Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Hello England

House Barges on the canal at The Brownlow.
When we decided to take a house sit in England, there was a mad scramble to figure out the best means of transportation from France.  My first choice was the ferry from Calais to Dover.  Reality soon set in since we would have to take the train from Paris to Calais, spend the night, then ferry on over to Dover, find the car rental then drive west to the Cotswolds. There wasn't enough time between sits to do this, so......EasyJet to the rescue! 

There are several low cost airlines in Europe/UK.  EasyJet had the best connections for our needs.  Low fares mean they have to make up the revenue somewhere, so there is a charge for each bag you check, only one carryon is allowed (they are VERY strict about this!), if you wish to reserve a seat, you have to pay extra, and all drinks and food on the plane cost you. It is best to pre-book all your bags on line, as the costs doubles if you do it at the gate!  To get my carryons down to one, I bought a grocery bag from Carrefore, put the computer and my purse inside and Viola!  a single carryon for 79 cents.  It also ended up with a single shoe in it from Bill's backpack. 

The woman at passport check in Luton airport did not have her happy face on.  Nothing pleased her.  Saying I was a tourist did not please her.  Listing the address of the first house sit did not please her.  My printing did not please her.  Finally, she stamped my passport, very, very, very hard with her big metal stampy thing and let me pass.  I smiled and said thank you.  That did not please her.

Our Vauxhall Corsa.  Someone put the steering wheel on the wrong side!
Our car is a Vauxhall Corsa.  Tiny, silver, sporty looking, a 1.2L engine, 5 speed stick with enough zoom to get us where we need to go.  Bill had a Vauxhall in the late 60's.  It was even smaller than this one, had no zoom, and was box shaped.
Courtyard of The Brownlow, the main house is where we ate breakfast, our room was through the last doorway shown.
We spent two nights in B & B's.  The Brownlow was an old inn which has been modernized.  It is on the canal system that crisscrosses England.  There were several canal boats tied at the dock, with a big bbq on the grill when we arrived.  We thought if we couldn't find a place to eat supper, we'd come back and beg off of them!  Most restaurants stop serving at 9pm, or even a bit before, as we were told at the first place we attempted to eat.  Thanks to our GPS, we did find a very nice Chinese restaurant with the best Hot and Sour soup we've had since Honolulu.  If you are ever in Leighton Buzzard, eat at the New May Fu, they serve until 11pm.  Our hostess at The Brownlow, Sue, was from Ireland, having moved here 10 years ago when she married her husband.   There were four other guests, whom we met at breakfast.  All were very friendly and talkative.

Close up of the beams in our bedroom. 

The second night was spent at Court Farm, just down the road from our housesit.  It is a farmhouse with a stone in the breakfast area dated 1655.  The beams in the ceilings were huge.  The staircase was very narrow and steep.  The walk in fireplace had a priest hole in the back.  Priest holes were constructed after Henry VIII outlawed the Catholic church.  Since you never knew who was knocking at your door, if you were a secret Catholic, you had a special place to hide the priest if he was visiting.  Hole is a very accurate description, as it is only big enough for a small person to stand up in.  The elderly couple who own the place were very nice.  The other guest, whom we met at breakfast, lived in Oxford.  He gave us several suggestions for interesting places to visit.

Bedroom at Court Farm.
We met our homeowners Wouter and Nineke, as well as 3 of their 4 children, on Sunday.  This gave us time to get the keys, meet the dog and one of the cats, and receive the tour of our new home.  They left for Turkey at 5am the next morning while we were still soundly sleeping at Court Farm.
Chocolate ready to go for a walk.

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