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London in Retrospect – Part 5

Posted by on April 9, 2006

On Friday morning, we had our daily fry-up a wee bit earlier than the rest of the week. The reason for this is because we had a day trip planned. We were heading to Stonehenge and the town of Bath.

OUr coach actually showed up late. The driver was supposed to pick us up, and then pick up the other group on the way out of town. That would have been logical as the other group was staying at a hotel that was on our way, but the driver picked them up first. His mistake put us behind schedule on a day that was already fairly busy.

The weather that morning was what I had always imagined London weather to be. In a word, it was grey. The skies were overcast, and though it wasn’t really raining, it was definitely drizzling off and on. After having several days of walking, taking a leisurely coach ride to Stonehenge was a welcome respite.

Unfortunately, the drive was not as relaxing as it could have because of the presence of Myrtle. Myrtle was our tour guide for the day, and she had a through command of a vast array of knowledge and trivia. I am not sure if she stopped talking the entire day. (If she did, she did so after I had already achieved information overload and tuned her out.) She shared with us all about Stonehenge on the way there, and frankly, I pretty sure she was reciting the details of its construction from her memory of the good old days. She was so old she could have very well served as a consultant on the job.

When we made it to Stonehenge, Dalia told us she was staying on the coach to make some more arrangements for the rest of the tour. (She was taking the two groups that were accompanying us to Paris the next day.) I told her when she finished with her calls, she had a mission. She needed to find me a Penhaligon’s.

Stonehenge was fairly impressive. I must admit that being kept at a distance was frustrating though certainly understandable. (During the years when people were allowed to approach the stones, many people did so with a rock hammer in order to take home a little piece of Stonehenge.) I thought about trying to convince the caretakers that I was a druid, but they probably would have insisted that I strip myself naked and paint myself blue before allowing me to approach the stones. I wanted to approach them, but not that bad.

After walking around the stones, we headed back to the coach. (Well, after the typical stop in the gift shop where my students once again did all they could to strengthen the UK economy.) I was hoping for a restful drive to Bath, but it was not to be. Myrtle’s knowledge was one again forthcoming. She continued to tell us about the local architecture, the history of the massive, white chalk horses, and I promise I am not kidding you… animal husbandry. At one point, she began to explain various breeding methods for British cows. By the time we reached Bath, we had learned about much more than just the history and architecture of the town.

The countryside was simply brilliant. The route to Bath took us through several quaint villages and through some beautiful countryside. There was simply too much to take in, so I tried to just enjoy it as much as I could. Bath itself was a beautiful town.

We split up for lunch after we arrived, and Dalia, Beth and I went for a birthday lunch at a local pub, the Rat and Parrot. (The pub itself was an okay establishment, but it is part of a chain. I would have preferred something more like the Horse and Groom in Windsor.) The food was slow in coming, but we eventually finished our lunch in time to make a speed tour of the museum surrounding the ancient Roman Baths.

On the way back to the coach, I saw my favorite sight of the town. There was an older middle-aged street performer that I had noticed earlier standing in the middle of pedestrian square singing while playing his guitar. As I approached, I noticed a little girl standing in front of him. As she dropped a coin into his cup, he began to make up a song to her.

“Thank you, my darling… thank you, my beautiful…
You are my beautiful… my beautiful little darling…”

As he continued singing, she bent over and began to pick up the rest of the coins had missed his cup but landed in his guitar case and place each one in the cup. Meanwhile, he kept on singing.

We traveled back to London in relative peace. On the way, Dalia informed me that she had, in fact, found out where a Penhaligon’s was, and dropped me off literally feet away from it. Beth went with me, and together we picked a fragance.

After Penhaligon’s, we tried to find Beth’s china, but to no avail. We went into a shop that carried her brand, but they didn’t have her pattern. We then joined the rest of our group for dinner at Harry Ramsden’s, a fish and chips place. I have to admit I was underwhelmed by fish and chips… we have them here in the states, too.

After dinner, the kids went in another shop or two before we made our way back to the hotel where the night passed rather uneventfully.

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