We're Coming Un-Henged

Saturday, December 04, 2004 Road Junkies 0 Comments

Salisbury, England to Asthall, England

Despite our ambitious plans to rise early, we woke at 8:45 a.m. Arriving after dark last night, we found the hotel very close to the street and assumed it was an urban setting. What a nice surprise when we looked out our window this morning to discover this lovely sight.
The hotel’s complimentary breakfast was similar to the fare at U.S. breakfast buffets, leaving us missing the “full English” we had at the Bath B&B.  Leaving the Rose and Crown, we drove to Old Sarum, the dramatic remains of the settlement that preceded the current Salisbury.
Inhabited from the Iron Age to the Norman era, Old Sarum still stands as a monument to the castle, palace and magnificent cathedral it once housed. Near the gate we met a herd of sheep, who were all standing in a group staring at us when we entered. When we left, they were lying in a group staring at us.

Since we arrived at the site a little before the official opening time, we followed others around the gate to walk the outer grounds. Quite a few locals were there with their dogs, out for a morning stroll. Shortly after 11:00, we headed toward Stonehenge.
By the time we reached this historic site, it was crawling with tourists, both foreign and domestic. We paid our fare and walked over to the henge. While it was certainly quite impressive, the mystical nature was somewhat obscured by the presence of so many tourists milling about (including us).

Avebury had been recommended to us several times, so we headed in that direction from Stonehenge, stopping along the way in a pull-out area to enjoy a picnic lunch in the car. We found Avebury to be a charming village which has been lovingly restored. In the village one can tour the former farmyard of Avebury Manor Farm, a working farm from at least the 1500s to the 1970s.
The round dovecote dates to the mid-1500s and is the oldest of the surviving farmyard buildings. Once it housed more than 500 nesting pigeons, which would have provided a source of fresh meat to the manor in winter. After touring the stone circles, we hit the road again headed for the Cotswalds.

With Rosie’s guidance, we arrived in the town of Burford, where we went to the tourist information office and asked for help booking a room. One of the women at the TI told Ken she liked to hear him talk because he has such a nice accent.
The nice people at the TI confirmed what we had heard from our Bath B&B owners.  On the “weekend break,” lots of people come into Burford to do Christmas shopping, so room availability is quite limited. Our hope to stay “in town” was dashed and we ended up with reservations at the Maytime Inn, a very rural inn in the village of Asthall.

The Maytime Inn (operated by May and Tim Morgan) turned out to be the Badtime Inn for us. By the time we arrived, the temperature had fallen well into the 30s but there was no heat on in the room when we arrived. It was turned on upon our arrival and when the room warmed up a bit, we decided to get our baths, even though the window in the bathroom would not completely close and cold air was pouring in.

The faucets were offering only cold water for our baths, so I went to the reception area and asked about the hot water. Tim acted as if we had done something to cause this problem. He mumbled something about an adjustment and walked to the back. My question “Shall I wait?” was ignored. I waited anyway, and when he returned shortly, he dismissively told me that what he had done might help but he just couldn’t understand how we could have room heat and not hot water, implying that I might be lying about it.

Finally 7:00 came when the restaurant at the Maytime opened. Since the inn was so removed from anything else, it was the only feasible place for dinner. Shortly after we walked in and sat down near the bar, a brown and black terrier entered the area where we were sitting. (We had noticed three pet dishes just inside the restaurant door.) As was his habit (before this incident), Ken put out his hand for the dog to sniff as a way of getting acquainted. The dog apparently thought Ken was offering his hand for biting, so he bit it. Fortunately, the skin wasn’t broken, but Ken had a good bruise on his thumbnail.

In addition to the dog, two cats were wandering around the restaurant, jumping on tables and exploring at will. When innkeeper May brought our food to the table, Ken reported to her that the dog had bitten him. She informed him that the dog is blind and stated that Ken must have startled the poor thing. No apology was offered.