England, the mini tour

11th to 19th August

Mini England collage

It’s amazing how much cool stuff you can squeeze into a week, between organizing SIM cards and insurance and banking and buying welly boots and fitting out a caravan.

This week we’ve loved getting a taste of England, ready for when we return in November.

Whilst we were in Shropshire picking up our car we visited Iron Bridge, a tiny little town nestled in a valley on the River Severn and considered the birth place of the industrial revolution. We hadn’t planned our day particularly well (in all honesty we hadn’t actually planned to go there at all) and got there late in the afternoon, not realizing there are about 10 museums in and around the town that all looked really great and were very appealing was a bit of a mistake. In the amount of time we had we couldn’t do much more than just wander the streets and go to the basic museum in town and listen to two kids lamenting the stupidity of their parents!

In Swindon, where we picked up our caravan we spent about 2 hours picking blackberries off bushes next to the footpath in a suburban street.  The girls thought it was such a novelty to find food growing wild next to someones house, whilst the locals thought we were slightly mad digging through the car trying to find containers to stash our spoils in.  Swindon isn’t well known for very much but we did make sure to go through The Magic Round-about as many times as we possibly could. That right there is all kinds of amusement.  Especially during Friday afternoon peak hour traffic!

After picking up the caravan we headed to the Cotswolds to stay with the family I used to nanny for. I’m so blessed to have had the experience of living English country life for a year in their amazing house with their gorgeous children (who of course aren’t children any more) but even more blessed that after 20 years we are still friends. It was lovely being able to show the girls where I lived. They repaid the favour by being totally vile for 4 days. When they dropped their attitude for three seconds they managed to enjoy a teddy bears picnic at the bottom of the garden, they fed the chickens, checked on the sheep and we took an afternoon jaunt off to a massive house with a ridiculously massive fountain.  I’m pleased to say in pursuit of keeping things real, all three of them blessed the other visitors at the heritage listed property with an epic display of Aussie-ness by stripping down to their undies and running about on the manicured lawns in the spray from the fountain.  I’m pretty sure there were more than a few old biddies choking on their Pims and Lemonade that afternoon!

Heading towards Dover to catch the ferry to France we stayed a night in Ashford.  Arriving mid afternoon afforded me a whole two hours to find a thrift store and fit out the caravan to make it habitable – a challenge I thought I’d enjoy, but really didn’t.  First up the entire thrift store experience in the UK has disappointed me greatly thus far (any insider information would be warmly welcomed on my return) and buying necessities like doonas, pillows, saucepans, tea towels, loo paper, dish washing liquid, clothes pegs, cutlery and the like, in less than 2 hours, is very un-therapeutic. I’m not interested in express shopping an entire caravan again any time soon.

Heading off on the ferry to France tomorrow morning. Feeling excited but worried that we don’t yet have a safety triangle, any kind of phrase books, we have no idea where we’re staying tomorrow night and I’m hoping above all hope Wally has a complete handle on this drive-on-the-right-hand-side-of-the-road-from-the-right-hand-side-of-the-car caper.

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