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Published: February 24th 2010
Exciting news, mum and dad arrived in London end of November and what a perfect excuse to see more of the English countryside! This is our adventure to Somerset and The Cotswolds…
Mum and Dad had been exploring the North East of England, visiting areas and towns ancestors had lived in. On the Friday evening they swung back through London and picked Kristi up for the trip up to Bath. We had hired a cottage about 15 minutes out of Bath and it was very quaint, set on a farm.
After a drive up to Bath and then through dark, misty hills and then missing the turn off once or twice we finally made it and were pleasantly surprised by the two bedroom cottage and its charming character. The following day we headed into Bath, somewhere I’ve happily visited several times before to visit Ginny, such a great town! Bath was somewhat different this time however, it was busy with the last weekend of the Christmas markets and rained most of the day. However, Bath is somewhere that is always a pleasure to visit! Full of character and charm! I love being in Bath, reminds me of Phillipa Gregory novels
and the like! ;-) Eventually finding a car park, we headed up to the Royal Crescent and then clapped our hands to make echoes around the Royal Circle (and probably annoy Johnny Depp and Nicholas Cage who both have homes there).
We wandered around the Christmas markets and took ages to find a café with spare seats in it! Busy time in Bath! Bath Abbey was running special tower tours (not usually open to the public) so we managed to get tickets for that a bit later. Then it was off to meet Martin who had trained up to Bath after his tutorials to meet us. The tour took about 45 minutes, where we climbed 219 steps to the top. It included standing on top of the Abbey’s vaulted ceiling, sitting behind the clock face, seeing the Abbey bells and a bird’s eye view of the World Heritage City of Bath while drinking mulled wine. All in a drizzly rain…………… but it was still something pretty cool to do and the view from the top was great even through the rain drops, with all the coloured festive lights in Bath township and the Christmas markets.
We trooped back
down the stairs to meet Ginny which was great as it had been a couple of months since we’d last caught up! Ginny took us to a fab bar in a basement with vaulted ceilings and then we attempted to go to a Thai restaurant for dinner… It had been recommended by friends in NZ but alas it was full, so Ginny took us on a tour of all the thai restaurants in Bath (since now we could think of nothing else!) until we finally found a table! (it seems Thai is very popular in Bath!) ;-)
Afterwards it was back to the cottage to show Martin our home for the long weekend! The next morning we got up and had a bit of a look around the place we were staying, got some friendly tourist advice from the owner and headed off for Wells. Wells is a quaint and unspoilt market town with a great feel to it. We parked up the car and headed into a main square where there were festive markets and more mulled wine. (Mmmmmmmm mulled wine…). Everyone had their families and dogs out in the village streets, it was a very festive and
jolly atmosphere. And looming over it all was the stunning Wells Cathedral which has to be one of the most beautiful we’ve seen. We wandered across the green and into the Cathedral, spending a decent amount of time exploring its rooms and admiring its architecture. After this we were wandering back through town when we saw that there was a Christmas Parade - with real reindeer!!! So cool! So we joined the rest of villagers and followed the parade through the town, trundling along after like something out of a picture book! The reindeer were cool, especially the little baby one! As the parade passed our car we thought that would be a good time to exit so we jumped in and started heading out of town…… to be stopped by ‘the cone police’ - a portly old woman who demanded to know how we had got into the road since it was closed to the parade. We politely tried to explain that in fact the road was still open when we arrived and we didn’t know there was a parade going on today… While she looked at us in sheer disbelief, like how on earth could we not know
that the Wells township had a Christmas parade on that particular day… Anyway, to cut a long story short she refused to move a cone for us so we could drive out so we back tracked to find another elderly village person who kindly moved his cone for us to get out. We really couldn’t stop laughing!
After that we couldn’t resist a visit to the town of ‘Cheddar’ (Mmmm… Cheese!) Which, apart from a small village with a pretty gorge (which we didn’t pay to drive through) was really just a lot of cheese shops. After sampling and purchasing some damn good cheeses we headed on our way.
We decided to visit Glastonbury, why not - sounds like a nice place to visit. Well, it was one of the more surreal places to visit, not knowing beforehand that actually Glastonbury is best known for the myths and legends surrounding both Glastonbury Tor, a prominent hill rising up from the surrounding flat landscape, and Glastonbury Abbey, which together have made the town a thriving centre for mystical, new-age, alternative spirituality. It seemed every shop was for, about and run by path-walkers and witches, largely serving the pagan community.
The town was filled with women who dressed in what you would picture as typical witch clothing. What a surreal place to visit when you have no foreknowledge! We stopped for a late lunch in a great pub in the centre of town. Wisely we decided to exit Glastonbury before it got too dark as the locals were looking a mite too peckish. We definitely recommend you check it out next time you're passing!
That evening we beat the driving rain back to our cottage and feasted on cheeses, wine and the original sally-lun bun! (Which we had picked up from Bath on the way home). The sally-luns in Bath are the originals and shockingly do not, as standard, come covered in thick pink icing and coconut! We were most surprised. Still a delicious sampling of what the Cotswolds had to offer, and made for a lovely ending to a pretty cool day!
The next morning we got up earlyish to clear out of the cottage and make the most for a pleasant drive back to London, via Lacock, Stone Henge and Windsor. The Cotwolds certainly are a beautiful place; even during a period of murky grey weather
and heavy fog and drizzle, the rolling hills and stone and hedgerow fences separating the pastures are breathtaking. We wanted to visit a real ‘Postcard’ Cotswold village and we found it in the tiny hamlet of Lacock. This tiny village consisted of a wee little main street and maybe 4 or 5 roads off that, everything was just bursting with period charm - most of the buildings stretching back to the 13th century. We spent a while meandering around and shopped for souvenirs before heading off to the much famed ‘Stone Henge’.
Martin and Kristi have been to Stone Henge once before on a cold, blustery and pretty miserable day weatherwise- this would prove to be no different! Overall I must say it’s not all it's cracked up to be, quite cool and very intriguing in its origins but there is a significant lack of mystique or freaky sense of druidic power. Might be something to do with the busy motorway road right beside it. Whose idea was that!? Still, it is kind of a must see and we got some nice pictures to boot! We quickly escaped the weather and headed off towards Windsor.
We arrived in
Windsor a bit late to undertake a full tour of the colossal castle, but we had a look around from outside and marvelled at the sheer size of the castle enclosure. We had a delicious late lunch at a pub and then headed back to Londontown and home.
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