Oct 19: Bibury, and The Oxford Comma
Join us in a trip to the Cotswolds.
I like dabbling in mobile photography, but I'm an amateur and this London segment has been hard for me to know what to do with photo editing. It's been hard to stay true to the colors, ambiance and lighting, particularly with the grey, tan and black colors. We've barely seen sunshine since we've come, which is rather to be expected, but it's made the photography a different thing altogether when there is no light to supplement. This was one reason I was really looking forward to going to the country was because of the green, fall colors and stone cottages.
Saturday was the day, and we began with a lo-ong drive through London in morning traffic and three hours later finally came to a beautiful, cold, and windy English countryside in the little village of Bibury, Gloucestershire.
We set about walking right away as most of the village could be toured by foot, and started at a beautiful little church where four men, a church full of people, and an anxious groom were waiting on a tardy bride.
We stared covertly if such a thing is possible, and spared a wide berth around the entrance. The church yard and surrounding roses were beautiful, and as much as we lingered, the bride did not arrive. We left, leaving Maria behind to report later on the outcome of the happy day.
Next we walked around the cottages and little stream that ran in front of the medieval and old residential part of town. One could almost see children from 800 years ago playing around with mum's cooking dinner over a hearth, with several homes being fine enough to support servants and a finer life.
The Tea Room
It was so terribly damp and chilly that after an hour or two of walking around outside we were more than ready to find the Tea room we'd spotted earlier and take in a simple afternoon tea.
It was bliss to sit in that room with a warm fire and take in the effortless peace of country ambiance. I see what the British see in their tradition of tea. They served us all separate pots of tea according to order, and we all ordered soups, toasties, or bread and cheese since walking in fresh English air makes one hungry.
It was wonderful. A black cat trod proudly in the back garden, where one could see the cooks in this tiny little kitchen cooking up everything. The little steps to upstairs were covered in a red, printed carpet, and everywhere was the comfort of so many years of simple, farming folk.
The Oxford Comma
Now it's time to mention the brief pause we made in Oxford. Oxford was completely different from London in it's small and invigorating university feel. We didn't get a chance to see much, though we did get to see what I think was by far one of the most beautiful sights I've seen so far: Christchurch. The beauty there was almost overwhelming.
We spend several hours in Oxford, and aside from the church two things of note stand out to me. We ordered coffee at a little side-street coffee shop and the barista poised with a sharpie to write my name on the coffee cup, but he looked at me blankly when I said, "Lyn." I repeated it several times, and finally we established that actually, I didn't want sugar in the coffee. I was all embarrassed, and he just laughed, pulled change from the drawer with a flourish and said, "cheers!" Have I mentioned I love the steady English humor?
We drove by the Eagle and Child on our way out. I nearly hopped off the bus then and there, because Tolkien and Lewis are some of my favorite authors of all times and according to what is told they both frequented that particular pub with their literary friends. I wanted to go in, order a drink, and soak in the atmosphere. The photo below isn't of the Eagle and Child, but it is similar to the architectural style and we didn't catch a photo of the pub. Please ignore the modern elements of the photo and imagine with me the literary life that inspired the Chronicles of Narnia, Lord of the Rings, and books such as A Severe Mercy.
Sometimes the architecture, history, culture and beauty here is almost too much to process in so short a time. Many times it's hard to believe that we're sitting in places like Westminster Abbey listening to the great organ, walking by the Thames, visiting the Cotswalds, and seeing the earliest known manuscript of Beowulf. Sometimes I just have to stand on the bridge staring out over the Thames and catch up with myself. Sometimes, dreams do come true, and I feel as if I have stepped into one of mine. I am so grateful for this privilege to travel.
And finally for the happy ending, and for anyone who was wondering, there was a happy wedding at the little Bibury Chapel that day, and the bride and groom were later spotted driving around the village in a picturesque way. What a beautiful wedding that must have been! If ever I've been temped to crash a wedding it would've been at the little church in the Cotswalds.