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Published: August 2nd 2016
Phil pulled us out of a glitch. Before arriving in England we had only reserved our places to stay in Manchester, where we arrive and depart from the airport...we wanted to be flexible. That worked out fine until now...Fri/Sat and no beds at the hostels. Phil got on his laptop and found a Hilton in Coventry where he could use his rewards program.
Got up in good time and headed to burford for breakfast. Walked thru St. John's the Baptist Church, one of the large Cotswold 'wool churches' built between 1160 and 1475. A wool church is an English church financed primarily by donations from rich merchants and farmers who had benefitted from the mediaeval wool trade, hoping to ensure a place in heaven.
Then off to more of the Cotwolds regions. Upper Slaughter, Stow-on-the-Wold, Bourton-on-the-Water, Chipping Campden,...
In a pretty village where most of the Cotswold stone cottages are hundreds of years old, at least, St Barnabas blends in remarkably well, as if it has grown organically from the hill that gives the village its name. Yet St Barnabas is not ancient, as a cursory examination will quickly reveal; it is entirely Victorian, the work of an
unknown architect in 1864.
The second day we stopped at a Wydale Garden Center for breakfast. Not only do peoplle have beautiful English gardens, but the garden centers absolutely a delight to walk thru. I also love they include a coffee/cafe. While sitting in the dining area, I saw a photograph on the wall that was the exact field of lavender we saw yesterday, except...it was in full bloom. (That's right, ny FB post was a photo of a photo, sorry).
Next stop was the Parish Church of St Helen in Ashby de la Zouch. Just delightful people working in the church, so we stopped to talk a bit. I was curious that the grave stones were laid down for ease of maintenance. I have also seen where churches pulled them up and set them against a perimeter wall. An ongoing discussion, I can have a friendly conversation in ten minutes, but Phil needs thirty minutes, minimum. So I often wonder off, this time around the corner to see Ashby de la Zouch Castle. It's a ruins site, and didn't seem worth cost of admission to stroll about. Then found a small outdoor market of bake good and
farm goods, etc.
Set in the midst of a landscape park, Calke Abbey is presented by the National Trust as an illustration of the English country house in decline. With peeling paint and overgrown courtyards, Calke Abbey tells the story of the dramatic decline of the Grand Country House Estate. A massive amount of remedial work but no restoration has been done and interiors are almost as they were found in 1985 so the decay of the building and its interiors has been halted but not reversed. Before the National Trust's work of the late 1980s everything had remained untouched since the 1880s.
Next stop was the town of Leicester and Holy Trinity Church.
Phil grew up in Burton on Trent, so enjoyed visiting his old stomping ground. Stapenhill Cemetery & Greenhouse is my concept of how cemetery and botanical garden could have a symbiotic relationship.
As it grew late in the day, Phil gave direction to a pub along one of the canals. We saw a number of the canal boats we had seen in Bath and Oxford moored along the road. We arrived at Swan Inn Fradley for dinner and ale. Al the people
in the pub were living on a canal boat...interesting people!
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