August 04, 2014

Breakfast at Stonehenge, Brunch with the Crawleys, Supper with Shakespeare, and Dinner with Robin Hood

Our first day out of London was gorgeous. We took our rented car and made good use of it. We headed out west and saw Stonehenge. It is amazing to see that this ancient circle of rocks is formed in the middle of green fields of grass. It makes me wonder what was so special about this space that people thousands of years ago built one of their holy temples there. This was one of the stops Lady Hiva wanted to see and we both enjoyed it. Tau’aho liked all of the open grass to run around.

We drove from Stonehenge to Highclere Castle—otherwise known as Downton Abbey. We were so excited to go there. It is only open a few weeks of the year and we happened to be there for some of it. The castle is set among a beautiful area of forests and farms. Sadly, we could not photos because it is still a home to a Earl and Countess. We were happy to see that all the furniture is the exact furniture seen in Downton Abbey. (Although it was interesting to see that some of the old furniture was in disrepair) They said that it takes nearly one million pounds a year to run Highclere Castle and land. But I figure tourists like us must help. The elderly couple selling tickets said that since Downton has been filmed there, the daily visitor count went from 200 to nearly 1700!

Highclere Castle

One of the favorite parts of our trip was driving from Highclere to Staftord-on-Avon where Shakespeare was from. We passed through the “Midlands” of England. The rolling hills and quaint villages made it so wonderful to see. Each of the towns were picture perfect with their stone cottages, big churches, thatched roofs and manicured gardens. Every few miles I wanted to stop and take photos.

We arrived in Stratford in the early evening and we saw some of the big touristy sites. Compared to the cute villages we had just passed we were not really impressed with the city itself. We made our way to Nottingham!
Ann Hathaway's house

Nottingham, after being in London felt like a ghost town. There were no people anywhere. We found the castle (just as I remembered it when I was a kid on tour with my grandpa) and parked in an empty parking garage. We went into a boutique hotel that was actually inexpensive and booked a room. We were the only ones in the hotel. Lady Hiva and I joked that it was like a horror film and we were going to be eaten at dark—which is where all the other people went!

He was driving all day so these stairs provided literally hours of entertainment

We slept well and didn’t have any zombies show up in our room! In the morning we toured the Castle grounds and museum and then drove north through Sherwood Forest towards York. The countryside was beautiful. It was a long day but we saw some amazing parts of England by driving on small two lane roads. 
Nottingham Castle

Nottingham Castle

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