The idle ramblings of a Jack of some trades, Master of none

Jun 4, 2010

Salisbury Trip

We took a day trip to Salisbury yesterday. The Wiltshire county's tourism board had many swell things to say about the place, touting its proximity to Stonehenge and the abundance of Iron Age artifacts and the loveliness of the Avon. It was a beautiful day too, and the train ride not onerous at all. Soon after we arrived, though, it all began to go downhill.

The first reason for that, I have to confess, is that the station is on slightly raised ground. The next reason is that the River Avon is hardly a river. It barely qualifies as a stream. In fact, it's more like a narrow canal. Assured of a fine walk by it to Old Sarum, that Iron Age fort I alluded to above, we followed the river upstream.

Initially, it looked fine. There was a nice swirling noise, the odd swan, ducks. Locks blocked off the water at places; at others, it rushed out beneath rushes at speed.

Then it began to go sour. We had to cross three roads, look into the ugly backyards of several ugly houses, go beneath an overpass, nip around a massive leisure centre, and walk by a decidedly ugly school-ground. (And all this was supposedly the Avon Valley Local Nature Reserve. I shudder to imagine what it would look like were it not a reserve.) The riverside walk in Winchester was far, far prettier.

At any rate, I was looking forward to leaving all this urban mess behind me, and striding purposefully towards Parliament Tree when the boy announced that he wanted to poop.

Despair set in along with baffled fury. We turned back immediately, found a local toilet, and forlornly considered the ruins of our day trip. At least, I was forlorn, and the wife kept telling me that I was completely unreasonable in my expectations of the boy. This from the woman who tells me I ought to take the fellow camping. Overnight. In a forest.

Ye gods, moaned the wife next. Not another cathedral visit. Luckily for us, the medieval town - or the Cathedral Close - turned out to be the loveliest part of Salisbury.
There was a 17th century Matron's college with a neat inscription in Latin ("Collegium Hoc Matronarum Do Oo Mo Humillime Dedicavit Sethus Episcopus Sarum Anno Domini MDCLXXXII.").

There was a National Trust house - Mompesson; there was a Military Museum, a Wren building, Sarum College (now a B&B). Things began to look up.

Demands for ice-cream cropped up next. As it happened, there was no chocolate flavour. More angst ensued from the wife. She didn't like my rum-and-raisin, or the boy's raspberry melange. Amidst recriminations and complaints of exhaustion, we headed back to the station. En route, an ice-cream van saved the day, producing chocolate on demand. Suddenly all was sunshine and merriness, and we ran all the way to the train.

And that was the end of that.

Postscriptum: Here's a gargoyle for you all.


Happy Salisbury-ite said...

Glad that you finally found part of Salisbury that you love.

If you're ever tempted to visit again, may I suggest a shorter walk from Elizabeth Gardens to The Old Mill pub at Harnham, just a twenty minute walk across the watermeadows to a really pretty pub with great beer.

I agree with your conclusion, that it's the historic buildings that really make Salisbury worth a visit!

Fëanor said...

Thanks for stopping by and the inside tip! I'll remember it the next time I'm there. Cheers!

Anonymous said...

At least it was sunny! And the pictures are amazing! I'm such a towny I never venture beyond London. You're making me change my mind.

Fëanor said...

chasingbawa: you remind me of that chap in 'sex and the city' who said in an outraged tone that he never left manhattan! :-)

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