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Published: October 7th 2013
We are here is sunny England. I know this will come as a shock to many of you but the sun is shining and it’s quite warm: 18 degrees. The evil weather comes later in the week but for now we bask in the sunshine in Ampney Crucis with the Willow family. I hear it was 39.9 in Brisbane. I’m so glad to have missed that.
The flight from Hong Kong left on time and uneventful so we were relieved. So BA is now at the top of my preferred airline list. We arrived in the UK at about 4:30 am and picked up our rental car in the dark and rain. Unbeknownst to us, Peter dropped his phone in the Heathrow car park. Some very kind soul handed the phone in and rang our friend Suzie in Sydney who let us know by email. Talk about a small world. Thank you kind soul and Suzie. It all happened so fast that Peter didn't have time to panic.
Remember I told you about the Ampney Crucis cross in the Churchyard well we can see it from our bedroom window. This little village is so tiny and cute. Most of the houses don’t have street numbers. They are called things like The Green or Mill Cottage. The village is very old and was mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086. Fortunately the Willows’ house is a much more recent construction. Floss and Chris are renovating the house which is a very big job for them. So far we have managed to avoid painting; our forte is dish washing. Much easier to do!!!!
Ampney Crucis is very close to a very impressive Roman medieval town of Cirencester. It's had quite a long history of invasion. During Roman times it was the 2nd most important town in England and the Romans built an amphitheatre where they did the usual Roman type activities including feeding the Christians to the lions. We used to be able to see the amphitheatre, minus the lions, from Chris and Floss’ window in their old house.
In 577 AD the Saxons came to town and captured Cirencester however the Roman Buildings were in ruins by this time and the town was reduced to a village of wooden huts with thatched huts, a far cry from Roman days. Sometime before the Domesday Book was written (1086) a market began in Cirencester and the charming market town atmosphere still exists today. In 1117 King Henry I founded an abbey at Cirencester. The abbey came to dominate the town and was closed by Henry VIII in 1539. I guess that was when he wasn't busy chopping off his wives heads.
Floss has been cooking us some amazing meals. I definitely haven’t lost any weight. For lunch today we had two types of sheep cheese. There was a French market on in Cirencester today so went a bit crazy buying olives, cheese, marinated mushrooms and other delightful things like that. It wasn't hard to be persuaded by the nice French people who ran the stalls. There were at least half a dozen goat and sheep’s cheeses to choose from….heavenly. We bought sheep Roquefort and it was tangy and salty and delightful. I continue to hope that we’ll get a better range of goat/sheep cheese in Australia. Niche market perhaps?
We have been having a lot of fun being Nanny and Pa to our beautiful little granddaughter Bess. It only happens every couple of years so we are making the most of our time here. I have never had so many cuddles in my life. Bess is 2 and a half and is so loving and sweet .She has a very English accent which makes sense as she is English!! She blow dried my hair a couple of days ago. That was so cute and she did a pretty good job. I bought her some bunny ears today.
Next week we are going shopping for red shoes and a handbag for Bess. That’s going to be heaps of fun. I saw some little Doc Martin boots in Hong Kong. I really wish I’d bought them for her.
We are going to Blenheim Palace today for my birthday treat. I really wanted to go to Windsor Castle but it’s too far away. Anyway Blenheim Place is the birthplace of Winston Churchill and the gardens (2000 acres) were designed by a famous chap called Capability Brown. He was an eighteenth century landscape architect who had his clients rip out their formal English gardens and replaced them simpler less fussy landscapes. This peeved a lot of more established garden designers and he wasn't always lauded for his efforts. I hope to see for myself later on today.
pj and Sandy xx
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