Sunday, April 8, 2012

Adventures in England; Days 1 & 2

DAY ONE:  We got off the airplane. It was about a nine hour flight from Houston to London-Heathrow. It was boring. My bum muscles fell asleep. We, being Mom, Dad, Henry and I, took a bus to the car rental place and got our cute little Volvo (right hand drive!!!) and began our drive (on the left side of the road!!!) to Stonehenge. That was an adventure! We got to walk all around it and take tons of pictures, of which will be coming later because I had to spend £1 to have an hour on the computer. There was a druid, a person who believed that they were descended from the people who built the stone circle, dressed in a linen shirt and linen pants and sandals. He hardly seemed warm enough considering it was quite cold and windy. At Stonehenge, Dad ordered us a couple of pasties-- potatoes, meat and onions packed into pastry dough-- and some brie/tomato sandwiches. They were delicious and I love pasties.

After Stonehenge, we got back in the car and drove on the motorway through Warminster and other little baby towns before we reached Bath. We got to Bath at about two o'clock, found the YMCA where our lodging would be and then walked around the little town of Neoclassical/Georgian architecture and smoggy air. While walking around the Abbey square we heard bagpipes coming out of a small courthouse. There had just been a wedding and the groom, I'm assuming was Scottish because he, and all of the other male guests, were wearing their family tartan kilts. All the women were wearing intense hats and the bride was in a strapless gown, which looked a bit chilly. We walked up the tiny road to the local supermarket, Waitrose, and bought our meager grocceries of blackberry ice cream, chocolate covered digestives, Cadbury eggs and more chocolate. We carried our grocceries back to the 12x12 foot apartment and then walked to town, which was literally just three steps out the door. We went and saw the Royal Crescent (where parts of Mary Poppins and Persuasion were filmed) and the Royal Circus (where parts of My Fair Lady was filmed). From there, we went and got dinner at this dirty, greasy, delicious place called Seafoods where we ate fish'n'chips galore. We finished eating dinner at about 8 and then we walked back to the YMCA where I-- I would say we, but that would be definintely incorrect-- was greeted with the whole Dutch Rugby team checking in. It was a wonderful first day in England.

DAY TWO:  Today was quite exciting. It being Sunday, we found a local branch and had YW/YM, Sunday School and Sacrament meeting with the smallest branch I have ever been to besides Statia. I made up 1/3 of the YW group; the other two girls, Alice and Amber, being sisters and quite funny. We sat behind them in Sacrament meeting and they passed Cadbury eggs back to Henry and I. We parked the car and went to the Abbey square for some more pasties and chocolate for lunch. We waited for the walking tour to begin and then we followed the man as he told us about the history of Bath. It was originally a place for the Romans to come and bathe but then, come the 16th century, it became a place for the royalty and aristocrats of many countires to cure themselves of their various ailments. The waters' healing powers could cure asthma, infertility, sharpness of urine (I'm guessing constipation), leprosy, dermatitis, warts, removal of scars, cholera, the flu and many other ailments.

All of the buildings in Bath are made from a soft limestone called Bath stone. Because of the stone's spongey-ness, it soaked up all of the pollution that came from people burning coal fires and smoking cigarettes, causing the stone to turn black. Only recently did they decide to clean up the place and powerwash the pollution away. Now it is all creamy and new looking.

We dropped off the walking tour and went back to the Bath Abbey to participate in the Evensong. Being Easter Sunday, the lessons taught were about the resurrection of Christ and such. There were the cutest choir boys and the acoustics in the Abbey were perfect. There was a really cute choir boy, probably about my age or older, and he was singing in falsetto. I could not help but laugh. After the Evensong, which only lasted for about 45 minutes, we got in line for the Roman Baths which were so cool! (Also, pictures to come).

The Roman Bath was built as a temple to worship Minerva (Athena). The Great Bath was huge, not ver deep but wide and long. It had yucky green water and it was warm. Yes, maybe I stuck my toes in, maybe I didn't. The opening of what archaeologists think was the temple had a huge carving of the Gorgon's head and a large brass statue of Minerva. Once the tour was over, we got to drink some of the healing water that came up from the King's Foutain; supposedly the King himself drank from that fountain every day in order to set his body right. It was warm and tasted like my grandpa's well-water. It was an experience on which I gagged.

After that, we walked down past the Abbey to the Pulteney Bridge and watched boats go through a series of locks. That was Mom's favorite part, I think. She really liked all the little shops that were on the bridge. We walked back up to town and ate at Wagamama, which was really yummy noodles, pho and teppan. I ordered something delicious.

The weather for both yesterday and today was cold and windy and I wished I brought a scarf, gloves and a hat. But I was warm... I guess. Anyway, successful beginning to my quick trip through England.

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