So we left the flat to pile into a van with a mad man driving who seemed to want to set a record for getting us out of his van faster than anyone he’d ever taken that far.
We arrived at the car hire safe but a bit frazzled in about 20 minutes (about half the time I’d thought) and got the car in short order. We upgraded to a Chevy SUV because our luggage would have never fir into the VW Wagon we’d reserved, loaded in our bags and, with Himself at the wheel & Dennis as navigator we were off. Mark & I make a marvelous chorus in the back seat calling out ‘keep left,’ ‘not that far left,’ and ‘watch out’ every few minutes.
Made it to Blenheim Palace in an hour and spent 3 hours on the tours and having lunch. So much history and beauty crammed into one house. It’s amazing. The state rooms on the ground floor, about 8 sitting rooms & a dining room, were shown to us by a guide who was very knowledgeable especially about the art, which was mostly made up of family portraits but were wonderful. The upstairs tour was a walk through a further 8 rooms guided by audio, visual, and mechanical presentations... In the first room was a staged exhibit of the 1st Duchess Marlboro arguing with the stone worker and the maid told us, from a projection, about the building of the house. Next room went back to John Churchill’s affair with the king’s mistress in a replica of her bed chamber with a wax likeness of her in the bed. Doors & curtained panels opened & closed on their own according to que. All rather Disenyesque but interesting.
We left Blenheim and pressed on to Stratford Upon Avon for a very quick turn around town which mostly involved looking for a wine shop to buy gifts for tonight’s hosts and then did the requisite trip down the nave at Holy Trinity to pay homage to the Bard... One can get into the church and see the old church and certainly get into the shoppe but if one want’s to actually get past the choir and up to see the Shakespere’s grave, you must pay the man at the choir 2 pounds. Each. This is a whole new level of ‘the division of shameless commerce.’
We are now on the M40 barreling our way to Martin & Michael and running late of course. Christopher has done admirably at driving and Dennis excels as navigator. I wonder if we can keep them enjoying this arrangement so that Mark & I can continue to lounge in the back playing the part of Miss Daisy?
10 minutes to Martin & Michael. And a drink!