Saturday, July 10, 2010

The trip home

I ordered a taxi to take us to the station on Wednesday morning as I did not want to start the day needing another shower. I paid for their tickets to get me as far as Paddington station as I did not want to play on the tube by myself. I knew I would be too overwhlemed with the amount of foot traffic and the number of trains running. I am so glad I asked them to escort me. I had a teary goodbye and then boarded the express train to Heathrow. Heathrow was easy to navigate and the plane took off without incident.
Here's Nancy on the tube.

I sat next to Darrien who is 737 Pilot for the Lakers, Diamond Backs, and Metallica. He had some interesting commentary on the trip. I landed in Minnesota and was feeling so close to home, but oh, my next plane was delayed 2.5 hours and I did not actually touch ground in Windsor Locks until 1:10 am. (6:10 am London time).

Wow was it hot, I am so happy that I missed the worst of the heat, the AC is in Judy's room. I foolishly told her she could have it this summer. Had fitful sleep until about 9 am then got up and oriented myself to my house and oh yes, TIFFANY, who did not bite me once in the night. Historically when I come back from vacation she has a 15 minute fit where she nips at me.

Adjusting to home has been a little difficult as I want to prolong the feeling of the trip and the easy access to towns and villages. Our towns and cities are just not set up the same way. I am mostly forced to use my car to get some market items and I don't have a pastry shop with scones within walking distance, just D and D. I'll have to find a good recipe and not over work the dough.

The Cotswolds tour

The plaque is on a "kissing Gate" on a walking path from Upper Slaughter to Lower Slaughter. The gate is a swivel gate within a u-shaped fence so that cattle cannot escape, I assume.
The person who holds the gate for the next walker gets a kiss for their kindness.

Erika and I took a tour of the Cotwolds on July 4 with many other Americans who were staying in and around Bath. The Mad Max tour ( Mad stands for Maddy and Max was the dog) took us to Castle Combe, Bibury, Stow on the Wold, The Slaughters and Tetbury. Here are some pics of the day, just too beautiful for words really. Seriously, everything in these towns looks like this. Little did I know that while I was looking at this beautiful area my own lawn, according to Judy had turned to what sounds like potato chips when you walk on it. I had some difficulty being stuck in the tour bus all day but I settled in pretty quickly and enjoyed.

I did a little sketching in Stow on the Wold and chatted with a guy from Seattle are about his travels.


We traveled from Bath to Salisbury and I insisted on a taxi when we arrived and I was so happy to have done so. Hostel and train station never seem to be on the same side of the map, always across the crease. Nancy and I are immediatley under impressed with Salisbury and actually I have trouble remembering which city we are in altogether. The city caters to tourists and it appears that budget cuts have left the center of town a little grungey.

We left our bags at the mildew scented hostel and headed for town to see the Catherdral- with the tallest spire in all of England. We all head in different directions around the exterior but end up at the same museum to see the Stonhenge exhibit and other historical finds from England. They have a Wedgewood exhibit which was donated by one woman and it contained over 650 pieces. After enjoying the exhibit and realizing I should have joined Nancy at her Stonhenge tour (I went a decade ago and figured the stones had not moved) because I was feeling the pull of excitment about the henge, I took a much deserved break with cream tea. All 3 of us met for tea on the lawn in front of the museum, it was really a beautiful day, as just about all of the days were. Nancy and I headed for the Salisbury Cathedral next and enjoyed what it had to offer.

The picture of the three of us was taken at the Haunch of Venison Pub and restuarant. Nancy and I dined there on Monday night and had a great window table with a breeze and fantastic food. We went back on Tuesday night as we had forgotten to pick a restuarant earlier in the day and none of us can handle the "restaurant search" when we are hungry. It was just as enjoyable.

Friday, July 2, 2010

A lazy day in Bath

Nancy and Erika headed off to Glastonbury to align with the earth, no to see the Abbey ruins and a cathedral. I crawled back into bed after breakfast. I hurt my shoulder and neck yesterday doing what??? had myself a little nap and was out and around town by 11. I enjoyed lunch at a place called the Walrus and the Carpenter and they had a great mix of new American folk playing. It was such a surprisingly comfortable feeling. After lunch I took the open top bus tour of the city, a bit campy but worth the $ to get a big picture. Once the bus tour ended I headed for the Parade Park which is a large park next to the River Avon. There are lawn chairs available for folks to use, so I sat and sketched until I came back for laundry duty.

video of the River Avon and Bath from the parade park.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Hello from Bath

Well, the internet troubles continue to plague this trip. The library in Bath has blocked the blog so I am left to rent time on the YMCA computer but cannot find a USB port. UGH.
We had dinner at Jaime Oliver's restaurant tonight and last night for that matter. It is called Jaime's Italian. Last night I had some fried polenta with rosemary and parmesean, a cured meat board (whowa) and a small portion of asparagus risotto. Tonight I ordered the steak med rare and it arrived well done so back it went and at the same time the guy at the next table got a toothpick served in his food. Poor Anna, our waitress was having a toughie. But the returned steak was fabulous.

We walked around town today checking out shops and made our way to the roman baths. They were amazing...walking on stones that were tread on by Roman sandals??? unreal. The oictyres are all taken at the Baths. the water is green because of the algae that is growing in it, it does not come out of the spring that way obviously. It's a hot spring so the the humidity level inside is a little intense, for me anyway.

The girls are planning a trip to some ruins tomorrow, but I'd rather wander town and check out some of the museums. write soon and often.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

RNLI- Royal National Lifeboat Institute

This pic of me was taken by me as I am always the one behind the camera and no one takes my photo. I am so happy that we finally have a fan in our hotel room on the last night of 4 when it has been 80 each day and we are onthe 4th floor. ugh!
I found the flier for the lifeboat station and the open hours for visiting and thought this would be right up my alley of maritime tragedy interests. When Erika and I visited I saw that there was a launch at 6:30 at night. You can just make out the ramp on the far side of the station that leads from the covered station into the water. According the the written material, the all volunteer squad can launch within 7 minutes of a call coming into dispatch. I will try to get the video up once I find a library that does not block blogs ( the problem in Tenby).

The Prince of Wales

What a great start to the day. We situated ourselves just inside the 5 Arches on the wall that surrounds the city and waited for 11 am to roll around. We had intended to split up and all get shots from different angles, but in the end Nancy and I stood next to each other and she got a fantastic video of the Prince kissing the baby next to her. Camilla was working theother side of the street.
There was not a huge turn out which surprised me, but makes sense as I thought about it more. Wales was taken by England and the Welsh have not forgotten. After the event we wandered the streets looking for something to do until our train arrived. I spotted a few cars.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Caldey Island and the Prince of Wales

We are on Caldey Island an island off the coast of Tenby that currently houses a Cistercian Order of monks. The day was lovely, the horseflies, not so much. We walked up thepath to the center of the village where the post office and museum share the same room.
I'll have to update photos when is working better.
So His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales will be here tomorrow, so of course I wouldn't let Erika and Nancy leave. He is a MUST SEE as far as I am concerned. I'll fill you in when I get to Bath Tomorrow evening or on Thursday.
Toodles, cheers and North Star- all are good bye and good night.

Somewhere near Conwy

We went to Bodnant Gardens on our last full day on Conwy. I was trying to keep track of the towns we went through but the Welsh got the best of me, by the time I got through Llandudno Junction to change buses I lost track. Scenery was amazing. woodland, floral, foliage, water gardens, rock gardens, lily ponds

There were a lot of folks in their Sunday best, on a Monday, walking the grounds and the steep inclines.

The archway is Hiburnum (sp?) and we missed the yellow flowers by 4 weeks.

Catching up on entries

Working backward here. I got out of order in Conwy and need to go back and add some pics and descriptions.
Here we are in Conwy youth hostel doing our laundry and postcards, well, someof us are doing postcards. The very next night I was introduced to PIMMS and lemonade, a lovely refreshing summer drink with strawberries, mint, cucumber, and oranges. The managers of the hostel made us a pitcher as we had been put out a little by the washer turning my laundry tie dye blue. Yup, that was fun. I washed in cold and the clothes came out as if boiled.

Erika smelling the roses on her way down the hill to Conwy. We are outside the castle walls and about to enter the village through the pedestrian access arch. We tried to get local brew at the pubs but when I asked they wanted to serve me Guinness so we found out our youth hostel sold the local brew and here it is. The Honeye Fayre on the far left was what Nancy and I tried and it was quite good with a nice Conwy honey finish.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Pembroke Castle and Tenby beaches

Beach picture is from the end of our street looking down over the cliff edge to the beach around 9:00 am. The haze had not burned off yet. we spent out afternoon at Pembroke castle in Pembroke. I'll have a video for you once I get the library as it is difficult getting video uploaded through thecocktail straw of WIFI (as it was explained to me). Awful sleepy right now I think I will get the rest updated tomorrow.

Tales from Tenby

I saw the Archbishop of Canterbury today. He was at St Mary's Church in town and I hung outside with some new friends I met this morning.

So here's what happened, Ann and Gwilym are from Port Talbot Wales and they are here on holiday. We met on the benches along the esplanade this morning. Big drop over the right fence to the beach. Well we chatted about her father being stationed in DC as a clerical during WWII and that she was a librarian. We exchanged more general pleasantries and then said good bye. Not 20 minutes later I run into them again and we laugh and giggle about it. And then about 30 minutes later I arrive behind the church with Erika and there are Ann and Gwilym again.

After chatting and waiting for the service to end I took a picture of them with Archbishop Rowan Williams and I will email it to their son, once he emails me his address. They were literally tickled pink and kissed me and Erika twice to thank us. She did ask if this was something dodgey but I shared that I was so pleased to be able to do something like this for them.
On our way to dinner tonight, who did we bump inot again? yup Ann and Gwilym. It felt fantastic to have a connection them.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

24.6.2010 from Conwy

Hello from Wales,
photo of me on the walls of the city protecting Conwy Castle. Still have not been inside as we arrived toolatee the first night. The scenic pic is from myyouth ostel bedroom window. We have an ensuite (bath in the room) this time so we are constantly jockeying for position at the sink. The hostel in Conwy is at the top of a huge hill, like Skinner mountain roadway. It is clean and run very well. The archway over the train tracks was the first thing I saw when I got off the train in this harbor city.

The video which I just figured out howto upload is of the harbor and castle, enjoy. Will try to edit the older entries with video also. Takes a very long time to upload.

A 9 million pound cafe

Hi folks,

All 3 of us boarded the bus for Caernarfon (pronounced Carnarvan) so Nancy could see Caernarfon Castle and Erika and I could take the Welsh Highland railroad tour. The tour was 4.5 hours long and took us into the Snowdonia mountain range in Snowdonia National Park. I sat in an open car- chilly and breezy, but unobstructed view of sheep, mountains, tunnels, cows, streams, rivers, lakes and piles and piles of waste slate. They have so much slate here in Wales and there is no demand for it here that they are closing the slate mines and farmers have found some very creative uses for the slate. Some have used it to make their fences by wiring it together and others have built very sturdy walls, 2 feet thick, 4 feet tall with them, and others have thrown the extra into a pile along the rail. It really is something to look up into the mountains and see sheep scattered way up high. Erika and I are photographed in front of Mt Snowdon, you can just make out the summit house in the clouds. They deconstructed the former summit and had to chopper the items out and then the new items in, £9 million - approximately $13.5 million.
The first video is about 270 degrees of the scenery on the train. No motion warning necessary.

This video is the town square in Caernarfon.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

how are the pints, pubs and prawns?

So I was asked about the pints, pubs, and prawns... if you did not see my response post, the beer is preferred warm here and the pepsi is icy in some case. The prawns make me nervous as I have seen them on a few plates, they are typically fried. I went to a pub in the town of Once Brewed, near Hexam, where we spent our first night and I had a local warm pint. It was similar to BBC steel rail, but less than... Each night in Leominster we ended up in a pub at the Hotel Talbot (free wifi when working) where the atmosphere is more early English paneling and beams, but 1980's era upholstered furniture. We were often one group of two or three and clearly the youngest. At that point I had switched to G and T's with lime, even thought they continually give me a lemon. I have learned that before I order anything I ask the server to describe it as more often than not there is something in it for which I do not care. Example, tonight's meal was Welsh Rarebit on toast with an egg and I think I have ordered an appitizer, but it also comes with a salad that is drowning in green and red bell peppers and red onions. Those who know me, not my fav. Entree was Garlic and leek sausage, turns out to be smothered in onions. I loved it, but it was a shame to toss all those onions.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Ludlow Castle

Here we are at Ludlow Castle. Nancy is on the left and you know the rest, yes that is my sister Erika. Our first day of full sun and wow did we all pay for that. Lets just say I have my base now. The grounds were lovely and the Shakespear festival was seeting up the set for a performance so so,me access was limited. We climbed up some pretty narrow staircases which I could only imagine someone going to protect the castle would have done years ago. The windows, don't know if you can see from this pic are smaller or non existant onthe bottom so that penetration of the castle was minimized. I still have some notes to right about it and when I finish them I'll update some more. Updates about Ludlow- was built in the 1300's commissioned by Edward II for a Baron named Mortimer. The Mortimer family was an ally to Edward so they lived in this castle which is not as big as a castle that would be built for a king.

360 degrees inside the walls of the castle compound.

WARNING: this may cause motion sickness- watch at your own risk. This is a garderobe, or toilet. I was in the castle, below what would have been the great room and went looking for the garderobe, just look at how many turns you need to make to use the facilities.

Leominster Pics

Here are some of the pictures from Leominster. The senter of the city with it's teeny streets and buildings overhaging the streets as when they were built, they only paid taxes on the foot print. The next picture is sunset around 10:20 pm. So amazing. After that is the 2 bottles of cream that I found on my walk for cappucino this morning as I forgot to purchase caoffee and the fixins' before I went into the hostel last night. It was the hottest cappucino ever!

The stay in Leominster was lovely and I wad so sad to be leaving. I made so many nice connections with people who were willing to tell me their stories. It is not a typical tourist town so I believe they are willing to be chatty because it is so infrequent. Most folks ask if I am Canadian and are very surprised when I saya American. Margot, why is that?
Met a man from Glasgow ( almost 65) who cycled on his bicylce to all the interesting sites outside the Leominster city limits. almost 50 miles per day. Also Met a man named Richard who is involved in charity races across England, by foot, bus, train, mini bike while staying in hostels- he has retired and was bored. poh and he has a collection of Victorian white porcelain toast servers-the most of anyone in Brittain. HMMM.

This is the view as you leave the youth hostel. As you walk out towards the Priory church on the grounds, there are lush gardens, a cemetary, and lots of mole or vole hills (really a shame all those piles of dirt on theproperty).A quick view of the inside of the priory church.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

What no internet again and again?

So we had some, ok lots of trouble in the north getting internet connections so we are now in Leominster (pronounced Lemster), where the library was supposed to "hhok us up" however their's went down before we arrived and will be back up just after we leave. Finally found the Hotel Talbot where there is not only free wi fii but it is up and running, the only place in town. Today we visited the priory and did lots of shopping. I sketched some of the twen and then had some tea at arather eclectic tea room where we were also treated to her accordian. We will not have internet again until Tuesday. Hope you are all well.


This is a 360 view of the center streets in Leominster.

This is Norrie, musician and restuarant owner. We had tea at her tea room one afternoon and she had just returned from a fete so she had her squeeze piano. really fun!

What no internet? again?

Hi Folks,
I made it after 25 hours of travel and only 20 minutes of sleep I arrived bleary eyed and feeling like a concrete floor would not be a bad place to take a nap. Schiphol airport in Amsterdam was a let down as most of it was under construction. I arrived in Newcastle and met my sister without incident. We traveled by metro and train and bus to the town of Once Brewed, where Hadrian's wall is. See pic for the lovely view out my window. The wall is along the ridgeline above those tree in the foreground. Built in 122 AD. Listened to sheep bleeting all night and it was heaven.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Day 1 Harumph!

Well, it's 9:12pm and I am back at home. The very first leg of the trip was delayed enough that there was no way to make the international flight. I got on line at customer service and the line moved very quickly, until I approached. Once there, this lovely gentleman named John A assisted me with my rebooking. Apparently, he nor the agent at the 800 # could book the last leg of the trip which meant I would be in Amsetdam indefinately (better than Detriot). An hour and 17 minutes later they achieved success and reissued my tickets for tomrrow. My ride had come back to get me but had to wait 45 minutes as the tickets took so long. I felt so cheated to walk away with only 3 boarding passes. I wonder what my travel insurance covers? So, l;et the fun begin tomorrow.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Dinner with Dad

Met Dad for dinner tonight as I will not be in town on Father's Day. Here's a pic of us from 2 years ago. He wishes us well on our sisterly tour and wonders how we two sibs will fare in such close proximity on this trip. I acted as though I knew not of what he spoke, but he saw right through me. Dad had fish and chips. Should I have offered to wrap in newspaper for him so he could get a feel for the real thing?

I read a great deal about Hadrian's wall last night, the first leg of our trip. 2000 years after being built by the Romans and it is still standing.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Weather in England

Over dinner tonight I thought I'd check the weather in various parts of England. To my dismay I may have planned my pack according to what I wanted the weather to be... I will certainly not be overheated most of the first week if the long range forecast remains. It is predicted to be about 55F and overcast. Overcast I was prepared for, got my mac and lots of hair gel. My sister sent the updated itinerary through in the past few days and to put it mildly, she likes to plan. It really is a strength of hers so, Erika, don't take it any other way then it is meant, as a compliment.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The week is over, workwise anyway...or is it? It was nice to be out while the sun was shining today. The countdown has really begun as I have started planning the clothes I'll wear in the next few days to keep from doing too much extra laundry. My sister has asked that I not cut up the Lonely Planet book as I had planned. I know, CUT A BOOK? but it is approximately 3 " thick and additional weight I was hoping not to carry. Problem solved. She'll carry once we meet in Newcastle upon Thyne. Any Top Gear followers out there?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Home is where the heart is, at least where the cat is

I just got home and it feels so strange, this place I visit to sleep.

Cat was busy today. You are all subjected to my cat photos, who else will ever see them. Ok so that was taken in winter, I never saw the day light at home today. Did you?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Tiffany despondent

Tiffany is just beside herself. Every time I take the suitcase out for trial pack, she starts hovering. I think she knows that "she who shall not be named" will be caring for her and wonders if there really will be water every day...

Prepping to exit work

Only 3 work days remain before I leave and about 5 days worth of work to leave it right for those not joining me. Only a few loads of laundry and purchases left to make and then I am off. Anyone care to be a fly on the wall on about the 3 rd day of vacation to see how I am coming down off the high octane pace of work?