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CARPE TEMPESTAS

The stereotype of British weather goes something like this: it’s cold, it’s grey, and it rains a lot. There may or may not be fog. And I have to admit the last few weeks have fit that description to a T. Constant drizzle, thunderstorms, and the occasional hailstorm have served to keep me inside, daydreaming of warmer temperatures and drier days.

Because of the tendency of the British weather to live up to its reputation, good weather is an excuse to toss out the to-do list—or at least hit pause—and take advantage of every moment of blue sky and sun. And that’s exactly what I did before the recent deluge. Three perfect days beckoned and it was an absolute joy to get out and about, even if a coat, scarf, gloves, woolly hat, and pair of thermals were required.

First, a trip to the Georgian city of Bath. Having once lived here, I feel I can vouch for its seductive charms, from the buttery stone that glows in the light to its rich historic centre, once home to residents ranging from Romans to Jane Austen. Modern Bath is filled with winding side streets and tempting shops, yet one of the things I rarely did as a former resident was just wander. There was always a reason for being out and about, and errands were carried out with military precision. But on this day there was no real plan. MrElaineous and I had a general goal—plastic-free shopping—but for the most part we just let our feet take us where they wanted, popping into the shops that caught our eye. This is why we now own an hourglass made from an industrial bobbin, an artefact from a bygone age that fits perfectly into the living room, where my decorating style can best be described as 21st-century Victorian study.

Pulteney Bridge: A stone bridge crosses a river in the English city of Bath
A red British telephone box is filled with flowers against a yellow stone background

When the next day dawned bright and clear as well, it was off to one of our favourite local walks, the charming Castle Combe. We last visited as part of the birthdaversary celebrations when we completed a nearly six-mile circuit around the village and surrounding countryside. On this particular day the Castle Combe Racing Circuit was in full swing, and the buzz of motorbikes echoed off the hills. It still made for a lovely walk, giving us the opportunity to see the first signs of spring beginning to appear and testing our memory as we set off without a map or guidebook.

A yellow building with four gables in the English village of Castle Combe
Grey stone cottages line a single street in the English village of Castle Combe

Finally, after three days without hardly a cloud in the sky, let alone rain, it was back to Malmesbury. I wanted to overwrite my earlier memories of struggling through the mud, so with a pair of wellies firmly in place we set off on a two-mile jaunt around the outskirts of the town. Despite the dry weather, it was still muddy (and I have been reliably informed by a local that it always is), but enjoying the historic sights and peaceful river walk under a blue sky more than makes up for this minor inconvenience. Indeed, if living in the UK has taught me one thing, it’s that carpe diem is all well and good, but that you should really carpe tempestas: seize the weather.

Malmesbury, England: A stone bridge crosses a river in the forgeound and a mill building with many windows sits in the background
Malmesbury, England: A large stone abbey and graveyard stand out against a blue sky
A male mallard duck with with bright green feathers on his head
Elaine Massung Off the Beaten Track
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MissElaineous Blog: Escape & Explore & Discover & Enjoy