Gradually our first trip abroad together was coming to an end. We had just 3 days left before we flew home and we had not actually booked any accommodation for our last 3 nights, one in Stratford-on-Avon and the next somewhere near Oxford.
Although Trevor was rather concerned at no definite place to lay our heads that night and the next, I wasn’t because I had been led to understand that England is full of B&Bs. Well, it was not as easy as I had believed. Stratford, a major tourist attraction, did have lots of B&Bs but there was not always a vacancy, particularly at this time of year. We enquired at 3 before we found a room for 2 nights. It was actually a really beautiful room and the breakfast was excellent. Having arrived in the early afternoon we spent the rest of the afternoon and evening walking around the town and were fortunate to see some boats use the lock in the centre of town. The next day we viewed the city from a hop on – hop off bus. When Trevor enquired about rates for Senior Citizens, they gave us each the discount without any checking fo documents. If it is not displayed and you don’t ask, you don’t get.
The next morning we left straight after breakfast and headed down the M4 to Oxford. I had visited this city in 1994 and fallen in love with it so I wanted to show it to Trevor. The plan was to find a B&B on the outskirts of Oxford and catch a bus into the city. Another lesson learnt. There was a real dearth of places to stay in the area and we eventually had to go into the town of Hungerford and book into an hotel there. This made it impossible to get into Oxford by bus so we once again decided to go with Plan B which was to walk around Hungerford which we found to be a quite interesting place dating back to 11th Century. Dinner was take-away from a mobile Chinese shop and it was delicious. Interestingly, the more we have travelled the more we have learned that if you are wanting the real traditional foods of a country you need to go to either an upmarket restaurant or a small town home bakery type of Bistro.
The following morning we drove into Oxford and parked in a local parking garage using some our last few British pounds. (Another very important tip, do not try to finish your foreign money before you journey is over. Always keep a few which you can spend at the airport if necessary). I fell in love with the city all over again and, once again, amazed at the number of bicycles parked on every street – literally hundreds of them. Since I cannot ride a bicycle I was very glad that we decided to just walk around and absorb the senses and nuances of Oxford. In the early afternoon we took a leisurely drive into Gatwick and returned the car which had been an excellent hire. We had a couple of hours to fill at the airport after checking in so we had coffee and muffins while reading until we boarded.
We arrived home safely at lunchtime the next day tired but having had a really special trip. We learnt a lot both educationally and what to or not to do another time. I will detail these a separate article.