Bucking the trend on a Heathrow layover

Many travelers have spent long layovers in London's wonderful museums, theaters and parks. Maybe too often. Last time, however, we rented a car rather than take the Tube into the city. We went the other way in search of real English countryside.

Within an hour we had found it, 18 miles due west of the airport. The superhighway turned into a highway, which turned into a country road, which, by pure luck, turned into Coronation Road, which led us into Littlewick Green, a nearly perfect English village built around a cricket pitch and a pub called The Cricketers.

Suddenly traffic, fumes and noise seemed hours away. Almost centuries. A man walking his dog smiled at us. Two chatting neighbors raised their hands in greeting. Even the signs were polite: "Please do not park here." Those were for the cricket fans. So were the benches of various designs and vintages. Had there been a match, we would have stayed, but the next one was two days away.

Besides, we had plans to keep. We intended to look in on some of Oxford's pretty colleges and eat lunch in a pub along the Thames. We did neither. The farthest we got was Henley on Thames of regatta fame. We took a long walk along the river, peeking into houseboats and looking in at the town's famous pub, but it was full of tourists, and our minds kept returning to The Cricketers (cricketers-berkshire.co.uk), with its chalkboard menu and garden full of flowers, so we went back there.

The place was packed with lunching locals who looked up as we came in. We had a couple of pints, split a ploughman's lunch and chatted with the several people who stopped to welcome us.

We got back to Heathrow with time to spare and one indelible memory. Total expenditure of time was six hours and of money was $40 for the car and $45 for lunch.

— Peter Ferry, Special to Tribune Newspapers

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