Continuing some travel monologue in England:
5. Stay at a small town
England is littered with small towns here and there. One of the destinations we had was a place called Dorchester, right in the heart of Dorset. Dorchester doesn’t have too much to do, not unless you are a Thomas Hardy fan. Who? Thomas Hardy? Ain’t he the guy from the movie Inception and the Warrior?
No, that’s Tom Hardy. Thomas Hardy is a dead poet and literary figure who wrote books like The Mayor of Casterbridge, Tess of D’ubervilles, Far from the Madding Crowd etc.
Quite a guy. Basically, he based his stories on a fictional place called Wessex, which itself is based on the landscape around Dorset, so he’s pretty popular around this region. As it is, aside from hacking golf courses, I’m a big fan of his books, which incidentally taught me more about writing and speaking English than all the 10 years of education in the Malaysian school system, both primary and secondary.
So anyways, Dorchester is actually what Thomas Hardy calls Casterbridge is his novels. There’s a walk around town for all the relevant buildings and landscapes used in his stories. It’s quite a yawnfest unless you are a Thomas Hardy fanboy like me.
6. Stay at an Inn
Or a B&B. We chose one of the oldest hotel in town because I wanted to do the walks, but if you like, stay at a cottage B&B to experience English countryside.
7. Visit a church graveyard
It might sound dark and sinister, but we went to visit the burial site of Thomas Hardy (well, I did, dragging my wife along). We weren’t supposed to enter (for clergy only), but we unlocked the gate and strolled through anyway and took photos of the Hardy graves. Not your idea of a typical holiday, ain’t it?
8. Take a stroll in the woods
English countryside experience is not complete until you take a walk in the woods. Late Autumn, early winter is especially pretty, with the trees shedding their leaves all over the trail; the summer crowd all but gone; we didn’t see a single person in our half hour walk through the woods. Back in Malaysia we would be fearful of thugs coming to rob us.
9. Visit Hardy’s Birthplace
Only if you’re a fan, that is. I completed the pilgrimage to Dorset by visiting his birthplace, his grave and his home where he would write his books. It’s easy being a fan of a dead guy who writes poems and novels a 100 years ago….there is very little competition and restrictions!
10. Visit the Naked Giant of Cerne Abbas
Cerne Abbas. This is where you have the naked fertility giant chalked into the hills by ancient tribes. The story goes that even today people would illegally go into the hills where the chalk giant’s big dongle is and have sex in order to get kids. It’s weird. But the giant is really a sight to see.
Unfortunately due to the fog, it was tough to make out, so I took the liberty of going into the village and taking a close up of one of the souvenirs:
There you go. It’s hilarious.
11. Have English Cream Teas
You won’t get anything better back home. Go to any small village and enter a tavern, or a cafe and have the cream teas, which is like a value meal with tea, scones, butter bread and additional english condiments. It tastes amazing, and I don’t even like scones.
12. Head to Bath
Bath is one of the best towns west of London. It’s steeped with Roman history and of course, the famed hot springs for Spa and Bath, from which I suppose it derived its name. It’s a bit jammed up in Bath though, and the streets are horrendously confusing. Also, parking sucks there, so be careful. We found this excellent B&B called Three Abbey Green, which is simply great value for money stay. It’s located in it’s own little section in the town with cobbled streets, surrounding a giant tree. It’s pretty cool.