Saturday, May 15, 2010

Cheerio, from England

We flew from Lanzarote to London (going from temperatures in the high 80s to below freezing!) Thus beginning stage two of our journey, a ten day road trip circling Great Britain (the red line on the map traces our path). Kirk and I are both head over heels with all things England. There must be more history, culture and fun per square mile there than any other country in the world! Even though we both studied and traveled extensively around England during college we quickly brainstormed a long list of new must-sees for this itinerary. So this time we didn't concentrate on repeating major tourist hot spots like Bath, Stratford-upon-Avon and Oxford. Rather we hit more local holiday spots. Here is the basic outline from our trip:
  • Bookend days in London to start and end the trip

  • Two days in southwest England - Devon and Cornwall

  • Three days in the Cotswolds

  • Two days in Northern Wales - Snowdonia National Park

  • A day in Northern England - The Holy Island

  • A day in Cambridge
We kicked off our time in Great Britain in our tried and true "London Home." Sweet Betty received us with love and laughter. She is the most amazing woman. We caught her in between trips to Jordan and Morocco. No wonder we relate so well to her. She moves at our pace!

Flowers are a part of Betty's house. They are always fresh, colorful, and welcoming. When we pulled out the next day for our car trip, we did so with tears in our eyes. It was terribly difficult to leave Betty without knowing the next time we would see her. I gave her an extra tight hug and thanked God for our marvelous friendship of 12+ years.
Kirk was the daring soul who drove us around Great Britain - on the left hand side of the road! I contend it is equally difficult to be the passenger from this new vantage point. I confess to being a bit of a "Passenger-Seat Driver" as we adjusted. Check Kirk out with the steering wheel on the other side of the car and eating his beloved Krispy Kreme doughnuts. English language and Krispy Kreme - were we really still in Europe?!?! We traveled first to Avebury on the way to Devon.
Avebury is the site of a 5,000 year old stone circle. Avebury is older, bigger, less touristy, more welcoming and supposedly more interesting than Stonehenge.The large stone circle and ditch were indeed interesting. But it was windy and freezing. We tried to put our best foot forward, but with soggy feet and wet wind it was hard to truly enjoy.Avebury is more of a hike than I planned. So while I think it a worthwhile place to see - it would have been better on a warm day and without a stroller! We headed next to Stourhead Gardens in Wiltshire. The English gardens were beautiful. Very different from the intricate designs of French gardens. But the daffodils were peeking out and we had tons of fun skipping amongst the rainbow of flowers.In the course of our time there we saw blue sky, bright sun, rain, and eventually hail! Crazy weather. Gotta love England in April!I especially love these two "forest" shots. Captures the variety of landscapes in this one special spot at Stourhead Gardens.There were a couple of galleries at the gardens. This rabbit painting made me smile. We saw a few rabbits darting in the woods. Rabbits are such happy animals.Our last stop was in Devon, England at the acclaimed Arundell Arms Hotel. It was a unique splurge for us to stay in such a fancy hotel. It is a rustic spot with a staff that can't do enough to make you feel at ease. The restaurant was lovely and a foodie paradise.The Arundell Arms had a living room that was just right. At night they lit a roaring fire in the fireplace. We ate one fancy dinner in the restaurant and the next night had a grocery store picnic right there in front of the fire!This invitation was in our room for an upcoming Murder Mystery Weekend. I have always wanted to do something like that - ever since playing the "Clue" board game as a child. I bet it is fun!
A cold start to our Great Britain galavant, but we were happy together and sightseeing to our hearts' delight. We felt lucky no matter what the forecast said!

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