An April Fool's Travelogue
by Teri Foster Grey
One would be hard pressed to find a more beautiful or historically significant valley in Britain than the Twytt. This undiscovered gem lies halfway between London and Wimple-on-Boor, on B9876 between Catchall and the Welsh border town, Pantyrheid.
Dumpster, an industrial town who's primary product is slag, is gateway to the valley, lying in the bog that marks the confluence of the Boor and the Twytt. Built in the 18th century by Lord Fford Allen, 13th Vicount Twytt, as a slum to house the peasants displaced by the closing of his commons, Dumpster is home to the Oliver Twist Museum, which preserves the orphanage in which the young Mr. Twist spent his formative years. Do not miss the authentic cuisine, and do not, under any circumstances, attempt to purchase a second helping.
Following the course of the river northwards, the entrance to the rural heartland is at Bothersome, already a market town when the Romans bypassed it on their way to conquering the rest of England. The Vikings were not so choosy, and in 839 AD, Bothersome became the capital city of the minor Viking chieftain, Oswald the Verminous. The Bothersome peasants were not fond of Norse rule. One of the earliest English documents, attributed to the leader of the Bothersome resistance, Norbert the Addled, states, "We'll pay your bloody taxes, because you are a bloodthirsty get who would murder us in our beds otherwise, but we'll not swear fealty to you." This document, along with other relics of Norse rule, can be seen at the Bothersome Viking Museum at the west end of the Market Square. Norbert and his Bothersome supporters were successful in destroying Oswald's rule. In 841 AD, armed with torches and pitchforks, they burned Oswald's motte and bailey fort. This incident has been documented as the source of the climactic scene of Mary Shelley's novel, Frankenstein. The ruins can still be seen two kilometers north of town. Look for the sign saying, "Town Dump."
Ffenwigginbotham (pronounced "Figgy") lies five miles further up the valley, opposite the town of Fig (pronounced "Fen-WIG-en-both-um"). Ffenwigginbotham is the site of Pwddn Castle, residence of Lord Ffule, current Viscount of Twytt. (hours 10am-5pm daily May-October) Fig, however, is a ruin, the inhabitants having moved to Dumpster some centuries before. Lady Ffule is currently developing what remains of the town into a self-catering vegetarian medieval theme spa. (facials £20, body wrap £50, Iron maiden £75. Open alternate Tuesdays and Thursdays, by appointment.)
Paradoxically, the most famous town in England is situated at the remote head of the valley. In museums, train stations, and nearly all public buildings, one sees directional signs pointing to Way Out.
Teri Foster Gray lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and Labrador Retriever. A mild-mannered banker by day, she writes novels and travels whenever possible. Her journeys have included two years in Hawaii, six months in Europe, and the British visit that resulted in this piece. She has recently completed a novel, The Shadow Empire.
Article © 2008 Teri Foster Gray