Sorry it’s been awhile. Sunday we slept in (thanks to ear plugs we found in Stratford upon Avon), the shops were closed and the train was extremely limited, so we hung around Oxford and tried to do a walking club walk. Unfortunately we didn’t start in the right place, so the directions had us all turned around. We only found 3 of the 4 landmarks for answering the
questions. Not sure if we’ll be able to swing the credit for that one or not.
Monday we went to Warwick Castle (pronounced War-ick). Getting there was an adventure because some (in the words of the train conductor) “hooligans set the
signals alight” on the line into Birmingham. We found out on the news that they had broken into the signal boxes and burned them. Anyway, we got to go on a bus ride from Leamington Spa to Warwick with a bus driver that didn’t know the way. The Chiltern Railways staff was totally hysterical and putting a funny spin on a frustrating situation. The more northern we tread the more I enjoy the personalities we meet.
It was cool to see evidence of royalty and history from William the Conqueror (1068) to the present. They had a really funny guy doing the archery
presentation and Kurt enjoyed a Monty Python moment when we saw the Trebuchet demonstration (tray-boo-shay: a cross between a catapult and a sling
shot). I even battled my fear of heights and climbed to the top of the tallest turret. Of course once up there I sat down in the very center next to the flag
pole and let Kurt walk to the edge… You wouldn’t believe how narrow and twisty these stone walkways are. I could barely do it slowly holding the handrail
and wall. The medieval soldiers were running up these stairs with weapons and ammunition in hand!
Today we went to Bath at the insistence of Kurt’s coworker who lives there. The Roman portion is at the bottom with an 18th century extension making the bulk
of the viewing and exhibition area. I love watching documentaries & reading about Rome, as well as watching Gladiator (mmmm, Russell Crowe…). But
nothing prepares you for seeing that amazing technology from 100 A.D. in person up close. They even let you touch some of the mosaic and stonework
displays. Try that in a U.S. museum!
After eating Toad in the Hole for lunch (sausages in a Yorkshire pudding shell with gravy), we went to the Jane Austen center. She lived briefly in several
houses in Bath. I never realized what kind of destitution she lived in after her father died. It really puts her stories into perspective. Of course
what drew us in there was the portrait of Colin Firth (aka Pride & Predjudice’s Mr. Darcy) in the gift shop window.
We hung out in a garden at the edge of the Avon River. It’s free to residents, but we had to pay 95p. Worth it because I needed to… We ate dinner with Kurt’s
coworker and his fiancee, who gave us a driving tour of Bath. We started in the lower sections with rowhouses & underground servant quarters. Then there
is this fabulous circle of townhomes called “The Circus”. Very posh with a small circular garden in the round about. This was then outdone by the
semicircle of LARGE rowhouses called “The Royal Crescent” – set apart from the city by their large, gated, residents-only park that covers an entire
hillside. It really set the Georgian Era concretely in my mind and made me understand why my underprivileged ancestors decided to cross the pond.
So it’s nearing 11 p.m. on our last night in Oxford. Tomorrow we make the long & neccessary (scary) trip to London.