On Oct 1, I left for a 2-week vacation in the UK. I returned two days ago, and now I'm back to see what's up at AH.\n\nI flew on Virgin Atlantic to London Heathrow. It was the usual overnight flight, leaving at 6:30 pm EDT, and arriving about 6:30 am London time, five time zones to the east. Virgin Atlantic offers "Economy Delight" seats with 3 additional inches of leg room, but with otherwise standard economy seats. They're 17" wide – and after 7-8 hours, that plain sucks. I'll consider the next step up in seats to "Premium Economy", but I wonder how expensive they are. They look like standard 1st class seats on domestic flights, and Virgin Atlantic says they're 21" wide. As you'll see, I'd rather spend money on hotels than airline seats.\n\nAfter landing & going through passport control (all automated),we caught an express train from Heathrow to London's Paddington rail station, about 15-20 minutes. Taxi to King's Cross Rail Station to catch a train north to York. We were in York by 10 am! My experience with railroad travel in the UK was excellent. The trains are modern and fast.\n\nWe stayed in York for 3 days at the Middlethorpe Hall & Spa. Built in 1699 as a private estate, it's now owned by the National Trust and is operated as a hotel by Historic Homes and Hotels. It was a great place to recover from jet lag and relax. We toured the city of York, walked on the medieval walls around the old city, and toured York Minster the ancient cathedral started in the 12th century over the ancient ruins of a Roman fortress. I liked York. It's an older compact city that was hardly effected by the industrial age, or the subsequent decay afterwards. Two cab drivers both recommended Betty's Cafe Tea Room, so we went there. It was lovely.\n\nNext day we rented (hired as the Brits say) a car, a Volvo V40 with a diesel engine. (Diesel fuel cost £1.34\/liter, or $6.26\/gallon!) Of course the steering wheel was on the right, and cars drive on the left side of the road. The car I rented was red – warning everyone that a Yankee was driving. We quickly named it "Eric the Red Peril". Other than getting in & out (I'm 6' tall & the V40 is low) I liked driving it a lot. It had all the latest bells & whistles, radar\/laser crash avoidance, & was able to tell me the speed limits in most places as I drove. I thought the UK was all metric, but the roads are still marked in miles and the speed limits are in MPH. Most everything else seemed to be metric.\n\nI'll post photos once I shrink them enough for AH.\n\nRight after picking up the car, we drove to the North Sea coast to see the towns of Whitby and Scarborough. They were nice, but the drive exhausted me. Handling the roundabouts was a major eye-opener in the differences between Britain and it's former colonies ;). Whitby had a small but interesting museum about Capt. James Cook, the British explorer of the Pacific. He lived there when he was a young apprentice sailor.\n\nIt turns out that the Google Maps app on my phone took me on the absolute shortest distance routes, even if they made use of tiny narrow back country roads. In the US, these roads wouldn't quality as 2-lane black top roads. Because I was intensely focused on the simple mechanics of driving, using both eyes, both hands, both feet, & both halves of my brain, I was exhausted by what was roughly a 2 hour (one way) drive.\n\nThe next day we left York and drove west to the Lake District, the "British Alps". We stayed 3 days along side of Lake Windermere in Holbeck Ghyll lodge. Even though the roads were better than my first day out, I was worn out by the drive. It's tough driving on narrow roads with everything in mirror image. This hotel, a former hunting lodge owned by Hugh Lowther (the 5th Earl of Lonsdale) was wonderful, full of rustic woodwork, stained glass doors & windows, with very good food and a spa.\n\nAfter 3 days at Lake Windermere, we drove south. After about 3 hours, we stopped to see Chatsworth House, an obscenely expensive 16th century stately home in Derbyshire owned by the obscenely wealthy Duke of Devonshire. The house was started in the 16th century by William Cavendish, who apparently accumulated great wealth illegally while supervising the royal dissolution of the English monasteries during the reign of Henry the VIII. (I read royal dissolution of monasteries as royal confiscation.) His descendants bought more land as well as titles to become Earls and then Dukes of Devonshire. This house, completely rebuilt from 1687-1702, was more like an ornate art museum with all the ambiance of a large railroad station, rather than a home. I wasn't impressed, but maybe I was grumpy after another drive. For all his wealth, the Duke charges tourists a lot of money to come & gawk. The country side was beautiful, rolling green hills and thousands of sheep. We stayed 1 night at the Devonshire Arms at Beely, on land owned by the Duke. The Devonshire Arms restaurant had a pub where I had a pint of Black Sheep Ale.\n\nThe next day, we got back in Eric the Red Peril and drove all the way south to Dorchester (a total of 5 hours). We stopped midway to have lunch in the Cotswolds, in a town called Stow-on-Wold. The Porch House Pub & Inn was in a building that dated back to the 10th century.\n\nOur destination for the next 3 days was the Summer Lodge Country House. It was the best place we stayed on the trip. Their food was outstanding. My wife & I were by far the youngest people there, and until the last day, the only Americans there. Most of the people we met were charming, entertaining, and delightful. We spent the first day just lounging around, and going to the spa. The next day, we drove to the English Channel to see Lyme Regis, where, during the early 19th century, a young woman named Mary Anning discovered many Jurassic Era marine fossils buried in the limestone cliffs. The region is now called the Jurassic Coast – Mary Anning is now credited with developing the modern science of paleontology. We spent 2 days exploring the area. By then, I had learned how to deal with Google Maps driving directions better. Avoid the shortest routes and stick to the A-numbered highways, preferably the A roads with 2 digit numbers, such as A35.\n\nAfter that, we drove Eric the Red Peril for the last time, going east toward London. We stopped to visit Arundell Castle on the way, and finally arrived at London Gatwick Airport where we said goodbye to Eric, and got on the Gatwick Express train into London, Victoria Station.\n\nWe spent 4 more days in London, never driving a car – riding the Tube instead. I found the smart phone Map apps were very good at directions for walking & riding the Tube. I never once felt lost in London. We stayed in the Bloomsbury Hotel (OK, but not worth a link). London is quite a place and deserves much more than 4 days. Our highlights were the Tower of London (looks to me like it was a set from a Monty Python movie),the Churchill War Rooms, Westminster Abbey (with carillons sounding off on a brilliantly sunny day, a long walk along the Thames River on the Victoria Embankment, & a night at the theatre (The Man in the White Suit at Wyndhams' Theatre in Covent Garden). I really loved it there. Near Westminster Abbey, we had lunch at the Westminster Arms pub. In honor of Churchill, I had their Spitfire Ale.\n\nOn Wednesday, we zoomed back to Heathrow, and flew Virgin Atlantic back home to Washington. Today is Friday, and I'm finally up to writing about our trip.\n\nI loved nearly everywhere I visited, loved the people, and I'm particularly proud that I drove over 600 miles in Britain without major mishap. OK, I hit a few curbs with the left front tire (the rental agent assured me I had insurance to cover the tires & wheels),& at least once gouged out hedges on one of those too-narrow roads with my left side mirror. After I did that, I noticed how many of those hedges seem to have grooves carved in them by cars.\n\nOn occasion, if I had the chance, I asked various people there if they wanted to trade Boris Johnson for Donald Trump. Everyone's first reaction was outright laughter, regardless of their politics. The score in favor of a man-for-man exchange was 0 out of 6.