Friday, July 25, 2008

After Bath

The city of Bath, England closes up shop at approximately 5 pm every day.  Not like Singapore!

We drove back to Seend and spent our second, and last night at Cleeve House.  
In the morning, we had another wonderful breakfast, proceeded by tea in the room. Delightful!

I really enjoyed my time there and will remember it fondly.

Not so much our time in Oxford, where we headed next.

My DH had a date to visit a man who works at the Oxford Center for Mission Studies, and he got to sit in on a lecture. My daughter and I ran around in town for almost two hours. It would have been lovely, but it was raining non-stop, and we got drenched.

Sure, I'm smiling here. But I was just happy to get in the car and drive.

Someone at the OCMS suggested we should visit Blenheim Palace on our way to our next stop, and it wasn't on our itinerary, but we decided to check it out. The only thing I know about Blenheim is that it is where Winston Churchill was born.


Funny thing about Bath.

 They have these pig sculptures everywhere.  Kinda like the cow sculptures that were in Chicago, right?  I never saw them there, but I heard about them.
So, I found this children's book in the gift shop for the Roman Bath, and it had this story.  It was kind of a fairy tale, but it did explain why there were pigs all over.
Once upon a time, there was a prince born who developed a skin ailment.  Unable to cure him, his royal parents banished him since he couldn't sit on the throne with spots.
He eventually winds up caring for an old woman's pigs.  She, of course, does not recognize the prince since he's been living rough in the forest for some time now.
During the course of his duties, he notices some of the pigs seem to have the same skin problem he has.  And he sees that these pigs ease their discomfort by bathing in a certain place.
Well, the prince decides to try the pigs' remedy, and it works for him, too!
He returns to his home and after a bath, a shave and a change of clothes convinces his parents that it is indeed, him, their son, cured of his spots.
I have no idea if this is true, but it has the ring, doesn't it?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Stonehenge and Bath

One of our scheduled destinations was to visit the Roman Bath at Bath, England. My daughter had to do a report for school last year on the Romans; some aspect of their culture, art, influence, etc. Since we knew we were going to Bath, anyway, we encouraged her to study that place. She had to do a written report and a visual aid - a model of the bath. So it was much more interesting for us to visit than it would have been without the studying.

Of course, we had to visit Stonehenge on the way, as it was pretty close. I had studied this monument in my art history classes long ago, so I had some prior knowledge, but who doesn't?

You can tell it was cold here, again. Luckily for us, the day cleared up a bit while we were in Bath.

Many things surprised me about Stonehenge up close. First, it's a much smaller site overall than I expected. Of course, the stones are huge. But they are closer together than I expected. It's hard to capture that in a photograph, and I'm sure my art history classes informed me of the overall measurement of the site, but who remembers that, and who makes sense of it when all you hear are numbers?

See? It looks huge like this, doesn't it? And isn't this how you usually see it? I mean, look at those tiny little people in the picture. But what I mean by it not being so huge is that it only takes a few minutes to circumnavigate.

And I was surprised by the commercial-ness of this site.

And there was a gift shop, which wasn't totally unsuspected. I was happy enough for the snack bar to be there after getting frozen. It just made me chuckle. Stonehenge aint no amusement park, y'know!

Well, we spent some quality time with Stonehenge and then made our way towards Bath.

Here is a small park in the town.

Lots of wonderful architecture; this is the church on the square.

The man in the orange jacket is the DH.

This is not the bath, but is nearby.

And here we are, finally, at the bath.  The water has no odor, but it isn't healthy to bathe in anymore, so they won't let you get in.  I had no desire, really.

After touring the terrace, we went down to the ground level.  And you can just see that the sun did come out a bit while we were there.
I only saw this guy the one time.  No idea what that was all about.  He didn't do anything special except dress funny.  Oh well.

I think I'd better split this post in two as I have so many more pictures I want to show you and I don't trust blogger enough to not crash.  So, more Bath tomorrow!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Monday in England

First of all, a correction to yesterday's post: the picture of my daughter in her new fleece jacket wasn't taken at Buckingham, it was taken in Bath. Oops. Too many pictures.

Anyway, on Monday morning, our host drove us over to a nearby Enterprise Rent a Car where we picked up a Ford Fiesta. Which I drove. For the first time in almost 3 years, I was behind the wheel again. On the wrong side of the car, driving on the wrong side of the street. And in a country where the extremely narrow roads don't run straight and every intersection is a roundabout.
Naturally, we immediately got lost and wound up in terrible traffic in downtown London. I saw Picadilly Circus from a whole new vantage point - twice. But eventually we figured out how to escape (and I thought LA traffic was bad!) and made our way southwest towards Bath.

Our lodgings for the next two nights was a bed and breakfast called Cleeve House in a town called Seend.

I can't recommend this place too highly. I loved it there. I would go back in a minute.

There's the little silver car I drove all over England.

And the cows in the pasture behind the house. We went to visit them, and after calling "moo!" to them for several minutes to no avail, my daughter started calling them like Ellen Degeneres in Finding Nemo, when she is speaking to the whale. Well, the cows found that irresistible and came trotting over to see us.

The view from the library onto the terrace.

The front door. Very inviting, no?

And the view from our room.

Well, we got there in the late afternoon, put our things away and explored for a while. When it was time to eat, we went to a pub called The Barge Inn - which was suggested by the b&b. It was so good! English food is vastly underrated, as far as I'm concerned.
My daughter and I shared a crock of cream of broccoli soup and a bread board with 3 different rustic breads and a small pot of pesto sauce. My husband had risotto with asparagus. It was just delightful.

We retired at a conservative time, altho it was still dark out! and thus ended our fourth day in England. Sigh.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

More of England

On Sunday morning, we went to church with our host. Since he needed to be at church early, however, we decided to take a short walk and visit Ben. Big Ben, that is.

I didn't think to turn on the video recorder on my camera until almost too late.

We were also at Westminster Abbey that morning.

You can't tell from these pictures, but this was the day we discovered we hadn't brought warm enough clothes. It rained so much while we were there, and it was cold. But no matter, they sell warm clothes in England (funnily enough), and so after church we went to Oxford Circus and did some shopping.

I bought this red hooded sweatshirt with LONDON on the chest. It was really warm and kept me mostly dry. But you'll have to wait to hear about where this picture was taken!

Glory got this fleece jacket and two scarves - the pink one and a green one. Everybody in England wears scarves - even in July, so she fit right in. These gardens are near Buckingham Palace.

After the shopping spree, we rode the underground to the British Library. They don't allow pictures, so I'll just tell you that we saw books written by Jane Austen and William Shakespeare, several illuminated manuscripts, the Magna Carta, and a copy of the Lindisfarne Gospel. We only had a half hour to run through there, but it was thrilling.

Later we had a yucky pizza (only Chicago has good pizzas, it would seem) and went back to our hosts' home. Monday would see us leaving London for a trip to the countryside.