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Spring 2005 - Southern England - Last Night near Heathrow
April 29 - May 29, 2005: Four weeks in England
Our last night at a hotel near Heathrow and flying back home.
Saturday May 28 - Last night
We leave Mortonhampstead at 10:30am and drove and drove and drove. It was the Saturday of a Bank Holiday weekend and the A303 through Somerset was thick traffic. We decided to stop for lunch in Bradford-on-Avon, a town we had loved on our 2004 trip. It was not much out of our way. We got there by 1:00pm.
We parked near at the train station, then walked into town and had a lovely lunch at the Old Bridge Tea Rooms (we had lunch there on our 2004 trip). The restaurant is in a very small old building and the food and service are excellent. The tables are close together and we got talking with the couple at the next table. They told us about the weaver's cottages just across the river and how to get to them.
After lunch we walked up into the weaver's cottages. The whole hillside above the river, right in the center of town, is full of beautiful old row houses, originally built for the weavers who worked there. There are a few roads, but you can climb up paths and stairways to get to the rows of houses. Some houses are not even on roads. This was just the most perfect area we had seen. You could live here on the hillside in a lovely old house with views out over the town and river and countryside, but you would only be a five minute walk from the center of town.
Weavers Cottages, Bradford-on-Avon
As we were leaving the area of cottages, we stopped to coo at a cat on a roof. The door we were standing in front of opened and the cat's owner appeared. We had a lovely chat with her - she is a writer - and about living there. Idyllic.
Left Bradford at 3:00pm and got to our hotel in Maidenhead around 5:00pm. We used the GPS to direct us to the hotel, and still managed to get a bit lost. It is in a very small village near Maidenhead.
Wendy and Richard joined us around 6:00pm and we took a stroll around the village square before having a lovely meal at the hotel.
Steve, Wendy, Pauline, and Richard about to go in to dinner
About our Hotel - Inn on the Green, Maidenhead
We booked this hotel because they have a good restaurant. Wendy and Richard (from the message board) live nearby and we had dinner with them. It was a short drive from there to the airport in the morning. 170 ($300) for one night. Our room was very nice and the hotel grounds are lovely.
Sunday May 29 - Flying Home
We had breakfast at the hotel, then drove to the airport (Heathrow). Dropped the car off at the airport and took a 1:20pm flight from London to Phoenix, arriving 3:55pm.
We spent the night in a hotel in Phoenix and flew home the next morning. This was a mistake. It was a long weekend and the hotel was full and noisy. I had to call the front desk to complain about people standing and talking really loud and smoking on a balcony just outside our room. Note to self: Never stay in Courtyard by Marriott again. It would have been better to just fly home that day. I thought it would be relaxing to have an overnight on the way home, but it wasn't.
At least the location was okay. We could walk to a Thai restaurant in Scottsdale for dinner. But we were so jetlagged and tired, that we just wanted to be home.
We flew home the next morning. Happy to see our remaining cat Spike, sad because Butch was not there.
As a footnote, Spike never settled into being the only cat. Even though he appeared to ignore his brother for most of his life, I guess he was attached to him. He meowed a lot more than usual and seemed unsettled. Two months after we got home, Spike went out one night and never came back. We heard the coyotes on the hill behind our house that night, and I think that was what got him. We searched and searched for him, but finally gave up hoping after a couple of months.
The purpose of this trip, other than to have a nice vacation, was to find a place in England where we will rent a house for a year. We thought Devon would be it, but it wasn't. I loved Devon as a place to holiday, but I don't think it is for me as a place to live.
We fell in love with Bradford-on-Avon and if we could find a house right in town, we would live there. But I have been following the available rentals, and it does not seem like many of those lovely old weavers cottages come up for rent. We will also consider other towns around Bath, but worry that the area may be too busy. I think we will end up in the Cotswolds somewhere. Rent a house for a year, do lots of hiking and then trips to continental Europe by train or flying from Bristol Airport. Current plan is to make the move in fall 2006.
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