Tom and I spent Christmas in the UK. I fully intended to write every day while we were away but most of the time I was driving and the rest of the time we spent with family.
We took a week long road trip while we were there and Tom saw some parts of England he had never seen before. On the first day of our road trip, we drove from Reading to Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire. Unfortunately the palace itself was closed but we took a walk around the large lake. That evening we stayed at the Falklands Arms, which was built in the 16th century, and is situated in the quaint village of Great Tew. The next day we drove up to Nottingham. We tried very hard to make our way on the back roads but somehow each road seemed to lead to the M1. In the end we just took the M1 north because we were wasting so much time. There is not too much to say about Nottingham because once we found a hotel we didn’t stir outside the front door until the next morning.
On Wednesday we drove to Pickering in Yorkshire for a brief stop before driving over the North Yorkshire Moors – a remote and wild area – to Kirkby Mills where we stayed one night at Brickfields Farm Bed & Breakfast. This was the best B&B we have ever stayed in – the room was wonderful and the breakfast was to die for. Our journey on Thursday took us through Thirsk to Ripon and then on to Skipton. Here we stayed in a B&B within walking distance of the town center. It was pouring rain but that didn’t stop us taking the walk and enjoying a pint at the Woolly Sheep Inn.
We loved Liverpool
The next day we made our way from Yorkshire to Lancashire. We headed to Southport where my daughter and son-in-law now live. Before going to see them in the evening, we set out to find our B&B in Scarisbrick where we would be staying for the next two nights. The landlady at the B&B had given me instructions but we found ourselves lost in a remote area where the only roads were muddy tracks with huge potholes filled with water. It took us half an hour to find the right road before eventually finding our way to the B&B.
Saturday Lizzie and Ric took us to Liverpool for the day. We had particularly requested to visit there because we’d heard there was so much to see and, of course, it is the home of The Beatles. We spent a marvellous day looking at old docks, the refurbished Albert Dock, St. George’s Hall, the Cavern Club, Penny Lane, Strawberry Fields and John Lennon’s house and – the cherry on the top – Eleanor Rigby’s grave.
On the Sunday we began to make our way further south but first we had to visit the historic city of Chester. I spent some time in Chester when I was a child because an aunt of mine lived there. The city is very old and has hardly changed since I was last there in the 1970′s. It is possible to walk all round the city up on the city walls, which were built by the Romans 2,000 years ago. It has a nice shopping center which was heaving with Christmas shoppers when we visited.
Chester. We could have spent a couple days here. An amazing city.
That evening we spent in Hereford. Once again, we didn’t have any time to explore the area and next morning we were up bright and early to make our way back to Reading. The UK had an awful lot of rain while we were there and the south west was particularly affected. As we traveled from Hereford to the M4 around the Gloucester area we could see all the fields were under water and only the hedges round the edges could be seen. When we arrived that night at our hotel in Winnersh, the car park was completely flooded and we had to park in a temporary car park.
All in all, we had a wonderful Christmas and enjoyed two Christmas dinners – one in Southport and one in Winnersh. Even though we experienced a lot of rain, it in no way dampened our spirits or hampered our travels. Although Tom has now seen some new areas, there is still so much for him to see. So far we have not touched Scotland or Ireland and both are high on our list.
January 15 2013 | Further Afield and Special Places | 1 Comment »
Beautiful Dale Farm House in Dibden. Charming B&B with the most wonderful breakfasts.
We hadn’t planned a trip to England at all, but my mother was taken ill at the beginning of April and I went across to be with her. Unfortunately my mum died a week later but I was able to spend a lot of time with her beforehand. Tom flew over later to be with me and we had a few days break before the funeral. After picking Tom up from Heathrow Airport, we took the scenic trip back to Taunton in the south west by driving through the New Forest.
(Click on the images for larger versions)
This is an area of approximately 145 square miles which I have been to many times but Tom had only skirted the perimeter. From the M27 we took the Cadnam road to Lyndhurst. Now I’m sure Lyndhurst is a lovely place but it took an awful long time to drive through it. Every road leading to it had a back up of traffic and it is like this every single time I have driven through it. It is a town which desperately needs a bypass. It took us long enough in April, but during the summer months it is even more of a nightmare.
Once through Lyndhurst, the journey became enjoyable and we could take pleasure in the countryside. In 1079 William The Conqueror named the area his ‘Nova Foresta’ or new hunting forest. Now, nearly 1000 years later, most of the forest has disappeared, mainly due to the navy taking the the timber to build their ships in the late Middle Ages. Today the area is a mix of woodland and heathland. The locals, or Commoners, are allowed to graze horses and cattle in the New Forest and these animals roam freely. The animals are prevented from straying too far by cattle grids. As you drive through the forest, you will see many ponies and they have the right of way. The speed limited is 40 mph on unfenced roads and it is necessary. We rounded a bend and came up behind two cows, which ambled along the road in front of us for about 200 yards before deciding to head towards a pond.
Our first stop though was in Lymington. This is a small town not far from the coast. We needed to book some accommodation and we have always found that the Tourist Information Office is the best place to do this. We parked the car near the center of the town and walked to the main shopping street. As we didn’t know exactly where the Tourist Office was, we stopped for a cup of coffee at an independent coffee shop and asked for directions. At the Tourist Office, a very helpful lady gave us a brochure to browse through. We prefer farmhouse bed and breakfast to hotels and there were several to choose from. As we were next visiting Beaulieu, we picked a place nearby. The lady telephoned and we were fixed up, leaving with a map of where the accommodation was and a phone number.
On to Beaulieu where the world famous Motor Museum is situated. Beaulieu is a very nice little village where some of the houses – those with
Motor Museum at Beaulieu
red painted front doors – are owned by the Beaulieu Estate. Beaulieu Estate, which comprises not only the National Motor Museum but Beaulieu Abbey and Beaulieu Palace House, has been owned by the Montagu family since the dissolution of the monasteries in the sixteenth century. Our intention was to visit all three buildings but ended up spending all our time in the Motor Museum. What a fascinating place. Lots of vintage, classic cars and racing cars plus land speed record holders. There are over 250 exhibits. I particularly liked the one of a kind cars like Del Boys (Only Fools and Horses) three wheeler and Mr. Bean’s mini.
We left Beaulieu to drive towards Hythe, which is on the Southampton Water, and set out to find where we were booked for the night -Dale Farm House in Dibden. We had the instructions on how to get there but somehow got lost and ended up going up and down the same stretch of road and around the several roundabouts before we pulled off the road and rang the our host. Fortunately we weren’t too far away, we just hadn’t negotiated the right roundabout. Soon we were bumping down a unmade up road until we found Dale Farm. The setting was perfect.
We were greeted warmly by Christine Archdeacon, given a key to our room – which was at the top of the stairs (mind your head!). What a lovely room with an compact but impressive ensuite bathroom. The view from the window was outstanding. After lugging our suitcases upstairs and washing our hands we took a walk round the garden, meet the ducks, watched a couple of pheasants and admired the surroundings.
Time to get something to eat. Christine recommended some good restaurants nearby and we chose the nearest one which was the Pilgrim Inn at Marchwood. Right next door is a restaurant but it wasn’t open. Both buildings are under the same ownership and have recently been refurbished with brand new thatched roofs. Inside the pub there was another warm welcome. We could pick our own table and browsed through the mouthwatering menu. Our server was very friendly and we had a long conversation with her about photography. We both chose something from the specials on the blackboard – Tom had calves liver – now this was a bold step for him as he hasn’t liver since he was a child and he didn’t like it then – and my choice was a chicken dish. Before the meal Tom enjoyed his first pint of British beer this trip while I had a St Clements. The food was fantastic.
After a very comfortable night’s sleep, we were ready for our farmhouse breakfast at Dale Farm. Our host, Peter – complete with chefs jacket and harlequin trouers – greeted us as we walked into the restaurant and we had a simply wonderful breakfast. We filled up with cereal, a very colorful fresh fruit salad, yoghurt, fruit juice, the tastiest English cooked breakfast with local produce I’ve ever had, toast, home made marmalade and all washed down with several cups of tea. Peter spent a long time in conversation with us as until the other guests arrived and soon the room became full. Peter and Christine have spent several holidays in California and we told them to look us up if they come again. If you ever check this website out Peter and Christine, we looking forward to meeting up with you again.
May 11 2009 | Further Afield | 1 Comment »
We were hoping to write several blogs during our stay but we had no access to the internet. In fact, we had no access to a phone either so we were more or less cut off from civilization as we know it. It was kind of nice.
The main purpose for the trip was the wedding of my youngest daughter, Lizzie, to Ric on April 26th. The ceremony took place in Arundel, which is a wonderful town in West Sussex just five miles from the coast. Right in the middle of the town is Arundel Castle, which is the home of the Dukes of Norfolk, and it is everybody’s ideal castle. The River Arun flows through the town and a walk along the banks is beautiful at this time of the year, especially with all the little ducklings.
It rained the day before and the day after the wedding but on the Saturday it was warm and sunny. Lizzie was a radiant bride and it was a wonderful day. Lizzie and Ric are now on their honeymoon in Orlando, Florida.
We managed to get a lot done in the week we were away. On the Monday we drove to Taunton to visit my mother, brothers and sister (plus their spouses/partners) and stayed overnight. Wednesday we drove to France with my son Rob. How can you drive to France, I hear you say. Well you drive to Folkstone in Kent and then drive the car onto the train, which then transports you through the Eurotunnel to Calais. On Thursday we visited the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum in West Sussex which was amazing and on the Friday we drove to Guildford to have an evening pub get together with our friends. Early Saturday we were on our way home.
May 21 2008 | Further Afield | 1 Comment »