Days: 452 (20 September 2015)
Total distance travelled: 120,162.5 kilometres (74,635.07 miles)
Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your
A beautiful English Sunday found us aboard a train headed for the countryside, although in truth we were barely out of London when we’d already made our destination.
Friends? Well we were meeting those.
Romans? We’d just alighted in Saint Albans, site of the former Roman city of Verulamium (I was pretty excited by this).
Countrymen? Not much to explain here, we’re simply three Australians…
There waiting to collect us at the railway station were Julia and Neill, the parents of Sara, who just so happens to be wife of Simon, Sarah’s (that would be my Sarah) brother!
Confused much? Well never mind, as the crux of it is, we were there to catch up with some extended family from across the world for a Sunday lunch, and also to get a small taste of this English city.
We were too early for lunch, so kicked things off with a visit to the Roman theatre, which was little performance, and all ruin and whilst here we were joined by Sara’s sister Katy (that would be the English Sara).
It was not only a beautiful setting, where the shape and plan of the amphitheatre and its structures remained clear, but it was also a perfect example of what the remains of the Roman city has suffered as a whole.
Verulamium sits second only to Londinium in terms of the size of it’s cities on this remote island of their former empire, however very little remains.
Despite it being built of stone (which would decay slower than wood, although that’s not why they built it as such), it is this very fact that saw most of the ruins pillaged during the Middle Ages, where the Roman stone was used to construct many buildings that still stand in the city today, including the grand Saint Albans Abbey (where some of the stone can be seen).
We’d planned to visit the nearby museum as our first port of call, however it hadn’t opened at that point in time, hence the theatre.
With the museum still not an option, we took a lovely country stroll in search of one of the grandiose mansions (yes there are two, although one is in ruins) that inhabit the same property as the theatre (it all belongs to the Earl of Veralum).
A look at the standing one was all we managed, before realising that we should get a wriggle on if we were going to make our lunch booking in a reasonable time!
In doing so, we made our way past that abbey made of pilfered stone (post lunch, we even popped back for a look inside), before getting our skates on to our most important destination (especially on a Sunday afternoon) which proved to be an English pub.
A good old fashioned Sunday roast was in order, Sarah and I opting for pork, whilst the other four all went for the beef option.
It wasn’t fine dining, but it was tasty, and we washed it all down with a couple of beers.
The lure of ancient Rome remained, so it was soon back to the park to check out the museum (which turned out to be closed) and some of the remains of the Roman wall, of which various sections did in fact remain.
Apparently, the pièce de résistance was still to come, in the form of a Roman mosaic (and by now, you may know how we love a good mosaic).
Well we hunted it down, protected as it was inside a walled and roofed enclosure… only it had closed fifteen minutes before we’d arrived!
I guess that was one beer too many!
Still, we could get a small peep through one of the windows, and from the glimpse we had, it was pretty impressive.
Maybe we’ll have better luck next time…
* Our train fare from London St Pancras to Saint Albans cost us £11.60 per person in each direction.