So I didn’t make it to Wales yesterday. I came real close, though, and ended up in Shrewsbury.
The train I was taking stopped at a lot of places, one of which was Oxford. I decided now was my best chance to get to the Ashmolean so I stopped there. I didn’t really explore Oxford, I mostly got off the train and went to the museum and then back, but what I did see was really neat.
The Ashmolean, of course, was awesome. The have a bunch of Anglo-Saxon jewelry, highlighted by the Alfred Jewel. It’s beautiful. I have lots of pictures. Of course, they also have a lot of Egyptian, Greek, and Minoan stuff, but unfortunately, they had the Minoan section closed. I had really wanted to see the fruits of Arthur Evans’ work but it’s going to have to be next time. I did see quite a few interesting things in the gift shop, including some books (sorry Mom).
The rest of the day was spent getting on to Shrewsbury. I decided to stop here for a variety of reasons, not least of which were the Cadfael mysteries. I ended up staying at a room in a pub called the Vaults, which was fun, and had dinner at a place called the Traitor’s Gate Brasserie. The food was a little expensive, but the pub had Fuller’s London Pride on sale for a pound a pint. It was a nice relaxing night. I did roam around a little bit, though not much, and got to see the big statue of Darwin outside the library.
This morning I did a lot more. The Vaults is literally in the shade of Shrewsbury Castle so I went there first. It was a lovely morning and the castle grounds are extremely well kept up with flowers and gardens. It was very pretty. Interestingly, there was a wedding there this morning. Hmmm, a wedding in a castle and being marched out not by organ music but a bagpiper. That, I have to say, does not suck.
So from the castle I marched to the Severn. No, I wasn’t with Douglas of Scotland nor did we join with Glendower, but then again I lived. That, by the way, is a reference to a song Calontir often sings called Hotspur which is about the Battle of Shrewsbury in 1403 when Henry IV defeated Henry Hotspur. Not surprisingly, I sang or thought about this song a lot this morning.
What I marching to the Severn for was to go to the Shrewsbury Abbey church. It is this Abbey which is the setting for the Cadfael mysteries set in the twelfth century. The church is very lovely, and the effigy of Roger de Montgomery, one of William the Conqueror’s leading knights at Hastings, is in great shape. Going back to the Battle of Shrewsbury, Edith Pargeter who as Ellis Peters wrote the Cadfael mysteries, also has a historical fiction of that battle which of course I bought.
After that I marched back up the hill giving great thanks to my Macedonian experience with hills to eat at a place called Cromwell’s. Yes, that Cromwell. The pub happens to be right next to a church originally built in Anglo-Saxon times, and while there’s not much that survives of the church from that time, there’s still something. So my day included an Anglo-Saxon church, a Norman knight, a Crusader monk, one of the greatest knights in history, and one of the greatest rebels in history. Not a bad day.
I am now at Clare and Tom’s in Redditch for a few days. Tonight we’re relaxing and going to see Pirates of the Caribbean. I had hoped to see it in Macedonia, which just would have been so weird to see in English with Macedonian subtitles, but Macedonian movie theatres are a few months behind. They had MI3 instead, and that just wasn’t good enough to take me away from my wanderings.
Speaking of wanderings, tomorrow we’re going westward to some places they like. We’re then going to wander north, maybe as far as Rhuddlan castle, and hopefully back to Shrewsbury so I can see the battlefield itself.
Sunday the plan is to basically go west and south. Either tomorrow or Sunday I’ll be walking on top of Offa’s Dyke. I’m very excited about that. Now, it’s about dinner time.