Out and About!

I made a pact with myself that at least once a week until I leave the UK, I’m getting OUT on any day with at least some sunshine. Last week I got off to a good start!

A week ago I was handed a simply perfect English December day. Not a cloud in the sky! I piled the Boyz in the car and headed for the COAST! Oh My, Oh MY, OH MY!! I finally got to see THE WHITE CLIFFS!

This area of southeast England has been on my life to-do list, and somehow we just didn’t get down there this summer or fall. Mostly because we want to take a whole week and tour around Kent and Dover. There’s definitely a week’s vacation there, in castles and seascapes.

These photos are not of the famous White Cliffs of Dover. This is actually a place called Beachy Head, near the pretty seaside town Eastbourne, east of Brighton. (Another place on the List, not yet gotten-to.) I can’t tell you how beautiful this piece of coast is. And we had it practically to ourselves because it was a winter weekday. It is just crazy the way the green grass is mowed, right up to the edge of the cliffs, no fence or anything! In fact I kept the Boyz on the leash until we got to the edge because I had this horror of them not realizing it was a cliff and just bounding right over! It is surprising that there aren’t fences and warning signs, because Britain definitely is a nanny-state kind of place with excessive handholding and admonishments for about everything. (And I thought the USA was bad for that sort of thing!) It is also amazing that this area isn’t in private hands after all the centuries.

What a treasure to be able to just drive up and park, walk a couple hundred yards to the edge of the cliffs, and walk a couple miles each direction.

Further down the coast we came upon a place where they had put a staircase right down to the beach below the cliffs. I thought being on the top was great and was not expecting to be able to get down there, AND with dogs allowed off leash in winter. Oh how I want to LIVE here, right HERE!

We also stopped at a ruined castle in this area, called Pevensey. It wasn’t open to go inside but it was pretty ruinous so I don’t think I missed anything. It was impressive to walk around. I think from the top of one of those towers you could see the ocean. The pretty enclosed grounds appeared to be the dog park for the village, as there were many dogs and owners doing walkies there!

Last Saturday I had some Christmas shopping to do, and decided to shop like a Brit, by doing it in a Real Market Town. I chose Salisbury, not least because it was near Stonehenge.

I’ve been to Stonehenge twice before on other trips to the UK, but I’m a sentimental fool and just had to go again. Plus, my other photos taken there were pre-digital and now I’ve got good ones for the archives. PLUS it was a sunny day and the other times I was there it was rainy. All good excuses for another look!

They are about to totally rebuild the area around Stonehenge, burying in a tunnel the highway that runs right by it, and moving the visitor center 2 miles away. In future you’ll have to get to the site by shuttle bus. That will be a drag, considering how many people visit Stonehenge, but I think it will be worth it to see it placed in the middle of the downs without any roads. The second photo shows what it looks like right now when you approach it.

Paul and I spent two nights in a tiny old half-timbered inn in Salisbury during our driving tour of England and Wales about 10 years ago. I think it has just about everything you’d want in an English town. (If you only have time for one day trip out from London, go there!) A fabulous huge cathedral, lots of old half-timbered buildings and historic buildings, interesting narrow streets for exploring, great shopping, pretty countryside. And just a few miles from Stonehenge, Avebury Stone Circle, and Old Sarum. I was glad to go back there for a day.

Last time, we didn’t get into the awesome cathedral—it was closed the one day and we rented bikes all day on the other and never got back there. This time, there was a full orchestra and huge choir rehearsing a Bach concert in there, it was incredible!! I heard the voices from the outside and I was sure that there was a program going on and I wasn’t going to be able to get in the cathedral (again). But they said it was a rehearsal and I just ran in there. I couldn’t believe my luck!!

Today we woke up to our first British SNOW! Just a wet half inch, but still pretty fun to see. I drove the Boyz over to a nearby park to run around. First thing in the morning it was just a very hard frost on the ground. Looked like snow, but wasn’t. (I’d love for it to stay below freezing all winter here, just because it hardens up all the mud! Fantastic!)

Later it began to snow for real, so I drove up to Cliveden. This famous estate is up on a hill overlooking the Thames so it had a little bit more snow. It was a great place to take photos of the snow. I walked all the way around the building and took a bunch of photos. And hit up the gift shop of course. (I’ve got to get out of this country, the gift shops are going to kill our finances!!!) Here are photos of their garden, the Thames, and their ornate gilt clock tower.

Now it has turned to all rain, but it’s still just 0°C so just barely staying rain. They are calling for a “significant” snow on Friday, whatever that means. I heard a newscaster yesterday describe -5°C as “bitter” cold. Bitter? HAH! I have gotten used to thinking in “C” instead of “F” for temperature, but 0°C is only 32°F, so that is not very cold compared to what we regularly endure in Colorado. I confess I am not missing those mornings on the ski lift at Vail, when it is -10°F! (That’s -23°C to you Brit readers!)

Next week I fly over to New York to join Paul for Christmas. The novelty of being over here on my own has totally worn off and I will be very glad to see him again!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Here sadly, is my sole Christmas decoration in the house, given to me by my sister-in-law Stacy, when were were in Tucson.