Saturday, September 3, 2016

Our Adventure Continues in Salisbury

Our adventure is continuing and for those not on Facebook I'm continuing to post every few days here on the blog for you to enjoy our journey.

October 28, 2016

We had rain off and on all day as we drove north for two hours to Cambridge. First we went a bit further to visit Anglesey Abbey. Owned by Lord Fairhaven who was born in America and had an American mother. The Queen Mum, Queen Elizabeth's mother, was a favorite guest when she visited the nearby Newmarket Race Course. Jim enjoyed a good selection of paintings. And we both enjoyed the beautifully maintained house and gardens.
Soon we were headed into Cambridge to visit the Fitzwilliam Museum and the Chapel at Kings College. One big issue...we should have used the Park and Ride....we were in bumper to bumper traffic for an hour. ... did see the outside of the buildings ... see photos ... and finally cut out loses and found a way out of town.
Not far away was another Manor House named Wimpole. Many people but it was so huge it could hold a lot of people, and it was also out in the country making parking a breeze; we thoroughly enjoyed the visit. They also had staff playing musical instruments and dancing for us in period costumes. Not much in the way of "famous" works of art but many other interesting libraries and furniture. All in all a great time. Both homes had beautiful gardens and acres of land.
Two hours of driving mostly wide roads and sometimes on their freeways. Rain here and there but we made it back to Oxford before 6 pm and parked in the city to have dinner before coming home for the evening. Another good day.

October 29, 2016

We decided to enjoy Oxford again today. Didn't leave the house until after 11 o'clock and slowly walked to the city center and found the Oxford Castle that dates back to the year 1079. A young man that reminded us of our grandson Ben, very tall and lean, gave us a wonderful hour long tour, keeping us entertained and teaching us the history of this very old building that has been used mostly for a prison from the early years up to 1996 when it was closed. It was turned into a historical site by the Queen in 2006. We both climbed over 100 steps to the top of the tower on very dangerous, uneven, twisting steps. Coming down was harder!
From there we walked through the town passing many of the colleges that are interspaced with very modern buildings. Soon we were at Magdalen College that sits on the edge of the Cherwell River that branches off of the Thames River. There we rented a flat bottomed boat called a punt that you push with a long pole. We were very happy we rented one with a "chafferer" after watching men with shaking knees trying to do the manly thing and guide their own boats! I would imagine that several fall in occasionally and many tangled with the riverbanks and other boats while Liam, our young man, expertly kept us entertained with a running narrative as he expertly guided us on a relaxing thirty minute cruise.
From there we continued to walk through the back streets that wind around the 38 colleges that make up Oxford University, finding many treasures including their own "bridge of sighs" that looks just like the one in Venice. Italy except this one is over a street and not a canal. Also the Venice one connects a prison and it was their last view of freedom.
We decided to save things for tomorrow and walked home clocking over six miles for the day. We took the car and drove to Summertown to do some laundry and shopping. Picked up a pizza and brought it home us for dinner before playing a game of cards. Yes, Jim won but only by 500 points.

October 30, 2016

We were out the door by 9:30 this morning. After a brisk walk we arrived at the Covered Market and enjoyed the wide variety of shops; especially the bakery with a window full of tiny cakes with notes on them. A clever way to say thank you or commerating a special occasion.
Arrived at the Bodleian Museum in Oxford University for the 10:30 tour. First the history of Divinity Hall where Religion was taught...this was used for various scenes in Harry Potter movies. I may have to see some of these when we arrive home. And then next door to see their own courtroom when they didn't feel that the town would treat them justly. This building has also been used by the government for parliament when there were problem in London.
We then had all of our bags locked in a large box before we walked up the 65 steps to visit the ancient library. This has always been a research library and at one point the books were chained to the shelves. Not even the King was allowed to remove a book. This Library was the birthplace of Oxford University.
We ventured across the street to the Weston Library that was built to store books and has recently been remodeled to host exhibits on the ground level. We enjoyed both exhibits and then hung around to watch the group of orange clad gentlemen with one carrying a small statue come out after viewing the exhibit. Not sure what religion but very unusual.
Continuing our walk we visited the round theatre designed by Christopher Wren known as The Sheldonian, next door to the Bodleian Library. Wren taught Astronomy at Oxford prior to becoming an architect and had them cut a special door so that people could walk directly from the Divinity Hall to his new Theater.  We walked up the 114 steps to the cupola at the top for wonderful views of the city.
Walks through the museums of Science and Natural History completed our day. The later had Dinosaurs which came from America. Outside there was a Sequoia Giganteum planted in 1860 and for the children....molded Dinosaurs footprints they could step in.
Tired and foot weary.... nearly a five mile day... we continued our walk home on a different street and discovered a new college named Keple College. All red brick and so lovely; we asked at the entry and they allowed us to walk inside the quad and take some photos. A perfect way to end our final day of walking in Oxford. Tomorrow we drive to Highclere Castle where they filmed Downton Abbey. Then one more night in Oxford before moving to Salisbury on Thursday. We're resting and then walking to a nearby restaurant or dinner soon.


October 31, 2016

Today we left at 9 am and returned at 5 pm. Long day of driving and visiting two country estates connected with the filming of Downton Abbey.
Our first visit was to Highclere Castle... We were not allowed to take photos inside of the home. We first went into the Egyptian Museum that is there because Lord Carnarvon provided the funding and worked with Howard Carter for over 16 years and they ultimately discovered a very famous Egyptian tomb known as the Tomb of Tutankhamun in 1920. He was the 5th Earl of Carnarvon; the family has been here for over 300 years. The museum is located in the basement of the castle. Then we had to stand in line to wait our turn to walk through the house, it was a self-guided tour and very well monitored with many guides in each of the rooms.  There are many large photographs of the Downton Abbey cast in various rooms of the castle.
Leaving the castle we walked through the gift shop, The Secret Gardens, and out to what's known as the jackdaws. This is more for the eye to see from the windows of the castle rather than something they actually walked out and used. On the road out we passed another piece of eye candy known as the temple of Diana and finally out the main gate. We'd entered the property this morning through the back gate; the same one we could not get through last year on our visit to England.
Soon we were on the road and out to look for our next place which is called Basildon Park, part of the National Trust, and used regularly for filming of Downton Abbey; especially inside shots. It took us twice as long to get there as it should have because we kept hitting Country Roads and I mean very narrow Country Roads. You’ll see in the photos we got caught behind a large tractor of some sort and couldn't go around him and how he had to get up on the sides of the roads for the other people to get past him going the opposite direction.
We had light sprinkles off and on most of the day and only one short period of very heavy rain while we were on the road; but while we were out of the car, not a drop. We were so glad we'd taken the effort to get to Basildon because it was really beautiful and we could take all the photos we wanted inside and the guides were really great to talk to. It was a wonderful experience.
Home to Oxford by 5 o'clock we enjoyed returning to our favorite restaurant for an early dinner at Gee's Restaurant before calling it a day and climbing up to our attic room for the last time. Tomorrow we go to Salisbury which is very near to Stonehenge.
September 1, 2016

Moving day...we said goodbye to our hostess Liz Hodgkinson, a published author and journalist, after breakfast and headed south to Salisbury. She was a suburb hostess and we so enjoyed our chats with her at breakfast.
We stopped along the way and spent several hours visiting Stonehenge. A circle of stones from the Druid Age around 3000 BC. Fascinating but we did ride the bus out from the visitor center rather than walk. Then everyone walks around a circle to view the stones. One can no longer chip off a piece for a souvenir.  The site is owned by the English Heritage Society but the ground surrounding it is owned by the National Trust.  So we gladly paid the fees for the privilege of seeing this great historical site from ancient times.
Then on to the city of Salisbury, our first visit here. We are less than a 10 minute walk from the city Centre in a very modern self-contained unit. It is part of a building behind a large Victorian style home with 5 units. We have a small kitchen and we're on ground level. No stairs. Not sure why but we have two bathrooms I think one was too small and so they added another larger one. We have a shower in one, and we have a tub in the other.
Settled in and then walked to town to see the sights and spent most of the time in the Cathedral which reminded me of Canterbury Cathedral with the large campus that shuts the gate at 11 pm. On exhibit is their prized possession....the best of only four remaining original copies of the Magna Carta. The second best is in Lincoln Castle....saw that one last year....and the other two are slightly burned and reside in the British Museum in London...yes...We've seen those also. It was one of the major documents that the U.S. based it's constitution on when it was written. It basically states that no man, including the King, is above the law.
Walking back towards our new home we stopped at Mark & Spencer's for their grocery section and picked up breakfast items and food to cook for dinner. Oh yes, we have a television again!
To our friends in the southwest...stay safe tonight and tomorrow as the storms pass through your areas. Prayers are with you all.

September 2, 2016

It is sooo hard to pick thirty out of several hundred photos I snap every day! But it does make me think about the story I want to tell.
We left about 10 am this morning, Jim had cooked breakfast while I did some bookkeeping that was long overdue. Overcast and a few sprinkles during the day but a relatively nice day. Cooler but comfortable. We headed north for an hour and enjoyed visiting the former Abbey at Mottisfont that traces its roots back to the 13th Century.
Thought you'd enjoy my daydreaming with the photo of the beautiful Royals Royce that I pictured myself touring these English Manor Homes in on our adventure.  Mottisfont Abbey had beautiful grounds complete with a swan on the creek and English visitors enjoying lunch picnics on the lawns. They bring their own tables and chairs and enjoy the day.  Nothing too fancy but we did enjoy seeing the maids rooms in the attic and a special exhibit of the original drawings by Beatrix Potter that were used to illustrate her children's books. A film talked about her life and her work in the Lake Country in the North on behalf of the National Trust.
Back on the roads we enjoyed seeing many thatched roofs and traffic jams on the narrow roads.
Soon we arrived in the busy old city of Winchester.  No, bells did not ring for us and the organ was silent while we were in the cathedral. Our first challenge was to find parking. Once we'd accomplished that; we enjoyed walking through the old city to the cathedral. The grounds are also full of very old graves and tombs. We enjoyed a guided tour for nearly an hour by a guide that knew all the stories of this very old lady that dates back to the seventh century. One very modern huge window is actually over three hundred years old and created from the shards from all of the windows in the Cathedral when Cromwell destroyed them during the Civil War in the 17th century. Another story is about the man who spent six years in a deep sea diving suit at the beginning of the 20th century to reconstruct the foundation when the cathedral began to sink. They found it was built in water with logs on a peat foundation.
The author Jane Austin is buried here in the Cathedral and there was a very interesting tribute to her as a great English novelist.
Soon we were back on the highway headed home for an evening of cards after the delicious dinner by Chef Jim.

September 3, 2016

Jim enjoyed a sleep in morning…until 10 am!    I enjoyed finishing the work on my bookkeeping and then began to cut and paste my entries from Facebook into a word document that I corrected and expanded.  I’ve tried to send photos other than just on Facebook but with little success.  I have been cutting and pasting my photos from my phone into my computer.  It helps make space on the phone data and also allows me to use them in other ways. 
Jim is out walking; he took his cane, umbrella…it’s raining off and on….and his phone to explore the city on his own.  I’m also enjoying some space alone for an hour or so.  Traveling together is a 24/7 job and there are times when we try to do some different things to give each other space.
Our plan is to stay within the city today; there are several places to visit and then attend church tonight.  Tomorrow we’re driving south to visit our friend Jane at her home near Ringwood.  She is a friend of our friend in Florida named Bonnie and I traveled with her in 2013 with Bonnie and my sister Mary at the end of our trip to Russia.   Jim left me in Paris where I met up with the girls and we enjoyed touring Paris and Italy together for several weeks. 

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