Saturday, August 30, 2014

In and around Stroud, U.K.

Leo, Helen (in white) and Linda
on the "Common"
August 30, 2014 -- We awoke to another overcast day this morning -- but not too cold. Roger and Helen are wonderful hosts and we've enjoyed our first evening with them. After a bit of coffee and talk about the day, Roger was off to complete a couple of chores. Linda, Helen and I took their dog "Leo" to the Common for a walk. The Common is a series of large open-spaces used by and for the residents of the villages nearby. Each year, local farmers bring their cattle to graze from May thru October. Walking along the Common, one has an expansive view of the surrounding country-side. It is serene and beautiful.

L-R: Bill, Roger and John
at the "club" in Minchinhampton, U.K.
Later in the morning, Linda was off to Gloucester with Helen for a visit and tour of the Cathedral. Helen is the "Music Department Manager" for the Cathedral Choir.  Additionally, she is "Musical Director" for the Choir in a village called Minchinhampton.

Meanwhile, Roger and I went to the "CLUB" in Minchinhampton. We drank a couple of beers and met Bill and John. We enjoyed a lively conversation about travel in Ireland, England and the United States. After about an hour, or so, we left for Helen's "mum's house" nearby. First, Roger and I explored 2 or 3 of the many villages nearby. He was driving his "MG F" and took the roads with some speed and skill! It was great fun. As an aside, Roger is a retired Lieutenant Commander from the British Royal Navy. Since he was the "Radio Officer", he and I have a lot of interesting stories to tell each-other (I was a Radioman in the U.S. Navy).

Gerry, Helen and Linda
at Helen's"mum's" house.
Helen's mom lives at the end of a country road in Minchinhampton. The "cottage" sits on a little "rise" among the beautiful rolling hills of the English countryside. There are 5 or 6 other cottages nearby, but there is a sense of open space and quiet. Because the cottage is at the end of the road, there is little traffic, and while we were there for an hour or so, no other vehicles passed. Helen's mom, Sheila and her step-dad Gerry, are delightful people living in this most of tranquil of spaces. While there, we enjoyed a taste of "proper English tee, coffee and biscuits".

The evening ended with a wonderful dinner prepared by Helen. Since Roger was a career naval officer, and was in the service during final years of the "British Empire", we talked about his many travel experiences and the gradual withdrawal of Britain from many of its "colonies". Helen, an ex-British navy lieutenant herself, had had training in celestial navigation. We talk about the sky and observing the stars. Finally at 1 a.m., or so, we called it "a day". I can't imagine having a more delightful day in and around the countryside of this beautiful country.