A Walk to Work – #London

Poor Westminster has been in the new for all the wrong reasons lately due to terrorist attacks. I love the area and whenever we get the chance to work down in London and specifically the Westminster area where our head office is. So I thought I’d share a couple of photos of the last time I was down there

Holiday curse

I’ve just been on holiday with my best friend for the first time. We were meant to travel for an afternoon in Amsterdam using the ferry as our hotel room. The week before I got an email cancelling the trip as the travel company had forgotten to book the ferry part of the holiday! A bit of finangling later we managed to book a trip to Edinburgh instead but I figured it was probably time to tell my friend about my holiday course.

Yes I have a bit of a curse. Of the many holidays I’ve been on many of them have had some kind of trauma before or during. Here’s a few of them:
•After booking my first ever holiday abroad the very next day 9/11 happened. At the time I thought it was something very horrible but didn’t have an impact on my trip. Except when it came to flying to America the restrictions and actions of airport security only a few months after the event was terrifying. I’d booked a week in San Francisco followed by a week in Anaheim. Except I’d forgotten to book the bit where you have to travel between the two. Turns out just because a 600 mile trip in England is fairly easy on public transport, it’s less so by Amtrak. My train trip included 2 buses and a walk through a field.
•The next year we went to San Diego. The trip itself wasn’t horrible…well except for my son developing a severe gastric infection and the plan being re-routed from the stop-over in LA to San Francisco because of yet another terror threat
•So then we went to Paris….and the roof of Charles De Gaulle airport collapsed the day before we set off
•I’ve been to Orlando and got stuck in 2 tornados, a hurricane, lost all my credit cards (reporting them lost then finding them down the dies of the bed…) and then almost involved in a collision when our plane landed in the Atlanta stop over before having to do an emergency take off straight away as someone and I quote ‘had left a plane on the runway’.
•I went to Barcelona for my 40th birthday and the airline lost my luggage. Everybody’s suitcase but mine came trundling out. Sighing deeply I went off to report it in my broken Spanish to the official who only spoke broken English. The friend I was with mentioned I was really calm. I mentioned the above list. She mentioned never coming on holiday with me again. Whilst trying to communicate in 2 languages the suitcase roundabout suddenly started up again and out came my case all on it’s own. I still to this day have no idea where it had been.
•Day trip to Brussels – the driver got lost and I end up with just 90 minutes in the city
•Went to Germany using the ferry and went through the worst storm on the English Channel in years
•And then I booked Amsterdam as above….

The funny thing is I’m sure I’ve missed a few events off. I find it amusing. I suffer from sever anxiety but have had so many trips with these little issues that travel is one of the few things that never set off a panic attack. It’s probably when I’m at my most serene.

So anyone fancy a trip????

Chatsworth House

I had one of my days out this weekend where the coach company takes you to several places in one trip. We started with Dobbies garden centre. I have no idea why and mostly spent the time in the cafe. I don’t think I’ve ever been the target audience for these things however the little bit I did see I know I’ll end up back here as it’s the type of place my mother will love.

Our end stop was Bakewell. Hard to comment really as it was pitch dark and the end of the day. We did accidentally stumble upon the Bakewell Pudding parlour where the original Bakewell tart was made. The cake was lovely and we sat eating that while others went to see the Xmas lights switched on. I think we got the better deal as the lights advertised turned out to just be the tree in the centre of the market.

In between we had a stop at Chatwsorth House, known to me only as Mr Darcy’s home in Pride and Prejudice. Like many of these trips I would have happily lost the garden centre and Bakewell and just concentrated on this. We didn’t have time to look around the gardens. As we were here in the run up to Xmas they had the Xmas market stalls – nothing different than at any other fair. I was really disappointed by the food however. Absolutely nothing for the vegetarian and everything triple in price.

The house itself is gorgeous and I really wish I’d had more time to explore it. Every Christmas they have a themed display throughout the house and this year it was The Nutcracker. So many Xmas trees! I’m glad I wasn’t the one that had to put those up. All around the house were scenes from the ballet as well at the end a film display. I really enjoyed that part of the day. Note to self – go back when it’s not Xmas and not as part of a crammed in day trip

Cities in the dark #Blackpool

I have a new job that involves lots of travel. As glamorous as that sounds I spend lots of time on the train and have only really been seeing new cities at night on the way to the hotel and again on a morning on the way to an office.It gave me an idea though to pass the winter of capturing some sights in the dark on my trusty mobile starting with Blackpool.

Blackpool brings with it mixed memories. I haven’t been in six years; the last time was  agirls night out that ended after we rounded a street corner just in time to see a man get run over by a bus. A man so drunk he sat there laughing & joking with his friends while a bus reversed several times over his crushed legs which a ‘helpful’ person kept screaming at the driver to stop; start; go back; no wait wrong way.Not the fondest of memories! I’ve wondered since what happened to him.

On a happier note are the Illuminations. Despite the fact that the website says they are all switched on they weren’t on my visit.A little bit gutted as I wanted to see the Dr Who lights – they have a Tardis and some Daleks. For us and many other 70’s kids Blackpool Illuminations guaranteed a day out to the seaside. Every year dad would come home and off we’d go to drive the Golden Mile and if flush with cash have some fish supper and during times of financial hardship then mum would pack a night picnic. A much nicer memory than the other one 🙂

My friend often comments that she finds that the further North you go the more people will stop and talk. I found on this trip that Blackpool folk fit that category. I had a lovely chat about old self employment dreams of running my own guest house and what it takes to run a tea shop (my other dream) when your business is dictated by the seasons. Another conversation started after I realised a woman was wandering around glued to her phones map app just like me. So much for only teenagers being glued to their phones.

I left this time with fonder memories and a renewed desire to spend my retirement by the beach even if it was freezing cold and raining most of the time.

 

A Walk in the Woods #Leeds

I had a plan to cheer up a friend. A wander around Rodley Nature Reserve in Leeds followed by a trip for coffee in nearby Horsforth. Lack of planning on both our parts meant we went when the Reserve was actually closed so opted for a wander down the nearby canal. What followed was a lovely 7 mile walk and discovering some joys of Leeds we had never seen before.

We started walking down the canal in the direction of Shipley (if we’d have kept walking another 10 miles we’d have got there!) marvelling at some of the houses, amazed by nature (we must have stood watching geese fly and then land in unison on the canal for ages – just mesmerising) and just marvelling at the beauty of the landscape.

We stopped at the Moody Cow steakhouse in Apperley Bridge for lunch (very nice highly recommended) before deciding to stay off the canal and try the Calverley Millennial Walk. This turned out to be part of the Pudsey link for walkers. Again a  reminder of how beautiful nature can be when left alone. Scattered around the walk are various historical remnants such as a medieval forge which sadly we didn’t get to see this time but hopefully when better prepared we can see much more.

Hope you enjoy some photos

Stokesley and Helmsley, North Yorkshire

I sometimes wonder how coach companies make up their trips. The other month I did a trip to Richmond and Durham. The Richmond stop was 90 minutes to take in the market. As the market comprised of about 5 stalls and the town was tiny I chose instead to spend it wandering around an old castle. Much more fun. Stokesley was similar but sadly without the castle. This time we were given 2 hours to spend there on market day. The thingI’m beginning to realise is that unless it’s a special kind of market (xmas, craft fair etc) they are all pretty much the same. Stokesley is a beautiful town but there’s nothing there to see. The centre comprises two streets of shops mostly tea shops and charity shops. It passed the time but not sure I’d want to go back.

We had three hours in Helmsley on the other hand and yet I could easily have stayed there two days! Again the idea was market day and shopping but the town also has a castle, abbey ruins, a bird of prey sanctuary, Duncombe Park house and the walled gardens all for visiting. I’d never heard of the town until I saw it on the brochure yet its only an hours drive. I wish I could drive so I could go back. It doesn’t have a train station and very limited buses from York. I may have to work out for myself a long weekend there.

I loved the shops – here there was a variety. Lovely gift shops, art shops, antiques and so many tea shops (this is not actually  a bad thing). I ended up spending an hour and half wandering the castle ruins (quite a lot for something 1000 years old) and the shops and had a pleasant afternoon. Again though this was sold as a market trip. I wonder if it’s me that’s unusual and all people are interested in is markets and shopping? I’d personally rather have a mix of things. If you are able I’d highly recommend this town.

Travelling the UK the A-Z way

A couple of years ago I set myself a fun challenge to see if I could visit a city, town or village etc in the UK starting with each letter of the alphabet. I had a bit of a break in travel but have been making up for it lately. I’ve noticed when writing this list up I’ve pretty much stayed in England so maybe I need to re-name it and then try and do another using Scotland, Wales & Northern Ireland and Eire???

There are a few letters where I’m struggling to find somewhere so any recommendations would be most grateful 🙂

I’ve made a few other lists that would take a bit longer- a place from each County in the UK and again in each of the Western Countries of Europe. There’s no real reason behind it except a bit of fun and a way of seeing a bit more of my own country and Europe.

This is where I’m at so far:

A – Ambleside, Cumbria

B – Bourton on the Wold, Gloucestershire

C – Chester, Cheshire

D – Durham, County Durham

E –

F – Flamborough, East Riding of Yorkshire

G – Grasmere, Cumbria

H – Haworth, West Yorkshire

I- Ilkley, West Yorkshire

J –

K – Keighley, West Yorkshire

L – Leicester, Leicestershire

M – Moreton on Marsh, Gloucestershire

N – Nottingham, Nottinghamshire

O – Otley, West Yorkshire

P –

Q –

R – Ripon, North Yorkshire

S – Stratford, Warwickshire

T –

U –

V –

W – Windemere, Cumbria

X –

Y – York, North Yorkshire

Z –

 

An afternoon in Leicester

My friend recently moved back to Leicester after being away for many years. I decided to have a coach trip down for the afternoon. But what do we do when we need to fit in a good catch up, entertain a 3 year old and it’s the day before payday??? Hmm maybe we didn’t choose the best day.

A quick look around Tripadviser showed there were actually lots of things to do when you’re at the right side of payday but we settled on looking at the Jewry Wall and going to see the new King Richard III exhibit (and bones)

Jewry wall museum is a lovely (and free!) little place on the outskirts of the city centre. Inside there are some original mosaic Roman flooring that has been found as well as original Roman wall murals. And outside the wall itself is part of a discovered Roman baths – the outlines of which can be seen in the photos below. It’s tiny and doesn’t take a huge amount of time to wander around but it is very informative and there’s a good little spot for children to play, build their own mosaics and colour. A good way to pass an hour.

With promises to see if we could find more castles and princesses for our young friend we wandered towards the Richard III visitor centre. While dithering over whether our funds would stretch that far our own little explorer decided she was going to visit the Cathedral instead. Her instincts proved great for us as it turns out that’s where the actual remains of Richard are buried (on his own sheepskin blanket according to the guide). The visitors centre is divided into one floor documenting the War of the Roses and the other floor the history of the dig as well as the original grave site. But as we only really wanted to see the bones we decided to leave it for another day.

Things we didn’t get chance to see – lots of other museums, botanical gardens and the one I want to see when I have actual cash – the Space Centre

Stratford

Last week I spent the day in Stratford; birthplace of Shakespeare. One of my customers at work had recently moved away from the area saying he couldn’t cope with all the tourists and despite being a tourist myself I kind of saw what he meant. Everywhere I turned were groups of students (all foreign languages) and at one point when I wandered into a church from a break from them (I get anxious when it’s too crowded) I ended up avoiding 83 Americans each one with his own Dr Seuss Thing numbered shirt. Definitely off putting when you are on your own. I couldn’t get into a couple of places such as Shakespeare’s birth place as the crowds were just too long. Thankfully it was a lot quieter at Anne Hathaway’s House and I got to spend some time in the garden enjoying some peace and quiet. I wouldn’t say it put me off but if I went again I would definitely avoid the summer school holidays!

Durham, County Durham

The second part of my trip with Blue Sky coach travel was an afternoon in Durham. We had longer here and finally the sun had come out. Initially I didn’t like it. I went on a Saturday, people were out in force and I couldn’t find anywhere to eat. I suffer from severe anxiety and all the above are triggers for me to have panic attacks. It took me about half an hour to finally find somewhere quiet enough to feel relaxed – The Cafe on the Green next door to the cathedral. One of those places that have no concept of simple food & charge £6.50 for a sandwich but it suited my needs. Refreshed and less stressed I went to see the main reason for my visit – Durham Cathedral or The Cathedral Church of Christ, Blessed Mary the Virgin and St Cuthbert of Durham to give it it’s full name. The place is huge and is now a World Heritage site and originally founded in AD635. I find it fascinating how many of our ancient structure are still standing, even more awe-inspiring to see some of these still in use. I wasn’t allowed to take photo’s of the inside sadly.

Also disappointing was the closure of Durham castle, another place on my must see list. Apparently they were hosting a Bavarian cultural exchange and beer-fest hence the closure. I saw one or two scantily clad bar ‘wenches’ going inside. I wonder if all Bavarian barmaids really do wear such tiny clothes??? Seemed very stereotypical so not sure how much of the cultural exchange was true and how much was there for the students to just have a party??? So it looks like I’ll have to go back and visit this place again too to see the castle. There are also lots of signs to HMP Durham but as it’s a prison still in use I wasn’t so keen to go have a look at that!

 

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