England Diaries - Part II

DAY 2 SIGHTS SEEN: Roman Baths, Assembly Rooms, Costume Museum, The Bath Abbey, the Circus, Pultney Bridge.

Day 3: Warwick Castle 

mdbath.jpgWe spent the morning touring the Roman Baths and then Bath itself. I have to say, Bath and so many other towns in England look almost too perfect to be real. Have you ever been to an amusement park and they'll have a "Village" where all the buildings have fronts to make them look historical or age appropriate? That's how all of England looked to me--like fronts had been put up to fool the tourists. The towns were just too charming to appear real--very "Pride & Prejudice" like.

Late in the afternoon we returned Mom to her room and Blair and I went off exploring on our own. We walked to the Windmere area in Bath and while searching for a certain church, accidentally ended up in a residential area.  This was a great treat as it had people, not tourists. We saw kids in green blazers and school ties hopping out of their parents cars with backpacks loaded with schoolwork.  People were gathering their mail. It was like getting a glimpse behind the village.

We thought we were near a path famous because Jane Austen had frequented it and got very excited when we saw a sign. We looked at the sign and pointed a camera at the sign. Blair jogged over to it and jogged back.

"Well?" I asked.

He shook his head. "It's a neighborhood watch sign."

I'm sure people were laughing at us behind their blinds.

cottage.jpgThe next day, Tuesday, we drove 2 1/2 hours (got lost again!) to Stratford-Upon-Avon, home of the Bard. We visited Anne Hathaways Cottage which has one of if not the oldest thatched roof in existence. For those not in the know, Annie dear was Shakespeare's wife. She was 26 and he was 18 when they married and she was pregnant to boot. (Those authors are a wild bunch).

We then went to Shakespeare home which has the oldest floor in England. I admit to a shiver of delight knowing I was walking across the exact floor Shakespeare himself had crossed.

The excitement at lunch that day was that Blair and I bought some Turkish Delight. If you've read The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, you know Edmund asks the White Witch for Turkish Delight. As a child, I never knew what this was and imagined it to be some sort of meat pie. In fact, it's a gummy like candy coated in a sugary powder. I learned this when the movie came out. So when we saw some pieces of Turkish Delight for sale, both Blair and I were excited to try some.

We bought "Rose" and "Vanilla" flavor. I popped a bit of Rose into my mouth and instantly tried to suppress my gag reflex. Here's a tip: If you ever have the chance to try Turkish Delight, don't. Yuck! Blair liked it more than me, but this is a man who likes gummy worms and the marshmallow peeps at Easter, so whose judgement are you going to trust?

headlock.jpgFrom  there we went to Warwick Castle, one of if not the most well-preserved castle in England. And hey, what's a visit to a castle without the traditional cheesy "I'm in the stockade!" picture op.  We also had great fun insisting Mom climb the narrow, circular steps of the Tower. I stayed on the ground while she and Blair climbed just so I could take pictures (you had to climb many outside stairs before entering the tower and climbing even more stairs). There was a dungeon to tour with truly frightening instruments of torture. It's almost impossible for me to imagine people suffering through what they did.

We ended the day by driving, in the rain (there's a shock) back to the airport so we could drop off the rental and take an express train to London. We arrived at Victoria Station, loaded for bear with our bags. Blair went off to find directions and a cop ambled over to Mom and me and gave our bags the once over. He raised an eyebrow. "Traveling light, eh?" I love the dry English wit.

We made it to our hotel which did not look anything like the glamour shot on the web site. It was a fourth floor flat which was lovely as we had our own living room, kitchen, and separate bedroom for Mom, but it was sparse and HOT.  I was ready to throw the Rick Steve's book out the window as that's how we found the place.

But it grew on us. We slept with the windows open and a lovely breeze quickly cooled the apartment. It was our first of many nights sleeping with open windows and I grew quite fond of it. Air-conditioning is somewhat of a rarity in England but what struck me is how often I use my AC when I don't really need it. In most of the hotels we stayed in, I was quite comfortable with the windows open but I know for a fact that if they'd had AC, it never would have occurred to me to open the windows and find a breeze.

Join us tomorrow for more exciting and astounding "Adventures in England!"