Enchanting England and Wales (July 3rd and 4th, 2011)

July 3rd, 2011

Wales, the Cotswolds, Bath, and Cheddar...so many places in so little time...

After an interesting night's sleep (mostly due to time change and a severe lack of sleep), Kris and I were up by 5 am (we were up a bit earlier than that but really wanted to still be asleep...so we tried to force it for a while. Terri was able to get back to sleep for a while.

After entertaining ourselves with photo editing, blog posts, and other electronics, we started getting ready for the day. The hotel offered a free breakfast with many good selections. They had a great automatic coffee and hot chocolate maker. After breakfast, we were ready to head out for the day.

Knowing our first stop for the day didn't open until 9:30 am, we were open to attractions listed on the side of the road. Lucky thing too, as we stopped at a very nice castle, the Bodelwyddan Castle, in Wales for about 45 minutes.
Bodelwyddan Castle
The castle had interesting amusements (like a gigantic chess and checkers set) and shops.
Kris and Terri play chess at the Bodelwyddan Castle
Uh-oh...Kris caught me shopping for postcards.

We headed to the town of Conwy in Wales for a nice tour. We spent time walking the old town walls and then hit the Conwy Castle. Conwy Castle was built in 1283-1289. The creators of this castle were pretty ingenious too. They built a really sophisticated defense system in the walls. Instead of creating regular windows, their windows were made rather narrow and had inset grooves to each window that allowed three different archers to pull their arrows and send them flying quickly without putting the archers at risk...it was the 13th century equivalent to the machine gun...and brilliant!

They also had a pretty neat (but hard to photograph) prison and chapel.

I also liked the later added suspension bridge, seafront view, and the shipwrecks viewable from the towers.

After throughly exploring the castle, we were off to the see the smallest house in Britain. It was tiny! Kris had trouble fitting inside. The guy who lived there was 6' 3" (even taller than Kris).

Photograph of the second floor

The little old lady who was running the place recommended Archway Fish and Chips for lunch, so we went and enjoyed some fresh food and free wifi. (Kris and Terri had fish and chips, and I had roast chicken with the crispiest skin I have ever sampled.) We were quite happy with our meals, though Terri would not eat the mushy peas.

After eating, we were off for a topsy-turvy drive through the Snowdonia National Forest. I had found a scenic drive on the internet and adapted it to take us to Stratford-upon-Avon. The first stop was Betws-y-Coed and the second was Gellilydan. Taking this route allowed us to see a lot of the pretty scenery of the area. We also got a glimpse of a lake. We saw a slate quarry and many quaint buildings. We stopped for some chocolate truffles and Diet Coke.
Terri climbed down to get a closer view of the river

Kris drives on the incorrect side of the road like a pro

It took quite a while to get to Stratford-Upon-Avon, but we finally made it to our B&B, the Hamlet House, about 6pm. We checked in then walked about the town.

We stopped to see the town fountain before hitting the Old Thatch for Sunday Roast.

The Old Thatch Tavern...great Sunday Roast

The Old Thatch Tavern menu
I had the turkey. Kris had the beef. Terri had more fish and chips. The meal was fantastic. In addition to the tasty meat, there was parsnips, potatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, and more. Really enjoyed the ambiance in the pub too. They had real candles on the table, and it didn't feel like all of the other pubs I have seen.

We then hit Shakespeare's Birthplace, Cox's Yard, Hall's Croft, Old Town, the cemetery with Shakepeare's grave, and a few statues. The town was quite lovely, and it was a very nice temperature and rather lively.
Shakepeare's Birthplace

The Shakespeare Statue in Stratford-Upon-Avon is surrounded by statues of characters from his plays

The B&B when we got back, however, was disappointing. The wifi did not work despite our best efforts. We could not reach the B&B owners to attempt to fix the problem, and it was quite hot in the room.
Row of homes in Stratford-Upon-Avon...I adore the contrast of the brick and the white roof trimming.
Oh well! Least I am in new places seeing new things!

July 4th, 2011
I found out this morning that the wifi code was taped to our television in our room. When we had initially asked about the wifi, we were given a slip of paper with the code. It was incorrect.  The one on the tv was right, but we found out too late.

Breakfast wasn't until 8:30 this morning, so we had to force ourselves to sleep in a bit later than our bodies wanted. However, the breakfast was quite tasty. We were offered a complete English breakfast, but we were complicated. I had two eggs, toast, beans, a roasted tomato, orange juice, and tea. (I skipped the mushrooms, bacon, and sausage.)

We headed out quickly and headed toward Bourton-on-the-Water.

In Bourton-on-the-Water, we went to a model village.

It was built in the early 1900s using the same stone much of the town was built with, and, was made to one ninth scale size of the town.
King Kong Kris
The model had a model within a model within a model within the town.

We walked a bit of the town and saw the 18th century footbridges. We could see a bit why the village is called the 'Venice of the Cotswolds'.

Terri in Bourton-on-the-Water
Just driving down the road is so pretty with lots of places to stop and stare.

We were then off to Bibury. Bibury has a row of homes called Arlington Row. These cottages were originally built in 1380 as a monastic wool store but were eventually converted into weavers' cottages. The other houses in the village felt historic. They had moss and lichen growing on the roof.

The town had a rather nice stream flowing through it with ducks, swans, and two birds building a nest in the middle of the stream.  I was really fond of the bridge.

Ducks building a nest.  Teamwork...that's good to see.
We drove through a bit of Cirencster which had some lovely views. We also saw more hilarious signs, of which my favorite has to be the elderly crossing sign complete with a depiction of a man and woman hunched over with canes.

We headed into the town to see what is thought by many to be the grandest of all the Cotswold wool churches. It has a 120 foot tower and cemetery.

From the church, we stumbled upon the Swanyard Cafe where we had paninis for lunch.

Next on the agenda was the gorgeous and tranquil village of Castle Combe. This is truly a hidden gem of a town. I can completely understand why it has been voted the prettiest village in England. Just walking the town took my breath away.

The Old Post Office of Castle Combe

As if we hadn't done enough yet, I had more on the agenda. We were off to Bath (a UNESCO World Heritage Site). We got to tour the Roman Baths and Pump Rooms - which I found completely fascinating.

We also visited the Pulteney Bridge (one of the few bridges of the world with shops built into it).
Then we were off to see The Circus and The Royal Crescent, considered architecture masterpieces.

I diverted our route to go through Cheddar specifically to see the Cheddar Gorge. (It was more impressive than I had realized from my research.)  We saw many rock climbers and goats.

We got dinner in town at Tuckers Fish and Chips shop where I had chicken kiev, Kris had a chicken and mushroom pie, and Terri had a fish sandwich with chips...but she didn't eat the bun...so she really had fish and chips again.

Kris's chicken and mushroom pie
Check out the allergy warning on this tomato sauce...what's that about?
We made it to our B&B for the next two nights, Drake's Farm. We have a fabulously large family ensuite bedroom with three beds and space to move about in! It is fabulous. Nova and Michael are fabulously nice too. Favorite B&B already!

To be continued...

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