We took a side trip to an animal park and garden that is near Cheltonham because I wanted to see the garden. It was pretty neat, all sorts of tropical plants, temperate ones and all sorts of desert pleants. Then we went into the Madagascar area which was fenced and roofed with strong wire and had airlock doors on each end because these guys were roaming free. The picture on the right is a baby clinging to its mother. Not something one useally sees. We were warned about those tails…they can give one quite a swipe. They have a number of different species of lemur in the park, as well as birds and flora from Madagascar.
The leaf Eric is standing by is easily four or more feet across and not the biggest one we saw.
And this spiky tree would make a good Christmas tree. The lemurs eat most of the vegetation in their compound but the guide also gives them food at certain hours so the touristas will congregate and hear about the lemurs and that the animal park and others are helping the Madagascans reforest and retrain to sustainable agriculture.
Here is a common sign around here. You will notice how quickly this deer is running to get to the other side of the road and out of the line of fire. This is in stark contrast to the deer in New England which stand in the middle of the road with their eyes gleaming evilly waiting for you to smash into them and send you both to Kingdom Come.
I can’t help saying more about the roads here. They have other interesting signs like the one that looks like a tuning fork and means that the two lane road you are on is soon to become a one lane road. There will be little divots at the sides of the road and these are just large enough to accommodate most of a car to avoid the oncoming car, or bus, or tractor…I was surprised by a 14% grade but I’m an old hand now as we went down one that was easily 18%. Besides the insanely high speed limits these back roads twist and turn and a favorite here is the little hill you cannot possibly see over that has a left hand curve just beyond the sight line and vegetation right up to the car. Eric has gotten really good at driving but we still mutter…tight left, wide right.
Now the Sublime…..
After the animal park we traveled to Bourton-On-The-Water which was lovely. There is a river flowing through the center of town with charming stone bridges one walks across. The stream is spring fed not too far up stream from there and perfectly clear. We had the best scones I have ever tasted there and that includes Sophia’s cherry scones and Sarah’s cream scones…really. Theadora told us that the ‘cream tea’ is available pretty much everywhere, a pot of tea, two scones, a small jar of jam and an ounce or so of clotted cream. Delicious. Then we drove to Lower Slaughter and it was the quintessential Cotswoldian town. Old buildings, water feature, no place to turn around.
The next day we drove to Glouster and walked the waterfront, ate dinner but before that we went to Glouster Cathedral, the seat of the Bishop of Glouster, who, I’m mighty proud to say, is a woman. We attended Evensong and why did we do that you may ask? Because it is sublime. The organ fills the church, the service is beautiful and there is sweet singing in the choir. The choir master at Glouster is a master of his craft and the choir, ‘tho composed mostly of young people, ten to about sixteen, was as professional sounding as one could wish. If you really want to get the flavor of a cathedral Evensong is the place to be. And…it happens every day, no waiting for Sunday. Here is a picture of the quire…church for ‘choir’ where the choir sings. Quires are in the chancel at the back and often separated from the nave by a screen or raised area. If you count three gold posts on the right we sat two rows back.
No matter where we drive we are struck over again by the sheer beauty of this place. Strangely, when we say we are going to the Lake District to a one they tell us how beautiful it is there. But it rains…they always add that.
What is really strange is that we have had lovely weather every day! It is warm/cool, breezy, sunny…truly, I am beginning to worry about their crops around here and this is a big farming district. Perhaps when we leave it will rain. Tomorrow we head to …..