Southampton and the
Trip Start Jul 11, 2006
25Trip End Aug 28, 2006
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After having traveled in hot and humid climates, the weather in England was a welcome change ... but I did need to buy a micofleece at a cancer charity thrift shop in Southampton.
To back up a bit...
We arrived at Heathrow airport near London on Aug. 15 and took a long-distance taxi (cheaper than a London cab, by far) to Southampton on the south coast, where our daughter, Kirsten, was completing work on a master's degree at the university of the same name. It was good to be reunited with her. Also, as a resident of that fair city, she was able to introduce us to some good pubs and restaurants.
We rented a largish car from Budget near the airport and headed out to the New Forest. I used quote marks around "New" and "Forest" in the title to this travelogue entry because the New Forest is neither new nor completely a forest in the modern sense of the word
There are certainly large numbers of trees in the New Forest today, many of them clustered in what we now think of as forest. But there are also expanses of heathland and even a few large villages. There are also hordes of tourists during summer weekends. Still, it's a pretty darn nice place and can even encourage solitude and meditation in spots. A great place to hug a tree, in other words.
We stopped to commune with the ancient oaks, New Forest ponies and fields of heather before motoring into Burley, a village that promotes its connections with witches. We didn't see any, other than the plastic ones for sale in the shops, but we did see plenty of the sweet, docile New Forest ponies. In fact, they refuse to be ignored, wandering the main road through the village and holding up traffic as if they owned the place. They poke their furry noses into shop doorways and leave their calling cards on the sidewalks outside. I like them.
The next day, we packed up much of Kirsten's belongings for her move to York, where she has since started work on her second master's degree at the university of the same name
On the way north, we stopped at Glastonbury, a town Nancy and I have visited periodically several times since we were first there as backpackers in the mid-70s, and we have watched it become increasingly a gathering point for followers of New Age philosophies, for lack of a more accurate description. It all stems from Glastonbury's associations with the Grail and King Arthur legends and from connections to ley lines and other earth energy concepts. To provide but a small glimpse of why it's considered such a focal point, there is a well in town that is claimed to be the hiding place of the Holy Grail, hence the Arthurian connections. I will say, the place has a special feel to it, whether because of its setting or its legendary connections or what people have made of it.
Near Glastonbury, we were fortunate to be able to spend time visiting with Haydon, who Kirsten and I met at Cambridge last summer, and his family in their home, a converted church. These are the sort of bright, curious, knowledgeable folks one always hopes to meet. They are also just plain nice.
We spent the night at a very uninteresting Travelodge near Stratford. I'll pick up the story in the next entry.