Eurotrip 2011: The West Country.2

See the other posts of our three-week trek around Europe here.

For our third day in England, we headed to the beautiful city of Bath. In what normally would have been a 25-minute journey from Melksham, I requested that NS detour the car a bit to see the Westbury White Horse, a cutout on a hill in Wiltshire that dates back to the 18th century. The cutout reveals the bare hill's lime/chalk lying underneath, creating a white image for curious spectators like ourselves.

The surrounding landscape isn't half bad, either.

As you can see above, we were experiencing some typical English cloud cover, so upon arriving in Bath, we immediately visited Ben's Cookies for lattes and (of course) cookies. Nothing like melt-in-your-mouth chocolate-chocolate cookies to solve gloomy-day blues.

It's no secret that Bath is most well known for the ancient Roman Baths. We enjoyed our tour of the still-being-uncovered baths, trying to imagine their original occupants. Although the water is green with algae now, this facility was the height of luxury 2,000 years ago. 2,000 years! I can barely fathom it!

About as close to the main bath as its advisable to be.
We strolled along the shops on the Pulteney Bridge - one of the world's only bridges with shops facing both sides.  Here I am nearby:

Speaking of shops, what's great about Bath is how they've seamlessly blended the ancient and the current. Right after touring Roman Baths that are centuries old, I found myself in H&M trying on a trendy skirt. I love places that have it all.

It was also during this cloudy and windy portion of the day that I fell in love with the famous Cornish Pasty. Buttery, flakey dough on the outside, warm meat and veggies on the inside. Comfort food in a packet. Please, may I have some more?

We meandered back to the center of town, where our car was parked. For those of you who know Bath well, that last sentence should be concerning to you. Why were we parked in the center of town, quite near the Roman Baths, in an absolutely ideal spot? Oh, because we had parked illegally. Quite unintentional, I can assure you, since we hadn't quite figured out what the painted lines along the curbs meant. Apparently they meant, "Feel free to park here after 6 p.m., but not before." Oops. Our rental car was shamefully bearing the badge of a £70 ticket. I saw the parking warden a couple blocks away, so N chased him down to get the scoop. There was no sweet-talking our way out of the ticket, but the warden suggested we leave the ticket on the car and remain parked there, so that at least we'd not have to move (and pay a second time for legitimate parking.) As it turns out, paying the ticket within 14 days meant a 50% discount, so maybe £35 for a prime spot wasn't such a bad deal. (That's what we told ourselves.)

Anyway, back to the center of town: The square in front of the Roman Baths was especially crowded, as a wedding had just taken place in the Abbey. I loved the British women in their colorful (and sometimes fanciful) hats. It's like every wedding is as big a deal as the Kentucky Derby.

I wonder if any were inspired by those seen
at the Royal Wedding in April.
And look at this! Sunshine! Blue skies! The rainy British stereotype is once again challenged by my personal experiences. I think the last time I was in England, I went home with a tan.

The Bath Abbey, bathed in warm September sunshine.
The following day, Sunday, was our last day in the West Country. Our morning was filled with a church service at Good News Church in Melksham, followed directly after by a once-a-month church pot luck luncheon. Lucky for us, it was chili day! Several crock pots full of various chilis were served alongside buttered rolls and salad. I welcomed the warm, hearty meal, as it's one of my favorite autumnal dishes, and not one I often make in hot and humid Cayman.

I highlight the chili above, as it was my favorite part of the meal, but I should once again mention the bread we ate, since someone else took a much greater interest in it. See below for Young M's version of what happened while tearing through a roll that Sunday:

Tooth Story

I'm sure this is redundant, but the above entry in my travel journal reads, "When I was eating I bit into the bread so hard that my tooth fell out. I looked at my shoe thinking there was a stone but it was my tooth." Only ever-comical M would find a tooth in her shoe. For such a well-written story, N promptly rewarded her, like the good tooth fairy that he is.

In the afternoon, we drove the short distance to Devizes to check out the series of 29 locks that help boats navigate the Kennet and Avon Canal. Sixteen of these can be seen in a straight line, which is somewhat depicted in the top left portion of the collage below. The following photos were taken at the top of Caen Hill as we watched two canal boats simultaneously pass through the locks. The locking system was fascinating in its time-consuming, old mechanical way. Plus, the sun was out again; what else do we need to be happy?

[One other note about the canals: We went on our one and only (!) run of the vacation along the canal in Melksham before church. What a quiet and gorgeous setting, with no more than the sounds of canal boat vacationers starting to make breakfast in their long, flat weekend homes. Although the sun had already risen, it was a legitimately chilly run - such an adjustment from Cayman!]

To conclude our West Country tour, we spent the last night with C&B and family, as the boys (and I) had the season's first Eagles game to focus on. While I was sitting on the couch, journaling and waiting for the game to start, I was greeted by a pink-goggled, swimsuit-clad little blonde, who promptly announced she was ready to scuba dive. Nevermind that she hasn't learned to swim in real water yet; the imaginary stuff was fun enough for her. For example, here she is jumping off the diving board:

Then she and her "swimming costume"-wearing sister practiced their backstroke in the pool. I stood by as the photographer and British sports announcer for this Olympian duo.

I think they're giggling at my accent.

When that got boring (read: when the boys made them stop so they could watch the game), M busied herself with making faces for the camera while her brother captured every expression (yes, with my camera; I'm softening).

And that, my friends, concluded the most relaxing leg of our journey.

A huge thank-you to C&B for opening up their home to us. We loved catching up after a ten-year hiatus, and meeting your kids was the cherry on top! Visit Cayman! STAT!


  1. mmmmmmmmm....Cornish Pasty! We had the best ones at our high school tuck shop!
    Now I have me a hankerin' for one!