Dream For Three

Soaked in Bath

Today we had a Coach tour out to Stonehenge, including stops at Windsor and Oxford. We had breakfast at Caffè Nero just outside our door and then headed down to Nottinghill tube station to head over to Victoria. We were suposed to be meeting at the Victoria Coach Station, but directions were a bit misleading and it wasn’t obvious how to get to the Coach Station. One lady was helpful, but only to the point that she said turn left at the lights and keep going – someone will be there to help you. Another stop down that road and we were directed again to head further down the road. We eventually found the Coach Station and then (after a bit of searching) found then Evan Evans Tours office. They had a bit of trouble locating our booking saying that we were supposed to call 48 hours earlier to confirm the time (because it was an open booking) – even though our travel agent said that it was all booked and confirmed for 8:45am 26 June. The lady at the counter was very accommodating and switched us to a Stonehenge, Windsor, and Bath tour instead, including all entrance fees (which apparently the other one didn’t cover), for no extra charge – saving us £21.

Our tour guide (Emily) and driver (Steve) were very good. They both contributed a lot of informaton and history to the trip, helping to pass the travel time. The first stop was Windsor Castle, which was a fascinating place to visit. I got plenty of shots from outside, but no photos were allowed inside (although the asian tourists seemed to think they were exempt, pretending that they didn’t understand English). In fact, they were the same with the crown jewels at the Tower of London. Our biggest problem was the lack of time, which was the same for all stops on the tour. However, we managed to do some souvenir shopping and get a bite to eat before heading off to Bath. I was tempted to buy a battle of Waterloo chess set (£250), but thought better of it when considering the weight and how much more travelling we have ahead of us.

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The next stop on the tour was Bath – it started to rain as we headed further West, but that was expected. One of the things we didn’t know, but learned on the trip, was that this was where the Sally Lunn buns originated (by a French lady who was a baker’s assistant), by Solange Luyon – she was nicknamed Sally Lunn by the people of the area. We headed in to the Roman Baths and learned about the history of these, including a tasting of the water at the end – you could tell that there are a lot of minerals in it, but it was drinkable. When we left the Baths we were running out of time to get back to the coach, but we managed to get some original Sally Lunn buns, some fudge, and ice cream. We wanted some more substantial food, but most of it was sold out by the time we got there and all of the shop entrances were being blocked by tourists trying to keep out of the drizzle, because they didn’t have umbrellas. DW had her umbrella, but DD and myself just braved the water in true Kiwi style.

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Our final stop, heading back East and out of the rain, was Stonehenge, which is what I really wanted to see. I know it’s just a bunch of rocks and mounds, but the when, why, and how questions continue to intrigue me. We spent about half an hour wandering around the rocks and hearing about the history and what we have discovered since. We then headed back to the souvenir shop where we probably bought more than anywhere else.

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Heading back to London, the coach dropped us off at Gloucester Road, from where we walked up to Kensington Gardens, doing some exploring on the way, and heading back to the apartment at the other side. During this walk we also saw our first squirrel, followed by the second, third, and fourth – they were not being very “secret”. For dinner we decided to try the local fish and chips (now around 10pm), which were pretty good. The Mr Fish shop was about half a mile (800m) up the road, so not too far away – although it seemed longer after such a long day. After dinner we collapsed into bed for a well earned rest.

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