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Cats, Cathedrals and Ciders: The South of England: Day 6

15 Jun

Tues. May 17, 2016:
Salisbury to Stowerton

I asked Brent to open the curtains when waking me up. I immediately regretted my request. The sun was so bright! Leaving town we could see the wall made of stones from the original fortress, castle and church in Old Sarum (technically we were in New Sarum, though now it is called Salisbury). I was so excited, we were on our way to Stonehenge!!! In a field we passed a horse sleeping on its side, it panicked me, they sleep on their sides right? I asked. As we got closer I kept my eyes on the horizon, keeping an eye for a view of Stonehenge. Turns out the view of Stonehenge is on another highway. There was a line-up of people at the ticket booth even though it was not even open yet. Alas, we had to wait in that line to trade in our print-at-home tickets for actual tickets. We had to take a 5 minute shuttle ride up to the actual Stonehenge site. We were the first ones off the shuttle and a for a brief moment we were the only ones by the site. It was nice to be the first ones there, it was not very busy and we had unobstructed views of the stones. We circled it a few times, marveling at it. It was incredible, but by the third go-around there were people with selfie-sticks ruining the experience. On our way back to the shuttle I stopped to look at some fluffy sheep in the nearby field, they were so cute and fluffy I couldn’t take it. In the gift shop they had stuffed animal sheep, equally fluffy, but way overpriced. They also had Stonehenge beer. We finished off with the exhibits in the visitor centre. It was creepy to see Neolithic skeletons that had been buried nearby, it unnerved me and made me shudder. I think it’s the teeth in the skull that really gets me.

It was a short drive to the Spreadeagle Inn. It turned out that our hotel was right on the grounds of the Stourhead Estate, touring which was our plan for the afternoon. We tried to check in at 11:30am but apparently we would have to wait until 2pm. We left our stuff in the car and went to the Inn restaurant, but apparently they did not start serving lunch until noon. We opted for ice cream from the shop next door. Jaffa cake makes for a surprisingly good flavour. We walked to the church and graveyard next door.

We ordered lunch on the patio. It was too early for alcohol for me, I opted for the earl grey tea. Finally getting my tea fix and a nice surprise: a Biscoff cookie on the side. My eyes widened, they were available here. In my notebook there are a ton of exclamation marks and hearts around this. My ham sandwich was made with awful white sponge-y bread. The ham and grainy mustard were good, but the bread just ruined it so badly. The homemade kettle-chips were also terrible. After lunch we headed back to the car, I needed my jacket it was a cold day. We stopped by the edge of the parking lot, behind a fence there were some sheep grazing.

We started off our tour of Stourhead in the historic house because it closes and the grounds are open later. The library in the house was an A+, the books were in alphabetical order and the shelves were numbered. It was very satisfying. Once we were back outside it starting raining, almost on cue. There was an obelisk behind the house, but to get to it we had go in a roundabout way through the forest. We then had to walk through a field, it was quite far back from the house. There were cows grazing in the field. As I slowly approached the cows they perked up and starting paying attention to me. When they lost interest in me I turned around to leave, but Brent pointed out that they were staring at me again, and so I went back. They were so cute, just staring at me, unsure of what to think or do. It was well worth my shoes and pant legs getting soaked in the tall grasses and rain. In the lake we saw some black mallard ducks, it was weird and unsettling. We walked the grounds going into the smaller buildings like the writing cottage and the tea house. The 260 year old grotto was pretty cool.

Grotto.

All of that walking had killed my legs. Even still, I climbed the small bank from the parking lot to the fence to look at the sheep. They were closer to the fence now and they had lambs. These ones were not as cute, some of the sheep had been spray-painted and some had been shaved.

Our hotel room was super fancy. There was a large selection of teas, two types of cookies and Cadbury Dairy Milk hot chocolate. I watched TV and in my hunger ended up eating 3 of the 4 cookies. It felt like forever until it would be time to get ready for dinner. Having eaten the cookies, I would have to get up early for complimentary breakfast the next day. Despite the cookies, hot chocolate and TV time seemed to drag on. By 5pm I was voraciously hungry, and I still had 2 hours to go! I had even looked at the menu beforehand and decided on what to order. That barely saved me any time, as I had to go look at the taps and decide which cider to have. I started with a Lilley’s apple and pear cider, it was sweet and like juice. I was done before our food even arrived. Not the best start to a meal. I had succumbed to a last minute temptation, the pan-seared duck breast on brioche. I changed my main to a starter size, having two starters instead of one main. I had been expecting some mini slices of bread with duck breast on top of them, not half a bun with duck meat atop a bed of salad. I instinctively picked it up, as one would a sandwich, and quickly realized we were in a semi-fancy place. I took to butchering it with my knife and fork. The second cider I had was the Ashton Press Cider. Alas, cider is more filling than wine and by the time the dessert menu came around I was too full, even though I was tempted by the warm custard with a fruit crumble.

I was so tired after dinner, we had had a long day of walking. Even after showering, it was only 9pm. I tried to stay up and read. In the end I justified going to bed early (read: before 10pm) because breakfast was only from 8am-9am and I would have to wake up early.

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