Last weekend Thom and I sneaked away from mad London to enjoy 24 hours of loveliness in Oxfordshire. Thom’s parents live in the UK, and it was Father’s Day here, so we went to hang out with his family.
After pottering around in Oxford (beautiful old buildings, bookstores, PRIMARK), we headed to Blenheim Palace, home to the Duke of Marlborough and birthplace of Winston Churchill (yes, in the bed below).
I love palaces… And this one was quite lovely to look at. It’s a shame that the owners have taken a weird theme park approach in some places. At one stage we were trapped in a never-ending series of rooms, terrorised by animatronic maids. We finally exited to a gift shop. One entry gets you a year-long pass – I’d like to go back again and spend more time in the gardens.
A week ago I escaped the city for a dose of the country and fresh air with friends. They don’t tell you this in the manual when you move to London, but riding the tube and living in the smoggy air turns your snot black. Gross. You only discover this when your first apocalyptic London cold. Initially this HORRIFIED me (to the point of why are did we move here) so I am telling you if you ever visit…
In Wiltshire there are no such problems. The only issue is walking around without tripping over some piece of fantastic ancient history. After traipsing through some fields of broccoli, we reached a long barrow. Built around 3650BC, a long barrow is a Neolithic chambered tomb. Inside we met a pair of likely ladies, who offered Wayde a sip of their magic potion they were sharing in honour of Mothering Sunday.
Nearby is the village of Avebury, built within a huge, sacred stone circle. This is a megalithic monument, think massive stones arranged in a giant ring, encompassing two smaller circles. It’s older than Stonehenge, and every bit as perplexing. Antiquarian John Aubrey said of Avebury; “it does as much exceed in greatness the so renowned Stonehenge as a Cathedral doeth a parish church.”
The manor house and village church were also very quaint. But before we could really poke around, the clouds started rolling in (hence the dark photos). It looked like it was about to pour, so our time in Avebury was cut short. But all was not lost. As per any adventure in the English countryside, we wrapped up with a trip to a tiny pub for a lunch of foraged mushrooms on toast, and a half of cider. Perfection.