So Week 6 was more unpacking, putting things away and up on walls, rearranging cabinets, and getting settled. We stocked the pantry (free grocery delivery here!!) and started cooking again, and tried to order some of the things we were missing, like all the lamps and hair dryers we had just gotten rid of. We also started to transition into daycare (called nursery here), which went mostly smoothly, though he already has a runny nose. All in all, it was another week of getting settled into the house, which meant that by the weekend - I was desperate to get out of the house. So, after a little research, we decided to try our first day trip to see Stonehenge and Bath, which are located near each other in southwest England.
Stonehenge is about 2 hours from London, and Bath is about 3 hours from London. I looked into trains, but to get the timing to work out - it would have required us to stretch the trip across two days, with some wasted time waiting for trains to arrive. So we somewhat begrudgingly decided to take a tour bus - which would be faster and much cheaper, allowing us to hit both sites in one day.
We picked up the bus at 8am after a quick tube ride to the station. The kiddo was free (which is nice), but that meant that he was sitting on our laps the whole time. Surprisingly, the bus was completely packed, with both a top and bottom level and a second bus leaving at the same time. I didn't expect that many people in February. Thankfully, we brought the iPad , so he mostly watched paw patrol while I enjoyed the drive.
squished up against the window
After a quick 2 hour drive through some nice countryside, we arrived at the Stonehenge visitors center, where we picked up a shuttle bus to drive to the stones. Even though there were a lot of people there - it didn't seem very crowded because there's a wide circular path you follow to walk around the rocks. As we walked, we could use our little audio devices to listen to bit of info about them, even though really they don't know much about them at all. I had the idea that we should come for the lunar new year - but I was totally off. There are a bunch of theories about why the stones were placed here, but apparently no one thinks this has anything to do with the moon. The most accepted theory is that it was a seasonal calendar, because the sun rises exactly in one of the arches during the summer equinox and another in the winter equinox - but that doesn't make a lot of sense to me. Seems like you could've built something much smaller with easily available stones for the same function. Anyhoo.
The path was pretty muddy and long, so a stroller or scooter would not have even been an option and the boy tired out quickly from walking - so inevitably we ended up carrying him. He is literally filling his pockets with rocks these days - so everyone's backs were hurting quickly. The stones are really impressive and beautiful, and we were lucky to get a really clear sky and a beautiful day - which is really rare right now- so we used the excuse to take lots of pictures and give our backs a break.
walking towards them
Stonehenge had a new visitors center, which looked like it had some nice things to see- but there was no time for that. The bus kept a very tight schedule and actually drove off without a few people, who chased after us. We had a short 1 hour drive, so the boy took a quick nap.
Then we arrived in Bath just around lunchtime. Bath is located on a natural hot spring, so the Romans built a whole vacation destination city here, with a remaining bath house still in good shape. In the 1600s, the Georgians (who had really nice architecture) built up the city also as a vacation spot for the wealthy, using this yellow stone from a nearby quarry, resulting in a very tidy and lovely little village. We quickly ditched the group, walked around town a bit, and found lunch.
bridge over the river
spire of the abbey
the abbey and front of bath house
Then we met up the group again to go into the bath museum. It had a few exhibits about the Romans and their structure, but it was really all about the main bath itself. Of course, as a historical site, you aren't allowed to go in the water, which was very confusing for the boy who kept pointing out that it was warm water and would be a good bath tub (though it was so full of algae). With the abbey just behind it - it was just beautiful.
view from the top level
view from the lower level
explaining why he can't go in
tasting the water at the end of the tour (supposed to have magical medicinal powers)
Quick Walk around Town
Then we did a quick snack break and were lucky to catch a violinist in one of the squares near the abbey. It was just a beautiful town and would've been nice to spend a bit more time in - but we had to get back to the bus for the 3 hour drive back to London.
we don't know how to travel without pastries
going up to give change all by himself!
So I think we're still undecided on the bus tour thing. On the one hand - it was nicely timed to allow us just enough time to see the big sites all in one day. Our bus fare covered admission into both sites as well, so it was both easy and much cheaper than the train would have been. Unlike a car, they did all the driving, so we didn't have to navigate or anything and could play with our phones on the way. On the other hand- we were really tied to their schedule which was tight - so there was no way to stay a bit longer if we wanted. Most importantly, on the ride home, the boy was exhausted and decided to just melt down. There was no place to take him - so I just felt mortified for our neighbors. At least a train is a bit bigger, and we could've taken him for a walk to another car or something. Also - even though it was easy to ditch the group off of the bus - on the bus we were completely stuck. So when our tour guide wanted to just talk for hours on end - we couldn't escape him. I'm thinking we might want to try renting a car or taking the train for our next trips - but we'll keep the bus tour as an option. All in all, it was a nice getaway from the city.