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Columnist, Sheila Moss, is humor writer from  Tennessee. She writes  a weekly human interest column about daily life and the funny things that happen to everyone.

   She has written for  the Daily News of Kingsport,   Griffin Journal, Oakridge Now, Atlanta Woman Magazine, Aberdeen Examiner, Angleton Advocate,  and Smyrna AM, a supplement of the Murfreesboro Daily News Journal. She has been published by Voyageur Press, McGraw Hill, and the good folks at Guidepost Books.  Her articles have appeared in numerous anthologies and other publications, both in print and online.

    She is a former board member and past  Editor of  the, website of  the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, the oldest and largest professional organization for columnists. She is the Web Editor of Southern  and  a founder of the Southern Humorists writers' organization. She is writer, editor, and webmaster of

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The English Countryside....

The English Countryside

After checking out most of the museums in London, we were ready for something different.  We got up early to go to a flea market that my sister had heard of called Portobello Market. Well, actually, she had seen it in a movie.

Flea markets are all pretty much the same, so we looked for a while then ducked down a side street to escape the crowds.  That’s when we found it - the bookstore out of the movie!  I made my sister’s picture in front of it. Soon other tourists gathered and made their pictures in front of it too.  I don’t know if they also saw the movie, or if they just figured it was something important. 

I wanted to see the Rosetta Stone, which was at – yes – another museum. Since this was not on the agenda, we didn’t have much time.  We practically ran through the British Museum, which had all the loot they have taken from Egypt and Italy – like Pharaoh statues, the Rosetta Stone, and whatever they could chip off and carry away from the Parthenon.

Without much time to linger over the looted antiquities, we ran through the museum and skipped lunch to get to the theater in time, only to find that we had the time wrong and were actually there early.  We dined on potato chips for lunch and had a hard time staying awake during the performance because we were so tired.

After a night’s sleep, we felt better and were ready for a bus tour to see the English countryside outside of London.  We were herded onto the tour bus with 25 other tourists and rode an hour to Oxford University, where the buildings also looked like churches.  Doesn’t everything?

Naturally, it started raining, but we still took a walking tour with umbrellas and saw some of the differently colleges.  All the buildings were made of soft limestone, which disintegrates easily and costs a fortune in upkeep.  That’s just one of the reasons they like wealthy alumni who die and leave large endowments to the university, we were told.

Our next stop was an English village called Burford, the oldest village in England at over a thousand years old. It was quaint, but it took so long to get lunch at the local pub that we did not have a lot of time to look around.  Our guide said Prince Charles came to the thousand-year celebration, but rushed off afterwards to go back to “that woman.”  They love making jokes about the royal family.

We then were taken to another palace that once belonged to the Duke of Marlboro. It was built for him by the Queen for defeating the French.  His descendants still live there, but with the taxes and cost of keeping up palaces these days, they must allow tours to help pay expenses.  We were getting a bit bored with palaces by now and found it old and dusty. Probably there is a lot of competition for tourists from all the other palaces that are also going broke. 

The British are really enthusiastic about Winston Churchill, so we were taken to see his nearby grave.  More graves. It seems he was born in the Cotswolds when his mama accidentally went into labor while visiting relatives.  For some reason, he also chose to be buried there, even though he never lived in the area during his lifetime.

After the bus tour, my sister wanted to tour pubs, but I insisted on visiting Jack the Ripper’s stomping grounds – not the best part of town. The guide was fond of telling about guts and gore and we heard all the details of the slashing.  Then the tour ended and we had to find our own way back to the Underground down dark alleys.

Next time my sister wants to go on a pub tour, I’ll listen to her.

Copyright 2005 Sheila Moss

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