So I guess that brings us up to my jaunt in the English countryside! Exciting.
We left Oxford around noon after having an amazing breakfast of tea and crumpets. (Totally awesome.) We arrived in Chippenham where Elroy's dad picked us up from the train station. We all know about Elroy's dad so I won't go into detail here about how terribly intimidating he is. We arrived here:
Yes, this is where people actually live. It's a converted barn so the inside has all these really cool wooden beams made from old ship's masts. The dining room has a huge window where they built a wall to cover up the door through which they brought in those huge round hay bales. The grounds are really impressive and beautiful. There are sheep, cows and horses everywhere. And since the weather took to rain for at least a couple of hours everyday, it was extremely muddy there so we had to wear wellies when we took the dog out for a walk.
I really like wellies. Most because it's fun to say wellies. Wellies. Wellies wellies wellies. Haha. Anyway, I really like that first picture up there of the house because of the full moon that looks a lot like a sun with the brightness of it and the lightness of the sky.
We spent the first afternoon/night hanging out and chatting. They had some family friends over for tea–which was super cute because duh, we don't really have people "over for tea" here in yankee shot-gun bible thumping land. I got to try another Christmas cake with the tea, which was really good because it had a marzipan frosting and I just love marzipan. Lamb chops for dinner and then it was time for bed.
The next morning we woke up early to do some sightseeing and to pick
up some birthday cards and presents for Elroy's dad's girlfriend. This was exciting as I was seeing more of the English countryside. The first place we stopped into was Malmesbury, the site of the famous Malmesbury Abbey (top picture), where they tried to beat another Abbey in London (or something) with the height of their spire, and they did, only to have the entire thing crumble in a storm. That should put you in your place, silly monks. Honestly. Learn a little humility, eh? We went inside and it was all very churchy (ain't got nothing on those churches in Italy) but we did see some beautiful illuminated scripts that they had in this mini-museum on a second floor alcove. The Abbey is next to "The Old Bell" pub/inn, which apparently is one of the oldest pubs in England, if not the oldest. I have a picture of it, but oh so lazy right now. I really like The Market Square (bottom picture). It looks…cool, even if it was built for poor people so that they didn't get rained on.
There's a little town that goes with Malmesbury and we shopped around for cards and books. We found some good cards in a little old lady shop (you know the kind–filled
with Crab Tree and Evelyn products and the fugliest hats and pins in the world). Then we drove off to Tetbury where there is a butcher's shop that Elroy's dad likes to go for fresh meat and freshly baked English pies. We were able to score an amazing smelling turkey pie. It made the entire interior of the car smell like deliciousness. Obviously it was difficult to focus for the rest of the trip. Tetbury is very famous for a very very steep street. Apparently they have cheese rolling contests on this street. That's right. Cheese rolling. They also do a sack running where they have a really heavy sack that they try to run up the really steep hill. Did I mention we were in the countryside?
From Tetbury we went to Cirencester. This is more of a town than a village, which is what I would have called Malmesbury and Tetbury. I mean, there were lots of people driving Porches and modern shops and the such. There's also a church (top picture) right in the marketplace there. We went inside, but it wasn't nearly as big or fancy as the Abbey. It always amazes me how much work an effort it must have taken to make these gigantic things in ancient day ie. the Colliseum, the Parthenon, any of these old churches that we saw. I mean, it's not like they had cranes or lifts. Although they did have slaves, which I guess is similar t
hough not as tall, they are expendable.
Elroy's dad ordered some flowers from Cirencester and then we headed back to the barn for a totally awesome turkey pie lunch. Mmmmm. That night Elroy cooked the famous British curry that he does (aka, not anything like a real Indian curry, but close). It actually came out great. Mostly because he usually make it so hot that it's almost painful to eat it, but this time, because it was for his dad too, he made it not as hot hot hot. Afterwards we watched Spirited Away, which is just such a beautiful cute film. Yay for Miyazaki! If you haven't seen it and you don't mind anime/cartoon, I HIGHLY recommend you check out pretty much anything by Hayao Miyazaki. He is a god.