tvordlj: (Default)
I'm still here in the UK but it's my last day :((( It always seems to come so quickly. The sun is actually shining in Manchester today, not something i see often here when i'm in town. It was nice the other day too as we headed out on a road trip. Don't know if it stayed all day or not. It was dark when we got back yesterday but since it sprinkled a bit as we got in, i am doubtful the whole day was bright and sunny.

Anyway.

 We went to the Imperial War Museum which was really interesting. It's a fairly new museum, a Northern branch from the main one in London which I will now have to make the effort to see. This museum focussed on war as it affected the everyday people, both civilians and military with artifacts and letters and journals and photos in addition to bigger pieces like vehicles, a Harrier jet etc. One thing that gave us both shivers is a 15 or so foot tall piece of twisted rusted steel. It looked like a modern sculpture or something. It was also next to a twisted remains of a car having been bombed. The tall piece turned out to be a piece of window framing from one of the World Trade Centre towers in NYC. Jesus. That really makes an impact.

Wednesday we thought we'd drive over to the beautiful city of York. We both love it and it's a really nice city. Lots of history, and a massive huge cathedral, the York Minster. Lots of narrow little streets with old buildings (with gift shops and cafes in them, of course) to wander. Little alleyways leading to other shops or a little parish church in a hidden courtyard. Excellent. But today the Minster was closed to the public because they were having a university graduation in it. We went into a small church next to it which was nice but not the same, really. Had lunch in a nice old pub. Lots of nice old pubs in York! Decided to go to a Viking museum. Had heard good things about it from people that have been there in the past, including Graham. They have sights, gruesome sounds and disgusting smells to show you what it's really like to live in a pre-medieval Viking village as well as artifacts they've found in excavations under the city. They had that but the rest has been sanitized and Disneyfied and kind of boring really. You sit in a little cart and are taken around a replica village populated with animatronic villagers nodding and muttering to each other or to you in old Viking tongue with the audio voiceover translating and telling you about life in the village. No smells, no marauding Vikings. A small exhibition room. Certainly not worth the 10 pounds per person we paid so it was all a bit of a disappointing visit this time.

We did an overnight trip to the northeast seaside city of Sunderland to visit some friends there. On the way we took a very scenic drive through the Yorkshire Dales. Very high hills or low mountains, barren moors, stone fences making a patchwork of many hills over the valleys, farmhouses dotting the countryside, fog and mist hanging over the land, sheep everywhere. We stopped in a market town called Hawes for lunch. It's a nice little town with stone buildings and a little river running through with small waterfalls. It's apparently very busy in summer. there are a few small museums and a creamery/dairy that shows you how the local Wensleydale cheeses are made.

Coming back on Friday we visited the ruins of Rievaulx Abbey in another national park in Yorkshire, also filled with wonderful scenery. The abbey was at the bottom of a step winding road, nestled at the bottom of the hills and overlooking a valley. It's probably one of the most complete set of ruins of any of the abbeys. Henry VIII had most of them torn down in 1538 and the buildings went to rubble. This one has had several walls and rooms restored as far as the walls and posts and things go, there's no roofs on any of them. The refectory had most of the walls and the choir of the church had much of the soaring high side walls intact, or mostly, with the peaked windows where the stained glass would have been. There was a small museum to describe the lives of the monks (Cistercian) and we had an audio guide to go around with which had loads of information and we didn't even listen to all the extras over and above the main tour info. It really gives you the feeling for how life in these places was in the middle ages. We didn't even plan to go there, but had seen part of a documentary on it a couple of days before and when i looked it up online, saw that it wasn't that far from where we were going to be staying. Very glad we went! Lunch at the cafe there was excellent too.

Today is my last day and we're going to see the Christmas markets in Manchester city centre. They have lots of small wooden "shacks" set up through various areas in town with food, gifts, crafts. I have always missed them in the past so i want to see and have a browse today.

We'll see what kind of hassle i get traveling tomorrow. It's never comfortable and can be a real pain in the arse at times, getting from one terminal to another to the gates. My suitcase isn't going to be any lighter, because i've gained a few books to replace the Christmas presents i brought over. I bought one and was given three. I'm packing two of them and carrying two in my big shopping bag along with a lot of other bits and pieces i've bought.

More travel blog details here and here

Photos of Yorkshire, York and the abbey here. The War Museum photos are here
tvordlj: (Default)
I know, i know, i've not updated in over a week! I'm back on Canadian soil, back at work, and busy beavering away at my photos, editing, sorting, uploading...Eventually that will be done and i can start typing up my travelogue notes for my website and the other travel websites i post on. (Virtual Tourist, IgoUgo, Travelzine)

what i did on week 2 )
tvordlj: (Sheep UK)
 Guess it's time i caught up!

Last week we headed out to Cornwall. We stayed overnight in a country B&B just outside Wells so we could see a little of the city, cathedral and the city centre. Wells is the smallest city in England because it has a cathedral (that gives it the right to be a city) and the cathedral is really nice. Loads of carving on the outside west front and a high vaulted ceiling inside with lovely stained glass. We took in a quick look at the outside of the Bishop's Palace with the moat round it but didn't see the famed swans. They were on the opposite side, i guess. They will ring a bell at the gatehouse to signal that they want feeding apparently. There's also Vicar's Close, a very old street of houses that is still lived in. We were too late for the shops by this time so we found a restaurant in a building that used to be the city jail for a time. Pretty good food there. The B&B only had a couple of rooms but ours was done up like a little suite, with a separate sitting room, sink, small fridge and the usual tea/coffee facilities.It looked like an old farmhouse or cottage and the garden was done up. They had a separate little annex that had a guest room in that too and ... there were chickens on the grounds! :)

We stayed at the Pendragon Country House near Davidstow and Camelford in north Cornwall. It used to be a vicarage, dating to about 1871. It's beautiful, and they owners, Sharon and Nigel, have done it up in antiques all through out. Nigel is a cook and is amazing. We had dinner there the first night though they don't do it every night. It was presented like any posh restaurant you could go it and tasted out of this world. Breakfasts were good, too, more than just the standard continental or 'full Cornish'... they had omelettes, rarebit (cheese, ham and egg on homemade bread toast), kippers, and their continental was local ham, local cheddar and thick slices of homemade bread! (plus there was always cereal, yogurt and fruit and juice). 
 
Anyway, when we first drove down, we went along the north Devon shore skirting Exmoor which we could see to one side, and coastal views on the other. We stopped in Cleeve Abbey to see the ruins of the abbey there, drove through medieval Dunster but it was too busy to be bothered stopping, and we stopped at Lynmouth and Lynton, twin towns on the seaside. Lynmouth is right on the shore and Lynton is high up on a cliff over it, connected by a Victorian funicular rail car that goes up the side of the cliff in a couple of minutes. Yes, we went up and walked into the hilly town there to find somewhere for lunch. Found a nice pub called Queens Inn. We poked into a few shops but didn't stay too long as we still were only about half way to the hotel. Stopped at a hilltop visitor info centre for a wee break and some photos. 
 
The next day we went to the smal harbour village of Boscastle ijn the morning. Nice views, walked out the end of the harbour. Graham climbed up a path to see the outside of the sheltered harbour and then we walked back to the main reason we were there, the Witchcraft Museum! Awesome! It's small but packed with a lot of things to see. It talks about things like historical images of witches, persecution, curses, charms, symbols, healing women, stereotypes... all kinds of topics. Graham really loved it and bought a tshirt with a pentangle on it! We were surprised to find out that the owners of the museum get a few death threats each year.

|Next stop, sort of, was a quick drive through Tintagel. We didn't plan on seeing the castle but i wanted to see the crooked old building that housed an old post office though that's not what is in there now. There were at least a half dozen busloads of tourists thronging about and the town itself was not that attracted, it's all geared to the tourists and the King Arthur connection. It was a bit offputting, really. 

Down along the country lanes, lined high with hedges so you don't see as much of the scenery as you think unless you're at the top of hills.We stopped at a little cove where there was a smal beach and had lunch at a pub across the way. Graham enjoyed his huge 'Arnie' burger but my bowl of cream of mushroom soup was as thick as paste and my crab sandwich was just that, bread. Crab. nothing else. We walked on the beach a bit and then decided that we weren't going to have time to go all along the north shore of the peninsula in one day as it is now mid afternoon. I wanted to see the open air |Minack theatre so we went over to the motorway and al the way down to the south to see that. A woman created the theatre by having rows of seats carved into the cliff with the stage at the very bottom. It all overlooks the sea and a wide beach to one side. there are lovely gardens outside the theatre and the theatre itself is strewn with little patches of flowers. It would be amazing to see a performance there but it would be open to the elements for sure.

Back up the motorway to St. Ives where we managed to get through the narrow streets to a car park on the pier. St. Ives is a seaside town well known for being a centre for artists and craftspeople.Unfortunately we were there too late for the shops but we walked around the place around streets too narrow to be actual street though barely wide enough  to get a car down them. Just. We finally decided on a pub on the water front to have dinner and tried to get back out of the city but the GPS kept wanting to send us back into the warren of lanes. We finally found the way out! We drove into the Land's End parking lot which normally costs you 3 pounds before you can go hike down to the actual land's end or go through a big tacky complex of arcades, exhibitions and probably an overpriced cafe and pub. I only stopped there to take a photo off the coast from the parking lot to say i'd been there. It was after almost all the tourists had left for the day so we didn't have to pay to stop and turn around. we followed the coast for a bit then took the motorway back up to the hotel and didn't get there until nearly 9:30. Too long a day to do something like that again. Will have to rethink our idea of how much we can fit in for a day!

Day two, we went to the Lanhydrock house and estate near Bodmin. It dates back to the 1600s though they had a fire in the 1800s so most of it has been rebuilt and redecorated. Luckily they saved quite a lot of what was in the house so there are some nearly 400 year old furniture and antiques in it. It was owned and lived in by the same family for most of that time until 1969 and still has that lived in feel to it. We both really loved it. the Great Hall is still the original 1600s room with a full plaster carved ceiling of the stories of Genesis. It's quite something to see!

Went to the town of Lostwithiel after that, a pretty little place with an old church. Went in there to find it fill of floral arrangements for a foral festival raising money for a hospice and the church. Many businesses and organizations sponsored an arrangement which were all gorgeous and had little adornments that reflected the business. for instance, one for the fire safety and rescue people had a yellow hard hat. The drugstore/chemist had a microscope and little glass antique medicine bottles. The bridal shop had a wedding dress along side the arrangement. Outside there was a table with tea and cake set out so we sat down and had a cuppa and a piece of cake for a nominal price. 

Close to there is a ruin of a round castle called Restormel. We had a look around there under grey skies and then went to the seaside town of Fowey (pronounced Foy). It's another hilly town with narrow lanes. We found a parking lot on the edge of it near a ferry that goes across the river to another little town. We'd probably have gone over if we'd been there earlier but again, nearly the end of the afternoon by the time we got there. Lots of whitewashed or painted cottages with cute names like 'Baggywrinkle' and 'Buttonhole' (though that one  might have been in St. Ives). Unfortunately trying to find somewhere for lunch was more difficult than we thought it would be. It's about 3 o'clock and it turns out most of the pubs stop serving food at 2:30 though later in summer they will serve all day. We finally found a restaurant that was open and had a pretty good meal there. 

We looked in a few of the shops and took a mini bus they have that goes from the centre square to the parking lots. We got back to the hotel about 4:30. Our lunch was so late that i knew i wouldn't be very hungry and i took the second of two large scones we'd had with our meal home wtih me. Graham bought a sausage roll for later as he has to have meals because of his meds. We had a little nap and relaxed and after having our bits of food, went to the bar in the hotel, it's an honesty bar where you write down what you take and it's added to your bill. They also have a cellar with a games room with a pool table so we took our drinks down there and played a few games. Which i lost, nothing unusual there ;) 

We had been having mostly decent weather, mostly sun with some cloud and a bit of overcast on the last day. It rained in Manchester all week and it's still like that! 

On the way back we stopped over in Bath and met up with [livejournal.com profile] girfan and [livejournal.com profile] highres for lunch. He had to go back to work after but P. went to the Baths with us. I liked them but G.thought they were a bit overpriced for what you get for 12£ We walked around a bit to see more of the architecture. We were getting footsore and tired and decided to see if the hotel did food. It's a Holiday Inn express, and no they don't. wha? Rather than go looking for a pub or place, we thought just get sandwiches and take them back to the hotel room. But by this time the sandwich shops were closing! Aggh! We ended up with premade ones from the grocery story, Sainsbury's, along with some chips (crisps) and pop and took a quick taxi ride back. It's an early night for us after some tv, both worn out!

We stopped off at a friends' place in Little Malvern for a visit on the way back to Manchester on Saturday and got home finally about 4 i think. Met up with local friends at a pub in Cheshire on Sunday. Service was shockingly slow but the company was top notch! We did a bit of shopping yesterday in town and got some groceries for the rest of the week. Thinking of going over to Yorkshire to see Harrogate. Weather still looks a bit grim but we're going to give it a shot.

Phew. and that's been our first week of holidays!
tvordlj: (Sheep UK)
Andddddd it's 51 sleeps until i set foot on UK soil :))
We've got all our hotels for everywhere booked. We're at the Melia White House in London near Regent's Park for the last three days before i come home. Train tickets booked as soon as the cheap ones came out.  Still have to book the car. Will do that after payday in case i have to prepay it.

Booked this place as a base in Cornwall.  Then this one just near Wells for the overnight going down to Cornwall and the Holiday Inn Express in Bath for on the way back.  I figure we'll have the afternoon and a bit of the evening to see a little of the city centre in Bath. [livejournal.com profile] girfan I'll be in touch closer to the date for contact details, (it's Friday 13th May) and still hoping you and hubby can meet up with  us. Anyone else in the area that wants to meet up, do let me know.

I've been to Bath twice before. Once as part of a bus tour in 1993. We had a lunch stop there after a drive around the city, with an hour or so just to look around. I don't remember that i saw much. I went in 2003 i think en route back from visiting a friend in Cardiff but i was ill so though i did see a bit of the city and i visited the Baths, the Pump Rooms and the Costume Museum, I really wasn't feeling too keen and didn't enjoy it. This will be a rush visit, too but we can have a walk around at least and admire the architecture, the Abbey and views.

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