A Travellerspoint blog

March 2022

Blooming Britain

sunny 18 °C

When our government finally loosened the reigns and permitted us to venture back into the world, we decided that the British Isles might be the safest place to start. We planned a two-month tour that encompassed visits to all the family and to the four corners of Britain. And then the storms hit! One hurricane after another lashed the U.K. a few weeks ago and when we looked at the potential forecast for April, we cancelled almost all our plans and settled on sunny Spain instead. However, we first had to visit the family members in England whom we had not seen for more than two years, and so we dressed to suit the proverb that we learned as children. “March winds and April showers bring forth May flowers...”
But we were children long before “climate change” upended the weather. Two weeks of sunshine with temperatures hovering near 20 degrees have brought Britain into bloom more than a month early. As we drove across the country from London to the West of England the buds burst, and flowers simply shot out of the roadsides...
The darling buds of May burst forth– in March! Daffodils, primroses, cowslips, celandines, peonies and magnolias were all in bloom, together with the first tulips and bluebells. Even the palm trees had put on their summer fronds...
By the end of our first week with barely a cloud in the sky and summer-like temperatures we thought, 'this won't last'. But it did. The Tudor houses and great cathedral of the ancient market town of Hereford simply glowed in the warm sunshine...
Hereford cathedral was begun 1079 but its most famous antiquity is this map of the known world that was created on a sheet of vellum made from a whole calf's skin around 1300...
The Mappa Mundi was neglected for centuries but was restored in 1855. It is so rare and valuable that it was carefully hidden during the Second World War. However, in 1988, the cathedral was in such bad shape physically and financially that consideration was given to selling the map. Many benefactors came to the cathedral's aid and allowed it to retain one of its great treasures. The other treasure of Hereford Cathedral is the world's largest chain library...
In medieval times, beautifully handwritten and illuminated manuscripts took months or even years to write and many of the books in this library are five or six hundred years old, These theological tomes were irreplaceable, so were chained to the shelves to prevent light-fingered clergymen from adding to their private collections.

Our visit to Hereford enabled Sheila to re-unite with five of her childhood friends: a reunion which was planned to take place in 2020 but was delayed by Covid...
Here are the six friends together with Sir Edgar Elgar, the famous composer who was born in Hereford.
From Hereford we continued southwest to Devon, stopping overnight in one of the country's oldest hotels: The George at Norton St. Philip...
We slept in a room that has been in use for some 700 years. Luckily, they have changed the beds.
From Norton St. Philip, we travelled on to the north Devon coast before crossing Exmoor to the south coast at Exmouth where Sheila was reacquainted with a friend from her teaching days in China forty years ago...
It may be March, but the warm spring weather brought out the buckets and spades and we even saw people swimming in the sea...
Now we are in London. There is so much to see and do that we may not rush off to Spain right away. In the meantime – here's a question for our Canadian readers. All over southern England we spotted these giant 'nests' high in the trees. But what kind of creature could have made them?
If you have read this far – thank you very much for your patience. We have so many travel tales still to tell and have a lot of catching up to do. So, we are very happy that are joining us on our travels. See you soon from sunny London.

Posted by Hawkson 15:55 Archived in England Comments (13)

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