England 2005

Monday, June 27, 2005

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Where we stayed near Petersfield, Hampshire.


Statue and window in the Lady Chapel at Ely.  I think the chapel had stained glass windows originally, and those were destroyed during the Reformation.


Flowers in one of the many gardens around Ely Cathedral.

Just north of Petersfield, Hampshire, we stayed with friends in the middle of a 1,000-acre wood that is a private development with 32 homes built mostly in the 1920s and 1930s.  It was absolutely lovely. 


We walked in those woods one evening, and the next day our friend Judy took us to see the home of Jane Austen where she wrote most productively.  In the evening, we had a whirlwind tour of Portsmouth and several charming fishing villages.  That was Tom’s birthday.


In Petersfield, our hosts were warm and welcoming, and they wanted so much to show us their part of England.  We also made friends with Kitty of Sussex, a black stray cat who has adopted our hosts.


Then on Saturday, we journeyed by train from Petersfield (an 800 year old market town) to London, caught the Northern line tube then the Picadilly tube to Kings Cross Station, where we took the train to Cambridge.


Now we are on our own again, in a cute 1 bedroom apartment in Cambridge, just outside of the city center.  Cambridge is a bustling town, with heaps and heaps of thriving retail shops.  They have even succeeded in building a couple enclosed shopping centers without killing off street-level retail. 


We’ve spent hours and hours wandering through Cambridge and its colleges.  Yesterday, we also took in the beautiful Fitzwilliam Museum.  When you are in Cambridge, you MUST see the Fitzwilliam.  The building itself is gorgeous, and the collections are very important.  We saw only the European paintings.  To do the entire museum would take all day, at least.  The café in the museum is okay, but the menu is weird and overpriced.  Considering that admission to the museum is free, however, it was acceptable.


One of the restaurant reviewers here in Cambridge calls this city a “dining desert.”  Our landlord, Paul, has said pretty much the same thing:  that the restaurants here are expensive and not very good.  I’d have to agree with these two “experts,” but last night we stumbled upon The Peking Restaurant on Burleigh Street that the reviewer and we agree is excellent.  We had hot and sour soup, mu shu pork, and szechuan pork.  Madame says we should come back and have the lamb!


Staying with our friends in Oxfordshire and then in Hampshire has given us a sense of what it is like to live in England.  We talked about cricket, the Royal family, watched BBC, listened to BBC 4 radio, saw a video of Charles and Camilla’s wedding, went to the grocery, and took long walks on the public footpaths or in charming villages before going to a pub.


Life is good here.  I think the only reason the English ever leave England is because of the weather.  However, we’ve been extraordinarily fortunate to have almost entirely good weather so far.  And the heat is intense in Paris.  A good time to be away from there.


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