Saying farewell to London, our limo picked us up at 730 and whisked us out to Heathrow to pick up our car and begin the real adventure. The day took an immediate turn when a full panic hit SOMEONE. For SOMEONE could not find all our vouchers, those little slips of paper that confirm things like car rentals, all hotel bookings, flights; the minutae, the details. Disaster, full disaster...tear apart all luggage in middle of the busy rental lot. No luck, phone the hotel. "We'll have housekeeping check, call but in half and hour." The cell phone dies. SOMEONE is near tears now, but the kind consoling OTHER ONE knows all will work out. And reconnecting with the hotel, yes the vouchers were left behind and will be cabbed out for the slight fee of 60 pounds. In an hour.
Well it was a joyous sight to behold when a finely dressed coloured gent marched into the crowded car rental office holding a pouch and calling out "Mee-sus Goon-Tez, Mee-sus
Goon-tez". Our holiday was back on track.
A nice Vauxhall Insignia. Roomy and more than midsize, it rode well. Immdediatley upon leaving the airport we were lost. I have never driven right hand and to begin it was really disconcerting. And Joan simply couldnot navigate sitting to my left. After many false turns, retracing our steps and frentic encounters with massive roundabouts we were finally off in the right direction. And really before I knew it, I had the hang of it.
The only problem I find is with the really narrow lanes and total lack of shoulders on the highways. Six inches from the left side of the car is either a cement curb or a six inch high built up dirt and grass curb. I have quickly become a skilled navigator of the many roundabouts. Not once did anyone lay on the "hooter", salute me with a special digit, or hurl vile oaths in my direction. We visited Windsor with the famous castle, the beautiful little town of Henley-on-Thames where the famous Regatta is held and where we lunched in an 18th century pub/hotel. Then onto Oxford and into the Cotswolds, and the absolutely charming and stunningly gorgeous little villages of Burford and Chipping Norton noted for their pale yellow ancient stone buildings, houses and churches. A whole lot of history here and this is the England we have been aching for. Cool, autumny, showery like Vancouver and very pretty as the narrow lanes twist through the rolling country side. We are staying tonight just outside Gloucester, near Wales at the Hatherley Manor Hotel away out in the meadows and pastures. A converted 17th century estate, an elegant cozy classic English inn. Good food, good ale, good company even with the standard group of vexacious Germans. We have a second (top) floor corner suite that faces the lawns and meadowns. The windows are open, the cool autumn air is rustling the leaves of the many tall trees and it is so quiet. From London this is a whole new wonderful England. The day started so traumatically and is ending so wonderfully.
Here is wonderful, tonight is relaxing and tomorrow is Wales.
From the 3 of us cheers to all.