Posts Tagged ‘Railway museum’

A Day of Firsts

For our second Saturday in England, Regan and I traveled a few miles north of Cheltenham to the ridiculously adorable town of Winchcombe. Though this town is about the same size as Cedarville, it is centuries older, and thus holds abundantly more history.

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Our first stop was Juri’s Tea Room, where we prepared for our day with a light brunch and some tea. I had my first-ever cup of Darjeeling, which is described by some as the “champagne of tea” for its delicate and astringent flavor. …Okay, I read that on the menu, and don’t actually know much about the tea itself. Regardless, I thought the Darjeeling was excellent, and tasted rather delicate. Definitely a tea I would have again.

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Throughout England, walking trails crisscross the countryside. It is a long-held English tradition to go out on a walking trip, trekking from one town to another. Winchcombe is located along the Cotswold Way, a 102-mile footpath that links various villages of the region. We saw many people in Winchcombe adorned with sturdy shoes and walking sticks, which gave me the itch to give this walking business a go. Thus, Regan and I were adventurous, and took a footpath through a couple of fields.

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It felt a bit rebellious…we had to go through a few different gates, and there weren’t many other people around. But, we didn’t get in any trouble, so I would call our adventure a success.

At the end of the path lay our primary destination for the day — my very first true English castle! Sudeley Castle was the home of Katherine Parr, the sixth and final wife of King Henry VIII. She was the only wife to physically survive the marriage without experiencing a divorce.

Winchcombe 130Although we weren’t allowed to take pictures inside, the interior of the castle featured an excellent exhibition on Katherine’s life, as well as on the lives of some of the people who inherited the castle. Emma Dent was one of the last proprietors. She used the castle as a museum, and some of the articles she had collected were on display. These included handkerchiefs and flowers worn by Queen Victoria, menus from dinner at Windsor Castle, and pieces of manuscript from such well-known people as Charles Darwin, Abraham Lincoln, Robert E. Lee, Charles Dickens, and among dozens of others.

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Regan especially enjoyed the portion about Katherine Parr. My friend is a history major, and one of her favorite topics is the Tudor period and the lives of the wives of King Henry VIII. It was fun to travel there with her, because she was able to fill me in on information that the displays left out. ;)

Winchcombe 129Like any good castle, Sudeley featured a lovely chapel just adjacent to the main building. On the day we visited, a wedding was to take place in the afternoon, so we had the delight of seeing the chapel decorated with some lovely flower arrangements.

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The tomb of Katherine Parr, inside the chapel.

The tomb of Katherine Parr, inside the chapel.

I took a short video of the chapel interior, in case you’d like a glimpse of the stained glass.

A cypress of Lebanon, just like in the Bible! It was unbelievably immense.

A cypress of Lebanon, just like in the Bible! It was unbelievably immense.

 

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The castle’s myriad gardens were absolutely spectacular, and exactly what I had hoped to find on this adventure. Unlike the gardens at Anne Hathaway’s cottage, these were meticulously groomed. A plethora of flower varieties bloomed amongst tall, shapely topiaries. Some of the topiaries were immense, and had pathways cut inside of them! (I took a video of some of our garden adventures…feel free to ignore the commentary.)

Winchcombe 219The gardens also afforded an incredible view of the surrounding countryside. With sheep “baa-ing” and a cool breeze blowing, it felt like we were truly in the pastoral Cotswolds. (Which makes sense…because we were!)

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After walking back into Winchcombe, we visited the Railway Museum. This tiny treasure appeared to be one man’s private collection of hundreds of signs and pieces of memorabilia from all ages of Britain’s train industry. It was cool to see how so much of the industry has changed over the years, and yet how many aspects have remained the same.

I think the American Pickers would be friends with the owner of this museum, if he was in the States.

I think the American Pickers would be friends with the owner of this museum if he wasn’t so far across the Atlantic.

On the bus between Winchcombe and Cheltenham, we were afforded another fantastic view of the countryside. The trip took us over Cleeve Hill, which is the tallest hill in the county of Gloucestershire. (That’s pronounced “Glos-ter-sher”. Don’t worry, it’s taken me about a week to figure out.) It was a breathtaking view! The other people on the bus probably thought we were crazy, with all of our photo-snapping…but we didn’t mind the funny looks. We felt the need to appreciate God’s creation. :)

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After returning to Cheltenham, Regan and I did a bit of walking and (eventually) found the large Tesco in town. (The version we have been frequenting is at the center of town, and is about the size of a convenience store. This Tesco was approximately the size of Walmart, though was considerably further away.) On our way, we got to walk through a new area of Cheltenham, which held some lovely treasures — Polish grocery stores and restaurants!

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Cheltenham is home to many people who have immigrated from Poland in order to find work. The two most spoken languages in Cheltenham are English and Polish, the same as in Łodz, Poland (although, I think the proportions are quite different, between the two cities… ;) ) Seeing the grocery stores, filled with old familiar brands, and letters that don’t exist in the English alphabet, made me all giddy. :)

To conclude our Saturday of fun, Regan and I visited a local Indian restaurant, for our first super-authentic-actually-in-a-restaurant Indian meal. I had some sort of lamb & lentil dish, cooked in a tamarind sauce, which was quite good.

From left to right: rice, entree, vegetables, dal, cucumber yogurt. Not pictured: naan bread. I combined the rice and the entree on the big silver plate in the middle.

From left to right: rice, entree, vegetables, dal, cucumber yogurt. Not pictured: naan bread. I combined the rice and the entree on the big silver plate in the middle.

That’s it for our Saturday adventures. A post about Sunday is on its way!

Blessings,

Taylor

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