A hot time in Iowa and Missouri in July

Returning to the USA after our trip to England, we redeemed our truck and Airstream (Luci II) from storage in Lincoln. After an overnight and a visit with our kids, we headed east on Interstate 80. Because flooding closed bridges on a more direct route, we crossed the Missouri River at Omaha. Our destination was Richland, IA where our friends Gary and Millie Vannoy live. They had put in an RV pad under a shady tree and had electric hook-ups in place as well as a water supply. This was great because Iowa and Missouri were hot and humid!

Our truck looks pretty small next to Gary’s semi.

Gary and Millie have the nicest house in Richland. They purchased an older house and remodeled it from top to bottom into a cozy home.

Getting the motor home restocked was Millie’s job while Gary was busy hooking up their car and a golf car on a trailer. Before we left, a huge storm blew down branches and leaves all over town. Dave and I helped with clean up and the guys hauled debris to the tree dump.

Then off we went to the Starvy Creek Bluegrass Festival near Conway, MO.

The festival this year was the 34th Annual Starvy Creek Festival. It has been run by the Day family on this welcoming shady spot. Food vendors were on the grounds with all the usual fare but also included were Catfish dinners and Succotash! My favorite of all was the Pie Shack. Gooseberry pie. My oh my! With ice cream. Twice.

Morgan Music from Conway had a booth, too. Dave found a fiddle that he had been looking for. He had big fun playing tunes with a local legend, Alvie Dooms.

People who arrive early arrange their chairs in their favorite spot and since the land slopes toward the stage, supports are put under the front legs to make them more level.

Three days of hot entertainment and hot temperatures. Thank goodness for 30 amp electrical hookup!

Seldom Scene was one of our favorite bands. Even though only four members were present, they were able to perform all their hits. The crowd went wild!

Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver are always crowd pleasers.

Ron Stewart sat in with Rickie Wasson on the fiddle this time. His talent blew us away.

After the festival we parted ways with the Vannoys for a few days to see a bit of Missouri while we were in the state. Hawn State Park near the Mississippi River south of St.Louis was home base for a few days. It is a lovely wooded park with paved roads, level pads with electrical hookups and lots of hiking trails. We enjoyed the birds, the trails and the cheap washer and dryers in the shower house.

We hiked the Pickle Creek Trail.

We visited Saint Genevieve, Missouri ‘s oldest town. It’s downtown has an abundance of French colonial architecture. We enjoyed visiting several historic homes and businesses.

The Cave winery was an interesting and scenic stop. Missouri wines are tasty. We bought some.

Hermann, MO was a stop on the way to Hannibal. This very German town boasted wineries and smoked meats.

Hannibal, MO and Mark Twain Cave and Campground was our next destination. The cave is right next to the campground so we took it in.

A visit to the Tom Sawyer sights was fun as well as a riverboat dinner cruise.

The River was beautiful and peaceful. The dinner was well presented accompanied by a jazz duo.

We had a great time in Missouri and were ready to revisit the Vannoys in Iowa. We returned to our spot beside the big tree. Millie had wonderful meals including a Hatch Chile Casserole. I have the recipe!

Millie took us to see the Amana Colonies. There are seven colonies that have a 305 year history in Iowa. Originally a commune, the communal life was abandoned in favor of a close community system overseen by a corporation that everyone has stock in. The Colonies are an interesting spot to stop and explore. There are lots of shops and crafts and good restaurants.

We drank some wine in Millie’s beautiful kitchen and played some tunes on their wrap around porch.

And then it was time to go but we will see them again in the fall in Arizona. Yay!

Chicago: June 25th 2019

A funny thing happened on the way back to Nebraska from England. Our flight from Chicago to Omaha was cancelled and another was not available for two days. We weren’t pleased but we did take advantage of the situation by learning a little more about this “City of Big Shoulders.” After a night of rest at the O’Hare Hilton we were able to catch a train to downtown from a platform on the hotel’s lower level.

Upon exiting the underground, we were right in the middle of the city on the Chicago River.

Early in the morning, the city was beautiful and not too busy. We walked up Michigan Avenue to Millennium Park.

The park area was busy with tourists. There were school jazz ensembles performing in one area.

Farther into the park is a futuristic amphitheater where a symphony was practicing.

Back toward the Avenue was the big attraction, the Bean.

What a fantastic spectacle of people interacting with their images as they moved through and under this sculpture.

We had to hustle to get back to the river to take the late morning architectural cruise of the Chicago River. Back up the avenue to Wacker and then down to the Riverwalk.

A monument to the recovery from the great Chicago Fire which destroyed most of the city.

Directly across the River thelow building on the right is one of the newest additions to the Chicago river scene, the Apple store.

We bought tickets and went to wait in a very long queue for a seat on the cruise boat. As the day was pretty warm and many ahead of us opted for shaded seating, we were able to get good seats on the top deck.

Our guide was very knowledgeable and able to give her spiel quickly as the boat was making good time along the Main, North and South branches of the River.

The Wrigley building is an iconic sight. She explained that its architecture was an historically inspired European-Renaissance style. The clock tower was inspired by a bell tower in Seville, Spain.

The Tribune Building is another example of historically inspired architecture.

These two are “post-modern” architectural style built in the 80’s and 90’s.

This is 150 N. Riverside, a contemporary style building. It is 54 stories and is 20 times taller than its base is wide. A lot of fancy engineering went into making it seem to defy the laws of physics.

Another contemporary building, River Point, sits at the confluence of the three branches of the Chicago River. It was built in 2017.

A statue of “The Spirit Of Progress” sits on top of the Montgomery Ward building which is classified as a Chicago Commercial style of architecture.

The Nuveen Tower reflects other riverfront skyscrapers.

Other interesting features of Chicago River architecture are the buildings on the bridges, all are different and unique.

It was a great day to be out on the river with marvelous buildings all around.

Time for lunch. A cold beer and a sandwich hit the spot. We were able to make our way back to the hotel via the underground. The next morning our plane back to Nebraska was just a walk away beneath the streets to O’Hare. So ends our unexpected sojourn in Illinois.

England: Hiking in Cornwall June 2019

We settle back on the bus after identifying our luggage, it’s a pretty day in the Cotswolds. Out of Mickleton and onto a main highway for the two hour or so drive to Wells where we will stop to see the smallest city with one of the finest cathedrals in England.

The scenery changes from the tilled fields of the middle of the country to the more open land near the south west coast but the stone walls remain.

The gate in the wall reminds us that in early days this was a walled Bishop’s Palace inside and one of the oldest inhabited houses in England (quoting here from our handout on Wells) with the outer walls dating back to the 1200’s. The palace had a moat and drawbridge during civic unrest in the 14th century.

We had two hours to see the city and have lunch so Russell led us through this gate where beggars were allowed to hang out. Later in the visit, a musician had set up in this space with his hat out for tips.

This is the west front of Wells Cathedral. This amazing facade is said to have the largest expanse of medieval sculpture in the world. There are saints, angels, kings, bishops, apostles and a statue of Christ at the top. Construction of the Cathedral began in 1180 and was not completed until over a century later.

This is the Vicar’s Close. Bachelor dwellings for the men of the Cathedral choir. It is considered to be the oldest continuously inhabited street in Europe!

Across from the Vicars’ Close on the north side of the cathedral is a clock with mechanical figures which appear and strike chimes at the quarter hour.

Inside the cathedral is a fantastic architectural scene with pillars and columns and various types of ceiling vaulting.

The mighty organ had just been playing as we entered. We could see the organist behind the curtain.

Another architectural feature of this fantastic building is the scissor arches which the literature reports to be a medieval solution to sinking tower foundations circa 1338-48.

The thing that also drew my eye was the embroidery on the alter cover. It looks 3D. Stunning!An ancient Chapter House for the clergy was in an added on octagonal building that was reached by worn stairs from thousands of feet over centuries. Evidently it is still used occasionally to transact Cathedral business.

This Wells clock was installed around 1390 and still functions. It is one of the oldest clock faces in the world. On the quarter hour, knights joust, going round in tournament. We were able to see this magical happening. In the below picture, a figure kicks his heels and rings a bell.

English Cathedrals get no regular funding from the government or the Church of England towards maintenance, restoration and development work, says the brochure I picked up. The literature went on to say that 4,500 pounds sterling was needed for daily upkeep and running costs.

Dave and I had a nice lunch at a nearby Inn then it was time to join the group at the bus for the rest of the journey to Lanteglos Country House Hotel.

Thanks to Bob MacFarlane for this excellent view of Lanteglos House Hotel.

Our Hotel was located in the country near Camelford in the southwest of England. The lane servicing the hotel is narrow and the entrance to the hotel is narrower. We and our luggage are unloaded in the lane. We find our assigned rooms/cottages or cabins and get organized for dinner.

Dave and I are assigned a cabin uphill from the main hotel. Seriously uphill. It seemed like a 30% grade to me.

The Coastal Path from Pentireglaze to Polzeath

The bus left the hotel most days around 9am after a great breakfast. The waitstaff would ask, “Hot porridge? With cream?” There was always granola and yogurt, fresh fruit and juices, jams and breads, eggs and sausages or bacon and usually hash browns, tea and coffee. They sent us off with plenty of fuel for our hikes.

A dampish day but the scenery along the Atlantic coast of Cornwall was spectacular.

The trek started at Pentire Farms. We walked down to the coast past and west to Pentire point.

Dry stone walls of a different sort than those in the Cotswolds lined the path in places.

We took a break at the “Rumps”. Down below is a tour boat showing a cave along the shore.

The path curved along the coast and down to the town of Polzeath which happens to be a Mecca for surfers.

If you look closely you can see surfers taking a lesson with rescue vessels parked nearby.

We took our lunch in the cafe above this surf shop.

This Rook was ever vigilant for scraps.

While waiting for the group to gather for the next leg to St Enodoc, we watched people and surfers.

Our path turned inland And upward toward the town of St Miniver.

Everywhere were beautiful flowers. Our objective was a church called St Enodoc. It was built in the dunes and was unprotected from blowing sand and became covered with sand. Legend has it that a priest had to say mass in the church in order to keep it eligible to receive tax money so the priest was lowered through the roof. The church was finally exhumed and protected from the wind. It is now a prime spot for weddings.

In order to reach the church our path crosses a golf course. We were told to be watchful for golfers and there were quite a few out on this Tuesday afternoon in June. White stone markers guided walkers along the path.

Yes, snails.

A beautiful church especially with the flowers draped over the door and along the alter rail.

Sir John Betjeman is buried in the church cemetery. He was a famous poet and Poet Laureate. We heard some of his works read to us by a theater club in the evening. After another hike across the dunes and up to the Trebetherick road, our bus picks us up and takes us to the Tintagel Brewery near Delabole in a stunning location above the ocean. We see a film about brewing beer and get to sample some. Back to Lanteglos Country House Hotel and dinner.

A day in St.Ives and a hike to visit a tin miner

We had a choice to spend the day visiting this harbor town near the part of Cornwall called Lands End or hike around the harbor and climb up above the town for another view of the Atlantic Ocean. Dave and I followed Jen and a few others around the harbor and then struck out on our own.

It was a beautiful sunny day so lots of folks were out walking along the harbor and shopping.

Around the Point was a lovely beach with blue Caribbean-like waters. Evidently the Gulf Stream crosses the Atlantic and deposits warm waters on these beaches and moderates the climate in this part of England.

As we dodged back into the town, we window shopped. Looking around I spotted this baby seagull on top of a roof. He is still downy so hasn’t fledged. Waiting for food.

St. Ives history includes farming and fishing and mining. The railway line from St Erth was and continues to be essential in connecting the town to the rest of England. Tin, copper and uranium were mined nearby. Many artists live and work in St Ives. There is a Tate St Ives gallery here exhibiting international, modern and contemporary art including art of the St Ives School of modernists. Dave and I stopped to view art by a local guild and came away with a watercolor of the Cornish coast.

Dave and I took the train to it’s junction with the mainline and returned enjoying a spectacular view of the coast.

We ate a bite of lunch in a coffee shop and rejoined the group for the coach trip to a tin mine near St Agnes. The coach could not negotiate the excessively steep grade down to the mine so we hiked. The proprietor, Mark Wills, told us about the process of turning rock into tin which he proceeded to show us.

This water driven stamping mill was used to break up the rock which was further refined until the sand-like product could be separated.

This machine shakes and separates the sandy material. Heads are good. Kids need to be reprocessed and Tails are discarded. This time consuming process is continued until he is sure all the usable ore is extracted. Then that product is melted into ingots. This is how he makes his living…in addition to conducting tours and selling jewelry and other items he has made.

Another interesting day in Cornwall concludes with the group (ok, maybe just me) toiling up the hill to the coach. Some of the hikers fairly sprinted up that hill.

We came upon these contraptions in various restrooms. It’s a three-in-one deal. Press a button for water, another for soap and the third for blow dry and “Bob’s your uncle” your hands are clean!

Padstow and Port Isaac

This day we were given the choice of a seven mile hike with lots of ups and downs or hanging out in Padstow. I chose to stay in Padstow and Dave stuck with me. Our guides had prepared materials and maps that we could follow to explore this small but important port on the southwest coast. It has had a long history dating back to Roman times but a Welsh monastic named Petroc settled here building a monastic community and doing miracles. Padstow had a good natural harbor and developed into an important trading center for importing and exporting goods.

Dave and I walked around the town and sat along the inner harbor people watching.

A quaint place. Loved the flowers.

Fresh fish here, made us hungry. We even waited for a table to be ready in this popular fishmonger/restaurant.

The name of the place was Prawn on the Lawn. The waiter suggested we share small plates including the namesake prawn on the lawn. All were excellent.

Evidently this is a competitive rowing boat called the Fitzroy. The tide was out but it would have been fun to see a rowing race.Time to leave for the ferry to Rock. You can see the outer harbor with boats moored waiting for the tide to float them. The inner harbor is kept full with a barrier that can be closed. The Black Tor Ferry has been running here since 1337 to and fro every 20 minutes in high season.

Jen, our fearless and fit leader, is in training to run the New York Marathon. She was up before the birds every morning on a run. She also has a home catering business.

Our coach was waiting for us for the short trip to another scenic small port, St Issac. If you have ever watched the PBS series, Doc Martin, you might recognize some of these scenes or buildings.

It was a gorgeous day. Many people were out but because of the extremely narrow streets, there wasn’t much car traffic. Most folks parked at the top of the hill and walked down, as we did.

I watched one Doc Martin episode and saw this building.

Dave and I had an ice cream and a coffee here. Our guide, Russell, saw one of the characters from the series but there was no filming on this day.

Back up to the top and the bus and a short ride to the hotel. Before dinner, Dave and I would get something to drink and visit until time for the meal. Meals were great with choices for meat lovers and vegetarians.

The Cornish Riviera on Cornwall’s south coast

To get an idea of the breadth of the peninsula, it took only 40 minutes to get from one side to the other coast. The garden lovers of the group had a choice to see the Lost Gardens Of Heligan while the rest could take the exhilarating 6.5 mile walk on the Coast Path. The gardens were splendid.

Heligan Estate was owned by the same family for 400 years and during that time it was a thriving and self sufficient community. World War I drafted all the farm workers who were able and none came back. After the war the gardens reverted to brambles due to lack of care. Heligan House was rented out and later sold off separating the gardens and estate. In 1990 the gardens were rediscovered and England’s largest garden restoration project began.

A guide met us as we got off the coach. She escorted us around the grounds telling us the restoration story and pointing out famous plantings of azaleas and camellias, the summer houses and hidden nooks and walks.

She pointed out the tribute to the gardeners who were lost in the war.

The door in this wall could have been an inspiration from the book “The Secret Garden” that I love and have read many times.

Can’t you imagine it all overgrown? A door to a secret place.

There were vegetables and flowers and fruit trees and strawberry plants and pineapple houses.

All the gardens were meticulously recreated by an archeologist, Tim Smit, who was engaged by a relative of the original estate owner.

This wagtail is bringing lunch to babies in a nest in the brick wall. She persisted even though we were close and taking her picture.

The guide turned us loose to explore the rest on our own.

We walked all around the extensive grounds and braved the rope bridge.

This was a field of flowers planted for butterflies.

There were sculptures,too.

We had a wonderful al fresco lunch with such tasty fresh strawberries, just picked.

This is a giant rhubarb plant.

A little shopping in a great plant/gift shop and we were ready to meet the coach for a ride to the fishing village of Mevagissey where the walkers would descend.

The harbor was at low tide so the fishermen were tending to their boats. We walked out onto the breakwater while waiting for the hikers. When the rest of the group arrived we posed for a group photo in this picturesque place.

Our leaders Jen and Russell are on the left. It was a congenial group.

Boscastle and Tintagel

Boscastle is a National Trust Village with a picturesque harbor on the north coast of the peninsula. The hikers took. 6.5 mile walk along the Coast Path. Boscastle had neat shops and historic buildings to poke around in.

We took it easy and met the hikers at the beach in Tintagel.

King Arthur’s Arms our lunch spot. Lunch was fish and chips in a pub in Tintagel.

Tintagel is purported to be where the legendary King Arthur was born in a castle along this rugged coast. In 2018 the British Heritage closed the site. They are building a sky bridge across to the castle rock from the main coast. It looked to be almost completed when we were there.

It was another blue sky day for our last day in Cornwall.

Bath and back to London

A final breakfast with a heartfelt goodbye to the waitstaff and the chef who had served us so well. All packed and on the bus for our final excursion.

Bath is a World Heritage City. We were dropped off near the historic city center with a little time to visit the famous Roman Baths, the 15th century abbey, the Georgian terraces. The city was bustling and colorful with hanging baskets of flowers.

We came upon the marker designating the end of the Cotswolds Way near the ancient abbey.

Our hotel was near Heathrow. We had just enough time to find our rooms and refresh ourselves before a final communal meal and goodbyes. An Indian wedding party was in the hotel that evening providing us with another interesting thing to watch.

We had exchanged email addresses and summer plans. Now we wonder if we will see any of these folks again. The next morning we all flew away home. The end.

England: Hiking the Cotswolds June 2019

Two weeks after traveling to Nebraska for Katie’s graduation and a day after my 50 year nursing class reunion, Ross shuttled us to Omaha for the first leg of our trip to England. All went well; planes were on time, there was plenty of time to get to the International gate in Chicago and we were glad we had chosen the premium economy cabin on our American Airlines flight. There was more room for our legs and for reclining plus better services. Neither of us got much sleep but we were excited to be having new experiences on this trip to England. Arrival and processing at Heathrow went quickly, it seemed. Dragging our luggage and toting our backpacks, our next challenge was to find the Heathrow Express train to Paddington Station and get tickets. Easy Peasy!

Paddington Station’s famous Bear. What a magnificent place! We took advantage of the First Class Lounge while waiting for the local Great Western express to Moreton on Marsh. Dave had booked tickets in advance online which were cheaper than same day purchase.

Since we had time and the nice concierge at the lounge in Paddington Station said he would watch our bags, we took a walk in the rain over to Hyde Park. The GPS on our phones was a big help getting us there and back.

Finally on the train through the rainy countryside. We are tired but happy to again be on the move. Dave had scheduled a taxi to pick us up at the train station. Our driver was friendly and efficiently got us to our destination at Mickleton in the Cotswolds. I was mesmerized watching her negotiate the narrow roads and lanes through small towns, etc., seated on the right side and shifting with her left hand.

Three Ways House Hotel was our home base for the days of hiking in the Cotswolds. We have arrived a day early so that we could recover a bit from jet lag. The hotel rooms were fairly spacious with king bed, armoire, desk, two chairs, a TV on the wall, en-suite bathroom with heated towel bar and large tub/shower. Other services provided in the hotel included a bar, dining rooms, and garden with lawn furniture. Across the street was a small grocery/Post Office with an ATM for cash. The buildings were made using honey-colored stone which was a Cotswolds feature. Roofs on the historic structures were of slate. After a night of sleep we opted to explore the area with a hike to Kiftsgate Court Gardens, about a mile away. Our Road Scholar guides, Jen and Russell, were in the lobby and gave us directions to the gardens and off we went clad in our rain gear as it was raining lightly. The U.K. has a law allowing the public to Hike across cross private land so we crossed a pasture, skirted a cornfield and climbed uphill across a sheep pasture to the Manor.

Sheep were snuggled down. They didn’t seem bothered by us. We, however, had to be careful where we stepped. It was a long slog up the hill. The picture below doesn’t exactly convey the distance.

Dave at the bottom of Kiftsgate gardens. Behind and below him is a high wall with the hill descending at the bottom of the wall. This kind of a feature is called a ha-ha in England. You can see it illustrated at the bottom of the diagram below.

The house is private so we were not able to see it but we did avail ourselves of the bathrooms Near the car park and had a good soup lunch in the cafe near the gift shop. We could have spent all day here seeing the various gardens and taking pictures of the flowers.

Beautiful spaces created on a pretty steep hillside.

In addition to beautiful plantings, there were ponds, sculptures and benches, two summer house structures and a folly.

Our Road Scholar group was scheduled to meet at the hotel later this afternoon so we hiked back down the hill. The rain had let up but the paths were slippery and puddled in places.

At orientation we met the five other couples and eight singles (all women) who made up our group of hikers. Two couples were from Saskatchewan, Canada. Four of the singles were from Colorado and were traveling together. Another single was also from Colorado but had never met the other four. The other three singles were from Florida, Maryland and Indiana. The other couples were from Washington State, North Dakota and Arizona (Tucson). Some were on their first Road Scholar trip and one guy had been on 20. He was the real hiker. We had a nice meal and were reminded that a buffet breakfast would be served starting at 7AM the next morning with the tour to start at 9. We were to be ready for the elements with rain gear, walking sticks and hiking boots.

Chipping Campden and hiking to Broadway Tower

A bus picked us up for the short trip to Chipping Campden where we congregated at the Market Hall which was built in the 1600’s and rebuilt by theNational Trust in the 1940’s.

The Market Hall was where locals came to buy, barter and sell all sorts of goods, produce and animals. Europe has a tradition of market days that continue today.

Our group was divided in half and two local guides showed us around the ancient part of this small city. Some of the buildings date from the 13th century while others date from the 16th and 17th. They were built of the honey colored limestone that we were to see in many of the villages we visited. Chipping Campden is famous for being a wool town since the climate here is perfect for sheep growing. Many of the fine buildings including St.James Church were built by rich wool merchants. Sir Baptist Hicks was the richest merchant here and built many of the local buildings including St. James Church.

The guides pointed out the half timbered construction of some of the buildings and the dates carved into others which signified when that building was added onto. We were able to visit a silversmith shop. A business that has been here for hundreds of years dating back to the Arts and Crafts Movement and is still producing fine silver goods on commission. The tour ended back at the Market Hall square where a marker indicated the beginning/ending of the Cotswolds Way. The other terminus is in Bath, one hundreds miles southwest.

A few of us had lunch at the Eight Bells Inn which looked to have been there for a long time. It was built to house the stonemasons who built the church in the 14th century.

After lunch we all came together and began our trek from Chipping Campden to Broadway Tower. The first leg was a long uphill slog from the valley to the Cotswolds Escarpment with Russell in the lead and Jen herding the strays.

The countryside was a beautiful green, the sheep were white and at times the hike seemed never-ending. The pathway through a large field of rape seed was especially tiring as the wet vegetation hung over the path making forward progress slow. But hike we did, across pastures and fields, crossing over roads and stiles and through gates marked with the Cotswolds Way Public Footpath sign.

Finally over hill and dale we reach Broadway Tower which was built as a gift from a rich land owner to his wife. It is described as a folly, meaning it didn’t really have a purpose other than being decorative.

After all the slogging, I declined to climb the tower. I could see the countryside plenty well from the ground. Another half mile walk down hill and a wait for the bus. We were all tired.

Back to the hotel, a soak in the tub and a nice meal. Following the meal was a lecture on History and Management of the area. Sorry to say many of us were nodding off.

Oxford

It was a one hour drive from Mickleton. We were dropped off in the center of Oxford which is home to England’s oldest university. After a necessary break in the Ashmolean Museum (worlds first university museum). We were guided around famous sites such as the Bodleian Library, the Sheldonian Theatre, the Radcliffe Camera, the University Church Of St Mary the Virgin and Christchurch Meadow. In late morning we were given a tour of the Christchurch College founded in 1524. Some alumni of the college include William Penn, John Wesley, Lewis Caroll, W H Auden and thirteen British Prime Ministers.

The Ashnolean Museum has umbrella stands in the lobby next to an ancient statue! Note the locks.

The martyrs memorial and the beginning of our walk about. Rain continued on and off during the day.

A panorama of the quadrangle of Christchurch College, dripping Dave.

Inside the dining hall which was used in some scenes in the Harry Potter films. Portraits on the wall include Henry XIII and a bust of Queen Elizabeth.

Stained glass window dedicated to a former Dean of Christchurch College and author Lewis Caroll, noted for his Alice in Wonderland tales. Some “Alice” characters are depicted in the glass.

Inside the University church. Our group can be seen listening to our custodian guide whom you can see over the shoulder of the lady in the blue jacket. Our guide was entertaining with many stories of the history and events and shenanigans that have gone on in Christchurch College.

After lunch we were allowed a few hours to explore on our own. Dave and I went to the botanical gardens.

Punts for rent for a row on the Cherwell River where students who have passed final exams come and jump in to celebrate.

It was truly a fine garden. I took lots of pictures.

We toured the streets on our way back to the Ashmolean and our pick up point. There are twenty colleges making up Oxford. We didn’t have time to visit them.

Colleges and places of interest in Oxford.

Waiting for our bus which was held up in a queue of other tour buses. It finally came and we made it back to Three Ways House in time for dinner.

Breakfast at Three Ways House was buffet style with regular British offerings. Lunches were eaten elsewhere. Dinner was chosen from a menu the day before and included a choice of starters, a choice of entree and a choice of “pudding” (dessert to us). Dishes of cooked vegetables were placed on the table for all to help themselves.

Naunton, Upper and Lower Slaughter, Bourton-on-the-Water and Stow-on-the-Wold

We started the day with a coach ride to Naunton in the River Windrush valley.

It was another overcast day with rain and mist. We were walking on some paths and roads that had hard surface but also some muddy places. You can see the wet and mud on the legs of these trekkers. We all had to deal with these muddy togs when we got back to the hotel- drying and brushing or washing as much as possible, using hairdryers and the heated towel bars and hoping the items dried befor they were needed again.

Across meadows and hillsides with pastures of sheep and cattle and some wheat. Consistent stone walls stacked without mortar and sometimes having jagged stones to keep animals from jumping over.

This wall was made in this way for fox hunters to jump their horses.

A six mile hike today but we enjoyed the picturesque towns of Upper Slaughter

And Lower Slaughter

Lower Slaughter had a pretty mill and mill race and a not so pretty gargoyle.

The rain came pouring down on the last leg to Bourton-on-the-Water where we were to have lunch and then the sun came out.

Back in the bus for a short trip to Stow-on-the-Wold,another ancient wool town. Our guide, Russell, demonstrated the stocks on the green.

Another ancient church, The Parish Church Of St Edward. The low door in the side of the church is enclosed by ancient yew trees and is said to be the inspiration for Tolkien’s entrance to the Mines of Moria.

Dave and I spent some of our free time having a “cream tea”. Which consists of tea served with milk plus scones with clotted cream and jam. Yum!

Kelmscott Manor, Coln St Aldwyn and Bibury

Our bus driver deposited us near Kelmscott Manor once the home of William Morris on the River Thames. Admittance to the Manor is timed so we had time for a “wee bimble”, as Russell put it, along the Thames. The River is narrow and picturesque here, we saw swans and a narrow boat.

Kelmscott was built around 1600 by a rich farmer. William Morris rented it in 1871 as a summer retreat for his family and family friend Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Although Jane Morris was reported to be unhappy here away from the excitement of London, she bought Kelmscott Manor and estate in 1913. The family lived here until 1938. The Manor was then owned by the University of Oxford and eventually sold to the present owner, the Society Of Antiquaries Of London.

William Morris, Oxford educated, was a poet, craftsman and socialist. The gardens inspired Morris in his artistic designs. Flowers and foliage in different seasons were replicated in his designs and these of his daughter May. His wife Jane, an artist as well, embroidered many wall hangings and bed covers with his designs. His garden inspired many Arts and Crafts style gardens which were so different from the structured Victorian style of the day.

His style is repeated in the furniture and furnishings throughout the house. Docents were on hand in each room to answer questions and keep our hands of the many beautiful pieces.

The gardens were lovely including the arbor and the ancient mulberry tree.

Dave and I had a nice lunch in the tearoom which was a restored barn. A sweet gift and bookshop were fun to visit. They made some money off our group.

On to Coln St. Aldwyn along the River Coln and a three mile hike to Bibury.

We didn’t see much of the town as we were soon on the pathway along the River Coln.

Beautiful countryside but wet and muddy.

The holes in the building are a dovecote, unused now. Bibury is said to be one of the most beautiful and unspoiled villages in the Cotswolds. We had time to explore a bit. My toes were hurting so I explored the path to the bus and removed my wet boots and socks. Bruises were showing up at the base of three of my toenails.

No 5.5 mile walk to Cirencester for me.

My toes needed a rest so while the group went to the Duntisbourne valley and Cirencester, I swaddled my toes, put on my sandals, and took a walk in Mickleton.

This little village was pretty in the light of an unclouded day. You can see the hotel and garden and the spire of the local church. The flowers throughout the Cotswolds were so pretty. Flowerbeds and flowers in baskets were everywhere. Well-kept plantings edged many properties. I found a local footpath and followed it within the village.

In the small shopping area on the high street, I stopped to read the bulletins in a shop window.

Up the hill to the church, more beauty.

Inside the church was stunning to me. Fresh flowers, hand stitched kneelers and a beautiful sanctuary.

On past the church with it’s ancient graveyard I walked to the footpath away from town and around the meadow enjoying the huge old trees.

Since this was our last night at Three Ways House Hotel, the chef presented the group with our own “pudding club” that the hotel was famous for. We could sample as much of each dessert, covered with cream or caramel, as we wanted and then vote for the favorite.

One dessert, the red one, was a bread pudding filled with marinated fruit. The second or middle dessert was sort of cheesecake like and the third was a sticky toffee. Not sure which one won but they all were delicious.

All bags needed to be packed and available in the morning for the bus ride to Cornwall. We all hoped our gear was dry enough to pack. Adios Cotswolds!