Thursday, May 20, 2010


The beautiful countryside passed by quickly and after a couple of hours we arrived in Henley, a hamlet just outside Ipswich, West Suffolk, at the home of our second cousins. It was lovely to see them again after nearly 20 years. We were quickly given lunch and headed off to spend a litte time at the Abbey of St Edmund ruins at Bury.

Abbey Ruins

Abbey Gardens

About a half hours drive from Henley, the market town of St Edmundsbury had a village atmosphere with the cathedral just outside a large shopping centre. The cathedral was once among the richest Benedictine monasteries in England. The cathedral is surrounded by the Abbey Gardens where the gardens were a vivid mass of colour. While meandering through the park-like gardens, a squirrel caught our eye climbing down a tree trunk quite close to the ground. We stopped to photograph it and it hopped down to the path and sat quite close to Fiona (cousin’s daughter) who had come with us. It was quite tame and fascinating to us as we don’t have them living in the southern hemisphere. Inside the cathedral we were able to see the beautiful ceiling of the new spire. The addition commenced in 2000, and has only recently been completed. Our day finished with a lovely meal and an evening spent with the family catching up with family news.

Next morning after breakfast we headed off to the university town of Cambridge which was north west about 71 kilometres (44 miles)from Ipswich. With little parking available in the township, large ‘park and ride’ areas are available for all day parking on the outskirts. We rode into town on a double decker bus taking in all the sights en route.

Views of Cambridge

This ancient town of colleges, museums, market street stalls, provides contrasting historic buildings with modern shopping venues. The town was crowded, with an obvious predominance of students and bicycles as well as large tourist coaches, visitors spilling out all along Kings Parade. As with many of these historic places, tour company employees bustled amongst the crowds touting their own special tours as being ‘the best’ or ‘the cheapest’. We were happy to continue our way through the narrow streets - we had an excellent guide showing us the magnificent buildings. Trinity and Kings Colleges, the Fitzwilliam Museum, ancient houses all had their appeal, and a wander along the River Cam was also a highlight with the beautiful cherry trees blooming right alongside.
We stopped for lunch at a little ’church’ cafĂ© tucked along from the museum, where organic food was served at very reasonable rates. A short meal stop was an ideal way in which to rest our weary feet. We were soon ready to move on again and browsed the market stalls before heading for the ’park and ride’ again to pick up the car and head back to Henley.

A quick change and we were ready to be taken out for a delicious meal at an Ipswich Italian restaurant. We were helping Margaret and Magnus with their family, celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary. What a lovely occasion to be sharing with them. We did enjoy the evening. Our time with these lovely people was all too short - in the morning we had another fairly early start to the coach station. Only one more day in England before we left to fly to Texas to meet with our son, daughter in law and two grandchildren.

We were ready to meet the coach when it arrived and we boarded and commenced our journey from Ipswich to Heathrow Airport. It was a miserable day so we were pleased we weren’t on a sight-seeing mission. After one stop half way to change coaches, we arrived at Heathrow about 1.30pm. We had booked a hotel room as we had a very early flight check in. This would ensure an early night and a short distance to the airport tomorrow.

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