Guts, tenacity, and never giving up…

20130216-194254.jpgTime for a visit to the old bulldog himself – Churchill statute and the Churchill War Rooms.

Reminders were everywhere of The War. It was time to discover a bit of my Grampa’s reality of which he never spoke. (Okay – other than England is green, ate too much lamb there, and the hedgerows are thick – we didn’t hear what he experienced.) What my family does know is he took a train from Scotland to Southampton during the night.

My visit to the War Rooms were in his honour. Every time I saw red poppies in the UK I thought of he and all the mates he said goodbye. If you were part of my soppy moments when I happened on red poppies – this is why. It’s a tall Kentuckian with a sideways grin who saw unspeakable terror that gave me reason to honour his fellow soldiers whilst I visited the UK.

Fair play since he was the last of my clan who had boots on the ground in Blighty. In May, I carried his regimental coin to the UK in memory of him. His memory fell in the form of tears at the Cenotaph. This go I went to the Churchill War Rooms to look at history and walk their halls to honour him.

20130216-202342.jpgHis name was Donald Maxwell Plummer. He was a Staff Seargeant in the 29th Infantry Regiment. Tall bloke, quick dry wit, excellent pitcher in softball/baseball, gentle soul, and my Grampa.

It was for him I gravitated to the memorials and respect for the sacrifices to country whilst in the UK. The next colonist you see taking detailed shots of red poppy wreaths on the streets of London could very well have a story similar to mine.



Abraham Lincoln…

Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln
President of the United States 1861–1865


Finding an Abraham Lincoln Sculpture in Parliament Square London was a treat. He stands in  front of the Middlesex Guildhall and was sculpted by Augustus Saint-Gaudens and erected in July 1920.

Abraham Lincoln: The Man (also called Standing Lincoln) is a larger-than-life size bronze statue of Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States. The original statue is in Lincoln Park in Chicago, and several replicas  have been installed in other places around the world (one is located at Parliament Square in London). Completed by Augustus Saint-Gaudens in 1887, it has been described as the most important sculpture of Lincoln from the 19th century.[1]Abraham Lincoln II, Lincoln’s only grandson, was present at the unveiling in Chicago, IL.

The sculpture depicts a contemplative Lincoln rising from a chair, about to give a speech.

The Location! Buildings looking upon the square include the churches Westminster Abbey and St Margaret’s, Westminster, the Middlesex Guildhall which is the seat of the Supreme Court of the United KingdomGovernment Offices Great George Street serving HM Treasury and HM Revenue and Customs, and Portcullis House.

The History! Parliament Square was laid out in 1868 in order to open up the space around the Palace of Westminster and improve traffic flow, and featured London’s first traffic signals. A substantial amount of property had to be cleared from the site. The architect responsible was Sir Charles Barry. Its original features included the Buxton Memorial Fountain, which was removed in 1940 and placed in its present position in nearby Victoria Tower Gardens in 1957. In 1950 the square was redesigned by George Grey Wornum. The central garden of the square was transferred from the Parliamentary Estate to the control of the Greater London Authority by the Greater London Authority Act 1999. It has responsibility to light, cleanse, water, pave, and repair the garden, and has powers to make bylaws for the garden.

The east side of the square, lying opposite one of the key entrances to the Palace of Westminster, has historically been a common site of protest against government action or inaction. On May Day 2000 the square was transformed into a giant allotment by a Reclaim the Streets guerrilla gardening action. Most recently, Brian Haw staged a continual protest there for several years, campaigning against British and American action in Iraq. Starting on 2 June 2001, Haw left his post only once, on 10 May 2004 – and then because he had been arrested on the charge of failing to leave the area during a security alert, and returned the following day when he was released. The disruption that Haw’s protest is alleged to have caused led Parliament to insert a clause into the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 making it illegal to have protests in Parliament Square (or, indeed, in a large area reaching roughly half a mile in all directions) without first seeking the permission of the Metropolitan Police Commissioner. The provisions of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act relating to Parliament Square were repealed by the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011, which provides for a different regime of “prohibited activities”.

As well as sparking a great deal of protest from various groups on the grounds of infringement of civil liberties including the European Convention on Human Rights, the Act was initially unsuccessful in accomplishing its goals: Brian Haw was held to be exempt from needing authorisation in a High Court ruling, as his protest had started before the Act came into effect (though any new protests would be covered); Haw remained in Parliament Square. Later, the Court of Appeal overturned this ruling, forcing Haw to apply for police authorisation to continue his protest.

So all that to say finding an American President’s sculpture in such a historic place is pretty darn cool. He did a great deal for my country.

In surveys of scholars ranking Presidents since the 1940s, Lincoln is consistently ranked in the top three, often #1.[4][5] A 2004 study found that scholars in the fields of history and politics ranked Lincoln number one, while legal scholars placed him second after Washington.[268] Of all the presidential ranking polls conducted since 1948, Lincoln has been rated at the very top in the majority of polls: Schlesinger 1948, Schlesinger 1962, 1982 Murray Blessing Survey, Chicago Tribune 1982 poll, Schlesinger 1996, CSPAN 1996, Ridings-McIver 1996, Time 2008, and CSPAN 2009. Generally, the top three presidents are rated as 1) Lincoln; 2) George Washington; and 3) Franklin D. Roosevelt, although Lincoln and Washington, and Washington and Roosevelt, occasionally are reversed.[269]

President Lincoln’s assassination made him a national martyr and endowed him with a recognition of mythic proportion. Lincoln was viewed by abolitionists as a champion for human liberty.  Many, though not all, in the South considered Lincoln as a man of outstanding ability.

Yeah, I cried when I saw the sculpture. He’s right up there with Churchill in our (USA) book. What he did for my country during the darkest days of the Civil War and battle fiercely for the Emancipation Proclamation (taking notes from William Wilberforce!). Absolute heroic guy. Thanks, UK, for putting him in such a historic location as Parliament Square. He did good by us.

To find out more about him, see the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation.



Riding the rails…

UK rail Afforded me the ability to see a vast amount of English countryside. The image presented was a dilapidated building next to the station popped up with HDR.

I was on another sojourn from Hull to York to the North at this point. Seeing homes, landscapes, towns, and cities I’d not otherwise see was a bonus. Flooding in the Yorkshire Dales, massive (for the UK) mountains, sweeping vistas, and clean/gritty cities added to the charm of my travel.

The individuals I met were equally as interesting and lovely. The woman who had a Torchwood connection, OAP’s (Old Age Pensioner) who were visiting family or out shopping, young parents with delightfully well-behaved children, and the lovely blokes who carried my rucksack without my asking.

Each of them and the brilliant train staffs (minus the Bristol nightmare) who taught me the ropes of traveling the rails are cemented in memory. I can still hear our conversations, see the scenery, and taste the beer and snacks.

Ta for your kindness, conversation, laughter, and shared journey.


No blinking in the Big Smoke…

The Doctor proved elusive this last visit. However, I learned quickly enough not to blink in the Big Smoke. The weeping angels are everywhere. Great-Grandad John Lovell (1536-1599, London, England) surely met the Doctor at some point whilst in London. I’m guessing Pops had to be careful around the Big Smoke. As a Whovian and Lovell, I was careful to observe this ancient race of aliens on my visit.

Sometimes they are innocent looking…

Paddington Bear at Paddington Station

Paddington Bear

According to the Doctor, the Weeping Angels “are as old as the universe (or very nearly), but no one really knows where they come from.” This one landed in Paddington, right by the escalators which made it very difficult to not blink AND board the escalator at the same time. Luckily, I did not venture by him too often.

He describes them as the loneliest beings in the universe, since their quantum-lock reaction makes it difficult for them to socialise. Though they themselves cannot speak, they can communicate through the voice of a person they kill by removing their brains and reanimating their minds. They are also very physically strong (see below), capable of snapping necks, though physically killing a victim is rare for them unless the need arises (such as stealing someone’s voice). This lad didn’t have a difficult time, I reckon.

Camden Market

Camden Market

His counterpart was down the way and was a bit intimidating. Largest Weeping Angel I’d run across yet. Fortunately, enough people are watching him as he stays frozen at Camden Market. Could be that that the stalls of gorgeous frocks and scents of a thousand nations cuisine are mesmerizing him to remain still. I wasn’t having anything of it though – I knew better. Their paramount ability is their speed, as they are able to close distances of metres literally in the blink of an eye, allowing them to reach a victim or move to an unseen or darkened area before their quantum-lock freezes them again.



With a touch, a Weeping Angel can send a person into the past, to before his/her own birth. The Angels feed off the “potential energy” of the years their victims would have lived in the present. The Doctor describes them as “the only psychopaths in the universe to kill you nicely” because their victims are otherwise uninjured and may live out their lifespans in the past. Could this be why I felt so at home in England? I’m here before my time and is the angel below responsible for my fascination?



He is a tad intimidating (all Roman Emperor looking) so I made fun of him at the Tower of London. Whistling in a graveyard, I reckon. Honestly, he looked like a tour guide of days gone by now pointing out the Gherkin in Central London. Funny chap, that one. Wonder if his arm gets tired and if he uses the wall behind him for workouts (rock-climbing and such).

The biggest surprise was Monty. A Weeping Angel right on Whitehall. Come to think of it, proper spot for him considering his history. They can drain other forms of energy, such as that from electric lights or other electronics. Could also be a grand joke on 10 Downing if Monty isn’t too fond of a residing PM. I’m guessing it’s Clegg’s residence that gets the brunt of Monty’s jovial humour.  Is quite nice folks leave red poppy wreaths at his feet. We will always remember them.



Without power, the Angels start to decay, turn to stone without being watched, and corrode as a statue does; their speed is also extremely hindered if Angels reach starvation, lessened from meters to a partial step in a blink. Seems this fair angel is in that predicament in the Italian Gardens at Kensington. She is lovely but I wouldn’t trust her even if she seemed dainty. Must be bloody freezing though – she’s without her top.


Italian Gardens at the Long Water

The Big Smoke is filled with Weeping Angels of all sorts. Keep your eyes open and don’t blink.

Frost covering at the River Hull


Fence Post and the River Hull

Many an icy walk to place on the banks of the River Hull during my stay. The first day was blustery, clear, and cutting wind. I didn’t mind so much as I had this in front of me. Each day the view changed and I found it more interesting to get to the river on the ice-covered roads. Didn’t mind…I was always in for a beautiful treat of scenery. This time my breath froze to my wool scarf and it was actually a race to get back to the house before hypothermia kicked in from breathing the icy air. Hot tea awaited me or I stopped in at the village shop for my well-known diet coke.

It was freeze a bit or get shots like the below. I always opted to freeze a bit.

Frosted grass

Frosted grass


Banks of the River Hull


The siren of York and Yorkshire…

York. The siren of the north for me. Home to several ancestors from both sides of my clan and a place that is rooted deep inside me.  By name, my Yorkshire ancestors are:

Agnes DeHoltom 1319-1394
Constance DeMauley 1371-1450
Lord Piers DeMauley 1300-1354
Alice DeRose 1308-1344
Hopestill Leland 1580-1655
Agnes Pagnel 1076-1170
Margery Sutton 1350-1392
Sir Thomas Sutton 1316-1379

Adequately giving words to my heart’s love is pointless so I will give voice through my images of York. A bit of history is in order to accompany the images. Quiet on the York Minster secret – I gave the Minster a hug and kiss when I returned in December. Don’t say anything. Shhh.

Blessings on Wiki…seriously ace. Links for the curious at heart.

York is a walled city, situated at the confluence of the Rivers Ouse and Foss in North YorkshireEngland. The city has a rich heritage and has provided the backdrop to major political events throughout much of its two millennia of existence. The city offers a wealth of historic attractions, of which York Minster is the most prominent, and a variety of cultural and sporting activities.

York Minster

York Minster

The city was founded by the Romans in 71 AD, under the name of Eboracum. The Emperors Hadrian, Septimius Severus and Constantius I all held court in York during their various campaigns. During his stay, the Emperor Severus proclaimed York capital of the province of Britannia Inferior, and it is likely that it was he who granted York the privileges of a colonia or city. Constantius I died in 306 AD during his stay in York, and his son Constantine the Great was proclaimed Emperor by the troops based in the fortress.It became in turn the capital of the Roman province of Britannia Inferior, and of the kingdoms of Northumbria and Jorvik.

Roman Column from 71 a.d.

Roman Column from 71 a.d.

In 1068, two years after the Norman Conquest of England, the people of York rebelled. Initially the rebellion was successful, however, upon the arrival of William the Conqueror the rebellion was put down. William at once built two wooden fortresses on mottes, which are still visible, on either side of the river Ouse. York was ravaged by him as part of the harrying of the North.



The first stone Minster church was badly damaged by fire in the uprising and the Normans later decided to build a new Minster on a new site. Around the year 1080 Archbishop Thomas started building a cathedral that in time became the current Minster.

York Minster

In the 19th century, York became a hub of the railway network and a confectionery manufacturing centre. In recent decades, the economy of York has moved from being dominated by its confectionery and railway-related industries to one that provides services.


York Train Station

Street scene of a rainy York

Street scene of a rainy York

Inderawuda and white rabbits…

Thanks to a minor in Art History, cathedrals and churches are like bees to honey for me. The churches of Beverley, East Yorkshire were no different. St. Mary’s Church was founded in 1120 and has been developed over the years. It is most famous for a carving of a rabbit, which is said to have been the inspiration for the March Hare in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland.

St Mary's

St Mary’s

My own journey down the rabbit hole found me listening to a delightful lecture by Dorothy at the Beverly Minster. “The origins of Beverley can be traced back to the time of the Anglian kingdom of Northumbria in the 7th century.” Right about the word “Northumbria” my always busy brain went into overdrive….didn’t I run across Northumbria in my research of Mum’s family? I must have, it’s too familiar. So lacking a thought to mouth filter I blurt out “I’ve got family here.” In gracious British style, Dorothy responded with “Welcome Home.”

This Minster felt comfortable. Like “I’m home” comfortable. Perhaps it was being there the day after my Aunt Helen’s death, jetlag still in effect, or being out of my element. I felt kinship with the place. Deep seated and rooted belonging. Little colonist me in the homeland. Yorkshire was home.

Beverly Minster

Beverly Minster

When i returned home, down the rabbit hole I went…and found Agnes Daniel, 1278-1341, Beverley, Yorkshire, England. Wife of John De Hotham — married 1325 in Flixton, Scarborough, Yorkshire, England. My 28th Great-Grandmother. She isn’t the only ancestor out of Yorkshire…she’s one of many and I picked her since she was the one from Beverly. A place that became dear to my heart and my soul.

She was born soon after the work on Beverly Minister began and one would like to think that her family helped build it since it took 200 years to get the Minister finished. A dispute arose between local farmers and the archbishop during the 13th century, about land rights; after the locals demanded a royal inquiry, the archbishop granted the townspeople pasture and pannage in the Westwood and other places. I’m guessing we fought on the side of the farmers/locals.

Good…kerfuffling is a family trait. Hopefully “Fracis” (Francis) is related somehow to our clan. Props to him for carving his name into a church column. I like his style.

My name is not Inigo Montoya….

Rather this is more about my surname and where I’ve traced it.

Alexander Lovell – he’s my 10th great-grandfather from Guilsborough, Northamptonshire, UK 1545 a.d. I’ve always kept the name – it’s my heritage and my identity.

Lucky for us, we don’t have a history of remaining on the back of a sow nor do I know of any Agnes’ in the clan during the heyday of bewitching locals. Not blue-faced, either. Caves scare me and I prefer redwood. I do love the water tho…pools preferably. Ahem.


Beautifully enough – my favourite rugby team is the Northampton Saints. Blood runs deep, eh?

All joking aside, it was rather poignant to learn of the Guilsborough connection between trips to the UK. Especially since my first stop on my first trip was Northampton. This was a lovely church I visited in the haze of jet leg when my body was screaming for sleep.

It was my first glimpse of history that was older than 300 years. This was a church from 681 a.d. OLD. I’d never seen anything older than Williamsburg, Virginia. This was pretty amazing.


It was my first introduction to the term “history” and “ancient” in the same breath. Williamsburg had nothing on Northampshire history.

The image below is from an early morning over Northamptonshire when I watched the sun come up and hit the clouds in December 2012. It was pretty neat to even look west whilst day broke and it made me think of all the family in my line who were just as captivated by sunrise in the winter. I’m a Lovell, we are native to this land and I’m the first of my line to see Northamptonshire in modern times.


A bit chuffed, really.

I’ll be back. It’s home. My bloodline is here.