Wednesday, January 11, 2012

England part 4: Stonehenge and Bath

We woke up early and went on a bus tour of Stonehenge, Avebury, Lacock (pronounced LAY-cock), and Castle Combe. Unfortunately, all of the assorted villges started to blur together after a bit, but I'll try to remember the most important stuff!

Our first stop was Stonehenge, which for some reason I'd thought was much bigger (and no, I'm not making a Spinal Tap reference), but it was still cool.

And COLD...oh my god! I had my hood up and my jacket zipped all the way to the top and I still froze my ample ass off! Here I am posing in full Nanook of the North regalia:

As we were driving to the next stop, the driver told us about the history of the villages we were driving through. To be honest, I conked out for a little while, but I did notice the quaint thatched cottages. I could totally see living in the English countryside for a couple of months. Ah, a roaring fire, leaden windows, cats and books everywhere...bliss.

The driver pointed out the Alton Barnes chalk horse carved into the hillside. I wasn't able to get a good picture from the bus, so here's one from Wikipedia:

We stopped at another stone circle, sidestepping sheep shit all the while. One man was quite literally having a religious experience, standing in front of each rock, placing his bare hands on them, and then closing his eyes for a few moments. Here's G taking a more irreverent approach:

Our next stop was the town of Lacock for lunch. The first two places we stopped, we were told they were full up, even though one of them had a huge room (with available seating, mind you) that had a big sign over the door saying "RESIDENTS ONLY". Hmph! But we finally found seating at a lovely little place called At the Sign of the Angel, which made me think of something out of As Meat Loves Salt. I had an enormous ham hock in mustard glaze and chocolate bread pudding with Jersey cream for dessert. Unfortunately, our lunch took too long and we missed the walking tour portion of that stop. When we left, the driver pointed out the house that was used in the Harry Potter movies as Professor Slughorn's residence.

The final town on our tour was Castle Combe.

(The yellow house in the above picture was used as Dr. Doolittle's home in the original movie.)

Upon our return to Bath, we walked back to our hotel and I napped while G caught up on the exploits of Katniss and Peeta. We had dinner at the Little Lime Cafe, where I feasted on a steak burger and fries and then split a chocolate brandy tart with G. The tart was good, but the whipped cream was so amazing I happily would have settled for just a bowl of that! The waiter was really nice and kept calling me "darling" and "love", which I enjoyed.

The next day, we went to the Roman Baths, which---true to the name---were used by the Romans as a site of public bathing, built around a natural hot spring.

The Roman Baths

The Roman Baths

You're not allowed to use them now, but looking at that gorgeous green water and the steam rising off it, especially on a gray and drizzly winter day, sure made me want to! They also had some interesting exhibits of things found at the baths, including "curses", which were pieces of metal that people etched with prayers to the goddess Sulis and threw into the spring.

Afterwards, we had a glass of treated water from the spring, which is supposed to be extremely healthy and cure just about everything that ails you. G couldn't even finish his small glass, and I had a hard time choking mine down because it tasted like, um, a nosebleed. But hey, anything that tastes that shitty HAS to be good for you, right?

Then we took a walk to the Royal Crescent, which was touted as a must see but just looked like a very fancy apartment building to me. G posed for this saucy snap along the way:

We checked out of our hotel and took a cab to the bus station. We had just enough time to pick up a quick lunch at the grocery store, and then we were on the bus to Heathrow.

Once we got there, we bought tickets for the "Hotel Hoppa" (a shuttle that goes to all of the major nearby hotels) from one of the nastiest bitches I've ever had the misfortune of dealing with. Well, actually, J is the one who primarily dealt with her, but he was fuming afterwards, and he's one of the most even-tempered people I've ever met, which tells you something. She kept trying to talk him into taking a cab instead and then rolling her eyes dramatically when he insisted on buying shuttle tickets. When we left, J said that he thinks she probably gets a kickback from the cab companies, which isn't a bad theory.

When the shuttle stopped to pick up more people, I said, "Hey, isn't that Madre?" And sure enough, there stood Madre and Padre, looking much the worse for wear. They'd had a rough night at an extremely loud hotel, and poor Madre was really sick.

We checked in at the Premier Inn, and when G and I got to our room, we were startled to hear extremely enthusiastic boinking going on next door! It sounded like a porno but was most definitely live. I was worried they'd be at it all night, but they got it out of their system (so to speak) and we never heard a peep from them again.

After freshening up, we met up with everybody (except Madre, who elected to stay in the room and recuperate) for dinner downstairs. I had a good burger and an excellent piece of lemon frangipani cake. Then it was back to the room for a quick shower and early bedtime because G was starting to get sick at that point as well.

Little did we know the horrors awaiting us the next day.

(To be continued...dun dun DUN...)