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Jolly Good!

Written by  D. Brian Smith

While reposing after the wedding in Cumlongen castle, Dad and his girlfriend Angie conversed with Kevin and his beautiful wife, Agnieszka.My second impression of England and Scotland is even more favorable than the first. Considering I was a footloose 29-year-old without any hard and fast travel plans, it’s very surprising that the October 2008 journey to the United Kingdom was more enjoyable than my month-long sojourn in July/August of 1988.

The fact that the junket to Jolly Old England and southwest Scotland was for my brother’s betrothal to Agnieszka Klich, and I had the distinction of being the Best Man might have had something to do with why I had so much fun. My sister, Dad and his girlfriend, Agnes, her family and friends – we all traveled from the Lakes District, known as Windermere in England, to the southwest portion of Scotland on Wednesday of wedding week to Cumlongen Castle, a 12th century Scottish palace where the betrothal took place. I don’t know about anyone else in the wedding party, but I felt like I was James Bond himself. Anytime anyone with a Scottish brogue asked me if I wanted something to drink, I found myself giving the shaken not stirred line before in reality selecting a bit of English Breakfast Tea. No doubt, those Scots were thinking to themselves, “Ahh, here’s yet another Ugly American that we have to endure.” But I digress.

As usual, I could fill much of the Redline Review website with the hundreds of photos that I took while participating in the wedding, the various site-seeing adventures throughout the week, and the interesting places, people, and things that we became acquainted with during our half a fortnight in October ’08. Alas, there isn’t sufficient space to do so.

I will say that the U.K. has a big head start on fuel-efficient, fun cars for daily driving duties, which I can’t get in trouble for, since this is an automotive enthusiast destination on the World Wide Web. My brother Kevin rented a Diesel powered, turbocharged Vauxhall that averaged 46.5 miles to the gallon. Since Kevin drives like he’s the second coming of Michael Schumacher, such fuel economy is astounding. Mind you, the Brits, Scots, and Irish have had to tolerate high petrol prices forever. So, they’ve adapted by demanding these small displacement, very efficient and stirring performance machines from the automotive companies that sell in the U.K.

Nearing the end of my U.K. holiday, Jon and Agnieszka Chidlow showed me superlative British/Polish hospitality by putting me up for the night before a super early flight from Manchester Airport in England the next morning. Agnes cooked Jon and me a gourmet meal of Moroccan chicken, spicy vegetables, roasted potatoes, and a concoction of tomato/raspberry soup that slipped down my gullet like there might be no more food for me the next day. After our supper, Jon and I visited several automotive websites and talked about replicars, while Agnes and their two-year-old son Sammy went shopping and to visit her in-laws. A Roger Moore starring James Bond movie, Live and Let Die, was on the tele, as we perused the Internet. You see, Jon is an electrical engineer for Bentley Motorcars. He and a buddy of his would like to construct a kit car together, before Jon tackles another project he wants to build, a kit plane.

Agnes and son Sammy returned from the shopping and in-law visit with Jon’s parents’ in-tow. We played the British version of Trivial Pursuits until half past midnight, before the team of Sr. Chidlow and yours truly emerged victorious! A brief four-hour nap before getting up to make haste to Manchester Airport for a six am flight was all I needed, since I’d just be sitting around all day on planes — a KLM, a Northwest Airlines, and an Alaskan Airlines jet (frequent flyer plans aren’t what they used to be). I must mention that not only did Jon squire me to the airport, his wife got up with us, so she could make us some English Breakfast Tea, before our mad dash at 3:15 am to Manchester (the Fall back time change permitted us one extra hour of sleep). Agnes also packed me a yummy lunch and procured for me two packages of McVitie’s milk chocolate digestives – tasty biscuits I’d acquired a taste for on my first visit to Jolly Old England and so great Scotland.

The hospitality these new friends showed me was so immense, I’ll pull out all the stops, when they visit me in Oceanside, California. On my return to my ancestor’s homeland on this second short junket, I learned why the Brits and the Scots are so proud of their homes and their heritage. There’s much to like in the U.K., not least of which are the friendly people and the quaint and beautiful locales. Who knows? If I ever get hitched, maybe I’ll wear a kilt and find another Scottish castle to accommodate my fiancé, my family, friends, and me. Kevin and Agnes, Jon and Agnes, thanks for making this brief U.K. adventure such a fabulous experience. And Jon, should you and your buddy need any advice/assistance with your upcoming kit car project, you know where to find it. Simply check out www.RedlineReview.com for tech articles aplenty on kit cars, as well as all other sorts of stunningly swift automobiles. 

Here’s a photo from the grounds of Cumlongen Castle in Scotland where my brother Kevin and his new wife Agnes traded wedding vows. How cool is this place?We enjoyed sightseeing much of the week where we stayed in the Lakes District in Windermere England. It’s not hard to understand why we had such a wonderful time.

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