Almost everyone has been to London, it seems. Or rather, if a person has traveled outside of North America, chances are they went to London. That’s cool. I don’t have a problem with that. But I struggled with the idea of staying in London for a whole week while we were in the UK because it just seemed like a trip that everyone’s done before.
I’m also not a big fan of cities. Walmart, KFC, Pizza Hut, almost every city in the world has become host to these parasites. We like the character of small towns which is why we usually try to find vacation rentals in small towns rather than in bigger cities. Smaller towns are much more accessible in terms of meeting new people and there’s often space to go for a pleasant jog. It’s also often easier to walk to the grocery store rather than battling for a spot on a crowded bus or hailing an overpriced cab. Great Bedwyn in Wiltshire was perfect in this respect. It was small enough that you could easily walk across it from end to end, but big enough that you could get whatever you need without having to drive there to get it.
We visited Windsor Castle in London before heading west and got just a little taste of what the city
has to offer, but Great Bedwyn was definitely more our speed. There are little boats that tourists can rent for a float down the river and an old church surrounded by tilted tombstones weathered with age. There’s a small grocery store in the middle of town filled basics as well as some health-food items. The people are friendly and the community is quiet.
If you happen to have a car, Great Bedwyn is an even better choice. It’s a great jumping off point for visiting almost any other part of the country. Fifteen minutes down some narrow roads through the countryside lead us to Stonehenge. In Swindon or Marlborough (only about 10 minutes away) there are numerous restaurants and other fun and food options for visitors. Driving in this part of the country with a car as an American wasn’t nearly as intimidating as driving in London either.
We rented a small, two bedroom property at “Mason’s Yard” which was quiet, secluded, and right next door to a cute little post office where we sent off postcards to the 7th grade class at South Platte Public School in Big Springs, NE. The property was considerably cheaper than staying in a hotel and we were able to get the key from a little lockbox when we arrived so the whole experience was very private and genteel. I went for jogs in quiet neighborhoods and we did our shopping at a grocery store that was only three or four blocks away.
Windsor Castle: important because it’s extravagant or extravagant because it’s important? — By Jennifer Shipp
Windsor Castle and St. George’s Cathedral, London: Photo Gallery
Have a Very Heretical Christmas — By Jennifer Shipp
Stonehenge: A Place for Big Cats to Play — By Jennifer Shipp
Stonehenge, Salisbury, UK: Photo Gallery
First 36 Hours in the UK: Photo Gallery
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