked and fully confused stares as we turned from the counter. She called us over and took the entire task onto her shoulders. Moreover, we spent a delightful 10 minutes visiting as if we were all long lost friends. We have exchanged email addresses and private messages so, barely minutes in the city, we made a new long-term friend in this dear country. Thank you so much Susan, you made our day!

Susan, our “Angel of Mercy”

Our accommodations are in the ultramodern City Suites, located in the heart of the old city.

Our room is more like a studio apartment. It features a wash machine/dryer, dishwasher, and full efficiency kitchen.

There is also a delightful restaurant and indoor pool.

Official check in time was 4 PM but we had arrived at the front desk well before noon. The hotel staff worked to accelerate the readiness of our room for an early check-in. In the meantime we found a cafe around the corner where barista Liz (on the left), later joined by Mila, provided us with hot beverages and a warm/dry place to put up our feet.

After a catch-up nap to stave off the effects of jet lag, we wander the immediate area visiting the 500 year old cathedral (sadly, the stained glass windows fell victim to the Luftwaffe bombings of the Second World War), and an equally ancient pub where we enjoyed “pints”.

In the early evening we found a different pub, The Black Friar, where Christine enjoyed an excellent pork chop dinner and I one of my all-time favorite dishes, a proper English beef and vegetable “pie“.

We have a full day tomorrow to take in more of the central city and then on Saturday we depart by train for Carlisle to begin our trek along Hadrian’s Wall.

Peace Everyone. Pete

PS. I’ve said it before, but it is worth repeating: Travel exposes one to new sights and experiences. However, it is in the people that we meet that the real and enduring rewards are to be found.

Written in Alma, Colorado, March 11, 2023.

In 2019 Christine and I spent 3 weeks piloting a 61-foot-long narrowboat in England. This was the realization of a dream that I held for over 40 years, an idea planted by a 1974 National Geographic article which I read seated in a barbershop chair. The experience of canal boating in England, parts of which we shared with friends, Kris Ashton from Colorado, and Canadians Tom Shillington and his wife Nanci Burns, was extraordinary, so much so that we are returning in 2023 to reprise the adventure. Here is information that will provide insight into life on the canals of the United Kingdom:

Omitting the British canals of the Roman era and those of the Middle Ages associated with the construction and support of castles and monasteries, the dawn of the “modern” UK canal system dates to the mid 1700’s. It coincided with the Industrial Revolution, but whether the Industrial Revolution gave birth to the canals, or the canals were the progenitor of the IR is in the realm of what came first, chickens or eggs.


By the end of the 18th Century construction of a remarkable system of connected waterways was well underway. It was the 18th and 19th Century equivalent of the United States Interstate Highway system. At its zenith the canal network of the United Kingdom extended to over 2,000 miles of inland waterways providing the efficient transport of coal, raw materials, and manufactured goods throughout the realm. It was a technological tour-de-force in its day and remains a marvel in the 21st Century with parts of the system declared as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Steam rail service in the late 19th and early 20th Century became the chief rival of the canal system. Train operators undertook to purchase segments of the canals and then raised canal fees to a level that made them uncompetitive. The death knell for the canals was struck in the Great Winter Freeze of 1962-63 when the entire system closed due to ice. Rail service had won its century long battle for supremacy.


Visionaries and conservationists believed that the Canals might again find relevance… not as networks of commerce but purposed as a recreational windfall. In the 1960’s the Inland Waterways Association was founded to restore the canals. This effort was later passed to the management of British Waterways. Finally, an act of Parliament placed the ownership and management of the canal system into the hands of the newly formed Canal and River Trust, a not-for-profit that has been responsible for the restoration and maintenance of the system since 2012.

During the second half of our 6 weeks in England Christine and I will again be piloting a “Narrowboat”. This time it is the 62-foot-long, 7-foot-wide “Fjord-Empress” out of the quaint village of Middlewich that dates to the time of the Roman Empire. For 21 days the Fjord-Empress will be our personal magic carpet upon the waterways of England. We will be joined by Kansas City friends, Pat and Wendy Mejia, during the first week, and by Charlie and Mary Murphy during the second week.

Narrowboats are… NARROW! Here is a diagram of the Fjord-Empress’s interior:

The interiors of the vessels provide accommodations for sleeping, cooking, bathing, and relaxation. These boats are powered by small inboard diesel engines that are designed to propel the narrowboat at the canal speed limit of 4 mph. Interiors are comfortable if not spacious.



The canals wander across country, connecting villages and cities alike. England is not flat. In order to accommodate the undulating landscape engineers of the 18th and 19th Centuries had to devise systems of locks to climb hills and descend valleys, hundreds of locks. Most are human powered by the narrowboat operators (us!). In some locations there are “flights” of locks, as many as 21 in a 3-mile stretch! There will be no lack of exercise for any of us.

Where the hills were too daunting tunnels were dug, the longest of these being over 3 miles long and pitch dark inside.

In the pre-diesel days of the 1800’s men would hire themselves out as “canal walkers” to propel the vessels through these tunnels using their feet against the tunnel walls and ceiling!

The Anderton Boat Lift, constructed in 1875, still lifts narrowboats 50 feet from one waterway to another. Its 21st Century equivalent, the Falkirk Wheel, looks like a huge Ferris Wheel and lifts boats nearly 80 feet to the connected canal.

Finally, there are the stone aqueducts that carry narrowboats in 200-year-old cast iron troughs 175 feet above the valley floor below.


Canal boating in England is essentially safe, but not entirely free of peril.

We are counting down the days to departure in earnest. We hope you will travel along with us through my posts and pictures.

Peace Everyone. Pete

(Note: Parts of the preceding post were previously published by me in August 2018.)



Written in Alma, Colorado, March 10, 2023.

On the morning of July 7, 2005, Christine and I had passed the turnstiles to board a London Underground Subway at Kings Cross Station, direction to Russell Square. We were still full of the thrill and excitement from having spent the previous afternoon in Trafalgar Square with our Welsh friends, Huw and Nina Thomas, along with tens of thousands of others, celebrating London’s successful bid to host the 2012 Summer Olympics.

Before we could step inside the subway car security personnel intercepted us and rushing aboard ordered all passengers to immediately leave the station and return to the street above. I asked one of the officers what was wrong. “The system is down!” I asked him how often the “system” goes down. With a look of grave concern he replied, “Never!”

We emerged from the station to a scene of dystopian chaos. Sirens were blaring from all directions, traffic was stopped, and pedestrians were rushing about in near panic.

Image from Wikipedia

Terrorists had just detonated explosive devices on 3 trains in the subway. The last of the three bombs destroyed the subway train which had just arrived at Russell Square, having departed our station minutes earlier. We barely missed being counted among the 26 dead and scores injured on that train.

Image from Wikipedia

A 4th bomb then exploded, this time aboard a bus in front of the hotel where our friends, Huw and Nina, were staying. The blast peeled off the roof of the bus, utterly destroying the rear section and extinguishing the lives of 13 passengers.

Later that year the bus was replaced with one bearing the special designation of “The Spirit of London, remembering 7/7”. In 2020 the bus was retired from service and is now preserved on display in the London Transport Museum.

Image from Wikipedia

The carnage from the four devices was such that an accurate count of the dead could only be made with the assistance of forensic analysis. In total, 52 died, including 4 Islamic terrorists. In the United Kingdom the London terrorist bombing is known as “7/7”, much like we refer to the destruction of the World Trade Center buildings as “9-11”.

Today I asked Christine why she still carries her subway ticket from that fateful morning, “It’s my reminder that life is both short and precious.”

Indeed, life is both short and precious. Peace Everyone. Pete

London’s Hyde Park Memorial dedicated to the victims of 7/7, Image from Wikipedia

Next: Part 2 of Our Coming Journey


Written in Alma, Colorado, March 9, 2023.

During the summer of 2005 Christine and I embarked upon a one-month trip overseas. It was an extraordinary tour that included travel deep under the English Channel from London to Paris and return via the high-speed Eurostar “Chunnel” train.

This was Christine’s third and my fourth visit to Paris. Nevertheless, over the course of four days we again took in all of the city’s major tourist sites.

On this occasion we shared the experience with Philippe and Patricia Pluvinage and their two children, Camille and Thomas. Years earlier this wonderful French family from Bussy Albieux had hosted our daughter, Alexis, as a foreign exchange student.

Back in the United Kingdom we toured the length and breadth of the British Isle, from Edinburgh, Scotland, to Swansea in Wales. In between our journey included Cambridge, the City of Bath, Stonehenge, Durham, and London, among others.

At York we even encountered a canal boat, reigniting my 1974 dream of someday navigating the canals of England in just such a vessel.

Little did I know that 14 years later the dream would be realized, and again reprised in 2023. But that is the subject of Part 2 of Our Coming Journey.

Portions of that tour again included dear friends. This time it was Huw and Nina Thomas of Wales.

As we drove near Durham in England, we happened to see signs indicating the nearby path of Hadrian’s Wall. I have always been fascinated by ancient history, embracing those studies in high school and college. We detoured to find “The Wall”.

Christine and a couple from Kentucky that we met at The Wall.

The Roman Emperor Hadrian (Reign: 117-138 CE) sought to consolidate the Empire’s hold on central and southern Britannia by erecting a massive defense line against the unconquered Scots to the north.

Construction was begun in 122 and largely completed by 128. The serpentine wall extended from the West Coast of England near Bowness-on-Solway to the East Coast of England at Wallsend on the River Tyne.

Hadrian’s wall, image from Wikipedia

As originally constructed, the wall measured between 8 and 10 feet thick, 12 feet high, and was further reinforced by a parallel ditch excavated 20 feet wide and 10 feet deep. The builders also took advantage of natural land features such as valleys and cliffs to further enhance the barrier’s effectiveness.

Hadrian’s wall, image from Wikipedia

The length of Hadrian’s Wall was garrisoned by soldiers billeted in stone forts, milecastles, and intervening turrets. It is estimated that 10,000 soldiers manned Hadrian’s Wall. Rome feared the Scots.

Today, much of the wall remains visible although significantly reduced in height as stones were “quarried” over the intervening centuries by locals for the construction of buildings and roads. Hadrian’s Wall was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1987.

In 2003 a British National Trail footpath was officially opened to follow the length of The Wall, from coast to coast. From this coming March 28th until April 8th Christine and I will hike the entire length of Hadrian’s Wall, 12 days which will include a few extra night stays along the way. Our path will cover nearly 100 miles. A special treat will be two nights at 14th Century Langley Castle, where we will lodge in “royal chambers” for my birthday.

Image from the Langley Castle website.

In addition to hiking Hadrian’s Wall, we will spend time in Manchester and Liverpool, thereafter, taking charge of a 62-foot canal “Narrowboat” which, along with Kansas City friends, we will pilot for three weeks. But that is again the subject of Part 2 of Our Coming Journey.

Peace Everyone. Pete

PS. During our July 2005 stay in London, we experienced the elation of London’s successful bid to host the 2012 Summer Olympic Games. We also came too near to losing our lives in the tragedy of the July 7th terrorist bombings that rocked the city. That is the subject of my next post. This link will be active after March 14th:  The Terrorist Bombs of 7/7 and Our Very Close Call