Tuesday, December 31, 2019

The White Cliffs of Dover

363 miles. 6 hours and 24 minutes of driving.

That was the plan.

Actually, it was the back-up plan.

The original plan was to fly from Long Beach, California to Boston Massachusetts on the red eye, then spend the night in Boston. After a good night’s sleep, get a late check-out and head to Logan Airport for the flight to Heathrow Airport in London.

By breaking up the long flight into two days, I thought we would be able to land in London and maybe head over to Stonehenge before checking into the hotel.

Unfortunately, a little miscalculation had us on two red eye flights with about a 10-hour layover in Boston. Since hotel check-in is usually about 4 pm, we didn’t have any chance to get some much-needed sleep.

By the time we landed in London, picked up the rental car and drove to Oxford, we were beat.
We had tickets for an Oxford River Cruise on Thursday, a Friday appointment for a tour of Buckingham Palace and the London Tower tour.

Since we were moving to a hotel in the Midlands on Sunday, that left only Saturday for two of the locations on my bucket list, Stonehenge and Dover Castle.

We got up early, had a good breakfast and headed to Stonehenge.

After touring Stonehenge, we jumped in the car just before lunchtime and made the mad dash to Dover.

About three hours later, we arrived at the port of Dover.

As we drove past the port, Dover Castle dominates the view. It is, to say the least, impressive. I do have to admit, it is the first proper castle I have ever seen in person.

The closest would have to be the Old Port at Dubrovnik, Croatia or the Old Town of Rhodes, which are fortifications, but I don’t think that they count as “castles.”
The City of Dubrovnik, Croatia

 We parked in the free parking area (after the ticket in Oxford, I like free parking {see my entry “Sorry You Got the Wrong Numbers” to understand more).

It was a short walk downhill to the visitor’s center. We had our English Heritage 9-day pass, so we just checked in, grabbed a map and were on our way.

We headed downhill to the entry for the tunnel system under the castle. We joined the group waiting for the tour of the tunnels used by the British Navy during World War II.

It was from the command center deep under the castle that the British orchestrated the evacuation of Dunkirk and later in the war, was the headquarters of the fictitious 1st US Army Group (FUSAG), supposedly commanded by General George Patton.

That ruse convinced the Germans that the invasion to liberate France would take place in the North and cleared the way for the D-Day landing in Normandy.

We took the tour for Operation Dynamo, the rescue of some 338,000 Soldiers from almost certain capture by the Germans at Dunkirk.

From the official description of the tour:

“Spitfires screech overhead and the boom, boom of anti-aircraft guns resonate while you feel the danger and desperation in the cramped tunnels. Vivid sets and original film give a graphic account of the horror of the French beaches under fierce enemy fire. It was here that Ramsay plotted and planned his brilliant operation, issuing the orders and making the decisions that saved so many lives.
The tour continues through some of the original rooms of the adjacent Army HQ. Dressed as they were throughout Second World War, they include the Gun Operations Room, Telephone Exchange, Repeater Station (communications room) and Coast Artillery Operations Room.”

Being an old Army vet and a history nerd, I found the tour to be very interesting.

Then came the tough part. We had been walking downhill, from the parking lot to the visitor’s center, to the tunnel entrance, and even lower thru the tunnels. Now we had to walk back up.

Officers New Barracks about 1/2 way back up to the parking lot

Oh yeah, and the Castle is above the parking lot.

So we started slowly back up, and up, and up. Finally making it to the gate of the castle.

Passing into the keep thru the Palace Gate, I found myself alone in the inner courtyard. As I walked around the keep, I tried to imagine what the courtyard would have been like during the reign of Henry II.

But instead of the sounds of a bustling royal court, there is nothing but the flags on the keep, snapping in the harsh winds.

I decided to go ahead and make the climb to the top of the keep. Inside the corner tower, there is a long stone spiral staircase that leads to the roof.

Not being in my prime physical condition, it was a bit of a climb. Twenty years ago, I would have probably run up the stairs, but today, it was a calm paced walk.

On top the views were spectacular, even if the wind did threaten to blow me off the building.
I only had time for a quick walk thru the great hall and kitchen areas before the castle closed for the day.
The Roman Pharos and Church of St Mary-in-Castro taken from the top of the keep

Here is a 360 degree video of my visit.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

It's a Posh, Posh, Traveling Life, Traveling Life for Me

Back in the 1980’s, I had the pleasure of being one of the first employees at the brand-new Ritz Carlton Hotel in Rancho Mirage California. 

I had just moved back to the state after spending a year in Massachusetts after my discharge from the active component of the US Army. 
I had applied for a job at the Ritz in Boston, but I didn’t do well on the interview. I did well, but I stumbled when we were talking about dealing with high end guests. 
Oddly enough, my ability to tear into the hide of junior soldiers in need of a course correction, using long strings of carefully sourced expletives, was not seen as a force multiplier in the luxury travel sector. Go figure.
I did, however, find my first job in the luxury travel sector at the Hotel de Layfette in downtown Boston. The department head that hired me had been a US Army military police officer. 
I learned a lot during that brief time, enough that when I interviewed for the position at the Ritz in Rancho Mirage, I didn’t make the same mistakes as before.
Working for the Ritz Carlton changed the way I thought about travel. In my younger days, price was the sole motivation for where I stayed. After Boston and Rancho, I understood that sometimes paying a little more for service was worth the cost. Sometimes. 
I’m still a bit uncomfortable staying in truly “posh” accommodations, but sometimes it can be very enjoyable. 
Which brings me to the Langley in Buckinghamshire, England.
I was looking for a hotel near Heathrow Airport (but not too near) for our last night in England. When I saw the picture of the front of the Langley, I had to stay there. 
The front of the Langley Hotel

Turns the hotel was under renovation and it hadn’t opened when I reserved our room, but it had been open for about three months before we arrived.
The best way to describe the hotel and grounds are breathtaking. Several employees were able to shed some light on the history of the site, but I did some digging and found a bit more, but not much. 
The development of the site goes back to the 1700’s when Charles Spencer, the third Duke of Marlborough constructed a hunting lodge on 150 acres in the Iver countryside. In 1758, he commissioned Stiff Leadbetter to build a new manor home on the site, which I believe is part of the hotel.
It seems that the historic property fell into a bit of disrepair, there is mention of it being inhabited by bats, but after a multi-million six-year restoration, it has opened as a luxury resort managed by the Marriott Corporation.
The property sits alone in the middle of Langley Park, which makes the drive in feel like your arriving at the palace. 
View of the hotel from Langley Park

We arrived on a rainy afternoon and were met by the bell staff, armed with umbrellas they made sure we made it to the lobby as dry as possible. 
The lobby area is just amazing. I can’t remember ever taking pictures of the front desk area while checking in.  
Sitting area in the lobby
Our room was in the front of the property, on the second floor. Unfortunately, there is no elevator for that part of the hotel (of course the bell staff brought the bags up, so a little extra tip for the effort was in order).
The bedroom was large, with some of the nicest furniture I have seen in a hotel, with a big fluffy bed that made you want to just stay in all day. 

There was a good size living room, with plenty of space. 
The living room
I do have to say, my favorite part of the room was the bath. I think every hotel bath should have heated floors and towel racks. 
The bath featured heated floors and towel racks
We only ate dinner at the hotel, and to be honest, we felt that we were too under-dressed to go into the main dining room. We ate in the lounge, the tables were a bit awkward for dining, but the food was fantastic.
The Lounge
I’m really sorry that we only had one night at the Langley, I would have liked to stay longer.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

The Manor at Minster Lovell

­Before I left on my first ever trip to England, I spent a great deal of time researching what to do while I was there. I knew that I would only have nine days, and wanted to see as much as possible, without trying to cram in so much fun, that I ended up burning out.
I knew that I wanted to see the ancient stone array at Stonehenge. Even though it consistently makes the list of overrated tourist sites, and my own brother described his visit as “meh.”
When I went to buy advance tickets to Stonehenge, I came upon the English Heritage Foundation Website.
As I looked at the 400 or so sites under the care of English Heritage, I became aware of the ruins at Minster Lovell. Looking at the photographs I penciled it in as a stop while we were staying in Oxford.
View of the Church at Minster Lovell looking thru the ruins 

Reading more about the site, I learned that the first manor house at Minster Lovell was built around the 12th century, but the ruins that remain to this day are from the 1430’s when William, Baron of Lovell and Holand returned after the French Wars. He had become one of the wealthiest men in England and the manor was built to show his wealth.
William’s grandson, Francis became the 9th Baron of Lovell. His father had fought in the War of the Roses on the side of the House of Landcaster, however Francis was raised as a Yorkist, and was appointed Viscount Lovell by Richard III.
With the rise of the Tudors and the defeat of the House of York, the manor passed to the hands of the Crown.
The manor house
In 1602, Sir Edward Coke gained control of the manor. His descendant Thomas Coke resided in the manor from 1721 until 1728 and assumed the title Lord Lovell of Minster Lovell.
The hall would be abandoned in the 1730’s in favor of the family holdings in Holkham, Norfork, and most of the buildings dismantled for the building stone.
The nearby church and cemetery are still in use, but the manor is in ruin.
The Church and Cemetery
That said, I wish we had made it to the site earlier, the ruins make for wonderful images.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Sorry You Got the Wrong Numbers

In an earlier post I mentioned the trials and tribulations of driving to Oxford for a little day trip. Driving was interesting, but I knew better than to drive into the city center.

Which is how we found ourselves standing in front of an automated parking fee kiosk.

Fortunately, we were in England and the instructions were seemingly easy to understand. It seemed.
We were instructed to enter the license number of the rental car into the machine, then insert a credit card for payment. The cost to park was only £4.80 or a little less than $6, for someone who is used to paying for parking in LA that’s almost free.

The only issue was we were parked in the far corner of the parking lot and I didn’t really feel like walking back to the car. But I looked at the key fob for our trusty rental and noticed that there were several numbers on it.

Not being familiar with the alpha-numeric complexities of British license plates, I paused – staring blankly at the three possible solutions for our issue.

I figured the one set of numbers that was bold must be the license plate numbers. I entered it into the machine. After a second it spit out my receipt and we were on our way.

We proceeded into Oxford and had a very nice day.

At the end of the day we returned to the Park and Ride. As we approached our car, I noticed something taped to the front windshield directly in front of the driver’s seat.

I had gotten a ticket.

Now, I like to think that as I age, I’ve gotten a little better and controlling my temper. Not that day.
I angerly removed the ticket without opening up the clear plastic envelope. I tossed it into the back seat and got behind the wheel for our return trip to the hotel.

Hours later, and after dinner and more than one glass of wine, I opened the “ticket.”

How very British.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Wait, We're Staying in the Stables?

Our first hotel in England was nice, nothing special. I did have an issue with the shower, but that is another story. After several days there, we were ready for a change.

After leaving Oxford, we set off into the English countryside. After we stopped at Warwick Castle, dealt with the rain, we headed to our hotel, the Breadsall Priory.

The original priory was built in the 1200’s by Augustinian Canons, who were disbanded in 1535 one of the first religious houses shuttered during Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries.

Not being English, of for that matter Catholic, I thought the first residents were most likely monks.

According to the encyclopedia, they were “the first religious order of men in the Roman Catholic Church to combine clerical status with a full common life.” So maybe, sorta?

There is very little of the original building remaining, most of what exists today was built and remodeled several times in the last four hundred years. 

Our Hotel in Derbyshire
England is much different than the High Mojave Desert of Southern California where I live. The biggest difference is England is green, the HD is usually kind of brown. The reason England is so green is simple, it rains. And rains.
Don’t get me wrong, I like a little rain. And we were well prepared for the weather.
But there can be problems with three-hundred-year-old windows and rain. They leak. So there were some parts of the hotel that the carpets got a little wet. But the team handled it well.

We enjoyed the hotel, but the staff were the real stars.

Maybe we were the only American staying there, but by the second day, they knew who we were and they were able to anticipate our needs. 

Exterior of our room
After we returned home, I looked up the hotel’s history. One thing I found out; our room used to be part of the stables. I’m not sure if I should be offended. But I'm not.

Friday, October 11, 2019


Our Trip to Stonehenge

Getting to the UK was a bit more of a trek than we had planned.

The thought was we would take two redeye flights spending one night in Boston along the way.

Because of a slight mistake in planning, we ended up not getting the good nights sleep we had planned.

Which is why we arrived at Heathrow a bit tired, well exhausted.

So, we put off the trip to Stonehenge for a couple of days.

Stonehenge is one of the locations that I instantly think of when I think of England.

Although Stonehenge makes the list of places that are not worth going, we enjoyed our trip there.

I thought it was worth the trip. 

We bought the English Heritage 9-day pass, well worth the cost.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Rolling Down the River

Before we left for our holiday in the United Kingdom, I made reservations for a boat tour of the headwaters of the Thames River in Oxford. The tour had an option for a “picnic lunch” which I thought was a good deal.

We got the river cruise idea from Pauline’s niece Kim. She spent quite a bit of time in Oxford on business and had some time to wander around and see some of the sights. We loved the pictures she posted of her river trip.

As we boarded our boat, those of us who opted for the lunch were seated in the front of the ship, where wicker picnic baskets and carafes of water waited. There were blankets to ward off the autumn breezes and they were passed out among the guests.

The couple nearest the bow were a British couple, most likely near their mid-sixties. Then Pauline and me. Next to us was a group of four, Megan - the Australian college student, her Auntie and Uncle and her Grandma. The remainder of the passengers were two British couples who seemed to be traveling together.

Our guide was a 30 something Brit, with mussed hair and a kind of scraggly beard, he had the appearance of a character in a “B” movie, as if central casting was looking to cast a struggling archaeologist - not like an Indiana Jones type but “a somewhat cheeky chap, over educated and underemployed. He was hoping to work at University but was forced to take the tour guide gig to survive.” Not sure what he said his name was, so we decided to name him Nigel.

As Nigel turned our boat down the river, he gave us our mandatory safety brief. Now, I understand that we share a “common” language with the Brits, but it’s sometimes a little difficult to make out what they are saying.

What I was able to ascertain from the safety brief - the main danger was fire, but our boat was electric, and we were surrounded by water, so we would most likely be ok, unless we were all killed by electric shock. Oh yeah, and the emergency exit was overboard - any direction was good.
We started along the riverway, past the stately brick homes lining the river.

As we approached the first bridge, I noticed the underside covered in the mandatory graffiti - which was actually quite well done.

We continued along thru the countryside; colorful long boats docked along either side of the waterway.

No one seemed to know when to open the picnic baskets, and Nigel wasn’t going to clue us in. Finally, Megan’s family (who I should point out were the only ones smart enough to bring a bottle of wine on the boat) opened their basket.

Once they broke the ice, everyone took a look to see what amazing gastronomic treats awaited us.
Now the couple at the bow, as soon as we got on board, asked if their basket was a vegetarian selection (which they had requested). It wasn’t, but it was corrected before we had left the dock.

We peered into our basket, which had quiche, scones with cream and jam, grapes and finger sandwiches. I started with the sandwiches. There was a butter, ham and cheese, something with a mustard base and what I thought was tuna.

I took the first bite of the “tuna,” and thought it seemed a bit fishy. Turns out it was a sardine sandwich. Not my favorite.

The others weren’t too bad.

As often happens, a shared dining experience allowed a dialogue to open between the passengers.
We approached the only lock we would travel thru, which gave the passengers something else to talk about.

After passing thru the lock, we continued past more brick industrial buildings and homes, until we reached a large open meadow.

Wandering happily in the meadow we first came upon a heard of horses, a few meters away cattle grazed peacefully. Oddly, they kept in separate groups, only one cow was seen wandering with the horses.

After we made the turn at the half-way point, we stopped and disembarked for a short visit to a local pub. Several of us got drinks, we ordered wine for the return trip.

Apparently even a short stop at the pub was all that was needed to remove any filters from some members of our little group.

On the way back, people started questioning Megan about her studies and what she was doing while on break. She explained that she was currently a matron at a private school and was in charge of 64 twelve-year-old boys.

She made the mistake of making a comment about how the local private schools took advantage of New Zealand and Australian girls to work in the private schools here.

She said that she only makes about 490 pounds a month. One of the British ladies took issue with her comment.

“So, you get 490 pounds spending money a month, let’s just call that 500 pounds.” She then pointed out that the school covered housing, meals, taxes, transportation, and just about every other living expense.

“Most people here don’t have 500 pounds a month just for spending cash,” she pointed out.
Megan took the lecture in stride and admitted that she really did have it pretty good.

The remainder of the trip was uneventful, except that I noticed that one of the passengers from the back of the boat had taken over navigation, and Nigel was just sitting there supervising.

We did make it back to dock in one piece, and the ship was none the worse for wear.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

A Day In Oxford

After our turbulent trip to town, we arrived in the center of Oxford. We entered the address of the restaurant where we would start our boat tour of the head waters of the Thames River into our trusty Sprint phone.

Downtown Oxford
I only mention this because we just changed over to Sprint, and the navigation on the new phones has been less than exemplary. In fact, we have had trouble navigating the unexplored frontiers of Los Angeles and Hollywood. If I can’t depend on it for finding my way in the vast wilderness of LA, how could I depend on the phone to find a simple restaurant on foreign soil?

Long Boat on the River

We were able to find the Folly Restaurant easily and arrived over an hour before our tour.
We decided to take a walk along the river. It was a very nice walk. The river is lined with docked long boats, most looking like they haven’t moved in years, maybe longer.

The walkway was uncrowded we only occasionally were met by other casual walkers, however, we had to be on constant watch for bicyclists zipping up from behind. Most of the time, they were only inches away when we heard the buzz of the tires on the pavement.

Along the path were the boat houses of the Oxford rowing teams. None of the teams were practicing while we were there, so the entire area was quiet. 

The Head of the River Pub

After our walk, we still had time to kill, so we stopped into the Head of the River Pub. Had a nice room temp beer and watched a bit of the World Rugby Championships.
After a short walk we boarded the boat at the Folly Restaurant.
It was a great time, more in the next entry.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Getting to Oxford, Would We Ever Return, Would We Ever Return or Would Our Fate Remain Unlearned?

We awoke this morning to rain and immediately checked the forecast. It was supposed to clear up and be pretty nice after the morning showers let up.

We went across the street and had “a proper English breakfast” at the “Beefeater Restaurant,” but that’s another entry for another day.

Well fed, we headed off for the park and ride outside of Oxford.

From what I have read prior to arriving here, it’s OK to drive in the “country,” but the cities are best traveled by public transport. Something about leaving it to the professionals. 

We looked to our trusty nav system to find a park and ride near oxford. We got only one choice -Thornhill - which seemed a bit odd, because I know that there are at least five. However, I recognized the name, so obviously that was the one we needed.

I was wrong. We ended up driving thru Oxford to the far end of the town, passing at least two closer park and rides. If that wasn’t enough fun, the crazy woman in the SatNav decided that we needed to drive thru a residential area.

As we drove thru the very narrow streets, lined with parked cars, I was reminded of the fun of navigating thru Boston’s well laid out and carefully planned streets. We weaved and bobbed thru the crowded roads, Pauline digging her nails into the fantastic Naugahyde interior of our trusty Vauxhall motorcar.

We careened thru the town, like the knight bus in Harry Potter, finally arriving, not at the promised park and ride, but at the end of a very nice cul-de-sac of tenement houses. We reset the SatNav, but it still told us we had achieved our requested destination. I thought about knocking on a door and checking if the resident would give us a ride to the city center, but I thought better of it.

Turns out the park and ride was just behind the houses, but to get to it, we had to back-track for several miles.

We managed to find our way and park the car, then boarded the bus for downtown Oxford.

A street view of the City Center, Oxford, UK

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Leaving on a Jet Plane

Whenever I plan a trip, I might go just a bit overboard. First, I draft a loose plan on where we want to go, what to do and maybe plan some of where we want to eat.

This trip is no different. I knew that we wanted to go to England and spend part of our time in New England with family.

The idea was to spend one night in Boston on the way out and about a week on the return trip.
Well, it’s been said that no plan survives contact with the enemy, and this plan was no different.

Because the trip included two red-eye flights, we somehow managed to cut out the overnight stay in Boston. The result was we were up for almost 48 hours.

Needless to say, when we arrived at Heathrow airport, a full two days after leaving LAX, we were both beat.

Plans went to the wind, and we went to the hotel, checked in, found dinner and went to the room to pass-out.

We ate at the restaurant across the street, basically a modern English version of the Howard Johnson chain.

I had a steak, not the best steak ever, but totally passable.

Tomorrow, we head to Oxford for a river cruise.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

No Time Like the Present

Way back in November 2010, I wrote a post about going back to my daughter's high school to visit one of her teachers. While in high school, she spent a lot of time in the ceramics class room.

My daughters boyfriend came with us, he was thinking he could build her something that would work for throwing pottery. We went looking for advice.

We already had a kiln, which my mother had given to her, but had never fired it up.

Her boyfriend looked into purchasing a wheel, and decided that was the way to go. She made a couple of vases and bowls, but never fired them.

Nine years later, she, and her now husband, finally fired up the kiln. It hasn't been turned on in probably 20 years, but seems to still work like a champ.

It's funny how we often put things off. We may have all the tools, time and resources to do something we might actually enjoy, but find reasons to not do it today.

Tomorrow it will be easier, we tell ourselves. We'll have more money, the timing will be better. It will somehow be more convenient. But sometimes we wait too long. Too many people spend their later years regretting the things they should have done.

Like many other people, I have a long list of things I want to do. Most of them I've put off for way too long.

It's time to get at it. Maybe I'll even try my hand at throwing clay.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Black Spire Outpost

I had the chance to check out the new Star Wars themed area at Disneyland Resort in Sunny California.

Shot some 360 video for fun.

Getting Ready to Hit the Road

It's been too long. We haven't left the Mighty Mojave Desert for longer than a day for months.

Looking forward to not only leaving the desert, not just the state of California, but we're getting ready to put our passports to use!

Guess where we are heading.

Just a few months to go.....

It's been over 10 years since my last trip outside of the United States. I had learned my mom had always dreamed of going to Greece, but when my stepfather passed, she thought that she would never go.

I decided to take her on a cruise. We boarded our ship in Venice. It was a great seven days, one of my best memories of mom.

The biggest issue we faced, was mom was already using a walker. Most of Italy and Greece are not really handicap friendly. We had fun, but would have really had a great time if mom was a bit younger.

With that in mind, we have decided to start taking real vacations and see some of the far off places we have always dreamed of going.

I found a good deal on air to England, so that is trip #1.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Dear BMW

Kind of a long read, but feel I must share this cautionary tale, Especially with drivers of BMW automobiles.

Dear BMW,

I don’t normally complain. Perhaps it’s because of my British roots, as the English are known to be slow to disparage anyone or anything, preferring instead to just wait until a solution presents itself – as Pink Floyd noted in the song “Time” that “Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way.” 

But in this instance, I feel I must say something.

First off, thanks for making truly amazing automobiles. 

I proudly drive an older model Z4 convertible. The power to weight ratio makes for an exciting ride, especially in the winding roads of our local mountains. I love to put the top down and make the run up to one of our local mountain towns for lunch in the afternoon.

I reserve my sports car adventures for the weekends and days off, choosing to make my 150 mile-a-day commute to work in my boring, under-powered, yet dependable work truck.

Which makes driving the Z4 even more fun.

As much as I love the Zed, I would like to call your attention to a critical design flaw that could cause even the most experienced of drivers to lose control of their machine and end what should be a wonderful driving experience - in a fiery blaze of horror. 

Yes, I am talking about the cup holder.  Or to be a little more specific – the lack of a proper cup holder.

Yesterday morning I went out to pick up breakfast for my lovely wife and I. Our very high-Tech refrigerator had quit working and every bit of food in the house had to be thrown out. This necessitated a trip to a local restaurant to pick up our morning meal. 

Having spent a good deal of hard-earned cash on the refrigerator, as well as the food inside of it, I was feeling a bit low that morning. Because of this I decided that driving the BMW instead of my work truck might be just enough to raise my spirits.

I drove the four miles to the restaurant, enjoying the deep, smooth purring of the engine as I cruised happily along the main street of town.

Once there, I ordered breakfast - coffee and the #1 with scrambled eggs and bacon for the wife, an omelet with hash browns for me. After a short wait and a bit of conversation, I left with our meal.

As I situated myself in the driver’s seat of the Zed, I suddenly remembered the fact that the cup holders in the BMW will not actually hold a cup. 

The design has them embedded into the dash and they pop-out when needed.  However, in the four years I have driven the Z4, I have yet to get the cup holder to actually “hold” a drink cup. 

So, I sat for a minute, contemplating my options while the smell of freshly cooked bacon filled the cab of my little car. 

Hungry, and knowing my life depended on delivering the all-important morning elixir to the wife, I carefully placed the steaming cup of java in the only place it would be secure - between my legs. 

I carefully backed out of the parking space, shifted into first gear and pulled gently toward the exit. 

I signaled and made a left turn onto the roadway shifting into second gear. 

Almost immediately I felt a strange sensation in my nether regions. 

I’m not sure if the cup lid was not properly secured, or if my operation of the clutch jarred it loose, but the lid had come partially off the cup.

Time slowed as the “sensation” quickly became excruciating pain, as the dark, molten hot, 100% arabica-bean liquid soaked thru my blue jeans and scalded – how should I put this – the leading edge of my man parts.

I find it hard to describe the pain this inflicted onto one of the most sensitive parts of the male anatomy, but I imagine that somewhere in a deep dark dungeon of Medieval Europe, someone found this to be an effective tool to encourage any man to admit to any crime. Perhaps this was one of the methods of persuasion used during the Inquisition. Or maybe used by the KGB to flush out imagined spies. If not, they missed an opportunity. No man can stand up to this torture.

With no place to pull over, I continued to drive home. With tears in my eyes and holding the evil cup in my left hand, steering with my left wrist and using my right hand to steer and shift as I drove along in “quiet desperation.” 

I made it thru the multiple traffic signals and finally arrived at my house - relief finally in sight. As I pulled into the driveway, I hit a small bump, spilling more of the scalding liquid on my pants and interior of my prized automobile. 

Inside, as I explained to my family what happened, I was met with a touch of sympathy, but mostly with hysterical laughter. 

BMW BMW USA you alone hold the power to prevent this tragedy from repeating itself. You alone can prevent the pain and embarrassment caused by this design flaw from being suffered by others.

I plead with you to ensure that all future BMW automobiles have a proper way to secure beverages, for the safety and happiness of your loyal customer base. 

Or maybe we should all just stick to iced tea.