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2004 Fall England/France Archives

August 13, 2004

We leave in two weeks

Two weeks from Monday we head out for seven weeks in England and France. I have a lot to do to get ready, but we are starting to get organized for the trip.

Six nights in Bath
We fly into Gatwick, get met by a car service and driven to Bath (2 hour drive). We have 6 nights in an apartment in Bath.
Catherine Place Apartment

This is our special treat on the trip. The apartment is more expensive than we usually pay and the car service turned out to be more than we thought it would be, but we will have a wonderful start to the trip. We did not want to be in as big a city as London at the start, but we wanted to be in a city where we could walk out to restaurants and shops.

We have only done day trips to Bath before and are really looking forward to having a week there. Wendy from the UK sent me a book on Bath and it has an aireal photo that shows the apartment we are in (marked by a red arrow).

catherine_place.jpg

Car Rental
We pick up our rental car on the Friday. We thought we would do a daytrip from Bath to Dorset on the Friday and maybe another trip on the Saturday.

Four weeks in the Cotswolds
On the Monday, we drive to Winchcombe, in the Cotswolds, for four weeks in a cottage on the edge of this small town. We booked through Great Trips Unlimited.
Princess Elizabeth Cottage

It is a 2 bedroom/1 bathroom apartment, right in a town with shops and restaurants and a pub (of course). Walking trails start from the town.

Info about Winchcombe:
www.winchcombe.co.uk

We go to Provence after this - more details to come.

September 18, 2004

Having a wonderful time!

It will be three weeks on Monday since we left and I have not posted a single blog entry! I have been taking notes and writing up pages for the website (new England content!), but have not had a good place to work on the computer until now.

We spent our first week in Bath and LOVED it! The apartment was great - just behind the Royal Crescent in an historic building - and there was lots to do in town. We obsessed over the Kennet & Avon Canal and walked most of it from Bath to Bradford on Avon, then saw all the locks at Devises. I am almost done a page on this canal for SlowTrav.

We met Gavin from the mboard, and his wife Cheryl and friend Jane for lunch the day after we arrived. It was wonderful to meet Gavin, who was as nice and interesting in person as he is online.

After our week in Bath, we drove up to Winchcombe in the Cotswolds. We are here for a month. The cottage is not perfect, but its location is. Winchcombe is now my favorite Cotswolds town. We got settled in, did a long hike one day and then Stephanie from Rome arrived (Webfabbrica on the mbooard). That was a week ago Thursday and she left this morning.

We had a wonderful week with her, but she is in great physical shape and I am a total wreck after a very busy last six months, so our days on the walking trails consisted of Steph and Steve skipping up the hills and me slogging up them. I made up for it on the downhill though - left them in my dust! We walked nearly every day, visited many tea shops, walked through beautiful villages, had many dinners out, had a lovely dinner out with Jonathan from the mboard and his wife Philippa, went to a great concert at the Pitsville Pump Room in Cheltenham which featured Jonathan on flute and Philippa was in the orchestra on Double Bass, but got a solo too!

We had two weeks of great weather, but the last week has had some rain. We got pretty muddy on some of the walks. We have access to a laundry room here which is really handy - because we come back soaked thru!

We are off to Surrey to spend the afternoon with Wendy and Richard (WendyAsh and Ricardo on the mboard)! More later - - but we are having a lovely time, getting good exercise, loving England (and thinking about spending more time here next year).

September 20, 2004

Rain, sunshine, rain ... Mud

For the first two weeks we had summer weather. Hot and sunny. A bit too hot, considering I had packed all fall weather clothes. The third week was colder and weter. We had days with rain and sunshine and some overcast days. On most of our walks we had some rain.

Today we woke up to overcast, then rain, then no rain, then rain, then sunshine, then overcast. We went for a woodland walk that was very muddy (Guiting Power, a town and woodland just a few miles from Winchcombe).

mud.jpg

September 29, 2004

Instructions for Visitors

Last night I went into the laundry room of our vacation rental complex and found a man leaning over the dryer and reading the instructions on the wall. I asked if he has finished with the washer. He told me that he was, but that he could not figure out how to work the dryer and the instructions made no sense at all. From his accent, I would guess he is Dutch. He was very frustrated and almost shouting.

The washer and dryer here are American Maytags. I don't know why - maybe these are common in England - I have never run into them here before. But, I know how they work. I walked over, turned the timing dial to 60 minutes and pressed the start button. The dryer started.

Welcome to my world buddy. I can't count how many times I have been standing and staring in a laundry room, not knowing what to do, when a local person came up, pressed a few buttons and everything started working.

To be a good citizen, I explained it to him. He was astonished that you actually turned the dial to the number of minutes!

October 3, 2004

Today we got mugged on the trails!

Our last day in England and we wanted to get in a last walk, but the weather is bad today. We had breakfast at our favorite Winchcombe Tea Room - The Old Tea House - a perfect place on a blustery day. It is a cosy tea room with only 9 tables in a very old building on the High Street. The ceilings are beamed and low. The room is beautifully decorated with cute tea memorabelia, the tables and chairs are comfortable and are kept spotlessly clean, and - - the food is great! We have had several breakfasts here - poached eggs on toast, a mug of coffee (sometimes a second one), and a toasted tea cake. (We are going on a wheat-free diet as soon as we get home.) 12.20 GBP for the two of us (not cheap, but nothing is here).

It was overcast and cold, but not raining, although rain was predicted. We bundled up and drove ten minutes up the road where there is a selection of those perfect Cotswolds villages. We parked in Stanton and did a very short walk (just over an hour) from Stanton to Laverton, then back along the hillside. We did this same walk a few weeks ago when Stephanie was with us.

Half way through the walk, as we reached Laverton, it started to rain. Not heavy rain, just a light drizzle. We put on our rain jackets.

It was in the second last field on the hillside approaching Stanton.

If you walk in the Cotswolds, you must not be afraid of farm animals. The fields are full of sheep (who run away if you get near them, but stare at you from a distance as if to say "what are YOU doing here?"), cows (who like to have their noses rubbed and will form a line to follow you as you walk across their field), and those bad-boys of the farm world, horses.

You must also not be afraid of walking through the shit from all these guys. That is not just mud you are walking through, it is mud enhanced with sheep, cow or horse shit.

The horses sometimes ignore you, sometimes watch you and every so often come over for a nose scratch. Our mugger was big and beautiful and grey and he came over enthusistically as we entered his field (climbing over a stile). We patted him and perhaps got too friendly. His "hey how are you doing" soon turned into a very aggressive "have you got APPLES in that pack?". I had forgotten about the apples (I keep them in case of emergencies - no tea rooms!!). I was patting him, he was trying to snap at me, I was giving him a kiss, he was trying to nuzzle my jacket.

Then Steve walked on down the trial and I tried to follow, but this horse would not let me pass. He backed me up against the fence even. Luckily, I had horses for several years when I was a kid, so I know how to deal with them (mostly). I pushed him back and made my way past. He followed close behind, now nuzzling my back pack. I made it across the field to the stile, but he was right behind me and came right up to the stile, not letting Steve get by.

It was then that we figured out what he wanted. I got the apples out of the pack and gave him one. He loved it. I threw another one to Steve who lured him away from the stile with it. Then Steve was able to get out of the field.

It was Steve who turned to me as we were walking away and said "we just got mugged!".

We have been in England for five weeks and I could stay for a year. I don't want to leave. I love it here. I love being outside for so much of the day, doing hours of walking every day and being on the hilltops, in the fields and in the woods. I love the rain and the cool temperatures. I love the huge trees and the beautiful views and the villages.

Monday we leave for France. 12 nights there, then back to London for 3 nights and then home.

Here our some last England photos from today - walking in the rain at the end of our walk.

steve_3198.jpg

pauline_3197.jpg

October 5, 2004

A Month in the Cotswolds

I think perhaps that spending a month in the Cotswolds and thinking you understand what life in England is like, is similar to spending a month in Beverly Hills and thinking you understand what life in the US is like.

October 21, 2004

Home Again!

We are back home after a wonderful trip to England and France! As much as I loved the trip, I was overjoyed to be back home. We were away for seven weeks and it felt a bit too long. I think five weeks is perfect for us these days. We used to be able to do seven to ten week trips, but now it is harder to be away that long. Partly because of work, partly because it just seems like a long time.

After all the time in England, it was shocking to see the brilliant sunshine in Santa Fe. It is turning cold here - there is a bit of snow on the mountains - but it is beautifully sunny.

The week in Bath was perfect! We had a lovely apartment behind the Royal Crescent. We met Gavin and Cheryl for lunch one day and did lots of walking and exploring.

Spent four weeks in Winchcombe - a perfect location. Did lots of walks and exploring the area. Spent a lovely Sunday afternoon with Wendy and Richard! Spent a week with Steph (WebFabbrica) - she came up to England to see us. Lovely dinner out with Jonathan, Philippa (Jonathan's wife) and Stephanie one night, then saw Jonathan and Philippa perform in a concert in Cheltenham (and got a backstage tour), another lovely evening at their house before we left.

Winchcombe weather started off sunny but turned a bit rainy on and off for the last half of our time there.

Flew Bristol to Nice and spent 12 nights in a house in Goult, a village in the Luberon, near Apt. Loved the house, loved the village, loved the Luberon, loved France! Visited with Kaydee and her family. Spent a lovely evening with Kevin Widrow and his family on their wine and cherry estate. Turned out we were only a 10 minute drive from where Kaydee is staying and 10 minutes in the other direction to where Kevin lives.

South of France was hot and sunny the first half of our time there, but then we got some rain. We visited Aix en Provence and Avignon - loved both cities.

Flew back to England for a last 3 nights in London. Went out for a fabulous dinner and play with Lisa. Spent Sunday afternoon with BeeBee and husband (and lovely dog). Another dinner with Lisa on our last night. Had the world's smallest hotel room - but we loved the area (Earl's Court).

It was turning into winter in London!

Now we are back home and getting caught up on things.

October 25, 2004

Prettiest Cottage in the Cotswolds

This cottage was across the lane from where we stayed. It is on a quiet road that goes from Winchcombe out to a few smaller towns. The Gloucester Way Trail goes right by it and it is beside big open fields and woods. I loved the overgrown garden and the big apple tree.

One day we say someone working in the garden and she left a box of apples outside the gate with a "help yourself" sign.

winchcombe_2797.jpg

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Views from the Slow Lane in the 2004 Fall England/France category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

2003 Winter Rome & Naples is the previous category.

2005 Spring England is the next category.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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