So Good They Named It Hull: Q.E.D.
Vacations are great! I love visiting lots of different towns — it's like every time I wake up, I'm in a whole other country! There's two places we always definitely want to visit, so we always plan our whole trip relative to them. The first was originally named Deva Victrix in 79AD, and then was named Flamstead in 1754AD, but now has a different name. The other one is the birthplace of the cricketer Eustace Bisgood and author Candace Bushnell.
One year, for our annual trip, we made two journeys by Amtrak, the first from a town on two rivers (the Wensum and Shetucket) to the location of the River Witham and Eastman Pond, and the second from the birthplace of composers Edward Elgar and John Adams to another town, where we played golf at the John Parker and Vivary Park Courses — although we were careful to avoid catching bird flu. We did the intermediate journey in a Hackney Carriage, who picked us up and dropped us off at our hotels where we'd stayed the night.
Once, we spent a night in the city that's home to the university where Stephen Fry, Richard P. Feynman and Barack Obama studied. We spent most of the evening in the hotel watching the Olympics coverage from China. Then we drove on the interstate from the town with dialling code 01926 and zip code 01378, via the location of PEA and the Met office, to the place whose motto is "Post tot naufragia portus, nunc duo milia a mari".
The year of the Boxing Day tsunami, we had a subdued week away — we stayed in the town that was founded near Mt. Grace in 1739, and destroyed in a great fire in 1694, and then we travelled by Greyhound Bus from there to see Hammond Castle and the cathedral where they filmed Harry Potter.
My favourite vacation was the one when we stopped over in a town where they have annual Strawberry Fairs and Mystery Hunts, and then we flew Delta Airlines from there to the town that's both Somerset County Town and Bristol County Seat and then on to the location of the White and Dexter Grist Mills. We also took a National Express coach from the Maple Syrup capital of the world (it amused me that it's also where Francis Bacon is buried, since I love maple syrup on my Bacon!) to the birthplace of radio (Marconi Wireless) and now home to Mercury Computer Systems. I remember that was the year that actor Pete Postlethwaite died.
A few years ago, having stayed overnight in the birthplace of Edwin Flye and Hank Marvin, we travelled by First Great Western from there to a town which, in 1736, was known to the Welsh as Llanllieni and to its inhabitants as Lancaster, and then on to the home of Thatcher, Newton, Howe, Dunbar and Leavitt, where we spent the night, and celebrated Barack Obama's assuming office. We then hitched a ride with a trucker back to where we'd started.
There was one vacation where we went to a place and just spent the night — we were just south of the state line, west of Leamington Spa, between Route 32 and Route 63, and just off the M40 — I remember that's when the prime minister of Britain changed from being English to Scottish.
One year, we nearly didn't get a holiday at all — the ash cloud from a volcano meant lots of flights were grounded. Instead, we took the freeway from Bristol County's 'Silver City' (which Thomas Hardy called Toneborough), to a town that was both home to Metelica Rapunzel's commune from 1970 onward, and the place J.R.R Tolkien got married, and stayed the night.
One year, we drove in a Pontiac from the home of two companies involved with TV in very different ways: ESPN and Aardman Animations, to a town with dialling code 01476 and zip code 03753, and then spent a night in the town where the inventor of the LNER Peppercorn Class A1 steam train was born, and saw the factory where they made pink flamingoes. We then drove down the motorway from the home of comedians Chris Addison and Sarah Silverman, to the home of the USS Albacore and the HMS Victory. That was the year John Paul II died.
To celebrate the discovery of the Higgs Boson, we flew Southwest Airlines from the home of playwright Alan Ayckbourn and birthplace of senator Rufus King, signatory of the constitution, to the town that's on both the A52 and interstate 89, stayed there overnight, and then caught an EasyJet flight from there to the home of Saint Cuthfleda and birthplace of Johnny Appleseed.