A Yank's View of England Part 8
|Tuesday - May 9th
Poor Jim had to go into London for a job, so Helen and I took off south with Tom and Chris headed ultimately for the Bovington Tank Museum. We took the Roman road “The Fosse Way” for most of the trip. Went through some of the prettiest countryside in England. The style of stone house is characteristic of the area, being built of local Cotswold Stone. In Burford we stopped and walked a really neat stone bridge. This narrow bridge has triangular cutouts built into the walls to allow pedestrians to step out of the path of large horse-drawn wagons. Really cool idea! The view of the river and the gardens from the bridge was awesome. I also had my first pasty. These are a lovely folded flaky crust filled with coarse cut chunks of savoury beef, potatoes and other veg. Delish!!
We got to see a roof being re-thatched! It was nice to see that a number of the craftsmen doing the work looked to be under 40!
Next stop was Avebury with its great henge and stone circles. A henge is a circular area defined by a bank and a ditch and approached by one or two entrances. The Avebury henge is thought to have been started about 2600 BC and the stone circles about 2400 BC. Avebury appears to have been connected with the great human themes of fertility, life and death. At one time there were an estimated 247 stones comprising the main stone circle and the two smaller stone circles. The boys took the opportunity of freedom to ham it up a bit. Chris decides he’s a human sacrifice, Tom tempts fate in the mouth of a stone Pac-Man, and Helen is more contemplative. Me, I go for the food and a pint of Stonehenge ale! Only pub inside a stone circle in the world!
Then it was on to the most famous of the prehistoric temple sites,
Stonehenge. Stonehenge is the best known of the nearly 100 henges that survive in the British Isles. When walking around Stonehenge one is first struck by the importance this site must have had for the Neolithic peoples that built it (given the degree of difficulty in the project) over a period 3050 BC through 1500 BC, and second by the degree of technology embodied here. First in the technology of construction and second in it’s astronomical correlation. The geometry of the continuous lintel is truly amazing; it is accurately circular and precisely level despite the sloping site. Each component is cut to form a circular arc, linked to its neighbors by a vertical tongue-and-groove joint and held on its upright by a mortice-and-tenon joint. And all this done in massive stone blocks with stone hand tools!
After enjoying an ice cream it was off to find a hotel in Lulworth Cove. The Cromwell House Hotel was a neat place up on the hill overlooking the cove. Tom & Chris were thrilled. It had a pool!!
After a walk down to the beach, dinner was next on the plan. Leek & potato soup, a steak and a nice bottle of Rioja. After dinner we all took another walk down to the beach. The night sounds were “unusual.” Heavy artillery and .50 cal. heavy machine-gun fire from the artillery range on the top of the hill. Sure hope they’ve got the range right!
Wednesday – May 10th
After a full English breakfast at the hotel it was off to the Bovington Tank Museum. (See their website for a good look at the collection) The Tank Museum houses the world's largest and finest collection of Armoured Fighting Vehicles from unique World War 1 tanks to the latest main battle tank of the British Army - Challenger. The Museum has a collection of almost 300 vehicles from over 26 countries. One display of WWI tanks made a couple of points that really struck home. They had no room, no suspension, and all hard edges. More soldiers were injured INSIDE the tanks than were injured BY the tanks outside! I also enjoyed the examples of armor plate used to test armor piercing shells!!
The drive back to Kibworth Harcourt was as entertaining as the drive down. Helen found out that salt & vinegar crisps work wonders to keep you awake! Stops along the way included the Cerne Abbas Giant (a figure of a naked man some 180' tall by 165' wide, created by cutting through the turf of a hillside down to the chalk underneath. Local tradition has infertile couples finding success when they "perform" on the giant's 30' long member), fording a stream with the Volvo, the Lush shop in Bath (to pick up pressies for the females at home – smellies & bath bombs), and more roof thatching. When I asked the bloke how long it takes to thatch a roof, he looked at me for a bit and replied, “Depends on who’s doing the thatching.” The style of flint house construction is unique to this area of England. BTW the incredible road signs encountered in England will be covered at the end of the trip!
Jim’s mum Jan made a wonderful meatloaf for dinner.
Next up a “Science Lesson” at Chris’ school, the Abbey Pumping Station, Steak and Kidney Pie, and Pulling a Pint at the Royal Oak.
Arnie's UK Tour
|Rushden Cavalcade||Twycross Zoo||Peter Forbes'|
|Country Towns||Stoke Goldington||Roland Craven|
|Stoke Bruerne||Southern England||Local Attractions|
|Canals & Wales||Last Few Days|