"Family Affairs"

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

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Flag of United Kingdom  , England,
Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Today is slated as a drive through the Cotswolds to Stratford-upon-Avon and return. We pass the turnoff to Blenheim Palace, Winston Churchill's childhood base and now an enormous stately home open to visitors. Indeed, Rod and I had been there for a dinner during a law conference decades ago.

Ian asks if we are anywhere near Bladon and indeed we are. It is Churchills' final resting place so we divert off the A44 to St. Martin's Church. It is a small village church with no sign of its significant heritage. Many of the extended Churchill family are buried here.

In Stratford, we explore Ann Hathaway's cottage where the very knowledgable David gives a full and fascinating insight into both building and maintaining such a house and life 500 years ago. He demonstrates the manual spit over the fireplace used for mutton or pork, saying they were sometimes dog spits.
Hilary and I imagine roasted kelpies but David explains the spits were powered by a small dog running inside - something like a hamster wheel!

David completes his chat with us by reciting Shakespeare's Sonnet 11 to Grandma upon learning that we are three generations travelling together...


As fast as thou shalt wane, so fast thou growest
In one of thine, from that which thou departest;
And that fresh blood which youngly thou bestow'st
Thou mayst call thine when thou from youth convertest.
Herein lives wisdom, beauty and increase:
Without this, folly, age and cold decay:
If all were minded so, the times should cease
And threescore year would make the world away.
Let those whom Nature hath not made for store,
Harsh featureless and rude, barrenly perish:
Look, whom she best endow'd she gave the more;
Which bounteous gift thou shouldst in bounty cherish:
She carved thee for her seal, and meant thereby
Thou shouldst print more, not let that copy die

In town, it's a quick lunch and Skype call to Rohan while we sit opposite Shakespeare's house. The guides here can't match David for detail and delivery but the concept of living in this house alone is fascinating. And not alone either... Many would have been crowded into the rooms.

We take an alternative route home via numerous honey-coloured stone Cotswold villages and revisit Lower Slaughter.. another village Rod and l stumbled on last time. I have had a photo of it and it's neightbour, Upper Slaughter, on my walls ever since then. Today's grey skies and drizzle don't allow a repeat photo to match the first but they are still idyllic little destinations.

Hilary organises dinner for us tonight. She has a friend working at a hotel just out of Oxford and secures us a table. The Trout Inn in Wolvercote is a Tudor Grade 2-listed heritage pub, modernised but retaining the 17th century beams and timber work inside and out. It sits on the Thames, small and babbling at this point,  but we can't appreciate it's great location since we arriving after dark.

Dinner is excellent and reasonably priced. The only negative is my failing to take the right exit off the freeway and taking the (very) long way home!
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