September - October 2018
  • Day42


    October 12, 2018 in New Zealand ⋅ 🌧 5 °C

    Home! Arrived back in Christchurch after more than 24 hours to be picked up by Alanna, and then meet Brenna for lunch. Having left 24 degree weather in Weymouth it was a wet cold day in Christchurch and 6 degrees. We were pleased to be on the road home but both very tired.
    We have had an amazing 6 weeks, seen so much and had such great adventures. The British Isles is a beautiful part of the world and the age of everything is what we noticed most. Every part of the British Isles is characterised by old architecture, roads, bridges and homes. The fact that many smaller villages are built by the sea only adds to their character. We have enjoyed every moment exploring and the fact that we met up with family added to our trip.
    Have decided to complete this blog with a list of some of “the best”:

    Best scone- Dotty’s cafe, Staithes
    Best beer- Headless Dog, Belfast
    Best drink-Marilyn Munro Cocktail-Anchor Line Bar, Glasgow
    Best views- Ring of Kerry road, Edinburgh to Inverness Road, 360 degree view of Dublin from Guinness Storehouse, Cliffs of Moher, Ireland
    Best tourist attractions-Singapore Gardens, Viking Museum-York, Guinness Storehouse- Dublin, Eden Project-Cornwall, Mary Kings Close- Edinburgh, Cliffs of Moher- Ireland, Black Taxi Tour-Belfast, Titanic Centre- Belfast, Conwy Castle-Conwy, Fort William to Mallaig steam train trip- Scotland, Kilmainham Gaol- Dublin
    Best air b n b- Clara’s Cottage, Looe
    Best entertainment -Tina, London
    Best hotel-Metropole Hotel- Cork, Z Hotel-Glasgow
    Best bargain-Staiton Park and Ride, Edinburgh- three days free parking.
    Best breakfast- Lough Key House Bed and Breakfast
    Best lunch- China Town, Singapore, Rick Stein’s Seafood Reastaurant- Padstow
    Best dinner-The Manners Hotel Bakewell, Liberty Grill-Cork, Market Lane- Cork, Quay Kitchen- Galway, Molly’s Yard- Belfast, Jonny Fox- Dublin hills
    Best bars- Blue Light- Dublin hills, Jolly Sailor- Looe, House of Belfast, Temple Bar- Dublin
    Read more

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  • Day41

    Weymouth to Heathrow

    October 11, 2018 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    Our last day! Writing this at Heathrow with a much needed glass of wine in hand! Everything has gone smoothly regards getting rental car back (David very nervous about this especially navigating around Heathrow), checking in, sorting VAT tax, getting through customs (did require unpacking carry on and big examination of three items containing liquid) ,making duty free purchase, finding something to eat ( 5 pm lunch), not loosing passports or anything else, finding toilets... just hate the procedures of airports as big as this but need to get home! We have a long 24 hours in front of us but hopefully with leaving at 8 pm we might sleep as both exhausted. Our day began with one of our only breakfasts out. Weymouth was again gorgeous with sun shining and very warm. We wandered around the wharf area before leaving town at 10 30. We drove half an hour to Monkey World, an ape and monkey sanctuary and rescue centre which was a great place for a visit. Very relaxed and quiet park like grounds with lots of different varieties of monkeys, many with sad stories of cruel treatment in circuses, traded as pets or used for scientific research. While having little contact with humans now they were very entertaining, and could be viewed quite closely. After two hours we left there at 2pm heading on to the motorway to Heathrow. The drive was particularly lovely as passed so many villages with beautiful thatched roof houses. We made no more stops though as both a bit stressed about driving into the airport.Read more

  • Day40

    Looe to Weymouth

    October 10, 2018 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ☀️ 16 °C

    We sadly left Looe this morning after one last walk around town. Our drive to Weymouth was beautiful especially as it was the sunniest day yet- not a cloud in the sky all day and very warm. It was the loveliest drive mainly through bush and trees on minor motorways. We made a stop for a coffee and one last scone at a lovely cafe in Honiton, an old fashioned town with some lovely wee gift shops and a market on the side of the road. Not far from there we came across a huge stretch of beach. We parked and wandered down a track to the pebble beach where several fishermen were set up. The beach was a long stretch of coast and it was a beautiful sight. Weymouth was not far from there but it was 3 pm by the time we pulled in at our apartment which is at the bottom of a very large house. We are surrounded by large beautiful manor houses, some 5 storeys. It seems a very affluent area. We immediately set off in search for food and thankfully the town centre was only a 15 minute walk and it took no time to find a lovely pub and some nice snacks to eat. This town is also set around a harbour but seems spacious and less old. There are many tourist shops and the usual amusement arcades that go with British seaside towns. However it seems very quiet and relaxed and we enjoyed walking around. We finally headed back to the apartment to get sorted for tomorrow and then we walked back into town (18 000 steps today!) for dinner at an interesting old pub where we had the best fish and chips and mushy peas of the trip. We returned at 9 thinking about our departure tomorrow.Read more

  • Day38


    October 8, 2018 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 13 °C

    Today’s highlight was the Eden Project. We left Looe at 9 30 and 45 minutes later, after yet another interesting drive down country lanes we arrived at the Eden Project. Having already read about it in New Zealand we were totally unprepared for what we experienced. We walked down a long path from the car park to see a valley surrounded by bush covered hills with several huge clear coloured domes at the bottom. Inside the two biomes are plants that are collected from many diverse climates and environments. The project is located in a reclaimed china clay pit and was established 20 years ago. The photos do not show the scale of the domes but the Eden Project is a global garden housed in tropical biomes that nestle in a crater the size of 30 football pitches. Surrounding the domes are beautiful gardens but it is the inside that is so impressive. The rainforest biome was absolutely amazing with several levels of walkway, numerous gardens, interesting sculptures and walkways, some interesting birds, a waterfall and the most amazing smells and temperatures of a rainforest. The second biome was a Mediterranean one and featured a huge variety of plants along with more interesting gardens, walkways and sculptures. The whole focus of the project is to educate people about the importance of plants to the world and how the world may look in the future. The third area of the project was the The Core which was a building used for education, but which also housed two amazing sculptures, one a permanent installation entitled Seed, which was a 70 tonne egg-shaped stone installation standing some 13 feet (4.0 m) tall and displaying a complex pattern of protrusions that are based upon the geometric and mathematical principles that underlie plant growth. The second was a sculpture named Blue. Measuring nearly nine metres tall and firing out vapour rings, it is thought to be the world’s biggest ceramic sculpture.The spectacular structure contains 32 cannons which project scented vapour rings into the exhibition space. It was truly amazing, as was the reaction of a large group of school students who were trying to catch the vapour rings as they floated by. The Eden Project is truly worth a visit. Our afternoon was spent in Polperro just 10 minutes from Looe. It was a tiny fishing village famous for its smuggling history, and although the day was very grey and many of the shops were closed because it was Monday it was still a beautiful place to visit and wander around. We arrived back at the cottage for a rest before heading into the village for dinner at a lovely wee restaurant overlooking the harbour. Our meal was lovely and we wandered slowly back to Clara’s Cottage for our last night in Looe.Read more

  • Day37


    October 7, 2018 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ☀️ 12 °C

    A beautiful day exploring Cornwall. We headed off after breakfast on our 90 minute drive to St Ives. It was a beautiful sunny morning and the drive was lovely, especially once we left the motorway and were on the very narrow country roads. The overhanging trees formed tunnels for us to drive through and the dappled light through them made them even more spectacular. St Ives was the first of three seaside towns we visited and all were quite different. It was the biggest and many tourists and their dogs were out on the lovely sandy beach, enjoying the sun. We spent about an hour wandering around and wished we could have longer. Our next stop, Padstow, was 30 minutes away. A wrong turn meant we weren’t following our original route and instead took us down some incredibly narrow and rustic roads, definitely not designed for cars. We were grateful not to meet any! We had booked lunch for 1pm at Rick Stein’s Seafood Restaurant. It was a real (expensive) treat. The food and service were outstanding and the atmosphere in the restaurant busy, but relaxed. My Indonesian Seafood Curry and David’s Dover Sole were both divine and the starter and main were totally enough. We left the restaurant to stroll around the lovely harbour, which was much smaller and quieter than St Ives. Again there were dogs everywhere, all very well behaved. We even noticed a shop with a dish of water at the door which said “ dog pub” ! We cannot believe how many people have dogs in England and how well trained they are. As well everywhere including pubs and shops is dog friendly and they are simply everywhere. After leaving Padstow we carried on for 30 minutes to Port Isaac. The parking was at the top of the cliffs and we set off walking down the steep streets towards the harbour. It really was a wow! moment seeing the harbour for the first time from up on the cliff. It was so beautiful. As we headed down we stopped in at a very cute little cafe for a coffee. We realised we were actually in one of the Doc Martin locations which was confirmed by the Doc Martin brochure and map on the table. We got chatting to the owner who was able to tell us that doc Martin is filmed in Port Isaac every year for 16 weeks at a time and that she herself had been an extra. All very interesting and her photos of the filming were around the walls. We carried on down to the harbour where we were able to locate several more locations and where we took many photos as it was all so beautiful and interesting. We returned with a steep climb back up to the car park, feeling we had really walked off our lunch. The drive back to Looe was an hour, again very scenic. We called in at the oldest pub for a drink before returning to the cottage and eating some left overs for dinner. A wonderful day out.Read more

  • Day36


    October 6, 2018 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 11 °C

    A lovely relaxing day in Looe. After all the driving yesterday we decided to stay put today and not use the car at all. We slept in before heading off on a lovely slow walk around both sides of the tidal river which splits Looe in half. Even though it was grey and spitting it was still warm enough and we stayed dry. The shops were so interesting and there so many more of them than we realised last night. There were heaps of little cafes and bakeries, mainly specialising in Cornish pasties and many gift shops all with a nautical theme going on. There were also several very nice farm shops so we gathered more delicious bits for our dinner. We stopped for the loveliest lunch at a gorgeous little tearooms called Miss Marples, where we sat upstairs overlooking the street. We continued exploring the far side of the river until we spotted the ferry ride for 50p each. We climbed aboard a little boat and had a ride the 200m across the water to the side we are staying on. We then wandered up our street to the cottage. At 4pm we walked back with the sun coming out, into town, this time on a mission- to find the only bar in town showing live sport as the All Blacks were playing South Africa. It was pretty rough and we entered through a door at the back of a narrow alleyway, but we settled in to watch one of two televisions showing sport. To our dismay there was no sound and instead we were listening to a soccer programme on the other TV, even though we were the only people who had come in wanting to watch something. We left at half time very frustrated and walked home. We made a detour into the oldest pub in Looe which is at the bottom of our street and ended up spending almost two hours there chatting to a lovely couple from Somerset. The disappointment of the rugby was forgotten as the atmosphere of this pub was so lovely, even with the barking of a badly behaved dog in there, and we really enjoyed comparing our lifestyles on opposite sides of the world. We then headed home for a lovely platter of food and some TV. Looe is a beautiful spot- so pleased to have chosen it for our last stop and the cottage is wonderful. Just so comfortable and cosy and everything we need. Only hope we don’t get a parking ticket as not sure we are really parked inside the yellow lines. Would probably still be in the car though if we were any closer to the house!Read more

  • Day35

    Cardiff to Looe

    October 5, 2018 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 16 °C

    Another day of huge contrasts-both in scenery and in our moods! We breakfasted at the lovely Raddison Bleu hotel and set off towards Cardiff Castle. By chance we came upon Cardiff Arms Stadium, to David’s delight. We carried on for what seemed a short distance to view the castle from its gates. We then spent the rest of the morning retracing our steps from last night and David did some good shopping in House of Fraser. The shops were lovely, especially the huge John Lewis department store which really was lovely. We had lunch at Wagamamas and it was delicious. We then collected our bags and caught the bus out to the airport, all of which went smoothly. We arrived at the car rental office to spend a most frustrating hour waiting for service by a very incompetent worker and the whole place seemed so disorganised. An hour later we finally left for Looe. Our GPS said we would arrive at 6 30 which was a three hour trip. However the traffic from the spectacular Severn Bridge was horrendous until it was barely moving. We were in queues of traffic for at least an hour with huge trucks and cars converging from all directions. We realised that the big intersection of roads south and to London was the issue and it was Friday afternoon. Goodness knows where everyone was going! Worst traffic we have stuck and we were yet to face the later challenge of very dark, narrow winding roads as we followed the GPS to Looe. Even then there seemed to be a lot of traffic and everyone was driving with their lights on full as it was like driving through dark tunnels created by trees over the roads. We were exhausted by the time we got to Loee at 8 15 and we then had a bit of a mission finding Clara’s Cottage. However we were rewarded with the best B and B yet. It is the cutest little two storey cottage up a very steep street. It has all we want, even a welcoming hamper! We were starving so left for the walk back into town. As the town is on two sides of a river we crossed the bridge and dined at a small pub there. The manager gave us some tips on things to do in Looe and by dark it all seemed very cool with lighting along both sides of the river. We look forward to seeing it in the daylight.Read more

  • Day35

    Cork to Cardiff

    October 5, 2018 in Ireland ⋅ ⛅ 10 °C

    Our last day in Ireland so decided to go as far south as we could from Cork. Took the bus to Kinsale at 10am and 50 minutes later arrived in the lovely seaside town. It was sunny by the time we arrived and quite warm as we strolled around the town and up the roads surrounding it. There were many arty little shops and some beautiful sights of the harbour. It did seem quite a touristy village, but much had been left untouched. The brightly coloured houses, pubs and shops were everywhere and were featured in much of the artwork for sale. After sandwiches at a quirky little cafe and an ice cream further along the road we caught the bus back to Cork. We taxied out to the airport being very cautious about the time we needed to check in so consequently after a very quick ride, we were there with almost 3 hours to fill in before our flight to Cardiff. While relieved to see our bags still met the 20kg required we were disappointed by poor service and food even though the airport had been awarded best airport in Europe in its class! Our flight was 35 minutes long and we were at our hotel right in the centre of town by 8 15. As we have such a short time in Cardiff we went out straight away and wandered around the main streets for an hour before finding a lovely bar for a drink. First impressions are that the CBD had huge wide traffic-free streets, all very clean and modern with every thing big-shops, signage, sculptures. Even the church bells which were ringing were extra loud. Only downside seemed to be a huge number of homeless people. Looking forward to spending tomorrow morning here.Read more

  • Day34


    October 4, 2018 in Ireland ⋅ ⛅ 14 °C

    A lovely relaxing day spent in Cork. We got up late after a lovely sleep in a great bed and had hotel breakfast in the dining room, which was delicious. We then took the Hop On Hop Off Bus around Cork in an effort to see as much as possible. This is such an old city but seems to be full of atmosphere. The drive took us around the CBD as well us up onto the steep streets behind the city. The bus ride itself was exhilarating as it manoeuvred narrow streets with steep drops down to houses below. Could barely look out the window! We got off back on town and spent the afternoon wandering the shops and soaking up the street atmosphere. We loved the English Market in the centre of town and were particularly fascinated by the fish stalls. After returning to the hotel we enjoyed a drink in the bar before heading out for dinner. For the fourth time we used Trip Adviser to find a good reasonably priced restaurant. Once again we were not disappointed. Will add Liberty Grill to Market Lane (Cork),Molly’s Yard( Belfast) and Quay Kitchen (Galway) as our best meals. We walked home via Mutton Lane Inn where we enjoyed a drink by candlelight in a very small quirky bar.Read more

  • Day33

    Kenmare to Cork

    October 3, 2018 in Ireland ⋅ ⛅ 13 °C

    We left Kenmare after a stroll around the lovely wee village and then drove back along the Ring of Kerry to Killarney. The sun was shining and it was warm so we stopped at every turn as the scenery was so beautiful. There were lakes and bush all the way along the steep narrow road but luckily no buses! Instead of stopping in Killarney we carried onto Castlemaine following Mick’s directions. As it was after 1 pm we decided to stop at what seemed to be the only place to eat in Castlemaine. It was an old pub called Knightlys and three old locals were in there, as they probably are every day. We ordered our bangers and mash and were then entertained by a huge truck which was jammed between the hotel guttering and some road works as it tried to go round the sharp corner. With great difficulty it finally moved and the view from every window of the hotel was restored. We discussed the Griffin family with the locals but actually there seemed to be many Griffins in the area. After lunch we drove on 4 kms to the Old Keel cemetery where we found the Griffin burial site including Michael Griffin’s gravestone. It was a beautiful experience going to such an old cemetery and knowing we had a connection there. We drove onto Cork, which was also a beautiful drive. We made the decision to drop the car off a day early as we don’t need it and parking was going to be an issue. Thank goodness we did as the taxi ride into the city was very slow with 5pm traffic and there were many one way streets and roadworks to negotiate. The Metrapole where we are staying is beautiful and all recently refurbished. The room is lovely with a shower almost as big as some of our b and b’s! We refreshed and headed down to the lovely bar before going into town where we located a very cool place the eat, Market Lane. Great food, atmosphere and staff. We had a lovely chat to the couple beside us who were from Cork, before heading back to the hotel across the river.Read more