Friday, November 23, 2007

Blenheim Palace

We left Liverpool Friday morning, the 19th, heading out toward London. Our stop during that drive was my favorite place of all we saw in England, Blenheim Palace.

Blenheim has everything. Famous English aristocracy, unbelievable scenary, history, romance and amazing art. The grounds along with the funds to build his palace were given the first Duke of Marlborough by Queen Anne to thank him for his service to the country in 1705. The Duke's family eventually became the Spenser-Churchill family through deaths and marriage leading down to Winston Churchill. Princess Diana, born Diana Spenser, was a distant relation to this family. Winston Churchill was born in the living quarters of the palace.

We arrived there early morning thanks to our navigator, Beatrice, who directed us to the nearby town of Woodstock. After buying admission tickets and parking, the first things we saw were trailers and Victorian dressed actors having lunch, and it was apparent that they were filming a movie. Signs posted informed visitors that the movie was "Young Victoria" a Martin Scorsese production starring Emily Blunt. They were filming a funeral procession scene and it was interesting to see the period costumes, horses and carriages. But, since they were filming the scene over and over, Haley and I decided to take the 3 mile round trip walk out to the water pump house through the gardens and Mary went off on her own to take pictures.

The scenery was spectacular. Absolutely beautiful no matter which direction one would look. Manicured English gardens, mazes, rose garden, garden follys, paths and cottages.

When we came back, and after a warming lunch in the cafe of soup, sandwiches and hot tea, I decided to upgrade my admission and take the tour of the living quarters and state rooms and it was fascinating. Incredible art, a full wall pipe organ, huge library, gilded china and large scale furniture. The program included a "real life" walk through family rooms as they were in the past with a "ghost" narrator explaining the the story of the first Duke. The scandalous family history includes American railroad heir Vanderbuilt who "convinced" his daughter Consuelo, against her will, to marry the current impoverished Duke in 1896 because her family could provide the money the Duke needed to keep his palace in repair and Vanderbuilt and his wife dearly wanted their daughter to be a duchess.

It was a wonderful last day in the UK, But it was time for us to head back to Heathrow airport where we would say our goodbyes.

I dragged my luggage through Terminal 3 at Heathrow to the Heathrow Express train to Paddington station where I had a hotel for the night.

It seemed fitting that when I got off of the express train that there was an entire orchestra rehearsing in the train station. They were playing James Bond themes and it echoed off the glass ceiling and sounded great!

I'm now officially "outta time". All that there is left to do is take the morning Heathrow Express train out of Paddington Station to my flight home.

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