Friday, August 16, 2013

Salisbury Plain to Pitney and family history

From Brighton to Pitney is a sizeable trip in British terms but we decided to do it in a day - and visit Stonehenge - AND see Salisbury Cathedral! We managed to do all these things and still arrive at our destination mid-afternoon.

To digress, when we first picked our car up (a small five speed manual Peugot) we were in Dartford and very near the M2 and the A2 connecting London with Dover. We must confess that we found it challenging and stressful getting our way around - never seen so many large trucks doing between 70 and 80 miles per hour, and where a minor mistake could mean miles out of your way. Anyway, by the time we drove to Pitney the traffic was not so congested and we started to relax a little.

Our first stop was Salisbury Cathedral which again was awe-inspiring. They are all awe-inspiring - that's their raison d'ĂȘtre - but this Cathedral's additional draw card is that it has one of the original copies of the Magna Carta. The Magna Carta is of course, a very significant step in the development of democracy and the Westminster system of Government. We were quite impressed to see it, even though we couldn't read it as it is written in Latin.

We drove on to Stonehenge where we became very excited!! We had became members of British Heritage at Dover Castle and this meant that we didn't have to queue at Stonehenge, and walked past everyone including a large tour group! It also meant we didn't have to pay. Let me tell you, it doesn't get much better than this.

So into Stonehenge. Now, Stonehenge is something that I believe should be on everyone's bucket list. It is fascinating and inspires its own awe. But one of the most interesting things about it is that we do not really know why it was constructed. Most of the past theories about it being a giant mystic calculator or (place your favourite theory here) have been discredited. So, it just is... It is merely one sign post on the road of mankind's evolution.

But I will say that it is photogenic.

We got to our B & B in Pitney mid-afternoon and - didn't unpack as there was no furniture or room in our room to unpack! At this stage we were literally living out of our suitcases. We had dinner at the local pub (three kilometres down the road). It was very popular and busy, and we had to share a table with four other patrons.

The next day we went up to the Pitney Farm Shop because every time Judith asked about her forebears, everyone said: "Oh you should speak to Lizzie up at the Farm Shop". So we went up first thing only to find that Lizzie was on holidays! However, the lady standing in for Lizzie said that we should talk to Lizzie's mum so she went across the road and got her.

Well, Lizzie's mum (Joan) already had her computer open at so she invited us over to her place. Judith and she had a right old chat, along with Joan's husband - and a few forays into and some copies of old census results. After a cup of tea and coffee David took us down to the local hall and the Anglican Church for a good look around. It was a very fruitful morning for Judith and with a very hospitable and helpful couple.

In the afternoon we drove to a little village called Puckington (which was crying out to be included in a limerick!) and we looked at the village church from the outside. In the mid 1800's, the curate's daughter ran off with the stable boy who was a Whittaker. They married in London and sailed to Wisconsin - Mills & Boon eat your heart out.

The next day we drove to Bevington, near Bristol, to stay with our friends Paul and Josie who were exchange teachers in Ballarat sixteen years ago.


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