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……