America seems to morph well into another English-speaking land … and another favorite place of mine (even considering I have only ever been there ONCE, but I immediately loved it).
And so … B is for BRITAIN. Actually – for more than Britain (or shall we say A SMALL PART of Britain, namely Southern England), for a few favorite places we visited while we were there.
While my husband was on active duty with the Army, we were stationed in Germany for 3 years. In June of 1998, a few months before we welcomed our first child, we went on a 10 day tour of Southern England. We drove from our German city to the Hook of Holland and boarded a ferry to Harwich, England where we exited the ship and began having to drive on the “wrong” side of the road for the next 10 days!
We were able to see many lovely cities and towns and sites: London, Norwich, Sherwood Forest/Nottingham, Stonehenge, Gloucester, Canterbury, Dover, Windsor Castle, and Cambridge. EVERYTHING we saw was amazing and had a story.
My favorite “B” places in England are: Blenheim Palace, the town of Bath, and Burton-on-the-Water in my absolute favorite region, the Cotswolds.
Blenheim Palace is the home of the 11th Duke of Marlborough and the birth place of Sir Winston Churchill. The family is also related to the late Princess Diana through her Spencer family connections.
The palace, one of England’s largest houses, was built between 1705 and circa 1722. It was originally a gift to John Churchill, the 1st duke of Marlborough, for his victory in battle against the French and Bavarians. One would need to take the house tour or study the history to learn all the details and stories of this site! Too many to mention here.
The grounds and park surrounding the palace struck me as so idyllic – with sheep freely roaming the surrounding pastures and the ponds and lovely gardens.
After this, my husband detoured our trip through the town of Bath due to my Jane Austen fascination! She used this town in settings for several of her novels, particularly Northanger Abbey and Persuasion (which happens to be my favorite Austen novel!). In reality, Jane Austen actually didn’t like Bath at all!!
She wrote to her sister Cassandra in reference to Bath:
“It will be two years tomorrow since we left Bath for Clifton, with what happy feelings of escape.” Apparently she couldn’t wait to get away from there! I wouldn’t know why – other than perhaps it was associated with unhappy circumstances for her?
Bath has a Roman bath and geothermal springs – with history dating back to Celtic and Roman importance.
While in Bath, we took a bus tour which allowed us to see its many sites: the Bath Abbey, the Circus and Royal Crescent, many theaters, and parks and gardens.
And now, I saved the best (or at least MY FAVORITE OF MY FAVORITES) for last! If I could retire any where in the world, with unlimited resources, I’d move to the Cotswolds region immediately!
The Cotswolds (near Bath, Oxford, and Gloucester) is what I think of when I think of typical English thatched cottages and quaint villages (a’ la Miss Marple mysteries!). Since Cotswolds is a “C” word, I chose the town of Burton-on-the-Water as my “B” word for today.
The above is a picture of my husband with our English friend Jonathan (standing on the bridge), whom we stayed with for a few days while in England. We met Jon in college in the U.S. – and he graciously had us into his home while we were in his country, where he returned to pastor a church after completing seminary. His own father was a vicar of a church in the Cotswolds region (I envy him for growing up there!!), and we also loved his now hometown of Gloucester so much, too (I’d settle and live there as well!!).
And so today I close my post with one last glimpse of another Cotswolds cottage – this one actually in Bibury.
(source for some information and the last picture: wikipedia)