Thursday, May 24, 2012

Our Last Day - Day 10

***which was actually Friday May 11.  Wow, I'm really late going through photos for this last post on Anna's birthday trip to England...

Stourhead Garden - my favorite of all the English gardens I studied while in grad school.  We were so close, but didn't quite make it.  We could have stopped by on the way to the airport if we got up and out early-ish, but we wanted to savor our last morning in our beautiful surroundings.
Eileen brought us eggs from her chickens for breakfast (delicious - tasted just like our fresh Massachusetts eggs!) and we spent time walking around the cottage grounds, visiting with the animals (Anna took another round of photos of the sheep), petting the dogs and cats, and chatting with Eileen.  The hours went by so pleasantly and so fast!
I realized that I never took photos of the parish church in Norton sub Hamden, its dovecote and the spectacular trees in the churchyard, even though we had explored the church and grounds fairly thoroughly.  It was now or never (at least during this trip) for photographs.
One thing we noticed on the recent gravestones, and there were surprisingly many from the past 10 years, was that all the people who died were well into their 90's. Must be the good English country living.
I also now realize that I have never actually posted any photos of Norton sub Hamden, the village proper, which is, in my opinion, the most beautiful village I have ever seen.  I love the yellow Ham Stone, which is only found on Ham Hill and used everywhere throughout the immediate region.
I love the close feeling of the houses, the thatched roofs and the tight roads.
I love the water which winds it's way through the town and around the houses.
One day while admiring some of the houses, a woman stopped and asked if I was lost.  I said no, just looking around and thinking that this the most beautiful place in the world.  She simply said "Yes, it is."
We took one last drive to Crewkerne.  Stopped at Anna's favorite antique shop, where she had been eyeing a petite ruby ring since the first time we went into the shop.  Had a snack - Anna's last cup of hot chocolate with real English whipped cream.
On our ride out A303 to toward Heathrow, we stopped to see Stonehenge.  Eh. Interesting as a monument of human endeavor - heavy stones brought long distances and set in place without the aid of heavy equipment a long, long time ago.  But I'm used to cathedrals.  At least carve or decorate the stones in some way.  Sheesh.
Well, it was actually a little more impressive the closer we got.  The stones are very big!
In addition to prehistoric stone monuments, there were fresh English strawberries available along the road, so we pulled off and bought a quart. Delicious.  You know Anna feels comfortable somewhere if she can buy produce off a motorway from a stranger. Or maybe she was just desperate for the first fresh strawberries of the season!
The rest of the trip was uneventful - drive to the airport, drop off rental car, check in at British Airways, board, eat, sleep, not the smoothest landing, customs at Logan, 2 hour drive home.  And that was that.

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