We had traveled on Woodsford Road for about 10 miles when we finally reached Stonehenge Road—and the sign welcoming us to Amesbury.
We took a right on Stonehenge Road, excited to finally get to our destination.
A few minutes later we came upon a thatched roof cottage on the right side of the road.
My characters come alive for me when I’m writing their story. And I’ve been writing Will, Finn and Taylor’s story for almost two years. They had become real people in my mind, and to go on the same journey they had gone on was an incredible feeling.
And now I was standing before the little cottage that I had chosen for Will. I could see almost see Grandma Sophie’s green pickup truck in the space where a van was parked.
When I was writing my book, I had to rely on Google Earth and pictures gleaned from Google Maps to imagine the path my characters took on their daily adventures. Little did I know that years later, I’d see the place for myself and experience what my characters would have experienced had they been real people.
I felt truly blessed and I stood there just taking it all in. Maiko took a picture with Will’s house–appreciating the moment as well. She too had read the book and was excited to have it come even more alive in her mind. Then she left me have my moment.
While I was having my “moment”, Maiko was having her own “moment”. Across from the several people were shearing sheep and Maiko was so absorbed in watching the whole process.
I joined her and watched, too, fascinated at the whole process. The sheep were marked with different colors. They were herded up a ramp and placed on a shearing platform where someone was assigned to shear them with this electric razor. The sheep must have weighed a lot, but the workers easily flipped them over. The sheep were docile and would just lay there letting them shave the wool off.
After a while, we moved on. A few steps from Will’s cottage, we found the bridge over River Avon where Will and Finn often hung out.
I imagined Will and Finn scrambling down the banks to fish in the river.
Across the bridge was a bench were passersby could sit and enjoy the view.
I sat for awhile, and then we moved on. A few meters from the bridge, Stonehenge Road had turned into Church Street, and we found Amesbury Abbey.
Old gravestones, some covered in moss, littered the church yard. I imagined my characters exploring the various gravestones here as well.
Maiko and I went inside and we were welcomed by a cheery church guide.
The guide was eager to show us various historical details of the church, such as this old medieval clock.
Compared to Salisbury, Amesbury probably doesn’t see as many visitors so our guide was bursting with happiness at the chance to show us around. She asked us where we were from, and we told her we were from LA. I told her why we were in Amesbury and she was happy to find out that I had chosen it for my book’ s setting.
The guide wanted to show us more, but it was already 1230pm, so Maiko and I were starving and eager to find something to eat. I bought a sketch of Amesbury Abbey for 5o pence and a £2 pamphlet on the Abbey’s history and thanked the guide for her time. We were almost out the door and called out and gave me a postcard of Amesbury for free. She said it would be a nice souvenir since I was writing a book featuring Amesbury.
I thanked her, and left the abbey smiling.
We hopped on our bikes and from Church Street, made a right on Salisbury street.
We parked our bikes on some racks in the corner and walked around the street looking for a place to eat. Amesbury is a sleepy town and wasn’t quite as commercial as Salisbury. We finally decided to have lunch at Reeve the Baker–a bakeshop also available in Salisbury.
Maiko bought some pasties while I went into the bakery’s cafe, which was really just a small room with a few tables and chairs. The server told me that we had to order from the cafe itself if we wanted to sit there for lunch. So I ordered a coke and Maiko ordered a cappuccino, and we had them with the pasties she had bought.
After lunch, we walked around the small town of Amesbury. We walked a little ways on Church Street, and then back down Salisbury Street where we had left our bikes. I could see how Will, a kid from LA could get bored here as there weren’t too many shops to check out.
We passed by the bus station where Will would’ve taken the bus to Salisbury.
As we biked on Salisbury Street, we saw the Amesbury Library and decided to check it out.
My character Will is a bookworm like myself, and would hang out at the Amesbury library a lot.
Inside, we found a nice little children’s section–and as I always do, I made a space for my future book in there.
After awhile, Maiko and I headed toward the final stop of our Amesbury tour –Stonehenge School. We asked a nearby teenager where we could find it and he gave us some directions. We followed it and ended up on a street at the other side of the school (Cold Harbour Street). We went back the way we came and made a right on Earls Court Road and then a left on Antrobus Road, where Stonehenge School’s main gate was located.
Stonehenge School is where Will goes to school. I wanted to see if I could walk the hallways and maybe peek into the classrooms, so I left my bike with Maiko and went inside.
I found the visitor’s office and asked the lady there if I could walk around. She called for the principal to ask, and the principal said that unfortunately I couldn’t wander within the school unless I had some sort of special letter. Well, it was worth trying. I thanked her and asked if I could look around outside, and she said I could.
I took pictures of various places in the school and then headed out to join Maiko.
Maiko showed me a picture she had taken of several students who were more than happy to have their photos taken.
I imagined what Will would look like wearing the uniform.
It was already 3PM. Maiko and I needed to start cycling back toward Salisbury so we could get there by 5PM to return the bikes without a fee.
It was serious biking this time around and I didn’t have time to take pictures. I had to try and bike continuously. It was difficult going and my crotch was sore from sitting on the hard bike seat almost the whole day. I didn’t know how to stand on my bike so I had to just endure the pain.
The hills weren’t my favorite things at all. I would hop off the bike and walk my bike up the hill briskly. This time around, since we had a schedule to keep, there weren’t too many breaks either.
I was so happy when we finally reached the Salisbury border, 10 miles and 2 hours later.
It was 5PM so Maiko and I made a mad run for Hayball Cyclesport. We reached it 10 minutes later and returned the bikes.
I was exhausted by the time we got back to the hotel, but I was happy I did the ride. I took a quick powernap on the floor of the room (I didn’t want to stink up the sheets), freshened up, and then we headed out.
I carried a big bag of our dirty clothes to the Washing Well laundromat near the hotel.
We had bought tons of souvenirs, and I for one didn’t like the thought of these souvenirs getting mixed up with dirty clothes on our way back to LA. So I convinced Maiko to go to the Washing Well laundromat with me. We rented out two washers, stuffed our clothes in it, added some woolite and headed out to dinner.
We had been wanting to try out Wagamama since Maiko had bought the Wagamama cook book at a bookstore in LA. Luckily, there was a branch in Salisbury.
Maiko was so happy to finally get to try some Wagamama food. I ordered some Yakisoba and some iced tea.
Maiko ordered this fried rice–which would cause us tons of problems later on.
Maiko kept on offering me some of it, and we’re lucky that I refused to have some. Half way through the meal Maiko started complaining of slight stomach pain. I paid for the meal and we headed back to the Washing Well to wait for the laundry.
Maiko stayed at the hotel for a little bit, and then she joined me to help me fold the laundry. Her stomachache was worsening by the hour and I was getting worried because the following day was the day she was looking forward to most of all, because we would finally get to see Wimbledon.
Next Week: Wimbledon
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