The fabulously poetic Durdle Door (in Dorset), an “eyelet” formed by waves crashing into the chalk layers of the rock.
I went to England, in November, because I’m insane. Mostly Cornwall and Dorset, with a bit of London.
They drive on the wrong side of the road there. By the way.
So, my traveling companion and I got a rental car and together made the bizarre decision that I should be the one to drive out of London. After seven hours in a plane. In a car that had the steering wheel on the wrong side. In a country that drives on the wrong side of the road. With a stick shift, which I haven’t driven in several years, and did I mention the steering wheel is on the wrong side of the car? So the stick shift is on the wrong side, too. The only thing that could have made it worse is if I’d been drinking.
Luckily, it didn’t take long to get out of the city. I hit my first roundabout in, oh, about two minutes, and nearly killed myself getting into it in London traffic. Roundabouts. Everywhere. Have these people not heard of stop signs? No intersections with traffic lights or stop signs. Just roundabouts. I finally figured out after about a day that you could just stay in the roundabout, keep driving in circles, until you decided which turn to take out of it. They weren’t nearly as scary after that. I just spent a lot of time driving in circles, that’s all. Then we hit the country. Narrow lanes, some hedgerowed, others canopied by trees. All gorgeous.
BUT!! So narrow….. Like here, in our backroads. Only the steering wheel was on the wrong side of the car. I can’t tell you how disconcerting that is. Like, they might as well have made me drive the car upside down. And the villages!!! Buildings (beautiful old stone buildings that I nearly ran into admiring) right up to the edge of the road.
What was really odd was in the evenings, they just PARKED RIGHT IN THE ROAD. AS IF THERE WAS ROOM.
But oh–how adorable! Every village was so cute! So tidy! I have no idea what they do with their trash there, but there was no trash. Every village, one after another, so cute, so adorable, so clean. So tiny. All with an ancient church with moss-grown Celtic crosses and stone thatched cottages and a pub.
A pub in every village! We need to take up this trend in America. The photo above was taken in a 17th-century pub in Mullion, Cornwall.
We drove out of London and headed straight for Cornwall where we stayed for two nights at the splurge of the trip, the incredible Polurrian Hotel, set on a clifftop over the sea.
The drive should have taken maybe four hours but I turned it into about eight what with all those confusing roundabouts and my fear of driving more than 30 miles an hour on the wrong side of the road. I hereby apologize to the entire United Kingdom for my driving atrocities. But–it was wonderful. All the hedgerowed lanes and fields, the quaint villages, the sea! I loved it all.
For the most part, this trip consisted of driving around in the country. Just driving around. Doing nothing. Climbing over stone walls and hedges to get to prehistoric monuments, petting sheep, stopping in pubs, trekking up steep cliffs to medieval castle ruins, and consuming clotted cream at every opportunity. I didn’t take a single guided tour of anything.
This photo was taken through the crumbling walls of romantic and mysterious Tintagel Castle.
Sheep were everywhere. Dotting the countryside in some kind of unspoken agreement not to stand too close to each other while properly dotting. I fell in love with sheep while I was in England.
The only day it really poured was the day we went to Stonehenge. Driving, sideways, soaking rain. I was drenched. I changed out of my sopping wet jeans in the front seat of the car heedless of any passersby and my half-nakedness.
I mean, we were at STONEHENGE, people. I didn’t care about anything else.
It rained every day we were there, but just a little bit then it would stop. The temperatures were great, and the tourists scarce at this time of year, except when we got to London. But–it gets dark in England in November at 4 pm. What is THAT about? You’d think I’d have gotten used to it after a week, but every day I was shocked. It’s 4! How can it be DARK?
In Dorset, we stayed in a lovely bed-and-breakfast with a warm, welcoming hostess who made us kippers and big slabs of bacon every morning and always made sure we knew where to go and how to get there and explained what all those mysterious road signs meant. (Below, me relaxing at the quaint bed-and-breakfast country house after a day of exploring the West Country boonies.)
I miss that B&B lady. Each evening, she’d say, “What would you like for breakfast?” And I would get to say things like, “I would like some kippers!” And then, magically, she would make whatever I requested appear by the next morning.
This photo is of the beautiful, bombed-out Corfe Castle overlooking the Purbeck Hills.
I loved Corfe Castle, climbing around the ruins, poking under openings and inside old towers.
It was an amazing trip, and a real dream come true for me. I’ve always wanted to go to England, and I hope to go again. Over the next several days, I’ll share more photos and more details of all the fun.
What about you? Any dream-come-true trips you’ve taken–or would love to take?
I’m on vacation. This week, I’m republishing a series of posts from my 2006 trip to England. Enjoy! Keep up with my current trip on the Daily Farm Photo page.