So far, we have been travelling around England for three days and it is clear that we will only get a very superficial look at the country in the time that we have available. I am also very pleased that I bought my pocket GPS – it just makes driving so much easier! I am also finding it hard to take lots of photos as when you see some nice piece of countryside, there is never a place to stop and there are always half a dozen cars behind you – even on the most rural roads.
We arrived at Heathrowe at 5.00 am on Wednesday (May 17), picked up our car – a little Peugot 307 and drove straight to Windsor. We left our bags at the hotel and by 7.00 am we were having coffee in a little café in town. Windsor looked very nice with no one in the streets at this early hour. We walked across the Thames River to Eton and saw the college. By the time that we had returned, the Castle had opened at 9.45. We spent over two hours looking around and enjoying the grandeur. The state rooms were magnificent! I didn’t know that ths castle occupied such a large area as it does. St George’s chapel was also a very majestic church (no pun intended). After a few dozen photos we set back to the streets in town which were now filled with people. Oh, the benefits of an early start! We wandered around town for a while, looked at the old station site, past the Guild Hall and walked down a part of the Long Walk. By then it had begun to rain so we retreated back to the the hotel.
On Thursday (May 18), it was my birthday, and as it turned out, we had a day looking at two spectacular cathedrals. We had a late start leaving Windsor as I had left the parking lights on overnight and the car battery was as dead as a Mandarin Duck in a Chinese restaurant. We couldn’t get going until the AA man came and got the car started.
Our first stop was at Winchester to see the very grand Cathedral. Quite a grand place – its one of those places where you need to see a photo to appreciate it. The BBC were filming another show Elizabeth I and so there were no entry fees. Coffee and a late morning tea in the cathedral shop and from there we drove to Salisbury to see the next catheral. We could see the spire from miles away and we could also see once we were inside the cathedral how the weight of the spire had visibly bent the main columns. This building is just a little larger than the average parish church! It even has cloisters. We had lunch in a café in the market square and a quick look around the shopping area.
We finished the day with a side trip to Stonehenge and then a drive through the charming area of New Forest to Lymington where we stopped for the night. Dinner in the pub (kings Arms).
Yesterday, (May 19) we had a long driving day and I think that we should recosider how much we are trying to fit in. The countryside was very pretty with lots of villages sperated by green fields and woods. It was interesting to drive along some of the country lanes between hedgerows. It was also very green. Devon uis an especially nice area.
We tried to stop at a couple of seaside towns along the way to look at the beach but the rain put us off. It was also hard to find anywhere to park where we could easily get out for a good look. However the little towns of Lyme Regis and Sidmouth did look very scenic as we drove through.
We were travelling along the highway towards Dorchester when we saw a turnoff to the village of Tollpuddle. We decided to stop there and see the musuem which remembered the small group of martyrs who were arrested for forming together in an attempt to create better working conditions for farm labourers. They were transported to Australia as a result. This little village with thatched roofs and a little Village Green seems to be a very innocuous place for one of the more significant events in trade union histroy.
Our second stop was at the little village of Cerne Abbas near Dorchester, where we looked at the giant figure carved into the chalk on the hillside and then had a good look around the village with lunch at the New Inn pub. Some of the houses there were built in the 1500’s.
We continued our driving day bypassing Exeter and then across Dartmoor to Plymouth. Dartmoor certainly lived up to its reputation as a bleak place. It was raining constantly and the fog meant that visibility was down to a couple of hundred metres. At one stage, we went through the little village of Princetown which hosts the famous Dartmoor prison. It was too dark and wet to getanything more than a glimpse as we drove past. This area would certainly be more scenic on a sunnier day. However, you take the weather as it comes!
We found a B&B in Portsmouth by about 6.15 pm
last night and had dinner in a Cypriot / Greek restaurant next door. I am typing this at 5.30 am and plan to use the free wifi connection in the B&B’s lounge to upload it to the server..