A Blog of Twin Cities
Kristen and I, along with David and Brenda (Kristen's hosts) and Miriam (one of my hosts) enjoyed breakfast this morning at Fay's in Calne. It was a nice little restaurant and the food was very good. We then travelled to McArthurGlen Designer Outlet for some shopping. The Outlet is in Swindon and is in the former railway works.
A sign in Fay's
Meanwhile Barry spent the day out with Tony at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. Here are some photos from their adventures.
After our shopping and some lunch at Carluccio's in the outlet, we headed home for some down time. I spent some time with Miriam chatting in her lovely garden and snapping some photos. Here are some of my favorites.
We went to the Lansdowne Strand Hotel for our farewell dinner. I enjoyed spinach and creme fresh soup, duck leg for my main course, and a white chocolate cheese cake with mango sorbet for dessert. Most of all, I enjoyed conversation with the wonderful people I have met over the last week.
The white chocolate cheesecake
Our group minus Barry and Tony (who were on the way) and Garry who took the photo
From left: Barry, Kristen, me, Brenda, Christine, Garry, David, Tony, Miriam, Barry, and Christine
Barry with his host family, Garry and Christine
Kristen with her host family, David and Brenda
Me with my host family, Tony and Miriam
Me with Christine and Garry
Barry with Miriam
Kristen with Miriam and Tony
Calne is a beautiful town. Wiltshire is a wonderful area. I have enjoyed visiting all the attractions and learning so much about areas of the UK that I might not have otherwise explored. The most wonderful thing of all, of course, is the warm and welcoming people. I will miss all of them but am hopeful that we can keep in touch and that this is the start of some life-long friendships.
This is my final blog post (for now) as our Twinning visit comes to an end. Kristen and I will be leaving to spend a week in London tomorrow. Barry will be heading home to Pennsylvania on Monday. To see my pictures from the London portion of my trip, please follow me on Instagram @jennifer.breton. If you are interested in learning more about the Twinning program please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Today, with Christine, we travelled to Bath, a larger city compared to the areas we have been exploring this week. We took a train from Chippenham to Bath Spa. When we first got there we noticed some artistic exhibitions with umbrellas and the iconic red phonebooths had been turned into planters. After a brief stop in Marks & Spencer (large department store like Macy's in the USA), we headed to one of the main attractions in Bath--the Roman Baths.
On the way to the Roman Baths, we spotted the gorgeous Bath Abbey. Bath Abbey dates back to the 15th century. In the circle in front of the Abbey, there were several street performers who were quite good, including an opera singer.
The Roman Baths were used by the Romans in ancient times. In the 19th century the bathing complex was excavated. Today, we can enjoy an audio tour of the Great Bath and a museum filled with interesting artifacts. After we toured the Roman Baths, we enjoyed lunch at the Pump Room, which was a lovely restaurant.
The Great Bath
Some 19th century statues
The head of Minerva
Remains of the Temple Pediment (front of the temple to Minerva)
Offerings made in this water goes to support the Roman Baths
The Pump Room
After lunch, we went on an open-top bus tour and saw some of the sights of Bath, including the Jane Austen Center. The Jane Austen Center is a small museum celebrating the famous author of Pride & Prejudice, Sense & Sensibility, and two novels set in Bath, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion. I am a Jane Austen fan so this was a must-see for me. Barry and Kristen were good sports!
Our open-top bus
Some sights from our open-top bus ride
Some photos from the Jane Austen Center
A waxwork of the "real" Jane Austen
One of my favorite souveniers
We did a bit more shopping after our visit to the Jane Austen Center and then caught the train back to Chippenham. Tomorrow Barry is going to an auto show with Tony. Kristen and I will be having a traditional English breakfast and then some outlet shopping with David, Brenda, and Miriam. Then we will have our farewell dinner at the Lansdowne Hotel. I will post about those adventures in my final blog post tomorrow evening.
Today we spent a lovely day in Calne with our guide, Christine. We first started out by visiting the tree that commemorates our twin relationship. We then visited the Hub which is a library and meeting center for the town. Outside the Hub is a giant sculpture of a head. The sculpture was unveiled by Queen Elizabeth II and it is quite something!
Our Twinning Tree
The base of the Twinning Tree
The Head sculpture
The plaque for the Head sculpture
After our visit to the Hub, we spent a quiet moment remembering Tom DeFroscia, who was the co-chair of the Caln Township Twinning Committee (along with Barry) up until his death only a few months ago. We said a prayer for Tom and left a memory of him on the Beach Terrace of the River Marden. We are thinking of Tom and his wife, Patty, and dedicate our trip to them.
We then took a stroll around the town and saw sights such as St. Mary's church (where we had our welcome service), which dates back to 1185. We also spotted the Proclamation Steps, where traditionally royal proclamations were made. We saw the Almshouses, which were historically flats (apartments) provided to Calne widows in need.
The Proclamation Steps
The Almshouses (rear view)
We stopped by the Heritage Center where Tony was working, along with Ann who lives in one of the Almshouses. We spotted some Caln Township memorabilia, including Barry's old license plate that reads Calne. Ann offered to show us around her home and garden. It was truly a lovely garden! The roses were my favorite.
The Heritage Center
Barry's old plate
The Caln Township banner is center stage
Roses from Ann's lovely, award-winning garden
Tony showed us around the Council offices next. There we got a view of the town's CCTv systems. We also got to see the warrant for the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots and signed by Queen Elizabeth I from 1587. This was a highlight of the trip for me! We then headed over to the Town Hall, where we saw the former Council chamber.
I really love the Council crest--faith, work, and service
The warrant to execute Mary, Queen of Scots
Us in front of the Town Hall
The Mayor's Chair in the former Council chamber
The former Council chamber
The Town Crier (we didn't see him in person but he was pictured on the side of a bus outside the Town Hall)
We were getting hungry so we popped over to the White Hart hotel for lunch. The White Hart is owned by an American from York, Pennsylvania! We promised to come back on our next trip for "pub quiz" (trivia) on a Tuesday night.
The White Hart
After lunch we headed over to the Atwell-Wilson Motor Museum. This museum was a real treat for Barry but we also enjoyed seeing the displays of classic cars and motorcycles. We even got to sit in one (Google tells me it is a MG T-series).
I'll take it! 😉
We then headed back for a British tea at Miriam and Tony's house. I really enjoyed the scones with clotted cream and jam. I also learned how to properly eat a scone. You must cut it in half. Then put cream and jam on each half. Whether you put the cream or jam on top of the other does not matter but it does mean you are either "Devon" or "Cornwall." If you are Cornwall, you put the cream on top of the jam. I guess I'm Devon but I could get used to tea and scones however they are prepared!
Tomorrow we have a busy day in Bath touring the Roman baths, the Jane Austen Museum, and doing a spot of shopping. I will post about those adventures tomorrow evening.
Today we each spent time with our respective host families. I traveled with my hosts, Miriam and Tony, to Lacock Abbey and Castle Combe. Lacock Abbey is famous for its role in some Harry Potter films (among other films) but it is certainly more than that. The Abbey was founded in the 13th century and later became the home of William Henry Fox Talbot who developed the first photo negative.
A Harry Potter superfan (wearing his Gryffendor Scarf, naturally) was pointing out the below wall was used in the first film.
This helpful poster shows the scenes from the films.
In the Cloisters part of the Abbey you can see the below religious artwork had been bricked over. Attempts to remove the bricks were damaging the artwork so they ceased.
After we toured the Abbey, we toured the Fox Talbot Museum which tells the story of Talbot's first photographs and also had a unique art exhibition of famous sites (like the Eiffel Tower and Brooklyn Bridge) comprised of multiple small photographs.
We enjoyed lunch at The Carpenter Arms pub in the lovely village of Lacock. Lacock is completely owned by the National Trust so all the buildings are protected as historic. The village is used for many film sets. Residents cannot have dish televisions or similar to preserve the historic look. We toured St. Cyriac which is a beautiful church that dates back to the 14th century.
The Carpenters Arms pub
A beautiful home in Lacock
A Tudor-style home
This iconic phone booth has seen better days
St. Cyriac--where Camilla's (as in the Camilla married to Prince Charles) daughter got married
We next drove to Castle Combe which was named the "prettiest village" in England. I'm inclined to agree! We had tea--my first cup of tea on this trip-- at the Manor House Hotel, which was a 14th century manor house on 23 acres.
Meanwhile, Barry was enjoying an exciting day with his host, Garry. They first visited the air ambulance crew. Then they went to Stonehenge. Here are some pictures from Barry's day out.
Kristen went with her hosts, Brenda and David, to Kelmscott Manor. Kelmscott was the manor summer retreat of William Morris, poet and craftsman. He created many tapestry patterns. Here are some photos from Kristen's day out.
We all gathered at Christine's house for a barbeque complete with hamburgers and a ukulele band! While there I presented the Calne Mayor (and my host), Tony with two proclamations: one congratulating Calne on being named to the Guinness Book of World Records for largest living nativity and one to commemorate our visit. In turn, Tony presented me with a lovely print commemorating our twin relationship with Calne. We had a lovely evening meeting with some of the other Twinning members from Calne and celebrating our 35th anniversary of being twin towns.
Me reading one of our proclamations
Tony presenting me with the Calne print to commemorate Twinning
A close up of the print from Calne
Heather (chair of Calne Twinning), me, Tony, Kristen, and Barry
All of us plus Jeannette (acting Town Clerk--equivalent to the Township Manager role) and Jean (a long-time Twinning member)
Heather and Barry cutting the cake
The ukulele band featuring Garry (our tour guide through Wales) did such a great job!
Tomorrow we will be spending the day in Calne and exploring all the town has to offer. I will post about those adventures tomorrow evening.
We got up bright and early to travel to Wales today with Garry, a Welshman, as our guide. Wales is part of the UK but is a separate country from England. All signs are in both Welsh and English. We took a scenic drive with some breathtaking views of the Welsh countryside.
Our first stop was Tintern Abbey near the river Wye. As we pulled up and saw the stunning ruin it was a wow moment for all of us! The Abbey was founded in 1131 but sadly did not survive King Henry VIII during his reformation period when churches in the area were pillaged and burned. What remains is still amazing and this was one of my favorite visits today. Here are some photos because my words can't do it justice!
After visiting the Abbey, we drove to Raglan Castle. This was another wow moment for us. The castle was built in the 15th century and was the childhood home of King Henry VII. It was destroyed in 1645 during the English Civil War and is mostly in ruins. Again, I will let the photos do the talking because it was truly magnificent.
Me, Garry, Barry & Kristen in front of the castle
Barry, me, and Garry found ourselves in one of the dungeons!
Trying out the throne--I think I need one at home!
I was lucky enough to capture a photo of this beautiful bird before he flew away.
We next headed to Big Pit National Coal Museum, which was a working coal mine in the past. A former miner guided us on an underground tour where we walked in precarious conditions and in damp, dark, cramped spaces so we could understand a fraction of the conditions that the coal miners had to work with. We could not take cameras or phones underground but did get a few photos before our tour. We also enjoyed a nice lunch at the Big Pit canteen.
A train outside of Big Pit
We' had to wear headlamps, helmets, and a safety belt for our underground tour. Joining us for the photo was our tour guide and another former miner.
Finally we headed over to Caerleon Roman Fortress. This site was a Roman fortress to about 380 AD. We visited the excavated baths as well as the remains of an amphitheater. Much like the Colosseum in Rome, this amphitheater is where a crowd of 6,000 would watch gladiators fight to the death.
The Roman Baths
Remains of the floor used during Roman times
The remains of the amphitheater
Barry never hesitates to try on a costume. Here he is modeling a Roman soldier's headpiece.
After a long and exciting day we headed back to spend time with our hosts. Tomorrow we will be heading to Lacock and Castle Combe. Lacock Abbey was used in the first Harry Potter film for scenes at Hogwarts. I will post about those adventures tomorrow evening.
We started our day bright and early with Christine as she drove us to Marlborough. Marlborough is a wonderful little town and has lots of unique shops and eateries. We stopped in to The Green Dragon pub and had some (soft) drinks. After we walked around the shops for a while we headed over to Hungerford for lunch.
The Green Dragon pub
Me, Kristen, Barry, and our guide for the day, Christine
Once in Hungerford we ate lunch at The Bear. It was a lovely restaurant and we dined outside. They gave us our cutlery and condiments in a picnic basket which was very neat. Kristen and Barry ordered the fish and chips, which kept them busy as they were huge portions! I enjoyed a Caesar salad and it was quite good. Following our lunch we walked off the meal by checking out an antique shop and strolling around the town.
Fish and chips
We then headed to Avebury. The Avebury stone circles are less famous than Stonehenge but are similar in history. They were erected around 2600 BC (around the same time as Stonehenge) but you can actually walk among them as opposed to being roped off as Stonehenge is now. They have sheep around to trim the lawn as you can see in the below picture.
Some of the stones
We toured the Avebury Manor House and gardens. This is a Tudor-era building and the rooms are designed to tell us what life was like in that time period. The best part is that you can truly explore the house, and touch most things in it. You can even lay on the beds (as long as you take your shoes off)!
Avebury Manor & gardens
An example of a Tudor dress
Barry got in the spirit and tried out some regalia
Following our tour of the Manor House, we enjoyed tea time at the adjoining tea room. I had a slice of Victorian sponge cake and it was delicious! The room was charmingly decorated as well.
The Victorian sponge cake
The beautiful tea room
With full bellies and tired feet we headed back for a relaxing evening with our hosts. We have a full day and early start tomorrow as we head to Wales, including Raglan Castle, Caerleon Fortress, Big Pit, and Tintern Abbey. I will post about those adventures tomorrow evening.
Township Manager Kristen Denne, Caln Twinning Chair Barry Beach, and me getting ready for our journey to London Heathrow.
A view of the sunset over the clouds and the Union Jack design on the wing of our Virgin flight.
We arrived at London Heathrow at almost 7:00 in the morning UK time (2:00 in the morning Philadelphia time). We had to wait in the passport control line for quite a bit but successfully made it through with all of our luggage. We were whisked away to Calne by Gary who drove very fast and on the wrong side of the road! Barry enjoyed seeing all of the foreign (to us) cars. We were a little late but made it to the welcome church service at the Parish of St. Mary the Virgin. It is a beautiful old church and everyone welcomed us so nicely.
A view of St. Mary the Virgin
After church we returned to our host family's home for a much needed nap. We later had dinner with members of the Twinning group where we enjoyed great food and conversation. We have a busy day tomorrow in Marlborough/Hungerford and I will post about those adventures tomorrow night.
Jennifer Breton is the current President of the Caln Township Board of Commissioners.