We woke up in Aberytwyths, Wales and after breakfast it was time to get into the mini cage and roll out of the city in the light rain. The weather did clear soon after we got on the road and by mid-morning we were enjoying sporadic views of sunshine which would eventually lead to pretty much clear skies and sunny weather....sure, just in time for us to leave Wales.
The few glimpses we did catch of the Welsh countryside gave us the impression it was similar to what we'd seen in Scotland and Ireland though with a lot more slate roofs on the houses! The welsh towns and villages we rode through looked a bit gray and damp in the rain; the Welsh don't seem to go in for bright paint work out in the country. A couple of times, we spied far off views of fog shrouded hills around bays but either there would be no safe places to stop or some big truck or cager right up on our car's bumper.
We did stop to find the Vodaphone store in Abergavenny to ask how we'd managed to burn the through the 150 minutes of free calls on each of our SIM cards we'd obtained from Vodaphone . Turned out to be "user error", the number we'd been trying to reach (Hertz in Manchester) had a 084 prefix which turns out to be a "premium" code and not covered by the "unlimited" voice call plan we'd bought. Sigh. So now we know.
Soon enough, we crossed the border back into England and caged it on the M4 expressway for quite a few miles heading for the town of Newbury. The final destination was the town of Highclere for our tomorrow of Highclere Castle, the location of the castle featured in the Downtown Abbey TV series.
Martha, my loving wife, had gotten me hooked on the series and we basically binged it in a few short weeks. It's a bit pricey to tour the castle and grounds but what the heck. Yes, we planned this phase of our vacation in the UK around the tour reservations for Downton Abbey....
We're even staying at a country inn called the Yew Tree Inn which uses the name of a farm of the same name in the TV series. Here's a photo Martha took to try and remedy the fact no real photo opportunities presented themselves to us today.
The Yew Tree Inn
Dinner was a Chinese restaurant in Newbury, a town a few miles away from Highclere. The town was looking a bit run down and in trouble with lots of empty store fronts. Could have been just the time of the day of course, but it was looking a bit desolate. Still plenty of cars to run you down if you don't look in the right direction before stepping off the curb mind you....
After dinner, I took the wrong turn at one of the endless roundabouts and extended our return trip back to the inn, but the Waze GPS app got us to the right place eventually. The app is actually pretty good in terms of directions but it sometimes would quit speaking directions for unknown reasons.