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When's the big trip across the Pond, DB?

 
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Sandi
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PostPosted: Sat 6/14/08 5:16 pm    Post subject: When's the big trip across the Pond, DB? Reply with quote

Are you looking forward to it or is it going to be a struggle for you to leave the States during baseball season?

What are the destinations on your itinerary? How many people are going? How long are you staying?

Just wonderin'... and a bit envious. I would love to visit Ireland. I can't remember if you are hitting Ireland and England, or just one of the two.
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dodgerblue6



Joined: 10 Aug 2005
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Location: San Diego CA - deep in the heart of SoCal

PostPosted: Sat 6/14/08 10:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh God, you're reading my mind!

It is a struggle to leave the country in the middle of the season! I had just been thinking about how I hate so much to tear myself away and wish this would have been scheduled for the offseason. However, I do have to say I am looking forward to it in general--just not now.

No, we went to Ireland on the '99-'00 trip. For this one most of the family of two generations on my mom's side, from our direct line, will be going (my mom, two sisters, two nephews, myself and two uncles), and it will include mostly England and Scotland. Overall, 72 from the U.S. who are in the family tree will be traveling. I'll find the itinerary and post it later. I'm sort of just "along for the ride"--tell me what we're doing the next day, and I'll be there.

We leave the last weekend of June and return July 8.
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dodgerblue6



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PostPosted: Sun 6/15/08 7:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I must add that I hate the thought of being outside the U.S. on the Fourth of July. The celebration at Ocean Beach is something people come from all over the country for. Besides, I really wanted to do this too. But instead, we'll be in the "Mother Country", so to speak.
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-Baseball Hall of Fame
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Sandi
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PostPosted: Sun 6/15/08 9:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow... that's just a couple weeks away. Sounds like quite a reunion in the works. Are you renting a van or taking public transportation? Either way, it'll be an adventure. Looking forward to hearing more about the trip.
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IlliniAmy
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PostPosted: Mon 6/16/08 6:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Brock & I marched in parades in Galway, Limerick, and Dublin (the big St. Patrick's Day Parade) in March of 1992 with the Marching Illini. What a beautiful country and such friendly people!
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crzblue



Joined: 11 Aug 2005
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Location: Dodgerland, CA

PostPosted: Mon 6/16/08 3:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Linda,
That event in San Diego sounds like something that you would throughly enjoy. too bad you cannot be in two places at the same time. You already know the Dodger events you will miss while out so I won't mention those. would you be able to post while you are overseas?

I am sure you will bring us back a baseball book review when you come back, right?
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dodgerblue6



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PostPosted: Tue 6/17/08 5:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ha, most of my baseball books are in the fair exhibit now...so maybe if I take another one with me from the library, or something like that. You didn't post back to me when I asked about the Dodger DogsŪ, but I'm working on a plan for them...

Smile

Everyone should rest assured that Dodger Blue will be represented WELL in Europe. When I went to England for the Millennium celebration eight years ago, I received a lot of comments about my apparel that indicated even in a baseball-weak country, the Dodgers are well-known. And I already knew they had a strong presence in Ireland because the O'Malley family had done so much for the national baseball team, and promoting the sport among youth, there.

We'll see how often I can post; I'm not sure when or where, but I plan to keep up as much as I can while there.

Checking the U.K. temps every day, they are more like winter weather here in S.D. so I guess I'll be dragging my jackets out again to take with me. Rolling Eyes

This is one of the reasons I want to visit Ireland in warmer weather than I did last time.

See, even though this is an OT thread, it always goes back to baseball!
Very Happy
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stlred
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PostPosted: Tue 6/17/08 9:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Only you could find baseball in Ireland. I wonder if finding internet access will be easier there than it was in Florida. It will be an exciting trip and can't wait for the update.
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dodgerblue6



Joined: 10 Aug 2005
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PostPosted: Sun 6/29/08 2:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Okay, so...

Here I am in London, before we spend one week in Long Melford for our family reunion. There are something like 70 people from the U.S. coming for this, most of whom I've never met. Of course, my family--my sisters, nephews, mom and two uncles--are all from the SoCal contingent.

So, they've taken me away from baseball, the Pacific Ocean, Rubio's and Triple Crown for ten days! What do I do???

Fortunately, even though we're only in London for two days, I've found it to be a lot like SoCal in the sense that there are people, both residents and tourists, from everywhere living or visiting here. That is, I'm running into a lot of folks from other parts of Europe, the U.S., and Asia...and even though I haven't been here in eight years, not much has changed since then (other than the rest of the world's perception of the reputation of the U.S. ...not something I want to get into now!).

Unlike SoCal, though, this place is not quite so accommodating to the various interests that are un-English, such as the love of baseball! As I type this, all eyes are fixated on the Euro soccer matches tonight. Geez, back home, you'd go into a sports pub and find many games on, a wide variety of sports and teams, etc. I honestly did not expect to find any place here with baseball on, but I did expect a little more variety even if it was only rugby or other European games.

Weather so far has been a mix of what I would experience in winter or spring in SoCal--first day, 71 (much like spring), second day 62 (much like winter). Night-time weather is similar to back home too, mostly by the coast. So, not typical summer (80-ish for the most part, as far as what I'm used to) during the day.

Today my mom, sisters, and nephews took a bus tour of London (which I'd taken the last time we were here, for the Millennium in '99-'00). My uncles and I took a walking tour, about six miles, around town. We did find some kimchi here which was acceptable by SoCal standards, too. Smile

No book-reading yet, Crzblue. I brought so many magazines I had fallen behind on reading at home, and caught up a bit on the plane (as well as slept). So far I'm up to date on my last few issues of Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair, Memories and Dreams, and the current Westways. The last couple of Memories and Dreams have some great info I'll have to post about later! Love that mag!
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Sandi
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PostPosted: Sun 6/29/08 5:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You may not have access to Rubio's for a few days, but when you get to visit the U.K., go with the flow. Have some fish-n-chips. Laughing

My Chinese boss's two sisters live in London and they own a Chinese restaurant. They also made some mean fish-n-chips. I can vouch for the food, but I don't remember how to get there. It's been over ten years since my visit.

Addendum: Ooooh... I found it! Take the Tube to Kentish Town and it's just a couple blocks from there. Bong's is the name (Older sister's name is Bonsie.) http://trustedplaces.com/review/uk/london/takeaway/1q62f7o/bong-s-chinese-food

I know you probably won't have time to find the place, but just thought I'd mention it. Very Happy Say hello from Sandi in Jefferson City if you do, though!
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dodgerblue6



Joined: 10 Aug 2005
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PostPosted: Mon 6/30/08 3:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

What kind of Chinese?--sorry, too vague. Unless it's Szechuan, I'll pass. Now if we were still in London, I'd check anyway. Thanks for the info.

We found a great Thai place last night. Everyone in our family loves Thai food so we were very satisfied. Sorry, fish 'n' chips is a bit too bland for this contingent's taste. We had it here last time and spent the rest of our time eating Tandoori, of which there is a lot and which we enjoyed very much.

We're en route to Long Melford now. I don't know what Internet access will be like there.

In London I was reminded many times of my boys back home. Our hotel was at Russell Square: we walked by Old Kent Road (my nephew's comment: "They got that right, Old Kent"), and my room number was 32.

Very Happy
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stlred
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PostPosted: Wed 7/2/08 3:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sounds like you are having a great trip so far. Much better weather than when we went several years back in February.
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dodgerblue6



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PostPosted: Thu 7/3/08 1:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh!--so much to tell, but no time! I am on limited access here and just barely got through my email.

Look for another very detailed post a few days from now, though! Having a great time, but missing baseball and chatting with you all!
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crzblue



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PostPosted: Thu 7/3/08 11:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

DB,
I bet you are missing baseball but having internet makes it much easier.
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dodgerblue6



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PostPosted: Mon 7/7/08 8:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I DO NOT HAVE INTERNET!

Only twice so far in 12 days.
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stlred
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PostPosted: Wed 7/9/08 3:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Welcome Home!
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dodgerblue6



Joined: 10 Aug 2005
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PostPosted: Wed 7/9/08 8:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks. Smile

We had a lot of fun. We are all safe and sound back in SoCal and I will be posting about the trip later. There is a lot to tell. So much more than I expected from it!

Glad to be home, though.
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dodgerblue6



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PostPosted: Thu 9/11/08 5:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, here it is two months later...

Previously I'd posted a few comments which had to do with our brief stay in London, during the extremely limited access I had while gone. Since that was just a meeting point for all eight members of our little SoCal branch of the family, the happenings there were not the highlights of the trip.

With that having been said, I will be posting this story in three parts, beginning with the background, detailing our week-long stay in Long Melford, and concluding with our return to the U.S. Eventually I may even post selected photos.

"Take me Back to Dear Old Blighty"

IN THE BEGINNING, there was King Edward I.

Well, I'm sure there were others before him, but in the beginning of this genealogical history, he is a significant individual in our family line. And from him there descended the Clopton family, for which a visit to our ancestral home of Long Melford, England, was the purpose of this family heritage trip. For it was here that a predecessor by the name of Sir William Clopton played an important part in shaping history.

You all know I am proud to claim blue blood as part of my identity. I now have a double claim to it, as for a change, this sangre azul is not related to baseball, but to royalty. I've always understood it is an honor with baseball, but now I understand why so in my family bloodline, as well.

My mother's maternal grandfather was the oldest member of this family line whom I had personal acquaintance with. An intellectual, well-read man, but not a very decent human being, he settled in San Diego in his later years after a lifetime of moving around the country. He died when I was three years old, so I have only vague memories of a cranky great-grandfather who alternately smoked his pipe, coughed and hacked uncontrollably, and barked orders at my great-grandmother--a mean looking old man I was scared to go anywhere near. He certainly did not fit the affectionate, doting grandfatherly stereotype.

Fortunately, nobody else I've gotten to know through this side of the family was anything like him.

As a history buff and in particular an avid enthusiast of researching family genealogy, my mom has devoted much time to this fascination of hers ever since retiring. This has included taking trips to various parts of the U.S. for genealogical conventions, participating in workshops, on-site research, etc. She was one who took advantage of on-line resources when the web was a new advancement, before it became fashionable.

So discovering this link in our lineage about ten years ago, she joined the Clopton Family Association of America and was able to become more fully immersed in learning our ancient family background, following it up with meeting distant relations of ours from coast to coast, whom she stumbled across on the Internet.

While this is certainly an intriguing part of our background, my family also has other lines from Scotland, Ireland and Sweden, and she's researched all of them, too (including my dad's lineage).

I have to confess, my mild interest in this "family tree" stuff took a back seat to other diversions in my life over the years. So I'm especially glad I took this trip, and our family background "came to life" in a sense. Now, I better understand her fascination.

Cloptons in the United States have been a fruitful bunch, but in the old country, the name is dying out, so although none of us in my immediate family bear it ourselves, those in the U.S. are in fact the only ones keeping it going. Every six years, this group of American descendants holds a reunion in the old ancestral hometown in Suffolk County, U.K. My mom attended the '02 event, and decided at that point she would take the rest of us--my two sisters and nephews--in '08, and her two brothers joined us as well.

So that's how eight of us from SoCal and 63 others from the States--whom the rest of us hadn't met before--ended up in England. Mom, on the other hand, was well acquainted with several of them she'd kept in touch with upon returning from the previous reunion. Most of these people seem to have a deep appreciation for family history, and in fact, my mom can even point to a personal accomplishment--she actually tracked down one of our lost descendants, also in the U.S., a distant cousin residing somewhere in Texas whom nobody else could find.

We all met in London at a pre-designated point from which two coaches would transport us all out to the quaint little village of Long Melford, roughly a two-hour drive away through the English countryside. My mom, sisters and nephews had arrived in the U.K. a few days ahead of me while I finished most of the previous work week, and I then joined them in London, as did my two uncles, and we all spent two days in London before heading out for the family tour.

So, among those gathered awaiting our trip to Suffolk County, on Monday morning, June 30, were 40+ people from Kentucky, Virginia, Florida, Texas, North Carolina, Illinois and Maryland, as well as 30 from the state of California--20 from NorCal and 10 from SoCal. In fact, my uncle who lives in Tustin (in O.C.) met, right there at Heathrow Airport, two other Clopton descendants also residing in Tustin whom he'd never known before--cross-town relatives he didn't even know he had! This gathering included descendants from ages 8 up to 80.

The first Clopton to set foot on American soil did so in Virginia in 1675--twelve generations before mine. From there, it's clear, we branched out across the country. My aforementioned great-grandfather was born in western Illinois in 1880.

But now, here we all are, in Long Melford, England--on a trip that is scheduled by the family association every six years. Because of the Clopton descendants' continuing tradition of supporting the local church--founded by our ancestor, Sir William Clopton--the townspeople expect us, and plan for our visit; they welcome us with open arms, and local residents host us in their private homes in small groups for our week-long stay. In general, we are treated very well.

The trip to Long Melford--population 4,000--took us through a pastoral setting that reminded me very much of the area surrounding Cooperstown, New York, which I'd just visited in the summertime last year.

From this point forward, these are my memories.

Day 1. Upon arrival in town, mid-day, we "check in" at a local meeting spot, the Bull Hotel, where we are greeted by the organizing committee, at which time each individual is given a "welcome package" containing an itinerary/agenda of the next week's events. Also included are a lapel pin bearing the family coat of arms, several small souvenirs, and brochures with details of some of the points of interest we will visit. Oh, and the fancy name tags--each person gets a special badge identifying us by name and as a member of the CFA. Gee, do I feel important or what? Smile But they also allow us to become familiar with other distant cousins who can now greet us by name, and we stay busy learning everyone's hometown back in America (maybe they should have printed those on the name tags, too).

The rest of the day was a rest day, since many of the family members had just arrived from the U.S. and were adjusting to the jet lag. Those of us who'd already accustomed ourselves to that while in London decided to check out one of the pubs lining the main street of the town--which, incidentally, shows few traces of being anything other than a main street in the 17th century. The only visible signs indicating otherwise were cars parked alongside the businesses, the existence of a computer repair shop, and (gasp!) a tanning salon! And well, yeah, a couple of ATMs. All other storefronts are old-fashioned in appearance, and the cottages situated in between the businesses are all 16th and 17th century era. But no gas (petrol) stations, no fast food, and not much else in the way of modern conveniences. It is like stepping back in time a few hundred years!

All of the family members are split up into small groups and assigned housing. My sister Kerry and her boys are in one home; my sister Erin and my mom and I in another; my uncles in yet another.

I can't say enough about Caroline, the woman who is "putting us up", to to speak. We're staying in her home, the "Eldon Cottage" (the homes have names, not address numbers). She is a gracious and accommodating hostess, willing to do anything to maximize our comfort--and an intelligent and pleasant conversationalist, too. Caroline prepares a traditional English breakfast for us every morning, including toast, and is amused that I've brought my own habanero jelly from home. (She isn't brave enough to try it, though.) Smile

After unpacking our things in her upstairs bedrooms, Mom, Erin and I decide to stroll around the town for awhile. (Note: I mentioned this in an earlier post--"In London I was reminded many times of my boys back home. Our hotel was at Russell Square: we walked by Old Kent Road (my nephew's comment: "They got that right, Old Kent"), and my room number was 32.")

And yes, even here in Long Melford, I still keep finding Dodger references--Martin's Market is just down the block from us.

We're also a couple of doors down from a ladies' lingerie shop (maybe I should shop for a DBRB here?-- Smile but not at these prices!). Surprised

Walking down the street, we cross paths with a few recognizable "cousins" and stop to greet them, in some cases introducing ourselves. Later in the day, as more of the family members have had a chance to rest up, our numbers out and about the village increase. We receive a few curious looks from locals who don't quite seem to know what to make of our large family invading their quiet little town. And if you know my little branch of the family, it's not a quiet bunch! Our first meal, a light lunch, is taken down the street, again at the Bull, which is the Clopton gathering place (main events are all held here) this week. My mom, Erin and I join my uncles, who are staying three doors down from us, and my sister and the boys, who are staying at the far end of the street in what is known as a "proper B&B".

Weather here is great--75 and sunny with a light breeze blowing, just like home.

One of the requirements of participants on this trip, as organized by the Family Association, is the bestowing of home-region gifts on the host families in Long Melford. I already mentioned my own offering on this board a few weeks before leaving--and no thanks to those of you who gave no suggestions on helping me get them there! (I did some advance shipping, but it cost a bundle more.) Mad There are many among our extended family who are visiting from various areas of the U.S., but I really don't get to find out what everyone else brought over. My mom, uncles and sisters provided gifts of California wildflower seeds, seashells, U.S. Open souvenirs (a big hit with the golfers in town), and San Diego Zoo memorabilia.

While acquainting ourselves with the town, I point out to my nephews that one of the storefronts was built in 1542, the same year San Diego was first "discovered" by Europeans, and noted that by comparison, no buildings of any sort were built for many years afterward in our hometown.

Following traditional afternoon tea at The Bull, we all enjoy the pleasant outdoor weather until dinnertime. Some of the locals thank us for bringing along our "lovely climate." The "Welcome Dinner" follows, attended by all of our extended family members on the trip. During the formal meal, each table consists of individual family groups from the U.S. interspersed with local residents of the village who could not possibly be more friendly and nice to us. We all enjoy getting to know each other and sharing about where we're from, our lives back home, and how our trip is going. A charming middle-aged Long Melford couple joins our contingent from SoCal, and we enjoy a delightful evening, eating, drinking and chatting.

We sleep easily this evening. It's been a long day but there's plenty of time to relax. Meanwhile, I wonder what the Dodgers are doing so far, far away from here, but am excited about the activities scheduled for the week ahead of us.

(to be continued)
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"The Dodgers have always occupied an enormous place in the history of the game. If the Yankees are the most successful team in baseball history, the Dodgers are the most essential. Their legacy is unique."

-Baseball Hall of Fame


Last edited by dodgerblue6 on Tue 12/15/09 11:41 am; edited 1 time in total
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stlred
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PostPosted: Thu 9/11/08 6:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

What an awesome experience Linda. I remember when I went there with Dave and we went through villages their houses were named by cottages. I can't believe how many member were there. I would have liked to know where everyone lived on their name tags also. Loved the Dodger references. Looking forward to the rest of your trip.
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crzblue



Joined: 11 Aug 2005
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PostPosted: Thu 9/11/08 9:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Linda,
You triplicated your last post right?

Love the report and the Dodger references. Also when you mention lunch at the Bull, it reminded me of our bull, Smile Jonathan Broxton.
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dodgerblue6



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PostPosted: Thu 9/11/08 10:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, I duplicated, but I deleted the second post. I worked until 2 A.M. and posted that at 4, and the board was extremely slow then. It took several tries to get it to post.

I'm working on a special project today (not going into the office) so I will be in and out. The five hours of sleep I got seems like a luxury anymore!

I've already written most of the next two chapters a few lines at a time, but I will polish it and post the rest over the next day or two.
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dodgerblue6



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PostPosted: Thu 9/11/08 9:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Part II:

Day 2, July 1. Today was the first real gathering of the clan for a family history tour of Holy Trinity Church, which was built in Long Melford by one of our ancestors, Sir William Clopton, in the 1400s. I'm in awe. The church has quite a bit of connection to our family over the centuries, and as its historian informs us, being founded pre-Reformation era, it was originally a Catholic church, then became an Anglican one. Sir Clopton's tomb is inside this beautiful house of worship. We learn of subsequent generations of Cloptons and their efforts in the Long Melford community. For those among us who choose to make the ascent to the bell towers--a few hardy souls in addition to the many teenagers--we are afforded a spectacular view of the surrounding countryside outside the town. How idyllic! The trip up, via a very narrow spiral staircase, reminds me of my high school trip to the Statue of Liberty, in which a steep journey through the interior took us to the very top. Some others among you may have done that, too. It's just not as old a building!

In honor of our family visit, a classy gesture is the flying of the American flag atop Holy Trinity Church all week long. Since the church is on a hillside, the flag can be seen waving in the breeze all around the countryside.

Afterward, we're back at The Bull for dinner. Lo and behold, while having a drink in the pub, I feel a connection to home here--they're playing the Red Hot Chili Peppers! So quickly we're taken back to the present, after spending the afternoon in the 15th century.

Many of the little stores on the main street are getting a boost in business from the Clopton family reunion. One thing I must make mention of that reminds me of my previous trip to England is the little markets in which the locals shop. They are much the same as the groceries in London-- small, and not at all like our supermarkets back home. In fact, even the larger ones in London are very lacking compared to their U.S. counterparts. At Martin's, in Long Melford, my sisters, the boys and I wander down the produce aisle (slim pickings) and past the shelves of alcohol (American beer is mostly unheard of--at pubs as well as markets, I've seen no evidence they are even aware beer is produced in the U.S.). In fact, I'm happy just to try one of the local products, "Greene King" (there goes another baseball reference!), an IPA made in a neighboring town that turns out to be pretty good. We all laugh at the prices for some of our California wines that are tucked in between the German and French ones. Our home state's offerings of Fetzer, Mondavi, Gallo and California "Pink Chill" all cost easily twice as much as they do at home--even the moderately priced ones are roughly the equivalent of $15 in England, compared to $5-8 range in Cali. England could sure use a Trader Joe's. I think they might like Two Buck Chuck! Smile (Or, with the weak dollar, more accurately "One Pound Chuck.") We notice that the warnings on alcoholic beverage labels vary slightly. They don't just caution pregnant women or potential drivers, but carry the admonition that "It is wise not to play sport after partaking." Laughing Laughing

On our previous trip to England, Tesco, the grocery giant, was of amusement to us because of its large variety of British product offerings. But--eight years later--now that we have Tesco stores in SoCal, they've lost their novelty.

Day 3, July 2. This morning, I've been offered Internet access at the home in which my two uncles are staying--but on a very limited basis. I barely have enough time to check my email before being find out that I'm banned from my own message board! Surprised Surprised Yep, I got caught up in the same web in which RoxRule has been from time to time when a foreign ISP is encountered (since all our visiting spammers use U.K. ISPs)! Before long, the hosts are calling up to find out if I'm finished, anyway. I haven't even had time to review all of the baseball scores of the last four days!

On my way out the door to their home, our hostess Caroline asks me to do her a favor and "please post something for me." I must have given her a puzzled look until I realized that "post" means to "mail" something (as in "post office")--!--as she hands me an envelope with a stamp on it. LOL!

Today was strictly a tourist attraction day--no family connections whatsoever. Buses transported us out of Long Melford to the Lavender Fields of Norfolk, to Sandringham, the private country estate of Queen Elizabeth II. Here, the house, garden and grounds are open for touring.

The woodlands walking tour brings to life images from nearly every fairy tale, and many nursery rhymes, I heard as a child. Through heavily forested area alongside a shaded brook, the stone path walkway finally leads to an old castle. I keep expecting to encounter gnomes or woodland fairies at each turn! Touring Sandringham reminds me in some ways of touring the White House, with all the regal furnishings behind velvet ropes for commonplace visitors to marvel at, but nary a sight of any real royalty. In this case, that's because Sandringham is strictly a vacation retreat.

I've been learning a lot about Suffolk County. For one thing, this region has traditionally been a wool-producing one. And on one of our next bus trips outside of town, it is also pointed out by the driver that the many barley fields in outlying areas "provide excellent ingredients for our local ales." You can see miles and miles of barley stalks along the roadside as we head to our various destinations.

This evening, upon return to the village, we are all invited to a cocktail hour garden party hosted by a local family in their cottage full of historical artifacts of regional interest. We're all treated to wine and hors d'oeuvres at their home on the outer edge of town. Another drink offering is "Pimm's", which I've found is a damn good substitute for Sangria when you can't get it!

Something else we're getting used to here (that many in our group are not happy about) are the lax smoking laws in the U.K. When one of our host families tells us that within the next couple of years most indoor restaurants and bars will be smoke-free, I realize how much behind the times they are. We've had those laws back home since 1998!

Day 4, July 3. This day is listed on our itinerary as "Clopton Roots Day." The first scheduled visit is to Castlings Hall in Groton, a modest Elizabethan manor house, which became a Clopton family possession in the early 16th century. Here, the much-awaited "rose ceremony" takes place. This, it turns out, is one of the most beautiful parts of this trip. I wish my grandma, who passed away in 2000, was alive for it. Grandma was a poet, and she'd find some lovely way of putting this into words.

The background notes we're handed tell us this:

Quote:
In 1615, Thomasina Clopton of Castlings Hall was married to John Winthrop, who became the first governor of the state of Massachusetts...

The principal visit of the day is to the market town of Hadleigh, to be met by the Mayor, who will take a group around the Town Hall and a smaller party around the Deanery Tower. It has a very narrow steep staircase, so only those fit should volunteer.

In the Old Town Hall we will be received by the Mayor, Mr. Brian Lazenby, and take lunch, followed by the Clopton Rose Ceremony in the very hall provided by Sir William Clopton in 1483 as a rent of one red rose per anum.

We will proceed to Groton Church, where short talks will be given on aspects of Clopton history.


One of the most charming stories about our family background, that of the "rose ceremony", is told here. Mayor Lazenby greets us all heartily, and Clopton descendants enjoy a catered luncheon at the Town Hall. There is much wine poured, toasted, and enjoyed by our many descendants.

As the background goes (and this is how our family reunion grew to what it is today):

Quote:
An international reunion of the Clopton family was held in 1984 in Long Melford, Suffolk, the center of Clopton history since the time of William the Conquerer until William Clopton immigrated to the Colony of Virginia in about 1673. William was the son of Rev. William Clopton and his wife Elizabeth Sutcliffe of Eastwood, County Essex, England. The 1984 reunion coincided with the 500th anniversary of the Holy Trinity Church at Long Melford, one of the great Suffolk wool churches, which is intimately involved with Clopton family history. The church has recently been identified as one of the top 10 in England for historical significance.

Through the untiring help and support of Christopher Sansbury, Rector of Long Melford, and many other residents of the village, the family has renewed its ties to the church and surrounding region. These ties go back almost a thousand years. Other international Clopton reunions were held in Long Melford in 1990 and 1996, and in Williamsburg, Virginia, where St. Peters Church in nearby New Kent County is the site of the tombs of the first American Clopton, William Clopton (1655-c.1732) and his wife, Ann (Booth) Dennett Clopton (1647-1716) of Virginia.


At Groton Church, we hear a lecture by a local historian and view the adjoining cemetery where many previous Clopton descendants lie.

(to be continued)
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IlliniAmy
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PostPosted: Fri 9/12/08 5:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good stuff...I giggles at the "post" story.
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stlred
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PostPosted: Fri 9/12/08 6:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You and your family were treated like royalty. What a great way to learn your history.
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dodgerblue6



Joined: 10 Aug 2005
Posts: 16311
Location: San Diego CA - deep in the heart of SoCal

PostPosted: Thu 10/16/08 4:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow, sorry this one really got lost in the shuffle, between my taking off for the East Coast last month, and then biting nails through the last couple of weeks of the season, and the playoffs.

But now the Dodgers' season/postseason is over. So, to conclude, here is the final chapter. To recap, we have already spent several days in our family hometown of Long Melford, which takes us up to July 4.

It's a strange, kind of surreal, feeling for me to read notes I jotted about the middle of the season, with the finality of what just happened last night. Still, I've polished the last of this story, which, at long last, follows.

Day 5, July 4.

Today's journey takes us to Sutton Hoo (yet another Dodger player reference!) Smile , the ancient Anglo-Saxon ship burial grounds, Dark Ages era. Very interesting historical perspective--this site along with its museum is located southeast of Suffolk.

Since it's the Fourth of July, many of us are a little homesick on this occasion. I'm tempted to ask for a Dodger DogŪ on the grill. Many of us getting ready for the bus ride talk about what we'd be doing if we were back home (wherever in America home is to each of us--so those responses varied). However, there is one announcement made by our driver as we board that "Your two tennis players from California are going to play each other in the finals." That would be Wimbledon, and they are the Williams sisters. Who says the U.S. doesn't represent? Smile Honestly, this is probably the only sport I've gotten any news about here that I actually care about. I'd be watching some Wimbledon coverage if I was at home, and I'm a little excited to be so close to the real event's location while the tournament is going on. It's always seemed so far away! Still--ungrateful as it may sound, given what a good time I've been having--for sports' sake, I'd rather be closer to San Francisco on this day, where the Dodgers are taking on the Giants in an afternoon holiday game, which I find out--two days later--the Bums have won.

There are no fireworks in Long Melford tonight, no BBQs and no beach, and it's a quiet evening.

However, there is beer.

During a lunch stop after the Sutton Hoo museum visit, we hit a pub which features "Olympic Gold" and "Wimbledon Gold" as two of their ales. I select the latter. Cheers to Venus and Serena. Smile

Of course, now that we're several days into the trip we've started chatting more often with some of the family members we've just recently become acquainted with. We're beyond learning just names, we're finding out more about these "cousins" of sorts from around the U.S. And we--my sisters and I--have begun noticing a few things. Let me say we have one set of four brothers (who all live in NorCal and Oregon) that are some mighty fine looking young men! One is an EK lookalike Very Happy and that's quite alright with me--part of the "imported scenery", so to speak. It isn't accidental I've usually found a seat near him on these buses. LOL. Now why couldn't he be "unrelated"? Smile One of the cousins from another state wears a U.S.S. Kitty Hawk cap--I ask about it and he says he was stationed on board a few years back. For those who don't know, the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk was decommissioned just last month. I remember very well touring it on a class field trip in fourth grade (Vietnam War era) and being in such awe, it left that kind of impression that stayed with me all these years.

I learn that another cousin from Virginia is a casual baseball fan who can't talk much about regular season games (he's a Braves fan), but says he watches the playoffs and World Series religiously every year and considers himself somewhat of a W.S. history buff. He's on this trip with his daughter whom I'm told will turn 13 this month. A quick calculation in my head--right, there was no World Series in October, 1994. Wink

I don't think I've ever been forced to live without baseball during the season this long in my life. Before leaving home, I had printed out a specially made schedule of all Dodger games taking place during the duration of our England stay, and brought it with me, complete with time change adjustments. Okay, so there are home games starting at 3:30 A.M. that I'm not getting up early for, but what's the point anyway, because even if I did, there'd be no way to watch them! So essentially, my schedule ends up being worthless. All I can do is look at it and know a game will be played, and wonder who won it until I get a chance to check. And without my cell phone activated here, I really feel out of touch with the rest of the world! Great that I have the family here, but it'd be nice to communicate with them when we split up and go separate ways here and there for different activities, as only two others in our little sub-group do have working phones with international coverage.

Still another Dodger-related reminder I saw when returning from our trip today: "Broxton Lane" on the way into town.

On a side note, one subset of the Clopton family from another state has approached us and practically invited themselves to visit us as they've wanted to vacation in San Diego for some time. I say, wait until the U.S. reunion which will be scheduled in our region down the line.

Also, got a mention from a local resident about the WBC Tshirt I've worn around town. Finally!--someone outside our American group indicates some knowledge about baseball! I proudly mention that I was at some of the games in 2006 because they were played in my hometown and that I will be attending next time around, too. The young man sounded impressed, but then tried to steer the discussion to soccer. What teams do I follow? To be honest, none!

Here in Long Melford, we've also found a pub called "The Crown"--not Triple, just singular!--which, incidentally, has a back patio like TCP. When I hear a Sublime song playing in the background with a reference to Long Beach, I feel a little tug at the heart drawing me closer to home.

While discussing cricket with a couple of locals, some are asking us about Over-the-Line, which it seems has made news in their parts of the country. OTL is so big back home I'm happy to share as much as I know about the event. And I'll be getting back to San Diego just in time for this year's tournament!

Long Melford is a town of over 4,000, and yet still there is no place in the village where one can find public Internet access. By now I've resigned myself to the fact that I won't be able to watch baseball for another week, but I can't even find out such vital details as who won last night's game, either? (!) Scores, standings? Any info at all would be welcome. Gosh, do I ever feel isolated! And is it just like me to come from a family whose roots are in a country that never latched onto baseball? It seems so not in my genes!

So when, finally, a week after the last time I was on-line, I learn that the Dodgers have closed to within 1/2 a game of Arizona in the NL West, I let out a whoop that could probably be heard all the way back to California. When I left home, they trailed by five games in the division race.

The kids and my uncles want to know what's going on in baseball, too. My uncle Tim from O.C., who's both an Angels AND Dodgers fan, was intrigued with Jered Weaver's efforts in the Angels' freak no-hitter that they lost, which I posted about earlier. (That was the day after my arrival in England.) My uncle Tony just wants the Dodgers to lose because he's a Giants fan. (Well, every family has a black sheep!) Rolling Eyes

One thing some of us have been interested in learning about is cricket. I know of some places back home--out-of-the-way places, to be sure--where cricket is actually played, but we'd love to see it in its natural environment, and when one of the townspeople tells us there are matches every Saturday and Sunday afternoon, some of us (the boys and I in particular) plan to attend one. Since we already have activities planned on Saturday, but Sunday is open, that's what we pencil in to do. So some of you think 20-inning baseball games are long? We're told that cricket matches can go on, literally, for days, until completion.

Something else that's interesting, that I made note of while reading the local newspaper, is a cricket match in another town being advertised as a "Pink Ribbon Match", raising funds for breast cancer research. Do they use pink wickets? Smile

In the absence of watching baseball, I've brought along Nancy Bea's CD and play it repeatedly, just for a reminder of the game experience, longing for my home away from home.

Day 6, July 5.

We've now arrived at our next-to-last day in town. It begins with a tour of Kentwell Hall, a 14th century castle built by the Cloptons, which is now a tourist attraction and site of a medieval village re-enactment. Surrounded by a moat and open fields nearby, actors bustle around involved in all kinds of activities. As all of us Clopton descendants spread out and walk the grounds with other tourists, peacocks stroll up to greet us. The last time I had something like that happen was at the San Diego Zoo. Now here I am so far removed from that, in both distance and era. When I make reference to the NBC peacock, I realize nobody who is under 30 has any idea what I'm talking about.

Some background from the official website, www.kentwell.co.uk:

Quote:
For 500 years Kentwell has been home to a succession of families, some as owners, others as tenants. Each has left their mark.

The Builders: The Clopton family came to the Manor of Kentwell Hall in 1385 when William (the first of several Clopton Williams) Clopton married the then Kentwell heiress. Here the family remained seated for some 300 years. Members of the Clopton family were distinguished locally with just one or two (in the late 15th C. and early 16th C.) in the thick of national events.


The tour guide brochure describes the moat house as "a service building of c. 1500 with bake house, dairy, brew house and solar."

That brew house was something else. A taste only was offered to each person, but from a tin cup as would have been in the day. And it was a strong bitter!

While in the gift shop outside the castle entrance, my mom is talking to one of the clerks, a fellow American who tells us her teenaged daughter is one of the peasant girls in the village re-enactment scenes. She applied for the job on-line and brought her mother along for the summer. Then they will return to the U.S. When my mom asks more specifically where they're from, she's told, "St. Louis." So Mom tells her the story of our family background and how we have many from the States in our group. I'm dragged over to meet this woman (whose name is Sharon), and she turns out to be very nice. I mention I have friends in the St. Louis area and surrounding region whom I know through baseball circles and they're Cardinal fans. "Of course," she says, smiling and nodding. "They must be wonderful people." I ask where she lives, and she tells me in Chesterfield. Well, knowing that isn't too far from Jan and Dave, I tell her she's pretty close to some of these friends. We chat for awhile, laughing at what a small world it is. Here we are in a medieval village in England, and here's someone who lives practically next door to Stlred?

(Two nights later, we're having drinks at the pub at the Bull, in town, and who do I see but this same woman, enjoying strong drink along with many of the "re-enactors." I wave hi to her and she immediately recognizes me in Dodger blue.) Smile

Upon our return from visiting Kentwell Hall, the Clopton family is treated to the "farewell dinner" buffet which is presented by the townspeople of Long Melford, with all the host families present, which is held at the Village Hall. Afterwards, we watch a DVD of the local Flower Festival in which a stained glass window scene from Holy Trinity Church is sculpted in re-creation entirely from floral offerings. Afterward I mention to Caroline, our hostess who also worked on that project, that it reminded me of my experience earlier this year decorating two Rose Parade floats. A few of her friends gathered and asked me to tell a little more about it. From the reactions I got, I could tell they all think of the Rose Parade as exotic--and no doubt it taking place so far away may have something to do with that. Still, it's something I've taken for granted all my life would always be nearby. I recommend a visit to them, if anyone is ever in the States around the holiday season.

It was a bittersweet feeling saying goodbye to many in this town. Some, including most of the family members, I will see at Sunday morning's church service, but this was the last scheduled social event of the trip. I chuckle to myself a bit listening to some of the townspeople voice some of their concerns. What is the #1 topic of discussion? "We need more parking!" Well, that could be said of many larger cities in the U.S., and here is a small town's citizenry complaining about the same. Even in this quaint little Medieval village, other things are like back home too. Outside the town hall, a large sign proclaims, "ABSOLUTELY NO SKATEBOARDING ALLOWED!"

Day 7, July 6.

Today, the weather has cooled down considerably, so much so I must wear my heavy jacket later in the day. I don't mind that it's gray and drizzly, because we couldn't have asked for better weather most of the week, and now we've nearly concluded our visit. Besides, I've run out of clean shorts to wear. )

But first, we dress for church.

Chauffeured the short distance across town to the church by our hosts and hostesses, the Clopton clan arrived at Holy Trinity this morning, carload by carload for the 10:30 A.M. service. Bells were pealing a beautiful melody and as my mom, Erin, and my uncles and I are being seated, we're told by another family Clopton cousin that Justin and Garret are up in the bell tower along with one of their new-found cousins, helping them toll the bells. "Didn't you notice a Jay-Z beat to them?" we were asked jokingly. Don't see Trevor Hoffman warming up anywhere nearby, either!

I had no idea the service this morning would affect me so deeply, but it did. One of the Clopton descendants carried a rose to the tomb of Sir William and placed the flower alongside it, a memorial act that took place within the service. This was very moving to those of us who'd just learned about the amazing history within our family that only some had previously known in-depth.

I didn't have an inkling when this trip began that I would enjoy it so much. I didn't expect to feel so connected to this church, to the town itself, and to its people. But as the priest reminded us, we are all stewards of the Clopton legacy. The warm hospitality of these town residents had been so wonderful to experience all week long.

Afterward, we stayed for tea and scones, as members of the congregations greeted us and some stood to pose for pictures with us.

A light mist sprinkled as we left the building for our host homes, for the final evening in Long Melford. It continued after the service with a bit more of a steady downpour. This put a damper on some of our afternoon plans, most notably the cricket match becoming a casualty of the weather. We had so looked forward to that. Instead, we stay indoors, reading, packing--but certainly not Web-surfing--and getting ready for the following morning's trip back to London (by this time, some of the Clopton descendants had already departed for other parts of England on their own).

Of course, we had one last stop at the Bull, where Justin, shy teenager we'd always thought him to be, had made arrangements to meet one of the female Clopton descendants for happy hour--another teen who attends college in Virginia. From a distance Erin and I watched the two of them carry on a conversation over Bacardi Breezers. This boy just out of high school had really grown up on this trip. Not usually one to do anything apart from a group when away from home, he's established a little more independence over the past week or so than we'd ever known him to do.

Many of us then said our goodbyes to each other at this time. We're all supposed to have a reunion in the U.S. in 2010, details of which will be arranged later. Events on American soil take place every other year, until 2014 when many of these participants will come back to the family homestead. Some urged my mom and our branch in particular to arrange a future U.S. reunion for San Diego. My uncle Tim, who works in travel and tourism, says that sounds like a good idea. No offense intended, but I have a hunch when we do, it will beat the socks off the last one that was held in Amarillo, TX.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Now, after another night in London, it would be time to return to our lives in SoCal, in my own natural habitat, doing things I haven't done for nearly two weeks--catching up on baseball websites, watching baseball, enjoying my daily swim, walking on the beach, calling friends (remember, no cell phone service for me in England!), and eating Rubio's fish tacos. (In fact, I'm not off the plane more than ten minutes before I hit up the Rubio's in the Lindbergh Field terminal.) Smile

Walking around London that final evening, the urban city felt so alive and was jumping with summer tourists and locals mingling at the pubs, on board the Tube, and out on the streets. Packed in during rush hour on the train, an Asian man recognizes the Dodgers' logo on my jacket and comments about it. He remembers them as one of the teams that played in China this spring. With quite a way left to travel and sharing such close quarters on public transportation, someone else decided to strike up a conversation with me about U.S. politics and our upcoming election. Don't get me started! Rolling Eyes

I've brought a few bottles of sorts back for friends, including gift items from Sandringham, and I'm wondering how many I can pack into this suitcase before having to remove some. I start to worry maybe I'm bringing back too many liqueurs. Could I be like Lucy, and wrap them in a blanket to pretend I'm carrying a baby onto the plane? Smile Someone else laughs at that suggestion: "Instead of eating cheese on the flight, you'd have to keep drinking--not that you would mind."

Just as was the case coming over to England, some of us are on separate commuter flights from L.A. to San Diego. As many in my family had arrived in England earlier than me, we all parted ways after going through Customs at LAX. I'm the only one in the family on the first flight out, which takes 45 minutes to get to San Diego. In this terminal in Los Angeles, I said goodbye to the others, whom I'll see again soon enough. While waiting, I picked up the L.A. Times at a newsstand, sat down near an ESPN TV monitor, and devoured what I can of the information. Hi-Ku had just beaten the Braves at home. (Tonight I'll get to see a live game on TV again!) SportsCenter is saying Cleveland is trading C.C. Sabathia to the Brewers! What else have I missed? According to the Times, in non-sports related news, seven Californians have died in violence in Iraq over the past two weeks. Sobering thoughts. Sad

Now it's July 8 and I realize that one year ago today, I was also on the road, but via auto...Crzblue and I were arriving in San Francisco the day before the All-Star Game.

Although I had a great time beyond what even I had imagined, I'm happy to be back in SoCal. I don't like feeling isolated from many choices for too long; after all, you can only take so much basic "English fayre" in these small villages, and we're only in the much more diverse London for two days of our trip.

I left the U.K. with a deep apprecation for the rich family background I have become proud to claim. But make no mistake...as Morrissey once sang, "I'm the end of the family line", right here. It's up to Justin and Garret to carry this legacy on through our direct line.

I am still smiling at the thought of a poem my late grandmother, who died in 2000, wrote many years ago. Long before she knew of the royalty in her family background, she penned these lines:

"My ancestors, the ones I know of,
Were not the kind to make a show of,
Arrived too late to start a nation;
Didn't sign the Declaration.

And labored so uncompensated,
It's plain to see that we're related!"


Smile

Only in the last couple of years before her death did she learn of these genealogical links.

This homecoming will complete my traveling for awhile other than a baseball-related jaunt I'm hoping to take before the end of the season; otherwise, my next trip isn't until early 2009, to the "American Galapagos", the Channel Islands--but that's just on paper now, details to be worked out later.

Lovely late afternoon San Diego sunshine spilled out onto the tarmac as I disembarked my flight. I was fortunate to have Harpo available to pick me up at the airport, then bring me back to his house where my car was parked. You can't beat this timing: I drove away at 6:50, pulled into my driveway ten minutes later, and walked in my front door within 60 seconds of the second game of the Dodgers-Braves series starting. There's Vin's voice again--what a lovely sound, I've missed it so!--and within five minutes, there's a mention of a broken bat!

Well, clearly I'm back. Smile

I should be dead tired, having been in the air for so long and, to my body clock, it's 3 A.M. the next day. But no jet lag for me...I live for this!

I twist the top off a bottle of beer, open the living room windows, and kick back on the sofa while enjoying the cool breeze flowing in and Dodger baseball on the telly.

Ahhh...I'm home.


Very Happy Very Happy
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stlred
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PostPosted: Thu 10/16/08 3:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I learn that the Dodgers have closed to within 1/2 a game of Arizona in the NL West,


Maybe your trip overseas is just what the Dodgers needed. Smile
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