We would have never guessed that the first friends from Tokyo we'd be seeing again would be Steve & Naoko. Due to the timing of Steve's holiday and the proximity of his parent's house to Oxford, we spent a wonderful day and night relaxing in the Cotswolds between Oxford and Paris. Well, maybe not relaxing all of the time since Steve was driving! We packed a lot into our less than 24 hour visit - we toured the Gloucester cathedral, sped down country back roads looking for a pub (to no avail at 5pm on a Saturday!), visited local farm animals, hiked up a hill and feasted on fish & chips.
By late June we had decided on the dates that we'd be in the UK. Tara remembered Steve mentioning that he was planning on going home in July, so she mailed him our dates and asked if his overlapped. Surprise! They did. So, Steve gave Tara his home number and we'd give him a call at home while we were at Oxford. Steve thus, had a month to prepare his parents. He didn't want them to be shocked when (gasp!) an American called their house.
Steve must have prepared his parents well, since when Tara called him, his Mum knew exactly who we were. One more call and we had all the plans set. Steve would pick us up outside Christchurch in Oxford at 10am on Saturday after our course ended.
Everything went well and we saw Steve just after 10am on the Saturday.
We had to rush back to his car as he'd illegally parked it nearby. Thankfully
there were no tickets awaiting us. However, there was a not-too-happy-Naoko
waiting in the car. She'd already been subjected to an hour of Steve's
driving! We all wisely buckled up and then sped back to Gloucester where
his Mum had lunch waiting. How nice. After we had thoroughly embarrassed
Steve by chuckling over his baby photos, all six of us headed into town
to the Cathedral.
|We enjoyed seeing Gloucester Cathedral. Seth especially
liked seeing a cathedral so soon after finishing his course at Oxford University
that focused on Cathedrals and stained glass. He had fun trying to date
the building and the glass. Most of the time he was right. Steve's parents
also knew a lot of the Cathedral's history, so we spent a long time wandering
around inside the main Cathedral and the Cloisters. Very enjoyable!
Steve, Naoko and us then headed into town so that we could do some errands. Gloucester has the typical main walking street lined with shops. It was a pleasure to be back in a typical English town.
After shopping, we decided to stop into a local pub for a pint. Steve knew many in surrounding countryside, so instead of just sitting down at a pub lining the shopping street, we hopped in the car, buckled ourselves in and roared away in search of a pub. Our searched turned out to be in vain. It was 5pm on a Saturday and there wasn't a pub open for miles.
Even though we didn't get to enjoy a pub, we did get to enjoy a thrilling ride through the countryside B roads. B roads are about as wide as an old horse path and typically overgrown on both sides with tall vegetation. Steve, being used to these narrow roads with no visibility, drove them at least four times faster than the other three of us would have.
|Since we couldn't find an open pub, we decided on take away fish and
chips for dinner - but not before we worked up an appetite. Steve asked
us if we wanted to see some nearby farm animals and walk up a hill for
a good view. Sure, why not. Especially since the pigs he was going to show
us were the biggest pigs in all of England. Well, the pigs had all gone
in for the night, but we did get to meet friendly goats.
Then we started on the "walk" up the hill. Tara was keen to do this "walk" since she likes walking up hills. However, Seth was more hesitant - since he feared Steve's idea of a "quick walk" would differ from his idea of a "quick walk". The hill was steep in sections, but Seth and Tara stopped often to rest. Seth even met a dog on the way.
Now that we were hungry, we headed out for fish and chips takeaway. Our visit to the fish and chips shop illustrated how deep in the Cotswold's we were. Seth couldn't understand a word that was spoken at the fish and chips shop. We knew it was English, but the man's accent was so thick, that he had no idea at all what was being said. Tara, being better at deciphering people with thick accents, understood maybe 50% of the questions relating to our order. In the end, we left with big bags of food and we all laughed when Steve admitted to not understanding anything that had been said even though he'd went to school with the guy in the shop!
We had a very enjoyable evening back at home outside on the patio. It
was very enjoyable to just sit around and talk for hours.
Unfortunately, we had an extremely early start since our Eurostar to Paris left Waterloo Station in London at 9am. Thanks to Steve's quick driving, though, we had time for breakfast in a roadside rest stop.
We're really, really glad that our schedules overlapped!
|Overall Experience||9||It was great to hang out with friends - especially since meeting Steve and Noako just happened to work out timing wise so well.|
|Ease of Journey||6||Steve's heart-stopping driving down country roads and the early morning start to get to Waterloo was tiring.|
|Activities||8||We really packed a lot into our time and we're glad we did.|
|Coolness||9||It doesn't get much cooler - to meet friends 1/2 way around the world because our schedules had us in the same country at the same time.|