Our English Roadtrip

We’ve had such an amazing, emotional week so far.  Our first trip over to England, the 9/11 bombings back in the US and then meeting our distant cousins for the first time.  When I think about the fact of this, it is astounding!  We are the first of our side of the family in five generations to go back to the homeland and connect with our family.  I’m not sure about William’s brother Thomas’ family, but in all of the research I’ve done I’ve never come across any evidence that a visit to England happened. Wow, that’s a big deal to me.

You can imagine how ready we are for a fun and interesting tour of England.  The countryside, the historical spots, many of the places that we’d read about all of our lives.

It took us two hours to get out of London and on the road!  We drove round and round and finally stopped at a News Agent and bought a copy of  “London A to Z”.  Had we not,  we would have spent our entire vacation trying to find the road out!  If you are going to London you need to pick up this book!

We actually start with one of the places we’ve heard about all of our lives when we headed south to Salisbury.  I had recently read the book “Sarum” by  Edward Rutherfurd and was excited to check out the cathedral.  It’s a beautiful city and very old.  The cathedral is magnificent!  It’s just massive and the grounds are a giant park.  The first thing we notice when we walk in is a book of condolences set up for the US.  I remember that I wrote in it and remarked at how kind the British people are to us, being from America.

 I find the architecture unbelievable.  It seems impossible that it was built so long ago with tools that we would consider primitive, and yet the carvings are very detailed.  The huge pillars and stained glass windows, the arches and the complicated design make you wonder if we could reproduce anything this lovely and detailed today.  I’m sure the cost would be prohibitive!

                                                                                                 

 We wanted to find a place to stay before it gets too late so we headed to the little building with the “i” sign.  At the time we figured £20 to £25  would be what we were willing to pay.  They always seemed  find us pretty nice accommodations for that price. We stayed at a B&B called “Castlewood” which seems very nice if not particularly clean, it also smelled like cigarettes even though it was “no smoking”.  It did however have a good breakfast the next morning.

For dinner that night we went to a pub in town and had a really fun evening sitting and talking and laughing together.  An older gentleman and his wife give us their condolences and he got very choked up about it.  My mother in-law says it’s because he remembers the blitz, which is probably a pretty fair guess.  We were all touched deeply by this.

The next day, 9/19, we get an early start for Stonehenge.  On the way out of town  we see a sign for “Old Sarum” and decide to check it out.  You could only drive down the road a short way and then it was fenced off.  The site didn’t open until later and we wanted to get on the road.  We decided to hike the short way up and take a look.   We couldn’t actually see the site of old Sarum from here, but we look  out over a valley,  just a pretty meadow with images in our heads of the past lives lived here.

If you read my previous post of “Funny Travel Stories” you will know the fun we had in the parking lot of Stonehenge!  Marcie and I got the little phone like device that you put to your ear to hear what little they actually know about what Stonehenge was used for.  It is an amazing place though.  It used to be completely open and you could climb on the stones but it’s fenced off now.  I read an article about historical places that are getting worn and ruined by so many thousands of people walking, climbing, touching etc.  So now it’s a protected site, still, you get to walk completely around it and listen to the history that we do have.  It’s hard to imagine that it was built so long ago without modern equipment.  Human ingenuity at it’s best I suppose.  It’s surrounded by farm land with a highway right next to it.  Cars and trucks whizzing by these ancient stones, the past and present literally side by side.

                                                                                    

We head north to the market town of Marlborough and have a lovely lunch at The Polly Tea Room.  The food is delicious and they have beautiful baked goods.  We discover cream teas,  an extraordinary treat,  but we are on vacation, so we indulge.  Some rather gorgeous shortbread goes with us for later,  and then we circle around and head for the town of Warminster for the night.

To be continued……

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15 thoughts on “Our English Roadtrip

  1. I get quite excited and emotional reading about your tour of my country through a first time visitors eyes. We are prone to take our heritage for granted sometimes which is sad. As for the architecture and strange stones everywhere, some of these have been brought from hundreds of miles away, I believe Stonehenge’s monoliths are from mid or north Wales. I have the sneakiest feeling that our ancestors were not as ignorant as we believe them to be and have been told that deep in the archives of the British Museum are hidden toy aeroplanes salvaged from ancient sites, and kept from the general public because they can’t explain them away. Also, we only have to read historical archaeological heiroglyphs to realise that people, thousands of years ago, had amazing structural and judicial societies. Makes my head buzz sometimes!
    Keep writing Linda. I love it!

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    • I know, I am actually amused sometimes when learned people look at some ancient artifact and come up with an explanation for it. No one is alive today that actually knows, so it’s really just a guess or opinion. The most interesting thing to me is the fact that something that a person touched or made survived over time. That is truly the magic. So many beautiful places in England. I think I was amazed at how such old buildings are kept up. It’s a sign of quality. Here we have buildings that are 30 or 40 years old and so run down you just wish for a bulldozer! I agree with the statement “There is nothing new under the sun”. Our ancestors were just as inventive as we are, using what they had at the time. Look at all of the stuff that DeVinci experimented with, just a little ahead of his time.

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  2. Also ….. Neil’s friend did archaeology at University and he’d pick out a stone and say, ‘That’s an arrow.’ It just looked like a bit of old rock to us! Who knows exactly? I agree with you entirely.

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      • I do, but mine are never very wonderful….however my husband bakes the best scones ever…even better than my mothers. So I get to indulge far more than I should. If I’m being really naughty I’ll use clotted cream and strawberry jam 🙂

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      • All I can say is he’s definitely a keeper! I’m writing about my first visit to England when we got to eat cream teas for the first time. We seriously got carried away and ate them multiple times. After about the sixth plate of scones with cream and jam I felt like I was full right up to the top of my throat, like it wouldn’t go down. I stopped eating them for the rest of the trip and I asked my doctor about it later. She laughed and told me that it was indigestion from all of the fat!
        It all goes back to that old adage “all things in moderation”. lol
        This might be a dumb question, but are scones something that are different from different areas of Britain? Are scones regional, would you get different styles in Scotland, England, Ireland, Wales, etc?

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      • Lol….it’s easily done, there’s always room for that last half scone 🙂
        To be honest I’m not sure about regional differences….as far as I know scones are scones from Devon to the Highlands.
        I like cheese ones as well as the sweet fruit ones, but hubby doesn’t agree. His favourites are cherry scones. The clotted cream thing began in Devon or Cornwall, but has now definitely moved northwards 🙂

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      • Scones are dead easy Linda. Here is my fool proof recipe.
        8 oz self raising flour
        2 oz sugar
        2oz margarine
        5 fluid oz milk

        Rub the sugar and marg into the flour quickly as possible.
        Stir the milk in with a knife in a cutting action (you may need just a little less milk than the 5 fl oz)
        Turn onto a floured board and knead, making an oblong shape in the pressing out
        Turn
        fold into three
        Knead again
        Turn again
        fold into 3 again

        Do this kneading and turning half a dozen times or so then roll out to about 1 inch thick and cut into rounds.
        Brush the top with milk (if you can be bothered! I don’t bother)
        Place on a baking tray and bake in the top of a hot oven 425 degs electric or gas mark 6 for about 10 mins.
        According to your cooker, you may need less minutes. They are better undercooked than over otherwise they can be hard and dry.
        The kneading is the secret. Absolutely NO EGG, and add a few raisins in the dry mixture if you fancy.

        You know the rest, lashings of butter cream and jam!

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      • Thanks so much for the recipe. I’ll give them a try. Did you notice that we don’t have the double cream here in the grocery store like you do. I tried whipping heavy cream until stiff, but it’s just not the same. I have a Welch cookbook with old fashioned recipes in it that has one for clotted cream. It’s a days long process of pouring milk in a shallow pan and letting it set on the back of the stove for days, occasionally stirring. Do you have any suggestions that would be easier and less time consuming? For instance, could I use unsalted butter for similar results. I’ve had your scones and they are wonderful. The ones I made were heavier somehow.

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      • I didn’t notice that you don’t have the clotted variety, and you really need this as it doesn’t run all over the place. I’ll have a little think for you. Claire may know a good substitute. What a shame! I can’t imagine not having clotted cream.

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  3. ALSO ….. I have been known to nip out to the kitchen during the adverts and make these in readiness for the next break, they are that easy.

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  4. Incidentally Linda, scones with just butter and jam are equally delicious. We do that most of the time and only have clotted cream for special occasions, like when the Queen is popping in for a natter!

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