Monday, May 31, 2010

The In-Laws Week Two: Liverpool to Stonehenge

I'm way behind the times... so much to update, and I've been so busy finishing up school stuff! That's finished now (woohoo!) so let's pick up where we left off a few weeks ago. Mind you, this was all in the middle of April.

After a few days in the Lakes, we headed towards the Cotswolds, stopping quickly on the way to pop into Liverpool and the Beatles Story. Is there any musician or group that is as universally loved as the Beatles? I think not.

Our home base was the quaint little village of Chipping Campden.

On our first night, weary from a long day's travel, we happened across what we think is the best pub in town: the Noel Arms. The food (and ale) there was outstanding... some of the best pub food we've ever had. Perfect pub atmosphere too: two parts refined, two parts comfortable, three parts good food and ale, one part laid-back with a liberal sprinkling of grubby.

Our first stop in the region was Stratford upon Avon, one-time home to the Bard himself, Billy Shakespeare. He's buried in the church on the right.

We went to Mary Arden's House (his grandmother's house) just outside town. It was fun, but not necessarily because it had anything to do with Shakespeare. It was fun mostly because it had cows

and Teriann-sized doors.

The bulk of the Shakespeare stuff was in the house in Stratford where he was born. Known as 'the birthplace' ever since he was a famous playwright in London, visitors have come here over the centuries to pay their respects. In its modern incarnation, it has a copy of the First Folio as well as exhibits about how his writings have infiltrated and influenced every corner of Western culture.

We also visited Hall's Croft, home of his daughter (since she married a doctor, most of the exhibits were about medicine in the 17th century) and saw a play that evening (Royal Shakespeare Company performing Antony and Cleopatra).

We spent our second day having a walk out in the countryside. Starting at the Town Hall,

we bought rock cakes from the tiny market inside (mmmmmm) and set off to explore the neighboring village of Broad Campden and... whatever else there was to explore.

That turned out to be sheep,



and general quaint-ness.

Broad Campden isn't so much a village as it is a cluster of cottages around one of the most charming pubs I've ever seen: the Bakers Arms.

Of course we had to stop for a pint. How else does one walk in the English countryside?

For our final day in the country before returning to London, we started with a visit to Longleat Safari Park, a kind of drive-through zoo. You'd think Americans would have invented a drive-through zoo, right? Well not so fast. It was bizarre to see African wildlife roaming across the rolling countryside of England. It seemed less like a zoo and more like the animals just happened to live in Wiltshire.

This tiger was REALLY CLOSE to our car!

Lunch was a really great picnic on the lawn outside Longleat House. It was simple — bread, cheese and a little wine — but it was one of the best lunches we had.

The main event of the day, however, was a visit to Stonehenge. Here's a good candidate for best pic of the day:

but my money's on this one, Audioguide Henge with Pigs.

As Louie said of the monument: "Stonehenge: That's some crazy shit." Indeed it is, Louie. Indeed it is.

We headed down to Salisbury (it's only just down the road) to have a quick look at the cathedral, but the town was pretty much closing up by that point. Ahh... one last view of idyllic Salisbury...

...before heading back to concrete London.

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