Today I figured out why people go on about the English countryside. Up until now I haven't gone into the countryside very much, and when I did it certainly was not quite as beautiful as the countryside I saw today. We had to leave at around 8:00 in the morning and I ended up falling asleep on the coach to our first destination so I missed the first leg of our scenic drive through "The Cotswolds." The fist stop on our trip was Bourton-on-the-Water, picturesque village known as 'the Venice of the Cotswolds.' It's called that because of the shallow river that runs through the center of the village and footbridges that cross it. Most of the buildings in the town center were stone and looked like they could have been built centuries ago. The streets are lined with small shops and boutiques which goes to show how many tourists actually come to the village. We were only there for an hour but I couldn't have spent much longer just sitting on bench with a cup of tea watching the ducks with the autumn leaves all around me.
Warwick Castle reminded me of a castle you would see in the movies. You walk through a small wooded area and then *BAM* giant castle complete with moat right in front of you. Warwick wasn't the biggest castle I've been to but it was definitely one of the better kept castles. From one side of the castle retaining wall you looked out over the countryside and from the other side out over the village of Warwick. I prefered the countryside because it was easier to think by 1068 when William the Conquerer built it. The castle is right next to the river Avon and the view of the castle grounds with the river running through them was awesome. After spending most of the day surrounded by goregous scenry, the Great Hall and state rooms of the castle were not as impressive as they may have been another day. The Great Hall had maybe half a dozen sets of armor and a collection of swords on display. I still have a hard time picturing people actually wearing suits of armor. It really doesn't look like you could move in it; let alone ride a horse or fight. One of the state rooms had mannequins of Henry VIII and his many wives. I found that exhibit rather amusing just because they portrayed Henry VIII as being about as fat as he was a jerk.
Without a doubt, my favorite part of this trip was spending all day outside in the beautfil autumn weather. Driving through the farmland on our way from Bourton-on-the-Water to Warwick reminded me of driving through Livingston County in late October. I'm really glad I was able to get out and spend some time surrounded by natural beauty before the dreary English winter sets in.