The beginning of June, my sister and I set off on a literary adventure. We had decided to combine her work trip to London with a sisters’ trip to through the English countryside to visit some of the places we had read about in books. We narrowed down our books down to the Brother Cadfell series, Pride and Prejudice, and James Herriot. That narrowed down our locations to Shrewsbury, Lyme Park, the Peak country, and Thirsk. The second leg of our journey included four days in London, and finished with 24 hours in Paris. I’m going to break our trip down into 5 blog posts, so bear with me, but there is so much to include and I don’t want to miss any.
The Cliff Notes Version:
Travel – We flew out of Houston, landed in London, rented a car there, drove to Shrewsbury, and then drove to Manchester.
Accommodations – We stayed in an Air Bnb that doesn’t exist anymore.
The Long Story not Short:
The Flight There
We were repacking bags just an hour before our flight, and the freeway was shut down one way because the President was in town talking to fundraisers. Somehow, we made it there in time. We got all settled on our plane, and Lorraine promptly fell asleep. I did not. The flight was smooth, but I managed to fall asleep only an hour before they woke us up to begin filling out our point of entry cards. The adrenaline from my first trip abroad was still high so I felt pretty awake. Next time, I would not make the mistake of forgetting Benadryl. Not sleeping would make our first day in England rough.
The Road to Shrewsbury
We went through a long customs line, and made it to our shuttle to go get our rental car. The adventure of driving on the wrong side of the road began in our little blue car. After one wrong turn, Lorraine was a pro the rest of the time. That cannot be said about my directions skills, but, in my defense, they have so many roundabouts.
The first destination was originally Oxford, and, on the road there was when we first realized that jet lag was going to give us a run for a money. We were hungry and needed coffee so we decided that we would stop at a Starbucks. The guy at the Starbucks had an indiscernible and impossible to understand accent, and he appeared to think the same thing about me. We ordered coffee and a croissant. Then we promptly discovered that our Discover cards did not work there. That was a foreboding of what was to come. The same thing happened when Lorraine tried to buy a sandwich.
20 minutes later we had pulled off to the side of the road again because Lorraine was too tired to drive. She napped in the car, and I explored the shopping park where we were parked. I ended up buying some raspberries because I got lost and confused in a grocery store and didn’t think I could get out. That was before I found the wonder of Tesco. Oh Tesco, I miss you.
Back on the road again with chocolate covered biscuits (the English biscuits) and multiple liters of Diet Coke. A few hours later, we were just arriving in Shrewsbury to see the part of the Abbey that still exists which was the original inspiration for Peter Ellis’s detective “Brother Cadfell.” Suddenly, it started raining, pouring as if we were back in Houston. There was street flooding, and we were struggling to navigate the hilly streets with our trusty blue car. We somehow managed to park and to run across the street just in time to make it inside the church before it closed. I thought of Eileen Seward sitting there thinking of her brother who she had lost and so many of the other characters from Ellis Peters’ universe.
After touring the Church, we headed to the castle but failed to make it in time for the tour. Exploring the grounds of the Castle offered a consolation prize. Then we ate, and Lorraine wrote a script for her video which we filmed in front of the public library which surely confused other people. While she was writing, I caught up on some sleep in the back of the car which was not glamorous at all.
Onto The Ruins
After filming Lorraine’s work video, we headed out to some ruins that she had read about on the internet. The twists and turns to get there inspired a good amount of fear in us, but we made it there only to discover that we couldn’t get inside. With some creative problem solving, we found a park that backed up to the ruins. We were able to see the ruins even though we weren’t able to get to them. The grass was as green as I have ever seen, and an evening glow had settled over them.
The Road to Manchester
After soaking in the ruins, we headed to our final destination for the night. Lorraine had found an Airbnb around 7pm, and the guy somehow let us book it despite the fact that we wouldn’t be arriving until midnight. This feels as though it would be an appropriate time to bring up the fact that there was no airconditioning in this Airbnb. That is an important detail for my next post.
We finally arrived around midnight, and the area was very “industrial.” We took a quick jaunt to a local pub so that we could acquire change for parking. Then, we went back to our Airbnb where I fell asleep in seconds. Things would get interesting the next morning.
Continued in part 2