We got away at about 10:00am and rather then head straight off we took the English prof's advice and went in search of some more “standing stones”. In keeping with the mystical qualities of the region the immediate area around Avebury is the world's capital of crop circles. Of the 10,000 or so seen since the 1960's 95% have been found within a 15km radius of the little town. There are many people who believe in the mystery of their creation despite claims from individuals that they have been man-made. I'm not sure which is true. Probably both. Designs have become more elaborate over the years. Why? Who knows? I just can't imagine how in the dead of a Wiltshire night a couple of local pranksters can create something so large and with such geometrical precision without detection. That two every three days for the last 46 years. Very busy boys! Moreover, once you, or any one else, has pulled the prank and got a laugh or won a bet why continue?
Anyway, we continued with our plan from yesterday to get to Malmesbury. It wasn't too far do didn't take too long. The town was very busy. We found a park and the tourist information centre. The lady in their was very helpful and furnished us with heaps of documents, brochures and maps of the Cotswolds. It was morning tea time so we found a tea-room nearby. The cakes were OK but the service, the accommodation and the tea were all good. It was time to et cracking as the day was getting away already. The A429 was to be spine s would follow, ducking off to the little villages a few kms either side of it on our way northward.
First port of call was the village of Bibury. Yes, Emily, this is the village in the opening scenes of the Altnahara episode! For all those wondering, the village and its impressive hotel featured in “A River Somewhere – Series 1” way back in 1995. The village was rather crowded with tourists which was somewhat unexpected. It is considered to be one of the most beautiful villages in England. It's very nice but a bit of a stretch to say it's the most beautiful. There is a row of stone houses running down to the Coln River call the Arlington Row which, apparently, is one of the most photographed in England. We parked the Citroen and wandered along the river towards Arlington Row and other parts of the village. The river was full of trout just cruising the shallow, slow waters. Some quite large, some small. The water was clear and the fish easy to spot. Where was my fly-rod!
Across the stream and up the hill we met a young puppy behind a locked gate just looking for a pat, so we obliged.
His mistress came over and I inquired about the whereabouts of “a Manor with a large green lawn that went down to the river”. I couldn't remember the name of it. “That sounds like Bibury Court”, she exclaimed and gave us directions for a nice walk to get there. We followed her directions, walked through a couple of gates, past the Bibury Cricket Ground on top of the hill, down along an old stone wall keeping the forest of some wealthy lord's estate in and down a steep hill past more classic stone houses towards the river.
There, before our eyes, was the view we had been searching all over the country-side for. We stood by the little stone bridge over the Coln and gazed over the expansive green lawn up to Bibury Court, a 17th century Manor House, now a hotel.
We strolled under the huge, shady trees by the stream spotting trout arriving at the hotel's outdoor meals area. A coffee was in order in this lovely setting. We went inside to order and where blown away by the hotels lounge so decided to stop there and enjoy the wonderful “old manor”ambiance.
I ordered roast beef with horseradish sandwiches and for Kerry it was scones, jam and cream, both perfect for the setting. We lingered there for an hour or so enjoying the sumptuous lounge chairs and couches, the rich carpets, the pine wood-paneled walls, the high ceiling, the drapes and the views out the windows across the lawns and the manicured gardens. What a way to spend an hour or two.
As we left the waitress told us about a special church in a village just a little downstream with medieval glass windows that have to be seen to be believed. We promised ourselves to visit it one day, but there's always chapel or a church or a cathedral somewhe....... “Let's go and see it right now “ Kerry interrupted. So we jumped in the car and hit the narrow, winding roads to the village of Fairford.
There, as advised, we found a 15th Century Gothic church with the only full set of original stained glass windows in the whole of England. To protect this treasure the villagers even went to the trouble of taking them out and hiding them for the duration of WWII. The seventeen windows tell well-known stories from the Bible. They were designed for the largely illiterate folk of the time to help them understand the readings.
was well past 5:00pm so we pushed on through the country lanes to the A429. Just near the village of Bourton-on-the-Water we found a B&B called The Ridge. We booked in then continued on the town for tea. The village has a lovely, shallow stream flowing through it. Set with a park on one side and pubs , restaurants and shops on the other it made for a lovely setting. To complete the picture the stream is crossed by no less than six little stone bridges over a distance of 200m. A great spot for tea so we sat in the Kingsbridge Inn and enjoyed a pint and a good cheap pub meal.