Thursday, January 20, 2011

Discovering Stow...

I don't think a herd of elephants pounding thru the cottage could have woken us up that first night! It was Sunday morning and this was my first view out my bedroom window...kind of misty and dreamy looking.  This is why I love England so much!  The sun quickly burned off the cloud and it turned into an absolutely gorgeous day!
Are we really here?

We got dressed and walked down the road into town in search of a good cup of coffee.  We found this little place with beams just overhead, very cozy and very old. 

We wandered around the town of Stow-on-the-Wold, (this town I had imagined and dreamed about thru pictures and guide books for the last 4 months), discovering hidden alleys and paths, sweet little boutique type stores around each corner.
The town square was very busy with a lot of traffic and tourists.  Beautiful big trees shade a corner where you can sit down and watch people go by,  enjoy the warmth of the sun and pure joy of being.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

...and then we got to Oxford and it all changed

All was going well and we were beginning to adjust to right-hand drive on the wrong side of the road, the roundabouts that are almost constant, two or three lanes across, reading the signs quickly or going around a second or third time until we were sure of our exit.  And then we got to Oxford and it all changed!  We must have missed a sign keeping us on the route which would by-pass the city, because we suddenly found ourselves in the middle of Oxford and one-way roads that kept us going in circles.  I think we passed colleges and historic points of interest but we just kept going and going because there was nowhere we could pull over and ask somebody for directions or even get our bearings.  At
one point we just kept following a city bus, hoping it might lead us out!  Nothing was working and then ahead was a home building supply with an actual parking lot so we could stop.  When we saw a gentleman going to his car, we pleaded with him to point us in the right direction.  Instead, he offered us to follow him and he would take us to the outskirts so we could get back on the A40.  I do believe he was an angel sent from above!  Except for a near miss being t-boned because I looked left when I should have looked right, the last miles were uneventful.

Consider we had been up for about 24 hours straight by this point!  What joy when the signs for Stow-on-the-Wold finally began to appear!  And then to find Johnston Cottage on Well Lane so we could sleep...zzzz

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Oh, the places we'll go...

At times it feels like a lovely dream.
On our way!
We were moving to a new home and had to purchase appliances.  The store had a special offer that if we spent over a certain amount, we would receive 2 free return tickets of our choice, flying in to Gatwick, Manchester or Glasgow.  The only stipulation was that the summer was blacked out and since my husband is a teacher and wouldn't be able to take the time off, who would want to travel with me?  The question was barely spoken and Alison had already said YES!
This was September 2007.
Our flight was non-stop Vancouver to Gatwick, about 9 and a half hours.  I had the window seat and didn't get up once on the entire flight. (I have since heard that that's really really bad!)
We landed, found the loo immediately, and then our car rental company.  After some advice from the young man behind the counter, we went to our car.  A little Ford Fiesta, very cute.  It felt SO strange sitting on the right side of the car!
We were barely out of the car rental lot and right onto the M23, the freeway that circles Greater London, tagging behind the big trucks ahead of us in the slow lane, which is the far LEFT lane!  Everybody else is whizzing past at crazy speeds and I'm just hoping I won't crash and kill us both!  Fortunately, Alison was great at navigating and map-reading so between the two of us, we managed to continue to the M40, which heads west towards Oxford, traffic thinned out a bit, so we could relax a little.
to be continued...