Wednesday, September 29, 2010

How I Spent My September Vacation

I promised more pics of my recent trip to the English countryside, but got sidetracked with personal matters, including the passing of my elderly Siamese cat.  Maddie almost made it to the ripe old age of 20, but decided to take a well-earned rest instead.  RIP, Maddie girl.

Our first day in England was spent with friends, Anna and Keith Sugden, who were kind enough to pick us up at Gatwick airport, and whisked us off to their home in the village of Great Shelford, on the outskirts of Cambridge.  Here we were introduced to the slower, calmer pace of life in an English town. Tidy little homes and colorful, overflowing gardens; a semi-communal vegetable garden where the locals zealously tend their assigned plots, lots of walkers, runners, bikers, and its own charming pub. 

The next morning we drove from Cambridge to the tiny seaside town of Aldeburgh, overlooking the North Sea.  It was cold and brisk, covered with smooth stones that would one day be but tiny grains of sand. When we got too cold we wandered up to the very quaint and charmingly tiny High Street, where I had my first taste of fish and chips, made with fish caught fresh that morning.  Then it was back to Great Shelford, with a stop for tea and a visit to an absolutely beautiful church in the village of Whittlesford. Some of my favorite pictures of the trip were of the graveyard, but the memory chip containing those pictures seems to have been lost. (Waaah!)

The following day was all about Cambridge, which we explored both in our rental car and on foot.  A busy, bustling college town filled with incredibly impressive buildings dating to the fifth century, narrow cobblestone lanes, and lush, carefully tended grounds and gardens. (Those pictures were lost, too.  (Double waah!!)

Then we got in our rental car and went gallivanting off to the rural region of England known as the Cotswalds.  We spent the next three days relaxing at The Swan (shown on right), a gorgeous old inn that was once a 17th century coaching inn, on the banks of the River Coln.  And yes, there were swans at the Swan.  :-)

We hiked, visited a trout farm, stuffed ourselves with scones, tea and sandwiches, explored the countryside, and wound up in the absolutely charming little village of Cirencester, where we visited the beautiful St. John the Baptist Church, the Corinium Museum (Cirencester was the "Roman capital" of England during the 1st through 3rd centuries, complete with a working amphitheatre).  Parts of the ancient Roman wall surrounding the town still stand.

After a few days of this, it was back to our friend's home in Great Shelford, where we undertook the grand adventure of a train ride from Cambridge to London.

On a typically rainy English day, we arrived at St. Pancras station and walked across London, past red double decker buses and black cabs and perfectly groomed green squares and gardens, to the amazingly awesome British Library. 

There we saw original works by Shakespeare, Jane Austen, and Lewis Carroll, viewed incredibly detailed and colorful illuminated manuscripts from the Middle Ages, and even saw the original Magna Carta.  Being a big fan of HBO's series, The Tudors, I think my favorite thing was seeing the well-worn prayer roll of King Henry the VIII, which he handled every single morning while doing his devotionals.  After chopping off a couple of his wive's heads, he obviously felt the need for a lot of prayer.  :-)

From there it was on to the much celebrated (and rightly so!) British Museum, where we saw mummies, artifacts and historical treasures spanning well over two thousand years worth of history. 

Here I am examining the remains of a man buried in a peat bog during the Iron Age. (Fascinating! That man had a story to tell, and the author in me would love to write it!) The mummies were pretty amazing as well, and so were the bits of gold, silver, pottery and sculpture left behind by Greeks, the Romans, the Vikings, the Celts, the Mesopotamians and the Etruscans, and various other ancient civilizations (too many to see in one day!)

The best part of the trip, though, was the company.  I got to spend time with my dear friend Anna (here we are soaking up some literary vibes in London):

And these two handsome blokes, who for some reason, followed us everywhere :-):

All in all, a truly wonderful time, some great memories, and worth those incredibly long 9 hour flights both ways.  Still recovering from the jet lag, though!  It was a long-awaited and much enjoyed vacation, but now it's time to get back to the real world... Book #2 in the Devil's Bargain series isn't finished yet, and Halloween is coming up!!


Sharon S. said...

I've been to London once and the museum is to die for. If only mummies could talk...or do they . We have the wolfman and vampire in our stories, where is The Mummy? Things that make you go, hmmmm.

Catch up on your sleep and see you at the Underground :)

Anna Sugden said...

Happy memories - miss you!

Terri Garey said...

Miss you, too, Anna - it was a fabulous trip, made even more fabulous by our choice of friends, who were the world's best tour guides! :) I so love it that we happened to stumble on that particular historic marker, don't you?

Terri Garey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Terri Garey said...

>>We have the wolfman and vampire in our stories, where is The Mummy? Things that make you go, hmmmm.<<

Hard to make the mummy attractive, I think, Sharon. Leading men don't usually have to worry about their fingers flaking off! :)