After tea yesterday, we went to Bath and walked around for the afternoon. We looked at book shops and charity shops and toy shops and whatever else took our fancy. Parking is sort of a nightmare in "downtown" Bath so we had to pay L3 to park for 2 hours then move to a parking garage for 4 hours more and pay again. The parking garage has a 4 hour limit and if you stay over you have to pay an extra L25 to get your car out, so needless to say, we were watching the clock carefully. We were planning to eat in the pretty park along the Avon River but guess what?? You have to pay to get in there too! So we sat on the bridge with our takeaway lunches and looked at the park from up there! We were entertained for several minutes by a little girl chasing a duck. She and the duck had a similar sort of waddle and they just went round and round and round with neither of them really gaining any ground on the other.
On our way back to the car we stopped in at the Pig and Fiddle for a swift pint then headed back to the hotel to face the task of packing our bags. Thanks to all my book purchases, the bags are very heavy and it's taken us awhile to pack everything up because we have a lot more now than what we came with.
After breakfast this morning, we set out for London. We stopped again at Lacock along the way and spent more time in the town. We had a good pub lunch there next door to the little tea room we visited last time. From there we drove on to London and returned our rental car. That got a little stressful because Matilda kept doing weird things like recalculating the route as if we'd made a wrong turn but were in fact, not even moving. Then the traffic light would change and we'd be in need of some directions but Matilda's map would be blank. So, after returning the car, we also returned Matilda.
After that we needed to get back to our hotel near the airport. The concierge had told us we would need a bus because the tube didn't have a stop close enough. The bus was new for us; we hadn't used it at all when we were in London before. But we finally figured out the bus line we needed. We had some adventures on the tube because the line we needed was closed and we had to go a round about way. Then, because of the line closings, the platform of the open line was overcrowded and the Underground personnel stopped the escalator. We were right in the middle of the escalator. The staff were yelling for us all to go back up but the people the top wouldn't budge so we simply waited while people in uniforms yelled instructions and nobody listened. The ticket stalls were still admitting people from above and so more and more people kept trying to crowd on to the stationary escalators. All I can say is, I'm glad we were toting the kids with us! Apparently, issues on the tube are fairly common and sort of a joke in Britain. But overall, it still seems a great way to travel. Anyway, we finally caught our bus but our stop was sort of a non-official stop and the bus driver did not stop (despite assuring us she would) and at the end of the line she kicked us off her bus and shrugged. Very helpful. We weren't the only ones now stuck in the middle of the city with no transportation - a young Saudi man got kicked off along with us and so after wandering for a bit we all shared a cab back to the hotel. Luckily our cabbie was very friendly and helpful and helped us in figuring out what our route to the correct airport terminal the next day would be. When we finally got back to the hotel it was well past 8 and we were hungry and too tired to try searching the area for a place to eat so we ate at the hotel restaurant which was good but way over priced.
I loved all of our driving through the English countryside. We took a different route to Lacock today and saw even more fantastic houses and beautiful land. The little town of Pickwick in particular had streets filled with great houses that looked at least 400 years old but all in beautiful condition. At lunch in Lacock, we sat next to an interesting group: and older man and wife with his sister and the sister's son, who looked to be in his forties. The mom kept leaning over to us a making comments when the others weren't looking. She ended up engaging us in full conversation. She is from the north of England and was telling us how we need to come to England again and see the Lake District and other wonders of the north and travel to Scotland. Her son was polite but clearly a bit embarrassed that his mum was talking to complete strangers. I would imagine it happens quite a lot but he's still not quite used to it. Anyway, we thought she was delightful!
So, this is it. Our final night in England. Tim is already sound asleep. Our wake up call at 5 am will be here before I know it so I should get some sleep but somehow it's hard to simply go to bed on my last night here. Maybe a few pages of Scandalous Britain will help me doze off...
It's been a terrific trip - only a couple of rainy days and warm temperatures mostly. There's a lot we didn't get to on our list but so many really wonderful things that we did. I can't believe how the time has flown by. I can't wait to see the kids but I know I'll miss England!