And not a moment too soon as far as I'm concerned. This (*ehem*) holiday has served to remind me just why I don't spend so much time with my family - they drive me insane. Especially John. Especially. There are no words, so I'll just go ahead and give an account of what we did and so on, plus whining and so on, most of which won't be included when I put it in my dA journal because my mother reads that... =D
I don't believe that I have ever seen so many service stations on a single car journey. We arrived bang on 4pm and met the owner of the cottage where we're staying for the week. She seemed a little abrupt but I couldn't blame her, she'd only just finished cleaning up.
As for the cottage itself, well, it isn't anything like the one in Scotland. Rather on the small side and Amy and I are practically sleeping in the same bed. At least the bathroom is a decent size.
Mum and John went for a walk to 'explore' Steeple Ashton. It didn't take long. I missed everything for the last 40 minutes of the journey - fell asleep - so I'll have to go have a nosey. Not today though.
Up early today to go to Longleat. We got called on this morning by Penny (the 'landlady') who apologised for being 'grumpy' yesterday. Apparently the people who had left the day we arrived had left quite a mess and she'd had to clean it all up. I don't blame her for being a bit grouchy. I mentioned that I liked churches and she said she could arrange a visit for me to watch the bellringers tomorrow. We used to go to the church when dad did his ringing. I said that sounded neat, so she said she'll ask whoever it is that would be able to give permission for that.
Longleat was fantastic - well worth the £23 per person to get in. We did the safari first, though the monkey section was closed (not that we would have gone through anyway - John wanted to keep the car intact). There were signs up everywhere saying not to feed or touch the animals so what I didn't expect half way 'round was a herd of tame fallow deer, where we were invited to buy cups of pellets and hand feed them. Probably won't ever have a chance like that again unless I go back to Longleat at some point. I intend to.
The animals didn't seem at all bothered about us. That probably makes them more dangerous, especially the lions and tigers. They'd just walk across the road in front of the cars. When we got to the wolves I expected them all to be hiding but no, the whole pack was lying right near the road and (I believe) the alpha male walked across right in front of our car. He was gorgeous. Grey and white and he just loped in front of the car to the other side of the road. I wish I could have got a photo but I think Amy did. I'll have to nab it off her if it's a good one. I didn't bring my camera with me because the lens is a bit buggered (because I point it at the sun too much), so I've been using my phone all week and my memory card has been protesting and removing itself from my phone. I should have brought my cable to link it to my laptop but I didn't think I'd be taking so many photos. I'll have to sort them out when I get home but it shouldn't be a problem.
After the safari we went to look at the rest. There was a huge house (where the very eccentric Lord lives), which we could go inside and look at. You never see houses like that unless they're on display (of sorts)... it's like the kind of thing that you see on TV but never think of as being real. We must have walked through about three different dining rooms. All seems a bit superfluous to me but I suppose if you have the money then spend it. They are a funny lot, though, the gentry.
After the house we went on a few other things... John irritated the hell out of me by making that noise you make to call a cat over (that 'chh-chh-chh' sound) at every damn animal we saw. And I mean sure, for one or two, but when he does it at every damn animal it just gets stupid, and he looks stupid when he does it. I like to pretend I'm not with him at those times. Saves me snapping and telling him just how big of a moron I really think he is.
We went in the shops, because you have to go in the gift shops. Amy didn't have any money and I didn't get anything in the first one though I had my eye on a plush wolf. I like wolves. In the second shop I got a pen and a notebook with dragons on (both) and then went back to the first one and got the wolf I wanted. Amy snuck up on me - she wanted a plush tiger so I was going to get her one and surprise her with it - and she asked me for a bracelet instead, which was cheaper. So I looked at it, and then picked up the tiger too and got her both. Because I'm a lovely sister like that. And I got my wolf. Mum bought me a t-shirt with a wolf on it. It looks petable.
When we got back Penny came out to speak to us. Apparently I'm meeting the guy from the church at the gate tomorrow at quarter to ten. Just as well that today has been so knackering or I'd be up all night.
Got up at about 9am to go to the church. Left Amy in bed. The ringers were very nice and it took me back to when dad used to go. Apparently there's a lot of ringing groups around Manchester. I might have a look into that. Maybe.
When I got back mum and John went for a walk so I went as well. Would have been nice if it wasn't for the horseflies everywhere. I, not knowing what they were, let one land on me and asked mum what it was. She said 'it's a horsefly' and in that same instant I felt the little bastard bite me. Like a pinprick. I flicked it off me and I think I got it before it did any damage. Worst that'll happen is my arm swells up. I remember the state of mum when one bit her ear. It went all puffy and we had a doctor in the house and she fainted while he was looking at it.
I don't like horseflies.
Up early again, this time to go to London. I had no idea that it was Glastonbury week so the fact we had reserved seats made no difference at all. We were lucky to even get on the train. So we spent an hour and a half standing up surrounded by muddy people in wellingtons most of whom were asleep or falling asleep. I've never seen a person asleep standing up. I don't think some of them had slept for about three days. Apparently it's worth it, but staying awake that long would make me really ill. That horsefly bite has come up in a small red mark so I think I got it away before it managed to inject me with anything.
At Reading mum made the suggestion that we get off and walk to the other end of the carriage. I'm not sure she had a clear head on her - had she seen the amount of people falling asleep in front of the doors? I'd been the last on so they weren't getting off unless I did, so I refused. If we got off there was a good chance we wouldn't get back on again. Bugger that. Several people around us suddenly became chatty just as we got to London. I wished they'd been that talkative all the way there, it might have made the journey go faster. Though I did find out that Glastonbury costs about £175 on average... sounds pretty good value to me, so maybe I'll go next year.
We got to London at something past eleven and went straight to Camden. Mum p'd me off by faffing around with the ticket machine then had the nerve to get annoyed with me when I told her to move because there were people queueing behind us. I'd already told her what kind of ticket we needed. You'd think she'd never been on the underground before and John was second-guessing everything I said. I spent the better part of a weekend on the underground last October, I know what I'm doing.
Anyway. We got to Camden. The underground was roasting. You'd think they'd have better arrangements for when it gets so hot, it's not as if it's the first time that's happened. All they're doing is putting big fans on the major stations and giving out advice over the customer announcement thing. We had some lunch in Camden (I think it was the food bit that burned. There was loads more there the last time I saw it.), then I went to meet a couple of friends for a drink and mum, John and Amy went off to sight see and I got to sit in a nice cool pub with Joe and Robin, and Vikki when she turned up later. At about four I went to find the others and Robin came with me to Covent Gardens. I found them and he went, and Amy showed me her snazzy new coat.
John had wandered off to get a drink and he was gone for about half an hour. Turned out he'd gone off completely and walked half a mile to a Tesco Express without telling us. I'm pretty sure I was justified in being annoyed about that, then he got bitchy so I snapped back at him, and it was me who got shouted at. I took solace in the fact that Amy agreed that it wasn't my fault. I was nice to her (again) and bought her a drink because John had brought back water, when the whole damn family knows she doesn't drink it and he's lying when he says he doesn't know. Feh.
I would have gladly gone home at that point because he was being a tit but we walked around for a bit longer and I stayed to watch this guy who was singing. He was really good. We got to him just as he was starting Music of the Night and from the sound of him he should have been doing more than singing in the market square for coppers.
I walked off for a bit and found a guy balancing a mountain bike on his head. That was odd. So I went back 'round. The opera guy was singing Santa Lucia, and then he did the funniest thing I've seen in a while. Still singing, he walked through the tables to two women sat watching him, and swapped shoes with one of them, and got the other's cardigan and gave her his shirt, then he got the first woman, now wearing his shoes, up to dance with him. I was sat there giggling and half fearing that he'd come over to try and get some item of clothing off me. He didn't, thankfully, but my lord it was funny.
We'd run out of things to do, so we got something to eat, then went to the station to see when the next train back to Westbury was. Mum then ruined my day by being whiny and insisting we wait around for an hour and a half because she didn't want there to be the slimmest chance that she'd have to stand up on the way home. So we ended the day sitting in a random park, and I watched Amy playing Sudoku in the free paper I'd picked up earlier in the day. Nine hours is far too long to spend in London if you don't live there, especially when it's so hot.
So, after another knackering day I'd somehow been to London without buying anything. I'm not sure how I managed that. Though I do now have £30 because mum spent the same on Amy to buy her a coat/jacket. Yay. So I'll have to get Tom to take me to Camden on Saturday.
We were going to go to some place called Castle Coombe today, but after I expressed a wish to go and see an actual castle and not just a village that was named to sound like there was a castle there, we ended up going to Farleigh Hungerford. It would have been very boring if it wasn't for the free (yes, free =o) audio tour thing that we got. Good job we got them as well, so we ended up there for an hour instead of fifteen minutes. It was pretty interesting really. I have some photos, but I don't have the means to put them up yet so I'll have to do that when I get home. The crypt was unnaturally cold. It gave me the creeps just being down there. I mean sure, hot air rises and all but it shouldn't have been that cold.
It was a pretty short day out though, but I wouldn't have wanted to go off on a long trip again after London the day before. That would have been a bit much.
Ventured out once more, this time to Beaulieu (Byoo-Lee) motor museum (and abbey, and house, etc). Wasn't really worth what we paid to get in. John was disappointed. I went off on my own when we got there - I couldn't stand sitting next to John working his way through four sandwiches and a bottle of (diet, lol) coca cola with sweat dripping off his chin for a moment longer. It's disgusting. Ugh. Thinking about it makes me shudder. So I went off to explore the abbey, which is mostly ruined thanks to Henry VIII (cheers, jackass), but still very pretty. I didn't stay on my own for long because my phone was dying and I didn't want to end up not being able to find them, so I caught up to them and ended up going back up to the abbey because mum wanted to see it. Then we had a look at the house there and after that there wasn't much to do really, so we went to this otter and owl sanctuary and had a poke around there. John pissed me off with his stupid 'chh-chh'ing at the deer and I told him he sounded ridiculous, then I stopped and let them go on without me. He's like a bloody child I swear, you tell him one thing and he does another. I don't care if he's a grown man he acts like a three year old.
Anyway. When I finally set off I walked around a corner and came across another fallow deer following two people down the path. It was very tame and very cute, and let me pet it. Apparently it tried to eat mum's top. So the conclusion is that fallow deer are very friendly, but they will nom on you. They are also very petable.
The otters were just too cute though. Me and Amy went to watch them get fed and they were so noisy! They knew the keeper was coming and they were squeaking and mewing really loudly. There was a huge group of Oriental Small-clawed Otters, and a group of about eight Eurasian Otters, then two Giant Otters together. Too cute.
We got a pencil out of that one.
Last proper day, we went up to the White Horse at Westbury for a picnicky thing. It was very warm but there was a nice breeze so it wasn't too bad. We could hear this noise of a plane and John figured it must have been flying over Salisbury Plains, then it flew over us. It was a Tornado
, apparently. Very noisy. Mum and John went off to have a nosey around the other side of the hill and Amy pointed out a 'plane', and when I looked it was so close and very quiet. John said it was a Hercules
. It was huge! It went around the other side of the hill then came back, banked, and went back around the hill again. Apparently my uncle Andy used to come home from Cyprus in them.
The Horse itself was decent enough but it's a pity they covered it in concrete. It's all to protect it I suppose but I dunno, it seems a shame to me. I probably made my little exploration of the hills harder than it had to be by traipsing off in the wrong direction and ending up having to trudge through some nettles. I had 3/4 pants on, so my shins got a little bit stung. Was alright though.
We got my train ticket on the way back, because they've decided that it would be better to put me on a train to Reading than to drive there. Apparently it's cheaper to go via Bath so I'm doing that. I hate changing at stations but I have ten minutes to do it and Bath Spa is only two platforms. Good job too or I might get lost.Friday:
Out by 9:40, didn't even see the owners to say goodbye but I don't suppose it matters. I hopped on my train and had a screaming child in the seat in front all the way to Bath. I nearly got lost in Bath station but I did alright and got my train to Reading. Dad was a little late but he met me there and we went to his office.
Then (yay) after holding off all week Mother Nature decided to visit me with my monthly gift and I had horrific cramps all afternoon that I managed to get rid of with some ibuprofen. However that was some eight hours ago and it's most definitely wearing off.
We had cottage pie for tea, because I asked for it. It was yummy.
Off to London tomorrow.