London Calling

Last summer on the way Gamescom in Germany I had a brief stop-over in London to visit a few game developers. As always, it was a whirlwind trip. I literally stepped off the plane at 6 AM, checked in to the hotel and showered by 9 AM and then was in an office talking business by 10 AM. (There’s no better way to change your internal clock than starting your day on local time.)

Thankfully, though, I had a day off on Saturday to see a few sights. Brian, one of GameSpy Tech‘s account managers, was raised just a few miles outside of town so we hopped into the car to see the English countryside. A few observations:

  1. Sitting on the left side of the car and not driving is truly bizarre.
  2. All towns should have a vibrant center square.
  3. Old buildings and old rocks are cool.
  4. We could all use a life that moves a little slower.
  5. Pubs are awesome an thing. We need those in the States.

Most of our trip outside London itself was in the Cotswolds. As we drove through the rolling hills I remarked to myself, “My, but this is an area of outstanding natural beauty.” Turns out, other people think so, too, and the region is officially recognized as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Our first stop was a small shop on the Oxford Canal, just beside the Great Western Arms, where we watched a few boats cruise along. After that we headed to Chipping Norton, a small market town, and our second visit to a “Hooky” (Hook Norton) pub, The Fox Hotel. Bellies full of beer, it was then off to see the Rollright Stones.

Everyone knows Stonehenge, the giant megalithic monument of standing stones. I’d wager that most everyone does NOT know about The Rollright Stones. The monument has three main groupings: The King’s Men, The Whispering Knights and the King Stone. Construction estimates range from 5000 BC for The Whispering Knights to the relatively “new” King Stone from 1500 BC. While certainly no Stonehenge, I was pretty amazed to be standing next to stones erected more than 7000 years before. (Brian, of course, was properly reflective and somber while we were visiting.)

The next destination was Warwick Castle, by a the River Avon. It is a formidable structure. Originally built by William the Conqueror in 1086 and used as a military structure until the mid 1700’s. It was used by nobility into the 1900’s and is now… a theme park. Think While I enjoyed wandering the castle grounds I was bitterly disappointed to be effectively at Medieval Times (albeit on a grand scale.) I drowned my sorrows in a pint (or two) of Tilted Pig at the Tilted Wig.


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