*Um, I’m not swashbuckling or anything, so don’t get your hopes up!

**I’d also like to note that this is very rambly. TL;DR version: I went to Salisbury, saw the cathedral and museum and Old Sarum.

***I’d also like to note that while I usually edit these things before posting, there simply isn’t time. I’ve got to run down and eat, then go to Boots (to get sunscreen, since I’m biking all day) and get back in time to check out and meet the tour organizers for my bike tour. Phew!  (Also, I woke up at 6:50. Go me!)

So this is it, here I am. I managed to make it to England, and I’m sitting in my hotel room using the hotel room wifi to accidentally wake up Jasna and them while trying to call Bojana, but that’s all good. I’m exhausted, but I jumped straight in and went for it, so it’s all good.

The flight was at 10:40 pm, so, as always, I arrived 3 hours ahead of time, ready for the security circus that usually awaits. Of course there wasn’t one, and I breezed through and found myself with nothing to do for several hours. The thing you should do, Chris, I hear you saying to yourself, is write! You have a perfect opportunity! The departure lounge is empty! You’ve got a seat next to a plug! That you picked specifically for plugging in the laptop! (This is foreshadowing, if you’re wondering what the heck I’m doing. ) But no. I read The War of the Worlds, in anticipation of spending 30 minutes in Woking looking at the tripod sculpture in front of the HG Wells conference centre. People began to filter in, and eventually we had a full flight. Boarding was a breeze, everyone paid attention, didn’t have special “oh gosh, ground crew, treat me like a king” tendencies, or, better, “I don’t know where the flight is because I’m on my fifth martini” tendencies, and we were loaded and on the runway right on time. The person sitting next to me even went out of her way to be petite. Luxury.

I was plenty exhausted, what with all the outdoor work I had done during the day; I felt a little heat-stroked for sure. As soon as the seat-belt sign was off, I popped my headphones in and listened to the Canterbury Tales audiobook (sorry Chaucer). I was out in a flash, only to be awoken an hour later by the flight attendant rubbing my arm and asking if I wanted something to eat. Now don’t get me wrong, I like a good arm rub, and I like a good eat, but I never ever get to fucking sleep on planes, and I was sound asleep. Son of a!. Anyway. I told her no. Thanks. I was surprised she was offering, since the flight left at 10:40 pm and was arriving at 10:30am. Wouldn’t it make more sense to have breakfast? I must have said something along those lines, because she told me there would only be banana bread for breakfast, so if I wanted to eat up, now would be the time. I did not want to eat up. At this point it dawned on me that I hadn’t written! I pulled out my phone and started furiously tapping away, trying to add something coherent to my body of work. Ha! I haven’t looked at it yet, but it’s probably laughable. I have a feeling the flight attendant was worried I was writing some screed against her, since I had an angry ( at myself) look on myself the whole time I was tapping away. She left a banana bread for me without waking me up in the morning, and when I did wake up, she gave me not only a coffee, but an orange juice as well. I looked around, making sure I was still on an Air Canada flight. (I joke. People complain about Air Canada a lot, but I have to think that’s because they haven’t flown on any other airlines.)

Deplaning was a snap, people were polite and non-jostly, and because we gated at the new terminal 2, we actually only had to taxi for a couple of minutes to the gate, rather than the marathon of hope the plane took the last time I flew into Heathrow. Though anything’s better than Frankfurt. I’m convinced that the landing strip Air Canada uses in Frankfurt is actually in Munich or something. I digress. It was a hella walk to customs, but again, no one was there, and I was through in less than 5 minutes. Another hike (including 2 lifts) and I was at the central bus station. On my way I stopped at a Boots and grabbed a Lancashire cheese and beetroot chutney sandwich. Seriously. £10.50 later and I was on the bus to Woking, munching on my surprisingly delicious sammie. Once the thrill of that was done, the thrill of the M25 London Orbital Motorway kicked in, and I dozed off a bit. Not so much that I missed my stop, though. In fact, the route once the coach left the LOM became quite interesting, with horses and weird houses and all that good stuff of semi-rural, London-outlying England. I saw the fighting machine from the bus, and decided, once I realized that the tripod was on the other side of the train station from me (requiring lugging my luggage down and then up several flights of stairs, twice), that what I had seen of it was good enough. This turned out to be a very good decision. I caught the next train to Salisbury, 10 minutes after I had arrived and 40 minutes before the one I was going to take. I had a coffee and some prawn cocktail crisps from the trolley, and chatted with an american couple that sat opposite. I made a blunder during this conversation. I conflated Salisbury Hill (aka Old Sarum) with Solsbury Hill (aka Peter Gabriel). Oop. I hope they never look it up! ;). Solsbury hill is a place, and it is, like Old Sarum, on the Avon, and it’s an Iron Age hill fort. And it’s almost spelled the same gosh darn it!

My Hotel

Anyway. I’m staying at a theological college directly opposite the Cathedral, which is fun because they lock the Cathedral Close at 10, so if I wasn’t so godawful tired, I’d have to get a key to get back into the neighbourhood. Heh. I dropped off my stuff, and got into some lighter clothes, as I had been roasting outside. I stepped out, and was confronted with massive gusts of chilling wind. And I in my shorts and t-shirt. Nonetheless, I visited the Cathedral like this, and got a private guided tour and all, by a disapproving guide. She didn’t disapprove of me, to my face at least, but she didn’t like what anyone else was doing in the church. She was, basically, my mother. She handed me off when we got to the Chapter House, so I could talk with someone who was more familiar with the Magna Carta, which they have on display there. Totes Awesome!

After that, the Salisbury Museum with their new Wessex Archaeology exhibit. Note the title. Yup, Phil Harding himself, and his hat opened the exhibit. Alas, that was three weeks ago, so I didn’t get to meet him, but there was another gent from the west country there, so he was a reasonable replacement.

After I had finished that, I checked the time and discovered that I had just enough to hike up to Old Sarum and check it out (I was going to go anyway, but not go in, but it closes at 6 in the summer, so I had time to go into the castle itself, wheee!). Nota Bene: I whistled, incorrectly, Solsbury Hill the _ENTIRE_ time I walked. It was a worthwhile, though brief encounter with an iron age hill fort turned into motte and bailey, and I learned a valuable lesson. Unless you want to scramble, there’s no way out of an iron age hill fort turned into a motte and bailey except for the way you came in. I had gone to it via the road, but I wanted to go back walking along the Avon, and while it took a while to get to it, get to it I did, and enjoy the walk, I did.

Salisbury from Old Sarum

Once I returned to Salisbury, I found myself famished and thirsty, so I went to “The King’s Head Inn”, aka a Wetherfield pub, and had a Taylor & Young SOS and a plate of sausages, peas, onions, and potatoes. I stumbled back to the college, and found my room and passed out on the bed for 45 minutes, bringing my total sleep for the day to 3 hours and 45 minutes. I’m feeling a bit too chipper right now, though. This is problematic because it’s 11:35pm, and I have to get up early enough to: Eat, shower, clean up, repack, check out, leave my bags in the checked bags room, and meet my cycling people all for 9:30am. And food is 8-9 am, so at least there’s that little bit of space. I figure at long as I’m up by 7:30, I’ll be able to accomplish everything. It’s not as if I’m going to spend an hour eating an english breakfast, is it? I hope not. That would be some english breakfast, though I do want to be a little bit stuffed to the gills to help with the pedalling thing…