Jane Austen's England - Winchester, Friday 2008 September 19

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September 19th 2008
Published: April 14th 2015
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Hermitage Guest HouseHermitage Guest HouseHermitage Guest House

A welcome sight!
We arrived at the Calgary airport three hours before the flight – with nothing to do. We confirmed with an Air Canada staffer that since we had our boarding passes and no checked luggage, all we had to do was show up at the gate half an hour before the flight. Since the gate was not yet assigned, Deirdre shopped for books and we went for tea.

On the plane we were pleased to discover we were by the “kitchen”, which made for quieter seats (no people next to us), and we were at the exit, which gave us more leg room. We dozed our way through the night.

Having only carry-on luggage let us move through UK customs quickly. I put some things into my roller-bag to get rid of my purse, and we quickly got to the ticket office for the underground. The official advocated not buying an Oyster (cash) card until we returned to London for a reason I couldn’t understand. So we paid £4 for the ticket to London Waterloo Station. After about an hour, we were lugging our cases up the stairs, when I realized I had forgotten my Brit Rail Pass in Calgary.
Garden rose Garden rose Garden rose

To Calgary eyes, almost a mythological vision in September
A fruitless search confirmed that I had to pay £25 for a ticket to Winchester.

The train was full, but ours was only the second stop – about an hour. (We ate snacks from home for lunch.) From the station we followed our Google map until it “abandoned” us part the way up Cheriton Road. Problem was our hotel (Hermitage) has no house number. After several minutes of walking together, I left Deirdre guarding our cases and walked all the way to the end of the road – our Hotel was the last building! Once inside, Fabiola James, the proprietor, was very nice and she was kind. Since there is no phone for the guests (!) she let me use Deirdre’s “free” Brit Rail phone card to phone Eardley to ask him to mail my pass to Bath, where we will be in a week. Problem was the card only gave me 3 minutes for a supposed £5 value. I did get Eardley at about 10:00 his time. We got cut off just after he had found the pass and confirmed where to send it.

Our room is on the third floor of a large Victorian house in
Hermitage Guest HouseHermitage Guest HouseHermitage Guest House

Comfy, clean and warm
a lovely garden of lawns and pink roses. The room is quite large, with a dresser, free-standing closet and a small, quite new bathroom. The house and room are so clean we wondered if this is a new B&B. After unpacking, we walked into town – about twenty minutes, not the advertised ten. (Town is where we are supposed to go if we want to make a phone call, but I have only seen one phone box). The way takes us through a small local shopping street (once a village?) with a bath shop, corner store, and Indian and Chinese take-aways amongst the other shops. Off a round-about and up a hill is St. Peter’s Church. Then another roundabout, down a hill and around a corner – the West Gate, the remnants of a very thick stone gate. To once side is the University precinct and through the gate is the old town. As we walked along we could recognize that many buildings were very old because they were low and squat in shape, although most were three storeys.

We walked nearly to the end of the Old High Street, then over a few streets where an outdoor market was closing
Loch Fyne RestaurantLoch Fyne RestaurantLoch Fyne Restaurant

Built in 1509 and still in use!
down, then along several more streets until we found Jewry Street, where Fabiola had told us the restaurants were. They looked a bit upscale for us until we saw Loch Fyne. There was a special menu for £11 of a starter, an entrée and a glass of wine. Inside we could see this was a very old building with a timbered roof, but it had been updated with light colours and an added atrium for al fresco dining. The air was pleasant but decidedly fresh. We opted for inside, and we were led up narrow stairs to a table against a rough brick wall with a once-functioning, now decorative fireplace. The meal was delicious. We shared appetizers of salmon cake with salad greens and highland game terrine with onion salsa, and entrées of fried plaice and pork and apple sausages with side of peas and broccoli and green salad. Wine was rosé. We were stuffed! Unfortunately, the service was slow and we were flagging badly from lack of sleep. The twenty minute walk to the hotel finished us off. We were asleep by 9:30.


15th April 2015

Jet lag
I can't believe everything you got done on your first day there after an overnight flight. I usually have my teeth clenched for that day. And nothing says "Not in Kansas" anymore than a street named "Jewry" and a building in continuous use for 500 years. Yikes.

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