Welcome to England!
For my last night on board ship, I couldn't sleep. After resting for a few short hours, I finally dressed and went up the observation deck to see if I could catch my first glimpses of England in the lightening dark of early morning. The blast of wind and cold caught me by surprise, so I went back to my room, gathered my jacket and went back. We'd been informed the night before by the captain, that all three of the Cunard Queens, would be arriving in Southampton within an hour of one another, and sure enough, there in front of us were the Queen Elizabeth 2 and the Queen Victoria ships. Here I am looking a bit windblown (and overtired from not sleeping!) as we head up towards Southampton.
The night before, most guests had their luggage collected to prepare for disembarkation. I choose to do an "independent (meaning I hefted my own luggage) early disembarkation, which meant that I got to leave the ship early, around 0700 a.m. I was glad to do it as it gave me several extra hours to explore!
As we got close to the docking quays, we caught up with the other two queens. That's the QE2 in front and the QV closer to us. They really are spectacular ships and I found watching them together almost as moving as the couple of occasions when I've seen the big masted schooners.
It was quite a juxtaposition to see a heavily industrial area on one side of the bay and this bucolic scene on the opposite bank! This was the view that I came to England to see!
After getting my taxi, we drove along the Old Town area of Southampton surrounded by these magnificent stone walls, and I knew that my first stop would be to visit them!
The route along the walls is marked with this fun symbol, either on a signpost or embedded in the paving stones!
St Michael's Church of England is a formidable looking structure, heavy and square with an imposing stone steeple.
Inside, it is filled with light from the leaded glass windows. The ladies were arranging flowers for a wedding the following day! There was a soft peacefulness here that I needed on this morning. I lit a candle, a prayer for renewal, for a safe journey.
There were many flocks of colorful pigeons all along the way. Many looked as though they were being well fed!
Every corner held something of interest! The old and the new integrated into a lovely whole. (that's an odd sentence, but I can't think how else to say it!)
Loved these walls!
After Southampton, it was on to Lyndhurst. In my manual rental car. Driving on the left side of the road for the first time. Trying to figure out how program the GPS for the first time. Over-tired! Feeling a little stressed and overwhelmed with it. Deep breath. A few more deep breaths! Ok, I CAN do this! I arrived safe and sound, only one moment of nearly making a turn into the wrong lane! Whew! Hopefully it will get easier from here out. Most of my difficulty is with the manual transmission and the shifter being on the left. If it were on the right, I'd have no difficulty, but it throws me off every time, because I really have to think about what I'm doing. Driving on the left so far, seems to be going well! Big sigh of relief!
Another view of the main street in Lyndhurst, looking towards the church.
On arriving at Lyndhurst, I hunted for the New Forest Visitor Center, promptly got lost, but got to see lots of of the "wild" ponies of the area. They are owned by "commoners" but run wild and free throughout the New Forest region. Quite lovely. I got lost because I'd missed the sign, and didn't have it in the GPS correctly... but a friendly gentleman guided me back to where I needed to go, so I finally was able to tour the visitor center! From there, I took a bus tour of the area for the afternoon. Lovely pastoral scenery and spectacular woods. It was rainy and the bus windows all spotty as a result, so no photos of that part of the journey, but it was a lovely way to enjoy some scenery without having to worry about where that darn shifter was!
I finished up the afternoon with a late lunch/early dinner at The Fox & Hounds. A great burger, chips (fries) and a small glass of cider! I did a small watercolor sketch while eating. It needs a couple of touchups, but I think it captured a bit of the atmosphere of the place. Then it was off to the Rosedale Bed and Breakfast. As I lay across the bed, looking at my notes for the day and thinking about tomorrow, I fell asleep quite early around 6:30 p.m. (no surprise with my sleepless night the night before!) and first thing I knew it was after midnight! I suspect my schedule will take a few days to settle, but sincerely hope that this doesn't become a pattern, of being awake in the middle of the night and sleeping through the early evening!
Tomorrow ~ on toward Cornwall! Shall I travel through the hills of Dartmoor? Or take the coastal road? I think I'll decide in the morning!