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From Cheltenham

Guys, pretty soon I’m going to be spending so much time writing this blog and downloading pictures that I won’t have time to go out and sightsee. So I’ll have to cut back at some point. But not yet, because it’s fun.

Though in fact there’s not that much to say, you’ve seen it all. After Nicola and I had our grand reunion and toured Bath, we ate lots of lasagna in Swindon and watched telly with her daughter. The next day – stunning again though rain was predicted – we went to Stonehenge and then to Avebury. Those stones are truly extraordinary, speaking through the millennia, extremely moving. And just being in this beautiful country, my mother’s homeland – it’s hard to believe how beautiful it is in spring, the depth of the green, the flowers, the villages with their tiny streets.
We visited Nicola’s 90-year old mother, who lives alone, is lively and energetic and a great gardener happy to show me around – we had a long discussion about clematises. (Is that the plural?) She remembered me from Christmas 1971, which I spent with them when Nicola brought me home from London with her for the holidays. Nicola’s Mum said I went on about my big feet and how I was looking for shoes and having trouble. How disheartening that some things never change.
Penny came to get me this morning – what day is this? Tuesday. And so I transferred from one friend to the other, just as the heavens opened. It was very cold and wet all day, though we were lucky – it stopped long enough for us to tour the ancient town of Cirencester, once a Roman town. It has a very good museum which showed life there from prehistory through Romans through various other invasions to Anglo-Saxons to Normans and on. We drove on through the gorgeous green countryside and the rain, which stopped long enough for us to visit the almost unbearably perfect village of Chipping Camden, with its houses, shops and church of ancient yellow stone.
And then through the rain to Cheltenham, where our small hotel had upgraded us to a two bedroom flat. We left to explore in the drizzle – found a movie theatre where we were thrilled to see that “The best exotic marigold hotel” was playing; we bought tickets for later and went off to buy some groceries and make some dinner in our flat. The streets were full of very young girls dressed as hookers, in skimpy dresses with preposterous heels and tons of makeup – I thought it was some kind of costume show until I asked, and one of them said a club was opening, and they were all going. Unbelievable – some of them had to take off the shoes and walk through the wet streets in their stockings. Ah well. Not my daughters.
We got lost, so I stopped to ask a nice man for directions. We had a great chat – he had a beautiful Irish accent and a beautiful Irish sweater and I fell in love – and he told us he’d just come from dinner at Jamie Oliver’s restaurant. He told us it was very reasonable and you don’t need a reservation, so off we headed, and he was right. The food was fresh, simple, delicious and reasonable, we had a carafe of wine and bruschetta with funghi and then pasta and headed happily off to see a most marvellous movie, warm and funny and moving, with the best actors in the world.
And when we got out, it wasn’t raining.

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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