Into the Cotswolds

Trip Start Mar 29, 2006
Trip End Feb 28, 2007

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Monday, January 1, 2007

MONDAY, 1ST January
A bright sunny day in total contrast to the previous. I rang M and J in Great Yarmouth to tell them that we would be delighted to take up their offer to let us stay the day before they leave. Niece, S and her partner in North London had also been warned to expect us. I rang my sister in Cyprus who seemed to be also full of the joys of the new year.
TUESDAY, 2nd January
We made a second visit to the church at Bathhampton. This time the doors were open and we were able to take a look at the memorial to Governor Phillip which included a chapel and a full list of all persons on the First Fleet. No-one was about so I was unable to announce our presence as it were. We took the long loop back to Frome via the road across the Avon valley along some very narrow, muddy lanes.
WEDNESDAY, 3rd January
THURSDAY, 4th January
Although neither of us was 100% we decided to go on a day out into the Cotswolds. Overcast but clear we could see the Severn river bridge from the hills around Old Sodbury as we drove up the A46. From horizon to horizon were green fields. Considering that Somerset was supposed to be the dairy centre of the south there were very few cows munching on that greenery. Maybe the kids are right. Milk, cream and butter actually come from cartons. We did learn later that much of the grass was freshly planted barley. But we are still looking for those elusive Friesians. The fields were divided by stone walls in various stages of disrepair. Some were totally demolished whilst others had received their cash grants and looked as new. The hedgerows suffered from the effects of the winter season and were leafless which as far as I was concerned was a bonus...we could see through them.
We dropped into and through Nailsworth and managed to avoid the landfill that was Stroud and stopped at a small town called Painswick which we had noticed as worthy of revisiting on the way down from Scotland previously. We parked in a fee-less park near a church which was surrounded by topiarised yew trees. They looked like large green balloons tethered to the ground or lollipops on sticks as they overshadowed the gravestones and tombs below. One or two looked like the ace of clubs. Much to Anne's dismay there was a Xmas tree inside the church...she does not approve of a symbol of fairy tales being merged with a place of worship!
There was another first to satisfy heathens like me. There were small signs attached to the different parts of the church to inform the ignorant as to the name of and the function of that locale. Such as THE PULPIT...where they crush and pulp fruit and THE NAVE...through which the bad people run.
The village itself was of narrow streets and creamy textured stone houses...all of that same distinctive hue. The roads through the narrow streets had been recently bituminised and marked with double yellow lines which all and sundry ignored. Cars should really have been totally banned.
We drove on across country to Cirencester. We followed a goods vehicle out of Painswick down a single lane muddy road into a valley but it decided to stop in Sheepscombe and deliver the beer supplies to the pub there. Due to the narrowness of the road and that there were cars parked opposite we could not pass and so, along with many others we had to wait for half an hour for the driver to complete his delivery. No way was he going to move up the road to let us through. That would have involved him having to wheel the barrels further. We  should have gone in for a drink.
The hills were green and brown and scattered with stone farm houses. When we reached Cirencester we parked in the Brewery car park and lunched upstairs in a bakery. There was no-one there. I had a panini and a milk shake. The latter contained milk and it had been shaken but there was no flavour in it nor ice cream. I explained this to the Indian waiter but I didn't get a refund this time.
The abbey was very old and interesting except that the lights were a problem. They were suspended just above eye level such that one could not see the ceiling beyond them. I mentioned this to someone but didn't get a refund for that either. I was losing my touch. From the abbey we followed a trail around the town which supposedly led us past all the historic sites. . .which it did. . .but Anne was fading fast so we cut it short and headed back to the car.
Down the A419 to Cricklade and then across to the A350 down to Trowbridge. We did not stop again at any of the towns in between except for petrol and arrived home just after dark...both of us very tired.
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