The excitement surrounding this day had been building up for weeks. It was the boys’ second visit to our Lincoln home in the UK and Liz’s first trip to Europe. Steve and I arrived at the airport with plenty of time to find out which terminal they would be arriving at. Most international flights come into Terminal 3, but there was nothing on the boards about their flight. A roaming information person told us that we should go to Terminal 1. Luckily it was only a 15 minute walk between terminals.
At the Terminal 1 waiting area, the first stop was a visit to Costa Coffee, keeping an eye on the arrivals monitor. Their flight was showing an arrival of about 30 minutes early, as the jet stream was working overtime. As the estimated arrival time approached we finished our coffees and stood by the railing where the new arrivals would appear. And stood. And stood some more. Arriving passengers have to exit the plane, walk quite a distance to get to Immigration, get their passport stamped, walk further to the luggage claim to get their suitcases, thru the customs “Nothing to Declare” area and finally through the doors to the arrival area. Oh yeah, let’s not forget the small duty free shop that you have to walk thru before you get to the doors. About an hour later we greeted them with a big hug and kiss.
Steve and I planned out the whole trip the month before. We had many places to visit in a short amount of time ~ they were only here for 10 days. There was no time to waste so we drove east from London Heathrow airport directly to our first stop in Avebury. Avebury is a World Heritage Site made up of a number of prehistoric monuments in an area of a few square miles.
We packed sandwiches and other goodies along with bottles of water for the drive from the airport so that we did not have to stop for lunch, giving us more time to spend at our destinations.
These areas had torrential rains a few weeks before causing major flooding in this area of the country. In fact, it wasn’t until that day that we knew for sure if we were going to be able to get to Avebury. The satnav (GPS) took us through the small winding roads of the countryside and they became muddy and wet, so Steve had to drive slowly through this area. Then as we got closer the road went up hill a bit and there were less puddles of water on the road, however the whole area was still a bit under water.
We followed the signs for Avebury and drove up to a field dotted with loads of large rocks. We pulled off to the side of the road and parked the car. There were puddles of water around the car and it was cold and windy. We all got out and put on our coats, scarves, gloves and hats and walked to a gate in the fence leading into the field, which was wet and muddy. Steve and the boys toughed it out and walked through the field lined with rocks.
Liz and I took a few pictures and got back into the car. It was the first time that we had an opportunity to talk since they landed a few hours ago. We had a great conversation as we waited for the guys to return from their walk in the field. They walked the length of the field in about half an hour.
We then headed down the road a few miles to see Silbury Hill, Europe’s largest man-made prehistoric mound. As we drove up to it, you could see how big it was. We pulled off the road to the small parking lot and opened the car doors to a cold wind. We again bundled up with our scarves, hats and gloves and walked down a wet pavement path that took us to the observation point of Silsbury Hill.
After reading the information board and taking a few pictures, the boys decided that we would walk to West Kennel Long Barrow, about a mile down the road. It ends up that there was a closer place to park after all, but we did need our exercise, even in this cold, wet and windy English weather. The field that we needed to walk through to get to the mound was flooded and partly under water. Jonathan and Joshua staked out the area to see if there was another way around to walk up the hill to the Neolithic tomb. It was fenced in, so the only way up the hill was to walk through the field which had turned into a small lake. The boys were determined to see it and decided that they would take off their shoes and socks and roll up their trousers and walk across this lake, across the small bridge to the dirt path that would take them up the hill.
When they got to the path they put their socks and shoes back on and continued walking up the hill. Now remember that it was freezing cold, so Steve, Liz and myself walked back to the car and drove back to the closer parking area and waited until Jonathan and Joshua returned from their adventure, about an hour later. When I saw them coming down the hill I jumped out of the car to take a few pictures of the two of them. You can imagine the conversation we had as we drove to Stonehenge, our second stop. They were very happy that they did it.
It was about a half-hour drive to Stonehenge, where we parked at the visitor centre and were welcomed by a guide who gave us some information about visiting Stonehenge.
Since it gets dark so early at this time of year, the Stonehenge site closes at 4pm and it was already 3:30pm. We decided to come back the next morning as we had planned, and already had reservations at a hotel close by.
Stonehenge is an English Heritage Site. It is a bit disappointing that there is a rope around the stone monument stopping people from getting close and touching it. We have lived in the UK for nearly five years but until now had not visited Stonehenge.
I have to say that it was quite awesome, especially viewing it from the road as you approach it.
The hotel was in the village of Amesbury, which was very quiet in the lull between Christmas and New Years. The main road circled the main part of the village and we drove around the circle three times before choosing a local pub attached to a small hotel. We were prepared for a Fawlty Towers experience, but the staff was well organised and we had a very enjoyable dinner. Pretty good for the first full day of the kids’ ten day visit.