So, today is apparently the day of big sales and such, seems sort of like a reverse Black Friday or something. Historically, if I recall the story correctly, is the day that donation boxes at churches are opened to provide for the poor. I believe that when a ship went to sea, sailors and families would place money into a box at the church, and the priest would say a prayer for them. If they returned safely, the church would keep the box for boxing day, and if not, the money would be divided among the families to provide for a while. We didn't see a ton of shops open, but it is a Sunday, so I suspect tomorrow will be much busier in shopping districts.
Today was rather uneventful. We had breakfast at Ingon Bank Farm, chatted with the French/British couple (they are so delightful to talk with) and talked with John and Sue at the farm before heading out around 10:00am. Karen asked me to take her by the Trinity Church in Stratford, but due to services today, she could not go in and see William Shakespeare's grave. She did go around the church yard and snap some very cool pictures though. We then got on the road and headed toward Marlborough (seems like a delightful little village) before we stopped in Avebury for lunch.
We had lunch at the Red Lion pub (www.red-lion-pub-avebury.co.uk), Karen had sausages and mashed potatoes, and I had a vegetarian burger and chips. The veggie burgers that I've had over here are light years ahead of almost any I've had in the states. I think that they tend to be made either in house at the individual pubs, or made for a chain of pubs (many of the pubs seem to be owned by larger management companies) and they are all unique and wonderful. Today's was a tandoori burger with loads of vegetables in it, spices, and topped with yoghurt. Really tasty.
On our way to Avebury, We passed over a river, I'm sure I've read about it before but can't recall the name and didn't see a sign. The river was full of these amazing narrow boats, they are quite long but skinny boats designed to fit into canals. The boats are built in the style that the Civil War flat side boats were, squat, rectangular with sloping sides and flat tops. I really like them and would have tried to persuade Karen to go on a ride in one had the rivers and canals not been frozen over.
After lunch, we walked to the megalith site that cuts the village in town, it's several looping stone sets that you can walk right through, touching the stones, seeing them very close up. It was really nice, and quite different than Stonehenge is supposed to be. We head there tomorrow.
We wrapped up in Avebury and headed south, towards Amesbury, the site of Stonehenge. We had a Holiday Inn booked here for the night, so decided to check in and debate about going to Salisbury to see the chapel and Magna Carta. I did want to see the Magna Carta, but we figured it was going to be about £30 ($45) to park and get in to see the Magna Carta. I didn't have some of the information with me, and I couldn't remember if it was open on Boxing Day, or if it closed early. It was 3:00pm when we checked in, and even though Salisbury is only 12 miles from Amesbury, I was afraid it'd be a tight squeeze on time. Besides, we had to pay £15 ($23) just to get internet access and TV in the room tonight. We decided to forgo the trip further south.
I've noticed on this trip that we've both been sort of lethargic and not really up for doing a bunch. I've felt like I've been wasting our time here, but it's so expensive everyday that doing a bunch more, paying for parking, etc., etc., adds up so quickly. On top of that, it's very, very cold, and it starts to get dark around 3:30pm, which doesn't help. We literally have been active from like 9:00am to 3:30, apart from going out to dinner each evening. A lot of places have been closed due to the holidays, so that's a big damper as well. I think next year, if we travel over the holidays, somewhere close to or south of the equator will be in the cards. So, anyway, today was sort of a revelation for me, I can't quite put it down on paper, but I think I'm a 9 month traveler, and I'm dead smack in the middle of the 3 months that I don't want to go somewhere really exciting and new. Sort of a bummer to find this out.
Anyway, we checked into the hotel, caught up on email/facebook/etc., and watched a few movies. I found a local Indian place, Tandori Nights (www.tandorinights.co.uk) and we decided to go to town for dinner rather than eating in this business park that we are in. I really liked our food a lot, but Karen ranked it as her least favorite meal here. Not sure why exactly. She asked the waiter for boxes, and he simply cleared the dishes and walked away. Karen always has a problem communicating with waitstaff, even at home, but for once I thought she made it clear and was surprised when he simply stacked up everything and took it away.
So, now we are back in the room, getting psyched up for Stonehenge in the morning, and keeping an eye on the weather up north. It's supposed to warm up a bit by Monday, so hopefully the Highlands of Scotland are still doable. I sure hope so!
I realized that all of my writing so far have simply been "We went here, we did this, we ate that" and that's pretty much it. Today was a really good day, sort of a new start for me, and I really enjoyed being out in the "country." It's different than what I'm used to, for a number of reasons. The map book that we have has only A roads with a few B roads mixed in, so while most of them are two lane undivided roads, they are usually quite busy with traffic, and it seems like we are always near some bigger town or something, but I never know what. It's sort of odd driving in a country this small, somewhere that you are always near (relatively) some place of importance. The countryside is different also. Back home, the valleys are farmed, but there are always forested areas, hillsides covered in trees, and areas that have been left wild. In England, at least thus far, even the hills have been stripped bare except for the paths of trees that divide fields up. The only forested areas that I've seen have been wildlife preserves, and it's sort of weird.
Funny note of the day, in our hotel room, we have to place a door card into a reader inside the door in order for any of the electrical outlets or lights to work. What's that about?!?!?!
More pictures from today: