I have spent the last four days driving around the countryside in Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, Surrey and Kent - the Garden of England and all very beautiful. Country lanes lined with white cow parsley, fields of every shades of green, quaint villages built around steepled churches and stone cottages dressed with bunting and wisteria.
I wanted to photograph it all but we would have made no progress towards our destination so Janice (my niece) and I developed a system familiar to those who have taken a British driving test. when I tapped the dashboard she did an emergency stop while I leapt out with my camera - hence the whiplash and wisteria!
We made our way to Chippenham for a wander around the Georgian town centre. A keen knitter, Janice wanted to introduce me to the local wool and fabric shop filled with every hue and type of yarn and bursting with happy crafters. We bought some royal wedding fabric and pressed on to Sherston for a cup of tea with family whch was enjoyed in the sunny cottage garden next to the stables of a very large country house where my niece's stepmother lives. Walking around the village was like going back to another time and I expected to see gowned and bonneted ladies alighting from carriages being pursued by Mr Darcy! Sherston is one of the oldest and prettiest villages in the region with a history dating back to Roman times.
Tetbury was next which is never complete without a visit to the Highgrove shop where you are encouraged to buy all sorts of Charles and Camilla essentials such as tweed clothing, green wellies, garden twine, trugs and shortcake ( the proceeds of which go to support to the good work of the Prince Charles Charity Trust) Just around the corner is a lovely bookshop - the Yellow Lighted Book Store where Jilly Cooper is frowned upon and real literature is celebrated! My enquiry to purchase a local novel was met with a suggestion of 'Mud, Muck and Dead Things'. We had a drink at the Snooty Fox- rumour has it that it that Charles, William and Harry has propped the bar up there on occasions!
We also visited Wootton Bassett which has become a national symbol of a very British way of mourning those who have lost their lives in the service of their country. Servicemen who are killed in action in Iraq, Lybia and Afganistan are flown into the nearby airbase and hundreds of residents line the High Street in hushed silence to pay their respects as they are transported home. A very moving sight!
Then home to enjoy teacakes in shiny red and silver paper and tea and cake in the garden. I love this way of life!
After an early morning forest walk we set off for Tonbridge to visit my dear friends Leanne and George - more scenery to be enjoyed along the route - we spent the evening catching up on all the PE gossip and after a very civilized breakfast we headed into Royal Tonbridge Wells and a visit to the The Pantiles which is the first covered shopping arcade dating back to 1695 and where gowned and bonneted ladies strolled under the covered walkway pursued by Mr Darcy and other dapper gentlemen. This ancient row leads to the Spa where they were refreshed by the waters of the spa which was said to cure all ills including shopping!
What a memorble journey and a modern experience of middle England. We are off next to the Lake District to enjoy what's on offer in the North West.