Christmas in #Newcastle

This weekend myself a friend went up to Newcastle to see the department store Fennicks annual Christmas window display. I wasn’t sure why we were doing this apart from it being my friends annual family tradition. We never did things like this as a child so I found it hard to buy into the excitement of going to look in a shop window.
In the end though I really enjoyed it. The theme was Paddington and the display was set into several sections telling the story of the recent film. The display was really intricate and each part had the jar of marmalade hidden somewhere for the little ones to find. I was amazed by the amount of families queuing up to have their pictures taken against the window as well as watch the display. It’s nice to see something that’s not linked to the latest phone app or technology that children were enjoying and I loved seeing families interacting.
Made me wish we had done more of this as a child but nothing to stop me being a big child and enjoying more of this now I’m older.
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Caenarfon, Wales

I love my day trips and have been loyal to one or two coaches companies in the past. I decided last weekend to branch out and try a new one and go to tourist village Port Meirion. Sadly the coach company had other ideas. It took over two hours to go to all the passenger pick up stops before we could finally set off. It’s quite a distance from my home town but according to Google maps we should’ve been there about 2pm. At 2.30 we were still driving along a motorway. Then the driver pulled over in a layby and started messing on his phone. Never spoke to anyone beyond the first row of seats but I managed to catch that he’s missed his junction. Ok I thought he’s working out how to get back on track and when he set off again everything was ok. Afterall he didn’t say anything to us (paying) customers. Except half an hour later we pulled up in the small town of Caernarfon and he got off the bus expecting everyone else to do so. Still not actually telling anyone what had happened unless they asked. And you would when you’ve paid money to go somewhere and suddenly you’re somewhere else. Turns out we were too far away to go to our stop so he’d made the decision without consultation to take us to the nearest town. Caernarfon was a nice little town with nothing much more than a castle. It was pleasant but ultimately not where I’d expected to be going when I set off at 7.30 that morning. Even worse were the stories that getting lost is apparently standard fair for this travel company. I’ll save you the ranting my friends were subjected to and the subsequent complaints to the company and give you some photos of Caernarfon instead. Enjoy 🙂

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

Cologne and Dusseldorf Germany

I haven’t been able to get out and about much recently but at the end of last month I managed to finally get away with a National Holidays Xmas markets trip to Germany.

The trip involves a days travel each way and two days of sightseeing and Xmas shopping. In light of recent terrorist events security was at a maximum crossing the Channel but the coach operators handled it well and in the end depsite an extra wait that part of the jorney was smooth. Coming back not so fun as we got caught up in the storms that had been raveging England and moved onto the Continent. Our return ferry crossed on some of the worst choppy seas I’ve encountered. We had actually missed our designated ferry due to border control. A blessing as it turned out as the original one got blown of course and eventually landed two hours after our later one!

Dusseldorf we found to be nice and pleasant but quite small. We probably didn’t need to spend as long as was planned there. Cologne has much more to see and do as it’s quite a big city. We were told that many of the buildings were bombed during the war which was probably why everything looked like it had been built in the 1970’s.

Our end conclusion was that as nice as the towns were once you’ve been to one Xmas market you’ve probably seen them all. Each one sold pretty much the same things as you could get back home in Leeds (although possibly a bit cheaper). Overall though we had a fab time and would highly recommend it

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