The Queen's chef

Wow! It is so easy to forget how early 7 am is when you’re on vacation! Well, up we were and after grabbing a coffee and croissant to go we were on our way to the tubes (along with the rest of London it felt like) heading to Paddington Station. The train station itself was pretty remarkable and we had all the platforms and 8 different ticket stubs figured out in the nick of time. The train ride through the English countryside was amazing – beautiful rolling hills, fields, rivers etc. Now, I am all about enjoying each moment for what it is but, I have to admit, seeing the English countryside made me get very excited about our upcoming travels through the Tuscan countryside.

Bath is a fairly small ‘city’ with a beautiful Abbey, tons of little streets, a roman bath/hot spring, and beautiful Georgian architecture. We enjoyed a full day here walking around the city, touring the roman baths, and doing some light shopping (consignment shops are my weakness!) For our mid-afternoon ‘break’ we joined a small tour group to Stonehenge, stopping at the town of Lacock (wholly comprised of houses built between the 13th and 18th centuries) for a quick pint.

Stonehenge was incredible. Period. To all you naysayers (none of whom is reading this, I imagine) I am so thankful that we traveled to see this site (so there!). It was overwhelming seeing it for the first time rising out of a flat pasture surrounded by rolling hills and grazing sheep. The nearest road A303 disappears from your mind as you walk along the set path offering unobstructed views of the pre-historic site. We took our time, even stopping to sit, relax, and eat a bite of bread and cheese while soaking up the scenery. At the risk of sounding woo-woo: There is definite power there, after all people have been using that ground since before the wheel was invented (!!!), I don’t think time can erase a thing like that. There was a moment when I knew that we’d connected with some sort of energy present there…as we were walking a black bird flew around us at shoulder level, from left to right, completing 2 circles before landing right beside us, to our left in front of the monument. Laugh if you will (I can hear it from here I think…) but in ancient times augers knew that birds flying from left to right across the sky was a good omen. Needless to say, I had definite chillbumps and sent up a word or two expressing my absolute awe, wonder, and thankfulness for the many secrets still present in the world – Stonehenge definitely being one of them.

Ok, woo-woo moment has passed. Back to Bath – once there we walked up to the Royal Circus which is a large round-about surrounded by four sections of crescent shaped Georgian style buildings – together they form a large circle, only breaking at four points for the road. We also saw the Royal Crescent which is a large crescent shaped Georgian building surrounded by large green lawns and gardens. Jane Austen fans will know that this is where women would get gussied up and stroll up and down the corridor until the evening dances and balls. Wanting a change of scenery, and to get out of the sun which had gotten quite hot that day, we walked down to the River Avon to stroll along the river. Bath, by the way, was voted the UK’s most romantic city and while taking in the scenes of the river it is easy to see why.

Our train was due to leave at 8:40 so we found a nice pub, the Coeur de Lion – not in ANY of the guidebooks – to sample the local ales and food. Coeur de Lion happens to be Bath’s smallest pub and brews Abbey Ales. Here we met some of the locals, our favorite of which was named Tony, who told us some wild tales about his past, including getting out of a DUI ticket (including being stopped driving on the “wrong” side of the road) by claiming to be the Queen’s chef during a holiday to Ft. Lauderdale. He is a chef, mind you, just not for the Queen. Speaking of food, Adam got a real taste of England, ordering the house daily special: Game Pie. He bravely made his way through half before recognizing defeat and setting his fork aside. I tried a bite and I can say that it would take me a very VERY long time to get used to that taste (read: yuck!). After several more minutes of lively conversation with topics ranging from politics, movie stars and tattoos, we headed back to the train station to London.

Tomorrow, our last day in London (already?!) is Adam’s work day so I’ll be off on my own and will be sure to let you know about my adventures (or lack thereof) in due time. Cheers!

Oh – an update from the Dragon Lady – she is still hanging around getting more bothersome in high traffic/pollution areas…she should have a field day once we’re in Rome.

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  1. this is a fabulous blog and wonderful photos. We feel like we are getting to enjoy this trip with you!

  2. Just read, along with Liz, your trip to Stonehead and Bath. Brought to mind our trip there, especially how the divining rod respnded when Katie did her thing with it – Mandy, both Liz and I agreed how good your descriptions are – enjoying so much!

  3. We both(esp Katie) love the woo woo stuff, as well as all the rest of it……Too bad the Game Pie was so yuck…wonder if they meant road kill pie? Must have had some squirrel or something like that in it…did you ask? Good job on being brave and also knowing when to admit culinary defeat..speaking of da feet….how are your pups holding up? (Read—-you Adam!)……I am telling you Mandy—your travel writing is excellent!

    Now on to Italia!

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