A much different programme today as we really have a mix of activities that take us to some interesting and beautiful places.
Leaving Salisbury at 0900 we head for Zeals where we will visit Sam and Kevin who have refurbished an old WW2 Control Tower which needed much love and turned it into a beautiful home while taking into consideration the life before. But before we arrive we called into a parking area on the top of the hill overlooking the village of Mere for some panoramic shots across the valley. Set in 1300 m2 on part of the old RAF Zeals airfield it is in an idyllic situation with the fields and trees in close proximity.
Our visit to Sam and Kevin is an annual visit and they open their home to us and the cup of tea or coffee is well received. Kevin takes our group through his work on the restoration and also the details of the action at the airfield.
We said farewell to our hosts and made our way to a parking area in the hills up a very narrow track and then left the coach to proceed on foot along the saddle to the location of an aircraft crash that happened in early 1945. It was a Dakota and had 25 on board. Included on board were 2 Australians who had just completed a glider course and were returning to their units when, while taking off, a failure occurred and while trying to return to the airfield the plane hit the knoll and ploughed through the trees killing all aboard. There is a memorial there in the woods on the knoll and we conducted a small service again to ensure that they will not be forgotten..
Following our Service on the wooded knoll we made our way back to see Malcolm and Alan reclining on our deck chairs overlooking the incredible view. It was hard to get them out of their chairs but finally we did and packed the coach for now it was lunch time and we had a booking at the Red Lion in Heytesbury.
Michael set course for lunch and we arrived as a group of young men were having a last drink before they proceeded to the cricket oval as they were to take part in a charity cricket match in honour of one of the members who had been part of the club for nearly 40 years. I spoke to Andy whose Father-in-Law was the reason for the match and all results would go to the Alzheimer's Disease Foundation.
We ordered our lunches and many sat outside the pub in the sun on this glorious day. This day makes you forget that the weather can turn 180 degrees and then it would be inside around the fire. After lunch we said goodbye to our hosts, Sam and Lorna and left the Pub for we were heading to Sutton Veny to pay our respects to the 167 souls who reside there. During the War 1 Australian General Hospital was located nearby servicing the wounded brought through on the new narrow gauged railway that had been especially built for that purpose.
Many buried here succumbed to the Spanish flu that was rife amongst the soldiers as they prepared to return home. Many looking after the wounded including the Matron, 2 nurses, doctors and other members of the Medical Corps are also buried in this CWGC. The cemetery is at the back of this 12th Century Church and the grounds are very well looked after.
After visiting the Church we headed home via Shaftsbury where the Gold Hill Fair was being conducted. Our group viewed the iconic Gold Hill, the star on most UK Tourist Brochures and then spent time at the fair and the museum dedicated to King Alfred and his daughter who was the first Abbess of the Monastery that he had built in 888. It was destroyed by silly King Henry the 8th as he purged the Catholic religion from his realm. Also viewed was the original grave of Alfred, he now resides in Winchester.
We headed for home, a drink and diner for tomorrow we head north.