England Grand Tour (2021): Day 4: All Change!

I’m flying – I remember this!

We had our Covid-style Holiday Inn Express breakfast, then packed, checked out and caught a Tyne & Wear Metro train to Newcastle Airport. Today would bring a dramatic change of location, the first of two domestic flights on the trip, and most remarkably of all on Monday 24 May, my first flight of 2021!

Pretty much everything in the airport was closed, so it was just a matter of going through security and finding somewhere to sit until time to board. Although I had flown out of this airport before, it had never been on the British Airways route to London Heathrow. It turned out to be a moderately busy flight. We had treated ourselves to Club Europe using miles, and this proved to have been a sound move. It was nice to see a more normal style of in-flight service on this short sector: the Covid-19 Club Europe sandwich boxes of autumn 2020 appeared to be history! Everything was going swimmingly, except for the small matter of the weather seeming to take a turn for the worse as we approached our destination airport.

Caution: Wilts when wet

We picked up our first rental car of the trip at Terminal 5 and drove via the M4 and Hungerford to our next destination, the well-to-do small town of Marlborough, Wiltshire. Upon arrival, we checked into what looked like a new-build Premier Inn, which was considerably nicer than the Holiday Inn Express that we had just left in Newcastle. After settling in for a bit, we went out for a short walk into the town’s High Street, believed to be the widest in Britain. It certainly seemed like a credible assertion from initial impressions.

It was shockingly cold for 24 May in the south of England, and when the rain became too much to put up with, we went into the Royal Oak pub for a leisurely beer. We then managed another walk and a decent look around, before escaping further rain by having a second unhurried beer, this time in The Green Dragon. This kept us going until dinner time, when we crossed the road to have dinner at Ask Italian, where pizzas seemed like the way to go.