Once off the ship in Southampton we caught a SAS shuttle to Heathrow. On the way, from our front row, second deck bus seats, we could see acres and acres of bright yellow plants. We wondered what they were. At Heathrow we changed money, bought a sandwich and then picked up our rental car. I then shuttled Will and Sarah to our Holiday Inn Express (in Slough) and then went back (in a circuitous route due to my unfamiliarity of roundabouts, road signs, A roads, M roads, and the whole wrong side of the road thing) for Marie and Joel and the rest of the bags. We then went out for dinner and some shopping. Next morning Joel and I took our five big roller bags to a storage unit on the far side of Heathrow. We hit morning traffic around Heathrow so it was not as easy or short as we thought. We then headed out for a visit to Windsor Castle. We parked in Eaton and walked across the Thames.
We then drove to Oxford. All three kids slept as we drove which is a rarity. In Oxford we were happily welcomed by Marie's second cousin Shelly Hammond Hoffimire and her husband John. Shelly gave us a bang up tour of Oxford. She knows her stuff. That night she cooked pancakes for us--we all loved a simple home cooked meal.
With recommendations from Shelly, we then headed out for the pastoral Costswolds--the idyllic English countryside. We stopped at the ruined manor house of Minster Lovell and drove (part of the way on single land roads) passed fields of rape seed and pastures, country churches, old cemeteries and flocks of sheep. Beautiful.
We then drove north to Manchester along M6 with Sarah reading Adam of the Road (Newberry award winner about a minstrel road trip in medieval England).