London, Cotswalds & Lake District part of our UK trip…Summer of 2010

By Sri.
The London and Cotswolds  part of our UK trip (summer 2010)

Our family of five, started our trip from london, ..  We had this division of uneven numbers… which proves difficult while trying to find accommodations in Europe! 

I had repeatedly warned parents and DW to pack light… Little did I know that the parents would pack a world of food stuffs… All because of some misguided vegetarian people who told them “you won’t get anything to eat”! Someone told my Mom “I took a pressure cooker with three kg rice when I went for a month”… I didn’t want to offend my parents by calling their friends morons!!

We made a mistake in deciding to stay at a friend’s B&B in Romford.. Though we experienced homely comfort there…, we missed out on the feel of the city! The one hour transit time by tube meant that we were more interested in getting back home than to explore the night life. 

Having said that, we did have some fun in London.. Our first impression was pathetic.. London was going through a heat wave, and we didn’t appreciate the heat, coming from sweltering Delhi… … But eventually being fun loving, we enjoyed our trip..

The high “touristy” points were a visit to the Tower of London, St Paul’s, Buckingham palace and Trafalgar square.. 

The tower of London was partly eerie, partly tranquil, and worth the trip.. The memorial at the scaffold had these words.
‘Gentle visitor pause awhile : where you stand death cut away the light of many days : here jewelled names were broken from the vivid thread of life : may they rest in peace while we walk the generations around their strife and courage : under these restless skies”

We got on to the HO HO bus and also did the “Thames river cruise”.. Our experience was mixed.. You do get to see more of the city this way, but miss out on people interactions.. And miss out on food, great photo ops..

                                 …not to forget the quintessential London tube…

Hungry, after a day of walking, we ended up at Trafalgar square, we asked a man on the street, for the closest, wholesome food..  And his recommendation was spot on.. We landed up in the Sherlock Holmes pub in Northumberland Avenue.. It started off bad… with mother and sister mumbling darkly about the follies of these men folk… Thoughts of drunken orgies and unsafe trip back home.. (This despite my telling mom repeatedly that pubs are great places for vegetarian wholesome food and nothing like pubs in India!)

Our experience..Two vegetarian soups of the day, two pies with vegetables, a side of a salad, and beans and everyone was full!! I even got to try some ale with dad… I wanted him to try some pale and Golden ales.. And I m glad to say he really liked them..

Another great “foodogasmic” experience was the Burrough market, which we visited one evening! We sauntered into a very famous cheese shop called Neal’s yard Dairy, where we sampled and bought a variety of “oh-so-yum” cheese n crackers!

..right from mushrooms, truffles, flavoured olive oils, vegetables, fresh foods…meat…and baked goodies!

.….sampled a couple of Ales at The Market Porter…

Spent an evening shopping on Oxford and park streets…which was a drag for me n dad but a highlight for the ladies!!

Unfortunately, couldn’t see much of theatre in London or the parks.. But surely..Next time!!
After London, we took our car from the same company we used in Spain,, and drove off to the Cotswolds.. The heart of England..
Stonehenge was definitely on a priority visit list, as we had seen enough pictures, in magazines and online and were enamoured by it….but after reaching there, somehow.. was majorly disappointed… it was a very hot, sunny day…long queues…ended up taking pics and continuing on..

We managed to see a few white chalk horses.. Large white horses painted on hills by ancestors.. now maintained by locals..

Thereafter we went to Salisbury on DWs insistence.. (I had got DW to read the Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follett, about a cathedral builder in Salisbury, Thomas Beckett etc..). 

Eventually this was one place we were happy to visit.. a tranquil cathedral, despite its enormity and popularity… Had lunch at a Pizza Hut, with pizzas better than the generic pizzas we were used to..

the Salisbury Cathedral has the tallest Church spire in the United Kingdom!

Along the way, we tried tender great english and scottish strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries!!

Onwards to Cirencester from Salisbury, where we were staying at the Ivy house B&b.. An incredible and very warm welcome and great stay.. We were in touch with Paul, our host from the beginning, and he gave me plenty of helpful tips.. Their lovely beds, hot chocolate and cookies by the bedside and incredible hot breakfasts had my parents impressed.. In fact all through the trip, Paul became the gold standard of a B&b owner..

One odd thing.. My appetite while driving was almost double normal. So I gorged on omelettes, crisp bacon, sausages, baked tomatoes and hash browns, granola with curd, and coffee… Whew! I got exhausted writing that down…

We liked Bourton so much that we came twice, once with the peak of tourist traffic, and secondly in the evening.. After getting disappointed by our visit at Moreton.. (Our experience of reaching a place to find everything closed down at 5 O’clock was the norm.)The difference was that many of the parking spots had mechanical bollards that could be lifted up… We parked in a side lane, went to a flea market, didn’t buy some fabulous crockery, and tried some great chocolates instead… Rhubarb, and marmalade flavors !! We had dinner at a place I recalled having read about..

We did go to the college dining hall where harry potter’s famous, Hogwarts dining hall ,was shot.. It looked much smaller than the movie!!

Afterwards I persuaded dad to try out a golden ale.. I love the look that comes on dads face, whenever he tastes something  good.. Be it a cheese, chocolates, a curry or an unexpected great ale

                                  .. punting on oxford’s river

We climbed back into the bus drove back home tired and satisfied…

Next day, we planned to visit Bath.. To not only see The Roman Baths, but also have some typical English tea, with crumpets and scones.. A word about scones.. I developed an obsession for scones, with butter, blueberry compote, cream and fresh berries.. And I didn’t want to only eat.. I wanted everyone to wallow in the fruits, the scones, the carrot cakes…

I made everyone traipse up to the tea room on the first floor after checking out menus in multiple such small tea rooms.. 

When we got back to the b&b, I finally realized how much my parents had brought along …just in case…. We decorated one King size bed with all the food.. And it was crazy.. Every day I wanted to go out and try out the local cuisine, I d get” we ve got so much stuff,why dont you eat here”…

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