Tuesday, June 19, 2012 (Day 13)
We woke up at 8AM. The sun is shining!
We had our last fabulous breakfast at The Kennard. With a cab waiting, we said good-bye to our hosts and went off to pickup our car. Yes, we are renting a car. In England. Where they drive on the opposite side the road. Crazy, no? Doesn’t matter, we are doing it anyway. It is about 60 miles from Bath to our B&B in Woodmancote, England – on the Wales side of the Cotswolds.
If you think you are not familiar with the Cotswolds region, you are wrong about that. If you have ever watched any English-period program on PBS (Jane Austin, Downton Abbey, The Victor of Dibley just to name a few) you have seen the Cotswolds. This is the region of the idealic English countryside – white stucco houses with straw roofs and rolling hills with even more sheep than we saw in Bath.
My DH did a heroic job of driving our small manual-shifting purple car (it’s so cute — it’s French). I sat in the passenger seat (on the left) and navigated our way north up the motorway. Our GPS was finally working but there is a lot to consider when an American drives in England. Driving on the left side of the road is just one thing. Another thing is managing a stick-shift on your left. Another is driving such a small car (you can’t see your left front fender). Another is finding your way in and out of the round-abouts (and there are lots of theses). Another thing is navigating the narrow one-lane roads up and down hills (quite the challenge). My contribution to the experience was counting the round-about exits and gently reminding my DH to “stay left”. As I said, my DH did a heroic job and we arrived 2 hours later, safe and sound and exhausted! At some point, it will be my turn at the wheel. Good thing I lit all those candles in all those cathedrals!
Our B&B is called Homelands in the village of Woodmancote near Gloucestershire. It is found at the end of a long single-laned road that is shared with horses and hikers. Our host Eric is very nice. Our room is very nice too. It is very quiet here. Our closest neighbors are sheep and horses, which I would soon meet.
As my DH rested from his trip, I took a walk in the warm sunshine and green hills – I felt like Maria in “The Sound of Music”. There are public pathways all over this region. If you own a house here, you must allow access to all walkers and hikers since these hills and views belong to the British people – whether you like it or not. Armed with a map I got from Eric, I started my walk along side a green field on the other side of the road. The ground was damp from all the rain and the trail was a bit muddy from all the walkers who passed this way before me. There are stairs over fences and gates through fences that allow you access into a pastures of livestock. The first pasture I entered belonged to sheep lazily munching grass on the slope of a hill. I kept myself to the well worn path in front of me. The sheep ignored me.
A while later, I had hopped over the fence into another pasture where I saw three horses. One of the horses, a big beautiful brown chestnut with a white blaze and socks, made heavy and quick steps toward me. I did not know what to do so I just stood still, hoping the horse would think I was a tree. The horse came up to me and nudged its nose in my hand. Ah – it wanted food! I said, “Sorry Girl, I have no food for you” and gave its nose a scratch. The horse looked at me with those big brown pools it has for eyes, snorted, turned around and walked off.
On the other side of the horse fence, I saw a pub called The Apple Tree. It was hot and I decided to get something cool to drink. The pub was just what one would expect from a pub in the Cotswolds – I tutor-style building with picnic tables outside and heavy wooden tables inside. The place was quite large and had a bar and an impressive dining room. I ordered a glass of white wine and took it outside to watch the horses enjoying the shade of a tree. The moment was nearly perfect except for the fact that I was alone. This would have been a great girlfriend moment – my DH does not drink wine.
When I finished the wine, I walked back to the hotel. The houses and gardens I saw were impressive!
Back at the B&B, my DH was working at the laptop – this is how he relaxes. He found us a restaurant for dinner caledl The Wesley House in the neighboring town of Winchcombe. We had Sea Bass in Paper with Spring Vegetables – it was delicious!
It will be an early night for us. Driving here was stressful and my DH deserves his rest!