Monday, 19 August
We leave with the ferry in Calais at 8.30 am on one of the older ships. Since I always get slightly sea sick on smaller vessels, this is not good news. But all in all, it goes OK, I just start to get a bit dizzy for a short while.
Once we disembark we leave Dover and head for Oxford. We get a bite to eat (fish & chips) at a huge service station on the outskirts of London and press on.
Oxford is a wonderful city. Great shops, beautiful for walks and of course Christ Church College. We visit the Cathedral, the great hall (where parts of Harry Potter were filmed) and the grounds around it, do some shopping, have a drink at The Crown and then head onwards to our hotel in Gloucester.
Dinner is a great pasta with mushroom sauce and a fruit salad. The rooms are quite big and there's a nice bar. Opposite our window is a ski slope. myes.
Tuesday, 20 August
We leave the hotel and drive up to Stratford-upon-Avon, birthplace of Shakespeare. I fall utterly in love with this beautiful little town. The weather is absolutely gorgeous and it's just so picturesque. We visit Shakespeare's birthplace and the shop (where I buy the Tennant Hamlet DVD, they also sell a book that now I regret not buying: Star Wars rewritten as if it was by Shakespeare), the church where he's buried (Holy Trinity Church), Anna Hathaway's (his wife) cottage, stroll along the Avon with the rowing boats, the typical boats, the deck chairs, ... We just buy a baguette at Greggs, rent some deck chairs and sit in the sun for a couple of hours. Resulting in sunburn. People are picknicking the the park and the atmosphere is one of pure relaxation. Bliss.
After spending most of the day here, we head towards Tewkesbury where we walk through some fields, visit the cathedral, ... and then head back to the hotel.
Dinner is a meat dish with a strangely tasting bread bun and ice cream as dessert.
Wednesday, 21 August
We drive through Northleach where we visit the local market (2 stalls, I kid you not), the church and the small streets before heading towards Bourton on the Water. This is a beautiful, small village with some tiny canals and bridges...there are lots of people there and it's just a wonderful place to stroll around. There's a charity market and lots of quaint little shops. Once we've seen it all, we drive on to Broadway, where we have lunch in a tea room. I get a pot of tea and egg mayonnaise sandwiches. We walk through the main street, get sneezed upon by a horse and then return to Gloucester for a city tour there. Gloucester isn't a great city but the cathedral is something else! First we visit the House of the Tailor of Gloucester (from a Beatrix Potter story) which is located near the Cathedral and then get overwhelmed by the majestic interior of the cathedral. This was also one of the filming locations of Harry Potter. There is a choir practicing and it's just really amazing.
After this we walk towards the old docks, and along the Severn before returning back to the hotel.
Dinner is a delicious veggy stroganov with tiramisu as dessert.
And yes, it's time to pack our bags again to check out the next morning.
Thursday, 22 August
We leave the hotel and head towards Bibury where we visit the beautiful Arlington Row and go for a good walk through the amazing green countryside. There is also a trout farm where they raise trouts and then set them loose in rivers throughout the UK. We get some bonding done with a black swan. :-)
After that, we have tea in a hotel there, The Swan, and then head on to Burford. Burford is full of pubs, tea rooms and lovely shops. After getting some shopping done, we have lunch in a pub there (baguette with cheese and ham) and get more sunburn. :-)
Then it's time to leave for Dover, since it's a long drive there and the motorway around London is very busy. We actually make it *just* in time...to find out that the ferry has a slight delay.
We buy some duty free booze on the ferry (this one was one of the new ferries, just 2 years old), have our final fish & chips on board and then head on home...
It's truly been an amazing 4 days, just driving around this most stunning part of England, in the sun, enjoying the incredible sights and landscapes. I couldn't have enjoyed it more....
You can see a selection of my pictures here.