Our trip to England in 2017 was during a “bank holiday”, as was pointed out by my English friend Peter (aka, Disk Doc www.flickr.com/photos/diskdoc/) before we left. I didn’t give it much thought, as we don’t have bank holidays here in the states. Believe me, when a Flickr friend from whatever area of the world I happen to be headed to gives me a clue, I will do a better job of researching it.
We spent a few days in London to see some highlights there we had yet to see… Joyce especially wanted to see the Florence Nightingale museum before we left, because she’s a nurse and Florence was the founder of modern nursing as a profession. We did walking tours throughout London with extensive use of their train systems and water taxis to get us in the area of interest… we hiked over 13 miles one day, but that’s like what many folks do there. After our third day there, we opted to take a train to get us to Oxford, where I would pick up a car and drive 700+ miles throughout the Cotswolds and the western and southern coastal regions… I just didn’t expect it to be as crowded as it was. We’re Americans, however, and driving the wide-open roads in any condition is what we do. The Brits – and Europeans, overall – not so much.
England comprises about 4/5s of the total area of North Carolina, yet, with 50+ million residents, it has 10 times the people of my fine state… and they were all on the road enjoying their bank holiday… or so it seemed. We had to take the opportunity to visit the home of C. S. Lewis while we were in Oxford, but immediately afterward we pushed on to Chipping Campden in the Cotswolds. The Cotswolds are a range of rolling hills in England that rise into the headwaters of the Thames… it’s amazing to understand that the mighty Thames River starts at as little more than a mudhole in these hills. This was pointed out by our friend www.flickr.com/photos/7148266@N03/ John Glass while enjoying dinner together on our first night there in Chipping Campden. Now mind you, due to the bank holiday, we just did manage to squeak into a local pub for dinner that night. We had time for good food and conversation, but our table was reserved for others, so we set out together as John gave us a tour of the village. Before the evening ended, John helped us to set a course throughout our time in the area.
The next day, we set out for the local St. James’ Church… the bell tower we could see from our bed and breakfast room was added to an earlier Norman structure in 1500… we have nothing comparable here in states. The topography there at the church made photography a bit difficult, especially with so high a bell tower. To complicate things a bit further, an Indian couple and a lot of their family, all dressed in colorful traditional costumes were commandeering many of the angles I was after for apparent engagement photos… I could have sworn their photographer was keeping an eye out for where I was set up. Their photographer would point in my direction and the entourage crowded me out for that exact place… several times! It was amusing. After a good foot tour of the church and an old marketplace (I found out that’s what “Chipping” means), we found that there was no place available to have dinner that evening… the holiday revelers had taken over this village. So, we drove to Seven Springs to see the head of the Thames… we were within feet of it but never actually found it. There’s a “family” pub there where we inquired, but no one knew… turns out it was literally across the street from there. We did find other things of interest, but we’re going to have to find our way back one day to grab a shot of the Thames Mudhole. For the meantime, this beautiful church will have to do. Old or not, St. James’ Church is still a vibrant hub of Christian light in Chipping Campden… check it out here: www.stjameschurchcampden.co.uk/services.htm