(May 19, 2015)
We woke up to a mix of clouds and deep blue sky on our last day of travel. Over a lovely breakfast in our hotel we talked about the day and agreed that we’d do our best, but if it’s pouring, we’d bail on our plans. So we packed up, checked out and headed to the Chedworth Roman Villa.
This is the largest and best preserved Roman Villa in Britain, comprised of a complete home and nestled near the top of a hill. On the way is started to rain a bit, and I said,”Come on! We really want to see this!” and it cleared by the time we arrived. (I said thank you, of course.)
The Villa is magnificent, with largely-intact mosaics and a nice little museum of artifacts they’ve unearthed. Just this last summer they discovered a whole new section of mosaic, gorgeously preserved, and although they had to cover it again (with dirt) pictures had been taken. Absolutely well worth the distance to see. (There’s a great cafe there as well — looked like a good spot for tea or lunch.)
From there we made our way south and east to see the White Horse of Uffington. While mysterious, this figure is known to be older than the Bronze Age. It’s a magical figure, carved into the side of a hill and can only be properly see from space. We arrived just after a group of school kids tromped back from the viewing spot, and as the clouds to the east turned dark grey. We hoped to make it out and back before it started raining . . . but only made it about 2/3 to the viewpoint (about .15 of a mile). Here’s the picture I took before we turned and quickly walked into the teeth of a sudden storm.
It HAILED on us. Hail. (Ow.) And our pants were soaked within a minute with very very cold rain. (The hail really didn’t help.) J. reminded me that I’d only asked for clear sky at the Villa, but we were laughing at how preposterous it was. Thank goodness we had a change of clothes in the car!
The weather changed again, but more storm clouds threatened, so we decided to return again another day (another trip). It was after noon, so we decided to find lunch and get warm, dry off a bit. A quick search led us to the Hare Restaurant in Lambourn, a country inn type of place, it was upscale and refined. And tasty! I had a prawn ‘salad’ with smoked salmon while J. had a tempura style chicken fillet over salad with a sweet chili sauce. We were expecting appetizer portions, so we’d also ordered mussels (for me) and a chicken sandwich. We did not finish — too much food, even if it was delicious.
Then we were back on the road and headed to Heathrow. J. dropped me and the luggage off at our hotel, the Hilton at Terminal 4. I checked in and started the process of repacking in preparation for our travel day. When J. arrived we finished the packing prep and settled in for an afternoon of reading and relaxation. Eventually we made our way to dinner at Zen Oriental, a welcome change from our previous meals! Steamed dim sum and Vietnamese summer rolls got us started, followed by beef sauteed with pineapple and prawns & cashews in a sweet chili sauce. Delicious! The meat was tender and succulent, the vegetables crispy and full of flavor. No sauce was overwhelming, it was just lovely.
Dinner was an unexpected pleasure at the end of our really excellent vacation.
Traveler’s tip: Although it is attached to the airport, it is still about 30 mins between walking and the transfer train to Terminal 1, 2, or 3. Also, once you check in it can be another 20-30 mins to get to your gate (not including security). So plan for an hour to get to your gate, even if you are staying ‘at the airport’.