Thursday, May 10, 2012

Winchester and West - Day 5

Today is the day I’ve been waiting for.  We left London this morning and headed west to the South Somerset countryside, to a little cottage on the outskirts of Norton Sub Hamdon.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.  We spent the majority of the day driving west, with a long stop at Winchester, only arriving at Bagnell Cottage after dark.

Driving on the left was interesting, and not especially difficult to get used to.  There were no scary moments.  Part of the reason for the smooth transition was the car we rented.  It is a Vaux Hall, which truly has the worst visibility out the windows of any car I have ever driven, but it is an automatic - no thinking required.  It would be a different story if we had to shift with the left hand rather than the right, AND remember to stay on the wrong side of the street!

Winchester was a spectacular, ancient city, the capital of England before London.  Below is the entry arch from both sides.

We really enjoyed Winchester Cathedral.  Two sections of the cathedral are Norman, dating from the late 11th to early 12th centuries, and it is possible to see the juxtaposition of the later gothic additions and the Norman sections, both on the exterior and inside the cathedral. 

Jane Austen was buried in Winchester Cathedral.  Apparently there were excellent doctors in Winchester during her day, and when she was ill, her sister took her to Winchester.  Six weeks later, she never left.

The churchyard contains huge old yews, the traditional tree planted in cemeteries, and the Close Garden was intimate and well planted.
Anna loved the rosemary
View of the Cathedral from the Close

We also visited the Great Hall, with King Arthur’s Round Table hanging from the wall.  Carbon dating dates it to the 12th century, so it was not actually King Arthur’s, but a very early replica from the time of the construction of the Hall.  The Hall was huge, open and very tall - I can only imagine how cold it must have been in the winter.

The City was a great place to walk around, although the weather was grey as usual.  Much of the old part is closed to vehicles, and everything is accessible to curious tourists.

We had a traditional lunch of Cornish pasties - fortunately there were vegetarian options.  This is not the type of meal one can eat every day.  I think it will still be sitting in my stomach tomorrow, maybe even the next day.

After our long visit and a quick cup of tea and a snack, we were on our way further west to Somerset.  We arrived after dark, driving down a long farm road, but I could see the little stone cottage was surrounded by gardens, and I could hear the baa-ing of sheep further in the distance.

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