Sunday, September 30, 2012

Southampton and beyond

I did not realize I have such a large family. After only having mum, dad and the boys for so many years it is delightful to get to know my extended family - up to third cousins on my dad's side. Of course this has led to a lot of visiting, lunches and dinners. Little time for sightseeing, walking nor taking care with my eating habits. Oh I promise to get back into the groove again! We had a Rammoli night with buffet dinner and lots of snacks. One night was at my auntie Chris's for a lovely dinner with her son Nick. She made a delicious steak and mushroom pie and even spelled my name with pastry on the top. The next night it was off to the local carvery for a girl's night out with aunts Joan and Chris, cousins Geraldine and Jane as well as third cousin Isabelle who has just turned sixteen and she is an absolute doll, such a ray of sunshine - I may steal her and bring her back to Canada with me! Friday night Geraldine and her husband Harry took me to their local pub and then back to their place for a lasagna dinner - well I can only say I am eating much more than I did in China! It has been so interesting listening to my aunts and uncles talk about the war and what they endured with evacuations and bombings. Having to leave their homes for bomb shelters and when they return their homes were no longer there. How lucky we are to come from a country and generation who has not had to experience this kind of horror!




















I have also have driven into Winchester and visited king Arthur's round table. Winchester is the former capital of England and home of Winchester cathedral - one of the largest cathedral's in Europe. My mum always wanted to live in Winchester and I can see why it has all the modern conveniences but in keeping with a small English town flavor.


The Round Table is King Arthur's famed table in the Arthurian legend, around which he and his Knight congregate. As its name suggests, it has no head, implying that everyone who sits there has equal status. Between 1222–1235, Henry III (who was born at Winchester Castle) added the Great Hall, built to a "double cube" design, measuring 110 ft by 55 ft by 55ft. The Great Hall is built of flint with stone dressings; originally it had lower walls and a roof with dormer windows. In their place were added the tall two-light windows with early plate tracery. The stained glass are in the knight's coat of arms. Extensions to the castle were made by Edward II. In 1873 the roof of the Great Hall was completely replaced.

An imitation Arthurian Round Table hangs in the Great Hall. The table was originally constructed in the 13th century, and repainted in its present form for Henry VIII; around the edge of the table are the names of King Arthur's knights.


Behind the Great Hall is a re-creation of a medieval garden called Queen Eleanor's Garden.








Today my dad's cousin and his wife (Joe and Janet) picked me up to take me to their home in Somerset. Somerset is in the country about 70 miles from Southampton . Somerset is full of small villages, joe and Janet live in Henstridge (try to find this village on a map). On the way to Henstridge we stopped in the town of Salisbury to visit the cathedral and Magna Carta. This is a 13th century cathedral with britain's tallest spire 123m (404ft). The finest of only 4 surviving original Magna Carta (1215). World's oldest mechanical clock.

Well the spire is certainly impressive from the outside.. However we found the inside to be a bit of a hodge podge and less impressive especially the donated wooden chairs on steel frames took away from the ambience of such a grand cathedral. This is also the home to the best preserved of four surviving original Magna Carta sealed by king John in 1215. Written in abbreviated Medieval Latin on vellum (calfskin), the document set down for the first time the relationship between the King and his subjects and their rights. The Magna Carla's significance in the democratic world today, inspiring documents from the United States constitution to the universal declaration of Human Rights.

As for the clock we could not see it as the face is missing and only the mechanics are still in place - so much for the world's oldest clock!




















We arrived in the village of Henstridge - joe and Janet live on what use to be called the Church Farm right next to the village parish. Below is the view out of my bedroom window.


The church farm was a large farm in the village - the land has been sold off and a developer built cottages (more like homes than cottages as we think of cottages in north america) on the previous farmland. This is now the fate of many farms in the UK.







The cottage where I am staying.










A walk around the village this morning.



The vicker going to the parish for mass


Local Pub -1500 pubs in the UK have closed down over the last couple of years due to no smoking inside pubs as well as stricter drinking and driving laws.













Joe and Janet's back yard. On the other side of the wall is a graveyard!


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