We collected a lovely little Audi in Salisbury to travel around in for a week. While in Salisbury we thought we should pop in to the Cathedral – everyone else seemed to be doing the same thing. It was just magnificent – just one of many magnificent cathedrals and churches throughout the United Kingdom. But I particularly loved the array of origami cranes overhead. From there we attempted to drive to our next location via Stone Henge but we were still working out the buttons on the sat nav and missed it completely. Having read reviews, I wasn’t that worried. A few hours later we arrived at our gorgeous little b&b in Ross-on-Wye – a little English town in the Forest of Dean. I was very excited about the Forest of Dean, as that is where my surname comes from 😀
We spent a delightful four nights in the quaintest little spot. Three ducks roamed around, very kindly laying eggs for our breakfast each morning. A squirrel wandered around stealing food, and the native hedgehogs, red squirrels and badger, refused to come out to meet the foreign visitors. The red breasted robin was not so shy. It also turns out, our host distils her own gin which I felt obliged to sample, and then purchased a lovely bottle of the rhubarb and custard variety. I’m saving it to share with friends.
While staying in Ross-on-Wye we spent a lot of time traveling far afield, visiting The Mumbles in Wales and then stopping in at Merthyr Tydfil on the way back – which turns out to be a mining town without a mine and is suffering a little as a consequence. It’s good to get off the tourist track from time to time.
As we ventured out to visit Bath – somewhere I’ve been really excited to go – it dawned upon me I was developing a urinary tract infection. Very rapidly. So we dropped into the nearest town only to discover in great britain you have to see a doctor in the county you’re staying in. So we traipsed back to Ross-on-Wye for me to get antibiotics in the hope of ending my urgent half hourly bathroom trips. I vowed and declared we’re never having sex again. We shall see what happens.
With undying thanks to the miracles of modern medicine, I was right as rain to visit Bath the next day and loved it. Every bit of it. The bustling township and the sunny skies and the swampy roman baths and lunch at wagamama. We had the most delightful day. We drove home via The Cotswolds because everyone talks about them. It turns out they’re the cutest little villages, all made from heritage honey-coloured stone – even new buildings – and set in quaint little hills and valleys. We stopped and took pretty pictures then went back to The Cotswolds the following day to visit even more and then popped in to Stratford-upon-Avon for the obligatory wander to the birthplace of Shakespeare. It was quite incredible how every single town was so different in style. And so delightful. I’m so glad we went.
After our visit to Ross-on-Wye, we headed up to The Lakes District to stay at Ambleside for two nights. By now we’d mastered our sat nav and named her Sally. What I hadn’t mastered was coping with my husband’s aggressive driving in the teeny tiny English roads. So I fished out my bottle of clonazepam and spent every car trip trying to drift off into a place without panic. It was surprisingly successful. I must remember this for future moments of high anxiety.
Ambleside and the entire Lakes District was just stunning. I cannot articulate how delightful it was. And how different to where we’d already been. We managed a quick dip in the lake where my husband enjoyed the fact I wrapped my arms around his neck so he could float around and enjoy a cuddle, while I didn’t have to touch the slimy rocks beneath. Win win. We enjoyed a picnic on the side of the lake with the hot evening sun, and then two canadian geese came to share in our picnic. They were not to be discouraged – pecking at my fingers and toes. Turns out they like banana skins so I threw them away from where we were and that solved that problem. As we packed up to go back to the car, we found the car keys in my husband’s pocket – of his swimming pants. Car keys soaking wet. Not a problem for the key bit, but very concerning for the remote control bit. We crossed our fingers and hoped for the best. Thankfully the engine started first time and we hadn’t destroyed the remote for our hire car.
As we left the Lakes District to head towards Edinburgh, we went via Hadrian’s Wall and snapped some photos of the ancient wall. We also discovered a circle of stones at Castlerigg – apparently the UK is dotted with stone circles everywhere. This one was free, had practically no tourists, was surrounded by amazing hills, and had a full circle of stones. Not quite as tall as stone henge, but we enjoyed it none the less. As do the local sheep.
We arrived in Edinburgh and returned our car. Where it turns out my husband’s reckless driving had scratched one of the wheels. I told you so just doesn’t seem to sum it up. After that we explored Edinburgh and I have fallen in love with this city. It is gorgeous. We have a lovely little apartment hotel in the Royal Mile and have wandered around Edinburgh Castle at the top of the Mile, all the way down to Holyrood Palace at the bottom – where Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is currently in residence. She obviously didn’t want to miss out on our holiday jaunt. We spent a lovely touristy day on a small group tour going to Loch Lomond, the Kelpies and Stirling Castle. I was drugged to the eyeballs trying to keep a migraine at bay so was a little floppy for the day. Came home and took enough pharmaceuticals to tranquilize a horse, washed down with rhubarb gin and tonics, and then agreed sex wasn’t entirely off the table. So far so good.
Today we have a late checkout and will then spend 13 hours traveling to Amman to begin our guided tours of Jordan and Turkey. The United Kingdom has been lovely, but I am definitely ready to become immersed in different cultures and cuisines and experiences. And so, so ready to stay at hotels with good air conditioning and swimming pools. To sum up our first two weeks… It’s awesome. Having a great time!