A 12 hour layover at Terminal 5...
Now, I know Terminal 5 is new and exciting, but surely not that wonderful that anyone would wish to spend a day there!
Mike from Canada thought so, and arranged for me to pick him and his son up for a trip to Salisbury and Stonehenge. Despite the M3 and M25 motorways’ attempts to thwart me (well, it was rush hour), I arrived on time. And introductions made, we soon headed off to begin the hour’s journey to that gorgeous and picturesque village of Wherwell, where we stopped for a short while to stretch our legs and take photos.
Half an hour later we arrived in Salisbury, where much of the time I found myself asking Mike, “So where are we going now?” That probably wouldn’t inspire much faith in my abilities as a guide normally, but what I had discovered was Mike’s passion for geocaching - a kind of hide and seek using GPS. Put it this way, I saw parts of Salisbury today I had never seen before! Forget the usual sites such as the cathedral, the mediaeval streets and museums, geocaching is a great way of touring a town! (But of course we still visited the other places too.)
The photo on the right was taken just after the discovery of another capsule. Mike’s just writing on it to prove he’d found it.
We had lunch at the Haunch of Venison, a very old pub dating from 1420 which probably doesn’t have a single right angle in the place. But at least there’s a hand in it. Literally - a mummified hand as a stark warning to people who cheat at cards (discovered during renovations). I have to say it’s certainly a conversation piece!
We had time to stop at Old Sarum, but chose instead to carry on to Stonehenge. It’s always interesting to see what visitors make of Stonehenge, as it’s such a well-known icon that the reality can amaze or disappoint. For Mike and his son, it was worth seeing, although not as ‘circular’ as they had imagined.
And guess what? Mike found a British geocacher there! It’s certainly a sociable hobby. Trackable geocoins were swapped (see how the lingo trips easily from my tongue?!) to continue their journeys in other lands, and then it was time to head back to the airport in good time for my delightful - but very tired - guests to catch their onward flight.
I met my guests at Heathrow at 9am; we spent about 15 minutes at Wherwell, and had 2.5 hours at Salisbury (although we had time for an hour at Old Sarum) and an hour at Stonehenge and were back at Heathrow by about 4.30pm.
So this tour would be suitable for anyone who has 8 hours or more clear (ie having got through immigration and the baggage hall, to getting back 2 hours in advance of departure).