18th birthday tour - day 2, part 1, Oxford to Salisbury

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July 29th 2019
Published: July 29th 2019
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Day 2 dawned bright and clear, but the fierce heat of Thursday had abated somewhat. We said our goodbye's to Amelia and Gareth (apparently Amelia is Helen's niece, not a cousin. family relationships are SO confusing!) and we set off for today's destination, Boscombe, just outside Bournemouth, where Helen's brother John Mark, and sister-in-law Jane, live. Not without a slight detour to visit Salisbury though.

Salisbury is probably famous for may things, For me, though, two stand out. One is the cathedral, perhaps the finest of its kind in England, and with the tallest spire. the other is Gibb Mew beer, which I remember reading about in one of Dave Lines books on home brewing. He reckoned 'Bishops Tipple' was one of the finest brews in Britain. so I was looking forward to trying some.

Once parked up, we headed into the city at lunchtime in search of food and spotted a likely looking pub which turned out to be a Weatherspoons, which greatly pleased Anna. I had high hopes, knowing how Weatherspoons are keen to source local beers, but, alas, there was no Gibb Mew, only Abbott Ale, which is hardly local, being brewed in Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk. It went down very nicely however. Lunch over with, we split up and arranged to meet back at the car in a couple of hours. Anna and Helen went off to accost strangers to ask them if they would be willing to be filmed as part of a video Anna is putting together to accompany one of her songs. I, meanwhile, went off to see the cathedral as this was my first time in Salisbury. And, of course, to check out any other pubs that I happened to come across!

The cathedral delivered all it promised. It was beautiful, inspiring, lofty, thrilling and moving (not literally, just in the spiritual sense you understand). Apart from magnificent architecture, it contains the oldest working clock in the world, and something I'd long wanted to see, a genuine Magna Carta, one of the four remaining original copies of the famous charter signed by an unwilling King John at Runnymede, back in 1215. The interpretation display surrounding this was excellent. During my visit, one of the cathedral clergy ascended into the pulpit and invited us all to pause for a few moments and join him in prayer, prayer for the cathedral, for the world and for ourselves. Whether it was the sense of place and history, his simple but succinct words, or the fellowship of so many others in that place all standing quietly, I don't know, but by the end of the prayer I felt a couple of tears rolling down my cheek.

Back in the sunlight, my hunt for that more tangible spirit, 'Bishops Tipple', proved fruitless. I learned later that the brewery had closed in 1998 after a century of supplying the locals with their famous brew.

Anna and Helen rejoined, they reported varied success with their filming exploits. A few people had declined their generous offer to appear on YouTube, but several had agreed, including some lads practicing parkour on the concrete steps of the theatre.

And so, on to Boscombe . . . .

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