Saturday, August 31, 2013

U.K. Trip Blog #51: Crazy Drive and Perfect Timing

Sudeley Castle former Guard House
We left Sudeley Castle and headed back toward Windsor so we could return our rental car.

GUARD TOWER - On our way out, we were sure to stop at the what we think was one of Sudeley Castle's Guard Tower and get a photo of it.When we pulled over to get the picture, we noticed that someone had converted it to a house and was actually living in it!

THE ATTRACTIONS - Because the tour inside Sudeley castle was a big disappointment, we looked into what the property is used for. The castle is used for weddings, and there's both and owlery and a pheasantry near the property that has a rare collection of birds. Not being big fans of birds, we skipped it. There's also a small play area for kids, but we didn't see it. We did, however stop and have tea and scones from the coffee shop and sat outside under cloudy skies and temperatures in the mid-50s to enjoy them before we headed back to Windsor.

Road to Crazy Driving!
THE CRAZY DRIVE - The GPS took us down a one lane road again, and I didn't want to follow it, but reluctantly did because there was no signage leaving Sudeley Castle to get to a main road. After going 4 miles down the one lane road we came to a sign that said "Road Closed." You'd think they would put a sign at the beginning of the street (there were no houses on the road, just fields) so people wouldn't drive four darn miles only to turn around!!!  Once we got back to the castle, we just followed tiny signs to the town of Cheltenham and turn off the GPS. We found the highway quickly.

PERFECT TIMING - We turned the GPS on again after we got on the M4 highway and knew we would follow the signs to Windsor. We would use the GPS as we got closer to our destination to find the rental car office- and when we were  miles from the exit, I pulled into a rest area and filled the gas tank at a petrol station. We pulled into the Hertz rental office at 4:55 p.m., just 5 minutes before the deadline to turn the car in! It was perfect timing.
  We took a taxi back to Windsor and the Bed and Breakfast. We then walked into downtown Windsor and had a great Italian meal at Francesco's. We had a nice chat with Ramona, the waitress, who told us that she moved there from Romania and married the owner of the restaurant. The food was outstanding. After dinner we walked in and out of shops in Windsor and then called it a night.


Friday, August 30, 2013

UK Trip Blog #50: Our Pics in the Sudeley Garden/Inside Exhibits

A misleading sign- it went to one large room
Judging from the last several blog postings, you can tell that we spent a lot of time in the gardens of Sudeley Castle, or in the chapel where Queen Katherine Parr is entombed. Why?  Because the exhibits inside the castle were awful.
View of Sudeley Castle from the Tithe Barn ruins

EXHIBITS NOT WORTH EXHIBITING - The castle proper isn't open to the public. The only areas open for public viewing were two large rooms on two separate floors. The room upstairs had a lace exhibit. There was one small fragment cut from Katharine Parr's gown, scavaged from when they kept opening her coffin to check in on her. The walls of the room are painted with large cartoon-like forms of notable figures from the Tudor Era. There was a short 15 minute documentary-style film about the life of Katherine Parr, which was about the only thing worthwhile inside the castle.

Rob at the Tithe Barn garden

Tom at the Tithe Barn garden
  The guidebook states that the castle was deteriorating, and the Dent family (fourth generation in the house) had to "regretfully" open the castle to the public to raise much needed funds. Sadly, it showed. The exhibit downstairs consisted of Dent family memorabilia, framed family photos, and samples of the gloves that made the Dent family fortune. We did, however, enjoy the gardens.


Thursday, August 29, 2013

UK Trip Blog #49: Sudeley and "William the Unready" /Fav Pic

Here's the last entry about Sudeley Castle's gardens and "William the Unready." We made a short video of the exterior of the Tithe Barn ruins, where I (Rob) read a narration written by one of the heirs of Sudeley Castle.
Reflecting Pool outside the Tithe Barn
The area around the Tithe Barn was so picturesque that we wanted to get a picture of us together. We think it came out pretty well! 
Tom and Rob in the garden
The pond outside the Tithe Barn

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Dog Rescue Transport Tuesday Night: Charlie the Dachshund!

What did we do Tuesday night after work? We made a short transport for Coast-to-Coast Dachshund Rescue (one of the rescues we work with, and where we fostered and adopted Tyler from).
Shelley transporting Charlie and Lola to foster homes

On Monday, Shelley, one of the coordinators from Coast-to-Coast ( sent an email asking if we could help out with a transport, so we worked out the details.  
Shelley hides behind Charlie and Tom smirks!
SHELLEY'S LONG DRIVE! -  Shelley drove from Bethesda to Hunt Valley, Md. to pick up two dachshunds that were removed from an abusive situation. Once they were removed (from local authorities) they were brought to a vet and cleaned up, and brought to a local shelter, that contacted the rescue. Shelley picked up the two dogs. One had to go to a foster home in southern Maryland while the other was being fostered in New Jersey. That's a lot of driving on a work night for one person! So, we helped out with the Maryland transport and Melissa in Belair helped on the other leg going to New Jersey.
April meets Charlie!
We met Shelley near the BWI airport and she introduced us to Charlie. Charlie is a 4 year old, male, black, long-haired dachshund- just adorable. He had just been neutered (all dogs that come through the rescue are neutered or spayed to reduce overpopulation), and was medicated for deworming. We took a couple of pictures and loaded Charlie in our truck for our drive south.
 - The tricky part of transports after work is the traffic. Going to meet Shelley, there was a 9 car pileup in the other direction on the highway, which slowed traffic. After getting Charlie, we took the B/W parkway south to the Washington Beltway, where there was a 3 car accident pulled to the side of the highway (left side) and police cars were there with lights flashing, so traffic slowed again.
Rob, Tom, April and Charlie: A Happy Ending!
  We got to Charlie's foster mom, April about 15 minutes after our projected arrival (amazingly), although she got there early. It was great to see how much of a great dog person she is, and she explained that she had a dachshund before. She was very excited about fostering Charlie, and we were happy to help make the connection.
REMINDER -    Remember, Coast-to-Coast Dachshund rescue pays for the medical bills of fosters, so they can always use donations at!


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

U.K. Trip Blog #48: Sudeley Castle's Amazing Gardens

Sudeley Castle's gardens were the saving grace of the visit to this castle.
THE SECRET GARDEN -  In 1979 the secret garden was created to celebrate the marriage of Lord and Lady Ashcombe. There are yew hedges on one side and a garden wall on the other.
The garden was replanted in 2012 to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the birth of Queen Katherine Parr (Henry VIII's sixth wife).

Secret Garden

Next we ventured over to the WHITE GARDEN - It is thought that there used to be a covered link between the castle and the chapel, that Queen Katherine Parr walked. It wasn't very white when we were there, though. The garden is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and has white roses, peonies, and other flowers. 
White Garden

THE RUINS GARDEN - The ruins garden is filled with boughs of ancient sycamores, roses and clematis growing up and down the walls of the ruins of the Banqueting House. The Banqueting House is where all of the meals were eaten and was a separate building from the main castle. 

Ruins Garden

THE TITHE BARN GARDEN -This former barn dates back to the 15th century. It was filled with sycamore, foxglove, cyclamen, primroses, wild roses and more. It was really a nice setting. Here's a short video that we made inside the ruins of the Tithe Barn Garden.


Monday, August 26, 2013

UK Trip Blog #47: Sudeley Castle: History...Abandoned/Katherine Parr's Burial Place

We last left off on our tour of Sudeley Castle, once-home of Katherine Parr, Henry VIII's last queen. Now we'll explain some weird history and show you where the Queen resides in her final resting place.

SUDELEY'S GARDENS - There were several areas where the gardens around the castle were really amazing, so we took this short video. In the next blog, we'll explore the gardens more.

You enter the castle by the back door!
The back of Sudeley castle
TRAGIC HISTORY - Just a year after Henry VIII's death, on Aug. 30, 1548, Katherine Parr gave birth to Mary, the daughter of Thomas Seymour. Katherine died six days later of a fever.

Queen Katherine was buried in the Chapel of St Mary at Sudeley, but her baby disappeared in history (and never lived at Sudeley), and Thomas Seymour never attended the funeral. In fact, We learned that Thomas Seymour was not a nice guy. On March 20, 1549, Thomas Seymour was executed after being indicted on 33 counts of ‘Treason and other Misdemeanours against’ King and Crown. 

St. Mary's Chapel

Another side of the castle - in the back

Katherine Parr's tomb in St. Mary's Chapel

The inscription that says Katherine Parr is here

Gateway into another garden area

     CHARLES I and our ghost - In 1649, Charles’s nephew, Prince Rupert of the Rhine (the ghost who we encountered at Thornbury Castle), encamped with 4,000 men near Sudeley, from where he attacked and captured Cirencester, forcing the Roundheads to abandon Sudeley, but not before they had desecrated the Chapel of St Mary (where Katherine was buried), turning the tower into stabling and the chancel into a slaughter-house.
  ABANDONED! - From 1655 to 1782 the castle was abandoned, and local builders stole stones from it. It was in 1782 that a couple of local people wandering around stumbled upon Katherine Parr’s tomb in the ruined Chapel and her coffin opened for the first time.
     RECOVERED - In 1837 Sudeley was purchased by wealthy glove-makers, brothers John and William Dent, who began to restore it. Their  nephew, John Coucher Dent, inherited the Castle in 1855. A small part of the castle and most of the grounds were later opened to the public.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

A Special Birthday Song for Mom Feldhaus in Maine

It's a great thing to have more than one mom, and Mom Ann Feldhaus is like that for us, so today, being her birthday (she said it's her 29th), we decided to give her a special musical tribute. Tom played piano. Happy birthday Momma Feldhaus, with love! 

UK Trip Blog #46: Sudeley Castle: Romans, Richard III, Banqueting House

Tom walking up to the castle
On Monday, June 24, we were on our second to last day of vacation in the U.K. After a great breakfast at the Langdon House (Sonja whipped up a tasty breakfast as usual), we set out for the highway. The Langdon House in Windsor is not only a great place, but it's convenient to everything, including the highway. We departed at 8:30 a.m. for Sudeley Castle.

Gate looking from the castle to fields with sheep

GETTING THERE -When we were about 20 miles from the castle, our GPS unit went bonkers again and we got lost in Cheltenham. We pulled over and Tom asked a UPS driver who said we were quite lost. The town of Cheltenham has 2 lane roads, dropping to one lane, populated, and full of buildings, cars and people. We finally got to the castle, but once again, it was sheer terror driving there!

This was built on a Roman settlement

SUDELEY CASTLE'S HISTORY - According to, Sudeley was the former home of Queen Catherine Parr, the last surviving wife of King Henry VIII - which is why we went there. Tom is an amateur historian of sorts on Tudor History.

a recreation of Roman tiled flooring
another Roman tile design
   Sudeley goes all the way back to 500-798  A.D. That's when the Romans were there. They built villas in the area around Winchcombe (which is where the castle is located).  y Winchcombe became the chief city of Mercia under King Offa.   In 877 Vikings arrived there and caused damage to an Abbey that was built on the grounds in 811.
Recreation of a roman tiled floor

Sudeley changed hands between several times and by 1469, Sudeley Castle became Royal property (the owner had to sell it to King Edward IV, who in turn granted it to his brother, Richard Duke of Gloucester.

RICHARD III - The "PARKING LOT KING" -  Remember I mentioned in earlier blogs that while we were on vacation in the U.K. we learned that King Richard III's bones were discovered under a parking lot?  (as Anne Marie from ATP vacations sang, '"nah, nah, nah, put up a parking lot!")  Well, Richard III became owner of Sudeley Castle in 1483, but when he died in battle in 1485 the ownership went to Henry VIII.
Banqueting House ruins
TUDOR TAKEOVER -     Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn visited the Castle from July 21st-26th, 1535.

WHEN DID KATHERINE PARR MOVE IN? - When Henry VIII died in 1547, his son, King Edward VI, gave Sudeley Castle to his Uncle, Sir Thomas Seymour, appointing him Lord of Sudeley and later Lord High Admiral of England. Seymour married Henry VIII’s 6th wife and widow, Katherine Parr.

The destroyed Banqueting House

BANQUETING HOUSE RUINS - A Banqueting House was used not only for banqueting but royal receptions, and ceremonies. The Banqueting house was behind the castle and only two walls stood (and only partially). All of the windows were gone, and the area was cordoned off.

Rob and Tom posing near the Banqueting House


Saturday, August 24, 2013

A posting from a 24 year old: How an Aunt almost caused his suicide

Social media has been very helpful in saving the lives of gay teens and young adults struggling to find acceptance in ultra-conservative areas. It infuriates me that people who have relatives that "preach God" push young gay people toward the brink of suicide (and many commit suicide daily in the U.S. alone).  On Facebook, I'm connected to one page called "Coming Out or showing support" ( where young gay people write in explaining their desperate situations (they're usually horrifying from the treatment they get from family members and peers). This one gave me hope. This young man finally stood up against his "religious" aunt, who pushed him to the verge of suicide. If you think this doesn't happen today, read this post. YOU can help others that you see are dealing with this kind of rejection, and give them support. Suicide is not an answer. Please consider helping a gay teen or young adult.

From Jeffrey: August 21, 2013
Hey everyone i posted on here many times. My name is jeffery. I am a 24 year old gay male. Well recently my aunt and i got into an argument about me being gay. I knew coming out would have a good and bad part. Good because i can finally be myself and bad because of people that think like her. But what she said hurt me. To the point i wanted to end my life. She started by telling me that i am going to hell and that i am living in sin. My comment was, its not your place to judge me. And what she said next broke me down. She told me that my dad would be ashamed up me and disown me. And that i will never be with him in heaven because i live for the the devil.

To help yall understand why it affected me so much. My dad passed aways at 36 years old. I was 14 at the time. It was my first day of high school. I never got to tell him good bye or that u love him. That day after getting to the hospital 30 minutues late. I found myself on the roof edge of the hospital. But the thought of not being able to be there for the people i love. I backed away from the edge. I stayed depressed for 6 almost 7 years. So after all this time i have grew stronger but that woman always brings my dad up. To break me down.

Yes i cried and yes i felt like giving up. But then i realized, she is not worth falling apart for. She is just closed minded, judgemental, and hatefully. So i done the best thing i could do. I told her she is no longer part of my life. That i will no longer allow her to mentally hurt me.
And that way the end of that.

My Response:   Good. Hateful, judgmental, negative people really have no place in your life. You need to surround yourself with positive people. I've run into people like that (in family) and they're not worth dealing with. Her hatred is blinding her to what life is about. For her to call herself Christian is offensive to people who are. You have taken a major step in life. No one should ever tell anyone they are "less of a person." In fact, it is those that belittle and insult and judge others that are bad people. Very proud of you for standing up for yourself and separating yourself from the negativity. Keep that in mind throughout your life.

Friday, August 23, 2013

UK Trip Blog #45:More Fun at the Palace Concert/The Gray Rush!

Cliff Singing "Wired for Sound"!
In short, Cliff Richard is a fantastic showman.  We were thoroughly entertained and Tom enjoyed making fun of the audience.  In fact, Cliff made a joke and told a story when he was at a restaurant and a waiter thought he recognized Cliff, but told Cliff, "You can't be Cliff Richard - I thought he was dead." :)
   Anyway, accompanying Cliff on stage were two young, hot looking guys on guitar who really knew how to dance- that was also worth watching!  
    Some of the hits you may remember are "Dreaming," "We Don't Talk Anymore," (See 30 second video at the bottom of the blog) "Devil Woman," (See 30 second video at the bottom of the blog) "A Little in Love," and "Suddenly" (with Olivia-Newton John).  (More info:

Hampton Court Palace lit up at night!

A sea of gray hair!

THE GRAY RUSH: A SEA OF GRAY HAIR!  - As I mentioned in the last blog, because Cliff has had hits in every decade since the 1950s (he started his career in 1958), there were a lot of seniors in the audience. Tom noticed that against one wall of the castle there was a line of wheelchairs with elderly folks. Suddenly, when Cliff started singing "Move It!" one of his first hits, a sea of gray haired women rushed the stage!  They stayed there the rest of the concert, singing along and waving their arms.
  Of course, we had to look twice, because when they waved their arms we thought it was flags flapping in the wind! (I know, I'm bad!).  
Cliff is STILL Hot!

GREAT PICTURES- Cliff is 72 this year, and just 2 years ago he released a calendar, and this hot pic of him was included in it. Wow, he looks amazing.  BTW- I recently read his autobiography and loved it. He's so progressive. He's never been married, and believes in marriage equality, he loves everyone, he funds many charities around the world, he's been knighted... I could go on -but his voice, songs and music are great!

Cliff's real name was Harry Webb

 A NEW FAVORITE CLIFF RICHARD SONG! -    During the concert, I heard a song from Cliff that I hadn't heard before that I totally love!  It's called "What Car" and it was on an 2004 CD (that of course wasn't for sale in the U.S.- but we got it at the concert). Here's the video of the complete song from You Tube. I usually play it 2-3 times in a row while driving. :) 

BELOW: Short videos from the concert at Hampton Court Palace of "Devil Woman" and "We Don't Talk Anymore"

Thursday, August 22, 2013

UK Trip Blog #44: Fun Concert in a King's Palace

Cliff Richard in Concert! Yay!!
The event that we built this trip around had finally come on the day we visited Hampton Court Palace. I (Rob) have been a HUGE fan of the U.K. superstar singer Cliff Richard since I first heard "We Don't Talk Anymore" in 1979. Not only do I love his smooth vocals, but he's incredibly handsome- from his teens to today at 72 (I hope I look that good at 72!).
   Cliff had about 8 hits in the U.S.A. for some reason, but in the U.K. he's been bigger than Elvis was here. Cliff's first hit happened in 1958 when he was 18, so he's been singing for 57 years and has had number 1 hits in each decade in the U.K.
Rob and Tom ready for the rainy outdoor concert
An Amazing setting!
A fan going through the parking lot
   HOW IT HAPPENED: Back in November I learned that Cliff was giving a concert at our favorite castle of Henry VIII's: Hampton Court Palace. So, Tom contacted our friend Anne Marie Clarke at Across the Pond Tours and she put together this vacation ( She built an amazing vacation from Scotland down to England and got us great tickets to the Cliff Richard concert! 

1963 movie poster from Summer Holiday!
    "A WALKER?" - Although Tom was familiar with Cliff Richard because I have about 20 of his CDs, what he didn't expect was that the audience would range from 20-somethings to retirees. Of course, with a career of 57 years, of course Cliff would have senior fans. The first clue to that happened when we were sitting in the car in the parking lot, waiting for a downpour to end before we went into the concert. That's when we saw an elderly woman in a rain hat slowly making her way across the parking lot using a walker! Tom looked at me and said "What the hell have you taken me to?"

    "SUMMER HOLIDAY"  VIDEO TIDBIT: One of Cliff's early songs that I really love is "Summer Holiday." (Brits call a "vacation" "on holiday" if you didn't know that).  This song was actually the title to a February, 1963 British film that Cliff Richard starred in, and I've also inserted the movie poster here so you can get a feel for it.   The short video I took at the concert won't play for some reason, so here's one from YOU TUBE that has footage from the movie. I think this song is so simple and sing-able (of course, your opinion may differ - but hey, it makes me sing!).


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Chinese Signs That Got Seriously Lost In Translation

This was too funny not to share....

Chinese Signs That Got Seriously Lost In Translation

In case of emergency...
What they meant to say: Fire extinguisher.
You know, one of those time sex things...


What they meant to say: Disposable items.

3. Freshly caught, I hope!

Freshly caught, I hope!
What they meant to say: Carp from mainland China.
 (I removed #4)

5. Thanks for offering.

Thanks for offering.
What they meant to say: Please do not touch. We’ll help you try it on.

Lonely Planet said it was a must-see.6.

What they meant to say: Ethnic minority park.

7. Hey, you might as well be graceful about it.

Hey, you might as well be graceful about it.
What they meant to say: Be careful not to slip and fall.

8. Ah, maybe we should wait til they’re done.

Ah, maybe we should wait til they're done.
What they meant to say: Construction in progress.

9. Maybe it’s reverse psychology?

Maybe it's reverse psychology?
What they meant to say: Don’t drink and drive.
 (removed #10

11. Shh!

What they meant to say: Do not step on the living grass.

12. Hey, no funny business.

Hey, no funny business.
What they meant to say: Important engine room.

13. (I think this is the funniest one)

I heard it's protected by UNESCO.
What they meant to say: Garden with a curved pool.

14. We need to start unrecycling more often.

We need to start unrecycling more often.
What they meant to say: Non-recyclables.

15. But besides that, you’re great!

But besides that, you're great!
What they meant to say: The grass is living, please do not step on it.

16. Definitely the best flavor.

Definitely the best flavor.
What they meant to say: Exotic flavor.

17. Oh, stop it…

Oh, stop it...
What they meant to say: Please kindly save water. Please kindly pee in the toilet bowl. Please kindly flush. Please kindly protect public property.

18. It’s really popular with X-Men.

It's really popular with X-Men.
What they meant to say: Coconut jelly candy.
 (removed #19

20. And it’s on sale! - FUNNY!

And it's on sale!
What they meant to say: Korean, seasoned seaweed.

21. Maybe the oven was broken? LOL!!!

Maybe the oven was broken?
What they meant to say: Fried duck.

22. Cheap, fast & easy.

Cheap, fast & easy.

Gift/Memorial Suggestions

Several of our friends have lost loved ones (human and pets) and we found that one of the best ways to honor their memory is to give to an animal charity.
What better way to recognize a life of love, than by giving another life a chance for love?
We donate to many animal rescues, but because we volunteer with
DC Weimaraner Rescue and Coast-to-Coast Dachshund Rescue, those are our 2 favorites.
Consider giving the chance of life to a dog or cat.

About us

We're two married guys who enjoy the simple things in life, especially our dogs. We volunteer for dog rescues, enjoy splitting dinners, exercising, blogging, helping friends and neighbors, ghost investigations, coffee and tea, Tudor history, weather, superheroes, comic books, mystery novels, traveling, 70s and 80s music, classic country, piano, gardening, writing books on ghosts and spirits, architecture, keeping a clean house, cooking simply, and keeping in shape. You'll find tidbits of all of these things on this blog and more.

Tom and Rob Thinking Hard!

Tom and Rob Thinking Hard!
Wondering what home project to do next