Tuesday, July 20, 2010

And so it begins

Plane to Switzerland
Jon was soon to wearily acknowledge his wife's propensity for picture-taking, especially self-portraits documenting places they've been, even airplanes and trains

After the long haul over the ocean (during which I am certain I saw lights along the Icelandic coast) and the flurry of Heathrow Airport, we arrived at Paddington Station in London. Pigeons fluttered about underfoot.  Grand Victorian architecture soared overhead.

Paddington Station architecture
This picture makes me wonder how often I show up in other people's pictures, a random person caught mid-step for perpetuity

People spoke with British accents. Normally - because that's how they really talk. I couldn't get over it. English is their native language too, and yet they pronounce things differently. What a concept for my parochial brain to grasp.

After this stunning introduction to the country, we caught the train to Chippenham and from there, the bus to Lacock, located in the southwest part of England in the county of Wiltshire. While waiting* for the bus, we got to be amateur anthropologists and covertly study the natives.  Our conclusions?  Teenagers are the same everywhere, regardless of accent or nationality.  What a revelation.  We did not indulge in amateur anthropology anymore after this discovery.

We arrived in Lacock, then shouldered our duffel bags for the walk** to Reybridge.  We had packed as light as we could, but our bags were still heavy (35-40 pounds), especially if you're packing for three weeks. Right when my shoulders began to protest vigorously, we made it to Damson Cottage.

Damson Cottage's blue door triggered my fascination with blue doors specifically, and painted doors in general.

Our hostess informed us of the public access footpath to Lacock.  It passed between several really old houses,

 through several sheepfields, 


over several stiles, and up a shady lane bordered by lovely stone fences.  I was happy, especially at the thought of walking through sheep.

The sheep weren't as thrilled.

I couldn't get enough of green doors, either

Lacock was a delight to explore.  

These buildings are older than America.  

It hasn't changed much over the past 250 years, due to careful management by the National Trust, which purchased nearly the entire village in 1944. 

The George Inn was a public house while Chaucer was alive.
We had our first dinner in England at The George Inn, which dates back to 1361.  When we first arrived, we sat at a table and waited.  And waited some more, looking over at the bartender, who was chatting with a fellow at the bar, occasionally glancing over at us.  We waited some more before we realized he wasn't coming over.  We finally asked for a menu at the bar, at which time we discovered that You Always Order At The Bar Before Taking A Table.

The George was very atmospheric.

Full of nooks and crannies.

Mismatched furniture and oriental rugs were crammed into every available space.  Light came in through windows still fitted with their original glass, imperfections and all. 

We had a hearty meal of steak and ale pies, "veg" (vegetables for us), and warm beer.  After relaxing for a bit, we walked back through the sheepfields at dusk to Damson Cottage.  It was the fitting end to a very long day.

*This was to be a preview of our travel for the duration of the trip: waiting.  We're so used to hopping in the car and going, that the notion of waiting is a somewhat foreign concept.  J. and I had to spend time throughout our trip examining bus and train schedules to make sure that we caught all of our connections in a timely fashion.  Initially, this was overwhelming, but it soon became curiously enjoyable.  Schedules and maps fascinate me.  I like perusing departure times and following lines on a map, imagining all the various permutations of possible travel.  This is probably why I was the primary trip planner.

**We walked.  A lot.   

1 comment:

Jenni said...

Finally, I can live vicariously!