We left the rellies in Somerset and travelled up to Bristol. We went through Wells and this time the sun shone brightly. We didn't find what we were looking for though so we will have to go back another time. (Perhaps when we go back to collect any mail that has arrived at Stoke St Gregory).
Our rental car was due to be dropped off, but we had also booked another to collect the following day. So we called in at the drop off depot at Bristol airport and were able to keep the car we had and combine the two rentals. Yay, we werent looking forward to unloading the car, lugging everything to the hotel in Bristol and then to another rental depot the next morning.
We found our way to the hotel and just blobbed for most of the afternoon. It was V-E-R-Y warm. Who knew England had summers like this ? We ordered room service and then walked to Colston Hall to hear and watch our compatriot Rhys Darby. Typically he was very funny. It was good to hear another kiwi accent too.
Next morning before we left we went to try to find the Banksy artwork that had been spotted from the car the day before. It was in Clifton. Why had we not actually found Clifton the first time we were in Bristol ? We liked it a lot, no smelly rubbish on the streets or rundown looking buildings, lots of cafes, shops, young people (and some not so young) and close to the University. Oh well.
Then it was off to meet a cousin for lunch in Wiltshire - after a detour to Compton Dando (the inspiration for someone to change careers) and then on to Shakespeare country.
On the way we caught glimpses of the Red Arrows aerobatic display at the airshow. If you like planes, now is the time to be here - there are lots of airshows scheduled this month.
We are staying at my cousin's home looking after their cats while they are on holiday and enjoying being able to feel a little more relaxed. We were left copious notes to help us settle in and have made firm friends with one cat so far and are being tolerated by the other. We will win him over though. Nothing we like better than the challenge to befriend shy felines.
Yesterday we drove to Stratford on Avon and visited Shakespeare's Birthplace along with bus loads of Japanese tourists and OAP groups, USA school groups and others. Although I have a photo of his birthplace from my last trip to the UK I don't recall going inside at all. I think we must have just gone to the Visitor Centre or the Shop that time. We also visited the Christmas Shop where Mum and Dad bought their Christmas Tree on their 1989 trip and had it shipped home to NZ and the Peter Rabbit Shop where you can buy all the Beatrix Potter books still.
Then we drove to Charlecote Manor - in for free (thanks NT membership) and had a look about. The whole experience though was ruined by an over snappy dragon of a NT volunteer who kept targeting us. "Don't use flash photography" Okay, but sometimes you need to if you are using a manual camera. Perhaps you should have signs, or include this on your fact sheet. "Don't go up that stair case. You MUST go through the billiard room first and then come back down that way" What are we ? Sheep ? Again...better signage would help. Also if you are going to be volunteers you could learn a bit from those we met at Montacute House and at Shakespeare's Birthplace. Being a volunteer and "a guide in every room" actually means you should engage with the people who have paid good money to see the property, not just sit there making sure we don't touch something we shouldn't or go the wrong way. I only saw this happen in one room while here. Very disappointing as this is a home that belongs to a family with a link to Lauren's. We wanted to study the portraits and feel the ambience and that opportunity was lost.
However, the church adjacent to the property turned out to be glorious and not an officious NT person in sight. Lots of references to the Cameron-Ramsay-Fairfax-Lucy family (imagine if you had to fill THAT out on a form everyday !)
Oxford and Banbury might be next to see as well as Leamington Spa, Warwick and some more cousins before we have to decide where to go next week.