The final day of the first bank holiday of the season dawned and again the sun was shining through the curtains (although it was a tad rainy). While the luxury of the hotel had been lovely the night before, it was great to wake up and not have to bother with getting dressed and packing for a check-out time or sit down breakfast. We took the opportunity to lounge around before mustering the energy to get ready and head out. First stop – REME Museum of Technology – Juliet’s workplace.
While the museum is currently in the process of relocating from its old site in Arborfield to Lyneham, because of my connections I was treated to a secret sneak peak tour of the collections that are currently in the process of being brought to life. The museum focuses on the REME (Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers) and the huge roles they have played during times of conflict. It was a pretty cool opportunity to get up close to some of the huge WWII tanks as well as see the changes from the older models to the more recent adaptions made for combat situations in the desert like countries of Afghanistan and Iraq as well as jungle vehicles for the likes of Belize. Obviously having an expert guide, definitely heightened the experience and I am looking forward to visiting again once the museum has been fully completed. We hung around for a bit as Juliet had some work to do, then we were off again to our second stop of the day – Avebury.
When carrying out my original research into the trip Stonehenge had always come back with very mixed reviews, but is widely known as one of the most famous ‘henge’ sites in the world. However, on some further research, Avebury which is much larger and less visited than Stonehenge seemed to come out more favourably and so we decided, after enjoying Stonehenge to check it out. It wasn’t far from Lyneham, around 30 minutes drive, through beautiful green countryside. The village itself is tiny, quaint and immediately apparent that the hordes of tourists who make their way to Stonehenge on pre-arranged bus tours perhaps don’t make it out here. We parked up next to an adorable thatched cottage and saw a beautiful old church through a gap in some trees. The parish church of St James is a very pretty stone building set amidst the most gorgeous ancient trees. We had a wander round inside to see some of the local children’s decorations, this was so far from the grand architecture we had witnessed so far but was clearly very well used by the local community with lots of exhibits from local children. After our little de-tour we made our way back to the main sight of the town – the Stone Circles. We had spotted some people wandering around a gated area as we were driving in and assumed you would have to go through the visitor’s centre to access them. Luckily, this was not the case and in fact if you choose to bypass the visitor’s centre the site is completely free to visit! We made a loop right around the largest outside circle which really gave you an idea of the scale of the site and allowed you to understand just how impressive a monument of this size is from Neolithic times. I certainly found it much more interesting than Stonehenge and it was nice to not have the tourist buses full with people.
After a pretty action packed weekend we headed back to Juliet’s to make some lunch and hang out for the rest of the afternoon. It was lovely to just catch up and we even made a little trip to the nearby outlet mall, a short 10 minute walk from her lovely house. In no time at all we were on our way back to Bristol airport, why does time go so fast when you are having fun? We stopped for a nice pub dinner at the Fox and Goose, just next to the airport which was very quaint and had surprisingly lovely food. We said our goodbyes and I was off back to Edinburgh in less than an hour – less time than my daily commute to work at the moment. Big thanks to Juliet and Jordan for hosting me in their gorgeous house. Will be down to see you both again soon!