My Mom & My Sister: Southwest (ish) England

With my mom and sister visiting for two weeks we had to get out and see more of England than just Birmingham and London. The first stop on our road trip was Salisbury Cathedral, where we got to see one of the original copies of the Magna Carta.IMG_3029 IMG_3041IMG_3033The highlight of the day though, was Stonehenge. We went to Stonehenge when we had family visitors last year, but there’s a new visitors center and exhibits with neolithic houses. IMG_3049IMG_3043We weren’t strong enough to pull one of the blue stones. Props to you, prehistoric man!
Prehistoric Huts CollageDaughter likes to get up close and personal with history. Walk a mile in prehistoric man’s moccasins, stamp out a fire, sleep in a hut; she takes it all in stride.
In addition to the huts and the visitors center, the set up for parking and getting to the henge is also new (I’d recommend buying tickets in advance since everything is more structured now). You park at the visitors center, see the exhibits, then either walk or take a shuttle out to the actual site. We chose to ride halfway and walk the other half. This meant we got to gradually get closer to the stones and we walked past some long barrows (prehistoric burial sites). The long barrows are the grassy lumps behind Derek:IMG_3055 IMG_3125Derek and I are basically still children and like to take jumping pictures.
IMG_3079I am proud to tell you that Daughter is inheriting our sweet skills.IMG_3115We also stopped at the nearby Woodhenge. The cement pillars currently there represent timber posts dating back to (possibly) 1800 BC.Woodhenge Jump CollageThis is normal father-daughter stuff, right?
IMG_3164That night we stayed nearby in a nice little B&B/pub with a thatched roof. The B&B had this darling child-sized wingback chair perfect for silly Daughter.Dot faces Collage The next morning we went to two castle ruins, Farleigh-Hungerford and Nunney.
For being just another castle ruin, Farleigh-Hungerford had some pretty intense stories including a locked up queen and a creepy crypt with lead tombs (we learned this from the audio guides). Derek really appreciated that he got to drive through the ruin to get to the car park. What a goof. Farleigh Hungerford CollageIMG_3243Nunney Castle looks rather perfect – a symmetrical moat with two turret towers, but that’s all there was to it.IMG_3248 On our way to Glastonbury we drove out of our way a bit to see a chalk horse, but our view left a bit to be desired. Oh well. Live and learn.IMG_3273 As I’m writing this in November I am judging the Shantal of a few months ago. As we climbed to Glastonbury Tor I whined to myself about the wind. But now I feel unjustified in my complaints. It was sunny, Shantal! Be grateful, past self!IMG_3301Keeping Daughter warm from the wind: IMG_3296This girl and her “Damma.” What a pair. Regardless of the wind, the view was excellent, especially on such a clear day.
IMG_3286We also stopped at Glastonbury Abbey, King Arthur’s burial place. Exciting, right? I was excited about it.IMG_3313The sign says, “Site of the ancient graveyard where in 1191 the monks dug to find the tombs of Arthur and Guinevere.” Awesome, right?!?!
IMG_3324IMG_3365Glastonbury was a really nice little town. A little hike, a great view, a nice high street with good food and shops, and some awesome history.
The next morning we drove through Cheddar Gorge. It was incredibly busy because we were there on a Bank Holiday weekend (akin to Labor Day). So we stopped and bought some cheddar and appreciated the view, but then moved on to other places.
Cheddar CollageHonestly, after living in Utah for University where steep gorges are a norm I was left somewhat underwhelmed by Cheddar Gorge. Sorry, Britain.
That day our goal was Weston-super-Mare, a classic British seaside town. Again, since it was a bank holiday everywhere was busy, but the ocean is always worth appreciating. As are the fish and chips near the sea and frankly, some of the most exciting options for soft ice cream I’ve ever seen. Other than eating food and walking up and down the ocean front we didn’t do much in Weston-super-Mare. We did stop and see a sand sculpture display that was kind of amazing. All of the sculptures were literary based, from Matilda to Where the Wild Things Are to Game of Thrones.
Sand Sclpture Collage The next morning it was pouring so instead of trying to do more outside near the sea we started to drive back towards Birmingham. We stopped at a long barrow – a prehistoric grave like we saw near Stonehenge. It is open and accessible to the public so we climbed into it – not an easy task in the mud.
Long Barrow CollageThere wasn’t much inside, but still, we were inside a prehistoric burial site. From there we went on to Gloucester to see Gloucester Cathedral.IMG_3422We are total Harry Potter nerds and one of the biggest appeals to seeing Gloucester Cathedral is that some of movie two (Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets) was filmed here! When Harry, Ron and Hermione find “Enemies of the heir, beware” painted on the wall they’re in Gloucester. Gloucester CollageAlso, when they run down the hall as Myrtle has flooded the bathroom, they’re in the same hallway within the cloister. Something a bit shocking – the film crew laid down protective flooring before flooding the hallway, but it wasn’t enough! There’s water damage on the stones. You can see it in this photo:IMG_3396IMG_3408 Dueling like Harry and Malfoy. Naturally.
IMG_3411Running to save Ginny. I think Dot is running away from the basilisk. Smart girl.
After visiting the cathedral and eating lunch in a lovely little tea room we tried to go see the Beatrix Potter museum/shop, but it was closed for the holiday!IMG_3425 On our way home we drove through some of the Cotswolds villages with perfectly picturesque stone cottages. It was a nice end to a very British weekend outing.IMG_3100Monkey faces!


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