Day 4: Left Canterbury at 8:15AM and walked to the bus over cobblestone streets for 2 blocks. We were at the back of the line and have no idea what Roy was saying because the headsets were useless. We drove to the village of Rye, where we made a stiff march up cobblestone streets with charming houses. Unfortunately, we were going so fast, there was no time to stop and take pictures. It did seem like a pretty town. There was a church at the top of the hill. We climbed the bell tower, which had some claustrophobically-narrow passages but a fabulous view of the village and surrounding countryside. The church bell, which was right below us, rang while we were there, but it wasn’t too loud and made a nice contribution to the ambience.
Then on to Pevensey ruined castle. Picturesque but one of the few places where there were lots of other sightseers. It was also one of the places where the women’s restrooms were not working. The restrooms across England remind me of a 1950s restroom at a public park—old and smelly. The worst restroom experience was at a town whose name escapes me (the main industry was the town prison), where the public restrooms required a pound. Paying to get in was fine, but there was a button you had to press to leave. Not knowing this, I panicked when I got trapped in the restroom.
We continued on the way to Beachy Head to see the white chalk cliffs, making a brief stop at Eastbourne to see a Victorian pier. It was good chance a dash to a nearby store to grab sodas and snacks.
Ended the day by arriving at Alfriston. Parked at the bottom of the hill and trekked up to the 14th century hotel, the Star Inn. Don’t know anything about the town—did I mention the headsets? Although it was a very old hotel, we had a new handicapped room in the parking lot. No air conditioning and it was rather hot. We worked on laundry but struggled to find a place to dry things. This was an on-going issue. We finally hung our shirts outside the window that faced the parking lot. Not so classy but it worked.
Day 5: We drove to Portsmouth Naval Yard. The highpoint was seeing the Mary Rose, a Tudor-era ship built by Henry VIII that sank in 1545. It was a bit Disneyesque in that parts of the ship lit up to show a figure working on carpentry or rigging or some other ship stuff. The ship is kept in a dark room, perhaps for preservation purposes. In the adjoining museum, there was a nice elderly gentleman who displayed medical instruments used to amputate arms and other limbs. He was glad to give graphic examples. It was a nice touch to the nearby skeleton of a Mary Rose inhabitant.
A plus for some of our group was that the massive Queen Elizabeth Aircraft carrier was in port. Also toured the HMS Victory and heard all about Nelson and the Battle of Trafalgar.
Had lunch at a nice, on-site cafeteria and then drove through the 1000 acre forest and saw wild ponies. And some cattle. Arrived at 4:00PM at Salisbury at the Rose and Crown on River Avon.
Day 6: This was a day that didn’t start out well, as I woke up in the middle of the night sick. I took lots of drugs and was thankful I’d packed a first aid kit. The day did not begin until 9:30AM, and by then I felt well enough to tour Salisbury cathedral. We were close enough to walk to the cathedral. As an aside, this trip was rated as strenuous and so far a couple of days had included strenuous walking. Today, was a nice, easy stroll to the cathedral.
We were broken up into two groups and given a guided tour. We had a lovely, imposing guide who loved the cathedral and had lots of anecdotes to tell. As at Canterbury Cathedral, there was some modern art--white paper origami birds hanging from the ceiling. They were there to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. The memory of that war is clearly much more vivid to Englanders that it is perhaps to Americans. We saw lots of examples of WWI memories throughout our tour of England.