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Fall in the UK Part 3: Oxfordshire

After our day at Warner Brothers Studios we had a day and a half before we had to in in Salisbury, so we decided to spend it in Oxfordshire near where we used to live.  We did not have big plans, just a relaxing weekend to enjoy the area and some down time.  We stayed in the town of Woodstock which is just north of Oxford and is the village next to Blenheim Palace.  Woodstock is also a “gateway” to the Cotswolds.

We stayed in a B&B, The Blenheim Buttery, right on main street.   We took the opportunity to just walk around town and enjoy being back where we had toured long ago.  The buildings are built with wonderfully warm Cotswold stone accented by the fall colors that were just beginning to emerge.  We found some off-the-beaten-path streets and paths to walk, some nice traditional pubs for meals, and even got a chance to walk the very edge of the grounds of Blenheim Palace.

Our B&B: The Blenheim Buttery

There is a beautiful little church right on the main street.  We spent time walking the grounds.  The night lighting and full moon were spectacular

We did not have enough time to do a full visit to Blenheim Palace this trip but have toured there before when we lived in England a long time ago. We did get an opportunity to walk around the edge of the grounds one morning when one of the side gates was open.  Blenheim is the ancestral home of Winston Churchill and is the residence of the Duke of Marlborough.

The weather was beautiful so we decided to take a drive.  We had heard of a lovely little Cotswold village, Wroxton, just north of Woodstock near the town of Banbury.  It was a pleasant drive up.  We drove through Banbury, famous for its cross, but otherwise a busy “modern” town.  Wroxton proved as lovely as we had heard.  Very small, just kind of bump in the road full of Cotswold stone homes with thatched roofs and a small duck pond on the village green.  We walked around most of the streets and just enjoyed being back in the Cotswolds.

As we were so close, Craig was nostalgic and wanted to explore locations from the “the good ol’ days” when we were stationed at RAF Upper Heyford in the late 80’s. We made a couple stops at our old stomping grounds.  Jennifer repeated our motto of “You can never go back” but I drove there anyway. We had supper one night at Sturdy’s Castle (The Potato Pub) whose specialty was jacket potatoes, giant all-day baked potatoes loaded with your choice of toppings.  They were still there and still serving jacket potatoes.

We drove through our old base, RAF Upper Heyford, and some of the surrounding area.  The base had long since closed, back in the mid-90s, and we had heard it was in quite a state of disrepair.  In our day, the base was basically split into two parts.  On one side of the road was all the “business” activities: runway, flying operations, etc.  The other side of the road was all the “support” activities: the Base Exchange, hospital, recreation, etc.  They have since been developing an entire housing community.  The entire “support” side has been leveled and replaced with homes.  There is even a small “main street” with shopping.  The “business” side has changed little, just in a general state of decline and decay.  Glad to see they are developing things, but sad to see the history disappear.  Jennifer was right “You can never/should never go back”

Our final trip was a drive along the roads we used to take to get back and forth between home and the base.  Not much had changed.  Roads were still windy, narrow, and uncrowded.  We stopped at the big country manor, Rousham House, which we drove by most every day.  Still as peaceful and quaint as ever.

It was a nice weekend and fun to be back in our old area.  Yes, things had changed a lot since we lived there but it was still the same beautiful countryside for the most part and minus the visit to the base we were glad we did some traveling down memory lane.

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