5 Oct 2009

Hampton Court, Stonehenge and Bath

A view of Hampton Court

Our tour begins today. We all gathered at the hotel lobby. Looks like the rest of the tour group consists of Americans, Australians and Canadians. We're the only Malaysians in the group.Most of the people seem to be about our age or slightly older. There are also one or two young people - a couple on their honeymoon and a mum and her young daughter.
The weather today is not as kind as yesterday. It was drizzling slightly when we started out. Thye first stop is Hampton Court palace which was the favourite seat of Henry VIII. Its situated on the banks of the Thames and was a present to him from Sir Thomas More, the man in "A man for all seasons".
The rain got heavier as we walked in the gardens of Hampton Court. Neither Repin nor myself brought umbrellas so we both got wet. However most of our group were also wet as many had forgotten the vagaries of the British weather. It took us slightly more than an hour walking around the garden - it is beautiful no doubt, but so structured and rigid in its lines. One interesting thing was the vine that supposedly had been planted more than 200 years ago, during Queen Mary's reign - and is still alive. In fact there are some grapes hanging from some of its vines. Its really old!

Our next stop was Stonehenge - the mysterious prehistoric monument that have stood in the fields here for more than 5000 years. We spent roughly a half hour walking around the stones and taking pictures. I think I saw a Malaysian family there - a husband and wife.Mr Hugh Davies our guide said that not all the stones were from there originally. Some had been carted from as far as Wales and were put there later. These stones seem to be some kind of prehistoric tribute to the Sun - a kind of religious tribute. At least by he time we arrived at tonehenge the rain had stopped and the sun could be seen again. The weather was cool but not too cold.
FRom STonehenge we drove to Salisbury a beautiful old English town, (Its pronounced as 'Salzburi)which is dominated by one of the oldest and largest cathedral in England - the Salisbury Cathedral. Our lunch was here and for the first time Repin and I had lunch at a pub called the White Hart. We had fish and chips and hot tea which was lovely because of the cold weather. I also managed to buy an umbrella for Repin which costs 4 pounds!

Bath, UK

After an hour here we drove on to Bath where we would spend the night at the Bath Hilton.
Bath is a lovely town - full of gracious and beautiful buildings. I can imagine it during the Georgian period in the late 18th and 19th century when all the 'ton' would come here to enjoy the 'waters' and go to the Assembly Rooms. It is a town redolent of the grace and romance of the past - think Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer!
But this town was also famous in an earlier period of history - during Roman times the Roman garrisons used to go to Bath for vacations. Evidence of this only came out much later in the 20th century. While excavating the site of an old Georgian mansion, archaelogists found evidence of a much earlier period. The romans baths were finally fully excavated only after digging much deeper where they found columns and rooms where the roman soldiers were supposed to have stayed. It seems that over the years these baths had been covered by other buildings. Today Bath is as pretty as ever and the architecture of the period well preserved. Bath was a well known resort city to a lot of Edwardians and Victorians.
The hotel is right in town and after dinner we decided to go for a short stroll round the place. Its very quiet and its only 9pm. I wonder what the people here do at night?

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