Last Day of Touring

On our last day of touring (which was not our last day in the UK), we visited York Minster before leaving the city.  A few hours later we got to our Cambridge hotel, which was across the street from a nice park, a big expanse of lawn where the students sat, played frisbee, etc….just like any big lawn at any big college or university.  We set out for a traipse around the city.

Cambridge actually has what I would consider a real shopping mall, right in the middle of town.  I mention this only because it was the first real shopping mall we’d seen (the one in York was more like a basic strip mall).  We walked through it, but didn’t shop; we were just trying to get out of the heat!  Cambridge is also full of beautiful architecture and a ton of students.  I have often felt I’d like to live in Cambridge, but the reality is much different from the dream.  Too hot, too many people, too many maniacs on bicycles.   I’ll stick with the moors!

Here, we ended up at King’s College (I think) on the far end of our walking tour.

kings college

I don’t remember whether it was the heat or my feet, but I was starting to waver at this point, and am afraid I got a bit short with everyone, so we meandered easily back to the hotel (cutting through the mall again for some air-conditioned comfort).  On the way, we sat at the edge of the park for a while to recover our strength.

relaxing before dinner 

See the pub in the picture?  That was ultimately our dinner destination, mostly because it was right near the hotel!  Good food, though.

After that, it was an early night, just because we were all so bushed.  The next morning we checked out and drove back to Rudgwick.

A day in Rudgwick sufficed for packing (and repacking because the big suitcase was too heavy, buying a supplemental carryon, then packing again, and repacking!) and recuperating for the trip on the 20th.  We made sure to have motion sickness medicine, things to do on the plane, and some snacks.  The flight back was pretty uneventful except for the drama of rushing through Customs in time to make our connecting flight!  But we made it.  The cats were happy to have us back.  We were happy to BE back, and I’m still working on piles of laundry!

Many thanks to all the UK Picks for their hospitality and a big hello to all the new friends we met.  See you in ten years when we can nerve ourselves up for another trip, ha ha ha…

The National Railway Museum

Billed as “the world’s largest railway museum,” this one is certainly very large and involved, and yes, it’s larger than Steamtown, which is the largest one I’d ever seen before that time.  We got here before it opened so that we could maximize our museum time.

Starting out in the back, we saw the red locomotive that serves as the Hogwarts Express.


hogwarts logo

Inside there were, as you might imagine, loads of exhibits, all very well-done.  Here is the logo on the side of the locomotive Winston Churchill.


This next picture was the following picture on my camera’s card, so I assume it’s the interior of the Churchill, but I can’t be certain.  We saw so much and I didn’t make any notes, so…I can’t promise anything here.


Then we went back out and rode the miniature railway.

miniature railway

From here we went back inside and wandered around some more exhibits.  I got separated from the boys here, so I took some pictures of the roundhouse area.

inside 1

inside 2 

inside 3

inside 4

This is the Rocket, a pioneer of trains!

After a total of about four hours here, we rode the little “open-air bus disguised as a train” back to York Minster.  The area was scenic enough, so we wandered about for a bit and Chris spotted this little monument tucked in the trees.  It’s a very old-fashioned looking monument, but if you enlarge it you can see that the statues carved in it are all WWI-type soldiers!


There were no real plans for the afternoon, so after a quick lunch at an Italian restaurant (which was nothing like an American Italian restaurant – for example there were red peppers in the meatballs!) we had to run to PC World and use one of their computers to log in and pay our Amex bill.  We shopped a bit, including buying new t-shirts for all of us who were running out of laundry, and then drove up through the moors to Whitby.

The plan by this time became “have fish & chips in Whitby for dinner” but Whitby, being a seaside town, was packed, packed, packed with pedestrians and cars, and it was nearly impossible to get through the town, let alone find a parking space.  Hasty plan revisions led us to a new plan, “Drive back through the moors and have dinner in York.”

We did just that, also stopping in a very, very small town called Goathland.  Ant wanted to see this town because it’s where the Hogwarts end of the train journey is filmed, and because a show called “Heartbeat” is filmed there.  (We never heard of “Heartbeat.”)  The boys all got an ice cream from a ticky-tack shop and we stepped around some sheep to get back to the car.  I wish I’d taken pictures of the moors.  I want to live there.  Nicely desolate.

Tomorrow, Cambridge in the sweltering heat!

The Long and Winding Road

Our next day was a long and mildly interesting highway drive from Beaumaris all the way to York.  Anthony’s left-ear hearing aid had shorted out, so once we checked in, he went off in search of a hospital or someplace that could repair it.  Chris, Alex and I took the sightseeing tour bus ride and saw a lot of interesting stuff from the top of an open-air double-decker bus.  I had been reading C. J. Sansom’s “Sovereign” (about Henry VIII in York) so this was a very timely trip.  After the tour was over, you could either stay on the bus to get back to your starting point, or get off and walk.  We opted to walk back to the hotel.

Along the way we saw a gorgeous Victorian-style brick building…which had the modern and mundane Pizza Express located inside it!  This nearly made me cry.  I suppose it’s good in that someone is still getting use out of the building, but…Pizza Express?  Waah.


After the three of us reached the hotel, we puttered around a bit and then Chris (peeking at a map) said, “Hey, there’s a shopping mall a couple blocks away.  Want to walk over and do some shopping?”  Of course my shopping had been seriously curtailed during this trip – it’s difficult to be comfortable poking around a shop when there are three guys either waiting in the street impatiently, or wandering around the store impatiently!  So I agreed.  We set out with the map in my handbag.  Note that we had no cell phone during this stay.  Maddie and Brian had offered us one of theirs, but I declined, on the grounds that Ant has a cell phone, and if they needed to reach us, they could call him.  It didn’t occur to me that maybe WE would need to call Ant!

“A few blocks away” is how this place appeared on the map.  “Past the second roundabout.”  Well, it became clear, about a mile past that second roundabout, that the map was not drawn anything like to scale.  We plowed on.  At about mile 2, Alex started complaining about being tired and his feet hurting.  (Mine were too, but I tried not to complain.)  Chris actually carried Alex – for about 20 yards – but Alex is near 70 pounds now, so that made it really awkward (especially since it was really hot, too).  Alex steeled himself to keep walking after Chris promised him we’d take a taxi back home instead of walking.

At about mile 3, I started complaining!  But we plowed on.  There were several free Park & Ride buses that kept going past us (leaving the mall and going back to the city) so we decided that if we ever got to the mall, we’d take the bus.  Several times we thought we were there, but it turned out to be a small shop with no mall attached.

Finally, at about 3.5 miles, we reached the mall.  There wasn’t much to it..after all that…but we did get Alex some dinner since he was hungry.  We poked around for a while, tried to phone Ant from a pay phone (unsuccessfully), and then hopped on one of those buses to go back to the city.

The bus dropped us about a mile from the hotel.  It wasn’t really – it was only about half a mile – but we walked quite a ways in the wrong direction before pulling out the GPS and realizing our error.  So, we turned around to walk in the correct direction, and got caught in a rainstorm!  Totally soaked!  Well, there was nothing to do at this point but laugh about it.  By the time we got back to the hotel, Ant was waiting (but his hearing aid had not been fixed), and Chris and I were ravenous.  However, Alex and I were too tired to go out for dinner, so Ant and Chris went out, while I ordered room service.  Aah…’tis an ill wind that blows no good.

So that was our first day in York.  Tomorrow, our second day, a much better day overall!

The Crab Parade

I forgot to mention the Beaumaris Crab Parade!  Down on the sea front there were a bunch of kids & families that had been catching crabs in buckets.  These crabs are about the size of my hand, and dark brown, not like the things they serve in US restaurants.  Anyway, the families were getting ready to leave, so the parents were making the kids release the crabs.  They stood at the top of a boat launch ramp and dropped crabs out of buckets, and at one point there were about 100 crabs scuttling sideways to get to the water.  There were also about 20 seagulls hanging around, wanting crabs, but afraid of the people.  Alex was really excited and squealing about this, while I kept checking my feet to make sure no crabs were nearby!