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England and Wales (May 19, 2002)

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England is very cold, even though it is almost summer. We seem to be staying in a town called Bath, where Romans conquered and civilized people. Our room was up two flights of stairs, but our room is very big (Joss instantly started a puppet show, in the closet, with his stuffed animals).

We had afternoon tea in the Pump Room, and by the time we came out, we were so full we couldn't move; I felt like a gigantic water balloon. Joss and I played at the ENORMOUS playground around the corner (it is one of the biggest we've seen since we left home).

We went to Cheddar Gorge, which is a gorge that makes cheddar cheese. There is also the Cheddar Man (a skeleton that is NOT made out of cheese). We walked up Jacob's Ladder, which actually isn't a ladder at all, but really is a staircase. Each step represents a million years, with stops occasionally that tells you about what creatures lived on Earth at that time and what the land and the sea looked like.

After the ladder, Joss and I climbed the tower and we got a great view of the gorge; for some reason, Mom and Dad didn't come up. We then went on the Gorge Walk, and we barely met anyone. At first it was really rocky, but then it turned grassy. Mom and I discovered that flies like buzzing around a certain kind spiky bush. Joss and I began to rebuild our stick collection, and we all got a walking stick (Dad's kept breaking, so I gave him the biggest one I could find).

After Cheddar Gorge, we went and toured the Roman Baths. The Romans used the natural hot springs to get hot water, and it attracted people from all around the Roman Empire because of the rumored healing powers. We learned that because people were often robbed in the changing rooms, they would throw curses into the hot spring (example: 'whoever stole my new sandals may they starve to death').

We went to the Cotswolds, where we did a lot of walking around. We went to Belas Knap, which is a Barrow. A Barrow is a big hill that has people buried in it. On the way there, Joss and I used our sticks to chop the heads off of dandelions. We also went to a stone circle of the Roll Right Stones. Mom told Joss and me to count all of them and then try to count all of them again, and see if the number was the same. I got 71 both times, but Mom told me that I missed some.

Then we went to Wales (not whales). We went to the Museum of Welsh Life. In the shop, I saw T-shirts with red dragons on them, postcards with red dragons on them, little statues of red dragons, stuffed red dragons, and the exit. We looked at different houses, a corn mill, and a Celtic village. Everywhere there were people to talk to; in the Celtic village, we learned that there were no openings for smoke to go through because the smoke preserved the thatched roof and put out any sparks that might burn down the building. Then there was a big building that showed the same room every ten years, and we saw a pair of dog decorations grow in each room until they turned into lions.

Then we went to the Jubilee Maze. First we had lunch, and then we went into the store. The Mazemaster showed us puzzles, the kind where you have to get a metal ring off of something. Then we went out to the jubilee maze. We had to get through a locked gate. But instead of using a key, the Mazemaster undid a simple knot. Joss and I finished the hedge maze and did some of the other things, like design a maze on a computer.

We also went to Hay-on-Wye, a town with lots and lots of bookstores. I found it kind of boring, because all we did was look at bookstores.

All the way in north Wales, we went to Portmeirion. I don't really know what there was to see, but somehow Joss and I both ended up with a bows and arrows.

Then we went to the Slate Mines, which I found much more interesting. Slate is a mineral that can split into small sheets and still stay very strong. I drew on a piece of slate. We went on the Miner's Tramway first. The little train looked like a long worm that had transparent skin. On the way to wherever we were going, there were places with fake people mining. Miners used long poles to hack a hole into the ground, which took about five hours. Then they stuck an explosive in the hole and put a fuse in. Miners had to pay for their own fuses (and they only made 14 pence a week!), so miners bought shorter fuses to save money.

Last, we went to a Medieval Banquet. In the waiting room, we spent time trying to figure out if the people in costumes were visitors or staff. Then we went to the banquet room. The only tableware we had was a knife, and it was very difficult to eat. I tried making a spoon out of my bread, but I ended up eating it. I felt like a giant water balloon when I walked outů


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