Last blog update then I am caught up and can take a break. Before I cover our Coventry trip last weekend I'll give a Carol Seppanen Book Update. For our Croatia and Belgium trips I figured I would select a thick book to occupy my plane and airport time. Good strategy only next time I will pick a better book. The book I selected was Dwarves by Nick Kyme and Gav Thorpe, 766 pages. The book is comprised of three novels and two short stories. It is a Warhammer book which is in the Lord of the Rings genre so I figured it would be okay. I read that genre many years ago and liked the Lord of the Rings movies but one small item I didn't take into account was how well the book is written. This book was not very interesting and I really struggled to read it. One story was about dwarves fighting goblins then humans, one story was about a dwarf reliving an ancestral curse, one story was about dwarves fighting to retake a lost keep against monsters, one story was about dwarves fighting men and elves, and the final story was a collection of dwarf grudge mini-stories. Only the elf story was semi-interesting so the book was a lonnnng read. I guess watching a good movie isn't the best basis for selecting a book. Next time I pick a thick book I think I'll pick it based on the author and not the genre. The book did give me a few Auntie "B" Words of the Week though - pauldron, subterfuge, and redolent.
On Saturday we went down to Coventry. On our way there we detoured to the Rugby School in the town of Rugby (Wiki link). Guess what sport began there? Rugby! It actually took longer to detour there than the time I spent looking around the school but since I figured we were so close why not stop? The school is a private school (started in 1567, pretty impressive I thought) that was in session on Saturday as proven by the book carrying, skirt wearing teenage girls and book carrying, jacket and tie wearing teenage boys wandering around so I didn't take many pictures or stay long. Lori and the kids were not impressed to see where rugby began. Teenager KJ even went so far as to ask when we were going to see the town of Basketball. I hope he was kidding.
Ever wonder how the sport started Clay Ritchison?
I Schetzeled my way past the private property sign to snap a couple of pictures. These are the rugby fields at the School.
After the unimpressive but historic rugby stop we went to the Midland Air Museum (link), a highly rated and below the radar museum by Coventry. We really liked it, it had more of a garage type feel than the usual spacious, glass encased exhibit museums we frequent which was refreshing. This also started our Coventry history lesson - aircraft design, production and testing. We would learn about the World War II armaments and auto industry later. Coventry has a much richer history than I thought they did so I am glad we checked it out. This also was the first museum in a while that Lori really liked as well.
Ever hear of him? Me neither. He was the father of the jet engine, you can read about him here. Great background story on him, he was the son of an engineer and persevered through rejection many times before finally succeeding in a brilliant fashion.
I guess "World-Class" is apt in this case. Makes me feel a little ignorant seeing his impact and never having heard of him before.
I love reading about ancient Greeks. Here's Hero's aeolipile.
Leonardo da Vinci was a sharp pencil as well. I hope the kids are absorbing a little of these places.
Read about this above.
Read below. I was hooked after five minutes here.
See above. I love looking at early machinery and components that give facts and figures like this.
For the picture below.
The Vampire F1 - read above.
The Vampire F1 in flight.
A Rolls Royce Griffon 58, read about it below.
About here I was about a quarter of the way through the museum and had caught up to the group. Today was a cold day with highs in the mid 30's F and the hangar wasn't heated so it was probably about 50 F indoor. And Lori was cold and whining and wanted to be done. To be fair she was sick at the end of the week and we almost stayed home this weekend but she said we could go to Coventry. (Doctor's update - Lori went to the doctor Monday and was finally given ear drops for her full blown ear infection. She has had all of the symptoms since October-ish but it hasn't "been bad enough" for the doctors to give her ear drops to take care of it until now so hopefully she will get better soon. The doctor told her she was lucky it hasn't burst because it was so infected. <sigh> Just don't get us started on how much better England's medical care system is...) So with Whiny being cold we scratched Kenilworth Castle (link) off of the list for today since it was an outside activity. I took a few more pictures, tortured the kids, and then we left.
A Lockheed T-33 permanently on loan to the museum from the US Air Force Museum.
A British Meteor F-4. Not sure why they put bulls eyes on the wings but it is kind of a British thing to do. JK Brits.
For above. Interesting wartime fact.
Time to torture the kids - we made them get into the cockpit and pose for pictures. Here's Kalle demonstrating how not to climb into the cockpit.
Finally in and laughing because Lori and I were laughing so hard. Karl also didn't climb in "properly" as they say over here but his picture was kind of blurry so I didn't post it. I guess if I wasn't laughing so hard it wouldn't have been blurry. I suppose Lori and I heckling them as they figured out how to climb in didn't help.
Read above. I ducked outside and took a few pictures before we left. The reason I picked this museum was to look at the outside exhibits so I had to at least see one today.
We saw less than half of the museum and none of Kenilworth so we plan on coming back down later in the year when Whiny won't be so cold. It's so difficult having to be the adult in the group. She did man up though (yes I will pay for this later but it'll be worth it) and agreed to seeing the cathedral and transport museum since they would be mostly inside and we were already down here.
Lady Godiva (Wiki link), the kids hadn't heard of her before so now they are educated. She was from Coventry and did her nude horse ride here in case you didn't know. Or read the link if you haven't heard about her before. Here's a Wiki link on the related Godiva chocolates as well.
A token Tudor style house. Nothing screams TOURIST TRAP like a lone Tudor house in town. At least Chester and Stratford had whole streets and blocks of them which felt a little less touristy. At least it has the required saggy roof and top floor I guess.
First indoor stop in Coventry was Coventry Cathedral (link). The New Cathedral, Old Cathedral and Old Cathedral Museum was where we learned about Coventry's World War II history. From the link: Coventry’s earliest cathedral, dedicated to St Mary, was founded as a Benedictine community by Leofric, Earl of Mercia, and his wife Godiva in 1043. Yes that Godiva. The Cathedral that was bombed in 1940 was St. Michael's Cathedral with a couple buildings in between. Instead of rebuilding St. Michael's they left it in ruins and built a new St. Michael's next to it so the Coventry Cathedral is actually two Cathedrals. I'll add more history with the pictures below.
Holy Trinity Church in front with the old Coventry Cathedral spire behind it.
The old Cathedral. During the war this area of Coventry housed many building that made weaponry, ammunition and vehicles which made it a target for German bombing. From the museum stop later we learned that the Germans dropped incendiary bombs on the night of the raid which punctured the Cathedral roof but didn't puncture the ceiling. The bombs were trapped between the layers and couldn't be safely reached so as they burned the wood in the layers and warped the steel beams causing the roof to cave in leaving the walls standing. Instead of cleaning up the rubble they just put this floor over it so the actual floor was about three feet lower than this floor.
A surviving war torn plaque. How appropriate that a WWI soldier memorial survived the bombing.
In case you can't read the plaque this is Ecco Homo and was carved by Sir Jacob Epstein in 1934-5 from Subiaco marble. It represents Christ before Pilate with his hands bound and a crown of thorns on his head.
A cross at the old altar. The original Charred Cross is in the new Cathedral and is pictured below with an explanation. The Charred Cross is one of the symbols of this Cathedral.
Whiny is cold and the museum is accessible with tickets from the new Cathedral so its back inside to check out the new Cathedral before the excellent museum. It was a nice change of scenery to tour a newer and more modern cathedral than what we have done on most of our travels although Whiny and Karl both had issues about the excessive size of it. It bugged me as well but not as much as them.
View down the nave. Not as obnoxiously excessive as Liverpool's Cathedral but still obnoxiously big. I guess it has to be bigger so God can see it from Heaven?
The Bapistry Window.
Basptismal font. The font was "fashioned" in this boulder which was taken from Bethlehem.
The group in front of the altar and massive tapestry. The tapestry "depicts Christ seated in glory, worshipped by the four living creatures described in the fourth chapter of the Revelation of St. John; The Eagle, The Lion, The Calf, the Man."
On the walls were ten of these message signs.
The Plumb-Line and The City is based on Amos Chapter 7 Verses 7 & 8. The verses from a King James Version Bible: 7. Thus he showed me: and, behold, the Lord stood upon a wall made by a plumbline, with a plumbline in his hand. 8. And the LORD said unto me, Amos, what seest thou? And I said, A plumbline. Then said the Lord, Behold, I will set a plumbline in the midst of my people Israel: I will not again pass by them any more:
The view down the nave from the altar area. hard to see but the side walls were stepped and each wall had different coloured stained glass windows. Must look awesome on a sunny day.
They had some tapestries but didn't explain where or when they were from. This one caught my eye with its use of a piece of red thread for Jesus' stab wound.
"The Charred Cross is made from two medievel roof-beams found in the rubble in the shape of the cross after the bombing of the Cathedral in 1940."
The Cross of Nails is the other symbol of the Cathedral. It is this cross fashioned from medieval roof nails found in the rubble. In the room where this cross was is a nice gallery including some interesting relics, tapestries, and the first complete Bible translated to English. Not sure how they can be sure it is the one but it was supposedly translated by John Wycliffe (link).
A 15th C stained glass piece removed from the Cathedral at the outbreak of WWII.
The Chapel of Christ in Gethsemane. Gethsemane is the garden area at the base of Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. When I excitedly reminded everyone of when we walked in the garden on our Israel trip they all greeted me with "kinda". And Whiny complains about my memory.
Marble floor design I liked. Maybe this can be in our house in front of the fireplace with the Temple Guardian and Jaguar Warrior on the mantle and my St. George and the Dragon pictures on each side of it. Still need to find my suit of armour though.
Onto the small but excellent Cathedral museum. It started with a short video then a guide through four rooms of period artifacts by two elderly people who were children during the bombing. Both people were knowledgeable and helpful. I will try to capture some of what we learned here. 14 November 1940 is when Germany bombed Coventry.
The lady said this sewing machine was from a wealthy person as she never saw one in a cabinet growing up. (Sorry about the rotated pictures, I will work on them for future posts.)
I think my dad is still in the war time mode. (Related to his winter wood cutting clothes he wears, patches, repatches and repatches the repatches. Literally. I think he has one pair of winter outer pants that have about twenty different coloured thread holding the patches together. It's like looking at a life sized kaleidoscope.)
A period toaster. Put a piece of bread in, toast one side, turn it around and toast the other side.
Times were beyond tough if people were eating this.
A week's rations. There was a poster showing German ration which were similar except milk wasn't rationed by them. Everything was rationed for the English.
Money. Not sure how much the 5 pound note converts to nowadays but it was very rare back then as the super sized note designates.
The attack on Coventry. One of the items discussed was when Churchill knew about the attack. English radar beacons picked up German radar positioning locking onto Coventry three days before the attack but it wasn't confirmed until three hours before the attack. This was after England broke Germany's codes so there is a theory that Churchill sacrificed Coventry in order to protect that knowledge from Germany. Not exactly true from the guide. Granted they knew the radar locking on Coventry and that an attack was imminent but Churchill believed the attack was going to target London until the three hour mark. The docent also said there wasn't a whole lot that could be done as the anti-aircraft guns surrounding Coventry never shot down one plane during the war so adding extra guns wouldn't have helped.
Why Coventry was targeted multiple times during the war.
More bombing information.
The Cathedral after the bombing.
The Cathedral before the bombing.
Lady Godiva stained glass.
Great idea for playing cards showing Allied and Axis planes.
The war has such a different perspective than at home.
Liverpool bombing facts.
QEII laid the foundation stone for the New Cathedral.
St. Michael vanquishing Satan on the front of the New Cathedral.
The message from the cathedral post bombing was reconciliation not retribution. The members and leaders reached out to other bombed cities in England and Germany after the war in order to start the healing process from the terrors of war.
Old and New Cathedrals. Check out that helpful Tourist Information sign Belgium.
Showing the stepped sides of the New Cathedral.
Outside the museum was Sir Frank Whittle "watching the first test flight of a jet-propelled Gloster-Whittle E28/39 on 15 May 1941 at RAF Cranwell."
Actual vehicle from Prometheus. I guess we have to watch that movie now.
This 1956 Ferguson looks like my dad's tractor as Karl pointed out.
The RT01 Transport from Prometheus.
Inside the RT01. Pretty cool that actual movie vehicles were on display.
This 1910 Maudslay 32hp Tourer caught my eye.
The 2012 Olympic Torches were made in Coventry. If you remember we saw and touched the torch in Derby with the Freys, Andersons, and Creasons last summer.
A row of vehicles in the early auto section.
The 1930 Humber Snipe reminded me of one of Lori's favourite movies, Up. The little boy helps the grumpy old man in order to earn his Wilderness Explorer badge by finding the man's "lost" Snipe if I remember correctly.
This shampoo was in a case with other interesting car related items like hood ornaments and advertising signs from years past.
Even worse than Bob not being here was this 1957 Jaguar XK150 that he could have drooled on for awhile. Bob said he always like Jags and they had some nice ones here.
1929 Austin 7 Swallow. Per the sign, Austin made the engine, chassis, and mechanical parts. The Swallow Company made the body. It also said the Swallow Company became Jaguar. That's gotta be worth a Trivial Pursuit pie piece one day.
1934 Triumph. Another tidbit I learned was Triumph was founded in Coventry by a German fellow who was once the mayor of Coventry.
1901 Singer Motor-wheel. Note the engine is in the back wheel.
The start of the decline of the auto industry in Coventry thanks to Mr. Ford.
Jim Foster Pic - 1937 Dennis Landmarques.
They also had a small area on the bombing of Coventry.
1935 Queen Mary's Daimler. Daimler was a British company. This was the car of HM Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth II's grandmother, from 1935 to her death in 1953.
This 1943 Humber was Field Marshall Montgomery's staff car from D-Day to the end of the war. Per the sign he requested the Humber model specifically and it logged over 60,000 miles.
Lori by a lorry. Or is it lorry by a Lori? Whatever, I've been waiting 15+ months to get one of these pictures. The red one is a 1954 Maudslay Monarch Flat-Bed lorry. I almost put the model year of the other Lori down but don't want to be in THAT much trouble.
This three wheel 1976 Invacar Model 70 is not the first three wheel car I've seen in England. The other ones I've seen were driving on the road. England has more clown cars than the Barnum & Bailey circus.
Anyone see The Italian Job with Michael Caine? This culvert chase scene was filmed in Coventry. The repeating chorus theme song was being played over and over here and stayed in my head for the rest of the day. This is the Self Preservation Society, This is the Self Preservation Society, This is the Self Preservation Society, This is the Self Preservation Society...
1977 Triumph 2500TC Police Car.
The 1976 Triumph Stag has its own rotating stage.
They also had speed records cars like the Thrust 2 and Thrust SSC but the twelve foot wide SSC was to big to get a decent picture.
The first land speed record holders.
The current land speed record holder.
For below. I thought this was neat.
1955 Sunbeam MkIII Drop head Coupe was awesome.
I really wanted to break these out and run them around the room making vroom vroom noises.
David Beckham made the museum for buying a Jag in the new auto section of the museum.
The Hobby Horse, the bicycle's ancestor was made in the mid-1800's.
This early bicycle was first made in 1868 although this model is a reproduction.
This 1869 Velocipede was all the rage in its day.
Folding bicycles were common and popular in the wars.
The evolution of cycles part 1.
The evolution of cycles part 2.
Here's for you Bob and Lona (family joke). It is a 1922 Hazlewood motorcycle and Montgomery sidecar in the motorcycle area.
See below, I thought this was interesting.
2003 Jaguar R4 F1 and 1953 Jaguar XK120.
1923 Model 'T' Ford.
1935 Hillman Aero Minx.
1990 Jaguar XJ-S 'Barbie Car'. It was made for Mattel to promote Barbie.
1980 Austin Metro. Single Di's present from Charles in 1980/1. Really Charles? The guy's royalty and all he can afford is this red clown car?
Doc Brown's 1982 De Lorean Time Machine.
A Jeff Seppanen Sports Update. I watched some of the NFL playoffs games the last couple of weeks but not many as the Saturday games are on to late for me to watch. I watched the Sunday early games and part of the Sunday late games which bring me to this week's "Dan Stine extreme self restraint in the face of surmounting adversity moment of the week" which is the NFL. The first game next week starts at 3 PM EST which means 8 PM for me. I may watch the first game but probably won't stay up to watch the second game. I understand the whole prime time ratings thing but come on, 3 PM? Stupid NFL.
Snow! This is what I woke up to Monday morning. When it was all over I measured our patio table top and we totalled a heavy inch and a half. It is supposed to be cold this week (below freezing over night and at/just above freezing during the daytime) so the snow may stick around for a few days but I won't hold my breath. I actually hope it goes away because snow causes traffic problems here. Plus the school doesn't clear the snow or ice on the sidewalk in front of the school so its like walking on an ice rink when I go pick up Kalle. I guess the school doesn't put grit (sand) on it because the sidewalk isn't school property and if they were to take care of the sidewalk and someone fell on the sidewalk they would be liable. The city council, whose is responsible for the sidewalk, doesn't do anything to maintain it for whatever reason. And the best part? There is a huge box full of sand sitting in front of the school but no one will sprinkle the sand on the sidewalk. (Update: Wednesday had a high of minus one of two C so we still have the snow. Nothing new falling, just to cold for it to melt.)
Check out the big flakes!
This month's Facial Hair of the Month is The Goatee. Admittedly poor effort by me but the last four plus weeks have been super busy so I needed an easy style this month. One step above mailing it in this month, sorry.
The Goatee and the snow.
A final item. While I was finishing the Belgium blog there was a commercial on the tele for a quickie loan company called Quick Quid which gives you money fast. Fast is good, right? Until you read the small print on the bottom of the screen where it advertises the APR rate of 1734%. Wow. You must really be desperate to sign up for that rate.
Thanks for listening,