Tuesday, 24 May 2011

ABC Tour – (another b****y) Cathedral, Classic Bikes, Cotswalds

We have been slowly heading north and visited Glastonbury Abbey on the way.  The story goes that Jesus visited England with his uncle who was a trader and established a tiny church on this site. It is also supposedly where King Arthur and his queen were buried. Like so many others, it was destroyed by Cromwell and Co. Glastonbury is described as “hippie central” in the Lonely Planet Guide and it is pretty spot on.  Lots of new age and witchcraft shops and the people to go with them.

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We continued on our way and ended up at Wells.  I had read on a few English blogs that it was a nice place to visit, so it worked out well.  We ended up staying for three nights.

Saturday was a lay day.  For me it was a lay in bed day, as I’ve had a cold for nearly the whole time we’ve been here and have also had the pleasure of picking up a nasty tummy bug.  I think I’m finally on the mend now.

Anyway, while I slept, Mick had a good look around the city.  Saturday is market day and the markets were excellent.  He then went on a guided walking tour which he found really interesting.

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Wells is the smallest city in England with only about 10,500 people, so it was a lovely place to visit.

Although we joke about the visiting of cathedrals, we both are so impressed with them all.  This one was no different.

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After lunch I was starting to feel a bit better so we headed out to Shepton Mallet.  This is the town featured in “Turn Back Time”.  Unfortunately, the publicity from the series hasn’t really changed much for the town in the long run.

But that isn’t why we were visiting. I have been reading Nostalgia at the Stone House blog for a couple of years and really wanted to visit Niki’s shop.  Both the shop and Niki were as delightful as I had expected.

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Once we returned to Wells Mick took me on a little guided walk.  Wells is named because of the natural spring that runs just behind the town.  It provides the water for the moat around the Bishop’s Palace, which has only ever been for decorative purposes.  The spring has never stopped and there is water running down the gutters of the main street all the time from it.

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This is Vicars Close, the oldest continually inhabited street in England.  The houses date back to the 1300s and were built for the clergy and choir of the cathedral, and still is used by them.

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The west face of the Cathedral is stunning with lots of statutes in all the little niches.  There are also holes where the trumpeters and choristers stood.

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This beautiful scissor arch was apparently to deal with sinking foundations.

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By the time we went into the Cathedral in the afternoon it was nearly time for the Evening Song service, so we decided to sit in on it.  The photo below doesn’t show it too well, but we sat just next to the pillar on the right of the photo.  The service was a true Evening Song, as the full male choir sang all the psalms and most of the service.  It was quite moving to experience in such a setting.  The young boys had beautiful voices and some were quite young.

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The reason we stayed for the third night was because we were told that there was a classic bike run taking place on Sunday.  The marketplace looked quite different to Saturday morning.  The event was the “Hare and Tortoise Run” and was the first time that the Wells Club had run this event.  We were able to enter on the day and really get involved.

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We were given our instructions by the town crier and flagged on our way by the Lord Mayor after being piped into the square.  A bit more ceremony than we are used to.

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There was a wide variety of bikes, but this one had to be my favourite.  It is a 1948 Invacar, which was developed for disabled people and has all hand controls.  It is the only one of this model remaining in the UK.  I supposed you could say it is the precursor of the scooters you see around today, except it is road registered.

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Although we were supposed to participate in the Hare section, we elected to be a Tortoise for the day, as we were in no hurry and love seeing the old bikes in action.  The run took us down some narrow country lanes that we would never have found otherwise.

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We followed the little Invacar for quite a bit of the way and it amazed us how well it poked along.

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The afternoon run took us to the top of the Mendip Hills where the view was incredible.  It was a pity that it was a hazy day.

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During the day we were made just so welcome by all the other entrants.  These two kept us in stitches.  They were great fun.

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Today we were on the move again, just wandering aimlessly in the general direction of Liverpool.  We had lunch at the pretty hamlet of Boughton on the Water.

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It has several little bridges over the river.  Unfortunately, it was a grey, windy day, so did not show it off to its best. 

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So now we are Stratford-Upon-Avon.  Not where we intended to visit, being so touristy, but the weather was looking threatening so decided it will do.  However, now that we are here we have discovered that it is a lovely spot. 

Anyway, I must off to bed, so I’ll tell more soon.


loulee said...

I'm glad you're feeling better. It's no fun being ill during your holiday, especially touring on a bike! What day are you booked on the ferry?

Melody said...

I'm really enjoying these photos. Such beautiful places.