England – days 5, 6 and home

Our fifth day was a Saturday. We woke and went to the kitchen to fix our breakfast of crumpets with butter and jam, hard boiled eggs and French pressed coffee. We stared in disbelief at the wet snow coming down outside! It didn’t last long but was a surprise.

We had decided we would go to Chipping Norton and on to visit the Hook Norton brewery nearby this day. It was very much colder and spitting rain on our drive. We were very surprised that the countryside was snow-covered! Luther said it is the highest point in the Cotswolds so they would be colder. We found the brewery and learned you have to book for the tours so we just went to the museum and had a pint of their beer. Not bad ale.

Old photo.

Present day brewery after renovation.

We were just about ready for lunch so headed over to Stow-on-Wold. Before we got there we turned off into Oddington where a brown signed pub was supposed to be. We have learned, a little late, that the best pubs have the brown highway signs like tourist sites do. They seem to be of a better quality. This one, the Horse and Groom, was extremely nice. We sat by the huge, see through fireplace and ordered. The things on the menu were very intriguing, especially the appetizers. But I hadn’t yet had my fish and chips and the man said the haddock was fresh yesterday. So I got that. It was very yummy. An oddity in this area. Fish and chips are always sold with mashed peas. Don’t ask me why.

We headed over to Stow and passed through. A nice town, it was too cold for strolling around. We went back to Lechlade near where we are staying and bought something for dinner, some wine and some firewood. We were going to go to the Plough, a nearby pub but it was just too horrible out.

We had a fine dinner of veal chops with mushrooms, potatoes and broccoli made by yours truly! The fire was toasty.

Sunday, our sixth day, dawned bright and sunny with brilliant blue skies. A great day to go see the chalk horse in Uffington and the standing stones in Avesbury. I have always wanted to see the horse. It has intrigued me as it is across a hillside and carved into the chalk so it is white. It is made of very simple lines but most definitely a horse. Beautifully done. And over 3000 years old. Over the centuries the local folk have cared for it and probably used it in religious ceremonies. Turns out you can’t really see the horse. It needs to be viewed from above. Which has sparked UFO theories over the years. It DOES make one wonder why, since they couldn’t really see it back when it was created. We climbed the hill and could see the head and front legs from close up. We just couldn’t get the real impact of the figure. So I borrowed an aerial picture from above the horse from http://www.hows.org.uk. We were standing about where the red dot is to take the next photo. Don’t you love the minimalist way it’s created?
uffair DSC05489

We also visited Uffington castle or what was left of it. Just earthworks.

Next we drove across country, and beautiful country it was, to Avesbury. The standing stones there are really impressive. They were erected 6000 years ago. The stones are huge and rough hewn, not smooth and square like Stone Henge. They spread over a wide area and surround the little village.

There is a pub called the Red Lion amidst the stones. The sign out front says they are the only pub in the world inside a standing stone circle. Probably true! We had a beer there.

We headed north and kept a lookout for the brown pub signs. We passed several and stopped at The Baker. This place taught us that not all brown signed pubs are the same. This one was only OK. We had our lunch and headed back, taking the back roads. Such pretty countryside! We stopped at the Plough, near our cottage. Being as it was Sunday, it was packed with families enjoying the “Sunday Roast” which all pubs serve on Sunday. Roast beef, yorkhire pudding, mashed potatoes and assorted vegs. We only had a small beer there just to take in the ambiance. Nice place.

Last day. We were off to stay near the airport overnight. We drove across country on small roads. The scenery was pretty. When we got to Blechly we saw a sign to Blechly Park. That is where they broke the codes in WWII. It probably won the war. It is no longer used but they have a good audio tour and numerous multimedia stations. Very interesting. We left and stopped at the White Horse for lunch. It was probably one of the better pub lunches we had. I had chicken Brest stuffed with smoked cheese and ham on a bed of peas, broccoli and greens. Very tasty. Luther had grilled catch of the day.

Finally, a pretty little bird in the yard of the cottage on our last day. I looked it up in my bird guide and it’s a European Robin. A favorite bird.

We will leave very early tomorrow morning. Looking forward to getting back to my boys, Rocky and Simba!

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