A Smashing Good Time
Some days, everything goes perfectly. The weather cooperates, the company in which you find yourself is delightful and the events of the day inspire you. Such was my day yesterday.
Tweet drove me to a little village called Bradford-on-Avon about ten miles away from home. We went to tour, to take pictures and generally immerse ourselves in the English-ness of it all. It was my 27th day in England, and the first opportunity we’d had to go sight-seeing as a couple. I could NOT have been more pleased – even the sun came out to bless our outing.
In the interest of full disclosure, I should state here that I’m trying very hard to be a legitimate travel blogger. One of the less heartening things I discovered about myself yesterday is that I have a long way to go before I get there. Much to my amazement, I was shy! I knew that I should have been engaging more locals in conversation to learn more about their gorgeous home, but I just couldn’t muster the courage. Thus, I ended up with a lot of pretty pictures and very little actual knowledge about the place.
This is Bradford-on-Avon.
The buildings in the foreground were industrial, a mill. They are now apartments (sorry, ‘flats’) with gorgeous views and substantial price tags.
Some of the sights made me giggle. In the middle of a bridge in the center (sorry, ‘centre’) of town was a tiny, thick stone building with a single door – the old town jail, it turns out. A sign on the side of the building tells you that this is where the drunkards would be thrown at night so that the village was spared their caterwauling. I still think it might not be a bad idea.
Not far from there was a little paved dog-walking path that ran along the river itself. As a student and teacher of English literature, I couldn’t help but wonder if views similar to this had inspired Shakespeare himself as he wandered past it in his hometown, an hour away.
Some of the buildings in the center of town are so old that the brickwork is bowing out. I’d never seen anything like The Bridge Tea Room & Restaurant (circa 1675), one of Britain’s most decorated tea rooms.
The Bridge is the building on the left side of the photo – the one that looks like it’s collapsing.
Many of the shops in downtown are not accessible by car. There are tiny, narrow walkways everywhere and each is lovingly maintained and decorated. This is Weaver’s Walk, where you can find the fronts of cafes and shops.
That’s Tweet, my fiancée, on the path. I’m a terrible photographer, so I shamelessly use her to insert as much beauty into my pictures as possible.
We ended our visit at the Lock Inn, a fantastic cafe and pub near the canal. I asked the barmaid to decide what I should drink, and she gave me something called Wadworth Horizon golden ale, which was lovely. She served me a half-pint of it after noting that I’m an American. “It’s quite strong,” she commented half-apologetically and half-pityingly. Pfft, I thought. I drank it and was vaguely disappointed in how sober I felt. Then I stood up. Mysteriously, the world kept shifting to the right as I made my way back to the bar.
I had no idea what we ordered, but it was fried and DELICIOUS. One of the dips was something miraculous called ‘Thai sweet chili sauce.’ I’m in love.
I also tasted my very first ginger beer. Alcoholic and absolutely scrumptious. You see those innocent-looking pepperoni thingies? Salty, tasty and INCREDIBLY SPICY. Between half of this plate and my second half-pint, I was the happiest camper imaginable. Yes, it was a perfect day.
And then this happened.
We pulled out of an impossibly tiny roadside parking spot and smashed into an oncoming car. Nothing but our feelings and two paint jobs were hurt, but it definitely cast a pall on our afternoon.
It took us a few hours to overcome being upset about the accident, but it did make me thoughtful. Waking up this morning, I couldn’t help but remember how wonderful the day had been, not the fifteen seconds of absolute panic the accident had engendered. Had it been a perfect day? It really had been, in the end.
So what have I learned? First, that I need to be braver when I’m out adventuring in my new home. Second, that road bumps do NOT have to spoil the adventure – in fact, in a weird way, they enhance it. Stupid stuff is always going to happen; the measure of a true adventurer is in how they handle such adversity.