Transatlantic Antics – Part II – The Agony and the Eggstasy

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Sobered by a nasty tire incident in Cornwall,

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disarmed by locals

Apricot cheese savory
.

tickled by English cuisine

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surrounded by virtual history

GPS Earth
.

and aided by the best little SAT NAV,

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we headed north up the UK’s spine,
often stirred, mostly shaken,

On the Road with Bond
.

thanks to the hair-raising
roadways of perfidious Albion.

Cotswolds countryside

On our way to the Cotswolds,
gaining confidence with each mile,
was our intrepid, white-knuckled driver.

Picking off less flora and fauna, too.

Speaking of hair-raising,

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This was H before driving in England…

H's Awesome Day
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and after a few
M-4 roundabouts….

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Unflappable as ever,
Sir Richard the Navigator
nobly rode our dash.

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Meanwhile, across the ocean,
somewhere in Billings, Montana…

The house seemed quiet.
Sari was canoodling in Europe.
Josh was out of town on a job site.
And the mischief-prone mutts?

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Serving 30 days in
Montana Women’s Prison.

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More specifically,
Tobie and Jasper were sentenced
to Prison Paws for Humanity,
a dog training program
run by inmates.

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Schooled in behavioral techniques,
inmates not only whip welps
into prison-yard shape,

In the Dog House

but blossom when challenged with
practical skills and accountability.

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Transforming pets
into sterling citizens
is just a bonus.

*   *   *

After a week in Butte,
Josh returned home.

Yet the house was far from empty…

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Hooja, the occasionally vengeful Kitty,
was awaiting her Master’s return.

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BFF’s

The reunion

WEB Hooja while they're out
Picking up tips from
‘My Cat From Hell’

With no feline boot camp in town,
Hooja was free to rochambeau Josh
for the remote.

*    *    *

Meanwhile,
back on British soil…

It rained on and off
the day we stopped
in Oxfordshire.

We were there to visit
the famous White Horse,

And nearby
Uffington Castle…

Euro White Horse
Photo courtesy of David Price

 

Etched from the chalky hillside,
the White Horse’s origins
go back an astonishing
3,000 years.

Celtic Coin with King and White Horse

It’s iconic image
shares the flip side
of this ancient
Celtic coin.

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Shaggy locals viewed our progress
as we crossed the sodden fields.

Behind them
lay Dragon Hill,
the naturally flat-topped
mound, its chalk eye
a silent witness to history.

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Onwards and upwards
to the crest we proceeded
dodging the occasional
sheep pie on the way.

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Excitingly, bits of the creature
briefly peeked out below.

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When we finally stood
above the figure,

White Horse 1
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we realized the
374 foot long geoglyph is
best viewed from the air.

Or, from across the valley,
as its sculptors intended.

From our vantage,

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a tantalizing
close-up of its nose.

But time-constrained
beggars can’t be choosy.

It was too slippery to descend
the steep chalk downs
to the mound.

St. George and the Dragon

The legendary mound where
St. George battled
a dragon.

Which legend incites those
who insist the horse is
actually a dragon.

Aerial White Horse

The origins of White Horse
are shrouded in mystery.

Captured mid-gallop,
is it a tribal figure
related to the builders
of Uffington Castle?

Or was it cut by the
leader of the Anglo Saxon
horde that conquered
the first territories
of Britain?

The piratical invasion of the Saxons under Hengist and Horsa

His name was Hengist,
and he and his Germanic brother
arrived as mercenaries and
emerged leaders of the tribe.

Hengest and Horsa 2

When his brother was killed
during a fierce battle with Britons,
was Hengist inspired to land-scrape
the White Horse as a tribute
to his fallen brother?

The brother named…

Horsa…

I kid you not.

Hengist and Horsa
A delicate version of the invasion
Check out that footware!

Getting to the unvarnished
truth in history is like
trying to rope an eel.

Indisputable is
White Horse’s status as the
oldest hillside figure in England.

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Thanks may be due to a local lord,
who instituted a ritual scrubbing
every seven years.

After the labor-intensive work,
villagers were treated to a
raucous 3-day festival,
at the expense of the
lord of the manor.

A neat quid-pro-quo that
kept the tradition going
until the 19th Century.

Without the scouring,
the Horse would’ve
disappeared in as little
as ten years, as many
chalk figures did…

*     *     *

The festival offered
wrestling and swordplay
contests, along with
a local oddity:

the critical
cheese-rolling race.

Critical because
contestants were virtually
guaranteed critical injury.

The upshot:

A largeish wheel of cheese
was released down a steep hill
while runners raced
the dairy product
to the bottom.

Charlotte Gere; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

First one down the hill
won the cheese, and
if lucky, retained full
use of their limbs.

Cheese be gone
.

Amazingly,
some towns
continue to hold
the breakneck races.

With some modern
concessions.

Like ambulances on standby.

*     *     *

Meanwhile, surrounded by
Bronze Age burial mounds,
we began our search for the castle

Our search went on,
yielding no results.

The guidebook
described a castle
“proudly overlooking”
the graceful White Horse.

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The sudden appearance of
hillside steps brought us
to the summit.

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Where a rolling plain and
distant marker beckoned.

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We asked the 3-foot marker,

If you have information leading to
the whereabouts of Uffington Castle,
please notify us immediately.

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And poof,

A signpost hinting at
more of an earthen hill fort…

It took a moment to sink in…

Uffington - southeast ditch and bank
.

Covering roughly 8 acres,
we were essentially looking at
2 earth banks separated by a ditch.

Or, in English parlance,
“a rare and outstanding example
of a large Iron Age fort, occupying
the summit of Whitehorse Hill.”

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Little did we know we’d been
tromping all over our target –

Although the old bard’s words came to mind,
“Doors are for people with no imagination,”

at the time, ‘shenanigans’
seemed more appropriate.

Uffington Castle
.

Little did we know excavations
revealed the hill fort is older
than originally believed.

We’re talking from the
7th or 8th Century B.C.

Thanks to aerial photography,
the thrill of early Britain
is brought home.

Even if you have no clue
what you’re looking at
at the time.

*    *    *

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Our perspective having shifted,
it was hard not to feel a bit…

sheepish.

*     *     *

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*     *     *

 

Hours later, back on the road,
H would note “funny sounds”
coming from the car…

Chipping Campden map

At our second refueling,
there was something else
she just noticed,

the words on the gas cap:

“DIESEL ONLY”

Smoke gets in your eyes
If Diesel meets Unleaded

This was a bit of a problem,
since we’d topped half the
tank off with unleaded
120 miles back.

I say, “we” because both
H and I stared at that
gas pump debating the
unleaded and diesel options.

Diesel is for trucks, right?
It seemed a no-brainer.

The station guy
seemed amazed the engine
hadn’t smoked, stalled
or ignited along the way.

Almost as amazing was
Sari’s fantastical idea that the
unleaded wouldn’t have mixed
with the diesel.  That it was
just floating above, waiting
for the diesel to putter out.

A call to a local doctor was made.

Not for Sari, but the vehicle.

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Within minutes,
Fuel Medic was on the scene.

With a professional flourish,
he sucked out the offending mix.

“We see it all the time,” he assured us.

Mostly reassuring himself
of a long and robust business.

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Dr. Diesel gives sparky a thumbs-up.

After the hoovering, he
checked the patient and
pronounced it good to go.

 With little ceremony,
and a bit of teeth-gritting,
we re-filled the tank with
lovely expensive diesel.

And away we went, hundreds of
Great British Pounds lighter,
but beyond relieved at
having dodged another
close shave.

Later, a rash of googling
revealed just how vulnerable
diesel fuel injectors are to
unleaded’s corrosive nature.

A Shiver Ran Through Us.

*     *     *

To the catalog of
English maxims, such as:

“Keep Calm, Carry On.”

“Don’t get your knickers
in a twist.”

“God Save the Queen.”

And, “Never mind love,
have a cuppa,”

we suggest adding,

“Time to get the
syphon hose out!”

*     *     *

Why Diesel Why?
.

*     *    *

It was long past sunset
when we rolled into
Chipping Campden.

Meaning once again,
H was gingerly cruising
looking for a Hoo Cottage
on Hoo Lane somewhere
in the Hoo darkness…

When Sir Richard announced
we’d reached our destination,
H slithered to a stop.

Blindly, I made my way
to a fence, my cell
briefly illuminating a
wooden sign:

“Saint Catherine’s Cemetery.”

*     *     *

I reported back.

“That is definitely not Hoo House…”

Hedge Hiding Hoo BW Crop
.

Turns out it was hiding
just across the road.

*     *     *

For those susceptible to
spookiness, our lodging across
from the town cemetery
and dramatic
nighttime
arrival
added atmospheric
gravitas to our
entrez-vous.

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To put it mildly,
Sari had a visceral
reaction upon first
entering Hoo house.

The low ceilings of
the 400-year old cottage
totally freaked her out.

Truthfully, we’d been
spoiled back in Cornwall
with the Milking Parlour’s
vaulted ceilings.

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But Sari’s heebie-jeebies
in the cozy cottage
were bordering on
the ridiculous!

It began slowly enough, like
when she’d avoid being alone
in a room.  Particularly at night.

Her growing dread was not
immediately obvious.

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The prominent ancestral family
photos were a bit disconcerting,
I’ll give her that…

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And the hauntingly quiet streets of
Chippy Campden did not help matters.

Haunted Cotswolds

*     *     *

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Chipping Campden was a world-famous
market in its medieval heyday.

Now famous for the extraordinary
preservation of its multi-era architecture.

*     *     *

 Crafted of northern Cotswold limestone,
the town’s mellowed patina is known
to make grown geologists cry.

Once voted the charmingest village in England,
in the 17th Century, the town evolved
into the height of elegant shopping.

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One stop shopping for
local cheese, butter and poultry.

What a wild and wooly time
medieval markets must have been,
vendors hawking their wares,
exotic roaming traders,
draft animals enjoying the scents,
strapping farmers, buxom maidens,
local floozies, artful dodgers,
roving medieval comics,

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Oh wait, I’m at the Renaissance Festival.

*     *     *

Chipping Campden has not rested on its laurels,
punitive rental cottage prices notwithstanding.

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Chicken-wired for protection

Thatched roofs, once found
on less prosperous homes,
are now a sign of beaucoup bucks.

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Sideview of Hoo

Hoo’s garden
was ridiculous.

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By jove, is that a bird in that bird?

The hedges were lovely,
some trimmed in extremis,
and others virtually
barricading the house
from outside view.

*     *     *

Chipping Campden continued
to field a myriad of emotions
from sensitive Sari

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Including fear of the town’s
Senior Hell’s Angels

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And of course unease at the home’s
positively medieval low ceilings…

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The extent of S’s fear
was revealed one night
when she barked at me
for leaving the room
to use the loo!

And later ensured
my presence by keeping
her radar-detective toe on me
while she slept.

Casper Boo
.

Just in case…

*    *    *

S was so righteously
indignant about being fearful
it was kinda funny….

but sshhh, don’t tell her

*     *     *

The next morning,
powered by the help of Yelp,
we breakfasted at neighboring Burford.

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Where it’s bustling
vibrancy was sincerely
appreciated by Sari.

Bustling being the key
ingredient she demanded
from any town.

Huffkins Bakery and Tea Rooms
Breakfast at Huffkins – scrumptious

Burford hits that sweet spot
mixing quaint with contemporary
without smacking of twee.

*     *     *

There are several famous gardens within
15 minutes journey of Chipping Campden.

Hidcote Entrance

One of our excursions included
the awesome Hidcote Manor Garden
which Patricia insisted we visit.

And she and Eileen know their gardens…

*     *     *

Before the Garden opened,
we bumped into a local on
an early morning stroll.

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Skritch-skritch

Described as one of the most influential
20th Century gardens, Hidcote is imbued
with the spirit of the genius who created it.

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The Major and Pups on the Theatre grounds

We gave Major Lawrence Johnston props
for his world-wide plant-hunting travels.

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And his love of dachshunds.

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Conceived by a man ahead of his time,
Hidcote is a way of life, the Major’s
international search for the exotic
and new ways of interacting
with nature the core of
his philosophy.

His arts and crafts garden features
organic farming, a buzzing bee colony,
local and hybrid apple orchards,
berry brambles, tennis and
croquet fields, and random
tasty produce tastings,
to name a few.

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Soldierly rows of hedges salute.

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 Interplanetary-colored flora.

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 Maze-like grounds
each with different
garden “rooms”

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Our tromping led
to the open theatre field
where a croquet set awaited.

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Waited for some action.

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Some played with finesse

Others not so much…

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Leading to the re-direction
of the ball by the foot infraction.

*     *     *

We stopped at the tennis courts
and swatted a few rounds.

It was terribly fun and terribly
sad time was running out.

Just as we were ready to leave,
our favorite part of Manor Garden
took us by surprise.

*     *     *

A cat looks down upon a man
and a dog looks up to a man.

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Here’s looking you in the eye, kid…

*     *     *

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Sadly slated for someone’s
future organic pork feast,
Holly and Ivy stole our hearts.

At least we felt heartened
the two were able to enjoy
their outdoor locale
and humane nurturing
at Hidcote Manor.

Even if it was to make
sausages more delicious.

*     *     *

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On our last day in Chipping,
just as we were about to go out for a walk…

an accidental lock-out snafu occurred…

Could have been a disaster,
since the extra set of keys resided with
the housekeeper two counties away.

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Alternate Entry

Desperate times call for
desperate measures.
We were most thankful Sari’s
little butt fit in the little slot.

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After the hullabaloo,
we strolled up Hoo Lane,
to view the countryside.

And said our goodbyes to everything Hoo.

*     *     *

Occasionally wondering how doggies
were doing under inmate tutelage
back in Montana, too.

They were in an intense one-on-one
30-day rehabilitation program.

After all, that’s a long time, and
things could go terribly, horribly wrong…

Tobie Winston Wide
.

Like picking up bad habits from the screws…

Cat Fight
.

Or dealing with violent smugglers.

Prison Riot

Or worse

*     *     *

Next up:

A spot of tea
at Kenilworth Castle.

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And more adventures from Sir Richard,
courtesy of his overly creative navigation.

*     *     *

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