(Sorry. Written in December and never posted. I have several of these to catch up on.)
I've changed airplanes. After seven and a half years on the Mighty Mad Dog--the MD-11--I decided a change was in order and I've moved over to the Boeing 757/767. (I've been fiddling with another post exploring this move, so I'll save that discussion for that other post.)
One of the benefits to this new position is that the fleet visits many more places than the MD-11 did. The MD-11 is a log-haul heavy jet, a cargo ship of the air that circles the globe but stops in only a dozen or so places. The 767 by contrast goes nearly everywhere. And because the fleet type is really two airplanes--the 757 and the 767, the latter being nearly twice the size of the former--it fulfills every mission, long-haul and short-hop. My company has about 250 airplanes, and nearly 2/3 of them are of this Boeing type. The fleet has extensive flying in the US, of course, but also throughout Europe and Asia and Canada. So my choice of layovers has probably tripled. Given that my fleet change was at least partly motivated by a desire to see and do some new things, this is a most happy turn of events.
This is my first trip after completing the two month rigmarole of training, and my priority was to explore more of Europe. This first schedule is full of places new to me: Vienna, Prague, Budapest, Malmö, Helsinki. And today's destination: Nottingham.
Susan and I were in London for a week a decade ago, but that is the only visit I've made to England. About three weeks ago for my last bit of training we stopped twice in Stanstead (just North of London) and made a quick trip to Birmingham from Germany. Now I have 48 hours in Nottingham.
My initial plan was to just catch a train into London--since, like NYC, I seem unable to get enough of that place. But after a little exploration I decided there is enough to see here that I'd stay put for my layover instead of burning half the day getting to and from London.
One of the first movies I fell in love with when in High School was The Lion In Winter, a loosely historical story of the tumultuous life of Henry II and his three scheming sons and one scheming--and imprisoned--queen. One of the chief attractions of Nottingham is the Castle. It's now an art gallery and history museum, and the building is relatively recent. But the location has figured prominently in English royal history for centuries. Henry II put up one of the first substantial castles on the property, and his squabbling sons, John and Richard the Lionhearted, practiced taking it away from each other after Henry's death. There's virtually nothing of the original structures, of course--it was over 800 years ago, after all--but it's fascinating to stand on the same hill overlooking the town where they and every other British monarch have stood.
I spent several hours wandering the town, including a really lovely section of old and stately homes below and West of the castle (called, I believe, The Park--or more specifically Lincoln Circus).
Here are some photos from the morning's wanderings.