Golf Sabattical – England – Part 3

A Condensed guide to a sabattical in Southwest England and London:

13. Don’t pay for Roman Bath Tour

It is a known fact that we Malaysians would do anything to get a free ride. We honestly didn’t mind paying to see the famed Roman Baths Hot Springs, but we entered the back-side of the bath house, manned by a single elderly chap. When we asked him where to pay the 15 quids per person (expensive!!), he told us to just walk through the bath house to the front and get the tour ticket there. Needless to say, by the time we walked through the bath house, we had taken sufficient photos and experienced the huge Roman dining hall to pass the actual tour.

14. Do the Free Touristy Stuff

If you’re into churches (as in architecture, not church girls), Bath has a pretty good one called the Bath Abbey, or St Peter. I think. We didn’t get to go inside because they were closed for service. And in any case we were in a hurry.

Another place you could go is the royal crescent, which is just a bunch of houses that are shaped as moon crescent. It’s supposed to be an architectural wonder, but I wouldn’t know, as my whole architectural experience consist of trying to extend my house kitchen into the backyard by 8 feet.

Something closer to my specialty would be the Jane Austen Centre. Now, I’ve read most of her books and I can honestly tell you I would likely nod off to sleep for each book. I don’t really get her books, and I’ve read Emma, Persuasions, Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park. The only one I couldn’t get past was Northanger Abbey. Jane had a thing for Bath, so apparently she stayed around this area, which is near to the Crescent place. In the centre I found the solution for introducing Jane to my future kids: Comics! Marvel apparently had translated her books into comic form, which is great! Now at least we won’t fall asleep over the genteel English culture!

Finally, there’s probably a couple of tourist trap around Bath, aside from the obvious Roman Baths and Spa (get from Thailand, much better and cheaper). One that we got sucked in was this place called Sally Lunn, which is ‘World Famous’ for her Sally Lunn Bun. It’s at the oldest house in Bath, apparently built 1482. Heard of Sally Lunn? No? Me neither, so either we are not from this world or the ‘World Famous’ is as mythical as my ‘World Famous’ golf blog. Anyway, for the chinese, it’s difficult to say Sally Lunn without snickering at the surname a little. Hehe. Immature urchins.

Anyway, just take pictures but don’t try to bun, because it sucks. It’s just bread with chocolate (the one we had) and I had a hard time stuffing it in, knowing I paid an equivalent of RM30 for it.Apparently Legend had it that Sally hid the recipe at a secret compartment in the house, which was discovered by some intrepid busybody. Obviously, she hid it to remove the horrendous recipe from the face of this earth. Why must people uncover things that should be laid to rest? Haven’t they learnt from Transformers, not to dig up that old hack Sentinel Prime??

Golf Sabattical – England – Part 2

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.