Oh, I have been a very bad little bloggiste recently. Five weeks and nary a word from me. If you've hung in this long, my heartfelt thanks. A deluge of posts is about to descend on you. I could backdate them but it seems more honest to write them all at once, get up to date, and proceed from there.
So...on April 23, appropriately since it's both St. George's Day and Shakespeare's birthday, we drove to Carcassonne, abandoned the Clio, and took off with just under 10 kg of hand luggage and Ryanair which deposited us, some two hours later, in the U.K.
First stop: my home town of Bury St. Edmunds which, metre for metre, contains an astonishing amount of history. That tower at the top is the Abbey Gate, not the original one which the townspeople destroyed in the 14th century but a replacement built somewhat later.
The abbey itself kept going till the 16th century. Now it's only ruins (in a fine example of recycling, the good folk of Bury reused the stones in their own houses). Small sections do remain like this entrance (the lower photo) which is beside the cathedral. At some point, houses were built into it, with considerable architectural sensitivity I think. Back in my teenage years, when I belonged to a theatre group, we used to rehearse in the house on the left with the bay windows.
Bury has changed of course since I was last there ten years ago. At long last, the cathedral has acquired a magnificent tower. On the other hand, what used to be the cattle market has sprouted what is inarguably the nastiest shopping centre in the UK, a true abomination, a stylistic mish-mash of buildings centred on what looks like a giant cross-hatched metallic slug.