Thursday, September 8, 2016

On the (other side of the) road again

Day 4: Havant
After another good night's sleep, we checked out of the Ampersand Hotel (so nice, highly recommended) and took the tube from South Kensington to London Heathrow to pick up our rental car at Enterprise.  The Paddingon line was busy with commuters and tourists with luggage.  We arrived at LHR in about 30 minutes.  As we carded-out, we both still had a little money on our Oysters--for next time!

A short shuttle bus ride to Enterprise, and helpful service from Mo, and we were in business.  The car was a Vaxhall Astra, brand-new, with only 10 miles on the odometer.  Unfortunately it did not have GPS (Sat Nav) so I hooked up our old Garmin with the chip I'd bought and it worked.  We were headed to Petworth House in Petworth, the first of several National Trust properties we planned to see on this trip.

Husband quickly got acclimated to driving on the wrong other side of the road and we arrived at Petworth relatively easily, with only a little yelling at the GPS for taking us down tiny roads when bigger ones were available.

I had bought the National Trust 14 day Touring Pass for two adults (57GBP) online before leaving home.  It was a great deal because without it, Petworth House would have cost 15GBP/each plus 4GBP for parking.  That's pretty pricy!

From their website:  "Petworth House and Park: The vast late 17th-century mansion Petworth House is set in a beautiful 283-hectare (700-acre) deer park, landscaped by ‘Capability’ Brown and immortalised in Turner’s paintings.  Inside, the house contains the National Trust’s finest collection of pictures, with numerous works by Turner, Constable, Van Dyck, Reynolds and Blake, ancient and Neo-classical sculpture, fine furniture and carvings by Grinling Gibbons."

We had lunch then toured the servant's quarters, the kitchens, and cold-rooms.  Then into the house where first we went upstairs to see a small exhibit about Capability Brown's remake of the grounds.  The view was fantastic.

Incredible view!
Downstairs, we toured several lovely rooms, each with a handout describing the room and contents.  Lots of paintings by Turner and Van Dyck.  The Grinling Gibbons carvings were amazing.  I was struck by the Leconfield Aphrodite in the Red Room, just hanging out on a side table, which is from the 4th Century BC and one of the most valuable items in the National Trust Collection.  She's a beauty!

Henry VIII surrounded by Grinling Gibbons carvings
4th C Aphrodite

Every time we visit England or Europe, my mind gets blown because of the breadth of history as compared to the US.  At Petworth, I was struck by some pretty stools that turned out to be 24 years older than the USA (1776, Declaration of Independence, not when the first settlers landed). And they were not even the oldest things around!

The stools by the fireplace are from 1752
The Molyneaux Globe

After touring the house, we wandered out into the gardens and deer park.  And meandered into the town by a side entrance off the cafĂ©.  The church was picturesque and the shops looked like fun.  We didn't linger long.

Petworth from its extensive grounds
Village church

Back in the car, we plotted our way to Havant where we had a reservation at the Premier Inn for two nights.  It took a little while and we had a couple of wrong turns--one of which landed us in a shopping center with a Marks & Spenser where we bought some provisions (Percy Pigs!).  Finally made it to the hotel and checked in.  Nice, spacious room, big bed, comfortable pillows.

It was a glorious late afternoon so we headed back out. Husband had researched pubs in the area so we parked by the Ship's Inn and walked over to the Royal Oak where we hung out for the rest of the evening.  It was busy with locals with their dogs and groups sitting in the courtyard enjoying drinks.  Dinner there was pretty good with very nice service.  A mother and two young daughters sat close to us and we loved hearing the girls order: "please, may I have..."  We tried to remember to have such polite manners! 

We settled into the hotel for the night.

1.  Having a direct tube route to LHR made staying at the Ampersand even better
2.  We're used to navigating with the google app so the Garmin GPS was frustrating
3.  The National Trust Touring Pass was worth it
4.  The Havant Harbour is very pretty

Next: The Goodwood Revival!

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