In 1704, John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, defeated the French at the Battle of Blenheim. A grateful Queen Anne rewarded him with Blenheim Palace, the grandest countryside residence anywhere in Britain. And then, 313 years later, I had my own little Battle of Blenheim.
Scouting the palace during our TV shoot, I was marveling at all the noble bling, and — ding! — I walked into an overhanging staircase. I went down, pretty bloody. (Now I can sympathize with the palace administration’s nervousness about visitors poking around.) The staff was very compassionate but, for legal reasons, couldn’t do anything beyond give me a seat, a compress, and directions to the nearest “MUI” — minor injuries unit.
I joined the crowd of people awaiting their government-provided medical service. After an hour, a nurse cleaned me up and glued me shut. I asked to pay, and she said, “Nope, we have National Insurance here. It’s covered.” Thankfully, my little wound wasn’t visible to the TV camera. I couldn’t get it wet for a few days, but soon, I was good as new. And now, whenever I wince at the hefty VAT (value added tax) tacked on to my purchases in Britain, I’ll feel a bit better…as I’ve helped pay for my own medical treatment.
This is Day 98 of my “100 Days in Europe” series. As I travel with Rick Steves’ Europe Tours, research my guidebooks, and make new TV shows, I’m reporting on my experiences across Europe. Still to come: Germany, Switzerland, and more. Thanks for joining me here on my blog and via Facebook.