Wednesday, April 17th – Today we bid adieu to Chipping Campden, a central market town in the Cotswolds. Our stay at the Kings Hotel has been very nice, no complaints voiced by any in the group. This will be a full day as we head out to Lacock, the village of Castle Combe, Bradford-on-Avon, then finally to Bath. Trivia: we found out that ‘Avon’ is not the name of a particular river – it’s a word that actually means ‘River’. So, there you have it – one mystery solved!
Hard to believe, but our England Adventure is about halfway done 😦 Stop the clock, someone! Make it last and last!!
On our way, miles reeling off, and there is a hint of rebellion at the rear of the bus! Lyn says we MUST stop for coffee! Just kidding, she is a sweet lady, not demanding at all, she was just trying to hold ‘Chollie’ to his promise of making a coffee/loo stop mid-morning. (for you non-Anglophiles, a ‘loo’ is a restroom) We found a large nursery near one of the villages, lots of trees and shrubs, and, oh, by the way – they had a sunroom there that was a small coffee shop! Hooray! They had excellent coffee and several types of scones – Hooray again!! The lady who was running the thing came over to visit and we soon found out she was mainly wanting to be included on any future tours coming down the road, so she was giving Chollie lots of smiles 🙂 He was quite accommodating and accepted one of her brochures. She also shared some local ‘color’ with us. As she told it, at the nearby Malmesbury Abbey there was an extensive gardening effort going on, perhaps maintained by some of the monks/priests/whatever they are, and according to her, on approximately 3 days per year they could be seen out in the garden, hoeing, planting, all that jazz, while being ‘in the buff’. Naughty, naughty! 🙂 She wasn’t able to share any insight as to why this activity was pursued in this way, but if nothing else, references to the “Malmesbury Gardeners” became spice for our conversations a number of times throughout the remainder of our time with Chollie 🙂 Oh, the grins and snickers! I had to wonder; was she telling us this as a way to help snare future travelers in for scones and coffee? Hmmm, might work! Tragically, she didn’t know *which* 3 days were good for ‘viewing’ 🙂
We continued on our way without ‘Gardener Sightings’ to add to our memories, but that was ok. We soaked up more and more English countryside views, lots and lots of sheep, as you might expect, then Chollie turned off on a small side road and took us to the quaint village of Castle Combe. It was never clear to me whether there was an actual castle there, but it didn’t matter, really. The village was just small community nestled in a small valley by a picturesque stream, and we thoroughly enjoyed our brief visit. Not much to do there but sight-see, but we loved it!
From Castle Combe we went directly to Lacock, which was a nice little village which laid claim to being the site of Lacock Abbey, which started out as a home for the nuns, then went on to be a private residence. This was to be our second visit to a filming site for Harry Potter movies – perhaps you’ll recognize some of the film locations as you view my photos. We had time to visit some of the places in the village itself, including gift shops, etc. We also explored the “Lacock Tithe Barn”, which was something run by the church as a place for the faithful local farmers to bring their tithes, in the form of produce. Very old structure, interesting concept!
We found a nice little restaurant attached to one of the shops so we decided to take advantage of the timing and have a pleasant repast.
I was browsing the menu and found something right away that caught my interest – it was an entry for a food that I had never heard of, but the description was intriguing, so I took the plunge and ordered ‘Faggot’! You can see by the picture what it looks like, and it turned out to be quite tasty! It was one large meatball (much firmer that meatballs we are accustomed to), with onion gravy and mashed potatoes. Quite hearty and good!
From the gift shop/restaurant, it was on to the Abbey, which was a delight to explore, not just because of the HP movie. This place, just as so many others we visited, exuded HISTORY! There were nuns living there for centuries, then when they left, a private family moved in and lived there for 500 years! How many years has *your* family inhabited your home? Probably less, I’m thinking! Please spend some time with the photographs, I think you’ll get a sense of the age of the structure.
After Lacock (which was a wealth of memories), we drove on to Bradford-On-Avon, another village chock-full of history and wonderful stone buildings. We discovered another ‘tithe barn’ at Bradford – same deal, constructed as a storehouse for the produce of surrounding farms, brought there to help support the church. And, see the sign on the left? I’m thinking of putting one of those out in front of our place! 🙂
After leaving Bradford-on-Avon, we drove on to the ancient town of Bath, named for the hot springs there and the bath complex constructed by the Romans. We got checked in at the Abbey Hotel and still had a little time for exploration that evening. Later, we all went to the Sally Lunn restaurant (said to be in one of the oldest buildings in town). Many of the items on the menu were variations of a theme of ‘food served on a bread base’, that base being the ‘famous’ Sally Lunn Bun. Hmmm, never heard of it before, but we all enjoyed the ambiance and the food.
Our hotel was situated in an older section of the city and I was able to garner some really good photographs (in my estimation), so I hope you have time to give them a look. I’ve used a number of them as ‘wallpaper’ for my computer.
Tomorrow, we’d have a day to explore the old city, the Roman baths, and the magnificent cathedral. I was amazed at ALL the cathedrals I encountered on my visit to England. You see the exterior of the cathedrals and it’s just amazing – then you go inside, and the wonder continues! HOW did they put those those things together, a thousand years ago? I’m still marveling at it.
Well, here are the photos – enjoy!!!