Britain with Canals
Luigi, Shaw, Dodge, and Manly, 1985

Luigi, Shaw, Dodge and I took a TWA flight about 8:00 in the evening of the Fourth of July which reached London about 9:30 on the morning of Friday, July 5. We waited and waited for the car that was to pick us up and take us to Stone, in the Midlands, but it did not arrive. Eventually I called the people I chartered our barge from and they told us the name of the firm that was to provide the car and driver, and said that the second firm had lost the first firm's telex message. I went to the desks of various auto rental agencies in the terminal and ascertained that Avis would provide us with a car and driver, and I asked them to do so. Ordinarily I might have driven the 180 miles from London's Heathrow airport, but it did not seem wise to try this sort of drive for the first time in a country where everyone else drives on the lefthand side of the road when I had been largely without sleep for the past 24 hours. A pleasant man with a Mercedes turned up after a while and drove us to Stone, in Staffordshire, stopping for lunch on the way. Stone is a few miles south of Stoke on Trent, more or less midway between Birmingham and Manchester. This is the industrial area of England and as a result has the most canals, which were dug before the railroads came along and which were made mostly obsolete by them.

The vacation business has provided a new use for the canals and the British government has been restoring them. But unlike France, the width of the locks (and consequently the minimum width of the canals) in not three meters, but two. Therefore the boats that use them are deservedly called "narrowboats".

On arriving in Stone we went to the Crown Hotel, which is on the main street of the town and across that street from the Canal Cruising Company boatyard. After checking into the hotel we walked over to the boatyard and saw our vessel, the Aramanda. It was about six feet wide and 57 feet long. A night at the small hotel (which charged 15 pounds, or about $22 per person, per night) was pleasant and inexpensive.

On Saturday morning we did our shopping for provisions, some of which were to last the week. I did my share and made sure we got enough beer for the week, but we did have to buy a couple of bottles of wine later. In mid-afternoon we were allowed to board our vessel and were taken out into the Trent & Mersey Canal for instruction, which was adequate but not thorough. An employee of the boatyard showed me as steersman how to operate the engine, tiller and bilge pump, and took us through the first lock. I was directed to try getting the boat through the second lock myself, and managed without excessive difficulty. The main thing is not to bump into the lock gates too hard, and to keep the boat from getting too close to either end of the lock. As water enters through the valves in the gate at the upper end of the lock it first pushes the vessel back and then the backwash pushes the vessel forward. The helmsman's job is to manipulate the speed and direction of thrust of the propellor to make sure that neither force causes the barge to bash into a gate. In downhill locks, the water leaving the gate valve tends to pull the vessel forward. In either case there is likely to be a certain amount of leakage through the upstream gate and sometimes this is sufficient to throw a lot of water on the vessel if it is too close to that gate. Luigi and Dodge were told how to operate the locks when going upstream by opening the downstream gate-valve and then, when the lock is empty, opening the gate for the vessel to enter, then closing the downstream gate valve and the gate, running to the upstream gate and opening the valve in it and then, when the lock is full, opening the upstream gate and then closing it when the barge is out of the lock. The lock operators then walk quickly or run to the next lock or else proceed along the towpath to a point where it is feasible for the barge to pick them up. Thereupon the employees went back to the boatyard and we were on our own.

Among the things they did not teach us was how to turn the vessel around. The charts show where there are "winding basins" which occur about one time in a day's journey, so it is important to avoid missing turns onto any branch canals you might choose to use, as even if you know how to turn around in one of these places, a missed turn could cost you a couple of days. Of one thing I am pretty sure: you can't turn a 57 foot barge around in a stretch of canal that is only 20 feet wide.

We proceeded slowly up the Trent & Mersey Canal and found that we were indeed able to handle things satisfactorily, despite a certain nervousness at the Meaford Locks where four locks and two bridges conspired to frighten beginners. As soon as we left Stone there were few buildings along the canal and we could enjoy the green English countryside. On approaching Barlaston after three or four hours of chugging along, we moored the vessel by having Luigi and Dodge jump ashore and hold the bow and stern lines, and then tie them to stakes which were pounded into the earth by whoever was not holding a line. I taught Dodge how to tie a line to a stake with a knot suitable for mooring a destroyer. The rule seems to be that you can moor virtually anywhere that you are not in the way of other users of the canal, but only on the towpath side of the canal; the other side is privately owned, but canal users have the right to use an easement on the towpath side. We had dinner at a pub in Barlaston called the "Plume of Feathers," and found it satisfactory, especially if one likes sausage and chips or hamburgers for dinner. Barlaston, if you are interested, is about half way between Stone and Hem Heath, which are 5 miles apart. As Luigi enjoys quoting, "The whole country is in HO guage."

On Sunday we proceeded north past Hem Heath and Stoke-on-Trent, an industrial city with many dark red brick buildings abutting the canal; most of them appeared to be industrial buildings, and many were abandoned. About lunchtime we reached Etruria, where the Caldon Canal branches off to the east. Etruria was the original home of the Wedgewood pottery factory but that site was abandoned in favor of a new one at Hem Heath. By virtue of considerable backing and filling and even more good luck, I was able to make the turn into the Caldon Canal which joins the Trent & Mersey at a very acute angle. Immediately after the turn we tied up to a wharf where we were able to dispose of trash and take on fresh water. We also had lunch while tied up there, and then proceeded along the Caldon's meanders. At the first lock, which was quite soon, we encountered a young bearded man who offered to ride along with us and help with Bridge Number 11, which the guidebook calls "A particularly nasty lift bridge, totally devoid of operating instructions." He turned out to be an artist and brought along a portfolio of his work, but did not even hint that we might like to look at any paintings, let alone buy one. He also turned out to have been brought up on canal barges, and was very helpful in general, particularly when we came to Bridge Number 11. To pass under this, or any lift bridge that is not left in the up position, the barge crew must first make sure that the bridge is clear of traffic and then pull down on a counterweight which is attached to a lever that causes the far end of the bridge to rise enough for a barge to slip under. Bridge 11 is particularly nasty because the counterweights (this bridge has two) are so far above the ground that they are hard for people of average height to reach, even though a couple of short chains dangle down for people to grab. Having been shown how to work the bridge, Luigi and Dodge were able to handle it themselves on the return trip -- Dodge because he is 6'3" and Luigi because she jumps well.

Before coming to that bridge we passed the town of Hanley which is the commercial and administrative heart of the Potteries area. In Hanley, straddling the canal, is a lovely Victorian park with formal gardens and, on this occasion, a Sunday afternoon concert in the bandstand. Many brick industrial buildings line the banks, mostly abandoned potteries so far as I could guess, though some are apparently still in business.

At quitting time we had reached Foxley and Milton, two villages separated by the canal. We tied up on the towpath side several yards from a pub called "The Foxley" which was on the other side of the canal. The guidebook said that at this pub "food is always available," but it turned out that the word "always" does not include Sunday. But after we talked across the canal to the owners, who were sitting in chairs on the canal edge, and asked where could we get some food on a Sunday evening, they agreed to open the food service for us, and invited us to tie up on their side of the canal. We cheerfully accepted their invitation and had a good meal of fried scampi and beer. Milton and Foxley are four miles from Etruria, which is 9 miles from our starting point in Stone.

Monday morning we went shopping in Milton, where there are a number of good shops, including a bookstore where Luigi and Shaw spent some time and money. Then we chugged along for another couple of miles, passing several nice houses located twenty or thirty feet from the canal with flower and rock gardens descending from the houses to the edge of the canal. Soon we reached Norton Green where there is a pub which we decided to try for lunch. However pubs in this area are not only closed on Sunday, they are also closed on Monday, even tighter than on Sunday. So we walked back to the barge for lunch and the proceeded on.

Before reaching Norton Green we went through a lock known as "Engine Lock" but I don't know why. No engine is visible. There is, however, what the guidebook calls "a fierce by-wier." This turned out to be a strong discharge of water into the left side of the canal (when you are headed upstream) which made it impossible for me to maintain the barge in a position from which I could enter the lock; it kept pushing me out of position while I waited for Luigi and Dodge to empty the lock and open the gate. Eventually I was able to back up and start over, learning the rule that when a barge's propeller is in reverse, operating the tiller in either direction causes the vessel to turn in whichever direction you don't want it to. Immediately after this lock we encountered another lift bridge which operated easily.

After leaving Norton Green we had to pass a third lift bridge which could be operated only with a lock key (the crank with which one opens the valve in a lock gate, and with which the barge came supplied). In mid-afternoon, after passing through Stockton Brook, we reached Endon where we were again able to replenish our water supply. The area here is largely dairy country, gently rolling, not unlike southern Wisconsin. At one point the canal ran along the upper part of a hill and we could look down into the Trent Valley below. At Hazelhurst Junction the canal to Leek branched off from the Caldon Canal and headed north toward (but not all the way to) the village of Leek. Promptly after this junction the Caldon Canal passed through three down locks which lowered this canal enough so that it could and did pass under a small aqueduct which carried the Leek branch.

When we decided to end the day's journey we were at Cheddleton, a town with two pubs and a restaurant, all of which were closed because it was Monday. It was also the day after Dodge's 17th birthday (which we had forgotten to celebrate on Sunday), and we celebrated it by having pork and beans from a can plus a small can of salmon for Dodge. Although the barge came equipped with two can-openers, neither worked satisfactorily, so dinner was delayed while Luigi and Shaw struggled with the cans. A nice bottle of wine did what it could to make the occasion as nearly festive as possible.

After dinner I took a walk along to the towpath to the next bridge where there was another pub (open but not serving food) and a small railroad museum which consisted of a refurbished Victorian railroad station and several cars and engines in greater or lesser states of disrepair. The museum was a community project and people in the community spend their free time trying to put the rolling stock into shape and manning the museum.

On Tuesday we walked into the village of Cheddleton and bought groceries (including a couple of canned steak and kidney pies) from the small room in a small building that served both as grocery store and post office. Then we pulled up stakes and proceeded through a wooded area to Consall Forge where there was a sizeable pub called the "Black Lion" which had no access by public road. Its customers seemed to be only people who were traveling on the canal and any hikers that happened by. Luigi prevailed on the proprietor of the pub to open the cans that contained the steak and kidney pies we were to eat for dinner.

While there we noticed several other canal boats, including one which contained a woman of middle age and another who appeared to be in her twenties and a man with a crippled foot and another man who was so handicapped that he could not speak intelligibly and had to be strapped into a wheelchair. Luigi got to talking with the older woman and ascertained that both women worked for the Devonshire home for the handicapped and were on an expedition to determine what facilities for canal users can and cannot be used by the handicapped. Pushing the wheelchair up the hill to the pub seemed not to be the sort of thing that would make these women say that the handicapped were physically prevented from using the pub.

After Consall Forge the canal passes through wooded country to Froghall. A railway line runs along the canal for a while, and an abandoned passenger station is cantilevered out over the canal. Here the canal narrowed so that two boats could not pass in many spots, and if two met one would have to back down until it came to a wide spot where they could pass. Fortunately the few barges that we did meet turned up at wide spots. One barge we met was drawn by a horse walking sedately along the tow path. It was a tourist attraction sponsored by the Froghall tea room, and was full of tourists. Eventually we reached the winding basin just before the Froghall tunnel. The tunnel is about 76 yards long and the roof is so low that a barge as high as ours would probably not have been able to go through it. We elected not to try, and turned the boat around by having Dodge go ashore with the line from the bow and pull that end of the vessel around while I did what I could with the engine and propeller to keep from going too much aground.

Then we tied up next to a factory that makes copper wire, and walked to the tea room at Froghall Wharf, the end of the canal. While Luigi and Dodge had cake or the like, Shaw and I had rabbit pie. It was much like any other meat pie, but neither of us had previously had a pie made of rabbit before. Froghall is a total of 26 miles by canal from Stone, where we started; we might have walked the distance in only two days, but speed is not the purpose of barging. On the straightaway, a barge goes about the speed of a diligent amble but the 29 locks we had to go through took a certain amount of time.

The wire factory had open windows and we looked in on the huge room in which cranes wandered back and forth on tracks near the ceiling, lifting vessels which might or might not have contained molten copper from place to place. Rolls of bright copper wire gave a copper color to the light in the room.

On returning to the barge we noticed that it had a decided list to starboard. Lifting the floorboards over the engine, just forward of the tiller, showed that there was a little water in the starboard bilge, but we could not decide whether that was the cause or the effect of the list. The bilge pump was of no help; Dodged climbed down and moved it as close as he could to the deepest part of the water, but it pumped no water even though the impeller blades were rotating nicely. Perhaps the water was not deep enough. At length we decided that the best thing was to have dinner and go to bed in the hope that God would deal with the list during the night or in the morning. I made a mental note to panic if the list got progressively worse during the night, but it didn't. On Wednesday morning the vessel was listing just as much as it was the night before all during breakfast; when we started the engine and tried to push away from the bank we then realized that the barge had been aground all night.

The trip back toward Stone was an improvement because the pubs and restaurants were open. Also, I was feeling more comfortable at the tiller and more willing to use a propeller speed other than the lowest. We reached Cheddleton by lunchtime; just before we got there Luigi disembarked to look at the railway museum and then she walked on to a bridge where she waited until the barge caught up with her. Cheddleton had been a spot where flint was heated to make it brittle and then ground into the clay that is used to make ironstone china. The old mill is there and so are a couple of stone cottages, properly covered with blooming rose vines. In the afternoon we came to one of our few traffic jams on the water and had to wait for our turn at a lock. In a pasture adjacent to the canal, not over 50 feet from us, a young bull was doing his best (which was not good enough) with a cow, and the performance continued all the time we were waiting. We again filled our water tanks at Endon, having to await our turn until three other barges filled their tanks, and reached Stockton Brook by dinnertime when we had a good dinner in The Berries restaurant there.

On Thursday we continued past Norton Green and that dreadful Engine Lock with its fierce by-wier (which was not a significant problem when approached from the other side of the lock). We stopped again at Milton for Luigi and Shaw to re-visit the bookstore and were able to negotiate the particularly nasty lift bridge Number 11. At Hanley we stopped for lunch at the park, and after lunch I walked through the park, admiring its formal gardens and the building which housed the headquarters of the park system. Passing through Etruria we came again to the "staircase" of locks -- three locks in which the lower gate of one serves as the upper gate of the next. Then we reached the sharp turn at the junction of the Caldon and the Trent & Mersey Canals. This time there were three or four barges lined up on the side of the latter canal directly opposite the mouth of the former, making even narrower the area in which the Aramanda could be turned most of the way around. Eventually a woman on one of the lined-up barges held our bow line while I ran the engine with the rudder turned and the vessel's stern swung round until the craft was headed in the desired direction. Shaw and Dodge went ashore with the bow and stern lines to hold our barge in place, and to tow it into the next place nearer the lock when it became available. In shoving the bow away from the bank with her foot, Shaw got over-extended and fell into the canal.

We spent the night at Hem Heath, after mooring near a restaurant of the Toby chain where we got a good evening meal. A number of other barges were moored in the same stretch of the canal, and we discovered that the barge with the people from the Devon home for the handicapped was among them. In the morning I walked into the town a few hundred yards to a bank to cash a traveler's check. The teller did not ask to see my passport or any other identification, but simply asked in what denominations did I want the money. Having the checks in pounds sterling rather than in dollars probably was helpful in this respect.

Luigi and I decided to walk from the barge to the Wedgewood potteries between Hem Heath and Barlaston, but my right ankle, with which I had been having trouble, began to complain, so we went back to the barge and motored to a point near a bridge that carried a road leading to the pottery. When we mentioned the possibility of buying something from the salesroom, Shaw took an interest, so she, Luigi and I all went to the plant. It is set up to receive tourists, with workers demonstrating several of the techniques that are used to make and decorate the firm's wares, a movie that is shown every hour, and several halls displaying Wedgewood china chronoligically according to the time when the particular pattern was made. I learned that bone china is made of a clay which is made from ground animal bones. When the movie was over and we had looked as much as we chose at the craftsmen doing their respective tasks, we wandered into the sales room. Shaw bought a Jasper ware plaque and Luigi bought a couple of mugs (not of the Wedgewood brand) to give to the Heroy girls next door to us at 399 Fullerton. Shortly before two o'clock I walked back to the barge to get lunch for myself and Dodge, and after we had finished and drunk most of the beer in a two-liter bottle, Luigi and Shaw turned up with their purchases and a report that they had gotten lost on the way back.

We then proceeded to pull up stakes for the last time and brought the barge back to Stone, arriving at five or six o'clock. We had decided that we would stay at the Crown Hotel if it could take us and otherwise we would spend another night on the Aramanda. We were obligated to return the barge by 9:00 the next morning. The hotel could take us, so we spent the night there, with dinner and Saturday's breakfast in the hotel's excellent dining room. There was some question what we should do with the unused supplies we had on board; a jar and a half of marmalade, half a box of crackers and some cheese ended up in our luggage and the rest was abandoned for the use of the next party or the owner, as the latter might elect.

After breakfast on Saturday I went on foot to find the railway station, and, after hardly getting lost at all, located it and bought tickets for the late morning train to Stafford, and from there to Euston Station, London. Mr. Wyatt, the owner of the Canal Cruising Company, had agreed to see to it that we were taken to the railroad station Saturday, so we carried all our luggage across the street from the hotel back to the boatyard. However, it turned out that his daughter-in-law had taken the necessary vehicle so Mr Wyatt called us a cab.

There was about an hour layover in the Stafford station, so Luigi stayed with the luggage while Shaw and Dodge and I went to the lunchroom and obtained supplies, including pork pies and sausage rolls. We thought that the latter might resemble hot dogs, because they involve spiced ground meat in the shape of a long cylinder surrounded by bread, but they don't. The sausage is encased only in the dough which is then baked, cooking the meat, I suppose. For purposes of this station's lunchroom, the sausage rolls were frozen and then warmed up in a microwave oven, and though perfectly edible, lacked the gourmet appeal of an Oscar Mayer hot dog.

On arriving in London we found that the way from the train to the taxi stand was long and tortuous, but eventually we managed and were driven in style to the Charing Cross Hotel. An old Railway Hotel, it is located on the Strand, over the Charing Cross Railway Station and also above the Charing Cross subway stop, within a couple of hundred yards of the Embankment subway stop, and within walking distance of Trafalgar Square, Picadilly Circus, a large number of theaters and several museums. Luigi and I had a room on the second floor (two flights up via a staircase that was grand or an elevator that was not). Shaw and Dodge had rooms that were purportedly on the first floor, but they were in the building across the street, which seemed to have no entrances or exits of its own (except for emergency purposes) and was connected by a covered walkway over Villiers Street to the main portion of the hotel. Walking to their room involved going to the first floor of the main hotel, passing down one hall, turning right and passing down another, turning left and passing down the walkway, taking one or two more turns, and walking down a flight of stairs and along another hall. Although far from the standards of the most modern hotels, the rooms were satisfactory, especially when the weather was moderately cool, and if one was willing to take a bath rather than a shower. I believe I took more baths in that hotel than I had elsewhere in the last ten years.

Villiers street has at least a dozen restaurants and pubs along its short length, and we ate most of our dinners there. Saturday night we tried the Tennessee Pancake House for some typically American food, and did not eat there again. Other restaurants include a good Italian one and an Indian Restaurant where we ate twice. Across the Strand were two Pizza parlors, and we ate in one of them (a Pizza Hut) once.

As we had had plenty of togetherness on the barge, the four of us pretty much went our own ways in London. We all did go to the Royal Academy of Arts on Sunday afternoon to look at the Edward Lear show, though the children, having walked there with Luigi were just leaving when I arrived after taking the subway. Although primarily noted now for the wonderful nonsense verses he wrote, as well as having invented the limerick, Lear was a good artist and left many fine oils and watercolors. Several of the former reminded me of the Hudson River School in the U.S., painted about the same time and devoted to lush representations of glorious scenery. Lear had travelled much in Europe and the middle East, so many of his paintings were of those areas. Starting out he was an illustrator for books on birds, and he was not far behind Audobon in that respect. As a professional artist, however, he found it necessary to produce a large number of paintings, many of which were not up to his best. Much of this work was done on a sort of mass production basis, and involved setting up a number of canvasses with outlines sketched on them; Lear would then paint in all the reds, then all the blues, and so on.

Shaw and Dodge went back to the basement of St. James' Church on Picadilly where Shaw had last year enjoyed making rubbings of midieval figures on brass plates. They also saw, in the Trocadero shopping center, a very good Soviet exhibition of holograms, and recommended it to me. I saw it later, and found that, instead of using such a show just for the purpose of showing off the technical aspect of holography, the exhibit displayed holograms of some of the priceless artifacts owned by the U.S.S.R., including some Scythian gold objects that much resembled those that I saw a few years ago at the Metropolitan Museum in New York. This use of holograms should be followed more widely elsewhere, since it permits people to see objects of great value as well as if they were on display in a typical museum setting, but without the need for the security precautions and the temporary loss of the items by their owners.

Luigi and I separately saw an exhibit of the works of Francis Bacon at the Tate (to which she walked but I took the subway). I dutifully walked through the entire exhibition and consider all but the first ten minutes to have been wasted. As a reward I went through the Turners, which were nearby, and enjoyed them, though three or four rooms full would have been enough.

I also attended a couple of functions of the American Bar Association, one of which involved a walking tour of the newly revived Covent Garden market, just north of Trafalgar Square. It resembles the Faneuil Hall project in Boston and the the Seaport project in New York, with old buildings renovated to provide space for many little shops and open air malls nearby.

Tuesday afternoon the four of us went to a garden party in Regent's Park given by Regent's College, a newly established institution which is spearheaded by Rockford College (the one in Rockford, Illinois, believe it or not). The new college had bought and is renovating the buildings which were previously owned by Bedford College which had either gone broke or moved elsewhere. The party was in a large tent on the campus of the college and after some mediocre punch and hors d'ouvres we were told about what the purpose nd aims of the new college are. Apparently it will concentrate on two areas: the teaching of languages and providing a London campus for other institutions, whether in the U.S. or the Continent of Europe, which might want to set up a temporary educational program. The children left promptly.

From that party Luigi and I went to a party given by the solicitors' firm of McKenna and Company. The firm is one which John Morris of our office does considerable work with, and seems to be well into the financial business, with offices in such places as Singapore, Hong Kong and the middle East. The party was held in the cloisters of Westminster Abbey, and in addition to the excellent Champagne, featured three private guided tours of the Abbey, with guests choosing whether to take the 6:00, the 6:30 or the 7:00 starting time. We were on the 6:30 one. The tour took about an hour and a half and was led by a priest whom I could not hear very well because they were testing the organ. Toward the end of the tour I found it necessary to use a bathroom and so was accorded a privilege that virtually no tourists have. The loo occupies a much larger room than I would have expected, with a high ceiling and a toilet set up on a pedestal several inches above the floor and serviced by a tank near the ceiling which had a chain hanging down. The toilet paper was pink. We saw many other things of great state and religious importance, but I don't remember them so well. After the tour we got to talking with some of our hosts and found them pleasant and interesting. At one point I was asked if I was the only representative of Chapman and Cutler at the London meeting of the American Bar Association, and I replied that I was. Within two minutes after that I saw my partner Don Murphy standing a few feet away.

Thursday morning I took Dodge to the Science Museum, which both of us found somewhat dull, though it was probably good for us. The portion devoted to computers was slightly out of date, an understandable problem in a field that is changing so rapidly. To compensate, I took Dodge to the London Dungeon which I had seen advertized in some tourist literature. Under the London Bridge Underground stop (which is, at that point, elevated a couple of stories above the ground) we found the establishment and entered after paying our $5.00 per person entry fee. A sign at the entrance set the tone of the establishment with the legend: "PLEASE DO NOT FEED THE RATS." In near darkness we walked for the better part of an hour observing displays of midieval horrors of one sort of another including a lifelike rendition of a man being drawn (preparatory to being quartered), another of someone being boiled to death, another of the rack in use, another of a noble being beheaded, another of someone being crushed by a platform on his chest upon which rocks were deposited, and so on. There was also a depiction of a home afflicted by the black death. Dodge's comment was: "Those people were pretty sick." Lunch in a pleasant nearby wine bar made us feel better.

Thursday evening all four of us went to the Garrick Theater, about a fifteen minute walk, where we saw the play "No Sex Please, We're British." A farce which has been running for 15 years, we found it delightful even though a few lines were slightly dated. The plot involved a newly married couple who keep receiving pornographic material in large quantities from an importer from whom the wife thought she had ordered Scandinavian glassware.

On Friday we took the train to Inverness, in the Highlands of Scotland, where we were driven by taxi to Culloden House, a couple of miles east of the city. Set alone in a large tract of landscaped surroundings, the house is a restoration (by the Adams Brothers) of the house where Bonnie Prince Charlie stayed the night before the battle of Culloden in 1746. Now the house is operated as a luxury hotel by Mr. and Mrs. Ian MacKenzie, and it is indeed fit for a prince to visit if one should choose to. On the main floor are a large lounge with bar; the walls are painted green with plaster designs in white along the top, carved plaster medallions tastefully spaced on the walls, and a large, clean and sparkling chandelier in the center of the ceiling, surrounded by more carved plaster. A smaller lounge is decorated much the same, but with blue walls. The dining room uses linen and silver plate, and serves gourmet meals, specializing in game and fresh fish. Mr. MacKenzie reported that the hotel was written up a couple of months ago in Gourmet magazine and would soon be featured in an article in Bon Appetit. The bedrooms are more than adequate, though ours were not luxurious, and were reached by a staircase that was narrow and steep. I suspect that for more money we could have had fancier accomodations, but did not ask.

Saturday morning we took a taxi into Inverness and wandered about the city. Dodge and I walked across the bridge over the River Ness to see if we could locate the Highland Fair that the taxi driver told us about, but it refused to appear where we looked. Lunch was in a Chinese restaurant, and was good. We got all the maps we were likely to need, and then returned to Culloden House for a few hours when we went back to Inverness to put Dodge on the train to London where he would take the subway to Harrow. While we were in London Luigi had taken Dodge by subway to Harrow and talked with some of the people there, and ascertained how to get by subway between Heathrow Airport and Harrow School in 53 minutes so that we might, on leaving England the following week, take our luggage to the airport in the morning and then see Dodge at Harrow and return to the airport in time for a 2:10 P.M. plane to Chicago.

The day after we put Dodge on the train to London was Sunday, and Luigi, Shaw and I took a cab to Culloden Muir (pronounced cull-ah-den moor) where the last battle on the island of Great Britain was fought in 1746. The English and Lowland Scots severely beat the Highland Scots who were badly led by Bonnie Prince Charlie -- a born loser and the last in a dynasty of losers, the Stewart Kings. Disregarding the sound advice of his Highland officers who had fought many battles, he relied on a bunch of flattering Irish advisers who persuaded him to do battle on an open field against the British who were armed with muskets and cannon while the Highlanders had swords, shields and axes. The Highlanders were great warriors but lousy soldiers, as they valued courage more than discipline, and were killed in great numbers with relatively small loss to the British. After that battle, the Highland Scots were treated by the British about as the Indians in the U.S. were treated by the white men, but not so gently. The Highlanders had been organized in a tribal or clan society which was effectively terminated by the killing or banishment of nearly all the clan leaders and the burning of their houses and capture of their cattle.

On Monday we got the Avis people in Inverness to provide us with a small red Ford which all three of us tried to drive, but only I went much of anywhere at the wheel. We drove to Cawdor Castle, which is one of the best in Britain -- well maintained and properly castle-like. In case you have forgotten, Macbeth was made Thane of Cawdor before he became king of Scotland in Shakespeare's play. The castle is owned by the Earl of Cawdor now, Thanes being obsolete, and his family lives there, in a part of the castle not open to the public. We were told by the owner of Culloden House that the Earl had written the blurbs identifying various exhibits in the castle of ancient artifacts; they were written with considerable humor as well as instructively.

In the evening I got to talking with Mr. MacKenzie about the local whisky business. He mentioned that the distilleries were closed because, due the the reduction by Americans of their consumption, the distilleries had accumulated too large inventories. I mentioned that I would do my bit to help reduce those inventories, and ordered a drink of the local product in a brandy snifter -- an excellent way to appreciate really good Scotch. Then I asked Mr. MacKenzie whether his hotel would oblige if I were to ask, the next morning, for porridge with melted butter and Scotch Whisky on it. This is the way I usually eat oatmeal at home, and the way I prefer it, but many people don't. My query appeared to be something he had never faced before, but he faced it with good humor, and assured me that if that was the way I wanted my porridge, that was the way I could have it. He added that his cook made porridge very well. On Tuesday morning I ordered porridge so prepared, to the amazement of the pretty Scotch waitress, who had difficulty suppressing her giggles. They put on rather more than the tablespoon of each ingredient than I had asked, especially the butter, and I enjoyed it thoroughly.

Later that day we drove to Arisaig, on the west side of Scotland, right on an arm of the sea. En route we drove along the north edge of Loch Ness, without seeing any monster, and stopped at a ruin called Urqhuart Castle on the north side of the loch and wandered about it. At lunchtime we stopped at a small hotel which purported to serve meals; it did so but very slowly and with great confusion. We got to talking with an English couple with two children and agreed with them that the proper name for the hotel should be "Fawlty Towers" after a British television program about an ill-run hotel that used to be shown on Channel 11 in Chicago.

It rained a little on the way to Arisaig and most of the time we were there. Wednesday morning Luigi and I went out for a walk and enjoyed the magnificent scenery with mountains and forests coming down to the rugged coastline, and I managed to slip on some muddy grass and further damage my right ankle, though it seems to be mostly recovered now. For lunch we drove into the village of Arisaig and ate at a small seafood restaurant called "Jacques;" afterward Luigi and Shaw wandered about the town in the rain while I stayed in the car and read a book. Arisaig House is a glorious big house, which probably has a history but I don't know what it is. I told the lady who owns and runs the place that the climate and the great quantity of greenery in the landscape reminded me of the wet side of Kauai in the Hawaiian Islands, which is supposed to be the wettest place in the world. The driving is fearful, as the roads in that part of the world are mostly one lane with occasional wide places where people may pass. The traffic was heavy enough so that I found it nerve-wracking, especially since I had not completely gotten used to driving on the wrong side of the road. Remembering to stay on the left (except for occasional harmless lapses) is not hard but remembering that most of the car is to the left of the driver and little of it is to his right proved difficult and I often got too far to the left because of that.

On Thursday we drove back from Arisaig to Inverness, stopping at a different hotel for lunch. This hotel is located in an old manor house and looks a little like Fawlty Towers, but is better behaved. The walls of the bar room where we had lunch were covered with paintings in which the Loch Ness monster figured prominently and humorously.

On arriving in Inverness I parked the car at the station and we checked in to the Station Hotel for the night. As suggested by the Avis lady who brought us the car, I left the keys with the person at the hotel desk who seemed accustomed to keeping keys until the Avis people come and collect their cars. We all went out shopping. Luigi got some pork pies, peanuts, cheese and various other goodies to eat on the next day's train trip to London and Shaw got a kilt and a scarf. I got 2 liters of beer to drink on the journey and two cans of Guiness's Stout for Shaw and a couple of bottles of Bellhaven Ale for myself, and also some paper cups to drink the beer out of.

The Friday train ride to London was much like the trip going up to Inverness which Dodge was on, only the other direction, and it rained most of the time. We stayed at the Marriott Hotel in Grosvenor Square, which is much more modern than the Charing Cross, and also much more expensive.

Saturday morning Luigi, Shaw and I took a cab to Heathrow Airport where we checked our luggage. Shaw wanted to stay at the airport, so Luigi and I took the subway to Acton Junction and then another one to South Harrow, where we could get a bus or a cab to Harrow School. When Luigi timed the trip ten days before, however, all connections were prompt. This time they were the opposite and it was about noon when we reached South Harrow. We were supposed to check in for our plane to Chicago at 1:00 and there were no taxis in sight. So we called the school from a nearby pay phone, spoke to Dodge briefly, and took the subway back to Heathrow.

The flight back from London to Chicago was routine, though those passengers near windows (as we were not) got a very good look at Greenland as we flew over. I saw a few mountains and glaciers, as well as icebergs offshore. Shaw's friends Craig and Sam were at the airport to meet us (or a least Shaw) and Shaw went out to eat dinner with them. Luigi and I had seafood salad which I got from the local delicatessen.