Golden Cotswolds: England 3

Often when asked of my favorite color, I will reply orange. Or maybe yellow or green. Well, our next place in England was full of lovely colors. It was Matt’s birthday and we headed to the Cotswolds. This area in central England has been dubbed an “Area of Outstanding Beauty” and it lives up to the title. Some people when we told them that we were going to the Cotswolds, would say, “Oh, that is very chocolate box.” I had never heard that term but one man described it as a lovely scene like one that you would see on a chocolate box.  So Matt got a box of chocolates for his birthday, well at least the beauty.

On our way to the next B&B, we stopped at The Duke of Cumberland’s Head for lunch. Our waitress explained that the pub was named after Prince Rupert. When I asked why it was only named after his head, she said (insert accent here) “Well, we can’t accommodate the rest of the body, really.”DSC_4468 2

Here is the birthday boy while waiting for his lunch.DSC_4464 2

I’m not sure how many times I asked Matt to stop so I could take photos of the yellow fields. It seemed so difficult to get a photo I liked to show their bright loveliness. This one almost does it.DSC_4471 2

We stopped at a place called Rollright Stones. They were prehistoric stones placed in different configurations. There were several that formed a circle and these stood together on what is thought to be an ancient burial place. The stones really showed off the yellow fields which we learned were crops of rape grown for their oil. We were told that they only plant it every third year. I was so glad that we came on a yellow fields year!DSC_4499 2

When we arrived at our next destination, Corsham Field Farmhouse, I was thrilled with the view.DSC_4990 2

Our hosts, Robert and Julie Anne, were such gracious people and lots of help to figure out what sights to see.  DSC_5220 2And there is so much to see in the Cotswolds, rolling hills, sheep farms, ancient churches, beautiful palaces and yellow stone villages. It seemed difficult to capture its beauty with the camera. But I certainly gave it a try on the few days we were blessed to be there. I’ll always fondly think of this area as the Golden Cotswolds.

Read the rest of the adventure: England 1, England 2

Or start from the beginning with the portion of our trip in Italy: Italy 1

Enjoy some more photos from the Cotswolds! Please share my blog with others and I’d love for you to subscribe!

This shows the beautiful yellow fields and the stone houses of the the Cotswolds.

This shows the beautiful yellow fields and the stone houses of the the Cotswolds.

This pair of wild pheasants ate seed from under the bird feeder at our B&B.

This pair of wild pheasants ate seed from under the bird feeder at our B&B.

Larry and Cindy, who were from Minnesota and in their 70's, were walking on the public footpaths across the Cotswolds. We met them in an ancient church and then had dinner together.

Larry and Cindy, who were from Minnesota and in their 70’s, were walking on the public footpaths across the Cotswolds. We met them in an ancient church and then had dinner together.

We happened upon a cricket game and watched for awhile.

We happened upon a cricket game and watched for awhile.

Our hosts told us that gypsies were coming into town and not to be concerned. Sure enough, a field was filling up with campers, caravans and horses. Once a year they come to do horse trading.

Our hosts told us that gypsies were coming into town and not to be concerned. Sure enough, a field was filling up with campers, caravans and horses. Once a year they come to do horse trading.

A lady we met on the street told us how to get to "Bluebell Wood." What a glorious sight!

A lady we met on the street told us how to get to “Bluebell Wood.” What a glorious sight!

My view as I took a walk one morning while Matt was away working.

My view as I took a walk one morning while Matt was away working.

The skies in England can be so dramatic! I loved how it looked with the sun shining on these building with the clouds building up behind them. I hurried my walk back so I wouldn't get caught in the rain.

The skies in England can be so dramatic! I loved how it looked with the sun shining on these building with the clouds building up behind them. I hurried my walk back so I wouldn’t get caught in the rain.

It seemed every home had a sign with a name on it.

It seemed every home had a sign with a name on it.

St Edward's Church in Stow on the Wold looks other-worldly with the yew trees growing right next to the door.

St Edward’s Church in Stow on the Wold looks other-worldly with the yew trees growing right next to the door.

Chipping Campden.

Chipping Campden.

Most of the houses in the areas we visited had slate roofs. But this one looked so interesting with its thatched roof.

Most of the houses in the areas we visited had slate roofs. But this one looked so interesting with its thatched roof.

There are stone walls everywhere! But some are falling apart. Mike told us that volunteers are rebuilding the walls in some areas. They are using the dry stonewall method.

There are stone walls everywhere! But some are falling apart. Mike told us that volunteers are rebuilding the walls in some areas. They are using the dry stonewall method.

Broadway Tower was built as a folly. But it has a beautiful view from atop it and has an interesting history.

Broadway Tower was built as a folly. But it has a beautiful view from atop it and has an interesting history.

Part of the view from Broadway Tower.

Part of the view from Broadway Tower.

There are still red telephone booths all over. Matt found a geocache here.

There are still red telephone booths all over. Matt found a geocache here.

I kept trying to get scenic, chocolate box, photos without cars in them. But this shows how it is. Modern people living in quaint, yellow stone villages putting up with tourists taking photos. :-)

I kept trying to get scenic, chocolate box, photos without cars in them. But this shows how it is. Modern people living in quaint, yellow stone villages putting up with tourists taking photos. 🙂

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Every little town has at least one old church. They are called “sheep churches” because they were built during a time of prosperity because of sheep farming.

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When I saw this, all I could think of was Psalm 23, “The Lord is my Shepherd….He leads me beside quiet waters.”

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I’ve loved all the tiny wildflowers of the English countryside.

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England has public footpaths all over the place.We met several hikers.

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It was difficult to tell which buildings were really old and which ones were fairly new. There are regulations for building in the area. New buildings have to use the Cotswold stone too.

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These are the Cotswold sheep. Their wool is exceedingly strong.

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It was lovely walking along the water to the mill. We ate in a restaurant just behind it. We did so many things in Cotswold. I’ll have to write more posts about them!

 

Cambridge Memories: England 2

I awoke the morning we were to leave London with a bit of dread. We had avoided moving the car since we had parked it the night we arrived. But now, it was time to drive again, to Cambridge. It was daylight, so that was definitely an improvement over the last time we drove in London and as we made our way through the city I saw a sign that said, “Take Courage.” So, I took a deep breath, prayed and decided to be courageous. We actually went over the London Bridge as we left and in spite of the song, it was not falling down. Soon we were out of the maze of city streets and onto a highway headed for our next stop, Cambridge.

As much as we enjoyed our time with our new friends in London, I felt I could breathe easier in the open spaces. We didn’t have to travel very far before we came upon farms. There were bright yellow fields all over. How cheerful! I tried to grab a quick pic as we drove by.DSC_3999

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Worth House was great!! If you ever go to Cambridge, you’ll love staying here.

It didn’t take long to get to Cambridge and we found our new home. This time we would be staying for 5 nights as a base for Matt to work at three different sites. I was looking forward to settling in for a bit and hoped this place, Worth House, would be as nice as the reviews stated on TripAdvisor.

We arrived and our host, Guido, started off by saying that he was sorry, but they would not be able to serve us breakfast on our last morning. I didn’t think this would be that big of a deal, but then Guido said, “So, for no extra charge, we are upgrading you from a room to an apartment.” He then led us to a beautiful, spacious and comfortable apartment!

Guido and Maria. Such lovely people!

Guido and Maria. Such lovely people!

Guido had no idea what a blessing this was to a travel weary woman! This was just what we needed to recover from London, do laundry, and just plain old RELAX.

We settled in and then ate out at what I consider our first English pub.DSC_4007

Matt had the classic fish and chips.DSC_4010 2

We slept  well in our new home and the following day while Matt went to work,  I wrote a blog entry, and then decided to explore Cambridge. I had to walk and didn’t get far before I found a fun place to visit: Kettle’s Yard.  This had been the home of Jim Ede, a former Tate Gallery curator. He and his wife, Helen, collected works of art and displayed them throughout their home. I entered an unusual art gallery, laid out as a home, where you could sit in the chairs and enjoy the art.DSC_4108 2

I noticed many pebbles around the rooms and was told that Mr. Ede loved to collect them wherever he went and make them into spirals.DSC_4067 2

I took my time in Kettle’s Yard and before I knew it, Matt was back from his work. Now, we explored Cambridge a bit more thoroughly, together.  Of course we looked for geocaches. But I decided to wait in line at The King’s College Chapel while Matt looked for one of the caches. I met Ann and Glen in line.DSC_4179 2

These English ladies were waiting for Evensong in the chapel as well. I loved listening to their accents as we spoke. I realized how much better I fit in in this country rather than Italy. Being almost six feet tall and blue eyed, I stuck out like a sore thumb amongst the petite, dark-eyed Italian women. Here in Cambridge, not only could I understand what they said, but I noticed many tall women, lots of blue eyes and pale skin too!

Finally, Matt joined us and it was time for Evensong. We entered the beautiful chapel and were seated.DSC_4284 2

I couldn’t get over how magnificent the chapel was with its fan vaulted ceiling and medieval stained glass windows. Then the choir filed in and the service began. The acoustics were amazing! The bass singers sounded like deep, mellow instruments and the sound lingered on after the choir stopped singing. The evening sun shone through the stained glass windows and glorious color poured over the walls. I got goose bumps as the voices raised praises to God: “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son: and to the Holy Ghost; As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be world without end. Amen.” I had missed worshipping collectively on this trip and soaked in every bit of it. Afterwards, I expressed thankfulness to the choir minister and he kindly allowed me to take photos in the chapel.DSC_4181 3

DSC_4184 4It was a full day in Cambridge and I was glad to get back to an apartment with a tub. It was time for a soak with Epsom salts. So much walking! And we walked much more throughout our stay in Cambridge. We saw many bridges over the river Cam, but I still don’t know which one inspired the name of the town.DSC_4393 2

I did find out that in 1209, Cambridge University was founded by some students that had fled from Oxford, and the city is made of many colleges. We weren’t allowed in the colleges because it was finals week. But we sure did see a lot of activity. People scurrying everywhere on foot, in cars and especially on bikes. Lots of bicycles!DSC_4400 2

It took me awhile to warm up to Cambridge. I keep expecting England to be countryside with small towns. My first introduction was London and now the city of Cambridge. But I did come to enjoy it for its many styles of buildings, its bustling people, its free art museums and the glorious Evensong. Yes, I do have fond memories of Cambridge, UK.

Read the rest of our adventures here: England 1

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Me at the Fitzwilliam Museum.

Me at the Fitzwilliam Museum.

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Matt happy that he found a geocache.

Matt happy that he found a geocache.

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Many Faces of London: England 1

Things never seem to be as I expect them. Before this trip Matt kept expressing concern over driving in England. Not only would we have to drive on the opposite side of the road, but he would have to shift with his other hand. And then there are the round-abouts. I told him he would have no problem! Years ago, we had visited St Croix and they drive in the left lane but with the driver still on the left side. Matt had done great there and I had complete confidence in his ability to drive successfully in England. However, I was picturing quiet, country roads…

I was sad to leave Italy, my first taste of travel abroad. But work was still to be done in England, so we boarded a plane in Venice and headed to London. I admit it. We are green, stupid, American tourists. Since we knew we needed a car for driving all over England, we reserved one to be picked up at the Heathrow airport in London. I also had a B&B, 69 the Grove, all set up too. I didn’t realize that again, we would be landing in the dark and getting to the B&B late. So, I added 2 hours to when we landed and let the hosts at the B&B know our expected arrival time. First, though, there were several things to be done at the airport.

My answer may not have been the best as we went through customs. The official asked why we were coming to England. Matt explained that he was there for his job. She asked what I would be doing while he worked. In my tired state, I brilliantly said, “Oh, I’ll find things to do.” She looked stern and said, “Do you have a credit card?” Uh oh. I figured she wanted more identification then just my passport. I said, “Yes,” and started digging for it. She laughed and said, “I’m just kidding. I hope you have a credit card so you can shop while he works!” Whew! She let us in this new to us country: England!

It was much easier finding the Hertz rental car desk in London than in Sicily. This was going to be a breeze. We could understand everyone when they spoke! And we could read the signs. Then we approached our car. I headed to the passenger side where I promptly found a steering wheel. I laughed heartily. This was going to be fun. We settled into our appropriate places and Matt turned on the car. We were in England, so of course it was drizzling. And the windshield immediately fogged up. It took us a bit to find how to turn on the inside lights and familiarize ourselves with this new car. Matt set up the gps to take us to our B&B and away we went. It was fairly easy getting out of the parking lot. They didn’t even give us the choice of heading down the wrong side of the road. It was all clearly marked with arrows and divided lanes. Then the real fun….torture….began. The Brits are good at that, torture, but more on that later.

We were on a highway, in the dark, heading towards our next bed. Every once in a while, Matt would get very close to the curb on my side.  And the wipers. We didn’t need them anymore and yet he couldn’t figure out how to turn them off. So, here we are whizzing down the road, on the left side, trying to turn off the wipers and find the correct turns. I started getting nervous. We headed towards downtown London. In my planning, I thought it would be best to be close to all the wonderful places we wanted to see. Right? Suddenly, we were off the highway and into Friday night traffic in London.

We really aren’t city people. In fact, even though we live near Washington, DC, when we go there we never drive in the city. I guess we just usually avoid cities whenever possible. WHAT WERE WE DOING?!?! My confidence was wavering. In fact, I was starting to panic a little. Actually, a lot. Matt was really doing well in the circumstances. But, think about it. Here I was, sitting in what is usually the driver’s side for me, and I wasn’t driving this moving vehicle. I had no control and everything seemed all wrong. Matt every so often scrapped the tires on the curb on the left. It was difficult for him to know where the car was in the lane. And everything was moving the wrong way in the rear view mirror. This was much worse than I thought it would be.

Then, as it seems to go with this trip, we couldn’t find the B&B even though we were on the correct street. We crept slowly down the street but we missed it. We had to circle around, with round-abouts and one way streets, four times before we got back on that street. Rather than just trying to find the house number in the dark, we called and our kind host came out in the street to find us.

Our B&B in the daylight.

Our B&B in the daylight.

By this time, I was pretty shaken up. No way did I expect driving in England to be this scary! But we had a lovely room to settle ourselves into and a fun day to look forward to in the morning. I had a friend to meet for the first time!

How could she be a friend if I hadn’t even met her? I know people often criticize Facebook, but it can be enriching. I have found kindred spirits that I never would have found without it. One of them is Laura Moore. We met in an art journaling group and once she asked if I was going to paint that day. I told her I wasn’t because I was trying to find B&B’s in England for our trip. She said, “I live in London!” It’s funny; somehow I just pictured her as living in the USA like I did. I promptly asked if she would be willing to meet and she agreed. So, we were set to meet my friend at 11:00 on Trafalgar Square.

First, we needed to figure out how to get there from our B&B. After our previous night’s escapade, we did not want to drive anywhere else in London. The car would stay put until we drove it out of the city. Our host, Kanley, suggested that we take a bus to the square and pointed us in the direction of the station.

Our host, Kanley, was very helpful.

Our host, Kanley, was very helpful.

I really felt like a country mouse in the city. It was confusing and difficult to know what sort of ticket to buy. Someone told us to get an oyster ticket which would allow us to get on and off all day. So, we got one. But rather than bus, it looked like it was for the “tube” or subway. Actually, this was more familiar to us than figuring out a bus route since we ride the Metro back home. So, on the tube we went.

The tube was a lot like the Metro in Maryland.

The tube was a lot like the Metro in Maryland.

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Trafalgar Square

We got to Trafalgar Square a bit early. I hoped I was remembering the correct place to meet Laura and her husband, David. Would we find them in this crowd? Would we hit it off as couples? Or would we sit there with nothing to talk about?

I was grateful to Matt for being willing to spend our first day in England with people we didn’t even know. “We are meeting for coffee,” I said, “so probably in an hour or so, we will have to figure out the next thing to do.” I shouldn’t have worried.

What a highlight of our trip, meeting my friend, Laura and her husband, David.

What a highlight of our trip, meeting my friend, Laura and her husband, David.

Laura and David are wonderful people! We had no problems finding things to talk about like art, London, art, our families, art, life in general, and art. We did have coffee together, and lunch and dinner! Laura and David became our personal tour guides and took us all over the city showing us famous sights.

We had coffee with Laura and David in The Crypt.

We had coffee with Laura and David in The Crypt.

The Crypt.

The Crypt.

The beautiful church above The Crypt.

The beautiful church above The Crypt.

Somehow, I expected there to be an old part of London where I would feel like I stepped back in time. But everything was scattered together with modern buildings. Old and new altogether. History and potential all in one. It was fun finding the landmarks hidden by the beautiful new buildings. And as we walked, I looked at the many faces passing by us, each with their own history and potential. The many faces of London.

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While at The Tower of London, you can see the modern city of London.

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I enjoyed walking over the Tower Bridge.

 

The Tower Bridge

The Tower Bridge

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Big Ben is beautiful and we heard it chime several times.

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A view from St James park.

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I really wanted to go on the London Eye. But the queue was long and I decided against it. If I ever go back…

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Diana is remembered fondly here.

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The changing of the guard.

 

Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace

 

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I had read about this place which claims to be the inspiration for Dickens’ “The Old Curiosity Shop.” Laura and David had never heard of it and we had quite a time finding it. But here it was stuck in the middle of modern buildings.

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We had a gorgeous view from the Tate building.

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This is the Beefeater guide that we had at the Tower of London. Very entertaining. Here is he pointing to the Tower Bridge and instructing us to never make the mistake of calling it the London Bridge.

 

Our Beefeater made a point of explaining that this portcullis still works and is a “marvel of British engineering.”

Our Beefeater made a point of explaining that this portcullis still works and is a “marvel of British engineering.”

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You know how I love jewelry! The crown jewels were beautiful and fascinating. And they wouldn’t let me take photos.

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They always keep ravens at the Tower of London. The superstition is, “If the Tower of London ravens are lost or fly away, the Crown will fall and Britain with it”

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A beautiful cannon that a raven enjoyed as a perch.

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Many beautiful pieces of armor were displayed.

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Gorgeous workmanship!

 

The Tower of London held prisoners and many of them were tortured and executed. This is the ax and block from the last execution.

The Tower of London held prisoners and many of them were tortured and executed. This is the ax and block from the last execution.

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These guards were at The Tower as well as at Buckingham Palace.

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Typical view. Double decker buses, taxis and modern buildings.

 

We met this mother and son at the B&B. They were from Germany and invited us to come visit!

We met this mother and son at the B&B. They were from Germany and invited us to come visit!

 

More people we met in London. A couple from Hong Kong. It has been so wonderful to meet people from all over the world.

More people we met in London. A couple from Hong Kong. It has been so wonderful to meet people from all over the world.

 

We enjoyed London, but it was also a relief to drive out of it. Matt got us out safely!

We enjoyed London, but it was also a relief to drive out of it. Matt got us out safely!

Read about our adventures in Italy! Start here: Italy 1