Today is the end of our 14 night trans-Atlantic cruise to Harwich, England and the first day of our 12 night cruise to the Baltic.
As I mentioned earlier, the excursion office made special arrangements for the consecutive cruisers to take advantage of a special excursion to the medieval town of Lavenham in Suffolk. The alternative would be to either stay on the ship or take an excursion to London.
Randy and I thought it would be fun to Lavenham so we signed up. We rose early and went to the Guest Services desk and picked up our new cabin keys and then reported to the pier and boarded the bus.
It was a cold, dreary morning when we left the pier and started our travels through the English countryside. Our tour guide, Ian was absolutely wonderful. Again, we had a tour guide who had been a history teacher so his knowledge was quite expansive about what we were going to see.
The first bit of information Ian shared as we pulled away from the pier was that the town of Harwich was the home town of the captain of the Mayflower, Christopher Jones. He promised to give us a brief history of England as we, “trundled around”.
As we traveled along one of the things he said that was very funny is to not ask him anything about flowers or trees. He said, “I really do not know much about flora or fauna. A tree is a tree, a flower is a flower and that is about the most knowledge I have about that”. Ian’s sense of humor was really quite fun.
So, what was the first question asked, “Ian, what are these bright-yellow fields of flowers we keep passing along the road?”
To our surprise he answered quite quickly saying, “These flowers are called rape”. He went on to explain that the flowers were used to make rapeseed oil and is the only oil grown and bottled in the United Kingdom.
It was a very nice ride to Lavenham. We traveled along narrow country roads that at times were very interesting when a car or truck came along on the opposite side of the road.
By the time we arrived in Lavenham it had started to rain. Fortunately, Randy and I had our umbrella with us so no worries.
Ian took the lead and started walking towards the main street of this medieval town. He explained that the town of Lavenham contains 300 buildings listed as architectural and historical interest. The town he said “Is full of half-timbered crooked houses that lean in various directions”.
As soon as we turned the corner I had to laugh. Ian was right; some of the buildings seemed to be leaning this way or that. As we walked around we spotted one that seemed to lean so far forward that was in the throes of falling down. Randy thought he would be funny and ran over to hold up the building.
Yes, these homes are occupied but the residents cannot change the outward appearance of the homes. Ian mentioned that some have home owners have added bricks between the timbers. Many of the buildings had thatched roofs.
I loved the wooden doors on many of these buildings were beautiful. Randy came across a home that had a front door that was so short that he just had to have his picture taken with it. He opined that, “The people back then must have b been very short”. What came to mind for me was perhaps it was a house for a Hobbit.
Eventually Ian took us to the cities’ main square which by other standards that we have been in Europe was very small. Around the square was a large Guildhall, the National Trust Tea Room and several shops.
Of course, I had to run into the nearest shop and try to find magnets. The outside wall of the shop was covered in beautiful purple wisteria. Several other buildings in town were covered too. Beautiful, just beautiful. Now, we were England so, it t was time for tea. We made our way across the square to the tea room. It was also very cold and damp and a cup of hot tea sounded so inviting.
This small tea room was lovely. I loved the simple furnishings, but what I loved the most was looking through the window across the room that framed a beautiful patio outside. If it had been a sunny day that is definitely where we would have sat.
Everything in the display case was deliciously enticing but in the end we chose a wonderful cranberry scone. It was so large we only ordered one and shared. The scone was served with clotted cream and raspberry jam. I was so cold that I dove right into drinking my tea and eating the scone so no picture. But trust me the scone was a thing of beauty and a tasty delight.
The weather had cleared a little and we were now a little warmer so we made our way back to the bus. It took us quite a while to get to the town but the bus driver took a different way home and it seemed as though we were back at the pier in no time.
We returned to find that our things had been moved to our new cabin and all was well with the world. We had to laugh as we looked around our cabin. Unlike our first cabin, the drawers were larger; the shelves in the closet were deeper so I was able to put away our clothes neatly.
Another special treat for the consecutive cruisers was a coming back on board to a great lunch at Giovanni’s. We were treated to salad, soup, a choice of pan seared Tilapia, grilled NY steak or spinach and ricotta quiche. All this was topped off with a deliciously decadent chocolate cherry cake with kirshwasser cream.
As we made out way back out to sea, we saw so many windmills; it was truly amazing to see.
We were very fortunate because our all our dinner tablemates were also continuing on this leg of this trip as well as Steve, Luann, Tom and Maryann. It was going to be a wonderful trip indeed.