Travel to London and the English Countryside - May 1998
England - May 1998
We left Chicago for London on the 8PM flight on Wednesday, May 13, 1998. We were traveling with our friends, Ed and Leslie (that's them on the right). We all sat on the second level of the Boeing 747, they call it the "Bubble". You have more legroom and the seats recline more when the upper deck is laid out for World Traveler (economy) Class. There are 27 seats when the upper deck is World Traveler and 12 when it's Club. They also try and keep the upper deck free of children and mostly for business people who can't afford Club who are paying full fare. It was a good flight and we got some sleep. We arrived at Heathrow on Thursday about 9:40AM. It was raining but the pilot assured us it would "burn off", it did. We took the Airbus into the city for £6 each, about $10, so Ed and Leslie could see the city, we sat on the upper deck in the front and it took over two hours to get to the President Hotel on Southhampton Row and Guildford Street across from Russell Square. The traffic was terrible. We should have taken the Tube, about 55 minutes from Heathrow to Russell Square. By the time we arrived at the hotel it was quite warm. We checked in and cleaned up a bit. Can't lay on the bed, you have to stay up until about 9 or 10 PM and by tomorrow you'll feel better. We walked over to the corner of Southhampton Row (Kingsway) and Theobalds Road (Vernon Place). One of the interesting things about London is how they number and name the streets. A street can change its name just about anywhere. These two streets both change their name at this intersection, hence the four names, one intersection. We actually went to this intersection to get to a smaller street named Sicilian Way that runs between Vernon Place and Kingsway. It's out tradition to take Christine's picture here on the first day of our visits to London. We also like an Italian Restaurant here, the Spaghetti House. I stopped in and "booked" a table for four for dinner that night under the name Giovanni Vittoe. We walked up Shaftsbury Avenue to Monmouth Street. A ticket broker is on the corner and we've been buying tickets from them for years, it has now changed hands but we bought tickets for "Buddy" anyway. We've seen most of the plays since 1983 so this choice was made on the spot. You pay a premium at a ticket broker (a couple of £'s) but they will tell you what's available and call around for you. If you're only going to be in town a few days, this is easier than walking from box office to box office. They also have brochures if you have no idea what's playing. We walked to Piccadilly Circus, her Trafalgar Square down Whitehall, looked in at Number 10 Downing Street and stopped in at the War Cabinet Museum. It was very interesting, when the war was over, everyone just got up and left. Later, they made it into a museum and it's worth a visit. We then stopped at a pub for a drink. We got to Westminster Abbey only to find it closed for a Florence Nightingale Ceremony. In addition to that bad news we also found out that you now had to pay to pray. I guess the church of England noticed that the Queen was charging for a tour to Buckingham Palace and she was really cleaning up. They closed the main entrance and usher everyone in the side door so they can charge £5 a head. What if you really wanted to pray? Walked by Big Ben and Parliment Square.
So instead of Westminster Abbey we took a walk along the Thames and then took the Tube back to Russell Square. It's easy to take the Tube in London. Buy a ticket from the machines based on where you are and where you want to go, insert the ticket in the turnstile and follow the signs. Make sure you keep your ticket to exit. The fines are expensive if your caught riding the Tube or Bus without a ticket. On the bus you just get on and find a seat, the conductor will come and take your money, make sure they give you a ticket. You can buy an all day pass after 9:30 AM. We found it was the best value. That way you can jump on and off the buses and Tube all day. I've always felt the day pass was a better value than the weekly passes because many times you have a few days you only walk. If you're in good shape, you can walk everywhere. The daily passes are different prices depending on the number of zones you want to cover. Most times Zone 1 or Zones 1-3 are more than adequate.
Once, we ended up on the Tube without a ticket and when we got off at Picadilly Circus the man wouldn't let us exit without a ticket so I pretended that I couldn't speak English and we just stood in front of his booth saying "ticket?" We were blocking the other people trying to exit and they were pushing around us, shoving in their tickets so he finally just signaled us to go on. Having been a former ticket agent in the Chicago subway, I thought he might do that. I wouldn't try that too often.
When we went to dinner we were welcomed at the Spaghetti House like old friends because of the name Giovanni I had given them not because they recognized us (but Ed and Leslie didn't know that) and we got a very nice table outside. We've never eaten here when it was warm out, most of our trips to London have been in cooler weather. We were only disappointed in the waiter's dress, they wear black polo shirts in the summer rather than the white shirts and black bow ties we were used to. During dinner we met Sean Duffy and his wife Janet. Sean was a very interesting character, he owns the flower shop in Sicilian Way. He took Christine over to the shop and gave her some flowers and even made a sale of orchids to a couple who came in to buy while they were in the shop. Sean and Janet were entertaining a Polish couple and Sean was all excited about the upcoming soccer match between Manchester United and Arsenal (I think). Never could understand the excitement for soccer or football as they call it in England.
We had a great meal; the lasagna is great. Then we walked back and stopped in the Russell Hotel bar, very clubby. One thing about England, many hotels have nice areas where you can get a drink in a clubby atmosphere or get some tea in the afternoon. Don't be afraid to stop in, what's the worse they can say, no?
The next day we went down for breakfast at the President Hotel, it's not a fancy place but the hotel is more than adequate and the price booked through British Airways is right. The continental breakfast was better than I remembered and the coffee was good. We took the Tube to Westminster Abbey and took a tour, did some brass rubbings and then explored the Close. Many tourists ignore the cloisters in some cathedrals and they miss out. We found some nice quiet area in the Close with a garden surrounding a fountain. We walked around Victoria Station. I like the older train stations in Europe. It's like going back into the past. Just watching the people is fun. Outside, we found a sign that said "Free Advice Here" and Ed stood there but no one asked him anything. Ed and Leslie went into the National Galley and Christine and I went to St. Martin's in the Fields for a noontime concert. We listened to a relaxing Schubert piece. They pass the "basket" but otherwise it's free. We then stopped in the basement, they call it the Crypt, for coffee. Meeting Ed and Leslie as planned, we went to the Salisbury Pub on St. Martin's Lane. It's just north of Trafalgar Square and a decent pub for lunch. We ordered drinks at the bar, then food at the lunch counter and then sat outside. Christine and I shared a cheese and pickle sandwich. That's cheddar cheese and chutney pickle on white or brown bread, very good.
After lunch we walked over to Covent Garden. It's not like it used to be, no more antiques so we jumped on the Tube to Knightsbridge and visited Harrods food court. We couldn't afford anything at Harrods so we back to the hotel to get ready for dinner. We decided to stop at the Russell Hotel for a drink before dinner, it's sort of our Club now. They give you some nice snacks too.
We went to a Greek restaurant for dinner, family run and very good. It's across the street (Southhampton Row) from the Royal National Hotel. Good prices, especially for London. Took a cab to The Strand Theatre to see Buddy. Very enjoyable, especially the second half. I've talked to a lot of people who go to London without experiencing the theatre, big mistake. It's worth the money, the theatres are small and I've enjoyed all but one play in the past 16 years.
Saturday- Breakfast and then the Tube to the Tower of London and saw the Tower Bridge. There is just so much history here. We did not make a reservation for the Ceremony of the Keys in the evening and I was sorry. This Ceremony, when they lock up the Tower at night, is one of the best shows in London and it's free. Send a letter to The Governor, The Tower of London, Tower Hill, London EC3 4AB a few months in advance and they will send you free tickets. You have to be there promptly at 9:30PM and only if you have a ticket. They've been doing it since 1066 so I'm sure it's still done. I've attended it twice and it worth the time. You cannot get the tickets in London.
Then we walked back, stopped for lunch at the Hung, Drawn and Quartered Pub, ate outside, much nicer than it's name. Stopped at St. Paul's Cathedral, walked to the top, good stretch of the leg but worth it for the view. Took a bus to the British Museum and had a quick look around. You must see the Rosetta stone, the Elgin Marbles, which is the interior of the Parthenon in Athens, and a copy of the Magna Carta. We skipped the Magna Carta as we knew we could see a copy in the Chapter House at Salisbury Cathedral. If you see the Magna Carta, where King John gave the people some rights, look at the Papal Bull near it where the Pope told him he couldn't do that! Stopped at the Museum Tavern (pub) a favorite of mine, I know it hasn't changed since 1983, some say Karl Marx hung out here. It's right across the street from the entrance to the British Museum. Friendly, and a nice place to stop for a drink or coffee. Yes, you can stop in a pub just for coffee.
Went to Soho for dinner, ate at an Indian Restaurant (Taste of Maghal). The staff kept re-arranging things on our table. It got to be a game, we would move something and they would come over and put it back. Every time they brought some food they would re-arrange the table as if only they knew where everything belonged. Sort of like the dessert spoon and fork you will notice in front of your plate on the table in England, as soon as you sit down and order, they take them away. Then, if you order dessert, they bring them back. Sort of like letting you know in advance that they have them if case you want to order any dessert. There was a "girlie show" across the street from the Taste of Maghal. Not many are left in Soho, nothing like it was in the early 80's.
After dinner we walked through Leicester Square, there was a carnival and people were everywhere. Walked down the Embankment, jumped on bus and ended up on Oxford Street. First, Ed had to take a picture so I took his . That's one of the nice things about a daily pass. Walked back to our hotel.
Sunday-Ed and I went to get the car over near Marble Arch. We arranged for the car through British Airways. I called several places in the States but could not get a better deal. Alamo was the BA choice and they wanted me to sign a statement admitting to all damages, it was blank. "No way", I said and asked to speak with the manager. He agreed that I wouldn't have to sign it as it was blank but it didn't matter as they stapled it to the copy I was going to carry with me. I wonder how many people just sign things without asking: "what the heck is this?"
We left London and headed for Pluckley, the most haunted village in Kent. Pluckley is a nice small town and we visited the church and the pub for lunch. It was Rogation Sunday and we saw a lot of people out walking. The vicar explained that it was the one day of the year you could walk freely through the apple orchards so, of course, we did. Lunch at the Black Horse Pub was very good. We sat outside and there were many families out having a "Sunday Roast". We've had them before and they are very filling, we usually eat a light lunch but it's hard to find a pub on a Sunday that will serve a regular lunch, most only serve the "roasts". A bird made a deposit on Christine's sweater, one of the hazards of sitting outside. We drove down to Dover, saw the "white cliffs" and proceeded north to Walmer Castle, home of the Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports. The current Warden is the Queen Mum and we took a tour of the gardens and the house. Wellington was one of the Warden's and the staff dress as they would have in his day. They also act as if he was still alive, at least I hope they were acting. One guy in the garden told us about the battle of Waterloo; he used vegetables on a table to show the troop movements. He told us a lot of gossip about Wellington and the ladies of the town. The Queen Mum visits the castle once a year and brings her own television. The castle and two others were built by Henry VIII to repel the French. They said the cannon could fire one mile.
We had tea and coffee in the tea room. Most attractions like castles and gardens have a place to eat and the food is usually pretty good and inexpensive. We drove around and ended up in Canterbury. It's hard to find a place to stay when two couples are traveling together, you have to satisfy four people and some smaller places have one very nice room and one or two other rooms. We ended up staying at a place that turned out to be sort of a boarding house. It was okay. We had not planned on stopping in Canterbury so we hadn't done any research. In retrospect, we should have gone into the city and stopped at the Tourist Information Office. Most towns have an office or smaller towns have a Bulletin Board in a central car park. Went to eat at the Anchor Pub, good food.
The next day, Rogation Monday, we stopped to tour Canterbury Cathedral and walked around the town. Stopped and bought some sandwiches for lunch and started driving west. Stopped near Ascot to eat lunch and Ed decided to drive. He did okay until he took the left side mirror off. We stopped, picked up the pieces and continued on our way. Stopped at Avebury to see the stone circles, walked around the town. We drove to Boyd's Farm near Gastard, south of Chippenham. We've wanted to stay here and have stopped several times but have never taken the time to book a room in advance. No luck, they were filled. They made some phone inquiries but nothing available. We drove to another place where we had stayed before but the people who own the place were walking out the door for a few days holiday. They also own the George Inn in nearby Lacock which is a great place to eat. They took the time to phone around for us but no luck. Stopped at another place but it turned out there was police convention in the area. Called the place we were booked to stay in Chagford, Devon, for the next three nights and they had room so we decided to drive straight out to Dartmoor. First we stopped at the George Inn for dinner and then jumped on the Motorway. We got to Chagford around 9:30 PM. Geoff, the owner of Heylands B&B, greeted us and we dropped off our luggage, went straight into town, a 3 minute walk, and stopped at the Ring 'O Bells Pub. Off to bed.
Tuesday- Chris walked up to Nattadon Hill before breakfast. Another beautiful day. Had a nice breakfast and then we drove over to Tavistock for the Pannier Market. Spent the rest of the day driving around Dartmoor. Stopped to walk a little at Two Bridges, stopped at Hounds Tor and walked over the top to the remains of the medieval village on the south side. Stopped in Chagford to pick up some cold drinks and sat on the lawn at Heylands. Geoff was just finishing up cutting the grass and it was 7PM, still light out. This is a beautiful place. They sold it in late 1998 and it is no longer a guesthouse. We drove over to Drewsteighton for dinner at the Drewes Arms. This pub has great food, very old too. I had Smoked Cod and Cheese Bake, just like a fish pie. All during our meal the church bells kept ringing, turns out that there was a bell ringing competition so after dinner we walked over to watch. Then we walked around the cemetery. Went back to Chagford, the Ring 'O Bells was closed so we went to the Buller's Arms for ice cream and coffee. You don't have to drink to visit a pub, many people just stop in for coffee. The Ring 'O Bells is what I call an "upscale" pub, nice place for a drink, food and coffee. Nice background music and a friendly owner. They also have rooms for the night. Chagford is a nice place to visit. Quiet, plenty of nice walks and several pubs in town. Some nice dinner pubs are also within driving distance. It's right on the edge of Dartmoor.
Wednesday-Took a walk out of Chagford towards Gidleigh Park, crossed the Teign River on some stepping stones. Ed and Leslie were very agile on the stepping stones. Tried that before but the water was always too high. We walked up a path that used to be the road from Murchington to Chagford a couple of hundred years ago. Sort of felt like we had gone back into the past. The path was deeply rutted, high hedged walls, and dark from the high trees. We took a wrong turn and left the National Trust property, ended up on a Mr. Padley's land near Murchington. He was very nice and said it was all right to walk through his land. It's always polite to ask. We met him a few days later at the "Jumble Sale" in Jubilee Hall. Mr. Padley's land is beautifully landscaped and has some water cascading through it. Took a round about way over Chagford Bridge to Rushford Bridge and back to Chagford. Took a few pictures along the way, Crossing the Gate, Christine resting, Ed and Leslie, John and Christine , and John and Leslie. Stopped at the Ring 'O Bells Pub and sat in their rear garden. I went back to the room and rested, Christine did a little shopping in town. Then we all met on the lawn for tea. Stopping for tea is one of the more civilized and appealing customs in England. You can stop at a pub, a hotel, a restaurant or a small tearoom. Chagford is a nice old town with a Post Office, and two ironmogers which are like hardware stores. Across form the churchyard is The Three Crowns which has been here since at least 1645 because the poet and Cavalier Godolphin was shot by the Roundheads in the front hall.
Wednesday night we had all been invited to dinner at the house of Alec and Peg, two old friends we met in Chagford in 1987. We alternate taking them to dinner or going to dinner at their house. This was treat for Ed and Leslie as it gave them the chance to see how the English live. In addition, Peg is a real good cook. Here's the dessert Peg made. Alec took us on a tour of their garden and then we had dinner. Alec had a bottle of Hungarian Bulls Blood wine for dinner. We had a pleasant evening talking and then we took a group picture .
Thursday, I walked up to Nattadon Hill overlooking Chagford with Christine, we saw some ponies and later we drove back up with Ed and Leslie because the views from Nattadon Hill were really great. Took a picture of the four of us with the Devon Countryside in the background and one of Ed and Leslie . Took another picture of Ed and Leslie. Later, we drove to Fingle Bridge and walked around a bit, then on to the Oxenham Arms in South Zeal for lunch. We met Geoff and Esme Thompson from our B&B for lunch. This is another of my favorite pubs, it dates from 1477. It has very good food and nice rooms. After lunch we drove to the castle in Lydford, a nice old place to walk around. Afterwards we stopped in the Castle Pub which is next to the Lydford castle. We also visited the church in Lydford. Next, we drove across Dartmoor and stopped at the clapper bridge in Postbridge on the B-3212. This is a nice drive across Dartmoor. Dartmoor is barren, the result of prehistoric people who cut down the trees on the high granite Tors (hills). The valleys surrounding Dartmoor are still green with trees, Chagford is in one of these valleys. Then over to the village of Lustleigh to look around. Back to Chagford, tea in the conservatory at Heylands and then we walked into town, dinner at the Ring 'O Bells Pub. Great meal, cottage pie. Here are a few more pictures of the gardens at Heylands. Garden 1, Garden 2, and Garden 3.
Friday-Another beautiful day. We went to the weekly Jumble Sale, sort of a flea market, that they have every Friday at the Jubilee Hall. Bought some things to use in our garden at home to remind us of Chagford. One was a heavy iron rain gutter box that we now use as a planter. We also bought a concrete object at the market in Salisbury, hope everyone on the plane doesn't have stuff this heavy. Left Chagford and drove to Rosemear Gardens, near Great Torrington. Ed and Christine are really into gardening so we toured the gardens. May is spectacular month to see azaleas and wisteria in bloom. We ate outside in the restaurant. They had some very good potato and leek soup.
We continued on to Lynmouth where we had booked some rooms at the Tregonwell B&B . We were welcomed there by Clifford and his wife and invited to sit down at an outside table and have some tea. It's very common to be invited to have some tea when you first arrive at a guesthouse or a B&B. We've stayed at quite a few places in Lynton and Lynmouth over the years and many of them have changed hands. Geoff Thompson, from Heylands in Chagford, says the only way you can get away from John and Christine is to sell. Now that they've sold Heylands(in Jan 1999), maybe he wasn't kidding. After freshening up, we stopped at the Pub in the Rock House Hotel for a drink. It's changed owners again, hasn't had a steady owner since around 1990. Maybe these people will make a go of it. We also stopped across the harbor at the Rising Sun for another drink. A view of Lynmouth and the Rock House Hotel while walking down the hill. Lynmouth has a lot of history, including the poet, Shelly. Legend has it he brought his 15 year old bride here in 1810. The Rising Sun has been there since that time, the Rock House only goes back to 1850. The Rising Sun doesn't do bar meals in the evening (just lunch) so we went back to the Rock House for dinner in the pub. The harbor in Lynmouth is a fun place to be. This link shows a view of Lynmouth from the end of the pier. It opens in a new window and is 145K, but it's a great view! In Lynmouth, you can really see how high the tides are every 12.5 hours. At low tide the harbor is dry and the boats sit on the harbor bottom, at high tide they are about 30 feet higher. The tide is always coming in or going out. We went outside and fed the seagulls after dinner.
Saturday-May 23-The weather turned a little cooler. Before breakfast I walked to Watersmeet with Christine. It's about 3 and one half miles round trip. It was nice to get there before the crowds. Watersmeet is where the East Lyn and Hoar Oak Rivers come down off Exmoor and meet. The resulting river then meets the West Lyn River at Lynmouth and flows in the Bristol Channel. We could hear the river all night, very nice for sleeping. Breakfast at the Tregonwell B&B is in a little room and it was filled with friendly people and good food. We decided to do the Woody Bay - Hunter's Inn walk along the sea. Beautiful views along the coast and straight drops 1000 feet down to the sea. There were a bunch of young men in uniform about a half mile behind us marching along. They eventually caught up to us and stopped to rest. They were some kind of military group. One was bleeding and Leslie gave him a Band-Aid. At a point where you can walk up the hill to the upper path we chose to take it back so we could go to the Woody Bay Hotel for lunch. It was a hard walk up to the higher path . They have spectacular views along the coast from the pub windows. Hunters Inn is down in a valley.
We drove back through the Valley of the Rocks and I dropped everyone off in Lynton, the town overlooking Lynmouth and went back to the room. They shopped for awhile and then took the cliff railway that links the two towns. The cliff railway is water powered. Two cars are connected to the same cable that runs through a wheel at the top and they run on the same tracks. One at the bottom empties a water tank and the one at the top fills a tank with water. The difference in weight causes the one on top to go down and the one at the bottom to go up. Where the two meet the single track becomes two tracks so they don't crash. The process is reversed for the next trip. You get a nice view on the ride and it's better than walking.
We asked Clifford, the proprietor at Tregonwell to book us a table at the Le Bistro restaurant across the river and he did. Good thing as it was crowded. We got a nice table and the food was very good. Walked over to the Rock House for a nightcap then back to the room for a good nights sleep. Listened to the river.
Sunday-After breakfast we all walked to Watersmeet. Here's Christine on the Bridge over the Hoar Oak River at Watersmeet. Here we are under the giant oak tree outside the Watersmeet Lodge . It was more crowded than Saturday morning. You can drive and park at Watersmeet but you still have a long walk down the stairs. It's much nicer to walk along the river from Lynmouth. There is an old hunting lodge at Watersmeet and they serve tea and lunch. We just had coffee and watched the people and their dogs. Quite a few people walk with well behaved dogs in England. Since it was Sunday, we knew most places would had a Sunday Roast. We know of a pub on A39 road called the Culbone Inn that serves lunches on Sunday so we went there. The proprietor always remembers us. I had their famous mulligatawny soap, very spicy. We then drove east to the town of Dunster where there was a fair. Saw some sheep shearing and a place where you could pay to throw three balls to try and break some dishes. Wish we could have bought the dishes. Dunster is nice old town to visit, there is a castle and a nice old church that has a great wooden screen that separated the monks from the townspeople, seems they couldn't get along and this was the only solution the bishop could think of. So much for brotherly love. On the way back we drove around the north part of Exmoor (Stoke Pero, Dunster Beacon, Selworthy, Porlock, etc.), beautiful.
We went to dinner at the Ye Cottage Pub on the road between Lynton and Lynbridge. We sat in the dining room overlooking the West Lyn river. Lynton and Lynmouth are slightly touristy. Not nearly as touristy as the south coast of Devon or like the city of Minehead on the north coast. They have many "daytrippers" that come by bus in the morning and leave around 3-4. There are plenty of hotels, guesthouses and B&Bs. There is not a lot of shopping. Lynton is high up on the hill and Lynmouth is about 800 feet below, right on the sea. It's quiet and peaceful at night and there are plenty of very nice walks. There are quite a few places to eat, pubs, hotels and restaurants. Exmoor is full of small villages, pubs and places to walk.
Monday-Left Lynmouth and drove east on the A39. Found a massive "car boot" sale (outdoor flea market) and stopped. Everyone was out walking, the weather was beautiful. Stopped at a few places along the road and eventually got to Bradford on Avon and ate lunch at the Bridge Tea Room overlooking the Avon river. This is the perfect example of what an English Tea Room should be, quaint, cozy and lacey. Bradford is about the most southern of the "Cotswalds Villages" and is a nice place to visit. They had a family fun fair and we walked around. Then we walked over to the canal path and visited the Tithe barn, said to be one of the largest left in Europe. Looks like you could play a game of football in there. It's pretty old and peasants came here to leave goods in payment of the tithe to the church. The canal is behind the barn. You can walk along the canal and since it's level, it's not a hard walk. People rent canal boats and tie up along the canal overnight. You can watch the people jump out of their boats and operate the locks. The walk towards Bath is nice, there is a spot at Avoncliff where the canal goes over the Avon River and the railroad tracks. There is a real nice pub at Avoncliff, the Cross Guns, that has an excellent evening menu. There's a train station at Avoncliff and you can take the train to Bath or back to Bradford. The level walk along the canal path from Bradford to Bath is about 3-4 miles. We walked back to Bradford where we stopped at an antique auto display. Since we had never seen old English cars, we were quite impressed.
We arrived at the Malvern House in Salisbury and were greeted by the owners, Jack and Frieda. They offered us some tea and we brought them up to date on our lives since our last visit and they told us about their planned family reunion cruise to Alaska in July. Most B&Bs and smaller Guesthouses in England will treat you like an old friend on your second visit. You'll know it when you call to book a room and they tell you it's not necessary to send a deposit. There are many places to stay in Salisbury and it's one of our favorite towns. We try and arrive there at the beginning and/or end of our trip because it's close to Heathrow and London. You can make the trip easily by bus or train too. We like the Malvern House because it's small, three rooms, it's right on the Avon River and it's a short walk into town. Here's a picture of Ed and Leslie eating breakfast. The Salisbury Market Days are Tuesday and Saturday.
Walked into town along the river path and ate at the New Inn right outside the Cathedral Close. It's a non-smoking pub and they have very good food. They have several log fires and it's not "new" it's very old.
As I mentioned, there are many small hotels, guesthouses and B&Bs in Salisbury. For a splurge, try the Old Mill in Harnham. A short walk along the town path through the meadows with the Cathedral in the background. A nice quite place, ensuite rooms and nice pub and restaurant. They have the river running right through the restaurant.
Tuesday-Market Day, went to the market, had a great time. They had stalls of flowers , more flower stalls, and vegetables. It's like a giant outdoor K-Mart. We bought some heavy concrete Grecian wall replicas, how will we get them home? Unfortunately, Christine has a weakness for heavy pottery and we've had some interesting episodes getting this stuff home on the plane. We took a tour of the outside west front of the Cathedral while Ed and Leslie took the tour of the roof and tower. We've taken the roof and tower tour so we thought we'd take the outside tour while they still had the scaffolding up. It was okay but the roof and tower tour is better, the best £2 you'll ever spend. Ed and Leslie had a good time. The Cathedral was built in 1220-45 and the roof beams are still original. You can see the vaulting from above, walk up into the tower (built in the 1300s), and then go outside the tower for a great view of Salisbury and Old Sarum.
We walked to the Old Mill for lunch. Went back to the town, did some shopping and then back to the Malvern House for tea in the breakfast room. Salisbury has a lot of stores for shopping. We drove to the Lamb in Hindon for dinner. The lamb is one of our favorite pubs, friendly and big log fires. It's really a hotel and you can get the same great food in the restaurant if you want to pay a little more. A note here, many smaller hotels have very good restaurants and pubs. The food you eat in the pub is frequently the same as they serve in the restaurant and it's cooked by the same people. The restaurants are quieter and have more ambience but I still like the pub. The food in the restaurant is usually more expensive.
Wednesday-Took a drive to Stonehenge, didn't stop long, you can actually see it well enough from the road and you can't walk among the standing stones anymore. If you have a car, the best view of Stonehenge is as you leave Amesbury westbound on the A303. After a large roundabout, you go over a hill, Stonehenge is ahead in the "V" of two roads, where the A360 veers off to the right. Stonehenge is between the two roads. Turn right on the A360, drive a short distance and pull into the free car park. You have to pay to walk under the road and walk around the stones on a path. It's also nice to drive here at night, when the moon is out. We've done it and there are guards but they didn't mind. Drove to Avebury to walk among the standing stones. This is sort of like Stonehenge except it's spread out all around the town and you can walk among the stones. Avebury has a nice pub, the Red Lion.
Drove back to Salisbury and parked by Old Sarum. Most of Old Sarum is free and the part you pay to go see isn't much. You can see the foundations of the old cathedral that was struck by lightening right after it was finished. There was a fort up here but they had a lot of "bad luck". The bishop and the soldiers didn't get along and there was a water problem. It's also very windy. They dismantled the cathedral and used the stones to build Salisbury Cathedral. Nice views up at Old Sarum, worth a stop. You can walk it from town.
Drove to Downton, south of Salisbury, and stopped at the Moots Landscape Park, no flowers but many paths and levels connected by bridges for a nice walk. Drove on to Fordingbridge which was a nice town with plenty of shops; toured a china factory. The woman who gave us the tour was the original founder's wife and she was proud of the work they did. She kept hitting the china against hard objects to show us how strong it was. Drove back to Downton, bought some sandwiches and soda and had a picnic at the Moots Landscape Park. Went back to Salisbury and eventually met Ed and Leslie at Michael Snell's for tea, sat outside.
Decided to eat at the New Inn again. Walked around and then decided to turn in early. It's nice eating at an old pub and not have to come back to the room smelling of cigarette smoke. It's amazing how many B&Bs in England have become Non-Smoking establishments over the past few years.
Last morning in Salisbury, said goodbye to Jack and Frieda, wished them luck on their cruise. We went shopping for some cheese to take home and drove to Heathrow. Ed and I had put the broken mirror back on the car, it had a crack down the middle. We told the rental car agent about it but we never heard anything about it. We used our Visa Gold card for the CDW insurance but I guess a cracked mirror is no big deal. The paper work probably costs more than the mirror.
Had a nice flight home on British Airways, we took a limousine home.