I confess--I have a deep love for Britain. The history, the culture, and the prevalence of tea instead of coffee all make me happy. I've been working with Babs for five years now, so this year seemed like a good time to take an extra week of vacation and head across the pond with some of my family.
It will not surprise you to know that I took several knitting projects with me, and in the grand tradition of internet knitters I took photos of the socks I carried around throughout the trip in various locations. Please join me on a little tour of my vacation!
We spent our first full day in Oxford. In the morning we took a walking tour of the city, then stopped for tea at a lovely cafe outside a church.
In the afternoon, we toured the Bodleian Library, which has a truly impressive history, and an even more impressive collection!
The next day we picked up a car and headed out into the countryside. Our first stop was Blenheim Palace, home of the Duke of Marlborough. We wandered the gardens for several hours before touring the public area of the house. (I had finished the first pair of socks I brought the evening before, so cast on a second pair at breakfast that morning in a Yummy 2-ply Wild Iris.)
Blenheim is rather overwhelmingly grand, so we were all happy to head to the pub where we were, have a very English dinner, and retire for the evening.
The next day we decided to visit Woodchester Mansion. After parking in the carpark, we walked a mile through the woods to the house. From the outside, it looks like a lovely but normal Victorian Gothic Mansion. Once you walk inside, however, another story is revealed. The family who were building Woodchester ran out of money and interest partway through, so the inside of the house was left unfinished.
Some of the internal carving is beautifully finished, some of the stone has been put in place but not carved, and a good bit of the construction is simply not done--this room is missing its ceiling/second story floor/third story floor.
Looking back on our trip, my parents and older sister and I all agreed that this was one of our favorite things. We weren't sure if it was because the lack of decorations and furnishings makes the beauty of the house more striking, because there weren't many other visitors when we were there, or because it is just a really nifty site... at any rate, if you're ever in the Cotswolds, I would heartily recommend checking out Woodchester!
After leaving Woodchester, we stopped at a lookout point for a beautiful view over the countryside. Here, the slightly bigger sock enjoys a panoramic view of the Cotswolds. (You can't see them, but there are sheep hiding in this picture.)
Our next stop was Wales. I desperately wanted to visit the National Wool Museum, but sadly the national museums of Wales were closed during our visit due to a strike. (Drat those people and their desire for higher pay on weekends. Didn't they know I would be visiting??) While nothing made up for the disappointment of missing the Wool Museum, I did love seeing sheep roaming everywhere!
Our first Welsh accommodation was a converted dairy cottage I found on Airbnb. I took advantage of the lovely setting to take a few finished object photos for Raverly, including the Hot Shot Wild Iris socks I had finished earlier in the trip in (and gave to my dad on Father's Day) and a cowl I had designed for my sister (it's in Oyster Caroline and the pattern is coming soon!).
Next we were off to Cardiff, where we had an apartment with a great view out over the river Taff. At this point in our trip, I was very tired. My life at home is very calm and relaxed, and I spend most of my free time knitting with my kitties. All the excitement and activity of driving around England and Wales seeing different things had worn me out. I decided to spend the morning in our living room, knitting and looking out the open balcony doors, watching boats on the river.
In the afternoon I got a message from my sister with a photo very similar to this one:
Now, I like buttons ALMOST as much as I like yarn, so this was more than enough to inspire me to walk downtown! Half an hour later I was happily browsing Claire Grove Buttons. I found several treasures there, as well as a set of my most-used button sweaters. It is a tiny, but truly amazing, shop!
We ended our trip in Bath. Bath is one of my favorite places in the world, and I'll take any excuse to spend time there. I had great fun in Fashion Museum enjoying their new exhibit (A History of Fashion in 100 Objects, which had several pieces I found particularly interesting, and a jacket/shawl hybrid I may try to copy somehow with knitting.) I also stopped in to the Jane Austen Centre to learn more about one of my favorite authors.
On our last day, I walked up to the Royal Crescent before we took a bus to Heathrow. The Royal Crescent plays a part in one of my favorite childhood dreams, so I had to pay at least a flying visit while I could.
Thanks, England, it was great. See you again in five years?