Unfortunately, my brother-in-law missed our driveway and backed over our mailbox instead. Not just bumped into it, but turned it into five pieces spread across our lawn like a game of pick-up-sticks. And to add insult to injury, he later learned that he had done $1800 in damages to his wife's car. Ouch! Double ouch! As to our mailbox, thanks to our talented neighbor, David, for repairing it while we were away!
Hugs, kisses, and goodbye's at the airport were still filled with anticipation, though tinged with disbelief and regret about the accident. Alan hugged his Mom, telling her, "I'll see you when we get back," and she responded with a tearful, "If I'm still here." Jewish mother guilt: fact or fiction? I'll let you be the judge.
On those two depressing notes, we checked our bags, praying they wouldn't be over the 50 lb. limit and headed to our gate. Thankfully, we had smooth sailing, so to speak, from that point. We endured the unavoidable layover in Atlanta and departed for Heathrow around 10:30 p.m. After an eight-hour flight spent napping, setting our internal and external clocks six hours forward, an unnecessary hour at the car rental company, and an almost two-hour nightmarish drive in the rain to The Cotswolds, we arrived at the Old Manse Hotel in Burton-on-the-Water around 4:00 p.m.
|Old Manse Hotel, Burton-on-the-Water, The Cotswolds|
After getting settled in our quaint attic room, which included a breathtaking view of a duck-filled canal, we headed out to visit a local pub. When the bartender discovered we were from Alabama, he theatrically held out both arms and loudly exclaimed, "None of the patrons in this pub had anything to do with the oil on your beaches!" We were laughing as everyone agreed by raising their drink in the air and shouting, "Here, here."
Dinner was fish and chips, one of the more famous English dishes. I quickly learned that English peas are appropriately named because they are served with almost everything in England. They can be ordered "mushy" or "whole." "Mushy" peas have been squished with a fork. We found it strange that one cannot mush their own peas but must order them that way.
The next morning, we set out early for a bright and sunny drive to explore Stonehenge and Bath. We rode through miles of the most beautiful lush, green countryside I have ever seen. Every scene was more enchanting than the last and most were dotted with woolly sheep or Gateway boxes disguised as Holstein cattle.
|The beautiful rolling wolds (hills) of The Cotswolds.|
|Pastures of sheep lined most of the lanes.|
|The busy road leading to Stonehenge.|
For two thousand years, Bath has been a spa town, built around Britain’s only hot mineral springs. The Romans were the first to realize the value of the hot mineral water and built their religious spa of Aquae Sulis around the three springs in the 16th century. The water still pools among the ruins but is untreated and smells worse than rotten potatoes. Our audio tour was fascinating and educational and we left imagining health-seeking kings and queens reclined in rest and relaxation centuries ago.
We returned to Burton-on-the-Water very late to find all of the pubs' kitchens closed. However, we managed to pick up Chinese take away (known to Americans as take out) and excitingly discussed our plans for the following day.
Sunday dawned clear and cold and we traveled north to Broadway where we walked through the village and later ate lunch. Alan was feeling adventurous and had a "when in Rome attitude" when he ordered steak and kidney pie. One bite and he instantly regretted his choice. I ate chicken soup and laughed as he managed to choke down one of England's most-loved dishes.
|High (Main) Street in Broadway|
|Blenheim Palace gardens|
Day two was often frustrating due to getting lost, unfamiliar driving situations, and heavy traffic, but that was easily outweighed by the beauty of Broadway and the splendor of Blenheim. I'll continue later with the remainder of our time in The Cotswolds and our arrival in London.