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 🙂

Edinburgh (Scotland)

The other week I went to Edinburgh for my birthday. Despite living in the north of England I’ve only been to Scotland once before and that was thirty years ago. I had the most wonderful time. There is so much to do there. We went for 3 nights but could easily stay for the week.

First stop was the Elephant Cafe – the cafe where JK Rowling spent time when writing the Harry Potter stories. For me who loves Indian colours and mysticism the cafe had twice the appeal. One thing that amazed me was the loos! Yep the loos. Harry Potter fans have graffiti’d every single space in there. Apparently the cafe owners got fed up of painting over the scribbles and have left the marks as they are.

We spent many hours in the castle that overlooks the city. And at least half a day on the Royal Mile wandering all the cool shops. Before leaving we got to have a quick look around the art galleries. There’s a lot more we didn’t get chance to see so I’ll definitely be going back. Here are a few pictures:

Canal Walk #Leeds

In my efforts to get fit (which haven’t amounted to very much so far) I bought a pair of walking boots and decided to give them an airing with a walk down my local canal. Somewhere in an earlier blog is another part of the canal (Rodley to Apperley Bridge). This time I decided to walk the other way and if I kept on walking the rest of the 170 miles I would have arrived in Liverpool!

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.

 

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

Previous Older Entries

Follow me on Twitter

%d bloggers like this: