Sunday to Sunday, 10 to 17 July, 2016 – Days 25 to 32 – Telford area

Sunday to Sunday, 10 to 17 July 2016 – Days 25 to 32 – Telford area

Sunday, 10 July 2016 (Day 25)  Was just a rest day. On Monday, 11 July 2016 (Day 26) I went to see Lucy’s son, Peter and his wife Jane at Lilleshall where they live, to see whether Peter could help me with my ipad problem but he wasn’t able to help me. After going back to hotel did more on my blog and early night to bed.

Lilleshall where Lucy and Peter (Lucy's son) and wife Jane live

Lilleshall where Lucy and Peter (Lucy’s son) and wife Jane live

Tuesday, 12 July 2016 (Day 27)  Another rest day at the hotel.

Wednesday13 July 2016 (Day 28)  I rang Lucy for her 95th birthday. Went into the railway station to pick up my ticket and then into the Apple Store about my IPad – only way I could access my information on the IPad was to delete everything. I left the store feeling quite deflated but decided to see whether I would be told anything differently once home. Went for a drive to Newport and had a coffee and then back to hotel to do more on my blog.

Thursday, 14 July 2016 – (Day 29)  Today did more on my blog until about 4.30 and then went to Warren’s. We walked down to the nearby Red Lion Hotel for a nice dinner of steak. We then came back and did some changeover of log-ins from Em’s Ipad that she had so kindly lent me and put photos on USB stick and then after chatting we all went to bed.

Red Lion Hotel where Warren, Emily, Anthony and I had dinner

Red Lion Hotel where Warren, Emily, Anthony and I had dinner

Friday 15th July 2016 – (Day 30)  Up and after breakfast said goodbye to Warren, Emily and Anthony and drove out to Lilleshall to visit Lucy. After staying a couple of hours, said goodbye to Lucy. Was lovely catching up with her as she is just one wonderful and inspiring lady of 95. Was raining as I drove back to Telford. Filled up the car and returned it to the hire place. Kim (in the office) arranged for me to be driven back to the hotel.  As I didn’t have any technology, was an early night to bed.

Lucy at 95 and 2 days

Lucy at 95 and 2 days

Saturday 16th July, 2016 (Day 31)  After breakfast, decided I would have a leisurely hike up the Wrekin. The Wrekin is a hill in east Shropshire, England. It is located some five miles (8 km) west of Telford. Rising to a height of 1,335 feet (407 metres) above the Shropshire Plain, it is a prominent and well-known landmark and is popular for walkers and tourists and offers good views of Shropshire.

Caught a cab to the base and then just took my time and at the summit sat and enjoyed the view before it was time for me to descend. Then it was into another cab back to the hotel. Had a nice soak in the bath and then to bed reasonably early.

Sunday 17th July 2016 (Day 32)  After breakfast, caught a cab up to the Telford Shopping Centre to get my hair done.  After a little wander, came back to accommodation and sorted out luggage in readiness for tomorrow.  Nice soak and then to bed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday, 9 July 2016 – Day 24 – Telford to Welshpool, Wales

Saturday, 9 July 2016 – Day 24 – Telford to Welshpool, Wales

(7497)  Got up and met David for a short time. Was nice to see him again and then he had commitments. About 10.15am. I set off for Vanessa’s in Welshpool, Gateway to Wales.  Was raining for awhile. Past through Ford and Wattlesborough. I stopped at the Halfway House before continuing on through Middletown and Trewin. The countryside is beautiful and green and there are hills around. Cows and sheep were wandering around along the way.

I turned off at Arddleen and arrived at Vanessa’s. After meeting Vanessa’s husband, Neil and their two sons, Will and Sam, Vanessa and I went to the nearby Powis Castle, a magnificent property with over 700 years of fascinating history.

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Powis started life as a medieval fortress, built for the Welsh Princes. It gradually changed into an impressive residence, lived in by generations of the Herbert family. The property has barely altered since the early 1900’s when the 4th Earl, George Herbert (1862-1952) and his wife Violet lived with their 3 children. Violet improved the garden which she felt had the potential to be “the most beautiful in England and Wales”. She died after a car accident in 1929. On his death in November 1952, aged 90. the 4th Earl bequeathed the castle and gardens to the National Trust. He was succeeded by his cousin, Edward Herbert (1889–1974), fifth Earl, whose widow, the Countess Powis, remained living in the dower house, and was succeeded in turn by Christian Victor Charles Herbert the sixth Earl.  Throughout 2016, Powis will be commemorating the life of Percy Herbert, Viscount Clive, (son of 4th Earl) who bravely fought in WWI from 1914-1916 when he died of wounds received at the Battle of the Somme in World War I.

The castle is known for its extensive, attractive formal gardens, terraces, parkland, deerpark and landscaped estate. On our entrance, I finally got to see deer as I have not seen any on my three visits to the UK.

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Finally seeing some deer !!!

We wandered through the beautiful rooms of the Castle including the entrance hall, bedrooms and huge library, and climbed the Grand Staircase which was commissioned between 1674 and 1687.

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Vanessa and me at Powis Castle

After a cup of coffee, we admired the beautiful 17th century terraced gardens. There were immaculate herbaceous borders and clipped yews along with flowers in the cottage garden style. We wound our way along some of the terraced gardens meeting some of the inhabitants – beautiful peacocks – until it was time to return to the car.

The Castle and its grounds were just magnificent. On our way home, we stopped off in Welshpool for fish and chips.

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Next to the fish shop there was The Mermain Inn, a 16th century timber framed building, originally with thatched roof. It has been an inn for at least 200 years.

After dinner, I left the Thomas household and had a good run back to my hotel.

Will, Sam, Vanessa and Neil

Will, Sam, Vanessa and Neil

I rang Vanessa to let her know I was back OK. and to thank her for a lovely catchup and outing to Powis Castle. (7540).

 

 

Thursday and Friday, 7 and 8 July 2016 – Days 22 and 23 -From Warwickshire area to Telford

Thursday and Friday – 7  and 8 July 2016 – Days 22 and 23 –  From Warwickshire area to Telford

Thursday, 7 July 2016  – Day 22

This morning, got a shock when the housemaid woke me at 11.00am. I slept through 3 alarms so must have been very tired. Went into the lounge of the Black Horse Inn and had a coffee before I left at about 12.00. There was a very appropriate sign that I liked!.  (7328).

I had a good run until Bayston Hill, near Shrewsbury. Finally the traffic moved and I went via Shatterford, Alverley, Qat and Qattley. I ended up in Shifnal and there was excitement in the street as there were two fire brigades attending a fire. I arrived back at Days Inn, my accommodation at about 3.45pm.

I rang Robert that night and was nice to hear his voice. Didn’t do much tonight and off to bed.

Friday, 8 July 2016 –  Day 23 

(7437)  After breakfast, set off for Oswestry to meet Louise at the Wynnstay Hotel. Louise was in her lunch time from Hope House Hospice. We had a nice lunch and catch up before it was time for her to go back to work and me back to Telford.

Louise from Hope House Hospice and Me at Wilsons Bar at the Wynnstay Hotel in Oswestry

Louise from Hope House Hospice and Me at Wilsons Bar at the Wynnstay Hotel in Oswestry

I took some painkillers as had a bad headache and some pain so went to bed at 4.30pm. I woke up at 9.30pm thinking it was Saturday morning and wondered where David was as we had arranged to meet. So it was back to bed!  (7460)

Wednesday, 6 July 2016 – Day 21 – Telford to Warwickshire area

Wednesday, 6 July 2016 – Day 21 – Telford to Warwickshire area

Up and left Warren’s at 8.15am. (7245). Warren, Anthony and Emily piloted me out to where I needed to head to Leamington Spa to catch up with Niamh.  It was lovely catching up with the Starlings – thankyou for your great hospitality.

I had a good run and arrived in Leamington Spa at 10.30am. I turned off the main road into a street where there was St Paul’s Church. I used this as a landmark when I rang Niamh who came to meet me. We drove in both cars back to her place in Kenilworth. We had a coffee and the fridge had “died” so it was being defrosted so as to be collected later in the afternoon. Niamh, who is Irish, introduced me to her neighbour who is also Irish. The fridge people came earlier than expected which was good as we could go off and not have to come back for them. We drove a short distance to a hotel, the Green Man for a lovely lunch of Nachos and a Thai curry and Niamh a chicken dish.

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Niamh and me enjoying lunch

After lunch, we drove to the Kenilworth Castle which is a ruin.  It was then into Leamington Spa for a short walk and coffee. We drove past the school that Niamh will be commencing to teach at in September. This is a complete change in career for her as when we met, she was a receptionist in Telford in a hotel. I then met Niamh’s partner, Alan briefly before we drove him to a nearby pub to watch Portugal v Wales play.

Back at the house, Niamh and I showed some family photos before Niamh piloted me to my accommodation at the lovely Black Horse Inn in Warwick. Was a joy as right on ground level – no stairs to negotiate.

It was then goodbye to Niamh after a lovely, although short, enjoyable day. She was off home to pack her case as she was flying back to visit her family for a week in Ireland. It was nice catching up with Niamh.

Finally into bed at 12.00.  (7328)

Monday and Tuesday, 4 and 5 August, 2016 – Days 19 and 20 Malta to UK

Monday and Tuesday,  4 and 5 July 2016  – Days 19 and 20 – Malta to UK

Monday, 4 July, 2016  – Day 19 – Telford 

I had my wakeup call at 4.45am. Dressed quickly and down for a cup of coffee before my transport arrived at 4.45am to take me to the Malta Airport. Arrived at the airport by 6.00am. I booked my 16.7ks case through and then wrote some postcards until it was 8.00 am when I went through Security and passport check.  Boarded flight KM116 from Malta to Gatwick. I exchanged seats so as to sit with David and Margaret who I had met and sat with on way over to Malta. We left at 8.40am and arrived at Gatwick Airport at 12.30pm.  It was a bit of a wait at the passport check and then said goodbye to David and Margaret who had waited for me to get through passport check.

I was going to get the Gatwick Express but the railway assistant told me it would be better to get an ordinary train to St Pancreas. The train was delayed by 35 minutes due to a staffing problem so I eventually arrived at St Pancreas and got a taxi to Euston Station. I thought I was in time for the 3.15pm train but my ticket was for a different company so had to change my ticket.  The woman was very obliging and did not charge me extra so I boarded the train to Wales. Had to change at Birmingham New Street station. A kind guy took my case and me to the correct station for my next train that arrived in 10 minutes. Boarded the train and arrived at the Wellington Station at about 6.10pm. Warren and Anthony picked me up and it was to their place in Wellington and then it was hello to Emily.

We chatted over a a lovely spread and was good catching up with them.  Met these lovely people in 2014 at the Birmingham Airport.

The night ended on a frustrating note as my IPad went berserk and wouldn’t let me activate it after attempting to put in a passcode so left it and went to bed at 10.30pm disappointed.

Tuesday, 5 July 2016 – Day 20 – Telford and into Wales

Up at 7.30 and after breakfast drove into Telford to pick up my hire car and brought it back to Warren’s. We all then went into the Town Centre to see about my IPad but with no success. We then called into the Coed Poeth shop for some stores and then onto the Parc Farm Holiday Park where Warren has accommodation. The park is set in the Clwydian Hills midway between Llangollen, Mould and Ruthin, with stunning views of the surrounding countryside.

Emily has done a lot of work in the little garden.

It was then into the lovely historic market town of Ruthin (Rhuthin) via LlandyrnogIts position on the River Clwyd, between the Hiraethog Moors and the Clwydian Hills has led to many bloody battles between the English and the Welsh who fought for centuries for control of this important agricultural area. Before going in for lunch, we went into the Craft Centre – had many interesting displays and I bought a book consisting of the “Welsh Place Names” – Ruthin is mentioned and says  – Probably a corruption of rhudd, red, and din, town. So called from the colour of the soil.

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Give us a cwtch means Give us a cuddle. Still cannot understand the Welsh language.

We went into the Castle Hotel, an old coaching house and is located in St Peter’s Square. It is a Grade II listed building erected in the 18th century and named the White Lion and owned by the Myddelton family of Ruthin Castle. In c1885 it was renamed the Castle Hotel incorporating what is now the Myddleton Arms next door. Sir Hugh Myddelton, who bought this house in 1595, provided London with its first supply of fresh water.

The Castle Hotel is in a stunning location, in a town which boasts more listed buildings than any other in North Wales.  The premises have been refurbished by JD Wetherspoon in January 2012. We all had a nice lunch and I had Welsh sausages, peas and potato.

Warren, Anthony, Emily and I in the Castle Hotel in Ruthin, North Wales

Warren, Anthony, Emily and I in the Castle Hotel in Ruthin, North Wales

There was a copy of a lovely tapestry called the Wine Market that was woven in Flanders in the 15th Century. The original now hangs in the Cluny Museum in Paris.  Also in the hotel were several photographs of Charles Darwin. In August 1835, Charles Darwin, then only 22 years old, came to North Wales on a geological tour and stayed in Ruthin. He reputedly spent a night in the Castle Hotel. There was a painting of Darwin that was made 50 years later.

Before leaving Ruthin, we had a little wander and came across the “Maen Huail” which said – “On this stone the legendary King Arthur is said to have beheaded Huail, brother of Gildas the historian, his rival in love and war”.

It was time to leave Ruthin to return back to Wellington via Oswestry and arrived about 7.30 after a lovely relaxing day until the fun began trying to close Em’s account and get into Yahoo. We finally succeeded at 11.00pm and then off to bed.

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday, 26 June 2016 – Day 11 – Telford to London

Sunday, 26 June, 2016 – Day 11 – Telford to London

Woke to another day of intermittent showers but by 11.00 when I booked out of the hotel, the sun was shining. Caught a cab to Telford Central Railway Station and waited for the 12.00 train to Birmingham New Street where I then had to catch the 12.55 to London Euston Station.

Euston Station. - A very busy area

Euston Station. – A very busy area

I then caught a cab to the Casburn’s place. Their place is in a lovely street called The Mews and it used to be stables way back.

I met Mark and the two lovely young girls, Grace and Ally. Later in the evening, we all walked a short distance to the Prince Alfred hotel for a very enjoyable meal. We were downstairs and this used to be where the coal was dispatched.

Mark, Cynthia, Grace, Ally and me enjoying our meal

Mark, Cynthia, Grace, Ally and me enjoying our meal

 

After our meal, Cynthia and I had a short walk up to the Canals – hence the name “little Venice”.  We then came back to their place and I had a reasonably early night.  Thanks Grace for giving up your comfy bed for the night.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday – Saturday, 23-25 June 2016 – Days 8-10 – In Telford

Thursday – Saturday23-25 June, 2016 –  Days 8-10 – In Telford

Thursday, 23 June 2016. – Day 8

Woke up after a lovely uninterrupted sleep and a nice sunny day. I had ordered a late breakfast as wanted to have a lie in.  I then caught a bus into Wellington to collect my prebooked rail tickets and then onto another bus up to Telford Shopping Centre. Before the shopping centre, at a bus stop, a person spoke to me. It was Gillian who was getting off the bus. We hadn’t been able to chat as I hadn’t seen her on the bus. Out of all the buses in Telford we were on the same bus. Got to the shopping centre and sorted out my SIM cards. Came back on the bus to the hotel where I was going to catch up on some internet stuff but my room didn’t like the wfi.  Guess I was being told to get some more rest.

I made a phone call to Lucy and then watched all the election updates on the EU Remain or Leave.

Friday, 24 June, 2016 – Day 9

Another sunny day!

Well, the EU election results must have been quite a shock for the UK Prime Minister, David Cameron who called this referendum to remain in the EU.  The results came out for the UK to leave the EU, so it is a very divided UK.

I got up and had breakfast and then went into the foyer as I could get the Wfi there so did some blogging until it was checkout time at 11.00am.  I filled the car up and returned it to Stafford Park after having clocked up 580 miles.  I guess 50+ of that was getting lost.  Ha ha.  I ordered a taxi.  It hadn’t arrived after waiting over half an hour so a chap from Avis kindly drove me to my hotel and was able to book in straight away.  Went and had some lunch, did some more internet work until the capacity wore down so then watched tennis and TV until it was time to put the light out early tonight.

Saturday, 24 June, 2016 – Day  10

Another day without rain, but cloudy.  I got up and was able to catch up on the internet before I was going up to the Town Centre.  The day without rain didn’t last long as was sunny one minute and raining the next.  Got a cab to the Telford Town Centre for a hair appointment.  Rang Lucy, but forgot she was going to an 80th birthday party so came back to the hotel as didn’t feel like aimlessly wandering about this centre as is quite big and extremely noisy and wanted to conserve my energy!!!   Watched more tennis, sorted out my luggage once more and settled down to watch some more TV before settling down for the night.

I should be all rested up for my trip to London tomorrow.  This time has given me the opportunity to do a few things so feeling happy.

 

 

 

Wednesday, 22 June 2016 – Day 7 – Cardiff to Telford

Wednesday, 22 June 2016 – Day 7 – Cardiff to Telford

Even though I had only 4 hours sleep I decided to get an early start for my trip heading down to Cornwall for my visit to the Eden Project. It is nestled in a huge crater. There are two massive biomes (greenhouses) that house the largest indoor rainforest in captivity and plants that are collected from many diverse climates and environments.

It was raining so I set off at 7.45. I headed towards Newport (Casnewdydd) and then to Langstone and up to Chepstow (Cas-gwent).  This was a very pretty little village but once again very narrow one way streets and parking and signs hard to find. I ended up at Alvington and realised that I was too far north so back into Chepstow. I crossed over the River Severn so thought I was now heading the right way, but once more to no avail. So, it was here I had to make up my mind whether to go on or turn around and return to Telford. Decided on the latter.

I made my way to Monmouth, through Hereford, Leominster and up to Ludlow, Craven Arm, Church Stretton, and Dorrington.  The weather had cleared up but the traffic was virtually non stop at Bayston Hill.  Eventually got to  Shrewsbury  and Telford feeling absolutely physically and mentally exhausted.  It was 3.00pm and when I saw a familiar hotel I booked in, had a welcome shower, bought a takeaway and fell into bed at 8.00pm.

 

Monday and Tuesday, 20-21 June – Days 5-6 – Telford to Cardiff

Monday – Tuesday, 20 – 21 June 2016. –  Telford to Cardiff

Monday, 20 June 2016 – Day 5

Had my breakfast and got a cab to Stafford Park via the Telford train station to collect my prepaid tickets and collected my car – a nice little Fiat 500 (4594).  Left Telford in heavy rain and headed to Brignorth, Kidderminster, Tenbury Wells, Leomister, Hereford, Monmouth, Langstone and Castleton.

 I wanted to miss going into Newport.  I arrived in Cardiff (Caerdydd) at about 3.00pm.  By fluke, I came in right at the Castle. Just around the corner was the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama (Coleg Brenhinol Cerdd Adrama Cympu) where I was to meet up with Carson who is studying there. I met her, her mum and brother on my Scottish tour in 2014.  Seeing that I had three hours before meeting Carson, I decided to go and check where my accommodation was. I came across a Premier Inn but it was the wrong one. The nice lass wrote out instructions for me, but somehow I missed something as I seemed lost.  Saw a sign to Roath where the hotel was so I phoned but with the strong accent I found it difficult to follow but nevertheless headed in the general direction I thought was correct. Still didn’t seem right, so stopped in at a garage but the fellow there didn’t know.  A very helpful young man told me to follow him and he would get me there. It wasn’t too far away.

On arrival, saw a sign saying ” reception and parking” But it appeared to be going into a thick crop of trees. Finally, was told to go past the huge tennis complex and there behind this building was the hotel. I thought it best to cancel dinner with Carson and after booking in, I literally fell into bed.

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Tuesday, 21 June 2016 – Day 6

Up after a good night’s sleep thought I had better give myself plenty of time to meet Carson at 11.00am.  As I was getting into the car, a couple who were parked next to me starting talking and told me they were very disappointed with this hotel – damp in their room and at about 4.00am, the people upstairs were kicking up a storm. They also said they had difficulty in finding the place so that made me feel a whole lot better.

I set off into Cardiff and it was only 15 minutes away so found a sneaky car park to wait for Carson.  Not long after 11.00 she came pedalling along. It was lovely seeing her.

I thought we would set off towards Swansea on the M4 via Bridgend (Peny-bont at Ogwr). We stopped for a drink and pastry before Port Talbot.  When we got to Swansea it was very busy and finding a park too difficult so we kept going on via Gowerton and Llanelli to the little village of Pwll and found a park on the roadside and headed for a cafe that had the signage “open all day” but their day ended at 3.00pm.  We wandered along a little further and went into a proper restaurant – Seagars.  As we were both hungry, we ordered a meal – Carson ordered a chicken dish and I had a nice pasta dish. The meals were quite large so no room for dessert!  So we were pleased the other cafe closed.

We drove a short distance to Burry Port. As the sun was out, we took a few photos of the marina, lighthouse and the sea. Couldn’t go for a paddle as the tie was way out.

Across the marina there is an Amelia Earhart museum but because of the late hour we didn’t go in. Wondered the significance of the museum. Amelia Earhart became the first woman to fly across the Atlantic and evidently on 17 June 1928 she landed her plane in Pwll and then it was towed into Burry Port. Amelia thought she had landed in Southampton but was told “No, this is Pwll”.

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We then started our drive back to Cardiff heading north to Kidwelly (Cydwelily),

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Carmarthen (Caerfyrddin), Cross Hands and hooked up at Port Talbot and arrived back in Cardiff to where Carson had left her bike at 11.00pm. It was a long but lovely day. We said goodbye and I just had the short distance to my hotel.  I got to the garage I was at yesterday as my starting point and it was straight up Newport Road and then turn left.  Well, after driving for a bit, thought I must have gone wrong, so back to the garage and off I went again. Still no luck so by this time it was almost 2.00am!  I found a police station so knocked on the door but no one came, so upstairs I went. A police lady came to the door and asking could I use a toilet and then tell her my plight.  Don’t know whether I interrupted a meeting as there were about 12 officers in the room.  So, the police woman and another officer told me to follow them and they would escort me to the hotel.  I was so grateful and I just have no idea where I went wrong. It was now 2.45am!!!!  Once more I fell into bed absolutely exhausted but it was a lovely day but just a bit too long. Turned out to be  235 miles.  Think I had better invest in a GPS but I have been told they cannot always be relied upon. The signages are quite difficult to see as half hidden by thick foliage or just difficult to find.

 

 

Saturday and Sunday, 18 and 19 June, 2016 – Days 3 and 4 – In Telford

Saturday and Sunday, 18-19 June 2016 – Days 3-4 – In Telford

Saturday, 18 June 2016 

Today, after a good night’s sleep got up and had breakfast and then about 1.00 got a cab and visited my dear friend, Lucy.  We had a lovely chat and had an early dinner and then about 6.00 left.  Although she said she wasn’t feeling the best, she looked really well.  After all, she will be 95 on 13 July.  Have complete admiration for her.  When she wrote to me last, she called me “Mrs Wonder Woman” but I call her that.  Hope to see her again in a couple of weeks.

Lucy a couple of weeks off being 95!

Lucy a couple of weeks off being 95!

Another early night.

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Today was very uneventful except for doing a lot of people watching as where I am staying is right next door to a rather large complex for buses, etc. to stop off.  Really used this day for a good rest as big drive tomorrow.  No photos as drizzling rain and nothing to take here.

Tuesday, 28 July, 2015 – Day 3 -Travel from London – Dover – Calais – Amsterdam, The Netherlands- (Day 49)

Tuesday, 28 July 2015 – Day 3 – Travel from London – Dover – Calais – Amsterdam, The Netherlands (250 miles/400 Kms) – (Day 49)

Early wake up call at 6.15, as had to have case outside door by 6.30.  Down to a very light breakfast as feel as though that is all I have been doing – eating.  We boarded the coach driven by Luigi from Milan and met our tour guide, Britt from Amsterdam at 7.45 and left at 8.00 to pick up other passengers from a couple of other hotels. Finally we were on our way at 8.30-40.  The traffic was quite slow as workers were around.  We passed Harrods, Westminster Abbey, Houses of Parliament, Big Ben etc. Crossed over the River Thames and we were on our way to Dover.

After leaving the centre of London, we had a good run down to Dover  and arrived about 11.15.  We all got off the coach and had to present our passports. Our ferry did not leave until 12.30ish. Was quite a rough passage and it was blowing a hefty gale out on the upper deck. Was frightened my IPad was going to blow out of my hand.

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It was magnificent seeing The White Cliffs of Dover from another view as I was up on the cliffs in the second week of my travels looking down into the Port of Dover.

We arrived in Calais, France after almost 3 hours and we then boarded the coach once more.  We set off and saw lots of farmland, cows, horses, windfarms and fields of corn. The countryside was quite flat. At about 5.00ish we crossed into the Belgium.  We passed near Brugge.  The countryside now changed into lovely green pastures and saw some lakes. At times the windmills were quite close to the road.

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We arrived in Amsterdam. Amsterdam  is the capital city with a population of approximately 17 million and 18 million bicycles. 

Famous Amsterdam residents included Anne Frank, the diarist, the artist Vincent van Gogh, artist and the philosopher Baruch Spinoza.   Its red-light district, and its many cannabis coffee coffee shops draw more than 5 million international visitors annually.

We booked into our accommodation at the Holiday Inn Express Arena Towers. After dinner, it was off to bed for a reasonably early night. Today we were actually in four countries – United Kingdom (Dover), France (Calais), Belgium (near Brugge) and Amsterdam (The Netherlands).  Amazing how this is so accessible –  In Australia, one can hardly move from one state to another in one day unless of course, you are near the borders of two states.

 

Monday, 27 July 2015 – Day 2 – Morning Tour to Buckingham Palace and Afternoon Tour to the Tower of London ( Day 48 since leaving home)

Monday, 27 July 2015 – Day 2 – Morning Tour to Buckingham Palace and Afternoon Tour to the Tower of London  (48th day since leaving home)

Got up at 6.30 and down to breakfast and then joined Doug, tour guide and Sergio, driver, with Susan and Kevin for the Morning Tour of London.  Passed through Hammersmith and Kensington. Passed the privately owned Cromwell Hospital and when the people were asked what was required when the building was being erected the answer was they wanted bullet proof glass.  Our first stop was St Paul’s Cathedral.

St Paul’s Cathedral, London, is an Anglican cathedral. It sits on Ludgate Hill,  the highest point of the City of London. Its dedication to Paul the Apostle dates back to the original church on this site, founded in AD 604. The present church, dating from the late 17th century, was designed in the English Baroque style by Sir Christopher Wren. Its construction, completed within Wren’s lifetime, was part of a major rebuilding programme in the City after the Great Fire of London in 1666. Wren had previously been put in charge of the rebuilding of churches to replace those lost in the Great Fire. More than 50 city churches are attributable to Wren, concurrent with designing St Paul’s. Wren must have thrived on being under stress as he died when 91.

The cathedral is one of the most famous and most recognisable sights in London. Its dome, framed by the spires of Wren’s City churches, dominated the skyline for 300 years. At 365 feet (111 m) high, it was the tallest building in London from 1710 to 1962. Its dome is among the highest in the world. St Paul’s is the second largest church building in area in the United Kingdom after Liverpool Cathedral.

Important services held at St Paul’s have occurred at the cathedral such as the funerals of many notable figures, including those of Lord Nelson, the Duke of Wellington, Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher, Jubilee celebrations for Queen Victoria, peace services marking the end of the First and Second World Wars, the wedding of Charles, Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer, the launch of the Festival of Britain and the thanksgiving services for the Golden Jubilee, the 80th Birthday and the Diamond Jubilee of Elizabeth II.

St Paul’s Cathedral is a busy working church, with hourly prayer and daily services. The cathedral survived the Blitz although struck by bombs on 10 October 21940 and 17 April 1941.

 We entered the Cathedral and this week there was a trial for tourists to take photographs inside. It  certainly has a beautiful interior. The organ is the fourth largest in Great Britain in terms of number of pipes (7266).  One cannot stop and read everything that is in the Cathedral or take in all that is told to you by the guide.  We saw the crypt that contains over 200 memorials and numerous burials. It seemed quite fitting that Christopher Wren was the first person to be interred in 1723. The largest monument in the cathedral is that to the Duke of Wellington. It stands on the north side of the nave and has on top a statue of Wellington astride his horse “Copenhagen”. Although the equestrian figure was planned at the outset, objections to the notion of having a horse in the church prevented its installation until 1912.  The Duke is buried in the crypt. Next to that of Wellington is the tomb of Horatio, Lord Nelson. There are many other memorials commemorating the British military, including several lists of servicemen who died in action, the most recent being the Gulf War. Also remembered are Florence Nightingale, Lawrence of Arabia and Sir Alexander Fleming, as well as clergy and residents of the local parish. There are lists of the Bishops and cathedral Deans for the last thousand years.  The treasury is also in the crypt, but the cathedral has very few treasures as many have been lost, and on 22 December 1810 a major robbery took almost all of the remaining precious artefacts.

 

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After visiting St Pauls Cathedral we made our way down to Buckingham Palace.  The Palace is the London residence and principal workplace of the monarchy of the United Kingdom and is often at the centre of state occasions and royal hospitality. The state rooms, used for official and state entertaining, are open to the public each year for most of August and September, as part of the Palace’s Summer Opening. The Buckingham Palace Garden(40 acres) is the largest private garden in London.

We did not go into Buckingham Palace but lined up to wait for the dismounted guard called the Queen’s Guard. They also guard the royal residences that come under the operating area of the British Army’s London District, which is responsible for the administration of the Household Division. This covers Buckingham Palace, St James’ Palace and the Tower of London, as well as Windsor Castle.

 

 

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Situated right in front of Buckingham Palace, this large memorial was built in the early twentieth century in honour of Queen Victoria, who reigned over the United Kingdom for almost sixty-four years. Standing 25 meters (82 feet) high and made of 2,300 tons of gleaming white marble, the Victoria Memorial pays homage to Queen Victoria, who reigned from 1837 until her death in 1901. The memorial was unveiled in 1911, one decade after Queen Victoria’s death. The memorial was only completed much later, in 1924, when the last sculptures were added.

After the Guards passed us by we joined the coach and returned to the hotel via Westminster Abbey where the ashes of Sir Laurence Olivier, the greatest actor of his generation is buried in the south transept of Westminster Abbey. He lies near the graves of actors David Garrick and Sir Henry Irving, in front of Shakespeare’s memorial. The Queen and Prince Phillip, and Kate and William were married in the Abbey. Westminster Abbey has witnessed 38 coronation ceremonies of reigning monarchs. The only joint coronation was that of William III and Mary II. Edward V, the boy king (one of the “Princes in the Tower”) and Edward VIII, who abdicated, were never crowned.

I had a quick coffee before joining the coach at 12.40 for my excursion to The Tower of London.  It is  a historic castle located on the north bank of the River Thames in central London. It was founded towards the end of 1066.

The Tower of London has played a prominent role in English history. It was besieged several times and controlling it has been important to controlling the country. The Tower has served variously as an armoury, a treasury, a menagerie, the home of the Royal Mint, a public records office, and the home of the Crown Jewels of England. From the early 14th century until the reign of Charles II, a procession would be led from the Tower to Westminster Abbey on the coronation of a monarch. In the absence of the monarch, the Constable of the Tower is in charge of the castle. This was a powerful and trusted position in the medieval period. In the late 15th century the castle was the prison of the Princes in the Tower. Under the Tudors, the Tower became used less as a royal residence, and despite attempts to refortify and repair the castle its defences lagged behind developments to deal with artillery.

The peak period of the castle’s use as a prison was the 16th and 17th centuries, when many figures who had fallen into disgrace, such as Elizabeth I before she became queen, were held within its walls. Despite its enduring reputation as a place of torture and death, popularised by 16th-century religious propagandists and 19th-century writers, only seven people were executed within the Tower before the World Wars of the 20th century. One of those tortured at the Tower was Guy Fawkes. Executions were more commonly held on the notorious Tower Hill to the north of the castle, with 112 occurring there over a 400-year period. Among those held and executed at the Tower was Anne Boleyn In the latter half of the 19th century, institutions such as the Royal Mint moved out of the castle to other locations, leaving many buildings empty. In the First and Second World Wars, the Tower was again used as a prison, and witnessed the executions of 12 men for espionage. After the Second World War, damage caused during the Blitz was repaired and the castle reopened to the public. Today the Tower of London is one of the country’s most popular tourist attractions. Under the ceremonial charge of the Constable of the Tower, it is cared for by the charity Historic Royal Palaces and is protected as a World Heritage Site.

Many prisoners of the Tudors entered the Tower of London through the Traitors’ Gate. The gate was built by Edward I, to provide a water gate entrance to the Tower. The name Traitors’ Gate has been used since before 1544. Prisoners were brought by barge along the Thames, passing under London Bridge, where the heads of recently executed prisoners were displayed on pikes. Queen Anne Boleyn and Sir Thomas entered the Tower by Traitors’ Gate.

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Before we entered the Crown Jewels Exhibition, we watched the Changing of the Guard. Officially named, Her Majesty’s Royal Palace And Fortress – Tower of London, is protected by a detachment of the regiment  on guard at Buckingham Palace and St James’ Palace.

The Tower guard, comprising of one officer, 6 NCO’s and 15 soldiers, post sentries outside the Jewel House and the Queen’s House. The sentries at the Tower of London are changed every two hours and you can see them being posted and receiving their orders. The sentry at the Jewel House, is there, along with the Yeoman Warders and the Jewel House wardens, to protect the Crown Jewels.

The second post at The Queen’s House is a silent post, where the guard does not stamp his feet or make loud noises, which could disturb the occupants. Even when an officer makes a tour of inspection the sentry will whisper the reply ‘All’s Well’!

Coldstream Guards Changing the Guard at the Tower of London

The Ceremonial Opening takes place at 9.00 when the Duty Yeoman Warder and a military escort open the Middle and Byward Towers. Once the ceremonial opening is complete the public is allowed to enter the Tower of London.

At 3.00 The Officer of The Guard and escort, march to the Byward Tower to collect the Word. The Word is the password, which is changed daily, for after-hours entry to the Tower of London. The Word used by Tower staff, residents and the soldiers on duty. Every night the Guards and Chief Yeoman Warder take part in the Ceremony of the Keys, when the Tower of London is locked up for the night.

After watching the changing of the guard we eventually came to the entrance of the Crown Jewels Museum. We were fortunate that we did not have to stand in the huge queue as we had priority tickets.
The tradition of housing the Crown Jewels in the Tower of London probably dates from the reign of Henry III (1216-1272).  The Crown Jewels are currently stored in the Waterloo Barracks at the Tower. We saw many of the collection of the Crown Jewels  some of which are used by every Sovereign, others being made personally for Sovereigns or for the Queen’s Consort.  St Edward’s Crown was made in 1661. Made of gold, its design consists of four crosses pattee and four fleurs-de-lis, with two arches on top. Surmounting the arches is a jewelled cross pattée. The Crown includes 444 precious stones. It is used through most of the coronation ceremony and is said to be made of the melted gold from King Edward’s Crown. It is noted by a number of British monarchs to be extremely heavy and difficult to wear. Queen Elizabeth II opted to use a stylised representation of this crown in images of the Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom
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The Imperial State Crown was made in 1937 for King George VI, an exact copy of that made in 1838 for Queen Victoria, which had worn out and had an unsteady frame. This discarded frame can now be seen in the Museum of London. The 1937 crown was altered in 1953, when it was sized to fit Queen Elizabeth II and the arches lowered by about one inch to give it a more feminine appearance. The present Crown is made of gold and includes four crosses pattée and four fleurs-de-lis, with two arches on top, surmounted by a cross pattée. The Crown includes many jewels: 2,868 diamonds, 273 pearls, 17 sapphires, 11 emeralds and five rubies. Among the stones are several famous ones, including the Black Prince’s Ruby and the Cullinan II diamond, also known as the Lesser Star of Africa. Two of the four pearls dangling from the crown were once worn by Queen Elizabeth I. It is worn after the conclusion of the Coronation ceremony when the monarch leaves Westminster Abbey and at the annual State Opening of Parliament.

Copy of the Imperial Crown of India

The Imperial Crown of India was created when King George VI visited Delhi as Emperior of India. To prevent the pawning of the Crown Jewels, British law prohibited the removal of a Crown Jewel from the country. For this reason, a new crown was made. It has not been used since. The Imperial Crown of India is not a part of the British Crown Jewels, though it is stored with them.

The Crown of Queen Mary can be seen as the consort crown of the Crown of India. It has a very similar design, including the eight arches, reserved for imperial crowns. It was manufactured for the coronation of George and Mary in 1911. The crown was made by Garrard & Co and contains some 2,200 diamonds. It contained the Koh-i-Noor diamond as well as Cullinan III and Cullinan IV. In 1914 they were replaced by cr crystal models.

 Copy of the new cut of the Koh-i-Noor

The George IV State Diadem was made in 1820 for the coronation of King George IV. He was the only man ever to wear it. Since then, it has been used exclusively by Queens, and was worn by Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth II as they journeyed to the Abbey, and for the first part of their coronations, up to the Anointing.  Traditional British crowns, was manufactured for Queen Mary, consort of King George V, who was crowned in 1911. The final new consort’s crown in the 20th century was manufactured for Queen Elizabeth, consort of King George VI, who along with her husband was crowned in 1937. All three consorts’ crowns in turn included the famous Koh-i-Noor diamond.

The Crown of Queen Elizabeth is the platinum consort crown manufactured for, and worn by, Queen Elizabeth,  the queen consort of King George VI at their coronation at Westminster Abbey in 1937. It is the first crown for a British consort to be made of platinum.

. The Koh i Noor set in the late Queen Mother s crown and Queen Elizabeth It consists of four half-arches, in contrast to the eight half-arches of Queen Mary’s crown. As with Queen Mary’s crown, its arches are detachable at the cross-pattee, allowing Elizabeth to ear the crown as a circlet. The crown is decorated entirely with diamonds, most notably the 105-carat (21 g) Koh-i-Noor diamond in the middle of the front cross. It also contains the Lahore Diamond (22.48 carats) from the Treasury of Lahore given to Queen Victoria by the East India Company in 1851 and a 17-carat (3.4 g) diamond given to Queen Victoria by the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire in 1856. Queen Elizabeth wore the crown minus the arches on a number of occasions, including State Openings of Parliament by her husband. She wore it thus also at the coronation of her daughter, Queen Elizabeth II, in 1953 (as Queen Mary had worn her own crown at the coronation of her son, King George VI, in 1937). In its complete form, the crown rested on top of Queen Elizabeth’s coffin during her funeral in 2002. It is now on display along with the other British Crown Jewels in the Tower of London.

There were so many other beautiful crowns besides the ones mentioned above – The Crown of Scotland, Crown of Mary of Modena, State Crown of George I, Coronet of Frederick, Prince of Wales, Coronation Crown of George IV, Crown of Queen Mary, Crown of Queen of Adelaide, Small diamond crown of Queen Victoria, Crown of Queen Alexandra and Tudor Crown. As well as the crowns there were Coronets of Charles, Prince of Wales, George, Prince of Wales, Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret. There were Sceptres with the Cross, Dove and Scotland; Swords of Offering, Mercey and State of Scotland.  The Cullinan Diamonds, the Koh-i-Noor, Black Prince’s Ruby, St Edward’s Sapphire and the Stewart Sapphire were among precious stones on display.  Also were Jewels by Country being Irish Crown Jewels, Honours of Scotland, Honours of the Principality of Wales and the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom and the Sovereign’s Orb and Stone of Scone.

It was a most elaborate display of precious gems and very interesting.

After seeing the Crown Jewels display I was wondering back to the coach when I came across one of the Yeomen Warders.  COACH TOUR 2015 (31)

Yeomen Warders of Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress the Tower of London, and Members of the Sovereign’s Body Guard of the Yeoman Guard Extraordinary, popularly known as the Beefeaters, are ceremonial guardians of the Tower of London. In principle they are responsible for looking after any prisoners in the Tower and safeguarding the British crown jewels, but in practice they act as tour guides and are a tourist attraction in their own right, a point the Yeomen Warders acknowledge. In 2011, there were 37 Yeomen Warders and one Chief Warder. All warders are retired from the Armed Forces of Commonwealth realms and must be former senior non-commissioned offers or petty officers  with at least 22 years of service. They must also hold the Long Service and Good Conduct medal.

The Yeomen Warders are often incorrectly referred to as Yeomen of the Guard, which is actually a distinct corps of Royal Bodyguards. Although the Yeoman Warders were once the Royal Bodyguard, by the 16th and 17th centuries their main duty had become to look after the prisoners. On 1 July 2007 a service woman, Moira Cameron, became the first female Yeoman Warder in the history of the institution. Cameron joined the Army in 1985 at age 20. Aged 42 and Warrant Officer Class 2, she became eligible not long before her appointment.

I went and had a coffee before it was time to board the coach to return to the hotel.  After dinner, went and had a very exotic drink with Susan and Kevin and then it was off to bed.

It was a full on day but was very informative and interesting.  Looking forward to tomorrow when we leave London to commence our coach tour to Amsterdam.

SUNDAY, 26 July, 2015 – Day 1of European Coach Tour – Night Tour (Day 47 since leaving home)

Sunday, 26 July, 2015.  –  Day 1 of European Coach Tour – Night tour – (Day 47 since leaving home)

After I said goodbye to my high school friend Christine, Cynthia and I sorted out my luggage and then after some chatting Cynthia left with my little bag at 4.30.  At 5.45 went downstairs to meet tour.

Got on the bus and headed through several little alleys and picked up different passengers and arrived at Fullers The Old Bank Restaurant, a lovely venue, for a beautiful 3 course meal.

 

At 8.15 we boarded the coach and headed down to the MilleniumTower Pier to board the boat and do a night river cruise. Passed many of the icons of London – Houses of Parliament, St Paul’s Cathedral, The Shard, Big Ben,  St Magnus the Martyr Church, The London Eye, Buckingham Palace and many more.  There were many other boats on the river.  Christopher Wren built over 50 churches but now about 25 left after the war.  The Tower of London looked very spectacular lit up as did Harrods – there were thousands of little lights on Harrods.

 

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After the cruise, we boarded the coach and did a few drop offs at the hotels and eventually got back to the Novotel at about 10.30.  Was a very nice and relaxing evening until I tried to do a couple of things on Facebook and could not get the internet so went to bed!!!

 

 

 

Sunday to Sunday, 19 – 26 July 2015 – Ironbridge, Bridgnorth, Much Wenlock, Shrewsbury, Meeson Hall, Lake District and London with Christine – (Days 40 – 47)

Sunday to Sunday, 19 – 26 July 2015 – Ironbridge, Bridgnorth, Much Wenlock, Shrewsbury, Meeson Hall, Lake District and London with Christine.- Days 40 – 47)

Sunday, 19 July 2015 – Around the Shropshire District, UK. – Day 40

Was a lovely sunny day so Christine and I set off for Ironbridge via Madeley.  We parked the car and walked along the River Severn up to THE famous iron bridge which was cast at Coalbrook Dale and erected in the year MDCCLXXIX (1780).

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I went and moved the car while Chris went up to the church. We then went into the Tea Emporium for a coffee and then bought fish and chips. Yummy.  Before we left Ironbridge we walked over the bridge to the old toll house.  We had another wander along the river to the car and headed to the Coalport China Museum.  Went over the Jack Field Bridge, passed the Tile Museum.

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The Museum was such an interesting place and saw so many beautiful pieces of china.

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After we had a browse in the shop and another coffee, we came to a one laned bridge we had to cross. When we were 3/4 a way over, another car proceeded to come onto the bridge. We sat and indicated for them to back up but there was no movement.  I got out of our car and approached the driver.  Both he and the passenger were quite abusive.  The situation was “saved” by a man who asked them to back up so we could pass. He had to be asked twice as he backed back but stilll not far enough so we could pass. In the end we were able to pass. By this time there was quite a queue, but I was quite angry as we had the right of way. Of course, Christine was shrinking from embarrassment.  It must have been a day for “cranky” drivers as a little further on, another driver yelled at me as he thought I was going to hit his car. As if –  as we were in a hire car! I finally calmed down and we headed towards Boseley to Bridgnorth.  This is a very pretty village and I had visited here previously.  We drove around in many circles attempting to find the Cliff Railway. We were just about to give up but called into a service station to ask instructions – a kind man came to our rescue and came back in the car and showed us where to park safely.  We caught the funicular up and got off and took in the lovely views. Christine took a further walk around to a church.

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We then left Bridgnorth and headed towards Much Wenlock.  This is a historic market town that has some Olympic history. William Penny Brookes was a contributor to the rebirth of the Olympic Games and is twinned with Cysoing, France. The Wenlock Olympian Games, dating from 1850, are a forerunner of the modern Olympic Games. They are organised by the Wenlock Olympian Society (WOS), and are held each year at venues across Shropshire, England, centred on the little market town of Much Wenlock. One of the two mascots for the London 2012 Summer Olympics was named Wenlock in honour of the Wenlock Olympian Games.

We passed through the town of Shrewsbury, down Holyhead Road – passed Sunnycroft, Orleton Inn, Telford Whitehouse Hotel and finally back to Meeson Hall via the little village of Waters Upton at 7.45.

It was a great day and we travelled 87 miles. (1865-1952).  We had our dinner and then packed as we are off to the Lake District tomorrow.

Monday, 20 July 2015 –  Meeson Hall to Lake District. – Day 41 

This morning is a misty, damp morning.  After our breakfast, we did our last minute housekeeping and left this beautiful cottage at 8.30.  Mark and Adrian, owners of Meeson Hall and grounds, gave us a tour of the main house (5 rooms) and  we were shown the renovations for future bed and breakfast accommodation. Meeson Hall is a beautiful place to stay and so peaceful and relaxing.

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After saying goodbye to Mark and Adrian who were wonderful hosts, – a big thankyou to you both, we headed for M6 to Preston and Lancaster. We had a coffee break at Charnock Richards service station and left at 11.30. Onwards to Kendall, then Windemere and Ambleside. Continued onto Hawkeshead to Hilltop Farm, Beatrix Potter’s farm house.  We had lunch at Belle Green Bed and Breakfast (nice rarebit).  It was now raining quite heavily so Christine went back to the car for an umbrella so as we could go down to the Beatrix Potter House for  the 2.15 tour.  Is a lovely quaint cottage.  Still raining.  Drove to Hawkeshead Village and walked thr0ugh to the National Trust building – “Going on holidays with Beatrix Potter”.  Beatrix Potter (Mrs Heelis) married a solicitor and had his offices in Hawkeshead. That solicitor’s office now houses the BP Gallery where displays of her original illustrations for her famous little books for children can be seen. There are many references to Hawkeshead and feature in her drawings, water colors and writings.  As an aside, William Wordsworth attended Hawkeshead Grammar School between 1778 and 1787 when it was one of the best schools in England. Visitors can still see the desk on which he carved his name.

Still steadily raining.  We did a bit more shopping and drove back to Ambleside. We saw a sign to a waterfall so set off to find it but we drove several miles until we came to a dead end. Drove back and still didn’t find the waterfall.  Got to the Lakeside Hotel, our accommodation for the night at 5.30.  Was a lovely room and had views out to a little bit of the lake.  We had a short walk down to the Regent Hotel for dinner.  Came back to our hotel and of course, did lots of chatting before we finally went to bed after a super day.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015 – Lake District – Day 42

Woke up to a misty morning and then light rain.  After a nice breakfast we set off at 9.30 to find a petrol station before parking the car at St Mary’s car park.   We walked into Ambleside town centre to the information centre and then walked to THE Stockghyll Waterfall through the Stockghyll Woods.  We were pleased we persevered and found this waterfall as the area was just beautiful.

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We took our time back to a Daisy’s cafe for lunch.  Then we wandered down to the Bridge House.

 

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This was tiny little house.  It used to be a storage house for apples as there used to be a large orchard behind.  We then walked along to the Armitt Museum/Library which is a museum showing Beatrix Potter’s life.  There were three Armitt sisters who threw themselves into the intellectual and cultural life of the district.  Beatrix’s husband, William Heelis who was a local solicitor, was an Armitt Trustee and the legal adviser from its foundation in 1912. Could have spent hours/days in here as so very interesting

 


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After being all Beatrix Pottered out, we had a look in the Armitt Library.

and then read about Kurt Schwitter as that was the current Exhibition in the building.

 

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It was still raining a little as we were walking back to the Car park.  Chris went to see St Mary’s Church while I went and got the car.

We drove down to the Ambleside Pier at Waterhead to get the 2.40 Ferry to Wray Castle.  This is not really a castle. It was built privately by a wealthy surgeon from Liverpool for his and wife’s retirement. We joined the 3.30 guided tour and went into several of the rooms.  After the tour we had a look at Dower House that is now a bed and breakfast facility, but was the first home of the surgeon and his wife.  It was then time to get the ferry back to Ambleside Pier.  Came back to our hotel and sorted all our brochures and purchases.  Was a late night but we certainly had seen and done a lot today.

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Wednesday 22 July 2015 – Lake District – Day 43

Up and had breakfast.  We booked out of our hotel and headed down to the Roman Fort.

Christine went and had a look but was not too impressed.  We then started our drive up the Kirkstone Pass.  The countryside was very pretty with green pastures, wild flowers and sheep.

Patterdale was a tiny village where we posted some postcards.

The country side around this area became quite rugged. Onto Glenridding and got tickets for our steamer ride to Pooley Bridge. After a coffee we got onto the 11.15 steamer.  Stopped off at Howtown for people to disembark. We continued onto Pooley Bridge – Ullswater and arrived at 12.10.  Was a very pleasant cruise even though there was quite a cold wind. We walked across the bridge and crossed over the River Eamont.

We passed some hotels, shops and had lunch in a nice little cafe.  St Paul’s church was a lovely stone building and the other buildings in the village were very well cared for even though Elm House, now a bed and breakfast place dated back to 1863.  We then wandered back over the bridge and got on the 2.00 “Lady of the Lake” and headed back to Howtown and Glenridding Pier.

 

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Before getting into the car, we saw Donald Campbell’s (CBE) Memorial marking the place where he launched his boat “Bluebird” and achieved the water speed record of 202.32 mph on July 23 1955. (is 60 years tomorrow)  There is an inscription – “Into the Water Barrier and Beyond”. The Memorial was placed by the Glenridding Hotel and Ullswater Navigation and was unveiled by Gina Campbel, his daughter on 21 October 1997. Donald Campbell lost his life in 1967 while attempting to break his own water speed record in his jet powered boat, Bluebird K7.   He was travelling at more than 300mph (483 km/h) on Coniston Water when the boat was catapulted 50ft (15m) into the air after its nose lifted. Forty-six-year-old Mr Campbell was killed instantly as the boat hit the water and immediately disintegrated. He was just 200 yeards from the end of the second leg of his attempt when the accident happened. Donald Campbell’s body was not located until 28 May 2001, still wearing his blue nylon overalls. His head has not yet (2015) been recovered. How sad.

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We then drove onto Aira Force Waterfall.  It was quite a long walk as we get ascending to the Cascades and bridge.  This was the head of the waterfall. We crossed over the bridge to the other side and walked on the low path stopping to wet our feet in the freezing clear water. Of course we had lots of photo shots – the area was just beautiful.

 

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Headed back to the car and onwards to Dockray, Stroutbeck and The Castlerigg Stone Circle.  These were very interesting and are 4500 years old.

 

It seemed we weren’t happy seeing the Stone Circle as we drove around in circles in Keswick trying to locate our accommodation. At 7.00 we finally arrived at Rickerby Grange Guest House which is actually in a suburb of Portarcale.  We had a quick cup of coffee and then walked a very short distance to the Farmer’s Arm Hotel for our dinner and then it was a reasonably early night.  Another exciting and full day.

Thursday, 23 July 2015 – Lake District. – Day 44

After our breakfast, we drove to Keswick, parked the car and went into the Information Centre. Then drove to Threlkeld and took photos of a mixed mob of sheep and continued on to Grasmere.

 

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We walked through some lovely little alleyways to the Wordsworth Museum. This was full of information – just too much to write about. (Look in Google if interested). At 11.30 we had a guided tour of Dove Cottage – the inspiration home of the poet, William Wordsworth. Once again, such a lovely cottage and well preserved.

It was time for lunch that we had in the Dove Cottage Tearooms.  Was back into Grasmere Information Centre to obtain tickets for a boatride.  We had to drive the short distance to Keswick. Had a short walk around the markets and had a yummy icecream.

It was then time to board the 3.00 boat to Ashness Bridge.  Seems we are obsessed with bridges this trip.  We got off the boat and had a mile walk to the dear little bridge.

Walked back down to the Ashness Bridge Pier and continued on the boat trip on Derwent Waters back to Keswick.  We then had a really easy drive to Borrowdale to our accommodation at Mary Mount Hotel.  It was a beautiful hotel with mountain and lake views from our room.

We had our scrumptious dinner at the hotel and what a lovely outlook – looking out towards the mountains, green vegetation and the creek. We spent ages watching little birds enjoying the seed boxes around the grounds and also the sheep that were wandering around.

Was back to our room and did lots of IPad stuff and before we knew it was 12.15.  What another super full-on day.

Friday 24 July 2015 – Lake District and back to Telford – Day 45

We got up for an early breakfast and after taking some last minute photos we were reluctant to leave – would have loved to have stayed here for a few nights.  We did however, leave Borrowdale and headed to Bowness on Windemere. We were lucky enough to get a quick park as there were quite a lot of people here.  We got our ticket for the cruise boat, “Swan”.  Named very appropriately as many swans were wandering around. Another peaceful cruise. We stopped at the village of Lakeside as a lot of Japanese tourists joined the boat and we didn’t want to lose our seats. This was our last cruise in the Lake District.  They have all been terrific and saw lots of the countryside.

It was now time to think about heading back to Telford.  We headed towards Lancaster and got on the M6 but there were lots of delays. At Knutsford there was an hour and half delay so we decided to get off the M6 and headed for Middlewich and Nantwick, onto Audlum to Market Drayton.  We realised we were not going to get the car back in Telford by 6.00 so rang and advised them that we would be late. Fortunately, that was OK.  We finally arrived back in Telford at 7.00.  Was quite a stressful trip as heavy traffic and raining.  We filled the car up and took it back to Budget and waited for a taxi to take us to the Old Orleton Inn. We went into dinner at 8.15 and it was back to our room at 9.30 to  sort out our bags as we were travelling to London in the morning.  We went to bed at 11.30 quite exhausted.

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It was a fabulous week spending it with Christine and we certainly saw heaps of the countryside, heard lots of history and had our cruises in the Lake District.  What else do you do with all the lakes? Certainly a beautiful piece of the United Kingdom.  Still so much to see and do but what we covered will have to be enough for now.

Saturday, 25 July 2015 – Telford to London – Day 46

It was up early and did our final packing – Cool morning but not raining. Down to breakfast at 9.00 and was back to our room for the final time.  Taxi arrived at 10.30 to take us to the Wellington train station. Onto the 10.45 train for half hour trip to Wolverhampton and only had a few minutes before we got onto the train. We left at 11.45 for Euston Station in London. The sun was trying to come out. We caught another taxi to the Corus Hotel. A lovely hotel that was built in 1857 and took 10 years to complete. It was a major development in the Bayswater area at that time. As the hotel is now 158 years old, there is cosmetic work/new fresh look being undertaken – hence scaffolding around. Christine went for her obligatory walk while I did some uploading. At 7.30 we went for a very short walk to a nice Italian restaurant, the Taormina and had a very enjoyable meal.

Sunday, 26 July 2015 – End of time with Christine – Day 47

Christine was up and out doing a walk.  After she came back, we went down for breakfast – what an enormous array we could choose from.

After a final pack up we then  booked out of the Corus Hotel and caught a cab to the Novotel Hotel, Shortlands, West London and Christine and I waited for Cynthia who worked with Robert in Canberra.  I have not seen Cynthia for 15 years.  She is on a posting here in London. She rang to say she would be a little late as took a wrong turn. When she arrived we walked down to a nearby pub for a nice lunch and then Christine left to get her train from Hammersmith Underground to go to Stansted Airport on her way to Gottenburg, Sweden

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Was very sad saying goodbye to her after the several days we had together.  Cynthia and I went and sorted out my luggage and then after some chatting Cynthia left with my little bag at 4.30.

Later I am going to join the Globus/Cosmos coach tour.

 

Monday – Saturday, 13 -18 July 2015 – Visit to Ludlow Castle, Shropshire and around Telford Area (Days 34 – 39)

Monday – Saturday – 13-18 July 2015 – Visit to Ludlow Castle, Shropshire and around Telford area (Days 34 – 39)

Monday, 13 July 2015 – Ludlow Castle – Day 34

Remembering my Mum’s and my friend Jeannine’s dad Bob’s birthday today.  Rang Lucy to wish her a happy 94th birthday. She is just an amazing lady and an inspiration.

At 9.00 even though it was raining, I set off for Much Wenlock a short drive from Telford.  The town has been around since Saxon times and is still full of charm. Much Wenlock is the birthplace of the modern Olympics. Dr William Penny Brookes who  was the founder of the Wenlock Olympian Games.  The first meeting was held at the Much Wenlock racecourse on 22-23 October 1850.

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I then took a lovely drive via Bourton, Brockton, Shipton, Broadstone and Hungerford.  These are pretty little villages although some very small.  On through Munslow, Aston, Munslow, Diddlebury to a reasonably large town of Craven Arms.

I went onto Stokesay Castle ruins but as it was raining and I wanted to get to Ludlow and Hereford, I did not go into the Castle.

 

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When I got to Ludlow, the rain still was quite heavy so continued on towards Hereford. Passed through more little villages of Woofferton, Cromerton, a slight detour into Orleton, then onto a bigger town of Leominster.  I saw the sign to Hampton Court but only drove by to take a photo.

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I am still heading towards Hereford when a warning light came on “Low Pressure in right front tyre”.  As soon as I could stop, I inspected the tyre and got quite a shock as it was going down quite rapidly. As I was quite near to a village of another Wellington, I limped to the first shop which was actually in Wellington Marsh. A lovely young girl was ever so helpful and rang a couple of people who may be able to assist me.  In the meantime, two more young girls sent out calls. They contacted a couple of chaps who came and one had even brought a jack. So my tyre was changed.  I was fortunate that the rain had stopped.

 

I felt quite uneasy about going onto Hereford, as the spare is only a temporary one, so headed back to Leominster, drove through Ashton and hooked up again with Woofferton and back to the lovely medieval town of Ludlow.  Luck had changed as it was nice and sunny so I made sure I paid my parking fee, having had a fine in Wells, and went into the beautifully manicured grounds of Ludlow Castle.

 

 

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Construction of this privately owned Castle began in the 11th century as a border stronghold of Roger de Lacy.  A Roger Mortimer enlarged the Castle into a magnificent palace early in the 14th century.  Later under the ownership of Richard, Duke of York, the Castle was involved in the War of the Roses.  Then, as a Royal Palace, Edward IV sent the Prince of Wales and his brother (later the “princes” in the tower of Shakespearean fame) to live at the Castle which was also the seat of a Government for Wales and the Border Counties.

In 1501, Prince Arthur, brother of Henry VIII honeymooned with his bride Catherine of Aragon before her early death. Mary Tudor, Queen of England between 1553-1558 and her court spent three winters at Ludlow from 1525-1528.

In 1689 , the Royal Welch Fusiliers were founded at the Castle by Lord Herbert of Chisbury but was abandoned soon after and fell into decay.

The Castle’s long history is reflected in its varied architecture – Norman, Medieval and Tudor – many of the buildings still stand.  A large Outer  Bailey which has an Ice House, was  once used to store explosives. A bridge across the moat leads to the Inner Bailey with Keep, the Great Chamber, the Solar Wing and other interesting buildings. This would have been a magnificent Castle in previous times.

In 1811 the ruins were purchased from the Crown by the 2nd Earl of Powis, in the ownership of whose family it remains.

I slowly made my way up the narrow winding staircase to the Garderobes Tower and it was well worth the ascent as the views of the surrounding ever so green countryside of Ludlow and beautiful Shropshire.  A lovely Castle House has been reunited into the Castle and renovated between 2005-2007 and houses self contained apartments, tearoom and gift shops. It was an enjoyable visit to a beautiful Castle.

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After the Castle, I then visited St Lawrence Church.  I was a little nostalgic as my parents were married in St Lawrence in South Australia and it would have been Mum’s 107th birthday (almost 103 when she died in 2010).  The Church was very nice especially the organ.

The village was quite busy as it was market day.  I had a little stroll around before heading home.  I was so pleased that I had decided to stop off as I was feeling quite down over the tyre incident and thought that I just wanted to head straight back to Meeson.

 

 

Headed across to Diddlebury to near Shipton and instead of going through Much Wenloch, passed through Weston, Monkhopton, Aston, Morvilke to lovely Bridgnorth and then via Telford back to Meeson.

Turned out to be a really enjoyable day after all. The countryside around the Shropshire country is so lush and green and I have seen lots of sheep, cows and goats but I am still looking for THE DEER.

Didn’t turn the computer on tonight as bed early.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015 – Telford area – Day 35.

Woke up this morning with an almighty headache so spent a fair bit of today in bed. Guess I was quite stressed over my flat tyre episode.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015. – Telford area – Day 36  

Today was feeling much better so went into (Stafford Park to get a new tyre. I went to Hardys and £70 later had a new tyre.  An expensive exercise as could get about three tyres at home for that price. Seem to be jinxed at getting flat tyres while away as had one in York last year.  Hardys were very efficient.  After, went into Telford Town Centre to get a couple of things and then home and an early night.

Thursday, 16 July 2015 – Telford area – Day 37

(1778). Today was quite a pleasant day. I rang Lucy and then went into Wellington on the bus after parking the car.

 

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Got new found friend Emily a present. I met Emily, her brother Anthony and their dad, Warren at the Birmingham Airport.  They invited me to Emily’s surprise 18th birthday party which was being held on Saturday. I wasn’t sure whether I would be able to go as it depended on when Christine, my high school friend from Adelaide in Australia, arrived from London and how she felt as she would be arriving in London on Saturday morning.  I went and had my hair done and then had some time in a hotel where they had free wifi so caught up on some of my blog and uploading photos.  Went back to the car and then drove home to Meeson.  On my way home I noticed that my landmark of the creamery at Crudgeton was no longer there. For reasons I do not know, it was being demolished.

After dinner, had another early night.

Friday, 17 July 2015 – Telford area – Day 38

Up and had breakfast.  Said goodbye to Linda and Terry, from the Lakes District and who were in the other cottage  at Meeson Hall.  They made the most of their time visiting lots of attractions around the Shropshire area and into part of Wales as they had not been in this area before.

I left Meeson Hall (1808) and drove into Wellington to visit “SUNNYCROFT“.  This is a rare suburban villa and mini estate.  The Edwardian time capsule with original contents and features transports you back to the pre First World War ‘country house’ lifestyle.

Sunnycroft was built in 1880 and extended in 1889  and in 1912 a John Lander purchased Sunnycroft in 1912 and this marked the start of three generations of the Landers living there. In 2012 marked 100 years.

There were two daughters, Rachel and Joan.  Joan was in London teaching at the Royal school of needlework and came back to Sunnycroft to nurse her father. When he died, she inherited Sunnycroft.

It is a beautifully built home with lovely mosaic tiled floors in the entrance hallway, stained glass ceiling and light over the main staircase. You were shown into all the rooms including the bedrooms, drawing room and billiard room and a pianola with all the original rolls. There was a huge collection of prize winning embroidery by Joan as well as one of the biggest collection of Leek embroidery.  The medicine cabinet was full of every imaginable item used by the family. Was interesting looking at things like Gripe water etc.  It was just an amazing tour.

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The grounds were beautiful and you could have a game of croquet if you wished.There is a Grade II listed conservatory. Also, in the garage is the car owned by Mr Landers and has the number plate of AW1.  There was also a large kitchen garden and orchards.

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After strolling around the gardens, I then went and had afternoon tea and it is served to you in lovely china.  I thoroughly enjoyed the time at this very special home.

Joan Landers, in her 80th year in 1997 bequeathed Sunnycroft to the National Trust as so many of these lovely old homes are taken over by developers and demolished. Her sister is still alive and occasionally has returned to Sunnycoft.

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After my visit to Sunnycroft, I went and visited Lucy. It was lovely seeing her again.

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I then went to the Telford Golf Club at Moxham to drop off Emily’s present and card just in case I did not make it to her party.  I made a little detour to Lilleshall Abbey which is a ruin.  I then went home and had dinner and went to bed after a very enjoyable day.

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Saturday, 18 July 2015 – Telford area – Day 39

This morning I was trying to get in touch with Christine as I was still unsure what time she was arriving into Wellington from Euston Station. I eventually received a message from her to say she had been stood up by a friend she was supposed to meet. She would now be on the 1323 train arriving at 1559!   I went down to Wellington railway station to meet her.  It was great seeing her.

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We stopped for a drink at the Bucks Head hotel on the way to Meeson Hall. I did not tell her that I had changed our hotel arrangement.  I wondered how I was going to surprise her so I said “There is a lovely manor home I thought you might like to see.”  I took her into Meeson Hall and she said how lovely the courtyard was with all the beautiful flowers.  When we went into the bedroom, I laid on the bed. Christine was horrified as I had made a crease in the quilt.  I then said, that is your bed for the next couple of nights. It was a pleasant surprise for her.

Christine did not have a very good flight to London and was quite tired and had a bad cough so we could not go to Emily’s party as it was over the other side of town. Sorry Emily but hope you will have a lovely time.  I will be thinking of you and THANKYOU to your dad, Warren for inviting us.

After I settled Christine in, we both went to bed.  It will be nice having some company to share the travelling with. That is what I find when travelling on your own, you do get lonely and you have no one to share the lovely things you see along the way.  It will be super having Christine with me for the next week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday, 9 July to Sunday, 12 July 2015 – Bath-Wells-Cheddar Gorge-Tewkesbury- Telford ( Days 30-33)

Thursday and Sunday, 9 and 12 July, 2015 – Bath – Wells – Cheddar Gorge – Tewksbury – Telford (Days 30 -33) 

Thursday, 9 July 2015 – Bath – Wells – Cheddar Gorge – Tewksbury (Day 30)

Up early and was a nice sunny day. (1394). Found my way out of Bath easily and headed for Wells mainly to visit the Cathedral which is set amidst the gentle countryside of the Somerset levels on the western slopes of the Mendip hills. The 12th century building is both beautiful and historic.  The magnificent West Front contains one of the largest galleries of Medieval sculpture in the world. Starting in the lower niches with biblical scenes, it rises through kings, bishops and orders of angels to the twelve apostles with Christ over all.

In the Nave the eye is drawn to the unique ‘scissor arches’. The simple yet stunning design, often mistaken as modern, was a medieval solution (1338-48) to sinking to foundations.

There is the Wells clock which was installed circa 1390 and is one of the oldest medieval clock faces in the world. On the quarter hour, jousting knights go round in tournament.

The Cathedral has one of the most substantial collections of medieval stained glass in England, the crowning glory being the Jesse window which narrowly escaped destruction during the English Civil War.

The Wells Cathedral is one of the most beautiful Cathedrals I have visited, but as I have said before, it is so hard to say which is number one as each has its own beauty. The Cathedral in Krakow, Poland  though, is probably still very high on my list of the ones I have visited.

I was not happy when I returned to my car as I had received a parking infringement of £50 – £25 if paid within the fortnight.  I just did not see the pay machine.

I then headed towards Cheddar but had a short stop at a roadside strawberry vendor so couldn’t resist. I have never seen such huge strawberries. There are a lot of strawberry farms around this area. I chatted to Mike who also runs a bed and breakfast establishment. May look into that for maybe next year as the countryside is lovely.

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I stopped in at another church, Parish Church of St Andrews. A dear little church and the organist was playing some music.

I then passed through the bustling village of Cheddar but did not stop as wanted to go into the Cheddar Gorge and come back to the village after.  The Gorge is very impressive with limestone cliffs towering 450 feet above a gorge of 3 miles long.  In the area there are several caves – one mentioned is Gough’s Cave – Britain’s most beautiful cave in Britain’s biggest Gorge.  I kept thinking that the road was going to loop up back at Cheddar village but it didn’t so I kept heading towards Tewkesbury.

 

 

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As you drove closer to the Cotswolds the house colours changed from the grey to the lovely golden colour.

I had a good run to Tewksbury and I found my accommodation, The Royal Hop Pole Hotel, very easily and the hotel is very quaint. Also full of history. Just as well there were signs on each floor directing you to Reception as the corridors were anything but straight. Had a nice meal at the hotel and it was a very popular venue that night.

So, today was a very pleasant drive – a huge contrast to that of driving in the Bath area.

Friday, 10 July 2015 – Tewkesbury to Telford (Day 31)

Tewkesbury is an ancient settlement whose profile has hardly altered since the Middle Ages.  It is at the meeting of the Rivers Severn and Avon. In Tewkesbury you can see one of the best medieval black and white town scapes in England with its fine half-timbered buildings overhanging upper storeys and narrow alleyways.  Church Street takes one back to a bygone age when half-timbered houses were crammed into any available space and Tewkesbury’s famous alleyways came into existence. Around 30 delightful alleyways still remain open today and link up with the main streets to the river and beyond.

As most of the museums did not open before 10.00 I had plenty of time to walk up many of the alleyways and down to the banks of the river. One can take rides along the river, but they did not start until 12 so saved my money and I also didn’t want to leave too late heading back to Telford because of the traffic and hold ups with the many roadworks that is happening all over the country.

It was interesting doing some of the banner walk. These are displayed on many of the buildings and gives a description of the meaning of the banner.  Of course, once again you could spend months in this sort of town.

It has so much history I cannot write all I want to here.   It is just one very interesting place.

In the past, mustard making (Shakespeares’s Falstaff has the line “Wit as thick as Tewkesbury’s mustard”), brewing and malting, pin making and the framework knitting of stockings were at one time major  industries.

I visited the beautiful Norman Abbey as this opened at 7.30. It was built in the early 12th century and dominates the town. Consecrated in 1121, the church of the Benedictine Abbey survived the monastic dissolution of 1540 thanks to the generosity of the townspeople, who bought it from Henry VIII for the sum of £453 (the cost of the lead and the bells). It remains as the spiritual focus of parish life today.

The Abbey is of cathedral proportions and is actually one of the largest parish churches in the country. There has been a church on this site for over 1200 years, and the present building has stood for nearly 900 years. It has a rich architectural and artistic heritage, including medieval stained glass, stunning roof bosses, exquisite tombs and chantry chapels and the 17th century Milton organ (reputedly played by the poet John Milton) is still in daily use.  Once again, I enjoyed walking around this Abbey.

I spent time in the “Out of the Hat” exhibition at the Tewkesbury Heritage and Visitor Centre, The John Moore Museum and the Merchant’s House.

After I had brunch, I left the now even more bustling town of Tewkesbury.  In 1471 the fields to the south of the Abbey saw the penultimate and decisive battle in the War of the Roses leading the house of York to power.  Roads were being blocked off in preparation for the re-enactment of the Battle at the internationally renowned Medieval Fayre which is held every July.  Would be interesting to see.

I drove towards Gloucester, Worcester, Kidderminster and Bridgnorth, through the outskirts of Telford. My directions to my accommodation were to pass the Crudgeton Dairy as it is quite a landmark as has a huge black chimney and then several turn offs at Waters Upton to Meeson. It was quite easy but in parts the road is only one car wide and believe it or not, along came a tractor but fortunately drivers are very cautious so he backed back.

The property, Meeson Hall is just stunning and the grounds equally so. As you walk through the gate, it is a picture postcard of colour –  huge, huge begonias, fuscias, hydrangeas, geraniums and other colourful plants. I think I will feel as though I am staying in part of Downton Abbey.  I was welcomed by Mark and Adrian, the owners of this lovely historical estate.  Was such a nice gesture to receive a welcome pack of bread, homemade jam, butter, coffee, tea, sugar, milk and home layed eggs. Settled myself in and then thought of the super week I have had.  No wonder my head is spinning with all the history of the places I visited.

 

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Saturday, 11 July 2015 – Around Telford area (Day32) 

Up reasonably early and was nice to see David, his dear Mum and Jane who was helping Mum with her big decision to move. Drove back through little villages by way of a change to the major roads.  Is funny seeing places such as Welland – I went to Welland primary school – and Weston was a suburb I lived in in Canberra. So brought back past memories. Went up to Waters Upton to do some shopping and then tried to catch up with my blog.

Sunday, 12 July 2015- Around Telford area (Day 33) 

A nice sunny day so had a lovely long drive around the surrounding villages. Came across acres and acres of poppies near Ollerton. Passed Stokes on Tern, Weston under Redcastle, Marchamley. Hawkstone Park is nearby and there are caves but didn’t call in today. Always end up back at Crudgeton or Waters Upton then to Meeson.

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Had an early dinner, caught up on emails and then to bed in readiness for another week of travelling around the nearby areas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monday to Wednesday, 6 – 8 July 2015 – Drive to Bristol/Bath (Days 27 – 29)

Monday to Wednesday, 6 – 8 July 2016 – Telford to Bristol/ Bath (Days 27 – 29)

Got up reasonably early and after breakfast went and collected car which is a nice grey Hyundai (1198)  and set off at 8.15 and headed for Bridgnorth and Kidderminster.  From there I followed the A449 into Wales to Malvern, Great Malvern which was a very pretty little town and then onto Ross-onWye and through to Monmouth. Onto Tintern Parva and saw the ruins of what once must have been a beautiful Tintern Abbey.  Sadly, my IPad wasn’t charged up so I couldn’t take any photos in this lovely green area.  I called into the Tintern old railway station for afternoon tea.  They have a couple of the old train carriage there and they are set up with a little shop and gift shop and gives the history of how the railway once worked in this area.  I had to keep going and passed through Chepstow.  Not much further on, you cross over an extremely long bridge over the Severn River.  This is the mouth of the long River Severn and it flows  into the Bristol Channel.  It was then through Bristol and to find my night’s accommodation at Saltford. I ended up in Bath so after several drives round, I backtracked and found the Kendall  Guest house at 472 Bath Road.

I decided to have an early night as quite tired and wasn’t looking forward to driving in Bath tomorrow because it is one way and there are diversions and the street names change.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015. – City of Bath (Day 28) 

After breakfast, left Saltford and headed for the Park and Ride Carpark as I was meeting a Helen who is a friend of my friend, Ros in Australia.   Thank goodness for mobile phones as we were supposed to meet at the Bath Park and Ride Park at 10.00.  I had been given directions to the Park nearer to Saltford and didn’t realise there are three different Parks.  I got on the shuttle bus into the town centre of Bath and rang Helen to say I am now at the Abbey where we planned to meet this time.  We were each describing to each other what we were wearing when I spotted her and said “turn to your left” and we clapped eyes on each other.  We finally got to meet each other. Our first stop was at Sally Lunn’s cafe and is Bath’s oldest house c.1482.  In 1680 Sally Lunn, a Huguenot girl refuges from France, found employment with a baker.  Sally introduced the baker to the French brioche type breads, or buns that were later on to become famous and forever associated with her name. The recipe rediscovered in the 1930’s in the secret cupboard over the downstairs corner fireplace, is passed on now with the deeds of the house. The rich round Sally Lunn buns are still made in the house, in a modern bakery, on the second floor in what was previously a bedroom.image

 

The house is full of history and too much to mention here. There is a small museum under the refreshment rooms and some of the ovens previously used can be seen.  The building is a timber framed building with its Hanoverian Arch, early Georgian doors, Tudor fireplaces and Cantilevered Spiral staircase.  We had a look in the Museum after our delicious morning tea.  You can see the Roman and Medieval foundations of the house and finds from recent excavations. You can see the original kitchen with its faggot oven, Georgian range and old utensils. Adjacent is the remarkable stalactite and stalagmite cellar.  For such a small museum it was quite interesting.

After that we went to the Information Centre to pick up my tickets to thde Roman Baths for tomorrow night.  We wandered around the little alleys for a bit and then went on the Skyline Bus Tour passing by different points of interest.  We went up a couple of steep hills but the trees were so tall, you could not get very good views of the City so we were a little disappointed.  I felt as though I had been up many of the streets yesterday.  We then had another bite to eat and after a bit more wandering Helen and I went our separate ways. It was nice that she came to meet me as living between Bristol and Bath she was able to point different places out for me,

 

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Bath is well known for its thermal waters. According to legend, the healing properties of the natural thermal springs were first discovered by Prince Bladud around 863BC, who was cured of a skin disease after bathing in The waters. The waters were then enjoyed by the Romans, Celts, Saxons and Georgians and are the constant thread throughout the history of Bath. The waters fell as rain around 10,000 years ago and then sank to a depth of about 2 Kms. Here, they are heated by high temperature rocks before rising back through one of the three springs in the centre of the City – the Cross Spring, healing or King’s Spring which supplies the Roman Baths. The thermal waters contain over 42 different minerals, the most concentrated being sulphate, calcium and chloride.

I went into the Thermae Bath Spa, (Latin phrase ‘Salus Per Aquam’ or health through water)  It is a fantastic building combining the old and new where historic spa buildings blend with the contemporary design of the New Royal Bath.  There are four baths here but I only went into two.  The thermal waters are at an optimum bathing temperature of approximately 33.5  degrees C or 92 F.

It was a great experience as there was an open-air rooftop pool. You got some lovely views over the City of Bath and the surrounding hills.  The other bath was the Minerva Bath named after the Roman Goddess of Health and Wisdom with its flowing curves grand columns, gentle lighting and is the largest of the thermal baths.  I also ventured into the different steam rooms. Each one is infused with an aromatic essence such as eucalyptus mint, jasmine or frankincense.  This was a very relaxing way to spend the two hours in an extremely opulent establishment.

I then caught the shuttle bus to go to the Park and Ride Park to get my car and then find my accommodation.  Well, what a nightmare.  I drove around and around in circles, up and down alleys, out miles into the country on a narrow road as I couldn’t turn around safely, back to the same spot that I pulled up and made my first call to the owner, Rita of the guest house.  In the end, after getting more and more stressed and upset, Rita ordered a taxi to pilot me to her place.  It was so maddening as I was only a short distance away but the signages are quite off putting as they change from one name to another within a short space of time.  Not only that, a lot of the streets are one way and narrow so you pick up a landmark but then you don’t see it when you go a different way. So many people are surprised I have done so much of my travelling without Satnav but when speaking to Rita she told me that if you put her place in, it still takes you somewhere different.  Even the locals complain and the taxi man said it is quite difficult driving in Bath so that made me feel a bit better.  What a waste my lovely relaxing time was in the Spa.  I should have found the place first and then went to the Spa.

Time didn’t allow me to go into the Jane Austen Museum. Jane Austen is perhaps the best known and best loved of Bath’s many famous residents. She paid two long visits to Bath towards the end of the 18th century and from 1801-1806 Bath was her home.  She lived at No 4 Sydney Place although she lived in other homes as her family lived in Bath. Her intimate knowledge of the city is reflected in her novels “Northanger Abbey and “Persuasion” which are largely set in Bath. The city remains much as Jane Austen knew it: the streets and buildings recalling the elegant, well ordered world that she portrays so brilliantly in her novels.

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I didn’t know whether I had internet or not as all I wanted to do was go to bed as by this time I had a pounding headache up and my neck and shoulders were screaming out at me.

So that was my first day out in Bath – very mixed emotions.  Having said that, Bath is a beautiful City with so many interesting places to see and do.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015  –  Roman Baths and Dinner – (Day 29) 

This morning  I didn’t go anywhere as wanted to see whether I could have a bit of a sleep as headache still with me.  After lunch, felt a lot better so slowly walked into the city. I didn’t do too much wandering around before I went into the Roman Baths.  This Museum is just out of this world and there is so much history I cannot write it all here.  If anyone is interested go into good old Google.

 

 

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I did the audio tour and “discovered” how the Romans built this magnificent monument of Aquae Sulis.  Went into many of the different rooms, saw the Roman Baths with the statues of the different Roman emperors – tickled Julius Caesar’s bottom!!,! People used to bath here nearly 2000 years ago. The exhibits were unbelievable and I loved the animated displays and interpretations of the daily life in the baths and temple.  You definitely could keep coming back and still not cover all the wonderful exhibits.

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I had to wait an hour for the guided tour commencement so after having a sit down for awhile, I was speaking with a dear elderly lady Dorothy who lives in Canada. She was visiting Bath with her son, daughterinlaw and grandson. As I was saying goodbye to Dorothy and family a pigeon fancied Dorothy’s head. John was very good at cleaning the dropping off her head.  Guess we all laughed but I told her it was supposed to be luck!

I then decided I would go into the Abbey as it seemed less crowded.  It is 67m wide, including the aisles, 22m height to the nave vaulting 24 m and height of the tower is 49 ms.  The Abbey has magnificent stained glass windows, columns of honey-gold stone and some of the finer fan vaulting in the world. I seem to be making this trip visiting cathedrals/abbeys.

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This time it is Bath Abbey but due to limitations on my time, I did not get to see nearly half of the key items.  As in most of the churches/abbeys/cathedrals, the stained glasses in this Abbey are beautiful, particularly the one above the high altar – the great East window with 56 scenes from the life of our Lord.  I was interested to read that there is a tablet to Isaac Pitman, printer, spelling reformer and the inventor of Pitman Shorthand – the shorthand I learnt at school and used in the majority of my working life.  Also, there is an Australian flag above a wall tablet to Admiral Arthur Phillip (17388-1814)  was a Royal Navy officer and commander of the First Fleet, the first Governor of New South Wales and founder of the British penal colony that later became the city of Sydney, Australia. There was no one around to ask the question of why this particular recognition of Phillip is in the Abbey.

There is a window commemorating the crowning in Bath Abbey in 973 of Edgar, first effective king of all England.  There is the lectern from which the Bible is read. Below it, a stone with records of the visit in 1973 of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II to mark the 1000th anniversary of the coronation in Bath Abbey of her forebear King Edgar.

 

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Also among the key items is a plaque listing those who have headed the Christian communities here from 676 to the present day.  The lovely organ was rebuilt in 1996-1997 by Klais of Bonn and the West window shows Old Testament scenes and people.

There are 18 key items – too many to list with the stories.  It certainly is another magnificent Abbey.  It is so hard to say which is my favourite as each one is special in its own right. It is absolutely amazing how these buildings are still around, but this Abbey has what they call a Footprint project as the Abbey is under severe pressure due to the massive amount of people visiting or using the Abbey every day. One of the problems that need to be attended to is the floor as it is subsiding and needs to be fixed so that it can stay structurally safe and sound for everyone. There are a whole list of things on the agenda and they need money for this to happen.

I then went back into the Roman Baths for a guided tour but I thought that I had covered a fair bit on the audio tour, I decided to go across the road to the Roman Baths Kitchen for a lovely meal. As I was starting to feel the effects of all the walking I cancelled the dessert as wanted my bed again.

 

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On my way to get a taxi I passed Sally Lunn’s cafe and another bakery shop along the way.

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I went straight to bed as feeling quite a lot of pain but it was still a very informative visit to the wonderful Roman Baths.

 

 

Thursday to Sunday, 2 – 5 July 2015 – Ride on Petrusse Express – (PetiteTrain) around old city and Flight from Luxembourg – Paris- Birmingham and Train to Telford – (Days 23 – 26)

Thursday to Sunday, 2 – 5 July 2015 –  Ride on Petrusse Express (Petite Train) around old city and Flight from Luxembourg – Paris – Birmingham –  Telford (Days 23 – 26) 

Got up a bit later today and over  breakfast, met and chatted with a Dawn and Mike. Finally said my goodbyes at the Il Piccolo Mondo hotel staff and caught the usual No 15 into Centre of Luxembourg.  Was already quite warm so stopped at the La Boucherie Restaurant and ordered a long coke.  I was able to leave my bag there and I set off to find the Petiet Train.image

Was not too far, but some of the little “rues” (alley ways) were really stifling.  Got on the little train and we set off.  I think it was about 42 degrees and although there were little windows, there certainly wasn’t any breeze. The commentary was  very interesting and gave  a good overview of the history of Luxembourg.

Had been to some of the places  when I did the walking tour, but the train went on some up and down places that I wouldn’t have wanted to tackle in this heat by foot.  By the time we got back, it was just time for me to come back to the Restaurant for my 1.30 table booking.

I came via the Palace and there was the solitary guide marching up and down as the Duke was in the country.  Luxembourg is being host for six months to members of the European Union countries so there were quite a few of the dignitaries outside the Palais.  The Duke offered free wifi so I took advantage of this.  For a short while, it was a little noisy as there is a building taking shape next to the restaurant and I was thinking that there are not any Occupational and Safety regulations as such.  There are huge cranes sitting above the walkways and heavy trucks coming up and down the alleyways where pedestrians are walking.  The skyline is dotted with these huge cranes throughout the city as so much restructuring is taking place. So I spent a short while just watching the men at work and hoped the crane stayed secure – it was extremely high.

Had a nice lunch and because I am by myself people ask where I am from etc. so time is spent chatting away.  Met Mark and Max from Germany and Mark had travelled to a lot of the countries I have been to.  As they were leaving to go and see some football match, they told me they had paid for my drink.

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I noticed that so many of the young people were extremely helpful – offering to carry my luggage, offer a seat, etc.  I called into the library again and spoke with Viviane for a short while and then met Sylvie for our last drink together.  Was quite pleasant listening to a few items by a jazz orchestra.  Evidently, there will be different activities just in the square near the restaurant for the next fortnight.

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I reluctantly collected my bag and Sylvie walked me down to catch the No. 16 bus to the airport.  Once there, I got the shuttle service to the hotel.  Booked into the hotel and decided to have an early night as have to be on the 5.00 am shuttle service to the airport.

Friday, 3 July 2015. –  Flight from Luxembourg – Paris – Birmingham and Train to Telford – (Day 24)

Well, my day didn’t start off as planned as I slept in and missed my 5.00 am shuttle to the very close airport. I quickly hurried downstairs to get another shuttle to the airport but when I went to book in, the gate had already closed. After a bit of phoning and several extra dollars, I was able to get another flight out of Luxembourg, via Paris and then onto Birmingham where I then caught the train back to Telford where I collected a car. Because there was not a lot of time in between the connecting flights, my bag that I had booked in was not on the same flights but was delivered by courier to the hotel by 7.15 pm that evening so that was quite a good service.  I had my dinner and then did some sorting out of my luggage and then went to bed.

So that was the end of my third week. I really loved Luxembourg. Just a beautiful city and the people so friendly and was a great pace. Could walk around quite safely and without people jostling you about.

Saturday and Sunday – 4 and 5 July 2015 – (Days 25 and 26)

Weekend was spent in Telford –  had a drive out to Little Wenloch, Meeson and up and down littler country lanes.  .

The district is so peaceful and so green you never tire and had a restful time ready for next week

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Monday, 29 June 2015 – Travel from Telford – Birmingham – Amsterdam- Luxembourg – Paris – Birmingham – Telford (Days 20)

Monday, 29 June 2015. –  Travel from Telford – Birmingham – Amsterdam – Luxembourg-Paris-Birmingham-Telford – (Day 20) 

Was up early to get to the Wellington Train Station and got the 6.50.am direct train to Birmingham International Station.  It was a pleasant hour’s trip passing through Telford Central, Wolverhampton, Birmingham New Street and to Birmingham International. As I was getting into the lift, I met a Warren and his two children, Anthony and Emily.  They were kind enough to give me directions to the monorail that I had to catch to go to the International Departures.  Did the usual Immigration and Security checks and boarded KLM Flight KL1422 (23D) and we left at 9.40 heading for Amsterdam.  It was a nice smooth flight and arrived at Amsterdam..

Amsterdam airport is quite large so I boarded the shuttle bus for Gate B18 and KLM Flight KL1741.took off at 1.10.  Another short smooth flight and I arrived at the Luxembourg Airport. I had a transfer to my hotel, but could not find the person. It is only a small airport and found out where the transfers take place so after waiting almost an hour, I caught a taxi to the Il Piccolo Mondo Hotel in the Hamm area.

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I booked into the hotel and quickly changed as was very warm, had a refreshing beer before getting a local bus into the City Centre to get some information from the tourist bureau.  Did a stroll down the little rues and saw the Palace.  Stopped off at the Le Boucherie Restaurant. I chose this cafe as there was an ornamental cow outside and one of my friend’s friend collects cows so thought it would be fun to send a photo of THE COW.

 

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The staff here were very friendly so was a good reason to stay.  Another beer went down and was nice and relaxing watching the people go by and also there were “3” people who spent several hours in the same position.  They are at the same place every day only to move into a shady spot. How they stayed for the length of time that they do shows determination.

Then up to get my bus back to the hotel. When I got there, I suddenly realised I didn’t have a clue what bus I was supposed to get .  Was too excited when I arrived at the Centre. Anyway, some kind person told me which one.  It was now time to have my dinner but didn’t have a clue what to order as the menu was all in French without English translation. Sitting at the next table, two ladies had their meals delivered and they looked very nice so I said “I will have the same…….”  Was a tasty goats cheese salad and a yummy strawberry mousse.   Had some conversation with Viviane and Yuta. They are from Luxembourg but learnt that they meet and eat here on a regular basis.

After dinner, went to my room to sort out my things when suddenly I thought a plane was going to land on the roof. It was the loudest I have heard a plane. The hotel is right in the flight path but the roar is only for an instant as they go over so quickly and you couldn’t hear them approaching.  They don’t seem to have a curfew as one went over at 1.00 am.  The big cargo planes are the loudest but after the shock of the first plane flying over, it didn’t bother me.

So that was my first day in this lovely City. – Luxembourg is a beautiful city.

Friday to Sunday, 26 – 28 June, 2015 – Wantage to Telford – (Days 17-19)

Friday to Sunday, 26 – 28 June 2015 – Wantage to Telford – (Days 17 – 19)

I was up nice and early and had a lovely full English breakfast and then said goodbye to Rob and headed out a short distance to see the Uffington White Horse, a highly stylised prehistoric hill figure 110 m long (374 ft) formed from deep trenches filled with crushed white crushed white chalk.  It is situated on top of White Horse Hill.  I drove up and around the area where this horse was supposed to be.  There were some steps leading up to a chalk spot but I could not work out that this white area was THE HORSE.

 

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As it was quite blustery up on the hill, I decided that I needed to get down.  I then ventured up a very steep hill on the opposite side of the previous hill to see whether I could get a better view but once again, it left me bewildered.  Although the walk was quite a challenge,  the views around were lovely to take in while I sat and recuperated.  I decided I would have to go see some other more dominant white chalk figure.

Just as I was thinking about trying to find The White Horse, I FOUND A WHITE HORSE.

 

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I laughed to myself so couldn’t resist taking the photo. It was just outside a very pretty little village of Ashbury with some lovely thatched cottages and decided to call into the local pub for a drink. When I walked in, there was a piano and the bar attendant, Tom said I could play if I wanted to.  I decided to have a little tinker and shortly after, 8 cyclists arrived and were sitting just outside in the beer garden. I went to shut the door, but they said leave it open as it sounded very pleasant.  After a short while, thought I had better make a move onwards to Telford.

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Passed through Shivenham and the outskirts of Swindon and onto Cirencester.  The traffic was quite heavy and getting onto the motorway was causing a huge holdup, so instead of going up to Worcester on the M44, I cut across to Tewkesbury, Worcester, Kidderminster, Bridgnorth and into Telford that way.

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I was back in Telford for 5 minutes when the clouds just opened up and a very heavy downpour for only about 10 minutes. Was just about to hand the car back unscathed and travelled 850 Kms.  Got a taxi to my accommodation and it was 6.00 when I arrived there.

I had a lovely soak in the bath – put some bubble bath in it and came out into the room for a short bit and when I went in, the bubbles were almost overflowing.  I had to be very careful getting out of the bath as it was quite slippery. However, I did manage.  I had a reasonably early night.

Once again, there goes another week of my holiday.  It will be a week to remember as I have done two things that have been on my wish list for several years – take a hot air balloon flight and imagine I am in Africa by staying at a Open Range Reserve.  People I have spoken to me over here have wondered why I did these two things over in UK when we have the two things at home but I thought it would be exciting if I did something in different surroundings while over here.  It was certainly worth it.

I am back in Telford having my pick me up time and writing this while I have internet although it keeps popping out and I have to keep signing in so is certainly filling in my time.

I need to have an early night tonight (Sunday) as need to l be on the 6.45 am train to Birmingham for my next week of travelling.

 

Thursday, 25 June, 2015 – Pt Lympne – Wantage – (Day 16)

Thursday, 25 June 2015 – Pt Lympne to Wantage – (Day 16)

As I said earlier, I did not go to bed as I wanted to take in as much as this beautiful place has to offer.  I saw a beautiful sunrise and heard the sounds of the different animals and birds as though I was in the Serengeti in Africa. Shame that the other guests missed out on this lovely experience.  Three of the giraffe came wandering by.

I made my way down to the Laapa for breakfast and then it was time to ready ourselves for departure from the Lodge. Our luggage was taken down to Reception and we embarked on another short safari.

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I said my farewells to Kerry, Reece, Jenny, Paul, Alex and Arthur and started my journey to Wantage.  As I came out of the Reserve a different way, I had to stop and ask directions to Hastings. I thought I may have been able to cut across. A kind man told me the best way to go and he said to follow him. It was luck that he was heading down some of the distance  so was very kind of him and made the hook up to the A259 very easy. I headed towards Hastings, to Polegate and then up to Uckfield and travelled the same route on A272 to Petersfield as I did on my way to Sandwich. I then passed around Winchester and went onto Andover. It was then onto Newbury and eventually to Wantage. My accommodation was a short distance out of Wantage at a place called West Hallow. I rang for the instructions as had to go down some now little lanes the way I came into the town.  Was a lovely abode – all very worldly. Rob, the owner chatted with me for quite awhile as he had travelled to China an India so was interesting to compare notes, etc.

I did not stay up too late tonight as was quite a drive in a lot of traffic.

 

 

 

Wednesday, 24 June 2015 – Sandwich, Dover and Port Lympne – (Day 15)

Wednesday, 24 June 2015 – Sandwich, Dover and Port Lympne – (Day 15)

Up reasonably early and nice sunny day.  I set off from Sandwich to Deal.

-As I was driving along, I saw signage to Sutton. As that is my address at home in Australia, I couldn’t pass by without going that way.  Came to the sign “Sutton” behind a whole lot of nettle bushes.

The only part of Sutton I could see was a holiday park or holiday park sale yard.  I drove on and stopped outside a big engineering shed to look at my map. Hazel appeared and invited me in for a coffee.  We had a great chat and as I was leaving, set me off with biscuits, a cap and a brochure advertising her business.  She was such a lovely friendly person.

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It was a pleasant drive towards St Margaret’s at Cliff, the Gateway to the White Cliffs.  It was a steep descent right down to the beach of St Margaret’s Bay.

 

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 This was my first glimpse of the iconic landscape of the White Cliffs of Dover and the English Channel, the world’s busiest shipping lane. I could also see the coast of France. I took a leisurely walk towards Langdon Hole.

 

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The beach is very rocky and I wanted to go and put my feet in the water. There were 3 UK cyclists having a break and one of them kindly escorted me down to the water as the rocks were very slippery and unsteady.

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After I had put my feet in and had a couple of photos taken, it was time to head on back to the car and sadly leave this magical place.

One last photo at the wonderful WHITE CLIFFS OF DOVER.  I didn’t see any bluebirds ! Another place I can cross off my wish list.

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I had another stop overlooking the massive Port of Dover and watched a couple of ships berth and then it was time for me to head off towards Hythe and Port Lympne.

I arrived at Port Lympne Reserve at 1.oopm.

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This reserve and it’s sister park, Howletts Wild Animal Park, work in conjunction with the Aspinall Foundation founded by a John Aspinall. The Aspinall Foundation is a world leading charity committed to leading the way in conservation through education, captive breeding and reintroduction and has extensive projects overseas including Java, Madagascar, Congo and the Gabon.

I wasn’t quite sure of the time of my booking to the Reserve for my overnight stay. A very helpful lady gave me some advice and then introduced me to Rosie who showed me where to park my car and I was spoilt as I could go on the 2.00 pm Safari with Paul’s African Experience as 4.00 pm was my arrival time.

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We set off in the Safari Truck and started our journey through the Reserve which is set in over 600 acres. We saw giraffe, an elephant that was here as it was being programmed to be gently moved elsewhere, European bison, deer, water buffalo, ostrich. The views were amazing out over the countryside and to be so close to these magnificent creatures was terrific.  We had several stops along the way to “talk” to the animals and take the many photos.

We had a longer stop to see the fascinating meerkats. I never tire of watching their antics and the way they just pose for you.

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We slowly made our way back to Base Camp, passing by the gorillas, baboons, lynx, red panda, bison and other animals wandering around. The cheetahs decided to stay on higher ground.

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When I got back it was now time for me to meet the other guests who were staying overnight. We enjoyed a complimentary welcome glass of Amarula from South Africa.  Although I had already been on the safari, I joined the Dusk Safari.  This was a more extensive safari as we had longer stops and the commentary was excellent by our Ranger, Becoa who was extremely knowledgeable.

We saw the Snow leopard, African painted dogs, Javan Langur, cheetahs, ostrich, giraffe, water buffalo, zebra and the black rhino. Some of these animals were in their hundreds and were venturing to the waterhole to prepare for nightfall.  It was a lovely sunset and a great way to spend a day. The brochure says “A Day Out Like No Other”. How very appropriate. Was just brilliant again.  After we made our way back, we were taken to our sleeping quarters where our luggage had already been taken.  I was staying in “Buffalo“, a stunning luxury tented safari-style accommodation with an ensuite! in Livingstone Lodge which is situated in the 100 acre wilds of the African Experience where animals are free to roam as if in the plains of Africa.

There was time to socialise with the other guests before going into the Laapa (Dining Room) for a scrumptuous  authentic African-style feast.  I mainly stayed with three lovely couples – Jenny, a world traveller, and Paul, a real comedian, Alex and Arthur (2 very mature London policemen) and the “maddest” funloving Reece and young but very sensible for her age, Kerry.  They certainly made this stay so very pleasant and we all hope to keep in touch. THANKYOU all.

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After our feast, we stayed up quite late before we all decided to retire.  When I got back to my room, I was on a high and when I got into bed, I was slightly chilly.  I could have put on a heater but instead, decided to go outside and see the hundreds of visitors just outside. So, at 4.00 am I am out taking photo of the many buffalo and deer that were along the top of the pond.  No one else was up to see this.  It was so beautiful and still and not cold at all. I was ducking in and out to watch the movement of animals so didn’t get back into bed at all.  Soon it will be time to go in for breakfast.

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Was a super day/night.  Seeing the animals run free was great and the scenery magnificent.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015 – Folkestone to Canterbury to Sandwich – (Day 14)

Tuesday, 23 June, 2015 – Folkestone to Canterbury – Sandwich – (Day 14)

Woke up to a lovely sunny day. After breakfast, I caught a bus from Folkestone to the lovely city of Canterbury, mainly to visit the Cathedral.

I walked along the little alleyways and was really surprised that there were so few people about. I made my way to the Cathedral.

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After I had finished seeing what I wanted to see, I sat down in the pew and took in the calming surroundings before heading back to the bus. I stood up, turned around briefly to make a small donation towards the Nepal Appeal when my heart “stopped”. Where was my IPad?  Not on the pew!  I mentioned my plight to an attendant and she said “after all it I a public place”. By this time there were hundreds of school children in the Cathedral and the horrible thought went through my mind – surely anyone of them wouldn’t have taken it. I inquired at the small counter and yes, a kind lady had handed it in a few minutes go.  I just burt into tears – sheer relief. The Cathedral lady told me that they “loose” a lot of stock and the majority of which go are rosary beads. Can you believe that? I calmed myself down and went and caught the bus back to Folkestone.  Just near the bus station was a coffee cart calle “The Lost Sheep”.  I thought how appropriate as I am getting myself lost in one of these towns/villages.

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Once back in Folkestone, I made another phone call regarding my postponed excursion. Yes, and wait for it – The meeting place wasn’t until 7.00 pm at the Kingsmead Leisure Centre back in Canterbury. I booked out of my guest house and thought perhaps I could drive up to Sandwich and perhaps know where that nights accommodation would be but I did a little panic when I saw  truck after truck crawlins along. They went for miles. I didn’t want to get stuck in some long queue and not find this place in Canterbury so I turned around and thankfully there was a lane open for where I was going. I found the leisure centre quite easily but it was only 1.00 pm.  I parked jut opposite and thought I may be able to have a little snooze but that idea went out the window.  I did some puzzles until it was time to go to this meeting place.  It was the longest 6 hours.

Now, when you see what MY EXCURSION  was you will understand why I did not want to miss out.  I was getting quite excited.  Me and 15 people and several onlookers watched as the hot air balloon was being inflated and then after a briefing on procedures, the 16 of us got into the basket.

Before we knew it, we had lifted up off the ground and we were several feet up very quickly.

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WOW we were gently floating above Canterbury and the countryside.  It was just wonderful.  Seeing the Cathedral from the balloon made it extra special as it certainly stood out.

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We drifted around, up and down for about an hour and three quarters.  It was a magical journey.  Michael, our pilot, was in touch with the retrieval team, trying to find a suitable landing place.  We ended up having a very gentle landing on some rather large school grounds.  But, the team could not get their vehicle in as the gates were padlocked and there was no one around to assist with the opening of the gate.

The balloon got packed up and put in the basket and would have to be retrieved later. I was getting quite anxious now, as it was almost dark and I still had to drive the few miles to my accommodation in Sandwich. Because of this, I forfeited the complimentary drinks and said my goodbyes and started my trip to Sandwich.

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Thankfully, I got onto the correct route and arrived in Sandwich but could not see my hotel. I was sitting in the car looking at the details when a local chap came over and asked whether I was ok.  Asked him about the hotel and gave me instructions. Somehow, I still didn’t follow them so I asked another local person.  He must have thought I wouldn’t find it and within a couple of minutes, he was beside the car and said to follow him. What a lifesaver as it was in a bit of a hard place to find especially in darkness.

l booked into my accommodation and went straight to bed on a real high. What a magical experience. Just so serene floating up in the sky. So that is one more thing I can cross off my bucket list.

 

 

Monday, 22 June 2015 – Telford to Folkestone, Kent – (Day 13)

Monday, 22 June 2015 – Telford to Folkestone, Kent – (Day 13)

Up and had breakfast and then collected my little car – a very new Peugeot  and at 8.15 I set off towards theimage

lovely village of Bridgnorth and onto Kidderminster and then I somehow did my usual trick and had myself on the correct A road but heading the wrong way towards Birmingham.  So not the start I wanted.  I then headed towards Worcester, Eversham, through the busy, pretty villages of Broadway, Moreton-in-Marsh, Bourton- on-the- Water and then through Cirencester.  The driving was very slow with roadworks, cyclists, trucks and slow vehicles with horses on board so I was hardly over 30 miles per hour.  Onto Cricklade, Chiseldon to Marlborough, Hungerford, Newbury, Andover and to Winchester. This is one of the large towns so I needed instructions to find the way out. Finally found the loop to Petersfield and then it was keeping on the A272 to Uckfield – approximately 110 Kms.

A lot of the towns/villages are very narrow, one way traffic and then you come to a T junction and there isn’t a signpost to say which way to go.  Left or right?  It was then onto the very bustling seaside resort of the town of 1066 –  Hastings.

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It was a nice drive along the promenade. By this time is 6 pm and I am wondering what time I will get to Folketone. It is an advantage of having  the long daylight hours as it does not get dark until nearly 10 pm.  I continued on through Rye, New Romney, Dymchurch, Hythe and finally finally got to the rather large  town of Folkestone.

It was now 7.30 and Now for the fun bit of finding my prebooked accommodation.  After a short diversion, as luck would have it, there was the street and the accommodation place. I parked the car, booked in, made a brief phone call regarding a prebooked excursion but it had been postponed to a later date so I had a welcome shower and fell into bed after a long long, slow slow drive of 333 Kms.

I couldn’t take photos except for one on top of a hill in Hastings and a couple of signposts to say I had arrived at these places as I just wanted to get to Folkestone before too many more hours passed.  I don’t know when the site one can google to find out the distances and times was done. The distances are correct but the timing is way out in my opinion.

Friday to Sunday, 19 – 21 June 2015 – Glyn Cieriog, Llangellen, Oswestry, Telford (Days 10-12)

Friday to Sunday, 19 – 21 June 2015 – Glyn Cieriog, Llangellen, Oswestry and Telford – (Day 10 – 12)

Up early as hardly slept and had nice breakfast. Down to Post Office and then said goodbye to Marcus, owner of the hotel and peaceful Glyn Ceiriog.

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I took the very scenic drive to another beautiful village – Llangellen.  This is one of the double LL places I just cannot say it correctly.  From a vantage point, you could look way down to Llangellan.  Very picturesque and thought I could have been in mini Switzerland.

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Was lucky enough to see a steam train in the station.

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Made my way then to Oswestry and found the lovely restaurant, Prezzo, where I met up with Vanessa and Louise who are from Hope House Hospice.  image

They shouted me the great lunch and then it was time for them to go back to work and me to get the car back to Telford.

 I made good time and found the car place but no petrol station so very expensive but didn’t want to run out of petrol.  Got a taxi to my accommodation and having a very early night after a soak in a nice bath.

Thus endeth my first week of my holiday.  Was a great start.

Saturday and Sunday, 20 and 21 June, 2015 – In Telford – (Days 11 and 12) 

The weather has been quite changeable over the weekend.  Went up to Wellington to the market – thought I had been all around Wellington on my previous visits but missed the Market and it is huge.  Rest of the time has been nice and quiet – given me a chance to try and write this in between the internet being unpredictable and gremlins getting into the system.

Having a nice soak in the bath, dinner and early to bed as long day tomorrow.