A sleep-in was planned for this morning but that idea was shattered when someone in another unit burnt the toast and set the fire alarm off at 6:10am. Finally turned off at 6:20 but we were waiting in a temperature of 9 C. Day was overcast, cold and windy but fine. Last night we were warned that we could be woken up by a Kookaburra, but the siren beat him by about five minutes. Or, maybe the siren woke him.
First stop was back into Saint Ives for a walk around the town centre, a visit to the town museum and a boat cruise along the River Great Ouse. Good tour guide and he tried to make an interesting trip of it with a few points of past and recent history. The Ouse, meaning slow, is a slow flowing river and like a lot of England's rivers has locks to aid the traffic by canal. Nice to see lots of white swans on the river including mating pairs and young. Some breeding programs have also started to show success with the return of Heron and Buzzards. The bridge in town was built by the monks of Ramsey Abbey in 1425. In 1645, Cromwell blew up the two southern spans and replaced them with a draw bridge to aid the defence of the town and slow the advance of Royalist troops. The bridge was restored in 1716 but the two spans were built with a simple curved arch instead of the Gothic Arches of the rest of the bridge. The building you see in the centre of the bridge is a chapel and the bridge is one of only four bridges in England to incorporate a chapel.
On to Godmanchester and a drive through a couple of the older streets to look at some very old houses. One of those streets, Chadley Lane is supposed to have been the first street of the town.
We shortened the day up so from there it was a drive through to Milton Keynes. Milton Keynes was only designated to become a town in 1967. It was to become a city in size and so incorporates a number of small villages in the area into suburbs. Very well laid out in squares, it is very different to other English cities. Instead of being tight narrow streets with everything in close proximity, the city is very spread out with wide streets and significant distances between different sections of the city. It was designed in a square layout and was planned to be a low-rise living city, not high rise. A surprise to see so many modern buildings after the constant overload of old historic ones. We paid a visit to the city museum to see the famous concrete cows; a locally made sculpture of a bull, two cows and two calves that are sited under a tree in the museum grounds.
We headed for our accommodation in Waddesdon and dropped in on Waddesdon Manor on the way. This is a magnificent building however the house is not open on Tuesdays so we just toured the gardens. The house was built by one of the Rothchilds, of financial and banking fame, not to live in, but to house his expensive collections and show them off when entertaining. Now owned by the National Trust, apparently no-one has ever lived in the house. I believe the collections are magnificent and the building was buildt to fit them so the presentation is very exceptional. Unfortunately, it doesn't open tomorrow until 12:00 noon and we will be on our way by then.
Our last say on the road tomorrow with our final stop at WIndsor Castle.