Q: We are big fans of Ellis Peters, the medieval mystery writer who bases her stories in Shropshire, England. Are there any tours of Shropshire with an Ellis Peters connection?
A: The British Tourist Authority in New York says it is not aware of any organized tours, although local travel agents may well put together tours of their own.
The authority does, however, offer something that would appeal to all Peters fans: a free brochure listing four driving tours of Shropshire based on the Peters works. The brochure, "Brother Cadfael Car Trails," is named for her books' main character, a medieval monk.
The first tour, "The Hermit of Eyton Forest Trail," covers 25 miles in the heart of Shropshire, passing through many of the places mentioned in "The Hermit of Eyton Forest." Peters fans will recognize such villages and hamlets as Atcham, Leighton and Wroxeter, as well as the market town of Much Wenlock.
The second tour, "The Marches Trail," covers 31 miles in the border country with Wales. Many of the scenes from "Dead Man's Ransom" are set there. The area is rich in such local crafts as pottery, jewelry and knitwear.
The third tour, "The Hugh Beringar Trail," covers 30 miles of villages, parish churches and market towns in north Shropshire. It also features scenes from "Dead Man's Ransom" and is named for one of the book's characters, the Sheriff of Shropshire.
The fourth tour, "The Virgin in the Ice Trail," is the most scenic. It covers 54 miles and passes through the rollings hills of south Shropshire as well as the market towns of Ludlow and Bridgnorth. Much of the trail is featured in "The Virgin in the Ice."
The brochure is available from the British Tourist Authority, 40 W. 57th St., New York, N.Y. 10151; telephone (212) 581-4708. It can also be obtained in Shropshire at tourist information centers in Ludlow, Shrewsbury, Oswestry and Whitchurch. Included with the brochure is a four-page pamphlet listing accommodations in areas covered by the tours.
Q: My wife and I will be arriving at the Seattle airport in late November around 9 p.m. and will leave by ferry about 24 hours later. Without renting a car, what is the best way to spend about 24 hours in Seattle?
A: The heart of Seattle has trendy cafes, spectacular mountain views and a giant open-air farmers' market, all within easy walking distance in the downtown area.
But be aware that many of Seattle's hills rival San Francisco's, especially in the areas most frequented by tourists. A bus that makes the 35-minute journey from the airport costs $1.
For sightseeing, a free bus rolls through downtown every 10 minutes, making stops at all the attractions.
Among the most popular sites is the Pike Place Market, covering about three city blocks. The market, which is open every day, has 105 farm stands, 220 stands offering crafts and about 300 selling clothing, antiques and foodstuffs. Pike Place is also famous for its fish market.
From the market you can hop a bus to Pioneer Square, the city's historic district. It has antique shops, art galleries, cafes, drugstores and nightclubs. You might also drink a latte (espresso with steamed milk, a popular Seattle beverage) at the popular Grand Central Bakery. The Elliott Bay Book Company is the place for browsing.
For a panoramic view of Seattle and the Olympic and Cascade Mountains and Mount Rainier, try the 520-foot observation deck at the Space Needle, built for the 1962 World's Fair.
To get to the needle, take the Monorail, which is also a leftover from the World's Fair. The Monorail can be boarded in the downtown shopping district. The less-than-a-minute ride costs 60 cents.