Friday, January 30, 2009
Last weekend the Irishman and I drove west to the town of Salisbury, which is near Stonehenge. I'd been there before, in 1999 on my first trip overseas, and did the usual tourist stops of the Salisbury Cathedral and of course Stonehenge. We went there for 3 reasons:
1. To get out of London
2. So the Irishman could run a half-marathon as part of his training for the London Marathon
3. To visit the Irishman's friends who live there, and kindly hosted us
Salisbury is an old Roman town, with a long history of settlement and inhabitation that dates back to the Iron Age. The cathedral that now stands in the center of the older part is one of the most important examples of Gothic architecture in Western Europe. Lots of famous people are buried in it, like a former Prime Minister and relatives of Jane Seymour (wife of Henry VIII).
We drove down on Saturday and wandered a bit around the town, visiting both the cathedral and a cookery shop. Both were fascinating. When I first saw the cathedral, it was mostly covered in scaffolding but this time around a lot of the scaffolding had been removed. We wandered through the cathedral and monastery, but missed seeing the Magna Carta (there are four remaining copies, and the Salisbury Cathedral is home to one of the better preserved copies). Back home, the boys played some video games and I drank tea.
After a lovely, carb-loading meal for the runners, Sunday morning saw the ladies hiking up a hill in the New Forest watching out for the boys who were running 14 miles up and down hills of rough terrain. Not that we weren't paying attention, but I was mostly interested in the New Forest ponies, a breed of wild ponies that inhabits the New Forest and roams around its territory. They're all about 3.5-4 ft tall (12 hands?) and stand by the side of the road eating grass. I loved them! They were much more exciting than the mud-splattered runners passing us by.
After showers, we all retired to a pub for a lovely Sunday roast before we had to return to London. The ride down and back was lovely, not only because this particular part of the English countryside is so pretty (and it is) but because once you leave the suburbs of London (which go on for miles), it really is completely different: houses with 2 chimneys and thatched roofs and winding narrow lanes. It is nearly another country, and one that is so fun to explore and go to relax.
Pictures? Of course! Here!