Thursday, August 11, 2005

North & East of London

Originally we were going to go to London. When we first came up with the mini-breaks idea, the last trip was London. During June, while were planning the Belgium trip, I got the idea that maybe we should see somewhere in England that isn't London. Other than a few business trips, my total time spent in England outside of London consisted of two days in Chester in the early 90s and one day in Canterbury before that.

I'm pretty sure our travels were confined to the counties of Essex, Cambridgeshire & Suffolk. The highlights were:
  • Colchester castle – the city of Colchester wasn't all that nice, but the castle, which is a museum, and the surrounding grounds are well maintained. The museum had just the right mixture of good artifacts, information and 'hands-on' things to do for the kids. I didn't know anything about the Roman history of Colchester, which was the highlight for me.
  • City of Cambridge – Cambridge is a very nice city. We didn't spend enough time there, but we walked around the colleges and also took a bus tour. I think the city should make a little more effort to tell the story of all the great scientists who are connected to the University. So many of them were odd, interesting characters and really Cambridge could do more to tell visitors about what was for centuries the most important city on Earth, as far as scientific advances are concerned.
  • Imperial War Museum, Duxford – I'd been to the Imperial War Museum in London before, but I hadn't even realized that there was a big facility north of London. This is a World War I & II airfield with many old and fairly new planes and some other large pieces of military equipment. There was also a Spitfire flying display, which was nerve-wracking. I found it a bit odd that the American Air Museum (part of the Duxford complex) made the other hangars look like the poor cousins. They are building a new facility, which will remedy this situation.
Overall, we had a good time. We were all worn out by the end of the two days. No more short breaks for a while.