Another morning in England, another morning of rain! With spirits slightly sour about the prospect of another rainy ride we headed to the Glastonbury Abbey for a bit of sightseeing before we left town. Luckily the rain soon ceased and we were able to enjoy our visit. While we were there we saw a great presentation on what it was like to work in the Abbey kitchen. The monks would often have to prepare 10 course(!) meals for 500+ people(!) in a space not much bigger than a studio apartment.
Following the talk we joined a tour of the Abbey, but soon left it to wander around on our own. The grounds were littered with remnants of buildings long destroyed, beautiful trees and flowers and some interesting people as well. We walked by an older woman in multicolored velvet clothing and goth makeup sitting by the marker for the supposed tomb of King Arthur looking as though she were about to burst into tears. Glastonbury!
Satisfied with our self-led tour of the Abbey, we left and headed to the Somerset Museum of Rural Life which we'd noticed yesterday on the way to the Tor. We were thankful that admission was free and had a nice time learning about cheese-making and what it was like to live in the 1800s. We also settled a bet about the nearby town of Cheddar!
A few days ago while we were camping Tara found a brochure for touristy caves in the village of Cheddar. She was excited about the possibility of visiting the birthplace of cheddar cheese while I was unconvinced that the Cheddar near us was the true home of this delicious cheese. Surely they would have mentioned such a landmark distinction in the brochure! Tara was vindicated (and teased me relentlessly) at the museum today when she learned she was right.
After leaving Glastonbury we stopped several times on our way to camp to pick various plants for identification. I tried in vain to find Cow Parsley but every time I though I saw some it turned out to be one of its dopplegangers, Fool's Parsley. One thing is for certain though, we'll never be short on nettles! The rest of our ride was uneventful except for frequent, short bouts of driving rain showers.
As we rolled into camp I was suddenly unsure if we were still in the UK. It seemed more likely we'd somehow wound up in the Wisconsin Dells. Apparently this campsite has three, count 'em THREE heated swimming pools, an arcade, a massive jungle gym and a rowing pond for kids. I'm sure there is more but we were primarily concerned with getting our tent set up before the next batch of rain came.
We picked a spot far away from everyone and pulled out our tent just as a torrential downpour with a side of hail began. I was more than a little dejected as the inside of our tent was soaking wet by the time we had wrestled it up in the gale force winds that accompanied the impromptu storm. Five minutes later the clouds were literally gone, the sky was completely clear and the sun was shining while everything we owned was soaking wet. So weird. We quickly dismantled everything and set it out to dry while shaking our heads in bemusement.
My friend Arthur from Exeter drove up to visit and take us to dinner; an unexpected but thoroughly awesome surprise! When we first embarked on this journey Tara and I were reluctant to accept hospitality, feeling as though we were taking advantage of people. We've since learned to relax and accept the kind offers we have so regularly received.
Arthur treated us to an absolutely wonderful dinner complete with ciders, ale and great conversation. I had a huge juicy steak and Tara enjoyed some delicious garlic chicken with a heaping salad. We shared stories about travelling and I interrogated Arthur about his (facinating to me) work on offshore oil rigs. After dropping us off at our theme park of a campground he gave us a few destination ideas for Devon and Cornwall, a bottle of wine(!) and set off for the hour drive home. Thank you so much, Arthur!!