A quick post to say what a great trip we are having! We had a week of sunshine and mild weather, but now it has turned colder. Today was sunny, but cold.
Our friends Valerie and Bryan, who used to live near us in Albuquerque but now live in Italy, came for the weekend during the great weather. We spent a day touring this area, a day up to Stow-on-the-Wold exploring that area, and a day in Bath. This was their first trip to England and will now think of it as muddy, but sunny and mild!
Steve pranged the car!! In 12 years of trips to Europe, this is the first time we hit something. It was only a grassy side of the road, but the car is low slung and apparently made of plastic, so we broke a fog light and the whole nose of the car. A guy from AA came out and fixed it with cable ties (really!!) and we were back on the road. I had an interesting conversation with National Car Rental at Gatwick where they told me we could bring the car in but they would not refund any money (we have two weeks left on the prepaid rental) and would not give us a new car because, since we had caused this damage, we were deemed bad drivers. We got insurance on this rental, but did not get the extra insurance they try to sell you (so we have a large deductible), and they treat you like you did not insure anything. Interesting!
I know I said this would be a short post, but now that I am typing …. I have been driving! I can drive in England!! We found some quiet country roads and I drove. The next time I was over confident and in busier traffic. I bounced off a curb (these roads are narrow!) and did a left turn into the wrong lane (but there was no traffic). I was shaking when I finished the drive. Since then I have driven several times.
My mission was to drive from the cottage to the Waitrose in Stroud and back. I figured if I can drive out to do the grocery shopping, then I am set. It went well. I don’t feel relaxed when driving, because of the whole “other side of the road” thing and the narrow lanes, but I feel like I can do the driving. After all, I love to drive in the US where we have a thing called a “shoulder” so if you drift for six inches, you don’t hit a curb or a stone wall (or on-coming traffic). Driving here has an extra dimension of intensity.
If you saw the lane our cottage is on, you would be very proud of me for driving. The lane is very steep – seems like a 45 degree angle, but I know it can’t be. It is also narrow with a nice stone wall on the edge. When you get to the top, you have about a mile on a one lane road where one car barely fits, let alone two passing each other. But, there are pullouts.
We have decided to go home as planned in just over two weeks. We had thought of staying longer, but I am missing the cat (Buddy) and other Santa Fe things. Plus we have a trip in the first week of April to Savannah for the SlowTrav GTG, then to Atlanta and after that will probably spend a few days up in North Carolina.
Today we went to the Stroud Saturday Farmers’ Market to get our vegetables for the week, then up to Miserden, a small village north of Stroud and Bisley that we had never been to. There are some good hikes from the village. It was beautiful with lovely woods and lakes and a charming village. The church is Norman and the churchyard was full of snowdrops (which are blooming everywhere this month). We did a short walk because we lost a couple of hours dealing with the car “accident”.
More later because this was just a short post to let our friends know we are still here! 🙂