July 17 - Flew from Edinburgh to Southampton without any drama. Rental car pick-up was easy-peasy. Gary said driving the car sitting on the wrong side of the vehicle and shifting with his left hand was like teaching an old dog new tricks. Ugh! To add to Gary’s stress, the GPS couldn’t find the AirBnB address - Harroway Cowdown House. So we had to find the N & W coordinates. That wasn’t easy either as there are different formats for coordinates. In the end We found the house on a beautiful estate.
July 18 - I had booked our Stonehenge tickets for 10:30 am. We first visited the new visitor center which had lots of information including a skeleton of a wealthy man. His teeth had cavities which indicated he could afford to purchase honey. I didn’t realize there were other neolithic sites so close to Stonehenge. Visitors must stay on walkways which circle the UNESCO site. Our first impression was that it seemed smaller than what we see in documentaries. I think that is because we couldn’t get up close. The tallest stone is 7 meters or almost 23 feet tall. The site has gone thru many designs beginning with large Mesolithic postholes dated 8,000 B.C. to the current design dated 2280 B.C. I just can’t imagine Neolithic man moving these large stones. Only half of the site has been excavated. Makes you wonder what other treasures are waiting to be found.
July 18 cont. - We drove to the Avon Valley. (Yes, we are still in the UK). The city of Bath is located along the Avon river. After we dropped the luggage at our AirBnB we immediately hopped on the local bus to the center of Bath. Maps of the city were well placed so we quickly found our way to the Roman Baths. The city became a spa with the Roman name Aquæ Sulis. What I didn’t know was that the Romans used an existing hot spring. The bath was remodeled in the 12th & 16th century. Our full understanding of the area came from excavations done in the late 1970’s when they discovered a demolished temple. We were exhausted so found a pub and consumed scotch (for me), real ale (for Gary), and chicken wings.
July 19 - I couldn’t find an AirBnb in Lower Slaughter, (listed as a must see Cotswold village), so we spent the big bucks on the Slaughter Country Inn. It wasn’t worth the money but it did allow us to walk around the village once the rain stopped. The Old Mill museum wasn’t worth the fee either as you couldn’t see the mill machinery. The owners do hope to get the mill working again to generate electricity for the museum.
July 20 - Gary found a tour called Secret Cottage. We were taken to villages in the Cotswolds that are off the beaten path ( Great Tew, The Oddingtons, Chastleton, Upper & Lower Slaughter and Cornwell). My favorite was Great Tew. Up until 1914, the village was owned by one individual. Since Mr. Boulton did not have any heirs, the village was abandoned at his death. The village is now slowly being restored by the Government. There were many thatched cottages which I loved to see. If a cottage was thatched, it must always be thatched. A thatched roof will last 40-50 years and current replacement cost is 40,000 pounds. Yikes! It was a great tour with great food.
We had typical British food served for morning break called elevenses, then we came back for lunch, and finally for tea time - (carb overload but delicious)!
After the tour we drove to Badminton for our 2 week house sit for 2 dogs, 2 cats and 2 chickens.
July 21 We were here in Badminton’s countryside for 3 ½ weeks. Barnaby was the older golden lab and Apollo was the two year old with plenty of energy. The dogs loved to walk in the Hawkesbury common land. Every so often we were joined by cattle.
The town of Yates, just a couple of miles away, had a large Tesco where we bought coconut oil and stevia sugar to enjoy our Keto fat bombs. Yeah!
July 26 Gary had an appointment at the Toll Clinic for an adjustment by a chiropractor. Can you tell the history of the building by the name of the clinic? He was really impresses with Doctor. The Dr. massaged, used acupuncture and finally the adjustment. Gary needs to come back to the clinic. Hope the Doc can help Gary’s neck! Too much carrying suitcases!
Aug 5 Happy 94th Birthday Doris
We actually called on the 4th due to the celebrations. Doris/Mom sounded well. We made friends with the cats but they usually have their own agenda. We bought some Truvia sugar subsitute. It doesn’t dissolve so the bacon almond fat bombs were gritty.
Aug 9 It rained again as we said good-bye to our house sit hosts. We drove to Castle Combe to visit the village recommended by Karen’s friends that live in the area. Another CV (cute village). We got out of the rain and had elevenses. We cheated with the Victoria cake which was dry and a chocolate muffin. Our trip continued on to Tetbury. Due to the continuing rain we chose to take our time with a leisurely lunch. I had research the Priory Inn with TripAdvisor (over 200 ratings 4 ½ stars). Since we had already blown the diet, we selected the calzone and BBQ ribs. We were very disappointed. Are we cursed by being lovers of good food???
Aug 10 We spent the night at this Ebley AirBnb situated right on the canal. It was the Mill owner’s house. After breakfast we made our way to the CV of Bibury. Two big tour buses were also in town with Japanese tourists. The village was also home to a Trout Farm. You could catch your own dinner, buy fish to take home, wander the grounds and/or eat fish at the cafe. We selected the last two options. Back on the road again, we found a large Tesco grocery store. We loaded up the car with 2½ weeks of groceries for the next house sit in Amberley with 3 rescued dogs.
Aug 11 The hamlet of Amberley has one pub, one inn and no post office. You can amble the village in 30 minutes. What it does have are wonderful views of the valleys and a common area used by horses, one donkey, lowing cattle and many dog owners along with man’s best friend. The golf course was lightly used. If you hit a cow or cow pie, you lose a stroke! Kite fliers are out in force on the weekends.
Walking the dogs on the common was a real treat for us. We met many lovely locals who are willing to stop and chat. The first topic was always the weather! Gary was always the first to speak - “Good weather for ducks!” or “It’s not raining!” Many of the folks we met recognized our dogs, Billy, Dolly and Charlie Brown They were typically the second topic of conversation. We always discussed our lifestyle and most people found it very interesting.
Aug 17 Chavenage House was very close by. Our host, Nic, leased the barn for his accounting business and suggested we might enjoy a tour. The written record of this property dated all the way back to the 10th century. The stone house was constructed in the 13th century and was remodeled over the years. The second floor does not have electricity. Using candles to go to bed could be romantic or a pain the ass depending on your mood. The property has had only 2 owners which I find amazing. To offset the expense of up-keep, the home was used in movies and TV. The grounds were rented to local farmers and sometimes artwork is sold - (the owners were able to replace the roof this way). Members of the family are the tour guides so the tour is full of family stories.
Aug 18 Happy Anniversary to us. We walked to the Black Horse Pub for our celebratory lunch. The views out the pub window were awesome. The food was pretty good, prepared by our host’s son, Chef Elliott.
Aug 21 Karen’s friends, Andy and Reg, joined us for dinner at the Black Horse Pub. Andy worked for Beaver Creek Ski area, hence the connection. A good time was had by all! Can’t believe we sat there for 4 hours talking and drinking.
Aug 24 We were invited to a cocktail party. A written invitation was hand delivered to us, painted by Juliet (our hostess). Isn’t she talented! We met a couple of the neighbors and Juliet’s husband and son. Wine and appetizer’s were served along with interesting conversation. It was great being treated like a local.
Aug 25 Juliet stopped by to see if I wanted to visit Munchinhampton. This village is the closest to Amberley and had more services for the locals. I welcomed the opportunity to see the village. As we walked around, we came across a salon and I jumped at the chance to get my hair cut. Juliet is such a sweetheart.
Andy picked us up and took us to dinner in Stroud. It was a wonderful Indian restaurant. We shared 4 dishes and everything was delicious. Andy & Reg then took us to a local bar to imbibe some tasty scotch. Thanks guys for a fun evening. I wished I remembered to bring the camera!
Aug 29 Our house sit was over. We drove to Southampton airport to return the car. This was the last time we rent a car in a foreign country. It was just too stressful for the following reasons: narrow roads that can’t handle 2 way traffic, wonderful old villages that can’t accommodate traffic and parking, automatic transmission cars are expensive, shifting with the left hand takes practice, and finally the GPS is good but it’s not perfect. It’s hard to teach old dogs new tricks.
We took the bus from the airport to our AirBnB, however, along the way the bus had an accident. This made us late for our meeting time so we decided to walk the rest of the way. To make a long story short, we found our way to the apartment - no harm no foul.
This map shows the commons. There are stone age pit homes, earth ramparts, burial mounds, and other signs of early habitation. Evidence of stone quarries abound.
Aug 26 It was a beautiful sunny day so off we went to the Old Lodge Inn located in the bottom part of the above map. Supposedly King Henry the 8th used the lodge for hunting. All the tables were reserved so we dined in large chairs by the fireplace and had some great appetizers and the local ale.
Aug 31 Embarked on the Queen Mary 2 for the 7 day cruise to NYC. We said goodbye to Europe where we have been for the last 18 months. I look forward to getting ready for Karen’s wedding and seeing my folks. Gary will enjoy the great USA beef and the huge variety of products found In America.