2017 Day Seven

The heatwave has finally broken – everyone exhales a collective sigh of relief… then starts complaining about how cold it is.  Just like Melbourne really.

 The break in the relentless heat comes just in time – we’re off to explore the ancient city of Exeter today.  With a history dating back to pre Roman times it promises a wealth to explore.

We drive down to the Park and Ride for a hair raising journey in.  The bus is large, the roads and underpasses are not.  We duck under one where there’s barely 2-3 inches on all sides.  

Exeter on first view offers a busy high street, but its rich history slowly comes into focus. For a small town, it packs a lot in.

We lap the remarkably intact purple red Roman walls that surround the city and visit the the original gate house entry way, known as Rougemont Castle.   That hasn’t fared as well and stands in ruins, but it still a spectacular architectural feat of its time.  Despite being 2000 years old, over 70% of the wall is intact – it’s the largest single Roman structure in England.   It’s ability to hold back time is attributed to its composition: volcanic trap, a rock from the extinct volcano Rougemont which stood on this site. You have to hand it to the Romans, they were master tactitions when it came to displaying their power.  The then local Celts must have watched in wonder as that wall went up.

Next stop is the Cathedral, also boasting a long history.  Built over decades from 1112 to the 1400s, it boasts the highest vaulted ceilings in England.  I can’t coax Chris is, but even from just the outside, it’s a stunning building.  

Completing the picture is the beautiful mediaeval square, virtually intact since inception.

It’s then on the the imposing Market Hall building, the historic wool trade centre of  Exeter. Today it’s open,  displaying ancient hand painted  maps of the area.  Such intricate, detailed work. 

There’s a local farmers’ market in the high street too, we can’t resist stocking up on homemade pies and pasties.

Our last stop is what appears perhaps to be one of the original Tudor pubs in town, the Ship’s Inn, allegedly Sir Francis Drake’s favourite local.  Who are we to argue with tradition?  A quick drink sees our exploration end.

Having had our fill, it’s back on the Park and Ride back home.   This time we’re treated to a showdown a with a van that dared to come up a road our bus had claimed.  The van backed out, much cursing.  I don’t blame him, another few feet and he would have been clear, instead he has to back out the entire length of a narrow winding road, with an audience as a bonus.  

Much respect for the local Exeter school boys in tonight’s news.  Feed up with dracion rules not allowing them to wear shorts in the heat, they fronted school yesterday…. in skirts.  All of them, still in uniform, in skirts borrowed from friends and sisters.  Their argument?  Girls are allowed to wear skirts in summer, we should be allowed shorts.  They make a fabulous sight, not to mention point, but the highlight for me is the Head Boy who when interviewed on national media deems skirt wearing to be “quite nice really”.   Quite right too. 😘

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