A Reader’s Respite’s employer didn’t agree to our request for a vacation from our vacation which would explain the week that has passed since our last post. Whew. This working thing is hard. But on to Part Deux of our vacation, which takes us to Salisbury, England….
If you ever find yourself wandering around in Salisbury and looking for a lovely place to store your suitcase (oh, and sleep), we’d highly recommend the Grasmere House.
This old Victorian manor is nestled up against the River Avon and if you snag a room on the south side, like we did, you get a lovely view of the river and the Salisbury Cathedral beyond.
And what would a good hotel be without a snug place to read a book? A Reader’s Respite shamelessly snagged this little hut down on the river and promptly christened it our Reading Shack.
After a short walk to town to grab some books, we promptly installed ourselves inside the Reading Shack and passed the hours between the pages of our book and this view:
And what book passed the time for us in Salisbury? We couldn’t resist picking up a copy of Anne O’Brien’s novel, Devil’s Consort: England’s Most Ruthless Queen.
The novel features that most famous of English queens: Eleanor of Aquitaine. And we thought it looked particularly salacious. But what really sold us was the seal on the cover of the book:
Yes, it really does announce that this book is “Better than Philippa Gregory.” Granted, that isn’t too terribly difficult to achieve (ouch!), but it made us giggle enough to shell out the six pounds or so for the book. Despite our initial impressions, the novel turned out to be quite detailed and well-written. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that O’Brien subscribed to one of our own personal beliefs: that Eleanor had a little fling with her uncle Raymond in Antioch whilst she layed over there – no pun intended - on her way to Jerusalem on Crusade. Intrigued? Read the book. It will be released here in the States next month under the title of Queen Defiant.
Next door to our hotel was a beautiful stone church. You’ll think it’s creepy, but we have a thing for old graveyards…..
Just a short walk over the river leads you into town, but as seems to be common in England, the things you pass on your way into town so beautiful they distract you from your goal of actually reaching town.
A Reader’s Respite managed to ditch the family long enough to spend an entire morning at the Salisbury Cathedral.
Admittedly, we have a thing for cathedrals. It drives Mr. RR and the kidlets nuts. But there’s something so incredibly serene about them….
For those of you who recently enjoyed the release of Elizabeth Chadwick’s To Defy a King, you’ll recognize this fellow:
William Longespee, the illegitimate son of King Henry II, played a big role in Chadwick’s latest historical novel. He was laid to rest in the Salisbury Cathedral in 1226, although how anyone could ever truly be at rest with thousands of tourists like us gawking at him, we’ll never understand. His tomb was opened in 1791 and they found the corpse of a rat inside poor Willy’s skull. The rat had traces of arsenic….we’ll let you draw your own conclusions.
If the Tudor era is more your thing, there’s also the tombs of Edward Seymour and his wife, the Lady Catherine Grey (sister to the infamous Jane). It’s worth noting that Cate’s tomb lies above Eddie’s….if Cate didn’t wear the pants in the family in life, she certainly had the final word in death.
The final installment of Vacation: 2011 is soon to come (and no, you won’t have to wait an entire week again for this next one)…..