Trip Start May 04, 2007
16Trip End May 21, 2007
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I woke up this morning and wasn't sure what the weather was going to do. The news said it was a bit iffy as far as rain. I went to the breakfast room to see if Matt or Tory were ready for breakfast. I couldn't find either of them so I sat at a table which was right next to a wall of windows which looked out to the sea. After awhile Tory came so we had a quick cup of tea and then decided to walk down the road and head for the water (Matt was in his room grading projects so he could turn in grades for his online class).
Tory and I walked to the Alum Chine Tropical Gardens. The gardens are near Westbourne and the Riviera hotel. I'm not sure if I mentioned it but "chine" is a ravine near the ocean or a row of woods near the ocean. The gardens weren't very big but there were some interesting plants growing.
Tory stopped an older couple and asked if they would take our picture. The lady recommended taking it in front of this plant which went fully bloomed is a beautiful deep sea-green color and came from Chile.
We left the gardens and headed down a road where we came across the Argyll Bowls Club. There was a couple on the green playing "bowls". I knew what bowls was but I didn't know how to play. We asked if the couple if we could take a picture of them playing and they excitedly recommended we "have a go". I thought they meant try and play with their equipment but the man pointed to the café located behind the clubhouse and said to ask for the steward.
We went inside the café and a woman walked us down to the clubhouse and began fitting us for shoes. Then another lady came and offered to show us how to play the game. We later found out her name was June. Coach June as I call her now. Tory and I played an hour or more. June helped us out a lot telling us the rules and trying to give us some pointed on how to throw the woods. Maybe I should explain a bit. You have a white ball about the size of a tennis ball (maybe a bit smaller) that is smooth which is called the JACK. You have 4 other balls referred to as WOODS which come in different sizes depending on the size of your hand. You throw the jack while standing on a small rubber mat and try and center it down as the other end. Then you try and bowl your woods to as close to the jack as you can get. Sounds easy, right? It can be if you can get the right length, weight, and bias on the bowls. We had a very good time and took lots of photographic evidence of our experience.
We continued walking, trying to follow a map that didn't list every street, attempting to find Compton Acres. On the way we found a post office with a bit of a gift shop in it. I picked up some postcards to send home and Tory picked up some "sweeties" which is what the UK calls candy/chocolate. One of the sweeties she selected was called ginger creams. Matt and I tried one and I was lucky enough not to pop the whole thing in my mouth. They were definitely more ginger than cream. Tory put the whole thing in her mouth and the overpowering ginger was making her eyes water. We finally came across an official street sign pointing the way to Compton Acres.
Compton Acres is tagged as "Take a journey through 10 acres of themed gardens..." and has restaurants and shopping as well. They also have an area where you can peruse through potted plants and buy what you're interested in. Of course you can't take any plants or wildlife back to the states... not that anything else is going to fit in my luggage.
As you walk through the different themed parks, such as the Italian Gardens, Wooded Valley, Rock & Water Garden, Heather Garden, and Japanese Garden you can see markers on the different plants and trees listing their names. The entire place is so peaceful and has benches scattered throughout so you can sit and just take it all in.
We called a taxi to take us back to the hotel so we could get ready for dinner at Claire's house (those from Cy-Fair reading this will remember Claire from the exchange). While we were waiting for the taxi to arrive I was struck by some cards the little gift shop had. It turns out the cards were created using a pottery glazing technique used in Moorcroft. Moorcroft is based out of Stoke-on-Trent, England. You can visit their website at www.moorcroft.com. On the back of each card they list the title of the illustration on the front and a little blip about the scene and the artist. I bought two cards... not to give to anyone but to keep. Both had designs from the senior designer at Moorcroft.
We caught a taxi back to the Riviera hotel and got cleaned up for dinner at Claire's. She had mentioned the evening was very casual and to come comfortable. Dinner was going to be buffet style. Claire had a friend, another lecturer from the college pick us up at the hotel at 7pm. His name is Graham. Graham drove us to Claire's which was quite a distance in England standards... outside of Bournemouth. We had such a wonderful time. Claire had invited some other folks from the college that were obviously not just co-workers but friends and another couple which were not from the college.
She made traditional sausages which see informed us had to be burnt if you were having them English style... we informed that's blackened or Cajun to us. She made homemade pizza where she had raised the dough in a cupboard upstairs, roasted potatoes, pasta salad, different types of marinated chicken, cherry Coke ham (fabulous!) and homemade bread. Everything was so good and she made plenty of it. The entertainment of the evening was watching EuroVision which I had never seen before. There's a music/entertainment contest every year and any European country can participate. Each country has one band or performance to represent them. I'm not sure how the countries decide what song and band is going to represent their country. All of Claire's guests were glued to the "telly" watching all the performances... some more entertaining than others. Here's a link to the EuroVision website so you can see Serbia who won the competition. http://www.eurovision.tv/.
Just so you'll know, Claire was practically horrified that we were watching EuroVision because she didn't want us Americans to think this was proper English culture (I told Claire I'd put in this disclaimer ;-). She was quite embarrassed with the whole thing but the other guests wouldn't let her change the channel.