What vist to London is complete without watching the Changing of the Guard. The red coats, furry hats, trumpets, rifles, swords. Fun for young and old… mainly old judging by the crowd.
Parading up The Mall today were the Queens Life Guards, the Army Air Corps and the Coldstream Guards Band.
Windsor was a quick stop before heading back into London, mainly to have a look at Windsor Castle. Situated on the Thames, Windsor is a pretty town and a favourite with the tourists. We wandered through Windsor’s busy streets and checked out some of the tourist shops followed by ice cream by the river.
I like this photo, Victoria is quite imposing and I dare say I shall practice this pose and glare. If only I had the castle to go with it!
Whilst they aren’t ‘Stone Henge’, the small town of Avebury is home to some big, old rocks that are possibly older than the more well known site and made for a good destination on our way back to London from Bath.
A massive ditch, 21 metres wide and 11 high, encirlces the town that is built on the historic site of the stone circles (the wall of the ditch can be seen in the background of the above photo). Most of the stones where pulled down and chopped up for use in buildings and stone walls, others were buried to make more space in the fields. Originally there were almost 100 stones, some that weighed over 40 tonnes, only 27 have been re-errected.
While I marvelled at the size of the rocks and how they were originally moved here and put in place (the larger ones continue underground 3 metres deep or more), Gemma and Kimberley seemed happier to take photos of the sheep. As you can see sheep graze peacefully amoungst the henge disturbed only by a passing tourist.
A local souvenir/antique shop provided the most enjoyment. The owner, who had lived in Avebury all his life, was somewhat of a history buff and able to inform us of the history of the town and henge. For his trouble we bought an antique stone medicine jar that will become a vase in our home (when we find one). We also checked out another old Church in the town that originated over 1000 years ago, the current building being completed in the 16th centuary.
The drive from Edinburgh to Bath, whilst scenic, did not really provide much of note so I shall skip straight to our day in Bath.
We joined a walking tour in the morning with one of the Mayor’s Volunteers and she took us to see the main historic sites in Bath. The tour highlights where the Roman Spas, forgotten underground for hundreds of years before being excavated for public viewing, and Bath Abbey, completed in 1539.
Bath was essentially a centre of wellbeing and rest and that feeling still exists today with a number of dayspas offering the latest in mineral treatments. Just like the Romans did, people from all over the world come to soak in the hot springs for their healing (or at least relieving) qualities. Still the springs pump up 250,000 gallons of water a day. Somone asked the guide had the city of Bath done anything to harness this sort of energy – not yet.
The rest of our day in Bath was spent strolling the streets and soaking up the atmosphere…
Edinburgh instantly grabbed me as a city I could probably live in. From the fantastic cheap hostel (Globetrotter, definitely stay here if your ever out this way) and the cheap transport to its historic charm, it just seemed to fit. If we ever do another working holiday, this will be high on my list.
I’m going to list the days events out of order to mix things up a little with this post, I hope it makes sense. The photo above is a view of Edinburgh looking towards the sea. I took it from Arthur’s Seat, the main peak of the mountain range that forms Holyrood Park. Holyrood park contains the ruins of Holyrood Palace where the coronations of the Kings and Queens of Scotland took place. I climbed the mountain you see in front and the one the photo was taken from in the afternoon while Gemma rested in the grass below. Its very steep in places but well worth the effort.
From Holyrood Park the ‘Royal Mile’ stretches up towards Edinburgh Castle. If you click the photo to see one of the larger versions you will find Edinburgh Castle just to the right of dead centre. As with Jedburgh Abbey yesterday we were able to see this for free this weekend. We wandered the castle grounds getting a good look at parts of Edinburgh and also checked out the Honours of Scotland (Scottish Crown Jewels).
Before heading back to our hostel we met up with Gemma’s friends Jodie and Tammy for a meal. It was good fun catching up on each others travel’s and we were especially grateful that they new a good inexpensive place to eat, the conversion rate is chewing through the poor Australian/Candian dollars we have!
Not really knowing how far till we hit Edinburgh and in much need of a stop we randomly picked a town on the map for lunch. As we neared the town of Jedburgh we could see the ruins of Jedburgh Abbey and were not so hungry anymore. Our curiosity was all the more satisfied when we discovered it was a free weekend for entry and audio tour in the ruins.
The Abbey was founded in 1138 by David I and housed the Augustine monks. Given its close proximity to the English border and the frequent feuding between the English and the Scots, the abbey has been repaired a number of times. The levels of arches tell a story of gradual development as they move through the architectural styles, from mostly Romanesque and then to Gothic. The Abbey was ultimatley destroyed by Henry VIII and parts laid dormant under the town of Jedburgh before being excavated in 1983. Despite its current condition the abbey is still very inspiring.
Also of note is Mary Queen of Scots house which is now a museum.
Oh and Alison, we had our first chip buttie!
We are on our way to Edinburgh today, our first stop was Richmond Castle. It was built in 1071 by the Normans.
We only stopped briefly to take a few photos, much of this trip around the UK has been unplanned and we are really finding things to see by chance. Its worked well so far, we’ll see what else we run into down the road.