To London and Paris
My son Bill had a liking for finding out what the Stillman family history was and he found out that some of our ancestors used to live in and near London. Also I also had a wild idea that I would go to France and see what Paris looked like "In the Springtime." So, in the meantime, Bill had located a cousin that had the same great grandfather that I had. All of this was to be found in a little book that my father had passed on down to me. So you can imagine what happened. Another "Trip of a Life" time was about to happen.
So, during June 2000 Bill made reservations with the Vacation Connection, of Long Beach, CA, via Continental Air Lines, to arrange for the trip July 1-9, 2000.
So, we both packed and I left the Gulfport Airport at 10:15 AM, on July 1st, and arrived at Houston, TX George Bush Airport at 12:15 PM to be ready to meet Bill there at 1:30 PM. Bill arrived on time and then we were ready to catch 3:55 PM flight, nonstop to a London Airport on a Boeing 777, in 9 hours and 50 minutes. The new Boeing 777 had a TV screen on the back of every seat and such and was its first flight. So, on Sunday July 2nd we arrived at the London Gatwick, South Terminal, claimed our luggage and with push carts were off to find a special bus that was to take us to our hotel, and after about an hours delay the bus Hotelink found us, and we arrived at the Plaza On Hyde Park Hotel located at Bayswater, England. After arriving at the hotel, and checking in we were asked to wait in the lobby until about 3:00 PM for our room to be put in order.
So we spent about 2 hours drinking tea and crumpets (cookies) in the tea room in the lobby, and across from it we saw a sign which read as follows: "Hyde Park, where Robin Hood used to live." In checking our luggage, I also observed that what used to the the Bell Captain's Office in a Hotel is now called the "Consierge" Office. Pronounced "Conse Air. " (And in French means Uncle).
On Monday, July 3rd, at 8:00 AM, with the aid of the Consierge, we were able to get aboard a double decker bus for a "Full Day London Experience."
This was a very busy day. We managed to see No. 10 Downing Place, Hogshead Drug Store (a place where Harry Potter used to hang out),the Tower of London, where a black raven showed up, and the kings used to live, Beef Eater and Tiger Taverns, Westminster Chapel, and by boat the London Bridge, Big Ben Clock Tower, Parliament Buildings, and back to see Buckingham Palace, and the Changing of the Guard at noon. We also visited St Paul's Cathedral, where I bought a coffee cup. A very nice day.
On Tuesday July 4th we traveled to Paddington Station, and changed trains to go to Reading, to meet Robin and Margaret Stillman. With them, using their car we traveled to Steeple Ashton, and Bath. The reference to Bath refers to the site where the early Romans, built bathing areas of stone, so that they and the local people could have the privilege of bathing often. Early in the day we visited the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, which had been a very important center of the family for approximately 750 years.
That night we stayed at the Hotel Bristol, Best Western International, Leigh Park Hotel, Leigh Road West Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire BA152RA
On July the 5th we traveled with Robin and Margaret to Lockerly to have lunch with Charles and Sylvia Stileman. Sylvia was the niece of the former Vicar - Oswald Roshfort Yerburgh, M.A. Vicar from 1952 - 1059 of St Mary the Virgin in Steeple Ashton. Charles is a very high-tech potter applying his metallurgical skills to specialized pottery.
From there we went to Romsey and toured the Abbey. That night we stayed at the Hotel Heathrow, Queen Moat Houses, at Reading Berkshire.
Since this was July the 5th, the US Independence day, I asked Robin "What do the people here think about this day? And he said "The people here do not think much of it - since we lost the War - but your people do celebrate it."
On July 6th we traveled with our hosts to visit their home. From there we went to see the ancient relic "Stonehenge." And while making the visit Robin and Elizabeth stayed in the car. This was because automobiles are at time broken into or stolen, if not guarded. That day we also made a return trip to Romsey Abbey to see the inside of the Abbey and to take pictures of the "Notice of 1000 year celebration held in 1907 Edward the Elder was a son of Alfred, King of the West Saxons - who became known as Alfred the Great," as well as many other scenes.
On the afternoon of July 6, 2000, we visited the ancestral Winchelsea Church and Priory which were founded in 1288 in Winchelsea, East Sussex, England. For over 400 years Stileman family members have thoroughly participated in this church and another founded in Oxford Kent. The picture below presents the Winchelsea Church and remains of the Priory.
On July 7th Alfred and Bill Stillman went by Paris, France via Eurostar( Chunnel) and toured Paris. There are two trains. One leaves Paris and one leaves London and they pass each other in the Chunnel. They travel at 186 miles per hour.
We left Ashford Kent, England at 12:53 PM arrived at Paris, France, at 15:59 PM, the train traveled at 186 MPH, and we were served a wonderful dinner, with wine and beer and nice waitresses dressed in bunny costumes. Upon arriving in Paris, it was raining and we had to wait in line for about an hour for a taxi to take us to the Clarion St James & Albany Standard Hotel, located at 202 Rue de Rivoli. This happened to be two hotels jammed together to make one large hotel, and I think we got the worst one.
Our hotel was right next door to the statue of St. Joan de Arc. We ate breakfast early in the morning, next door, and observed employees in cafés sweeping the floors and washing down the floors, with the water draining out into the gutters of the streets, and this was in most places. That morning we toured the city by bus seeing the statue of Charlemagne, an ancestor of ours - outside the Notre Dame Cathedral, the Notre Dame Cathedral, and the Louvre in which we saw the statue of Venus de Milo, the Winged Victory statue, the picture of The Virgin Mother, "Mona Lisa," which we were not able to take picture, because the flash from the cameras would affect the paint on it.
From there we took a boat trip on the Rhine River and saw the Eifel Tower, the Arc De Triumph, the Winged Victory Statue, The Parliament Buildings, and met some folks (Americans) from Germany, that had been in Germany during World War two, and had remained there by working for the German government.
On Sunday July 9th, 2000 we checked out of the Hotel, took an airbus taxi t o the Paris De Gaulle Airport, went through Customs, and left there at 10:30 AM, and after a trip of 10 hours and 44 minutes arrived back in the USA, at the Houston George Bush Terminal C, at 12:10 PM . From there Bill went on to Los Angeles, and I went on to Gulfport, MS. arriving at 5:25 PM. I was met at the Gulfport Airport by Julius and June Kornman. And again this was a trip that was well worth remembering for a long while.