As many of you know, we like doing house exchanges and about two years ago, we used Homelink to set up an exchange with a couple who live in a small town of Upton-upon-Severn near Worcester in England. The link shows the listing for our house.
We duly set off for England from Philly airport on a British Airways 747 and had a good flight of less than 7 hours which seems quite short compared to flights to Oz or India. Like many airlines, BA charges you if you pre-select your seat but allows you to select your seats free if you check in 24 hours in advance of departure. I managed to get our favoured aisle seats on either side of the center section at the back of the plane and by the time everybody got on board, the two seats between us were empty. I even managed to lie down for an hour or so and got some sleep.
For the first time we were hassled by an immigration officer who seemed to be quite put out that we were staying in the UK for such a long period. He wanted details of what we planned to do and whether we had enough money, health insurance and return plane ticket. At one stage he even threatened to send us back to the US unless we could come up with more things to do. He did not seem to understand the concept of house exchange where you can travel to a new place, explore at your leisure, take days off and see things that you never knew about. He grudgingly let us in and we figured he was having a bad hair day.
As usual, I had done research on how best to get to Worcester and I duly found that we could take a train from LHR to nearby Hales and Harlington and then another train to Slough.
The platform at Slough where we got off the train. We then used lifts to get us to the next platform where we would catch our next train.
Quite a number of express trains rushed past at high speed. Because I had booked months in advance, our tickets cost less than nine pounds each which is a whole lot less than the thirty-seven pounds that you would pay if you did not buy in advance. To pick up our tickets, I went to a ticket booth at Hayes and Harlington and gave the bloke behind the desk my reservation numbers and he duly printed the tickets for me. In contrast to the immigration bloke, he was very friendly and helpful which is normally the case in the UK.
We were intrigued by the Toots and the Maytals band and it turns out they are one of the first reggae bands and produced the first reggae record back in 1968. Here they are doing a non reggae song.
It's such a pleasure to take trains in England and see the green countryside. It's such a difference from India and with all the rain, it is is much easier to keep the windows of the passenger car clean.
Note the very long ramp to the bridge over the train line.
Safely grazing sheep.
Our host, Malcolm, picked us up at Evesham station just before Worcester and took us to their house where we will spend the next forty days. We will use their car while we are here and they will use our Mini which is currently parked at a parking lot near Philly Airport. When you set up a house exchange, you have to take transport into account.
After lunch and a nap, we took a walk into the main part of town. We passed by an allotment area next to the grave yard. If you don't have a suitable space to grow stuff where you live, you get some an allotment where you can grow whatever you feel like growing.
The town has some quiet old paths.
The Severn River.
A fancy house for sale. I imagine it would cost a fortune to heat.
To look inside the house click here.
Notice the suicide door from the attic.
We walked along this path by the river.
The river floods occasionally and this gate is swung shut to protect the town. Here you can see a video of the last flood.
However it is all peaceful and quiet now with a barge going down stream.
Upton is blessed with nine pubs, enough for a good crawl.
The wall that forms part of the flood defences on the right.
The Pepperpot which is all that was left of an old church.
The main street which is lined with shops. Before we left, I used Googles Street View to look around the town but it just not compare to actually being there. I think this is what the immigration bloke failed to realize. When you go to an area you have never been to before, everything is new, exciting and different. Not every site needs to be a Taj Mahal.
Malcolm and Jinny took us to one of their favourite pubs.
Jinny and Marianne waiting impatiently for the rest of the booze to arrive.
The selection of real ales. At Malcolm's suggestion I tried the Doom Bar which I quite enjoyed since it was quite creamy. I preferred it to the Tribute which was much sharper.
The Parish Church.
This house used to belong to the Church and was occupied by the vicar or what ever his title used to be.
Our hosts have two cats who we will look after. This is Dixie who is very friendly and wants to sit on your lap. The other cat Daisy is timid and steers clear of us. Our hosts will look after Catty-watty while we are gone.
It's great to be back on the road again and to be blogging. Stay tuned.