Sunday, June 19

Father's Day

So we went to church today and found out it is Father's Day. It is so easy to lose track of time here. Plus, in our defence, we had a super busy week. It is the end of the first term and we finished strong. So about 2 hours ago I started this Father's Day blog intending to say how much we love all the dads in our life including Grandpas Magleby and Knell with a dash of a tribute to Mark and good neighbors and brothers thrown in, but as I went on to explain why we had been so busy as to not even know it was Father's Day, I ended up writing a travel diary instead, but I'll keep this post named what it is as a tribute to all the wonderful men in our lives and then proceed to never mention them again.
We got up at 1:30 on Thursday morning (well, Mark did, I never even went to bed) and took a coach (one doesn't say bus, as it offends the driver of said coach) to Stonehenge and arrived at 4 in the morning and had the place all to ourselves until 6. What a treat! We were lucky to get the last sunrise reservation you can get before it closes to get ready for the summer solstice, so when the sun rose right on schedule at 5:04 AM, it was almost exactly lined up. It was quite remarkable. We have taken groups there on 2 other occasions and had clouds both times and never saw the sun. A great start to a great trip. We were so lucky with the sunrise and the weather, but it didn't last. In a light rain we had our next great adventure--the Chalk Horse. What a quirky thing that is. The coach driver didn't quite have the vision and drove us all the way to it so that it didn't even remotely look like a horse--just like cement on a hillside, but what a hillside! The first notable thing was the sheep dip everywhere and I do mean everywhere--it was hilarious. So all the while watching our feet we walked over to the edge of this tall hill and were treated to an amazing view and a fierce wind and slick grass such that if you slipped on the wet steep hill, the only thing to do was put out your hands to catch yourself and put them, you guessed it, right in the sheep dip. Then on to Bath and killer chocolate almond croissants--everyone else went for art, architecture and a look at the roman baths--not me, I never forget a good bakery and the one across from the entrance to the baths is my favorite. We tried again with the baths--hoping to come away thinking it was worth the admission price but to no avail, they are still boring. Some would beg to differ, but there you have it. The thing is, we took the group three years ago, and they were nonplussed, so we didn't take last year's group and they felt like they had skipped the main thing you go to Bath for, so we decided to err on the side of tourism and in we went. Live and don't learn. The best thing about Bath is Prior Park. It's an amazing park with the most beautiful bridge in Europe in one of the most picturesque settings ever. Then on to a crummy hostel (just for old time's sake) and at the end of the day, a look at the Royal Circus (home of "Dr. Livingstone I presume" and Benedict Arnold--did I mention that Shackleton lived at 29 Palace Court and we live at 27?) and the Royal Crescent with a tour of Number 1 (if the row houses were stacked on top of each other, it would be the penthouse.) We asked the tour guide if anyone famous had ever lived there and she said no but that Jonny Depp had recently visited. The next day as we left the area the coach driver pointed out Meryl Streep's amazing gorgeous estate. Then on to a hidden treasure called Nunney Castle--so fun! The coach couldn't fit down the narrow road (a recurring problem here) so we all had to walk. It didn't matter, though, because the walk was easy and the town was charming. Then on to Mark's mistress, Stourhead. The weather held and we were treated to the best 18th century garden in all of England. Then on to a house and garden on the way to Salisbury that starts with a W. Owned by the 18th Earl of Pembroke--did I mention he's 27, good looking and single? The students loved it. At Stourhead the gardens are better than the house and at this place, the house is better than the gardens, so this excursion gave us the best of all possible worlds and then we finished up with the famous Salisbury Cathedral with a quick glimpse of the Magna Carta thrown in for good measure. And then, just like Max, we went home and found our dinner waiting, and it was still hot.


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