We love nature, and all it's beauty.
  • Day19

    Bath to Home, June 17

    June 17, 2018 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 16 °C

    The day to go home has arrived!

    We're looking forward to sleeping in our own bed tonight even though Arlene is insisting that it will be tomorrow. Something about the Irish that I will never understand.

    Yesterday, we stopped by a food store for a couple of bananas since the B & B did not serve until 0815 and we needed to be out the door by 0700. Taxi was right on time and in less than 10 minutes we were at a very closed train station. Sign said 0745, but they opened early (perhaps just for us?).

    While on the platform waiting for the 0758, it was announced that it was 14 minutes late...a freight train had the lead so we watched it come crawling by carrying new rail for train track repair.

    We arrived at London Paddington a couple of minutes late, but with plenty of time to find the right platform for the train to Heathrow. Got there, found the right elevator to get the kitchen sink up to the security area, went through initial security, checked the bags, got through personal security, the wc's, food, gate entry check, and finally, permission to board!

    Here we sit, waiting, for almost nine hours of confined torture to travel to Atlanta. Quite a change from the carefree walking from village to village and breathing fresh air with an occasional whiff of a farm animal or two (perhaps three or four?).

    As Arlene was creating her "lessons learned", I was creating the trip memories and capturing them in print. Glad many of you were able to share our day by day events and it really is easier than waiting to do it all at once from notes.

    My lessons learned include the following...

    1 Be better prepared; next time I will lift more weights in preparation for hauling the sink up and down many flights of narrow, steep, and curvy stairs.

    2 Let Arlene have both duffles as she has most of the space anyway. I'll just wear my one set of clothes and wash them daily.

    3 Take more dance classes so it will be easier to navigate around the animals and field litter.

    4 Let Arlene do all the talking as my accent just gets in the way.

    5 Practice my voice lessons so I can better imitate the sheep, cows, horses, and dogs that I enjoy talking to.

    On a more serious note, this was one of those precious few times when we were able to slow down and really smell the flowers. We are so busy with our individual projects that we just do not take the time, or have the time to take, for ourselves. We walked hand in hand at times chatting, and other times I led, or Arlene led, and we were both quiet and enjoying the sights, the sounds, and the smells of nature. Great to spend time together enjoying all that nature provides.

    We are in Atlanta. A quiet and easy flight. Just a four hour wait and we will be on the final leg. Should be home in time to get some sleep today.

    We walked over 386,000 steps (me, and Arlene had 389,000...she has shorter legs) since we left home on May 30. Quite a lot and we relished each and every one.

    Life is short, enjoy the journey!
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  • Day18

    Bath, June 16

    June 16, 2018 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 14 °C

    Our last day! What should we do?

    Number one (perhaps two) on the list was to fuel up for a day of walking and making sure we didn't miss anything.

    After breakfast, we walked to the train station to get our tickets for tomorrow and to orient ourselves in case time was short. Next was the walking tour, but after listening for a few minutes we decided to check out a few other places as this was an overview and we felt that we had accomplished that.

    We walked down Great Pulteney Street towards the Holburne Museum and the gardens, stopping at shops along the way. The gardens were very nice and the flowers (few that there were) were very colorful on a cloudy day. Then for a coffee, and to really finish this off, a hot chocolate and scone at the Bath Bun Tea Shoppe.

    Along the walk back to the B & B to drop off a few items, we passed a weekend bowling contest (Bath Boules) at one of the green parks that exist throughout the city.

    The Royal Crescent (Number 1 is a museum) was a step back in time. Built in the mid-1700's and sold to individuals, some units today are privately owned and occupied while others are rented as apartments. Number 1 is a museum that contains period furniture and excellent narrations of what we were seeing. They lived well, but we like the times that we are living in.

    Love the dog in the exercise cage used to turn the meat on the spit!

    Dinner turned out to be a real treat. We enjoyed another Italian meal at the Martini Restaurant and the waiter made it very special. Seldom have we run into someone who has such a love for his work that it shows like this individual. Very prompt with our requests, the water glasses were always full, used dishes were promptly removed, and the bill came quickly. He was singing (this man was a real Italian) and having a good time serving others. Of course, he did mention that if I wanted to leave a tip, this is what I needed to do when we paid the bill. He deserved it.

    Taxi is reserved to pick us up at 0700 for a 10 minute ride to the train station. It will be good to get home even though we have both thoroughly enjoyed our trip to England.
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  • Day17

    Bath, June 15

    June 15, 2018 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

    Arriving in Bath yesterday gave us a bit of a cultural shock having been in the woods and the smaller communities for the past two weeks. We were better this morning. Nothing like a solid breakfast to chipper the spirits.

    After breakfast, we decided to do laundry in the PM, to take advantage of the early morning schedules and visit the places we wanted to see as the weatherman was calling for rain tomorrow morning.

    Bath was known as Aquae Sulis to the Romans, meaning Waters of the Sun. The Baths consist of four main features...the Sacred Spring, the Roman Temples, the Roman Bathhouse, and the Thermal Spring. Our tour included each one. The audio guide steered us through an amazing maze of twists and turns providing the history of the Baths. We walked just above the ruins on a metal walkway and parallel to where the ancient Romans must have walked 2000 plus years ago.

    The Roman engineering was a marvel as they could drain the baths, clean them, and refill via a series of gates. The dirty water was "flushed" into the Avon River (environmental engineering was not one of their things). The water must have a fair amount of iron in it as the drain that we could see was very rust colored. Believe it or not, the drains are still working as designed and built centuries ago.

    During the archeological work, thousands of coins were found and are now displayed. Their coin manufacturing was darn good given the evident detail of the coins.

    We spent three hours roaming around the Baths and then grabbed a bite at an outside cafe (coffee, pain au chocolate, and pain au raisin. This is Arlene's spelling as I would use the Spanish word for bread which is pan). Good to sit and enjoy the sights of tourists walking around looking very lost and confused, but we knew exactly where we were and where we were going :).

    Next stop was the Pulteney Bridge. One could walk over the bridge and never know that it was a bridge, but seen from the side, it became evident. Tour boats were moving lost tourists up and down the river.

    The Bath Abbey was a work of art. The stain glass and the ceiling were quite exquisite. The Abbey was founded as a convent in 676 AD, then in 1090, the Norman Cathedral was built, and in 1499 the current Abbey was built replacing the ruins of the Norman Cathedral.

    Last, but not least, is the Royal Crescent built to house royalty (perhaps we should go there and introduce ourselves). It is a huge building built in the 18th century and reminds me of the I G Farben building in Frankfurt, Germany that I recall measuring for painting when I was stationed there in 1969.

    Queen Victoria's monument was also on the list of things to see and we saw that too.

    After laundry, Arlene treated me to a half pint and she enjoyed a wine. Hit the spot!

    Dinner was at another Italian restaurant just a short walk away (I am so looking forward to driving again). Martini's was excellent and we will have another dinner with them tomorrow...our last night in Bath, as well as Great Britain.
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  • Day16

    Pennsylvania to Bath, June 14

    June 14, 2018 in the United Kingdom ⋅ 🌬 16 °C

    We really have been fortunate with the weather. It rained some during the night; I could hear what I thought was a squirrel in the attic, but it must have been rain. Guess I was thinking about the Wooton-under-Edge attempted squirrel assult that our host was contemplating.

    We had a wonderful breakfast and since it was not raining (and did not rain the entire day), we only needed our rain pants due to the wet weeds, and we each wore a rain jacket...just in case. Poncho stayed in the backpacks.

    Shortly after leaving the B & B, we had to cross a very busy highway that required 10 minutes of waiting, but we left no bodies with tire tracks. We crossed it again later, but did not experience as much difficulty.

    Views were as good as those that we've seen throughout the trip. One unusual sight occurred when we walked through what we thought was a wheat field. There was a very distinct path and the wind was whipping the tall plants in a wave fashion...like going to a ball game and the fans do the "wave". This was natural and we just enjoyed the motion for a few minutes.

    We passed a couple of men working on an old stone wall that they estimated to be over 250 years old. They were Cotswold Wardens and volunteered their time and talents to keep the trail looking good as well as to preserve the English history.

    Further on, we came across an ancient battlefield. In 1643, there was quite a battle that changed much of England...we'll let you read about it in the picture. There is a monument there, built in 1720.

    Crossing the field, we noticed the sheep all in a line. Lunch requires a certain amount of discipline so the sheep were with the program. Typical British, I guess.

    We saw another of the Iron Age Forts, this one was Little Down Hill Fort and the last that we will see. Amazing that such a large amount of history goes almost unnoticed as there were no markers, we determined where it was from the guidebook.

    We had our first good look at Bath from Prospect Stile, and it was 5k away as the crow flies. A wonderful pause from our methodical walk, we sat and enjoyed the many views. Our walk would soon be over and we wanted to savor the moment.

    From here, we walked into and across Weston (down and back up), what we imagine as a bedroom community and had a bit to go to reach Bath. We motored on finally seeing Queen Victoria's monument, then walking in front of the Royal Crescent. I'll include pictures of Bath over the next two days, but we wanted to remember our journey as a series of beautiful samples of nature...and we saw many such samples.

    Finally, we saw the Bath Abbey and the "official" end of the Cotswold Way.

    Dinner was Italian and dessert was Panna Cotta, a custard like Mexican flan, but the flavorings were much different. Hope we can try this when we get home.

    Tomorrow will be a late wakeup as the dogs need a rest.
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  • Day15

    Old Sodbury to Pennsylvania, June 13

    June 13, 2018 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    We are moving slowly this AM. The 13 miles yesterday were tough.

    Coffee in the room was eye opening and the breakfast at The Dog Inn was at least filling given that we are not wide awake yet. Yesterday, upon our arrival, I asked the bartender if people "woof, woof" when they arrive. "No", she said..."you were the first today". Made me feel real proud to be a turkey in a house of dogs!

    So we're having fun and today's walk is short...just nine miles. We shall see if the rain holds off.

    This part of the Cotswold Way is a little flatter (rolling hills, not steep mountains), and we started our day walking along rolling hills with some geogous views.

    We walked pass the Dodington House...unseen from the path, but we saw the surrounding land and the "moat" that was in front of the main drive. History tells us that it was built in 1795 for a man that made great wealth "on the backs of slaves in the West Indies".

    Our day continued to Tormarton, a small village with the Church of St. Mary Magdalene. We visited the interior and the stain glass was spectacular.

    We then walked through a series of fields with borders made of new stone. They used the yellowish sandstone that we saw earlier in the walk. Very striking in appearance. Later on we ran into some volunteers who were repairing a stone wall and we were told that it is a very expensive wall to build today given the cost of labor and material.

    Our walk went along the scarp edge once again, and perhaps for the last time. We walked around a large deer park that surrounded Dyrham House (the restored home of William lll, built around 1695 or so and maintained by the National Trust). I went up to the gate to take a picture and commented to a couple that were inside that I hoped I could avoid the bars. He said that he would be happy to take a picture for me...and then we realized we has seen each other a few days ago. He and his wife drove the Blue Ridge Parkway not so long ago and we had a discussion about that when we first met. What a coincidence!

    As we crossed several fields, some contained sheep and cows, Arlene saw a grouse (or was it a pheasant?). Cameras on cell phones would not do it justice, but I was able to capture a pretty good picture on the better camera with the zoom lens.

    We are staying in Pennsylvania (yes we are), at the Cornflake Cottage, and it is a delightful B & B. The hostess made us coffee, provided muffins, and the room has a sitting area downstairs, called The Snug. She will drive us to dinner this evening.

    Good dinner of chicken cooked in a pastry shell, veggies, dessert and wine. Hard to beat.

    Tomorrow is the last walk. Rain is expected. We've had no rain while here so getting a little in the AM will not dampen our spirits.
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  • Day14

    Wotton-under-Edge, Old Sodbury, June 12

    June 12, 2018 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 16 °C

    Another excellent breakfast with a little action to boot. While sitting at the breakfast table, our host ran outside with a scoped rifle and bi-pod feet which he proceeded to balance on the stone ledge, and aimed at something. He shortly came in without firing a shot and his wife said he was squirrel hunting. Pretty pesky squirrels and he wanted to get rid of them, but he said he did not have a good clean shot. The squirrel lives another day and out of the stew pot that was planned for him!

    We got away a little before eight and had a cool and chilly walk downhill through town (we love those downhill starts), beside the church, the creek, and started the proverbial uphill track. Glad it was cool!

    We followed the trail which was partially on the road, being careful to walk slowly due to the toads and frogs (see the pictures :).

    There was also some fog which we both were delighted with as it made the uphill effort much easier as it was cooler.

    The trail continued with excellent views on all sides. We soon came to a deep, woodsy and dark track described as an "unquiet mystery ". Go figure. Did not see anything mysterious about it except for the girl walking uphill and the high schooler who was running downhill. They both looked quite normal and not mysterious at all. Those English travel book writers are always exaggerating!

    We noticed farmers working to move fencing and Arlene suggested that they move the cows and leave the fence alone. The farmer, with perhaps a bit of sarcasm, said that he had not thought of that. Sounds like the Irish versus the English. About an hour later, we again saw them working in another field with the cows partially blocking our path. Arlene said that she liked the cows better when they were further away, and he said that he liked them best when they were between two slices of bread. Meal versus safety, but I prefer the meal idea.

    We continued walking along, just the two of us with an occasional hiker walking the other way. The fields were green and some were overgrown making walking a bit difficult. At one point, I almost stepped on a bird that must have been injured as it did not move so we captured a picture and carefully moved away. Nature does what nature does and who are we to interfere?

    We walked beside Somersault tower which was built in 1846, had lunch in Hawksbury Upton (much better than we could have imagined), walked along Bath Lane, entered Horton, met an English walker who we walked with for a couple of miles and saw him again enjoying wine at dinner, saw lots of sheep and cows, visited the church in Old Sodbury, walked through the Sodbury Fort (dated to 577 AD), and reached our destination for the day...The Dog Inn. A long day and our dogs were really tired.

    After relaxing, we had a wonderful dinner of fish and chips, and steak and ale pie. We were both stuffed and no room for dessert...that is a triple bummer.
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  • Day13

    Dursley to Wotton-under-Edge, June 11

    June 11, 2018 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ☀️ 21 °C

    A very nice breakfast, a very nice host, and two other guests enjoying a 40th high school reunion.

    A most enjoyable way to travel in England as we've met the nicest people and received much appreciated assistance. Today was no exception.

    After breakfast, and after lugging the kitchen sink down stairs, we left with a full stomach and headed uphill (we are always walking uphill, or so it seems) towards Stinchcombe Hill and the golf course. A tough uphill walk on a full stomach. *#@$##. At the top, we ran into a ladies foursome ready to tee off, but they detected a non-British accent and chatted with us for a bit, then we walked off to see the sights. A long downhill opened into a series of fields where we could see Tyndale Monument, erected to honor William Tyndale who translated the bible into English. A long pull to climb up the hill, but before we did that, another story.

    We were walking into North Nibley reading the guidebook which said to walk along The Street. That caught us by surprise...the street? What was the name of the street that we were walking along? Cannot believe the street sign that we soon passed as it was indeed, "The Street". With all the locations in England and all the famous people over the years...to call it The Street! Such modesty.

    Anyway, we were looking for a coffee and scone cafe, the Black Horse B & B was mentioned in the book, but it was closed. Bummer twice over!

    While discussing our predicament, a young man was making deliveries and Arlene asked if he knew of a coffee shop that would be open. He replied yes, that he worked at the Nibley House and he said to walk back the way we had come and at a corner, to make a left, then go by the nursery and knock on the kitchen door. He mentioned a name, but I cannot remember. Anyway, we briefly discussed not walking back, but decided to give it a try. I knocked on the kitchen door (I would call it a back door), an elderly lady came to the door and I relayed the story. She looked pleased and invited us to have a seat at the outside table, enjoy the view and she would brew us a pot. She ran a B & B so it was not quite like knocking on a private home door.

    We had an entertaining conversation and learned that she had lived there for 55 years and her husband had been there longer. We were invited in to have a look and received the royal treatment. This was special! The house was rebuilt in 1763 so you get an idea as to its age.

    Afterwards, we walked down the road to St. Martin Church which dated to the 15th century (and it needed some TLC).

    We carried on and climbed the hill to see Tyndale Monument. Quite a view from the top, then along a reasonably flat stretch meeting four folks out walking the dogs. They asked us about Trump, how concerned they were and we shared our concerns as well. No guns were drawn so we felt safe to be Americans :)

    Our way continued through the wood passing the Brackenbury Ditches (an old fort dating to the Iron Age), fields and distant views, then down the trail passing Wolton Hill, a commemorative circle of trees now called the Jubilee Plantation which provided more outstanding views of Wotton-under-Edge.

    Once we got into the village, we were discussing the directions to the B & B when our host drives up and asks us if we wanted a lift. "Sure do" was our response.

    We got there, were shown around, offered fruitcake and beverage and told to make ourselves at home.

    We did!

    We later walked into town to the tourist info center, got the story on the large painted hares (rabbits to us), checked out an ice cream shop, the alms house, and visited the church of Saint Mary the Virgin.

    We are tired and looking forward to a nice meal provided by our hostess.

    And a very good and special meal it was as we had dinner with our hosts. Conversation was interesting and we had a most enjoyable time.

    Tomorrow is the longest walk...13 miles so we are winding down.
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  • Day12

    King's Stanley to Dursley, June 10

    June 10, 2018 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

    There is always a tough hiking day for many reasons...weather, pack weight, shoes, mud, terrain and / or hills. Today was tough due to hills...steep up and steeper down. The hike was only around 7 miles, and I say that because we always wander around a bit so the mileage is longer than what the guidebook suggests. Anyway, I am ahead so let's go to the beginning of the day.

    Breakfast was not up to the quality of the Troy House, nor were the accomodations, but acceptable to us as this was a one night stay. Arlene asked for a more direct route to the trailhead as we had to leave the trail for the B & B and our hostess suggested making a right out of the drive, go straight and we would find it. OK, we did that and came to an intersection of three trails. One went left up some stairs, one went straight and was marked as a restricted way, and the third branched to the right marked as a public walking trail. I had an idea that the Cotswold Way was up and to our left, but we first took the right side trail as it appeared to climb and circle the hill, but soon it curved down and to the right so a bad choice. Next we tried the restricted way which was muddy and narrow. We saw a runner running down the trail so I thought he was coming from the Cotswold Way...we turned to walk up the trail and shortly I noticed footprints on the lefthand embankment so I climbed it, hand over hand and saw trail supports. Wonderful, "come on up Arlene", but she said "no". Soon she saw another runner running down the restricted access way and he said to walk back the mile we had already come, so I told Arlene I would meet her at the foot of the stairs that we had seen earlier. As I was walking along the trail towards the stairs, I came across a stile and on it was the Cotswold Way emblem. Success at last! She climbed the stairs and we were on our way seeing some outstanding views from the hillsides.

    We walked by the picnic area near Frocester Hill to enjoy the remarkable views and met an English couple who were out walking and enjoying the views as well. We discussed the Cotswold Way and their enjoyment of it (these folks must have been in their late 70's or even the early 80's). When the question came up as to our origin, they responded with how they enjoyed seeing Bryson City and driving the length of the Blue Ridge Parkway several years ago when they were visiting the States. Made for more interesting conversation.

    Our way took us by two more ancient burial sites dating to the Neolithic period, up the side of Cam Long Down (the picture does not do justice to the steepness of the trail) to see the distant cities and terrain, then down again to enter the really neat village of Dursley where we saw the old market house built in 1738, had a quick coffee and boiled fruitcake at a streetside cafe, and walked through the car free pedestrian area with shops galore. We went into a grocery store looking for a pumice stone and noticed some ostrich breasts for sale in the meat counter. Never tried ostrich before, but it will have to wait as the grill is not here and we are eating Italian tonight. Ahhh, another meal to contemplate.

    Our B & B is quite nice, our hostess was pleasant even though we were early, and is making dinner reservations for us. Breakfast is also planned and she gave us a tip on the walk for tomorrow. All that before 2 PM.

    The Italian meal was outstanding and we are both stuffed. Arlene enjoyed the penna pasta with chicken and I had a seafood risotto. Dessert was a custard, panacotta, and delicious. We need to really retire and do this all the time.

    Tomorrow is another opportunity to sample more wonderful scenery and food.
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  • Day11

    Painswick to King's Stanley, June 9

    June 9, 2018 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 15 °C

    Excellent breakfast. We are coming around to the thought that we are being served too much food. Arlene ate about half of her omlette and I struggled with a very large pancake...and I was asked if I would like another. Very good, but enough is enough. She even gave us two bananas to carry to eat later. We both agree that the Troy House is outstanding and one of a kind. There are 43 places to stay in Painswick and she must have the best.

    We walked down the street leading out of town, following the trail signs when we saw, running towards us, the first of 1300 runners who were doing a double marathon...all the way to Broadway Tower. We passed it last Saturday and those folks have 52 miles to run along the Cotswold Way. We're glad that we're not running. We cheered them on, holding the gates open for them and they were so appreciative that people with our funny accents would do that. What a blast to watch them.

    We told them all that they were looking good (not really, but nice to hear as we've run many races and it's always nice to hear the cheers from the crowd) so one runner yells that he had never been told that he was looking good and I yelled that we occasionally tell little white lies. His day was ruined!

    After all 1300 runners passed, we had the trail mainly to ourselves for a couple of hours, enjoying the views until two runners came blasting past us running uphill. At the top, they paused to wait for others and we inquired if they were training for next years Broadway Tower run. They said that there was a relay race next Saturday along the Cotswold Way that covered the entire length (102 miles) and they were part of one of the 113 relay teams. Each team member runs 20k (12.4 miles). That will be a tough race!

    After enjoying the 360 views at the Haresfield Beacon (an old Roman fort), we crossed a field...there to see was an ice cream stand. ICE CREAM ON A HOT DAY! The owner of the stand (said he owns three) works six months of the year and relaxes the rest. Said he was once a paramedic, but did not like the hours so he initially tried a stand, it worked out, and he purchased two more. Nice that he can enjoy life and the outside during the summer months.

    We had a couple of horses pass us in a forest, followed the trail through a vineyard, across the train tracks, across an ancient canal, pass an old (1891) textile mill and stopped at the Kings Head Pub for some refreshment before arriving at our B & B. Time to clean up and get ready for dinner...the very best time of any day (perhaps breakfast is equally important).

    We had to take a taxi to the Old Fleece Inn as the distance was too great to walk. Pretty good food so the tank is again filled and we await breakfast in the AM.

    Sleep tight and don't let the bed bugs bite!
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  • Day10

    Painswick - June 8

    June 8, 2018 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 15 °C

    Our hostess is a "hoot". She's been to America many times with her husband and has stories to tell. Basically, she loves it and would like to move there, but then her grandchildren are here so it would be a challenge to visit with them.

    The B & B is loaded with signage she brought back from the States as the first picture indicates. John Wayne is on her wall (not in my pictures) with a typical John Wayne quote, but then it's all in fun.

    A cloudy day and ideal for walking around town.

    After breakfast, we walked down the street (Painswick is built on hills) towards Saint Mary's Church looking for the tourist info center (open Monday to Friday, but closed this Friday and no explanation) as it was located in the grave diggers cottage (perhaps closed due to grave digging). Anyway, the church was quite beautiful and its history goes back to the 1300's. During the English Civil War, cannons damaged the bell tower and one can see the damage today (just below and to the left of the clock). The cemetery also contained a war memorial, for both world wars.

    We visited the few shops that were open and ran into a gentleman in his 80's whose wife was born here and remembered when, in 1941, the Germans dropped eight bombs which destroyed most of the homes along Friday Street. Quite a memory as she was about six when the bombing occurred.

    We had coffee and scones at a cafe, checked out the menus of several restaurants, but decided to again make reservations at the bistro as the food was so good and our hostess recommended also. We did not care for the other menus that we saw.

    Walked by the Painswick Hotel (told that it is a five star hotel) and enjoyed the view before we walked to the Painswick Rococo Gardens (the only rococo gardens in England). If you do not know what a rococo garden is, we challenge you to Google it. We enjoyed the walk, the flowers and the structures. It dates to the 1740's.

    Once again, dinner was a delight. Chicken stuffed with brie and ham for Arlene while I enjoyed pork tenderloin and potatoes. We can get used to this!
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