On Tuesday, Anne decided that we would go to the Cotswolds for the day. “The Cotswolds” is an area of England which is characterized by its buildings that have a distinct look due to the Cotswold stone that they were built with. First we drove to Stow-on-the-Wold, where we stopped and perused the small open market, after which we went and had lunch at a small coffee shop. After lunch we drove on to the next destination: Bourton-on-the-Water, which was a very beautiful town with a shallow river running through it. Anne and I walked along the river for as far as we could, then turned back and got in the car to go onto the next town. We drove through several more towns before heading home for a night in. Anne made a roast dinner, which was amaaaaazing. Antonia and I enjoyed a quiet night in watching ‘The Changeling’ while Anne went out to play Bridge with some friends.
On Wednesday, Anne and I had talked about going to Hay-on-Wye, in Wales, but when I went downstairs for breakfast, Anne had decided to move our plans around a bit, so instead, we went to Loughborough to visit Eleanor, her other daughter. It was SO good to see Eleanor; it’s been four years! We went to her flat for a bit, and then left to get a pub lunch; I wish the term ‘pub lunch’ was one that made any sense in the US. After our delicious lunch, we returned to the flat, but didn’t stay long as we needed to leave Eleanor to her work, and we needed to get back in time to pick Antonia up from school. Several hours after getting home, we went out to Marks and Spencers to do a bit of shopping; they were having some sort of event. I found perfect boots. Which you know, you’d think was a good thing… but it wasn’t. Because they were costly. And you know what I did? I walked away (If you know me, then you should know that this took unfathomable restraint, something that I usually find myself incapable of possessing) . And then I thought about them all night and talked about them to Jen who scolded me for not buying them; “You did WHAT!? You NEVER walk away from the perfect boots. NEVER.” I decided that I would go back and buy them!
On Thursday, Anne and I left the house early and drove into Wales to go to Hay-on-Wye, a city known for its second hand bookstores. IT WAS JUST LIKE HEAVEN. Hay-on-Wye has more books per square mile than any other place in the world; amazing, non!? We looked around in many different bookstores, and by the time we left, I had purchased five books for a measly £10. I was thrilled! I bought Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle, Jack Kerouac’s On The Road, Joseph Heller’s God Knows, as well as Train Spotting, and The Bedroom Secrets of the Master Chefs by Irvine Welsh. After getting our fill of bookstores, and getting significantly rained on, we got back in the car and drove some more. We headed South through the Black Mountains, and then back to Worcester, to purchase some food and then pick up Antonia. While we were on the motorway on our way home, all of a sudden, the wiper blade on the drivers side broke and started flapping around the windshield as the other blade continued to function as it should, momentarily clearing the torrential rain from the windshield. Anne pulled the car over to the side of the road, and we wondered what to do. We had a look at the loose blade and I discovered that it was actually the clip that had broken, so it was no longer being held in place. I took the clip from the functioning wiper blade, so that we could attach the wiper blade on the driver’s side… as it is somewhat important that the driver be able to see out of the windscreen. With this fix, we continued on our way, and about 10 minutes later, a metallic squeaking began, which proceeded to get louder and louder, the further we traveled. I suddenly realized that the sound was the smaller wiper mechanism scratching against the windshield, as it was no longer attached to a wiper blade. At the next convenient stop, we pulled into a service station and improvised another fix, this time far more crude. MacGyver would have been proud. I took a napkin and my hairtie, and wrapped the empty wiper mechanism so that the metal would no longer be in contact with the windscreen; there is a photo of this below, because Anne and I were both quite amused by the absurdity of the situation and the ridiculous nature of the short-term fix. Once back in Worcester, we stopped at a garage to get it taken care of, and got a new clip for the wiper blade– as good as new! Car problems out of the way, we headed to Sainsbury’s (a grocery store) to get supplies for dinner, then went to pick up Antonia. Anne made a fantastic dinner in no time at all, as we were in a rush to eat and leave to go to the movies. Anne ended up staying home, which was probably for the best as she’d been busy, catering to Antonia and I all day, but she still took us to the theater so that we could see The Fantastic Mr. Fox. I had been dying to see this film because I am a huge Wes Anderson fan; he can do no wrong in my eyes. It was everything I could have hoped for and more; I love love loved it… it was one cuss of a good movie (a joke that you will get if you see it!). Once the movie was done, Anne came and picked us up and we were soon off to bed.
On Friday morning, I was set to return to London, but before dropping me at the station, Anne took me to Marks and Spencers, because she is amazing. I bought those perfect boots, and as they say, the rest is history; it has been a perfect love story ever since, though it’s been a while since I’ve worn heels, so that’s taken some getting used to. Next stop was the train station where I had to say goodbye to Anne and head back to London. I dropped my bags at home and immediately left, heading for the Loose Teeth book signing so that I could try and make Joey Comeau fall in love me by being as charming and interesting as possible (it didn’t work L ). I bought Overqualified, which he signed for me, and got to talk to Mike and Joey “in the depths of an ether binge” (They were not really on ether, they were just extremely sleep deprived. It’s like the same thing, non?). After meeting Mr. Comeau, I walked to Oxford Circus and found the Ben Sherman store on Carnaby Street, so that I could try on a shirt that I’d been fawning over online. Luckily for my wallet, I did not like it as much on me as I did on the website, so I walked away empty handed and headed back to Balham. Once back, we assembled forces and drove to Wimbledon to watch my cousin Jamie’s rugby match. It was the first time I’ve ever watched rugby before, and I had to ask a lot of questions about what was going on, but it was lots of fun. After the game, we returned home, and I immediately fell asleep, aided by the beers I drank while watching the game.
On Saturday morning, I woke up and readied my bags for yet another trek, then left for Chester to visit my Aunt Ruth. She picked me up at the station and me drove back to their house, where I was greeted warmly by my cousin Kezia, who is eleven. As my aunt made tea, Kezia showed me around the house and happily showed me my room, which she had kindly made a sign for (too cute!). My aunt and uncle went out on a date, and I stayed in with Kezzy, and Elen. We watched The X Factor because we are terribly exciting people. It was the Queen episode, so they all sang Queen songs, which made it an utterly fantastic episode to watch… because, come on, who DOESN’T like Queen?
On Sunday morning, Ruth (my aunt), Kezzy, and I went for a walk around Chester, which is a beautiful city with lots of old classic Tudor buildings, and a really pretty clock, that is apparently the second most photographed clock in all of England. After our walk, we went back for lunch, and then took the dog for a walk. On our walk, Kezzy asked me the most ridiculous questions. “So, Lizzie, what do you look for in a man?” Hahaha, an absurd conversation ensued, in which we discussed this ideal man, and then she told me about her ideal man. She knows what traits she would like him to possess, how long she would like to date him for before they marry, how many children they will have, and the curfews they will impose on said children at their different ages. After our walk, we dropped off the dog and picked up the uncle, then headed into town to get a coffee. Once back home, we watched Doctor Who, followed by The X Factor results show and ate dinner. After dinner, one by one, we headed for bed, after saying hello to everyone back home on Skype.
In the morning, I woke up early (6:45AM, what was I thinking!!!), showered, and said goodbye to my cousins as they left for school. Ruth took me to the station so that she could drop me off on her way to work instead of me having to walk there later. I traveled to Lincoln to see a family friend. I arrived two hours earlier than planned, because I hadn’t expected to catch the 9AM train from Chester. This being the case, I walked around Lincoln and perused the shops for a while, then settling down in a coffee shop. I walked back to the train station for three o’ clock, where I was then met by Jane. Let me take a moment to sing this woman’s praises. Jane is one of the most incredible, strong, kind-hearted women I have ever known. She raises three children by herself and does a damn fine job. Lottie and Florence are fourteen-year old twins, and Max is thirteen, a task that would be a handful for a couple, let alone a single mother. She not only manages the kids, she is going to University where she is studying to be a solicitor (lawyer). On top of this, she volunteers/works with the animal hospital and often takes in injured animals to live on their farm! She is Wonder Woman in the flesh, and I absolutely adore her.
After picking me up, we went to collect the kids from school, and then returned to the farm for dinner. After dinner, Jane and I chatted over a bottle of wine for several hours, until it was well and truly time for bed.
I stayed at Jane’s for another night, but that is part of next week’s entry! You know the drill by now… it’s picture time.
A Cotswold town
Hay-on-Wye! My first time in Wales!!
The castle bookshop in Hay-on-Wye
Another picture of Hay-on-Wye, with several bookshops within the frame
Elizabeth “MacGyver” Miller
Carnaby Street all done up with fabulous Christmas decorations!
A picture from my cousin’s rugby game.
The clock in Chester, the second most photographed clock in England. (Second only to Big Ben)
A view of the beautifully maintained Tudor houses from the clock bridge.
More of the Tudor houses on the other side of the bridge
And another view of the clock! It’s so pretty!
And more Tudor buildings!! (Still in Chester)