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Friday, August 04, 2017

July 11th: Reading Rest Day

When I first thought about the trip, I thought we could just ride into Stratford Upon Avon during the trip and visit the tourist locations there. Then I realized that doing that would disrupt the tour too much and gave up on it. Well, we woke up to cloudy skies and a 100% chance of rain in the forecast, so I told JF we'd be staying another night, paying cash so AirBnB doesn't charge our cleaning fee twice, which would have happened if we made another reservation via the app.

I looked into taking the train from Reading to Stratford Upon Avon, but it was more expensive than renting a car and much slower. The car rental place was only 20 minutes walk from JF's place, so Bowen and I borrowed a backpack from him, put rain gear and the PS Vita into it, and walked over to pick up a Fiat 500. The route through the city took us past the Thames, and downtown, which even had a little street with an old brick building built on it.
It took a good couple of hours to drive to Anne Hathaway's cottage. (I didn't bother with trying to visit William Shakespeare's birthplace, because it turned out that no one actually knew where that was) I was surprised by how well the Fiat 500 handled even on the high speed motorway, and I was relieved that the stick shift was very easy to drive. The car even came with a USB plug and media integration, but I couldn't figure it out on the way there, so I used my bluetooth headset for navigation instead.
Anne Hathaway's cottage was very well done, with docents ready to explain to you what was period, and what was an addition. Intriguingly enough, Shakespeare only left her the second best bed in his will, leading some to speculate that he might have had a mistress. The docent explained however, that as the widow she would have had all the rights to one third of her husband's estate anyway, so giving her the marriage bed was not unusual as such. The grounds themselves were worth walking, and it hadn't started raining yet (though it did rain on our drive), but I'd received an SMS from JF that it was raining heavily in Reading, so we'd made the right choice to have a zero day.
After lunch, it started raining heavily in earnest, but I'd spotted on TripAdvisor that there was a kinetic museum, The MAD museum, which I thought Bowen would enjoy. Indeed, Bowen was happy to spend 2 hours there. The museum was tiny but well done, with a kids interactive section that could keep anyone there happy for hours.

JF had suggested that I do a common tour, which was Stratford Upon Avon, the Baths, and Stonehenge all in one day. The amount of driving seemed excessive, but Stonehenge was actually not all that far from Reading, so I figured I'd do the bit of extra driving and visit Stonehenge. I showed Bowen pictures of Stonehenge, but he didn't want to. Yet when we finally got there in the driving rain, he enthusiastically called it out and became excited. It was raining quite heavily, so we put on our rain gear and took the shuttle bus to the site instead of walking. After that, we visited the museum and then had a snack in the cafeteria before driving the car back to the return site.

We walked back from the car rental place back to JF's apartment, stopping to buy breakfast for the next day. With only 2 days of unreserved lodging left, I confirmed a reservation in Hindhead and started issuing queries for places to stay between Hindhead and London. I expected the next day to be an easy day, having had a rest day and a relatively short route, according to Komoot.

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