"The Bill"

Trip Start Sep 22, 2012
Trip End Oct 19, 2012

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Flag of United Kingdom  , England,
Sunday, September 30, 2012

With some sadness, we farewell Nita in Bath and head off towards Oxford on an overcast but dry day. Hilary has requested a stop at Lacock - an entire village classified by the National Trust, an abbey and a museum dedicated to William Fox Talbot who created the first photographic negative. She has acquired a serious camera lately and has developed quite an interest in the subject.

My Australian National Trust membership gets us free entry into the carpark and museum. There is an extensive display of photographic equipment and early images and explanations of the history of photography. Upstairs is an exhibition by Jo Whaley who photographs insects and interprets their features for the backgrounds. Clever and stunning.

We walk through the immaculate gardens displaying the last of summer's blooms to the cloisters of the Abbey. Dating from mediaeval times, they are more familiar to many as the cloisters from the Harry Potter films, so we tread where Daniel Radcliffe trod, more so than any ancient monk! Then we move on to the village...

From Wikipedia... "Lacock is mentioned in the Domesday book, with a population of 160–190; with two mills and a vineyard. Lacock Abbey was founded on the manorial lands in 1232; and the village — with the manor — formed its endowment to "God and St Mary". Lacock was granted a market and developed a thriving wool industry during the Middle Ages.

At the Dissolution, the Abbey and estate, including the village were sold to William Sharington, later passing into the Talbot family by marriage. Most of the surviving houses are 18th-century or earlier in construction. There is a 14th-century tithe barn, a medieval church, and an inn dating from the 15th century and an 18th-century lock-up."

The town is a surreal two blocks to walk around when you consider the age of the houses - and the fact that they are still inhabited! Houses abut the footpaths but residents have private garden allotments in a market garden patch beyond the village. A few shops operate for the many tourists that visit - and there are quite a few today. The Sunday Drive is alive and well in Wiltshire!

The next planned stop is our hotel just outside Oxford. Midway, we divert off the M4 motorway to Faringdon for some afternoon tea.

The signpost had said 'Historic Town"... we find "Boganville".

Two men loiter in the car park as we walk through to a nearby cafe. Hilary notices them climbing over one car and scrawling something on its back window. As we order our drinks, one comes in to tell the shop girl that someone has kicked in a car outside, then leaves...

Sophia has already called the police, having watched the drama unfold. We drink our coffee but find ourselves in the middle of the drama as the local constabulary look for witnesses. Constable Emma interviews three of us individually and I am able to show her Google images of Geelong football player Cameron Ling who looks remarkably like one of the pair. She agrees and confirms that the two have already been arrested further up the street.

We hope that no further statements are needed and finally escape from Faringdon, retracing our steps about 10km in search of the Uffington White Horse. Ian, Hilary and I scale the hill to visit the 3000 year old figure of crushed chalk in trenches in a 300 feet long image of a horse. It is another National Trust property and surprisingly, the public are able to walk right up to the chalk lines, albeit after a steep climb. I wonder why, like Stonehenge, it is not fenced off for it's own protection.

The panoramic view across Oxfordshire is stunning despite the grey skies and biting winds.
It is hard to find a spot to view the horse in it's entirety from afar but we are content to have seen this much.

We give Faringdon a wide berth as we head for tonight's stop - The Dog Inn in the delightfully named Frilford Heath, just southwest of Oxford. The rooms are dated but spacious and comfortable. And the smell of the counter teas coming down the hallway is seductive...
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