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A Smashing Good Time

September 30, 2011

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.

View from the central bridge

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.

Jailhouse rock, circa 1600

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.

Avon calling

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.

Old, but normal-looking from the front

The Bridge is the building on the left side of the photo – the one that looks like it’s collapsing.

Definitely drippy-looking from the side, much like myself

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.

Low clearance

Door clearance is a head shorter than a person

Flowery path

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.

Made this Texan feel at home

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.


12 Comments leave one →
  1. September 30, 2011 11:37 am

    Sounds like a lovely day. You should also go and have a look at Stratford upon Avon some time, and see all the Shakespeare stuff. It’s very pretty.

    • September 30, 2011 12:02 pm

      You couldn’t be more right, and I’m VERY much looking forward to doing exactly that! We did have a fantastic day; I’m glad it shows. 🙂

      Thanks a ton for stopping by!

  2. September 30, 2011 6:25 pm

    Lovely to read your comments about our wee town. Sounds like you missed loads too. Tithe Barn, Tory, Saxon Church. And for some exercise a bike ride to Bath makes sense.

    • September 30, 2011 7:49 pm

      I did miss a lot! We were supposed to meet some friends at the Lock Inn, so we unfortunately had a time table to follow. I was really looking forward to seeing the Tithe Barn, but all it means is that I’ll have to go back! 😀

      Thanks a bunch for stopping by – your town is absolutely gorgeous and I was enchanted. 🙂

  3. September 30, 2011 7:26 pm

    so is the “smashing” a nod to the accident? at any rate a wonderful read and makes me look forward to explore the rest of the world, i have been a memphis,tennesseean most of my life but this reaffirms my belief that i need to see more of the world!

    • September 30, 2011 7:52 pm

      LOL ‘Smashing’ was indeed a nod to our accident. We’d parked in a miniscule spot on the side of an itty-bitty road, so pulling out of it was always going to be a challenge. Turns out it was too big of a challenge for us on that particular day. 😉 (I’m a Texan girl myself – I’d never SEEN roads or ‘parking spots’ so small – I have no idea how people do that *without* crashing every single time. My hat is off to the drivers here.)

      Thanks for the encouraging words and I really appreciate you taking the time to stop by! If you ever get the chance, I’d highly recommend coming to see this part of the world. You won’t be disappointed. Cheers!

  4. October 1, 2011 2:26 pm

    sunny day..

    • October 1, 2011 2:27 pm

      Indeed, we’ve had summer weather all week. 🙂 Barbeque tonight!

  5. October 2, 2011 1:19 am

    Never been there myself but I may have to take a trip one day as that place looks gorgeous! It’s one of those places that likes to keep to its routes, there’s a few places near Chesterfield that are like that such as Bakewell and Buxton (Where they have free water!)

    Thanks for posting photos, it’s brightened up my weekend! 🙂

    • October 3, 2011 11:41 am

      I would seriously recommend visiting Bradford-on-Avon if you ever have the opportunity – it was lovely, the people were friendly and the food/ale were wonderful. I’m so pleased you liked the pics! Pics from my micro-tour of Bath coming soon – I hope you enjoy those as well.

      Thanks again for making my day, Pete. 🙂

  6. October 3, 2011 11:07 am

    I enjoyed your post, as I love English villages, at least the ones I cruised through in the South of England a couple of years ago. They are so picturesque and well kept. Just start talking to the locals; you have the advantage of speaking the language, sort of 😉

    • October 3, 2011 11:44 am

      Heya, Miss Footloose, so glad you could drop by! Aren’t these little villages amazing? And you’re SO right about them being well-kept – it’s proof positive of the locals’ pride in their home and their land. I find it absolutely inspiring.

      LOL I do try speaking with the locals whenever I can work up the nerve. They do scare me a little bit, but I have to say that not a single one of them has been unpleasant in the slightest and they’ve all been very understanding when I requested that they speak more slowly and possibly use visual aids to help me understand them.

      Thanks for the visit and the encouragement – I really do appreciate it. 🙂

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