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England May 20 – May 31, 2017 (10 nights, 2 Vermeers) Part 2 of 3

On Thursday morning we took a train to Ludlow, which is northwest of London and very near the border with Wales. Because Rick Steves doesn’t include Ludlow in his guidebooks I had to find a B&B on my own. The Mount Guest House turned out to be a winner! Quiet, peaceful, and on a hill overlooking the town. Our host, Ray, couldn’t do enough for us. We made a picnic for dinner in his tidy garden at the back of the house and we could have stayed there for much longer than our two nights.

We were in Ludlow to meet a local friend, David. We know David through a mutual friend in Longmont and we have been friends on Facebook for quite a while. We wanted to meet him in person, and because we wanted to see the nearby Ironbridge Gorge, it made perfect sense to spend some time in enchanting Ludlow.

On Friday David took the day off and spent it with us. From 9 am until well past dinner with David and his lovely bride, Helena, we never stopped talking and laughing and having a marvelous time. He took us on a fascinating walking tour of Ludlow and Ludlow Castle (built in 1138) while we got to know each other and fill in the gaps of our lives that generally don’t come up on Facebook. We passed a bookbinder’s shop, and David very sweetly arranged for us to just pop in for a moment to see the tools and speak with the owner—a thrill for those of us who have owned several antique bookbinder’s presses. In the afternoon David drove us to nearby Stokesay Castle (built in the 1280s). A full day of touring and lively conversation. Friends for life.

Our last weekend was three nights in Ironbridge Gorge, the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution. We stayed at The Library House B&B, where our hosts, Tim and Sarah (and Millie, the dog) were nice as can be. Their house and gardens are right out of a magazine. So lovely!

In addition to the Iron Bridge and the local museums, the town itself is cute as a button. We didn’t know in advance, but there was also a WWII Living History tribute going on while we were there. English people dress in authentic period clothes and re-enact history. We essentially spent the times when we weren’t in the museums in the 1940s. Our local café had ration cards on the tables and a young woman singing war songs. We made friends with an older couple, Shirley and Derrick, and before I knew it Shirley and I were dancing. Who knows who was leading, but we had fun!

That evening Stephen met a young man who was dressed as an American GI and gave him the short version of the stories of Stephen’s uncle in WWII. I think the promotion story in the barber’s chair will become part of this group’s lore. At least three people were listening to Stephen, absolutely spellbound.

So why did the Industrial Revolution begin here? Serendipity. All the elements happened to come together in this beautiful river gorge—water, iron, tar, local ingenuity, and just the right timing. We spent a fascinating weekend learning about it all and enjoying the Blists Hill Victorian Town (open-air folk museum). The local Gorge Connect bus links the town and the museums, but it only runs on weekends and Bank Holidays, so I had planned our itinerary to coincide with the late May Bank Holiday. It was easy and fun to ride the buses, and we ended up seeing the same English people on the buses, at the museums, on the streets, and in the pubs. We encountered very few tourists other than English people taking advantage of a long weekend.

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What a fun time! I loved visiting Stokesay Castle as well.

Thanks for taking the time to do a Trip Report!

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Very cool that you happened to be there for the WW2 Living History Tribute!
Ludlow Castle is on my wish list for our next trip to England or the trip after that.
Enjoying your trip reports.