I had dreams that night, but I don't remember what they were. I was up
at 5 AM. The shower had yet another wacky faucet, but with plenty of hot
water. By 6 AM, that first day of June, the Sun was well up in the English
sky. I washed a shirt in the sink the night before, but it wasn't dry yet.
The room came with a "trouser press," so I thought I'd see if it would
dry out the shirt. What happened was the whole thing broke away from the
wall. So, I went downstairs to report it. The night clerk almost laughed
when I told him. He also explained about Internet access. The computers
need codes to allow users online. The codes are printed on cards which
are sold to users at different rates for different lengths of time online.
All they had left to sell were 90 minute cards. That's why they couldn't
let me online the night before. If they'd just explained that to me, I
wouldn't have been so ticked off. The whole first floor of the hotel seemed
deserted that time of morning. I went back upstairs, where Donna made me
a hot chocolate. I felt better. The TV weather looked like it would be
warm and sunny that day.
At breakfast, I was starting to get used to eating grilled tomatoes. We got all packed up and waited in the lobby. At 8 AM, we were on the move. Outside, the tour company brought us a different coach. The floor was different, the overhead compartments had no doors, and there were no more handy pockets behind the seats in front of you. It also had that "new bus smell." By that day, Donna and I had rotated back so that we were sitting behind the "emergency loo." It was a happy, sunny day-- not a cloud in the sky.
||We lost track of the group, so we went back to the cathedral. No pictures
were allowed inside, but they had an audio tour for a reasonable price.
It was beautiful inside, with gorgeous stained glass windows. There were
many memorials to people inlaid into the floor. Some were so old, and made
of soft stones like marble, all the lettering had rubbed off them.
We wandered around the High Street, and found a little church called St. Peter's. It was mostly square, not cross-shaped, built of big, ancient grey stones. The interior instantly gave you a sense of history. It turned out the original church on that site, built on the foundation of a Roman headquarters, was founded in the year 907. There'd been a church there for eleven hundred years. Half the church was set aside with pews, for when they have services. The women guides seemed very proud of their church, and I got a real sense of community from them. It can't be easy for plucky little St. Peter's to get by, literally around the corner from the magnificent Chester Cathedral.
|We were back on the coach by a quarter after 11. Down Princess Street,
we crossed over the River Dee and were soon in the countryside again, zooming
down a 4-lane highway. There were tree-covered hills on both sides of the
highway. Many of them were actually old slag heaps from the coal mines
that closed in the 1980's. Our route that day would take us over the Welsh/English
border several times. We started seeing the red dragon of Wales on signs
everywhere. The signs started showing words in English and Welsh. Traffic
jams greeted us as we made our way down the A5 to Shrewsbury, the home
of Charles Darwin. More hills appeared. We headed south on the A49. We
saw farms with chickens, pigs... and more passing hikers.
The coach took us to the nearby downtown area. We stopped at a place called the Llandoger Trow –a 17th Century pub in the heart of Bristol. Robert Lewis Stevenson used to be a customer, and possibly got inspiration there for his book "Treasure Island." Another customer was writer Daniel Defoe, who met real-life castaway Alexander Selkirk at the Llandoger Trow and used him as the inspiration for "Robinson Crusoe." We all filed up the rickety narrow stairs to the second floor. Upstairs, it was more of a restaurant than a pub. I got fish and chips for the third time during our trip, but it was not the best of the trip. Still, I had a Speckled Hen Beer, recommended by Nick, and followed it up with a Black Thorn Cider. We all got to talk with each other during the meal.
The street in front of the pub was full of college-age people. I kinda wished we could've joined them. It would've added to the whole British pub experience. After supper, several in the group decided to walk back to the hotel rather than ride back. It was still light out. I watched a little TV, then went on to bed.