30 December 2012

Stone piles, cream tea and no baths in Bath…

2012; first year of travelling since 2001. Now, I already want to plan the next trips for 2013.

Last trip for 2012 was during the autumn mid-term break. A road trip around south-west England. The only plan made was hire a car from Heathrow Airport. Destinations in mind were Bath, Stonehenge, Lands End, and Devon coastline. Any place between was a bonus. By the end we drove through eight counties in four days. Pretty decent effort I thought.

Highlights for this trip, not in any particular order:

Seeing my parents old flat in Reading, visiting the town my Great Great Grandfather was from and seeing a road sign with my family name, walking tour in Bath and trying the “delicious” water (I lie it tastes like sucking on a coin, metallic flavoured water yum), speed sightseeing a castle ruin because it started to hail, drinking cider and playing pool at Silverton Inn on night two then watching Alan Carr Chatty Man, taking photos on Cornish and Devon beaches, walking around Oxford even when dark and not much to see, seeing the tallest church steeple in England at Salisbury Cathedral, posting post cards from the most south westerly point in England, and representing New Zealand flag by the sign for Wellington, Somerset.

I should mention the no baths in Bath. What I wanted as a souvenir was a bathtub, a figurine or ornament or the like to take with me. Oh the possibilities I would have used the little miniature bathtub for; jewellery holder for one. Think I could find it? You guessed it - Bath failed me. Someone should start that business up asap. I'm sure they would make a killing - I'll even be their first customer. 

Managing to keep this post short and sweet, here is the route info:

R is for Road tripping with my favourite ally. Before driving off into the distance, the first action to complete is set up the playlist prepared earlier with road trip theme music.

O is for OMG a PONY! Do be careful when driving in Dartmoor National Park, small horses graze by the side of the road and sometimes in the middle of the road itself. Not that we crashed but it could happen. A driver can lose control of the vehicle due to the excitement of seeing a pony!

A is for Ancient pile of stones. AKA Stonehenge and is remarkable, and smaller than I envisioned. Great stones raised more than 4,000 years ago, from quarries miles away from the location, as a temple to the sun; its banks and ditches are older still. A rainbow appeared and we took great shots. I listened to the history on the audio guide while walking around the site; I learned something by the end of it. The future of the world heritage site is planning change, watch that space.

D is for Devonshire Cream Tea. Is tea taken with a combination of scones, clotted cream, and jam. First stop in Devon was a tea shop, although neither of us had tea; ours was Cream Coffee and Cream Coke!

T is for The end of land. Lands End was our driving to point from day two and we got there on day three, just before we lost the light of the sun. Despite the cold strong wind and drizzle we arrived in time before closing. I got the best shot here from the whole trip of the sea and the sun shining through the clouds.

R is for Random turn offs. Chippenham, Corsham, Warminster, Salisbury, Blandford Forum, Exeter, St Ives, Westword Ho!, Appledore, and Taunton. A few of the places we diverted our path to check out. Navigating became unpredictable and fun. During the drive through Dartmoor National Park we did have to detour because the road was closed. All part of driving across the English countryside.

I is for I saw the sign. During the trip I was DJ, navigator and photographer. As photographer the aim was taking photos of town signs we visited. Camera in hand, car moving the task proved tricky. Some shots were good, others a bit blurry.

P is for Padstow. I mention this particular coastal town because we had difficulty finding last minute accommodation. Word to the wise; book your accommodation beforehand. After an hour (if not longer) of ringing places someone mentioned the tourist centre. Although shut at the time lists were displayed on the window for last minute rooms available to contact.