Farewell, Brittania


I’m actually in France now, since yesterday afternoon, but there’s more of England that I’d like to show you before we delve into the realities of going to language school 9 hours a day, with homework every night. That starts tomorrow, and I can’t wait! But meanwhile, back across the Channel…..


I went on a little two-day tour in a minivan, with three other Americans and a family of six from Myanmar. The first stop was Oxford, which was quite lovely IMG_8543 IMG_8545 IMG_8547 IMG_8552 IMG_8553 IMG_8555

but pretty much everything to do with the University was closed to non-students, so it was just a lot of looking at buildings from the outside. My favorite part, actually, was coming upon a group of guys selling the Socialist Worker and gathering signatures for a petition in support of striking National Health workers. I was amazed at how many people stopped to sign the petition, a steady stream, during the half hour that I sat in the square, reading the Socialist Worker and listening to what turned out to be Afro pop rappers for Jesus. When I finally figured out what they were saying I headed back to the bus and we all headed to the Cotswolds.


The first stop was Stow-on-the-Wold, a pretty little town, sort of the Carmel of the Cotswolds, with lots of cute little shops and restaurants, and, of course, a poppy memorial.


I did buy some exceptionally good Cotswolds cheeses to share with my bus mates, not sure whether folks from Myanmar eat cheese or not. But yes, they did, much to my surprise.


This was the first real butcher shop I’d seen in a long time, and the fact that there was leg of goat in the window made me long for a kitchen. IMG_8568

In this cozy pub there was a sign saying that if you were only there to use the loo (as I was) you should make a financial contribution. So I went to the barkeep and said that I wanted to contribute to the loo fund, holding out a handful of change. She gravely picked out 30 pence and said “that’ll do it, then.” I have to confess that in a week in England I never did figure out all of their coins, which are especially obscure.


After that we made a quick twilight stop at Bourton-on-the-Water and when  I saw this house


I immediately knew that Shel would have wanted to live there. We arrived in Cirencester after dark, and I stayed in a B&B that was a long way from dinner. As I hobbled into the closest pub, alone, I was expecting to feel welcome, but it was a place where everyone clearly knew each other and liked it like that, and although the welcome was correct, it wasn’t any more than that, so once again I praised the Kindle gods.


Next we visited Lacock, a dead village from the 13th century that’s been nicely preserved. Here’s where I discovered that I was really missing fresh air and the countryside. Instead of visiting this little abbey I preferred to hang with the sheep in their meadow on its grounds.


Happily, there are still a lot of thatched cottages in that part of the country.

And finally we went to Avebury, where there’s a henge.


We walked into the largest stone circle in Europe, dating to about 2600 BC. I was really hoping to feel something special there and I went to a stone and put my hands on it and closed my eyes. Uhm, rock, big rock , cold rock. Just rock. One of the Myanmar contingent touched my rock and said “Nothing.” That’s what I felt too, alas.

So my short time in England was peachy, and now I’m in Villefranche-sur-Mer, a whole ‘nother world. Soon I’ll tell you about that, but for now I’ll just say that I’m so happy to be speaking French again, and having French food, and all that stuff I’ve been dreaming of for the past year, since Shel and I left France, for the last time, together.

Explore posts in the same categories: Road Trips in Europe

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9 Comments on “Farewell, Brittania”

  1. DianeKirkland Says:

    I’m enjoying tagging along with you, seeing what you see and hearing what you’re thinking. And smiling. Sometimes a rock is just a rock. ;>

  2. Nancy Schmitt Says:

    Lovely, Abra, simply lovely! Being half English, I wish I could have been there, too. My only entry into England, is visiting Heathrow a few times.

  3. Lucy Says:

    It is delightful to hear about your trip.

  4. Henk and Greta Says:

    Bienvenu en France!

  5. Agnès Says:

    Ah Villefranche sur mer ! les vacances sont finies !!! Je comprends tout à fait ton plaisir de retrouver la langue française, bon courage quand même, 9h par jour : est-ce bien raisonnable ?

  6. Chuck Field Says:

    Abra, Great photos and comments. A number of years ago we stayed at Burton on the Water with Denise Harris and Bob Cederwall. That part of England is very nice. We will love to see your future photos. We are at our place in Utah and have been here 28 hours. It is great to get back to the desert and the open space of Southern Utah. Chuck

  7. Lovely photos of England — it looks like you had decent weather.
    What is the name of the language school you are going to and for how long? It will be interesting to hear about.

  8. jeanne Says:

    Agree! Sounds like you had a lovely time in England; but daily 9 hours of French lessons sounds like a lot. Hopefully the lessons are enjoyable and the homework not too bad!

  9. aromacucina Says:

    Bentornati a Francia..as those wacky Italians would say! Welecome back to France. Isnt’ there something about living life in another language that makes your brain feel more alert, more alive? enjoy!

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