England: Drag Queens, Cathedrals, Churches, and Castles – A Photo-blog

We had a busy end to the year as we prepared to visit the UK for the holidays. We’ve not been there for Christmas for several years, with our last visit being only a few days before heading to France in 2019.

It was a good trip, especially since Darling Daughter and Darling Daughter’s Partner (DDP) overlapped with us for over Christmas.

Also — and I find this hard to believe — we had no travel mayhem at all. Our flights were pretty much on time, we got through immigration, customs and security without waiting in long lines, and we didn’t get (very) lost while driving around the countryside.

This was all the more miraculous because it seemed like everyone was on strike — staff at passport control, the railroad workers, nurses, ambulance drivers, and more.

Darling Daughter and DDP’s sleeper train back to London from Edinburgh was cancelled, but that was due to weather, rather than the strikes.

It’s interesting to note here that strikes in the UK are different from those in the US in that they are scheduled and held for a just few days at a time. This is kind of brilliant because it’s enough to make life uncomfortable by slowing down official processes, but not enough to cause major emergencies (at least as far as I can tell).

Our trip begain with four nights in Kenilworth, and in the course of the sixteen day trip, we slept in nine places. This should have been awful, but somehow it wasn’t.

On our first full day, we went to a pantomime in Royal Leamington Spa. This holiday entertainment, complete with much audience interaction, is traditionally geared to children, but you often see six or eight adults escorting a single child. Indeed, our group had no one under twenty.

The plays are loosely based on fairy tales and always feature the female lead being played by a man (read more about the tradition here).

Between the laughs, I thought how different this is from the US, where there has been a huge uproar and accusations of “grooming” about the somewhat new practice of holding drag storytimes.

Meanwhile in the UK, we shouting with laughter over the antics of the Dame in Cinderella.

You’ll have to pardon the quality of the photos; they were taken in a darkened theatre from the balcony, but they’ll at least give you an idea of what our Dame and her creative costuming looked like.

Of course, we loved her beehive!

Later, while reviewing our adventures, we all agreed the panto was a, if not the, high point!

There were several charity shops on the same street as our hotel, and the next morning, Darling Daughter and I made time to go thrifting.

I was quite taken with these books.

They’re a bit of a parody on the classic Ladybird Books, marketed and sold as “Ladybird Books for Grown-Ups,” and you really should check out the other titles.

One shop also had paper stars hung up as Christmas decorations. They reminded me of quilts, and I took a picture to remind myself to learn how to make them for next year. I’ve given you the link so you can make them too. 🙂

The Engineer’s family used to live in a village near Coventry, so the city is one we’ve explored many times. Still, it wouldn’t be a trip to England without seeing the Cathedral, and we headed there next.

I’m certain I’ve written about it before, but Coventry was almost obliterated by Luftwaffe bombing in November 1940, with the Cathedral being destroyed on 14 November. Instead of trying to rebuild, the church chose to leave the ruins and create a new Cathedral beside them.

The new stained glass is breathtaking, but I prefer windows like the one below. The Cathedral calls this type a “Medley,” made from the shards of the old Cathedral.

On Christmas morning, we went for a ramble around Kenilworth, taking in the sights and exploring the castle’s exterior.

One of the reasons I like to visit England in the winter is because it’s not generally as cold as at home, so the landscape is still green. You may even see a few late (early?) daffodils!

There were beehives along our route, their boxes slightly different from the Langstroth ones commonly used in the US. I’m not sure which type they are.

Another thing common to the UK, but less often seen in the United States is the practice of having an allotment, although this kind of home garden located in a community space. We passed this one on our walk, and seeing it made me happy the practice is beginning to catch on at home.

Along the route, we also poked our head in a church (St. Nicholas) to admire the beautiful woodwork and windows.

Such ancient churches like this are all over the country, and many are quite lovely. What I like most is the homey touches (which I unfortunately didn’t photograph) — nooks with toys to keep children occupied during the long services, a box set out for people to give and receive Christmas cards, a lost glove or mitten left near the entrance for its owner to find on their next visit — reminders that these historical buildings are still used for the purpose for which they were built.

That’s enough for now. Tune in next time when we head north to Derbyshire and Wales!

4 thoughts on “England: Drag Queens, Cathedrals, Churches, and Castles – A Photo-blog

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