We started this trip in London and I have to say I enjoyed the city much better this time than last year. London sparkled in the post Olympic / Jubilee glow, and the weather was superb.
We enjoyed visits to the Royal Albert Hall, Covent Garden, the theatre, Harrods for afternoon tea and threw in Madame Tussauds for touristy fun.
After London the touring should have begun in earnest but we had no real plan beyond picking up a rental car at Heathrow so where to next? No problem, head to Dorking in Surrey, it has two quilting/ craft shops. Top Gear didn't have a better plan so he was very compliant, though a little worried this would set a precedent for the next five weeks!
An hour out of London I was at "The Quilt Room" perusing books and fabric and then a quick visit to " Gilliangladrags", a shop full of wool felting wonders.
The next day was Top Gear's turn. We spent the day at the Beaulieu Autojumble. Let me tell you...... I was the GOOD wife!! Two thousand stalls (over thirty acres) of car junk all had to be perused. It was pay back time for all the times he has waited for me outside quilting shops all over the world.
The following day was spent in much more elegant surrounds. We found our way to Highclere Castle AKA Downton Abbey. It was lovely to see the place in real life and we enjoyed a cream tea on the lawn.
We also managed to explore the nearby town of Bradford on Avon. A really pretty, old stone town,where Top Gear got to see the old town apothecary. We finished the afternoon with coffee at this wonky little tea house built in the 1600's .
We took it easy the next day, just wandering in the car with no specific destination....until....I realised we were quite close to the shop voted "Best Patchwork Shop in the UK" . Of course, we had to go!!!!!! I spent a happy hour perusing the shelves while Top Gear had a cuppa with the gentlemanly owner of Midsomer Quilts at Norton Green.
By this time we had made our way quite close to the breathtaking city of Bath, and even though we had been before we went again. First stop was the American museum so I could see the quilts again but we arrived too early, so we headed into town to explore the Royal Crescent and attended a glass blowing exhibition for the famous blue Bath Glass. We lost track of time so by the time we got back to the museum it was closed, so no quilts for me this visit.....just a sneaky visit to the patchwork shop in Bath!!!!!!
The next morning we decided to go for a walk along the towpath of a canal that ran near the pub at which were staying. There were lots of canal boats moored and I have to admit to a bit of a fascination about how people live on these long, skinny, itinerant vessels.
We stopped to watch one couple negotiate their boat through a lock and Top Gear used his muscles to help the lady open and close the lock gates. They offered us a ride up to the next bridge so we hopped on, got a short tour of the boat and went for a ride. It was pretty much a caravan on water, except you have to jump out to negotiate locks and swing bridges.
We whiled away the morning like this then headed for Storrington in West Sussex where we had a cottage booked for the next week. More to come next instalment!
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