You’re finally arriving in the United Kingdom. Good for you. You deserve it. You’ve perhaps even taken British Air to give your legs a bit more room and your ears an auditory tune-up. Anyway, ridiculously happy, you float down into Heathrow where Terminal 5 welcomes you, Mary Poppins-style, with a canopy of colored umbrellas.
You linger over a cup of coffee and a croissant for an hour, gaining your sea legs, studying the “Fly Emirates” posters, noting signs directing people to the London train, or just people-watching: Arabs in exotic native dress, Norwegians headed to the Alps with skis bundled under their arms, gorgeous Italian women with Skycaps carrying their mountains of luggage. You genuinely see how you are a part of the world when you take time in an airport.
Next, you pick up your car. It’s probably a model you’ve never heard of before—say, an Ateca—and though you have been mentally preparing for it, it remains a shock to see that the steering wheel is firmly structured onto the righthand side of the dashboard. Nothing concentrates the mind or makes for a better driver than driving on the left side of the road. Fortunately you begin on a motorway (their interstate highway), so you can creep along in the slow lane at 40 mph until you get the feel of things. Later we’ll discuss the thrills posed by small roads.
Out of the thousands of beautiful places to visit, you have wisely chosen Wiltshire and its lovely “downs” (rolling hills) seventy miles due west of Heathrow.
Even a short list of more official attractions in the county stuns: Stonehenge and Avebury, Salisbury Cathedral, lovely Stourhead and Bowood estates, and charming Lacock Village to name only a few.
Wiltshire is the home to hundreds of thatched roof/stone cottages, enchanting gardens lush with flowers, and elegant horse estates.
Your base is the small village of Pewsey. The central intersection memorializes Alfred the Great who united early tribes into the Kingdom of Wessex (East=Essex; west=Wessex; south=Sussex; no, I don’t know the north term).
Your Air B&B is Southcott Cottage.
Settle in. The pleasure is just beginning.
Next Time: Avebury
Photo Credits: Nancy Parrish