After fragmented telephone conversations with Izzy's father (who was the person who took her to France) I found out that they had managed to catch a coach to take them from the south of France to the north, but beyond that, there were no confirmed travel plans.
On top of that, some experts were predicting that the volcano could erupt for years, so there was a remote possibility that she would appear back on my doorstep at an age where she could earn a wage. Result.
Just quickly, as an aside; I have a theory that the volcano was named by someone who had a violent aversion to newsreaders. Otherwise it wouldn't have been called Eyjafjallajokull. If that isn't a name designed to piss someone off, I don't know what is.
So back to Saturday (again), and Sarah and I decided to go and visit Blenheim Palace, the ancestral seat of the 11th Duke of Marlborough (one of the UK's landed gentry), and located 30 minutes drive from Oxford.
The Duke of Marlborough actually still lives there, and for six months of the year he opens both his palace and grounds to the great unwashed........... a gesture which seems to be the metaphorical equivalent of flipping the Royal bird to the commoners ......... 'look what you haven't got!'
Having said that, the palace was supposed to be a superb example of Baroque architecture, so we didn't let the fact that we were members of the proletariat (and probably a target for the Duke's shooting practice on a lazy Saturday afternoon), put us off.
Pic.No.1. Me at the entrance to the palace courtyard
Pic.No.2. The main entrance to the palace. (It got me wondering - does the size of the front door key correlate with the size of the front door? Thinking about it, either way, the result has comedy value)
Pic.No.3. The back garden of the palace. 'Weed that .... Sucker'
Pic.No.3. The view of the back garden from the palace
Pic.No.4. If ponds aren't enough, you can always commission the building of a gigantic lake in the distance ....... to improve your vista of course dahlinks
Pic.No.5. "Does my bum look big in this?" Put yer pants on ho
Pic.No.6. I am not an artist or historian, but this chap seems to be defending his genitals from aerial atack whilst pulling a Samsonite suitcase
Pic.No.7. Are you pleased to see me?
Pic.No.8. Moi, soaking up the ancient atmosphere and giving the statues a run for their money
Pic.No.9. We weren't allowed to take pictures inside of the palace, but I managed to get this one - it's the palace chapel .... imagine ornate, but to the power of ten
Just in case you are interested, here are some other interesting facts about Blenheim Palace:
- The Queen commanded that the palace be built for the 1st Duke of Marlborough after he led troops to victory over France in the battle of Blenheim in the early 1700s (yep, England's entire history seems to consist of the scrapping with the French)
- It only cost £300,000 to build the whole thing in the eighteenth century
- The palace is set in 2100 acres of land...... hang on a minute..... isn't that most of England?
- The land on which the palace is built is still rented from the Queen to this day, and all she requires as payment is a Blenheim flag. [note to self: approach my landlord with a new proposition]
- Even though Sir Winston Churchill was born in the palace (he was the Duke of Marlborough's nephew), in contrary to popular belief he never lived there. The palace always gets handed down from eldest son to eldest son....... and the rest of the heirs are left to face their fate.
"Why?" I hear you cry.
Well, it's because Sir Winston Churchill, Britain's great World War II Prime Minister, is buried there because he was a direct descendant of the Marlborough family.
Did we go to the church? Damn right we did. And here's the proof........................
Pic.No.10. Bladon Church where Sir Winston Churchill is buried. A typical ancient Oxfordshire yellowstone church.
Pic.No.11. Winston Churchill's grave. The inscription says; "Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill 1874 - 1965" and then underneath it gives his wife's name; "Clementine Ogilvy Spencer Churchill 1885 - 1977"
Pic.No.12 A zoom-out of Winston Churchills grave with some poppies on it
So. All in all a very enjoyable day out with Sarah. Unfortunately I couldn't publish any pictures of her at Blenheim Palace because she insists on editing all pictures of her good self prior to publishing... leaving me with none. Blooming photographers!