Beginning the England Adventure

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September 1st 2012
Published: September 6th 2012
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Landing at Heathrow was a little late since they sent us round a couple of times before we could land. But eventually we found our luggage. Now on to our rental car; Advantage rentals doesn't have a desk at the airport and no sign telling us how to find them. The helpful person at the tourist information desk made a phone call. We made our way to a lot at the back of Hertz finding a used trailer and about 6 cars. We were able to rent a Vauxhall that isn't as small as we had ordered but it is OK.

Our next adventure was driving on the other side of the road... at 60+mph... during Monday late afternoon traffic... As a good friend of mine says, HOLY CROW... It was scary as a passenger at first and then Gary seemed to decide it was just a challenge – he says the biggest issue is to remember to look left to find the rear view mirror.

After stopping at a service area on the M4 and buying a Great Britain road atlas we finally found Bath and our B&B. The Cornerways is a beautiful house built in the 1700's that is beautifully maintained and decorated. It is a great location that has parking (hard thing to find in Bath). Monday night was our first pub night. The Raven is just a few blocks away and serves great beers and a selection of meat pies with mash and gravy.

English Breakfast each day was a wonderful meal that set us up to need just a light something mid-day and then a simple dinner. We met a fellow guest – Seamus who is a business consultant from Ireland. We had a great discussion about life in Ireland and the US and raising children. The more the media tries to tell us we are different the more we find that folks from many countries are very alike in their day to day life. Tuesday morning started with buying a cell phone at one of three stores on a block of the shopping district here in Bath. We then joined a free walk around Bath. These tours are led by a group of Mayoral representative volunteers. Then of course we needed to rest up and oh, it was time for a pint at another local pub. Then, rested, we headed off to the Roman Baths museum and historic site. Using an audio tour, you walk through the huge venue with so much of the building still there. There is so much history here... We are talking Roman, as in 1st century AD...

Day 2 of Bath was spent doing some touring around. We visited Wells Cathedral, which dates from the 12th century, and Glastonbury Abbey (dating from the 7th century) ruins – in the rain. I am so glad that I bought the new coat in Iceland (yes, it is waterproof). As we were beginning our tour of the Wells cathedral our new camera's shutter quit working – push the button and nothing So, the rest of the day is in our mind's eye.

The Glastonbury Abbey venue are the remains of a great wealthy Catholic abbey founded in the 7th century and rebuilt around 1200. In the mid 1500's Henry VIII had it shutdown. He needed to have the Catholic Church gone so he could establish the Church of England. At that point the beautiful buildings were ordered to be broken apart and most of the stone be made available for local peoples' personal use. Some walls still remain and seem to continue to speak to its visitors. A young fellow dressed in period costume led us on a tour of the grounds explaining about the time of the Saxons, the glory days from 1200 to 1550 and the time of the dissolution.

Since it was pouring rain and late afternoon we decided food was in order. So off to our first fish and chips at a Rick Steves recommended place. Knight's Fish & Chips began in 1909 and they are still going strong... good introduction to this local treat.

We got a bit lost – Mary's fault sort of... It's not easy to read a whole different system of road signs and try to equate them to the road numbers on the map. Each day is an improvement – even if only a slight incremental improvement.

Our last morning in Bath started out in the breakfast room. Fruit, cereal, fresh squeezed OJ, eggs, bacon, tomatoes, and toast. Another couple came in as we were finishing and we had another wonderful conversation. They are immigrating from South Africa. The husband is a healer (hands on type of healer) and will setting up his office in London. It was fun to get a totally different perspective on traveling to England.

Then it was off to explore the Cotswolds. On our way we made a stop in Avebury. This is a stone circle site like Stonehenge that is very open to the public. Walking beside the huge stones you can almost feel the age and the huge human effort building the site must have been 2,800 years ago. Yes, it is a very traquil setting amid a working farm. You actually walk among the sheep.

We were then off to perfect my navigational skills. As we headed north into the Cotswolds we stopped at Stow-on-the-Wold for a look at the village, the church and the local pub... In the pub we found great beer for Gary and a very nice cider for me. I have come to realize how refreshing a good cider can be especially as an afternoon pick-me-up. The couple at the next table joined us in conversation. They are retired from up north in England and were down at Stow on a tour bus – a great sense of humor and lots of advise.

More on the Cotswolds later.

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