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England 2015

May 25, 2015 – Day 7

Charingworth window photos, the charming Cotswold Shipston Wool Fair, a visit to the village of Honington and “The Most Disturbing Cherub in All of Britain”, and a wonderful dinner cruise on The Countess of Evesham!

Here are all of today’s photos

Charingworth window photo opBefore John and Mark were scheduled to pick us up today, LeAnn had a cute idea for some “sister photos”.

Charingworth window photo opSince our Charingworth rooms were (literally) above each other, the windows were surrounded by beautiful green vines and made for an excellent photo op.

At one point, the Charingworth General Manager was out doing his morning inspection walk of the property and saw us taking these pictures. He laughed and jokingly said that he wasn’t insured for any injuries if they fell out of the windows.

When I said that there were a couple of nice cars to break the fall, he said “Well, then… that’s okay!” and walked on.

Have I mentioned that I *really* appreciate dry British wit?

Wool Fair guest of honorAnd now … to the sheep!

Today is a British “Bank Holiday Monday”, so we definitely want to avoid all of the “touristy spots”. But – NO WORRIES!

When we were driving up from London, Kathy and LeAnn noticed the “Wool Fair” signs being held today in the nearby village of Shipston-on-Stour and were very much interested in seeing this.

In yet another “kindred minds” moment, John and Mark had already planned for this today, so score!

The Shipston Wool Fair was an old annual event, held traditionally until the early 1800s in this Cotswolds market town whose name comes from the old English for “Sheep Wash Town”.

Kathy and LeAnn and some sheepThe farmers from the surrounding hills and farms would drive their sheep to be washed prior to shearing and selling of the wool.

The fair was revived in 2009, after over 150 years of absence, and has become quite the event!

There were many sheep presented in an exhibit, including shearing demonstrations along with various weavers and dyers.

I guess, at this point, it’s not remotely unusual to just walk your sheep up the sidewalk. 🙂

This was a really neat bit of Cotswolds life that we were able to see – not only the sheep variations and shearing exhibitions, but also seeing them directly transform the raw wool into threads that were then processed into actual yarn (and other products) that various vendors had for sale.

We were very fortunate to have been able to participate!

Honington All Saints ChurchAfter we leave Shipston, John takes us over to the small hamlet of Honington, also along the River Stour.

This certainly looks like a standard, charming Cotswolds series of houses, but John also knows our interest in old village churches, so that’s our primary target.

All Saints Church (the West Tower construction started in 1280) has a really spooky feel to it from the start – with a very dark and gloomy archway from the entrance parking area.

This opens up into a fairly typical Cotswold churchyard, complete with old and slightly decomposing gravestones – many of them slightly askew.

The Most Disturbing Cherub in All of BritainOnce inside, the church is surprisingly well-maintained, with brightly painted blue walls. The overall interior is very inviting, comfortable, and lots of interesting and uplifting things to see.

Until…

… we spot what has been (accurately) called “The Most Disturbing Cherub in All of Britain”.

This… “thing”… sits atop a pedestal, surrounded by books, bones, and a creepy skull – and is dedicated to the memory of Joseph Townsend, who died in 1763.

Yeesh.

This cherub has some alien-like distended skull, complete with bulging veins.

Seriously.

It looks like something from a cheesy 1950s sci-fi movie.

… “and now for something completely different!” Lunch at the Fuzzy Duck!

Then it’s back for a brief refresh at Charingworth and we’re off again for Stratford-upon-Avon!

The Countess of EveshamThis time, for an evening dinner cruise on The Countess of Evesham, a 70 foot long canal boat that has been re-purposed as a luxury restaurant cruiser.

Kathy and I have dined on The Countess with John and Marianne once before, but this was a “must do again” request from Kathy that I was more than happy to accommodate!

Once on-board, with the rest of our dining companions for the evening, we set out through a series of locks down the scenic River Avon.

River Avon from The Countess of EveshamDrifting slowly downstream on a 3-hour round-trip cruise, while enjoying top quality food and even better companionship with our friends-who-are-family, just couldn’t provide a better evening experience.

Holy Trinity Church from The Countess of EveshamMany photos were taken as we made our way south along the Avon, and the food was truly enjoyable.

Near Luddington, we moored for a few minutes and were able to stretch our legs to enjoy the cool evening and the Avon swans that came to greet us.

Bridge over the River Avon from The Countess of EveshamBack on-board and underway again, deserts and drinks and more laughter filled The Countess as we made our way north along the Avon.

As always, we hated to end what was another wonderful day, but we also knew the exciting events of the following days were still to come!

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