Day 2 (London to Chipping Campden - England)
It must be the time change, but we were both very groggy this morning. We took the shuttle back to the airport, where we found the van for the rental car, and discovered that we would be far from Heathrow when we picked up the car. We were thankful we'll have GPS for the return.
After filling out the requisite forms, we started off, with the GPS cheerily giving instructions in a friendly, female, British accent. As we drove along it quickly became clear that there were two major challenges to overcome - Scott's tendency to drift to the left, so he feels more like he's on the correct side of the lane, and Ruth's tendency to misunderstand where to get off the roundabouts. Does it sound like there's a bit more to that story? We're not telling! We'll just say that the left side tire rims have become well-acquainted with the curb (or kerb, over here), and after going on the roundabout, our friendly GPS voice regularly emits, "Turn around as soon as possible."
Once we escaped the harrowing traffic of greater London (at least when you're worried about your drifting tendencies), we had a lovely drive to Oxford, where we parked and walked around for several hours, taking in such sights as the Martyr's Memorial (commemorating Nicholas Ridley, Hugh Latimer and Thomas Cranmer, all of whom were burned at the stake in Oxford in the mid-1500's, rather than renounce their Protestant beliefs), Blackwell's Bookstore an enormous store, part of which extends under the Oxford University campus, and various other wonderful buildings and sights.
From Oxford we proceeded, via GPS ("turn around..."), to Blenheim Palace near Woodstock. Blenheim was the home of the Duke of Marlborough, and the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill. Next we went on to Chipping Campden, in the Cotswolds. The breathtaking scenery is simply amazing. The town is darling, and it is wonderful, after our Maine winter (there was still about a foot of snow on the lawn when we left yesterday), to see green grass, daffodils and forsythia everywhere, the famous Cotswold sheep dotting every hillside, and wonderful old (we're talking 1400's and earlier) buildings. As we drove along, we had to swerve to dodge a wild pheasant that darted in front of the car. We're staying in a lovely two-room B&B called Bramley House, an easy walk from the center of Chipping Campden. We had a long walk around town in the evening, before stopping at a local pub for dinner.