I should not have said anything about the couple of straight days of good weather, light rain most of the day and cooler. Most of the day involved driving through what they call the Cotswolds, famous for it's classic English landscape of rolling hills, ancient woodlands, stunning viewpoints and honey-coloured stone buildings.
Our first stop was at the the ruins of a Roman Villa, established in the 2nd - 3rd centuries. Some conjecture what the building originally was but at the end it appears to have been the Villa of a rich person. Terrific setting on the side of a hill with a great view down the valley. As with most of the Roman ruins, these fell into decay after the Roman centurions were recalled to Rome around 350AD. The sandstone walls and columns of the building have long gone leaving just walls about 1 metre high. In the photos, ignore the capping on the wall remains, this was done in Victorian times to protect the remains after the ruins were discovered and uncovered.
The interesting design element of the building was the under floor heating where the heat from wood fires was channeled under the floors through the building via a system of space under the floors and flues to allow the heat to flow. At the time of discovery of the ruins they were completely covered by soil and vegetation and one wall section still has a tree stump on it showing the dept of soil covering. The floors throughout the building were covered by small mosaic tiles and these are visible in several rooms. Excavations of the ruins are still continuing and one room recently investigated revealed a beautiful mosaic floor which has since been recovered to maintain its condition until a proper display can be built. One section of the villa is now protected under a purpose built building with walkways and grated flooring to show off what is underneath. There are still white Roman snails in the area growing among the rocks and grasses.
On the way to the villa, we drove through farmland and were amazed at the number of wild pheasants roaming the fields. Asking a question about this, I was told they are actually bred to be available for shoots on the property where you can pay around A$1600 to shoot. For that you can shoot a brace of pheasants, 2, and get a slap up lunch.
Next was Cirencester with a stop to have a look at a Roman Amphitheatre. It didn't look much on Google Maps but in fact, it was better in real life. Built into a large oval area believed to have been a quarry, there would have been hard seating all around the sides. You have to use some imagination to see what it could have looked like. I've no idea which bands would have played there though.
On through Minchinhampton and Stroud to Gloucester where we stopped for a look at the Gloucester Cathedral, built in the mid 11th century on the site of previous Abbey built around the late 7th century. Very majestic building dominating the skyline and the front entrance forecourt is currently being renovated and in a few months should be well worth seeing as are the large stained glass windows at either end of the building.
Next door to the Cathedral is a little house that was the subject of a Beatrix Potter book, "The House of the Tailor of Gloucester", written after she came to the area to visit her cousins. The house is now a Beatrix Potter museum and shop staffed by volunteers. Anything Beatrix Potter related including exquisite stuffed characters of the Peter Rabbit books.
Back south again through Chepstow, we are in Newport East tonight. A little earlier than usual so should be able to get an earlier night than last night.
Tomorrow, we will see how our Welsh goes, definitely cannot read the signs we've seen so far.