Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Greetings from the Cotswolds

We drove to the Cotswolds on Wednesday, first to Kelmscott Manor -- William Morris's house, where the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood often gathered, at least while they were speaking to one another and not sneaking around with one another's wives. The house is smaller than I expected, but gorgeous, filled with Morris tapestries and Dante Gabriel Rossetti's paintings of Jane Morris and her daughters (plus his paintbox with the remains of his tubes of paint and his name on the bottom!). There's a very pretty garden and a covered yard where we ate lunch after looking at William and Jane's separate bedrooms...Guinevere was a popular theme.

Then we went to Bourton-on-the-Water, home of Birdland, the only place in the UK where one can see king penguins. And unlike various US zoos we visited last year, these penguins are just on the other side of a low stone glass between them and visitors, so the views are fantastic! The colony arrived fairly intact from one of the Falkland Islands when a man who had bought the island gave the birds to the zoo, and they have been very successful at breeding (including one naughty penguin who had two chicks with different females last year). We were there for the feeding and were introduced to Seth, the penguin who co-starred with Danny DeVito in Batman Returns, as well as the rest of the birds, one of whom believes he is human because he had to be hand-fed and was flirting with the keeper. There are hundreds of other birds in the park, including flamingos, various Amazon and desert fowl, cranes, pelicans, storks...all quite lovely.

We took a short walk around Bourton-on-the-Water, a beautiful town which, as the name suggests, sits right on the river with many daffodils and ducks lining the banks. Then we went to meet and her family for dinner, having discovered earlier in the week that she lives about ten minutes from the cottage where we're staying. I was afraid my kids would be hyper after so long in the car and was relieved that her babies were just as active -- plus they have four cats, which made younger son extremely happy after his penguin withdrawal. They treated us to fabulous Indian food and we discussed various fannish insanity (largely Doctor Who, which seems to be the theme of my holidays this spring!). So it was a lovely evening!

The front of Kelmscott Manor, where William Morris and Dante Gabriel Rossetti among others did some of their best work.

Boys in the garden behind the house.

A wider view of the house and gardens.

King penguins at Birdland.

Adam and Daniel with some of the residents.

Birdland's resident celebrity, movie star Seth.

From one of the bridges of Bourton-on-the-Water.

This is a beautiful town with beautiful gardens.

Up very early to drive to Plymouth so must go collapse!

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