Saturday, July 30, 2016

Southern England, Monday July 18

For our three week tour we connected with Great British Escapes on-line and asked for country charm, history, culture, walks, and good food and they proposed our itinerary.  And with their help GB delivered.  

After a travel day from Florence and a stressful drive from London on the left side of the road, we were relieved to find sheep in their pasture and a swan gliding on the Avon behind our inn.  On our morning stroll through this bucolic setting we met Gaston, a retired aristocrat, and had a private tour of his beautiful flower and vegetable gardens (the good work of his personal gardener).  The owners of the local pub (one Michelin star!) were just as friendly as were fellow travelers we met there.



Wiltshire was our introduction to single-track "roads" - one car with occasional wider spots where one vehicle has to wait until the oncoming one passes.  They are everywhere in rural England and Scotland and you are lucky to average more than 20 mph on them.  


Laycock Abbey was a delightful treasure of political and religious history (a copy of the Magna Carta), scientific invention (photography), and cinema (the cloisters and the village have starred in many films - Harry Potter, Sense & Sensibility, War Horse). 
   

Castle Combe


The informative display at Stonehenge expands one's perspective on its function at the center of a much larger ceremonial area over thousands of years. 


We enjoyed the organ recital and tower tour at Bath Abbey, including the inside working of the huge bells and the clock.  "Persuasion" and "Northanger Abbey" came to life as we walked the streets and saw the places mentioned in Jane Austin's novels on our self-guided tour.  



Thomas Spackman, 5th ggf on my line, was supposedly born in Bath in 1741 and buried in Bristol in 1814 at St. Stephens in the center of town.   It is now surrounded by modern high rises.  We couldn't find anyone with knowledge of what happened to the graveyard.  

Our next stay was in Minster Lovell at the Old Swan.  We walked the beautiful Cotswold hills and vales from Stanton to Snowshill and back, relishing the pastoral views, the sheep, and the wild flowers.  Our day concluded with a feast in Chipping Campden.  








Sunday we attended the ward in Coventry before paying our respects to Richard III whose bones were recently found in Leicester, county of Sue's Hicken ancestors.  Just outside that city are the rural hamlets of Woodhouse and Burton-on-the-Wold, where they lived. 

As in all travel, it is the interaction with people that makes a  trip memorable.  At Dyrrham Hall, in their restored Dutch gardens, we discussed British and American politics with a husband and wife who work at the estate.  At church we met a missionary, Sister Beazer, from Tom's hometown of Cardston Alberta and  a man  from Lethbridge where Sue used to teach high school.  We ate breakfast one morning with a delightful couple from London and exchanged addresses.  Several people asked about our name tags and what kind of work we did in Africa. Most knew nothing about the church let alone temples, so we have had the opportunity to plant some good seeds.  A couple from Tucson, AZ approached us on the street and we discovered they were in the same ward as the Underwoods and Bullocks -- both families were in our ward when Tom was the Bishop. It has been a great week.

Dyrrham Hall gardens













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