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UK vacationing III

Starting two mornings ago in Aberystwyth, we took the “Cliff Railroad” up the nearby hill, kind of a Victorian funicular actually, and got these amazing views on a crystal clear morning:

This is looking at the town, southward.

This is the view north towards Snowdonia and the rugged northwest of Wales.

We drove across Wales and southward to Hay-on-Wye where King Richard Booth has an independent city-state and its known now as the “Town of Books”… there’s a big literary festival going on there, and we plunged into the midst of the smsll town’s annual frenzy. Dozens of used book dealers occupy Hay now, and we all had visions of finding various treasures… but no luck. I did meet a woman who had a poster from the recent SF Anarchist bookfair hanging on her bookshelf, so we had a chat about U.S. politics, the book business etc. She made me sign the poster (Hugh!)…

Here’s a couple of shots of Hay-on-Wye:

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UK vacationing II

Sitting in an elegant, slightly faded old hotel in Aberystwyth, Wales, writing this entry via their wifi in the lobby. I first heard of this beautifully named burg from some folks who joined a bicycling history tour I gave a few months ago–they were regulars on the Aberystwyth Critical Mass! Here’s the view out of the window here at 9:30 pm:

Here’s an image of the ubiquitous “carbon footprint” marketing going on over here:

We left York yesterday morning and drove first up to the Fountain Abbey, an old monastery destroyed by Henry XIII’s soldiers back in the 1500s… as they are charging about $20 per person to go in, we decided to forgo entering the grounds. But I have to admit, the thought of a destroyed Catholic ruin warms my heart, whether I actually see it in person or not! A nice drive along a scenic route finally dropped us in Manchester where I was set on visiting the People’s History Museum, given my ongoing work with Shaping San Francisco, and the developing relationship with the new SF History Museum at the Old Mint. It wasn’t quite as stimulating as I’d hoped, but we did enjoy some of the old banners and many of the political posters. They had a great collection of full-sized Walter Crane images which I sorely coveted, but they had no posters or books available there. Here are a few images we grabbed:

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UK vacationing

Got to London a week ago, and am in York tonight. Tomorrow I’m off to Manchester and then Wales for a few days before flying to Berlin on May 30… Having a great time, of course. The weather has been simply unbelievable. Brilliant, warm sunny weather, day after day, though a fierce storm is promised for this weekend.

Visiting London as a pure tourist for the first time (my 4th visit), with my parents for the first few days, joined on Tuesday by Francesca. At the outset of a six week journey that will encompass many countries, moods, activities, and people, it takes a bit to relax into the rhythm. It’s also a bit jarring to spend 24 hours a day with my parents after not having done so for many years. But we’re all finding our way (regrettably my mom is hobbled by a bad hip so she’s not as mobile as any of us expected her to be–but we’re working around it)…

London is a huge, sprawling place, so my experience was necessarily quite limited. I probably only heard English spoken by about half the people I overheard speaking (a great deal of Polish and Russian, among dozens of other languages). The whole place is either under construction or newly rebuilt, or so it seemed to my inexperienced eye. Here’s a photo from the Millennium Bridge towards “The City” which is decked out in cranes; the view was similar in every direction.

London is a very horizontal city, not so tall, and riding up in the over-rated Eye (a giant ferris wheel-like device that never stops turning at a very slow half hour pace) gave a view of construction in every direction. Here I am in it with Francesca a few hours after she got off the plane:

The visit to London started out with a trip to the Borough Market, a wonderful artisan market full of local cheeses, pastries, breads, chocolates, meats, mmmmm, so many good things!

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