Heading out from London, onwards to Salisbury, we detoured towards Stonehenge which was on our priority visit list, as we had seen enough pictures, in magazines and online and were enamored by the concept. As most overly anticipated things in life, it turned out to be a wee bit disappointing, with long queues on a very hot day and hordes of tourists, so we clicked a few mandatory pictures and continued on.
We managed to see a few white chalk horses which are large white horses painted on hills by stone-age ancestors, now maintained by locals.
Thereafter we went to Salisbury Cathedral on DW’s insistence who had recently read “The Pillars of the Earth”, by Ken Follett, about a cathedral builder in Salisbury, Thomas Beckett, etc. We had to park our car outside the city and take the bus to town.
This was one place we were happy to visit with a tranquil cathedral, despite its enormity and popularity. Had lunch at a Pizza place and ambled a bit along in this small cute town.
The night stay was in Cirencester, where we were booked at the Ivy house B&B, an incredible and very warm stay. We were in touch with Paul, our host from the beginning, and he gave us plenty of helpful tips. Their lovely feathery beds, shimmering hot chocolate, gooey cookies by the bedside and incredible hot breakfasts had the entire family impressed. In fact, through the rest of the trip, Paul became the gold standard of a B&B owner.
One odd thing I noticed was that my appetite while driving, was almost double normal. So I gorged on omelets, crisp bacon, sausages, baked tomatoes, hash browns, granola with curd, and coffee… Whew! I got exhausted just writing that down. Not to forget the scones and the crumpets slathered in Butter!
We loved Bourton-on-the-water, so much that we came here twice, once in the afternoon, on the way to Oxford, with lots of tourists milling around, and again in the quieter evening. 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, but forgetting the name…
The afternoon at Oxford was again memorable. Again, like Salisbury, we had to park outside town and take a bus to the city center. We visited the Christ Church college mainly to see their famous dining hall, featured as the Great dining hall in our favorite Harry Potter movies, though very charming, it looked much smaller in real life than in the movie.
Dad and I shared a golden ale. I love the look that comes on dad’s face, whenever he tastes something good, be it a cheese, chocolate, a curry or an unexpected great beer, his face lights up with a surprised delight!
We climbed back into the bus drove back home tired and satisfied…
The next day, we planned to visit Bath, to not only see the famous Roman Baths but also sample typical English tea spread.
A few words devoted to scones: I developed an obsession for scones, scones with butter, scones with blueberry compote, with fresh cream, and with fresh berries with tea, with coffee, in the morning, and any time of the day. of course, this was in the good old days before I developed Gluten-sensitivity but I guess, there was so much scone happening that summer, I deserved a lifetime of penalty!
When we got back to the hotel, and before heading out for dinner, Mum again tried to tell us to eat indoors. I finally asked her to empty out all their bags, to realize in horror, how much food my parents had brought along for a ‘just in case scenario”, which in reality looked like an “end of times scenario”. We decorated one King-sized bed with all the food…and it was crazy. I have a picture to prove.