|breakfast with Richard and Pauline, Ellis Fields|
|Richard and Pauline|
|back garden, Ellis Fields|
|common green, Ellis Fields|
The original plan was to explore St. Albans and, if the weather held, to take the train into London and visit Kew Gardens. We were having such a wonderful time visiting this part of the greater London area that we decided to just relax and spend our time in and around St. Albans, leaving London to fend for itself.
We started off with a tour of the weekly open air market on the main street of St. Albans. It reminded both Susie and I of those many city markets we found so handy in Siena, Florence and Paris. Not just fresh fruits and vegetables but kitchen wares, clothing, and all sorts of bric-a-brac was available, much of it sold by vendors yelling out to no one in particular but hoping to get your attention. Unique marketing ploy indeed.
|Wednesday market, downtown St. Albans|
|memorial to the men from nearby streets who died in the First World War|
Along the way I stopped into a Vodaphone store and picked put the cheapest unlocked phone they had (Samsung) along with a pay-as-you-go SIM card, both of which cost me less than £30. (We’re now set for future trips to Europe.) I then found a nearby Jessops camera shop and bought an extra battery for my camera. I was set.
After a quick tour of the town center we scooted over to the abbey in time for their 11:30 tour. A fascinating architectural structure, representing a wide variety of church building styles over the centuries, the abbey consists of but a fraction of the original layout — many of the adjoining outlying buildings are long gone. And of course the fascinating thing, for me at any rate, is the abbey is built as well as a portion of St. Albans itself is built over the the ancient Roman town of Verulamium.
|St. Albans cathedral, interior|
|Jeremy Newton, our guide, accurately described by one of our group as "irritatingly hesitant"|
|stain glass at one end of the cathedral I believe this was a memorial to those countries that fought in the First World War - note the US flag on the far left|
|there is no crypt, we were told; the bodies are buried directly beneath the floor|
"In memory of
Mrs. Martha Wildbore
who died July 2nd, 1823
Aged 58 years
Also of Mr. Samuel Wildbore
Husband of the above
who died March 31st 1843
Aged 78 years"
|tomb of Duke Humphrey|
|grate over Humphrey's tomb|
After our tour of the abbey we drove to nearby Verlamium park (Verulamium was the Roman name for St. Albans) where we could stroll on a lush lawn now covering the ancient Roman city. We walked through St.Michael’s church graveyard (built over a Roman temple) and across Watling Street to the Roman amphitheater; one of the few excavated portions of the old city.
|St. Albans abbey across Verulamium park|
|St. Michael's burial ground|
|dressing room off the stage of the amphitheater|
|enclosure of the hypercaust|
|Roman mosaic inside the enclosure -- not the tunnel for floor heating in the upper left|
The rest of the afternoon was spent relaxing at Ellis Fields broken only by tea at 4pm. That evening we ate at a local restaurant Chez Mumtaj, a fusion of French and Indian food. The service was good and food deliciously different.
We soon found ourselves adjusting to life in England and easing into our journey.