“I love spring anywhere, but if I could choose I would always greet it in a garden.”― Ruth Stout
On my wish list of things to do in England was to experience the beautiful English gardens – not the formal beds at the grand manors, but the dooryard gardens at private homes in villages and in the countryside. I wasn’t sure how I would accomplish this without a car, but it turned out to be easy. There were delightful gardens to see as I explored Glastonbury on foot, as well as, on my guided driving tour of the Cotwolds.
After my Avalon Journey, I returned to beautiful spring weather in Glastonbury. During my four days at Priory House, with hosts Trish and Seamus, I was treated like a member of the family. I had leisure time to return to Glastonbury Abbey, explored the quaint shops along the two main streets, visited the peaceful St. Margaret’s Chapel (below), attend a Natalie Glasson workshop at Chalice Well Gardens, and embarque on my first bus excursion to neighboring Wells to experience the magnificent Wells Cathedral.
For an additional four days I stayed at the Flying Dragon’s Nest, where the conservatory and patio had fabulous views across the town and the Somorset Levels. There during some cool typical rainy days I had time to curl up with a good book and to plan the next phase of my journey.
One rainy afternoon, I walked down High Street to the tourist bureau, which is housed in a 1500 era merchant’s home, to explore the artifacts and history of Glastonbury Lake Village Museum. “The Lake Village Museum presents an insight into everyday life in an Iron-Age settlement, dating from around 2000 years ago, when much of Somerset’s landscape was covered by marshy sea.” They were a very advanced society of skilled craftsmen.
I was particularly drawn to the geographic area known as the Cotswolds, which could only really be explored by car. As it evolved, Celia Thomas, who was our driver for the Avalon Journey agreed to be my guide. Celia is a Glastonbury resident, and a powerful healer who sometimes leads Soul Journeys. In preparation we created a wish list, I made lodging reservations, then we just set out into the flow of a magical, healing journey.
In the weather was perfect as we explored winding rural roads lined with blooming wild garlic, ancient villages each with its historic church and many sacred springs which have been the site of healing and ceremonies for 1000’s of years. One of our favorite villages was Castle Combs, where the movie, War Horse, was filmed. We walked public paths to view expansive patchwork landscapes as each experience opened magically into the next unfolding moment.
We stayed one night in the wonderful Old Vickerage at Oak Ridge, where black faced sheep grazed in front of the building. We visited Norman and Saxon
churches each with its stone walls, tiny doors, and peaceful grave yards. The church at Oddington has never been electrified and is only used for candlelight services on Christmas Eve. We walked and experienced healing in a blue bell wood and finished the peaceful morning at the ancient Rollright Stones.
After spending a night in Cheltenham, Celia gifted me with a bonus day. We visted Seven Springs, the source of the Thames River before we discovered a portion of the Coltwolds Way Walk. With my pilgrim’s staff in hand, I was proud and relieved to be able to climb to the top of Painswick Beacon, the site of an ancient enfortment. As we stood at the top admiring the expansives views, the magical experience was enhanced when a Merlin Hawk hovered nearby for several minutes.
In the beautiful village of Painswick we admired the stone cottages and dooryard gardens. After a lovely lunch we walked across the street to the grounds of the beautiful St. Mary’s church. The church yard features 99 sculptured yew trees. Legend says that the 100th yew has been planted many times, it never survives.
Before heading home to Glastonbury, Celia took me back to Cheltenham to my Airbnb room. Inge’s and Robert‘s lovely home is located next to Pittville Park. After dinner and great conversation with my hosts and their other guest, I organized my suitcase for my train trip to York the next day. For the first time in my journey I would really be on my own.