Week 6 England Chronicles: Days 37-the end

Index:
Day 37: The Hurlers Stone Circles & Woolacombe
Day 38: Stanton Circles & On To Woodstock
Day 39: Oxford
Day 40: Blenheim Castle & Lunch With A Friend
Day 41: The End

Day 37: The Hurlers Stone Circles & Woolacombe

Last night we drove to nearby Praa Beach, a surfers mecca, to watch the sunset. Lovely. Afterward we ate pork chops and watched BBC’s AutumnWatch, a television program about British Isles wildlife. The title may sound very PBS, but it was much more entertaining than our own wildlife shows. There was none of the hushed reverent voices and symphonic music prevalent in US nature shows. The three hosts and one field man (repeatedly shown sitting in front of a fire burning in a 55-gallon drum – what was that about??) were excited and excitable. They practically jumped up and down over kites and geese. Rock music was played as background to rutting red deer males beating on each other with their antlers. The set was chaotically open, with people wandering in to steal chocolates off the table and one of the hosts tangling herself up in her mic and scarf when she tried to remove the scarf. The hosts seemed to be very knowledgeable and passionate about animals, and we did learn some interesting things: kites and barn owls will share the same roost if there’s no other nest sites available; some sort of geese live to be twenty-eight years old; and there are a lot of videos on YouTube of foxes jumping on trampolines. Who knew!

We packed up the car this morning, leaving behind the cottage in Godolphin Cross – and our wi-fi internet connection, sadly. We’re staying at a B&B in Kentisbury, which is near Ilfracombe on the north coast of Devon. We’ll stay only one night before moving to Woodstock near Oxford for the final three nights of our journey through England.

We chose roads that would take us past The Hurlers, a triple stone circle site on Bodmin Moor. Even lacking a good map of the area, we stumbled upon this site without too much trouble. The car park is at an old mine site, which we hadn’t expected, but we’ve become wise to the ways of English signing and tourism. We drove into the car park and checked a post with wooden arrows pointing in three directions, and one indeed indicated The Hurlers. We followed a grassy path a few hundred meters through grown-over mining foundations and test pits to the site.

The site consists of three large stone circles running up a very mild incline. Most of the stones in the lowest circle have fallen over, but the other two circles are largely intact. The stones are taller than some of the other sites we’ve visited; they’re pretty well all more than a meter tall. Some outliers stand off some distance from the circles.

The site is set on – again – a high area with commanding vistas of a valley. The moor rises behind them in a gentle slope. The area immediately around the stones is uneven from various mining activities. It’s pocked with small holes grown over with grass, and the eroded remains of swales and barrows run here and there across the small plain. Rather than detracting from the landscape, the bumps and lumps made for an interesting local topography, the small shallow pits having created tiny ponds, and being exceptionally green next to the drier surface of the plain on which the stones stood.

From there we drove on toward the Ilfracombe/Woolacombe area. When we crossed into Devon, the Tre- village names disappeared, and we soon picked up the first –combe name. Ifracombe, Chillacombe, Lidcombe, Woolacombe, Spreacombe, Parracombe … for some reason these are easier for me to distinguish and remember than the Tre- names. Is that to do with the repeated portion of the word being a suffix instead of a prefix, and if so, what does that say about how my mind organizes words? I don’t know – a puzzle with no answer.

I was the instigator of this leg of the tour, having wanted to see Woolacombe in particular. Liking the name and feeling some inexplicable draw to it, that’s what we aimed for. Along the way we passed three notable items of interest: another directional sign pointing toward a Crematorium; a forest of two-bladed windmills spread out across the countryside; and a tank museum.

The Crematorium really needs no additional comment, I’m thinking. The windmills were strange enough to warrant some attention. Almost none of the twin blades were spinning, and they rested in a horizontal position. The stiletto outline of the blades made it look as if outsized weapons were poised above the landscape. The illusion of menace was a little disturbing in so bucolic a countryside.

We actually drove a mile or so out of our way in order to visit the tank museum because we thought it was a strangely specific theme. One sign called it a ‘museum,’ the next actually said ‘collection,’ which intrigued us all the more. We wondered whether some eccentric hadn’t just collected a bunch of tanks and lined them up in his front garden. Where would he have found them? Lying around in the bushes? How would he fit them all into his front garden?

In fact, we were disappointed to discover, the museum/collection was closed for the season. We pulled into the car park anyway in order to snap a couple of photos of a tank parked at the entrance. A path around the edge of the lot was made of roughly crushed rubble that looked as if it were made by a few tanks rolling over a village. It contained scraps of metal, broken bricks, pieces of concrete and crushed glass. Curious. I didn’t see any bone, but I was afraid to look too closely at it, to be honest.

The tank set up on a berm overlooking the road, next to the entrance to the car park, had a sign hanging on the back that said ‘Farm Fresh Eggs.’ What a whimsical juxtaposition! We wondered how many chickens could roost in one tank, and whether the eggs would take on a bit of that oil and grease smell that all heavy-gauge vehicles seem to exude – or perhaps a mild underflavor of explosives. Either would certainly provide a unique kick to the flavor of an egg.

Woolacombe was another surprise, as I’d read that it was a low key, quaint town on the sea. It was on the sea but was not low key even now in mid-October, and it was certainly not what I would call quaint without adding the word ‘kitschy’ to that description. The town perches on bluffs above a long and wide sand beach, the houses looking like trophies of excess income or tatty rentals. Roads that must become jammed with traffic in summer months chop up the town so that walking anywhere looks like a chore. Quite a lot of people were at the beach today, including what looked like at least a hundred surfers bobbing in the water. Just behind the beach were a couple of tacky little chip and ice cream shops, and a kid’s park with a small train and some swings. It was all quite colorful and fascinating in a way, as I haven’t ever been to an English beach resort town, but it isn’t anywhere I’d choose to pass more than a couple of hours, given a choice.

The landscape in this area, on the other hand, is wonderful. The hills are higher than further south in the Tre- land and very green, while the little valleys are steep, deep, and heavily wooded. It’s a landscape that’s at once spacious and intimate. It’s quite striking.

At Woolacombe we did little more than walk down to the sandy beach from a busy car park, gape at all the people wearing shorts and swim suits on such a chill day (55-60F maybe), snap some photos, and leave.

The B&B we’re staying in tonight is absolutely beautiful. It’s out in the country, set back from the road about a quarter of a mile. Green sheep pastures surround the extensive and beautiful gardens. A stream runs through the bottom of the front garden, below an apple orchard. A dam holds a small pond at the corner of the garden, framed by trees and accented with a small dock holding a table and chairs. Stanley the dog greeted us when we drove in and later played with me on the lawn, running circles round and round and round me as fast as he could go. To top off this perfect place, we had a delicious dinner (lamb for Lisby, steak pie for me) at the Fox and Hound in nearby Pennacombe.

Tomorrow we’re off to Woodstock, just north of Oxford.

Day 38: Stanton Circles & On To Woodstock

The Beachborough B&B that we stayed at last night used the same sorts of knives that initiated such an interesting breakfast conversation at the Hay on Wye B&B (7 Oct): 1800s flatware with ivory or fake ivory handles, and maker’s marks from Sheffield. Lynn and I remarked on this to our hostess, telling her our story of breakfast with Sir Ken Hawley. A few minutes later as we climbed the stairs back to our rooms after breakfast, we caught sight of her rummaging in the flatware drawer, further examining marks on the knives. We’ve done our humble part in spreading the esoteric joy offered by Sheffield dining utensils.

We ate breakfast with two other couples and two dogs, Stanley and Pandora. Pandora is a young liver-colored spaniel with a crazy hairdo. The hair on the top of her head has been left long so whoever pets her can leave her with a spike, a mohawk, or just a general wild bed-head look. She carried around a stuffed pheasant in her mouth, which added to her rather demented look.

Avoiding the larger highways again this morning, we chose a route over Exmoor and through the Mendip Hills on our way east. My Rough Guide describes Exmoor as perhaps the most forbidding of England’s moors, so we were looking forward to a scenic drive.

It was scenic, but we were baffled by the book’s description once we’d climbed up onto the moor. It’s easily the most civilized moor we’ve yet visited! Views in every direction revealed cropped green sheep pastures, hedgerows, fences, and woods of trees planted in rows. Farmhouses and roads were all over the place. If I hadn’t known we were on a moor from the map in my hand, I’d have assumed we’d just entered a hilly farm region. What a disappointment! Here I’d been imagining something even wilder and emptier than the Northumbrian moors, or something even more intriguing than Dartmoor with its weirdly wet ridgetops and areas of quicksand bog. The only thing forbidding about Exmoor, I’d say, is … well, I can’t think of a thing. Perhaps there are rabid badgers running loose up there, or mad fanged sheep? We hypothesized that the Rough Guide writer for this blurb sat in a pub somewhere and dreamed the description up from nothing. That, or a Brit with a wit, slyly dissing the guide he writes for? I don’t suppose we’ll ever know …

The Mendip Hills were lovely, rising abruptly from a relatively flat plain on the west side. The road we chose wound around through picturesque villages next to two large lakes, on which sailboats ran under a light breeze. The tidy little villages were made up of stone cottages with brightly colored gardens. The area looked far more prosperous than some we’d driven through lately, so we jumped to the conclusion that this area is fairly posh and expensive. In one of the small towns that we passed through we were startled by a sign that read, ‘Humped Toucan Crossing.’ It marked a pedestrian crossing with a streetlight. We’d neither of us ever seen or heard of a toucan crossing and rather hoped for something more colorful than just the red/yellow/green streetlight found at the crossing. Alas.

We’d planned to make two stops on our way to Woodstock, one at the Stanton Stone Circles and one at Dyrham Gardens. The Stanton Circles took some finding, as the signs are only visible from the north and we (it’s a gift, really) approached from the south. The circles lie in a cow pasture at the edge of a compact little village. Privately owned, visitors are asked to drop a pound in a tin at the gate. We obliged and made our way through the fences to the pasture. A herd of Holsteins were grazing around the stones, which was at first more interesting to me because I like cows – well, most animals actually, as you may have gathered by now. I took more of photographs of the cows than I did of the stones. They had identification numbers freeze-branded on their butts, which Lisby and I both thought weird and somehow adorable. We are easily amused.

(Speaking of animals, as an aside, there were no sheep in the south of Cornwall. Holsteins were all over the place, but no sheep. As soon as we got as far north as Devon, the cows disappeared again and the sheep reappeared. When we saw the first flock, it reminded Lisby of something she’d read yesterday: the brown sheep that we see are able to eat bracken, while the other types of sheep are poisoned by it.)

The Stanton stone circle site is made up of three circles, one very large (200ft diameter?) circle made with smaller circles to the northeast and southeast of that one. Numerous outliers were described in a little pamphlet that we picked up, although I only saw a couple of them in the pasture that held the circles. All the stones making up the circles seemed massive after the other circles we’ve seen. They were 1.5 to 2.5 meters tall, and many were a meter wide or a little more. Many of the stones have fallen and are lying where they fell, grass slowly overtaking many of them.

The site is located on a slope in a bowl of land, having views only to the east, really. That was unique from the other circles we’ve seen as well, as they were all situated with broad views in all directions.

When we’d finished chatting with the cows, we headed up the road to Dyrham Gardens. Unfortunately a farmer’s market was on in the car park of the gardens, and there must have been three hundred cars filling the lot. People were swarming all over the place. We drove right through the car park and out the exit, not up to dealing with the crowds.

Just after four pm we arrived in Bradon, about a mile from Woodstock, which is, in turn, just a few miles north of Oxford. Our B&B is a bit of a letdown, to be honest, after last night’s beautiful country house. This house is in a neighborhood of homes set closely together on the edge of town – and it’s not a walking town. Bradon stretches out along a busy road just about all the way into Woodstock. Sidewalks lead all the way into Woodstock, but along such a busy road that the walk wouldn’t be much of a pleasure. The B&B’s garden is a narrow strip of lawn with a few trees, some late-season rough flower beds, and a clothesline. Lisby’s room is large and sunny, but mine is a small cramped room with access through Lisby’s. It’s all adequate and perhaps without last night’s spacious comforts it would even be a wonderful place … juxtapositions can be tricky! Perhaps it will look more attractive tomorrow.

Day 39: Oxford

It took me about five groggy minutes this morning to figure out that to turn on the shower, one must first pull a string that turns on the electricity to the little single-unit shower water flow/heater thingy. Every new place has its quirks. Early morning may not be the best time to be sussing them out.

Once I got the water going, I was heartbroken to discover that the water pressure is just this side of a trickle. I know, I really ought to be accustomed to pathetically thin water pressure by now since so-called water conservation shower heads have been all the rage in the States for at least ten years. But I am not accustomed to them! After some serious thought put toward this aggravation, my suspicion is that the trend was dreamed up by either a bald water-nazi engineer, a patchouli-camouflaged shower-once-a-month Green Peace fanatic, or a sly businessman with a vindictive sense of humor. Whichever it was, I’d like to meet the brilliant individual just outside the bathroom on a cold October morning in a stone house in Oxfordshire. I’m so sorry, but I’m really not saving water if I have to stand under the trickling shower for fifteen minutes just to get the soap out of my hair. Give me good water pressure, and I’ll be in and out of the place in five minutes or less – I promise! I’m very disappointed that the otherwise common sensical British have chosen to participate in this trendy irritation.

Shower wrestling behind me, we enjoyed a simple breakfast and drove off to the Park & Ride. We decided that riding a bus into Oxford would be infinitely easier than trying to negotiate narrow roads and find a suitable car park in the city. In fact, the bus was very convenient and easy to use. It was also a double decker, which brings out the little kid in me. I like to sit on the top in the front row, watching the street scenes unfold below. The crack of branches against windows beside me was just an adrenaline packed bonus.

We were dropped off in the center of town. While wandering a bit in order to get our bearings, we found a bookstore that trapped Lisby in its evil clutches. She made it out without buying any books, but it was not an effortless escape. We then bumbled our way in the general direction of Merton College.

Merton is not the oldest college in Oxford, but it may be historically the most important according to my Rough Guide. Keep in mind the Exmoor fiasco and take this statement with a grain of salt, but Merton allegedly set the model for colleges gathering all their tutors and pupils in one spot. Sadly, the college was closed to the public so we were unable to look around inside. A little lane led down the edge of the Merton walls, so as a second best we slipped through the gates to see where that might take us.

The path led us to Christ Church college sport grounds, then to the Christ Church college gates. This college was open – it seems that Christ Church is often open to the public, but they charge for the privilege of snooping through their grounds. We forked over the £6 because we were pretty sure it was the only college that we would be able to get into and really, on a visit to Oxford how can one not see the interior of at least one of the colleges? (By not paying six quid, I guess would be how … I meant why would you not at least try to visit one of the colleges… well, you know what I mean…)

The cathedral at Christ Church was really the only place we were allowed that had some notable features. Though I’d heard of the Christ Church quad, the largest of the Oxford college quads, it was, after all, just a plaza of grass surrounded by lovely old stone buildings, sidewalks criss-crossing it. I amused myself by imagining cows stuffed into it as they were during the Civil War. The Royalists penned their cattle here, saving on fencing costs, I guess. Imagine the stench! Though cattle once mucked the place up, the college no longer takes any chances with herds of any sort tromping across it; signs directed us to stay off of it. They keep strict control of the paying intruders at Christ Church, herding visitors along with clear signs pointing here and then there. Adorable little men in bowler hats stand posted about in case anyone strays off course.

The cathedral wasn’t terribly impressive as a whole (we’ve seen a lot of cathedrals in the past few weeks!), but we fell in love with its beautiful ceilings, the 15th Century stone vaulting looking incredibly delicate and lacey from below. One of the stained glass windows was also a treat, as a small scene at the bottom of it included a pink toilet! Apparently the window was made in the 1850s, when toilets were considered novel enough to include in a stained glass window. Perhaps a stained glass window commissioned now would include a shower with a water-conserving shower head. Something to think about…

Leaving Christ Church we wandered the streets just enjoying the consistently interesting architectural views. After lunch at a small restaurant we tried to visit the Ashmolean Museum, but it was closed for renovations. Without any other specific sites that we’d wanted to see, we felt a little overwhelmed with possibilities. I could happily spend a week wandering the streets of Oxford, but having only a single day made the whole a bit overwhelming. Lisby and I both agreed that leaving the city was acceptable under the circumstances. We hopped on a bus back to the Park & Ride.

As it was only about two p.m. when we’d reached the car, we chose a small road and headed north, more or less randomly driving through Cotswold country. We did have a close scale map with every small detail marked on it, so keeping on the back roads without getting totally turned around was a bit easier than it could have been. I kept finding small archeological sites marked on the map, and pointing them out as we neared. Here comes a tumulus, I’d say, at the top of the hill, on the right, just into the wood there. We’d slow and stare out the window, looking for the tumulus, or settlement site, or, in one case, a whole ruined castle. Oddly enough, we never saw anything resembling any of the sites. I’m not sure what exactly that might say about my remaining archeological survey skills after four years off from the profession, but it doesn’t look good.

Eventually we wound around to a village called Kiddington, which could well be a variation on Lisby’s surname and may, in a working theory of Lisby’s, have been the location of a monastery founded by St Cudda. Lisby had been to this village a few years ago but wasn’t able to find the church. We thought we’d give it another go.

We drove down a small lane into what felt like private property though no signs were posted warning us of trespass. Lawns were mowed, hedges were trimmed, and trees looked specifically placed. Small prosperous looking cottages and lovely larger houses were spaced at generous intervals. The road was exceptionally smooth for a one lane country sort of road, and there was no sign of an actual village called Kiddington. When the road split, we glimpsed a huge stone estate house up one lane, while the other disappeared around a curve. I pointed to a small sign tacked to a tree that indicated the church could be found up the curved road to the right. Though it wasn’t the lane with the huge house at the end, we still drove up that curved lane a bit tentatively; it felt as if we were driving into someone’s very posh private estate. We rounded a corner, and there on the left was the church, set inside a stone wall. Across the road was a small car park, located just below yet another trim and prosperous looking stone house. The car park had horse trailers parked in it. Hm.

If it were possible to tiptoe with a car, that’s what we were doing as we drove into the small car park. Then we climbed out of the car and sort of tiptoed across the lane, through a gate, and into the churchyard. A small sign posted in the church entry stated that keys to the church were available at The Lodge at the entrance to Kiddington Hall. This was at least reassuring in that it confirmed that the church property was open to the public. Having no idea which of the self-contained and very private-looking houses we’d passed might be The Lodge, as none were located at the very entrance to the one grand Hall we’d seen, presumably Kiddington Hall, we contented ourselves with snooping around the churchyard, photographing the exterior of the church. It looked as if it had been built in at least three stages, and had some beautiful little triangular windows high up on the walls. Eventually we tiptoed back to the car and did our best to tiptoe driving back out of the estate, or whatever it was.

A sign out by the highway advertised the Kiddington Estate for sale, including two thousand acres and twenty-nine houses. What I could do with two thousand acres and twenty-nine houses! I could fit a lot of animals on two thousand acres … and a lot of friends in twenty-nine houses. Lisby has promised to find this property on the internet when (if) we get a proper and fully functioning internet connection again. In the meantime, a lottery ticket might be useful …

When we returned to the B&B, our rooms were borderline arctic. They’d been very cold last night as well, so when Lisby went down to beg some milk for her tea she asked if the heat couldn’t be turned up. Within a few minutes a sort of weak excuse for heat started to seep from the radiators, but it didn’t really cut the chill. When we left to drive to the village for dinner, the owner told us he’s having problems with the boiler, and he’s very sorry but hopes to get it looked at tomorrow. As I tend to feel chilled in anything less than 90F anyway, I write this bundled in layers of fleece, incoherently muttering and thinking that a hot shower, even with a silly water-conserving shower head, might be in order before I crawl under the down comforter.

A bit of trivia before I sign off to go hunt down some warmth … In England the word pitcher (as in pitcher of water, or pitcher of beer) is considered a rather quaint and old-fashioned word. They say jug. It’s the opposite of American English … how do these things happen?

Day 40: Blenheim Castle & Lunch With A Friend

The heating did in fact work this morning, a welcome addition to the B&B experience. It was especially appreciated as the day is a cold and wet one. Drizzly rain fell on and off throughout the day (with a force just about equal to the water-conserving shower), our weather luck apparently starting to wane as we come closer to flying home.

After a shower (sigh) and breakfast, we drove to Blenheim Castle in Woodstock. Winston Churchill was born at this castle, and spent some time here growing up, visiting his grandparents. The first Duke of Marlborough was given the castle (and his title) as a gift from some queen or king – sorry, I’ve forgotten which. He’d won a key battle in Germany, the battle of Blenheim, around 1700 or so. I should really have dug out the guidebook to verify some solid facts, but the book is in my duffel, which is packed and ready to wheel off to the airport tomorrow morning at 6am … these fuzzy facts (just the sort that I started this blog with thirty-eight days ago!) will have to do.

The castle is enormous. The Duke of Marlborough still lives in one wing, which could probably house an entire village of commoners should that become necessary for any reason. We toured through the grand hall and the ground floor of the wing that the Marlborough’s don’t inhabit, most notably a fine library that was over one hundred feet long with ten thousand books lining the walls, and various state rooms done up in a dizzying Baroque density of patterns: paintings, furniture fabrics, carpets, and marble.

The formal gardens overlook a large lake where hundreds of geese and ducks were paddling around. A path leads off across wide lawns and through nicely placed trees to a rose garden and a Tudor boathouse and other lovely little vignettes. The lawns go on forever, mowed all the way round the lake from the look of it and off to the horizon. I wonder what the Duke does with his other thousand acres. The whole thing is so over the top, it’s hard to do anything but stare in wonder – and wonder at the extraordinary excesses that people are capable of dreaming up.

 

After our tour we walked to the village of Woodstock, just outside the gates of the castle, to meet up with J–, one of our PSD guards who was in the truck when we were blown up in Iraq. He was on his way up to Manchester today, luckily for me. He chose a route through Woodstock so we could have lunch together. It was great fun for me to see him. It felt a bit surreal to meet up in a little village in England, really, like a warp in space, but in a good way. I could practically feel my body armor (I still miss it – that’s a weird thing to miss!). I can still smell Iraq, and so clearly see E– 1 driving me down Aspen Road or walking with me through inspections at the electrical substations. I think we both miss the tight camaraderie available doing war zone work. We’ve both said that working there was worth our injuries, odd as that may sound to someone who hasn’t done some similar work.

We took turns showing off our scars, compared dead nerves in arms and heads, and traded memories of the day we were hit and our evacuation trails through Balad and Landstuhl Germany. We each remembered a few details that the other didn’t know or remember; there’s some satisfaction in filling in blanks, understanding the whole story a little more clearly. We also laughed at some of the goofy things that we’ve both experienced while trying to get used to seeing with only one eye, since we are both missing sight in our right eye. Becoming accustomed to poor depth perception can be quite funny if one cultivates appreciation for the absurd.

I was glad to see J– looking so well, and am relieved to know that he’s had no trouble getting good medical care. JB (the other Corps employee in the vehicle with me) and I were both concerned about that, as many contractors in the States are having to go through terrible hassles to get treatments that soldiers would get as a matter of course. That our war-injured civilians are treated through the Workman’s Comp system is really a ludicrous embarrassment.

When J– drove off toward Manchester, we returned to the B&B to sort and pack our belongings. I may have to sit on my duffel to get it zipped, but it will all fit – yay!

Day 41: The End

We left early for Heathrow, and I write this from the airport as I wait for my flight …

Being the travel slut that I am, I could happily stay in the UK for another six weeks. I love seeing new things every day, staying in different places (though I do prefer some heat and a shower that does more than drizzle), and being able to fit everything that I need in one bag. (Ok, two bags – but one is just a daypack, and I know that I could do it in one if I’d tried a bit harder …) I like not worrying about bills and other little daily chores. And I like England quite a lot. It’s quite easy to travel in an English-speaking country, even if they do drive on the wrong side of the road. It’s amusing to discover the odd cultural and social differences between the States and England, and it’s entertaining to run into the differences between American English and British English. I adore the fact that every pub serves beef pies because they’re delicious. I love it that this country has the most wonderfully well-behaved dogs and that they are, understandably, allowed to go just about anywhere. I like the seemingly endless array of fun-colored sheep (I saw a spotted one yesterday!). What more could one ask for?

There are a few mysteries that we didn’t figure out during the course of this journey and that probably warrant a return to investigate. We don’t know why bathrooms don’t have electrical outlets, when that is the easiest place to dry one’s hair with a blow drier. We don’t know why English toilets are so often peculiarly touchy, refusing to flush without just the right amount of pressure and speed in perfect combination. We don’t know why restaurants start taking Christmas dinner reservations in September. We were unable to determine the proper pronunciation of Eynesham (not to mention all those diabolical Welsh village names!). We don’t understand why we have such enchanted luck with English weather, drawing sunshine with us wherever we go. And of course we never learned what a toucan crossing is all about. These are baffling and intriguing questions that deserve answers – or at least some additional attention. Perhaps on the next holiday …

It’s good to leave while still wanting to stay longer, isn’t it? Remaining until you’re desperate to get out of wherever you are taints the good memories, while leaving with a longing to remain just makes the good memories sparkle all the more.

I have to admit that I had reservations about spending so much time writing while traveling in a foreign country, but keeping up with this blog been fun. I hope you enjoyed reading it.

Until the next journey, as a man said to me three days ago … toodle-oo! (I didn’t know people really said that …)

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