Actually I lie. We did simply fly into England, after a 23 hour journey from Australia. I then spent several hours in a hotel room becoming disgusted with the Android WordPress app. By the following night I had decided to use Facebook as a journal to record immediate thoughts and impressions. So part of what follows will be excerpts from that with other learnings etc. :)
So an annotated version of my first journal entry reads:
Made it here… eventually. Leaving London we got lost on a ring-road and unknowingly drove south instead of north. Realised our error at Hastings.
So then drove north and was unable to find the M40. Me being me thought it a good idea to try to navigate by the sun and so eventually we found ourselves driving for hours on tiny country roads til we eventually struck a town called Bedford.
Caved in and bought a map.
Next challenge: Nicole’s map reading and navigation skills… she… doesn’t have any. Oh well, who am I to criticize? Every time the shadows hit the road from the wrong direction I would just reverse the direction that I drove. So Nicole would use the map to pick the roads and I would use the sun to pick the direction we drove down it. A winner!!!!
So it only took us about 7 hours to drive a one and a half hour trip. ☺
Scott Fisher (that’s my step brother) found and paid for us at The Meadows Farm. Brilliant place. Great rooms ☺ Highly recommend. This said, Scott is very naughty albeit very generous. I am blessed with the world’s best step brother (see, I said he was my step brother). He, Gail and Jodie then laid out a spectacular feast at their place for us
OK. I hope that this is giving you some expectations. Nicole and I are very good at getting lost. Always have been. There is also a warning here. During our driving we passed through an innocuous tunnel called the Dartford tunnel. Somehow jet-lagged tourists in rent-a-cars are supposed to psychically know to phone up and pay a toll on the night that you pass through it. Fail to do so and a 38 pound fine will be delivered to your doorstep when you fly home. Aaaarghh!
Now day 2’s post is a lot more interesting. Not so much in what I say as what I don’t say on Facebook! Here is what I wrote:
Visited Stratford-upon-Avon today and told Rhiannon about Shakespeare. Below are pictures of his birthplace.
Yep – so? I hear you say. It’s short but accurate… or is it?
Now I know that most of my Facebook friends will not bother to read my blog (they are simply not that interested in me) so I can feel free to reveal more here. In doing so I reveal more about myself to you guys.
Firstly, I am Christian. I honestly believe that there is a God who manifested an aspect of himself in ancient Israel a couple of millennia ago. However I came to this belief at 18 (33 years ago) and remember thinking how weird such beliefs were before I adopted them myself. I also 1) don’t expect others to share my beliefs, 2) also believe in science and humanistic philosophies, 3) do my best to reconcile such beliefs and philosophies, 4) am very liberal in most of my thinking, 5) am largely hypocritical.
This said, I really cannot be bothered arguing with people who believe differently. I am really quite happy for anyone to believe whatever they want to believe so long as they offer me the same consideration. But I know several people who are not so considerate. Yes, they may be beautiful people in most respects, but as soon as religion comes up they grow fangs and dive for the jugulars of anyone who believes differently.
What has this to do with travelling to Stratford-upon-Avon?
Well the most enjoyable 60 minutes of the visit surprised me. It was a shop/”museum” called “STMO’s Magic Alley“. Essentially a three story old Tudor(?) house has been converted to have a magic shop on the ground floor and a kind of “museum” of magical items. OK – really it’s just a very eclectic combination of displays wonderfully decorated to give an atmosphere of wizardry. With it comes a booklet for children (and adults!) which is full of questions and puzzles relating to the exhibits. At several points Rhiannon had to decrypt words and the such. It was truly engaging and I really, really recommend it to anyone with children.
So one lesson learnt: while travelling make sure to experience novelty places – they may surprise you.
Anyway, as such fun fantasy things (including Harry Potter) are considered the “works of the Devil” by a few of my Facebook friends I decided that I could not mention this there. But here I say, go see it if you are in the area.
Final review: Meadow Farm in Redditch. The place we stayed in Redditch (just outside Birmingham) was great. I highly recommend the Family rooms in the old part of the place because these are larger. But they are hard to get. The rooms in the more modern section are pretty standard. Here is a picture of the old section to give you an idea.
So here my first trip post is drawing to an end. As you can see the photos are few at this point. I was trying to teach myself to use my DSLR better and still had the old paradigm of taking few photos (memories of the days when a film had 24 or 36 shots on it and each photo had to be carefully thought out first). Trust me, this paradigm shifts in me quite rapidly by my next post!
Thanks for reading. Hope you got something from it even though I did not mention any artistic thoughts.