It was a hot Sunday night in Amesbury, and I mean hot only in the sense of the temperature. If this was 1986 I would have gone into The Bell, drank way too many pints of cider (“It was on sale—£2.20 a pint!”), picked up a guy, danced until closing, woken up in a strange place, slept with my contacts in, missed my bus, and had to hitch hike back to Eton.
But this was 2017, so I’m afraid this won’t be such a titillating tale.
My interests these days run more to quiet places. That included all of Amesbury on a Sunday night, since almost everything was closed. I passed the euphemistically-named Camelot Nursing & Retirement Centre. Camelot?—Not.
I found the parish church and spent a quiet hour there.
Singing drifted from inside, so I snuck into the musty-smelling interior. I’m always afraid the minister is going to wave me over, “Come, join us, sister! Come sing praise to the Lord with us!” So I tip toed and hid behind one pillar after another until I could get a look at them. There were half a dozen women, all over the age of 40, being led by a man I assumed was the minister. He kept stopping them and instructing them to do something different, better … I couldn’t make out what he was saying but the tone of his voice was stern.
I spied a table with stuff for sale on it. Oh joy! This is always the best. I darted from behind my pillar to the one in front of the table. Postcards, tea towels, greeting cards, aprons. Aprons! Aprons went out with the Betty Crocker Cook Book and Tater Tot Hotdish, but they were only £2 so I grabbed two, and five tea towels, and a pack of greeting cards, all with the image of Amesbury Parish Church on them. I was set for hostess and housewarming presents for the next six months, and all for only £8.
In my excitement I nudged the table and it made a scraping sound. “Who’s there!” the minister called out. I waved and smiled as I quickly exited.
As you know if you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, my favorite subjects are death and travel. So I enjoyed some time in the churchyard. Poor Leonard Frank George Williams had a long name but a short life.
There were lovely mossy tombstones.
And these above-ground crypts.
There was this monument to the Great War. Note that there are three deceased named Ford, two Lawrences, and two Southeys. This was before the geniuses in command figured out that you shouldn’t assign all the men from one town to the same unit. Because when the unit was annihilated in a battle, every son in every family in town was killed. So incredibly sad.
Here is the plaque for the Word War. Hmmm…I thought they had learned a lesson by then, but there are repeat names on here, too, including a woman who appears to have died along with her brother. I guess it was literally all hands on deck during these wars.
The Great War. The World War. What will we call the next one?
I saw this and thought I was in for some comic relief. A pet cemetery!
But no. It was more dead people, just a section for the new tradition of cremation.
I was feeling “peckish” as they say (meaning hungry) so I wandered along, looking for food. The bakery was closed but the pennants in the window provided a lovely photo opp.
I ended up back at the Econolodge, which had a Burger King and something called a Little Chef next to it. I waited in line at the Burger King for 45 minutes. Everyone in town must have been there, since all the other restaurants were closed. I gave up and went to the Little Chef, which I highly doubt employed any chef—little or otherwise. It was supposed to look like a 1950s American-style diner. If such diners were filthy and served horrible, dry, bland food back in the day, then it was completely authentic.