Breakfast was very ample -- two eggs, three tomato halves, two slices of ham,. . . decent coffee, thank God for that. There were a couple of ladies at the other table in the breakfast room, and they wasted no time in asking me where I was from,
“Where are you from?”
“Washington State. And you?”
“Oh, I went to school at the University of Illinois.”
“Well, actually, we are from there. What did you study?”
“Mathematics. And you?”
And so you could imagine the rest of the conversation once Pat joined breakfast. One woman was a U of I graduate from 1992, now on the faculty there. The other was a fresh 2004 graduate, but obviously older, and working on a “second career.” Small world. Two degrees of separation, I’d guess. And they’d just been in Bath, and were onto York today.
Pat and I studied the various books on walks in the area, and finally settled on Broadway Tower, some three miles distant, as a destination. Went out and got more cash, and picnic supplies for the walk. England has a tradition of public footpaths across private lands, a communal right that is vigorously defended. One day a year, they organize a massive continuation of this tradition, by having volunteers assigned to every single pathway for a walk on that day. Landowners are obliged to provide passable entry/exit points along fenced borders. We found an excellent, simple map at the Tourist Information office which was perfect for our needs.
We walked the back lanes of the town, then along a heavily fenced walkway between backyards, then into a large field of knee-high corn with a clearly defined path running diagonal to the crop rows. This put us onto the road for a bit, then through a mature field of rapeseed, then past a paddock and onto a broad grassy swath about thirty feet wide between hedgerows. The weather was a bit threatening, windy and a bit chill, but it never rained and it was actually quite good weather for walking. Just shy of two hours walking brought us to Broadway Park, and the privately owned Broadway Tower. (Photo 164)
The tower stands about 65 feet tall, is six-sided, with three turrets containing spiral staircases distributed equally around the circumference. Rather than the narrow slits one would expect in a defensive tower, large windows occupied much of the exterior. The tower had been built in the early 1700’s as a “folly,” just for the exercise of doing it and having it. The first floor was a gift shop and then the subsequent three floors had very nicely done exhibits about the history of the tower and its owners. The very top had excellent views of the area (though obscured some by the haze) since it is allegedly the highest point in the Cotswolds. However, the hill it sits on is only the second tallest hill in the Cotswolds. Three-quarters of our party imagined how they would partition the floors as a family home. Until 1972, it had been just that -- a family home, where the Hollingtons had lived (and raised a family) since 1930 without electricity. (Photo 165)
We were allowed to eat our lunch of sausage rolls, ham sandwiches, gorp and sports drinks inside, something I learned later was a bit of a first as it was technically prohibited by the ownership. The return trip was along the same route, and only differed by an encounter with the dogs Sally and Wellington.
On the return home, we got the boys organized for their end-of-the-year mathematics exams.