One Click Translation!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Wickham, England, U.K. – Mar. 24-31, 2012

There comes a time when a little extra money spent is worth its weight in gold.  If not gold, then certainly counseling fees.  We encountered this moment on the first full day of our eight day stay in Wickham.

We had come down to southern England to prepare for Salt & Pepper’s arrival.  We knew we had to deal with propane tanks, black tank dumping solutions and the electrical change-over.  So we came in a week ahead of S&P with a primary mission to visit as many RV Supply stores that we could dig up.  Unfortunately we had the added task of visiting the local Sony store as my laptop had stopped working unless plugged in.  But before I get into the compelling details of our errand-running, first a few words about the delightful town of Wickham.

With no intention on our part we landed ourselves in quite a yuppy town; rounding out the English village requirements of tea-shop, butcher and baker, is a wine bar, two (yes two!) Indian restaurants and a barber, all attended to by happy people hopping out of their Porsches.  Plus on Thursdays a Fishmonger comes to the central square with fresh fish from Portsmouth.  (We bought salmon yesterday.)

But back to work:  On our first day we headed out to Portsmouth in Curry with the intention of visiting at least three if not four businesses.  Now, I’ve already written about how tiring it is to always have to find your way around, but add to that driving a rather large vehicle (Curry) down narrow streets (Portsmouth) and then trying to park the darn thing (blimey!) and we were just about dead after only two stops.  After the third, I had had enough.  We stopped for a quick lunch and then headed directly to Enterprise Car Rental. 

We assumed it was going to cost a fortune but at only £14.00/day our small, black, almost completely round car (immediately named The Peppercorn) turned out to be the deal of the day. 

So for our final errand we zipped down the M27 in Peppercorn, leaving Curry parked along a side road outside of Portsmouth.  What a treat!  It maneuvers!  It picks up speed reasonably quickly!  You don’t hear the dishes banging around!  The Noses, too, were thrilled as they no longer had to worry about the Kleenex box flying down on their heads while en route.

So Peppercorn has become a part of our lives.  Taking a day off of errands (there is a lot to do, believe me, and most of it involves trying to locate the stores) we headed up to Stonehenge for the day.  A nice short drive landed us in the area just before lunch.  It being another (incredibly) sunny day, we stocked up on some picnic supplies and headed to the site. 

Alan was fortunate enough to visit Stonehenge many years ago when you could actually walk among the stones.  Those days are long gone.  We were prepared for the new walkway around the outside of the stones but we weren’t prepared for the fact that the path was about 20 yards away, they didn’t allow dogs, and it cost £8.00 per person.  So we opted to gaze at it through the chain link fence for free.  Alan said, “I feel like The Cheap Tourist” earning my retort, “I feel like The Smart One.”  You have to be able to make each other laugh to enjoy this lifestyle!

The picnic area was full so we opted to drive a few miles away to Woodhenge, a lesser known heritage site where archeologists had uncovered wooden pillars which had been set in a swirling circular pattern.  The wood pillars have long since been replaced by cement, but it was interesting none-the-less. The parking area was near empty, dogs were allowed inside and so we walked around the pillars a bit then sat in the sun for a nice picnic.

Heading home we stopped at Sarum Castle and I developed my first English Pet Peeve:  They shouldn’t have signs saying “Castle” unless you can actually see a castle.  Live.  Not just in your imagination.  Sarum was mostly an imaginary one, although the hilltop setting was beautiful and we were allowed to run The Noses through the fields much to their delight.

Our home for the week, the Caravan Club Rookesbury Park, has the most incredible dog run—it is almost the size of a football field and fully fenced.  In addition, the park is nestled next to the Bere Forest through which we spent many happy hours romping around.  I’m not sure The Noses will enjoy our move to the Novotel Hotel in Southampton for our remaining Salt & Pepper-less days, but I know I will!

Hoping to pick them up on the 3rd – 4th at the latest.