Europe

August - October 2016
August - October 2016
  • Day61

    Nearly home

    October 23, 2016 in the United Arab Emirates ⋅ ☀️ 30 °C

    My travels are nearly over. It's been everything I wished for and more. I saw much more than I expected and what I've seen has put a lot of popular culture into context.

    (As an aside - if I type the letter "C" one of the words suggested is castle).

    The flight from Gatwick to Dubai was quite uneventful, there was a large number of kids in the cabin but apart from one poor baby screaming as we descended they weren't really noisy.

    I was a bit bored though, I watched more than 10 hours of tv on the way over and the programs don't seemed to have changed. I had hoped to sleep but that didn't happen.

    Back to my trip - my favourite place was Pertisau. Even without the Chalet connection it is still a lovely place to visit. The highlight was making it to the Dripping Rock. I literally thought "I can go home now" as I saw it.
    I surprised myself with the walks I did.

    I discovered I really like train travel. I much prefer it to flying, even the long trip from Paris to Munich was good.

    The two places that I wouldn't go back to? Dijon and Cardiff. I think with Dijon I was looking for more of a village experience and that's not what Dijon gives you. Cardiff - that was partly coloured by a poor choice of hotel and the great book posting debacle. Just as well I did post them though as I posted about 6.2kg and my checked baggage weighed 34.5kg. My allowance is 40kg and I bet that extra kilo would have cost a lot more than the postage for the books.
    I'm pretty sure I had less than 20kg when I left Perth. I did buy a small suitcase to hold the stuff I bought.

    London was so much hotter than I expected and the sheer number of people was overwhelming. My favourite experience was seeing The Bodyguard, Hyde Park was also good.

    In Munich I loved the English Gardens, they were so cool and refreshing. I was surprised at the amount of potato I ate.

    Paris surprised me at how much I enjoyed it. I hadn't planned to necessarily go up the Eiffel Tower until I saw it. My favourite though was the Musee d'Orsay.

    It was interesting in that the three mainland European countries all have instructions in 3 languages: the native language, English and a third.
    In Germany it was French, in Austria Italian and in France Spanish.

    Of all the English places I visited I think Yorkshire was my favourite, especially when you consider the dales as well as the moors. In fact wherever I went if there was an opportunity to go via the moors I did.

    Scotland is beautiful, I wish I had been able to see more. I'd like to think I will go back at explore more of the highlands.

    Wales - Pembrokeshire was beautiful, by then I think I was getting a bit travel weary and only explored the immediate area and did not do it justice. I'd have liked to learn more about the birds of the area.

    I think I found the right balance between having a planned schedule and flexibility for thins that I wasn't expecting. I found planning two activities for the day usually filled the day with unplanned stuff fitting in around those activities.

    I have well and truly caught the travel bug, I hope to visit Ireland and Switzerland in two years, just need to start saving.

    The things I'm most looking forward to when I get home? Seeing my brand new backyard, seeing Edie and of course R. I've missed her, in the last 20 odd years I've never been so long between seeing her.

    Thanks to all have read, commented and enjoyed my blog. I'll probably change the settings to private in the next few weeks.

    Some photos that didn't make it in the original posts.

    River in Munich
    Wildflowers at Pertisau
    Illuminations
    Trees at Dachau Palace
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  • Day59

    Stereotypical England

    October 21, 2016 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 12 °C

    The last full day of my trip.
    I'm flying out of Gatwick and had to return the car here at 4pm so a leisurely drive, view some iconic attractions, clean the car and check in to the hotel by 4:30pm.

    Simple!

    I started with the Cerce giant. It was only a short distance from where I was staying and I found it easily. Two problems: it needs rechalking so is much harder to make out than the photos I've seen and it was a foggy morning so that made it even more difficult.

    Next stop was Stonehenge, but on the way I stopped at a walled garden. It was gorgeous with vegetables and autumn flowers. I spent some time walking around but had to keep moving as the tickets for Stonehenge are timed.

    If Stonehenge hadn't been on the way and free (I bought an English Heritage membership at my first Castle which gave me free entry into all their sites) and on the way I don't know if I would have gone.

    It is one of those places full of selfie sticks and their annoying users. I downloaded the audio guide last night so could use headphones instead of having to hold the device to my ear.

    I think the reason I wasn't really impressed is I couldn't sense the history as I have been able to in so many of the other places I visited. I'm not sure if that's because so little is known, the setting or that I couldn't get up close. I'm afraid it's a "been there, done that, don't need to go again" place for me.

    I left Stonehenge at 1:30, it would take me a bit over an hour and a half to get to Gatwick, leaving me time to clean the car.

    I thought I'd stop in Basingstoke to clean the car but do you think I could find a car wash? Google maps let me down as none of the petrol stations it directed me to had car washes.

    So I kept going to Gatwick, at some point I got on the M25. I don't know how many crashes there were. I saw the aftermath of one, I don't know if that just had a massive knock on effect or whether there were others. It took me an hour to travel 2 miles. I wish I was exaggerating but I had 10 miles until the turn off and I watched those .1 of a mile change very very slowly in the gps. I gave up hope of returning the car by 4pm, especially since I was still inching along at 5pm. It did clear just after that and I made it to Gatwick by 5:30. By the time I filled up, found some very efficient blokes to wash the car (I had given up on DIY by then) and found the rental place on the third try (sometimes you need to ignore the GPS and follow the signs) and checked into the hotel it was 6:45pm.

    My room is large so I'll have plenty of room to spread stuff out to repackage it all and hopefully get a good night's sleep.

    Photos
    Cerne giant - I can't see him either
    Three types of kale and beans
    Autumn flowers
    Heel stone at Stonehenge
    Stonehenge
    Stonehenge
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  • Day59

    Be Still

    October 21, 2016 in the United Kingdom ⋅ 🌙 7 °C

    A cold and cloudy day today, I am preparing for a shock on Sunday evening.

    Today I went to Poole harbour and then to Brownsea island. The island is owned by the National Trust and is a sanctuary for the red squirrel and birds.

    I wandered around the island, the line of a hymn kept coming to mind "Be still in the presence of the Lord", as so often happens though I couldn't remember the rest.

    The autumn colours are so beautiful.
    Being still was what was required to see the wildlife. I think I also needed to just sit, listen and be still.

    I saw red squirrels, they are surprisingly noisy. The only reason I saw two of them is because I was looking for the bird that made the strange noise.
    I watched one run up a tree to the top branches and then jump or just walk to the top branches of the tree next door. It transferred across 4 or 5 trees, then climbed down and ran away.

    I also saw a deer, it seemed quite unconcerned about the people watching it.
    I heard lots of birds but only saw a few.

    I went down to the scout camp, this is where Lord Baden Powell held the first scout camp.
    Scouts from all over the world still camp there.

    The boat I planned on taking back to Poole either left early or didn't turn up, I wasn't sure so I sat in the freezing cold for half an hour to make sure I didn't miss the next. We went on a tour of the harbour before returning to the quay. The kids on board had obviously had enough as it was hard to hear the commentary over their noise.

    I went into Wareham before coming back to the the B&B.

    Photos
    Dorset countryside
    Border force boat -Poole is a busy harbour
    Brownsea island
    Heath on Brownsea island
    Deer
    Squirrel
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  • Day58

    Corfe Caste

    October 20, 2016 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 9 °C

    I feel I haven't done much to write about today.
    I went to Corfe Castle, both the village and the castle which is about an hour from where I am staying. As I got to the car park the serial I have been listening to on radio 4 "Man at the Helm" came on so I sat and listened to that while I wrote some postcards.

    I started with the village, it is very grey, a lot is built from scavenged castle. I visited the miniature village display, along with several classes of about 9 year olds. It was amusing to watch them discover the various hidden bits in the village. I don't know if they saw it but in the grounds of the model castle was a blue police box!
    I visited "Ginger Pop" the Enid Blyton shop. It is very small but has a wonderful collection of wartime memorabilia and games of that era as well as all of Enid Blyton's in print and a second hand collection.

    After some lunch I went up to the castle. It was apparently the inspiration for Kirran Castle in the famous five series but is not on an island. There are great views of the countryside from the castle.
    I then went down to Knoll beach which is apparently a very popular beach. There were quite a few people and dogs there, even though it was cold and overcast.

    I had some dinner in Bridport and then came back to the B&B, I'm tired and the bed is soo comfortable!

    Photos
    Corfe Castle village
    Miniature village
    Wishing Chair outside Ginger Pop
    View from castle
    Beach hits
    Knoll beach
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  • Day56

    Dartmoor

    October 18, 2016 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ☀️ 12 °C

    I went back to St Michael's Mount this morning as I wanted to see it with the tide in. I was about 15 minutes earlier than yesterday and the difference was striking. It was bitterly cold. I hadn't bothered with my hat, scarf and jacket as I only wanted to take some photos. I was well and truly cold when I was done.

    I spent a lot of the day driving back and forth across Dartmoor, mainly because I didn't like the look of some of the roads the GPS wanted me to go.

    As soon as I crossed the cattle grid onto the moor I saw two horses. The were brown and white so not true Dartmoor ponies apparently.
    Later I did see some in a paddock that seem to be true ponies - one colour and very heavy coats. They were very inquisitive and friendly. I wanted to pat them but visitors are requested not to touch them. I did pull up some of the grass on my side of the fence and feed them that.

    Unlike the Yorkshire moors the sheep and cattle here were happy to be on the road and not in much of a hurry to move out of the way.

    I can't book into my accommodation until 8pm as they are at yoga so I had a look at the coast. There must be some super secret way of getting to the beach that only the locals know as every time I turned down a road that looked like it lead to the beach I'd get partway down to be met with a sign "no access to beach!"

    Photos
    St Michael's Mount before the tide is completely out.
    Dartmoor
    "Really? You want me to move?"
    They looked like ponies but they could be cows
    Ponies
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  • Day56

    An island, a theatre and ancient stones

    October 18, 2016 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 13 °C

    Last night I wrote the blog at the pub where I had tea. It was a very friendly pub and I got talked into staying for the weekly pub quiz.
    I competed on my own and did so badly it was funny. Out of a possible 60 points I scored 20, four of those were bonus points for competing on my own. It was a fun evening.

    This morning I went to St Michael's Mount, a tidal island not too far from Penzance. At low tide the causeway is accessible and you can walk over. Today that was 10-3 so I was able to walk over and back. I was in time for a village tour which was very interesting. 9 families live and work on the island.
    I got to have a pasty for lunch so that was my must do for Cornwall done.

    From there I went to Minack Theatre. This is an open air theatre that has been carved out of the cliff side, most by a woman who was still carving bits out, bringing bags of sand up from the beach and mixing concrete into her 70s. It is really amazing and has performances throughout the summer.

    Next up was Lands End. It was a bit of an anti-climax. All the information signs have been removed and everything was shut except the bloke in charge of taking photos at the sign.

    Men-an-Tol is a set of ancient standing stones about 1.5km off the road. It was a nice walk up the track with some inquisitive cows on both sides. One of the stones is round with a hole and meant to be a fine example of ancient stones. It was about 5:30pm by this stage so I played about with the light taking photos.

    Just after I left the pub where I had my tea I saw a badger! It crossed the road in front of the car. I was going fairly slowly due to the road so I got a really good look at it. It was about the size of a wombat but more agile and with a tail.
    It is something else to cross of my "would it be nice if I saw this" list. I admit I got rather excited shouting "you're a badger! You're a badger!" at it as it crossed the road.
    Closer to the B&B I saw a black rabbit and then I thought I saw another badger in the hedge... but it was a garbage bag. I may be a bit overtired.

    Photos
    St Michaels Mount
    Minack Theatre
    Minack Theatre Gardens - Rowena Cade, the woman do made the gardens, made these concrete columns.
    First and last house at Lands End
    Men-an-Tol
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  • Day55

    Church and the Cornish Coast

    October 17, 2016 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 13 °C

    I started out today with the service at Towednack church. It was a lovely service, about 30 people in attendance and in an old church. The bells called us to the service.
    I was made to feel very welcome.
    After the service I was shown the list of names of those in the churchyard and so was easily able to locate those I was looking for. I haven't had a chance to compare them to the family tree but will do so.

    From the church I went into St Ives. I had read that St Ives isn't a place for cars and it isn't! They have car parks towards the outer parts and you walk/catch the bus in.
    The streets around the harbour are narrow and cobbled. It is very touristy but in a good way. The shops tended to be bakeries selling pasties or cream teas, fudge shops (apparently Cornwall is famous for its fudge), art galleries/shop and independent clothes shops.
    When I got down to the harbour the tide was very much out. The boats were beached and people walking over the sands. An hour later I saw the sand mostly covered with water. I could see the water coming in. Like waves at the beach but they didn't recede. I watched it for quite a while.
    Seeing a tide rush in/out was something I was hoping to see on my trip so I am happy.
    I went up the coast a bit, first to Godrevy and then Portreath.
    Once the tide was in and the wind blowing strongly I could see the wild Cornish coast.
    Over at Portreath the waves were high on the harbour wall and people surfing/boogy boarding a couple of metres from the shore.

    Photos
    Towednack church
    St Ives Harbour 1:45pm
    St Ives Harbour 2:55pm
    Weather coming in
    Godrevy lighthouse
    Portreath surfer
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  • Day54

    From Cardiff to Cornwall

    October 16, 2016 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ☀️ 14 °C

    While searching the English Heritage website to decide on a route to Cornwall I realised I'd be passing by Cleeve Abbey, used by Elsie J Oxenham as the template for the abbey in her Abbey girls series.

    I knew I'd have to cross the Severn bridge so checked the details carefully, had the right amount of cash to pay the toll but when I got there discovered that the toll is only payable when going westward.
    I stopped for lunch at an old inn close to the abbey, complete with low ceilings, wood beams and an inglenook fireplace.
    The pork pie was nice.

    Unfortunately it started raining while I had lunch. Cleeve abbey is different to the other abbeys in that there is very little trace of the church left but the other buildings such as the dormitory and refectory are in good condition.
    I did find the bench dedicated to EJO. I checked every bench in the grounds only to find it by the front door.

    The drive down through Somerset and Devon was really pretty. I really like the moors landscape.
    I'm staying down near St Ives as it is the area my paternal grandmother's family (Roach and Ninnes') is from. Apparently Roach is still a common name in this area.

    Photos
    Abbey gatehouse
    Dormitory
    Abbey
    Floor tiles
    Moors
    Moors
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  • Day53

    The not so fun parts of travelling

    October 15, 2016 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ☀️ 12 °C

    Well today didn't turn out quite like I'd planned.
    Washing was first up on the agenda, I have been wearing short sleeves (with a cardy and jacket) as everything has been worn one day too many as it is.

    I found the laundromat okay, the benefit of having a car I thought. Unfortunately it was full of other people doing their washing. There was another one not to far away so I went there. Much better.
    I was able to use the machines but it still took the best part of an hour and a half to two hours but it was done!

    Next was to post my books to myself. I don't really have the room to bring them back with me so just post them.
    Yeh well...
    I had discovered when I got back to the car after doing the washing that I had parked in a street that only allowed residents permit parking.
    What I didn't realise is that the main streets allow anyone to park but ALL the side streets are residents parking only and there was no parking on the main streets. I spent a very long time driving around looking for a post office with parking within a reasonable walking distance. I finally found a postal agency but they only accepted parcels of 2kg or under.

    I admit that I cried (in the car, not the shop), I also ate the piece of French chocolate I have been carting around since, well France and had been saving for an emergency.

    I went to the post office recommended by the guy at the agency and eventually found somewhere to park. I asked for the cheapest way to post the books and was quoted £99!
    I asked if splitting them into smaller parcels would be cheaper and she looked to her colleague Becky who gave me a pamphlet to look through. I discovered that by splitting them into two parcels and sending them economy international as printed papers it would be about a third of the original quote.

    Fortunately when I lined up again I got Becky and she was very helpful. The process took quite a while, I had to fit the books in the bags so they wouldn't move around, have Becky seal them, go to another window to address them, back to Becky to fill in customs and pay.
    I've just checked my receipt and with all the rigmarole I wasn't charged for the postage bags!!!!!!!!

    It was nearly 3pm by this stage and I had had enough. I hadn't had lunch which may have contributed to my mood but I couldn't be bothered to have any. I went back to my hotel and read my book (I kept one).

    At least I had a good appetite for tea. During my travels I have tried to stick to the cuisine of wherever I have been, with a few exceptions. Since being in Cardiff I've had South American, Mexican, Indian and tonight I felt like pasta. There is a Jamie's Italian close by so I thought I'd try that. Their seating policy annoys me. After being told a 20 minute wait and then 10 minutes later a 30 minute wait I decided I couldn't be bothered.

    There was another Italian place close by and I had a very nice meal with good service. Stuffed mushrooms followed by pancetta and asparagus tagliatelle.

    I saw quite a few police out tonight and it's funny - I got used to seeing them in Paris that I didn't think much of it in the end but seeing them here made me feel a bit uneasy.

    So I can't say Cardiff has been my favourite place but I don't think that is all Cardiff's fault.

    I didn't take any photos today so here are some of the inside of Roch Castle.
    Chapel windows
    Chapel
    Rampart
    The rock the castle is built on
    Stairs
    Stairs
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  • Day52

    The Whoniverse

    October 14, 2016 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 13 °C

    I can't make up my mind as to whether I like Cardiff or not. It's not a huge city - 350,000 and quite compact. I'm not sure whether the area I am staying in (by the main train station) is seedy or not but it is central.
    I started off with the hop on hop off tour. There is a stop conveniently close by.
    I got off partway at The Doctor Who Experience. I am a huge Doctor Who fan especially Doctors 9 and 10 so this was a no brainer.
    It starts with the "experience" in which you go through a journey with the twelfth Doctor. I won't say much here as they prefer it not to be spoilt but it was fun. I helped to save the universe.
    There is an exhibition of various costumes in which I had a good browse through. All up I was there for several hours.

    From there I walked across to Mermaid Quay for some lunch and took a look at the Ianto Jones memorial and the Millennium Centre. I met another Torchwood fan who was there with his friend who just didn't get it, he would rather be in the pub than look for the water tower.

    I caught the bus back and then went down St Mary st which I thought was meant to be the shopping precent but it was all bars, backpackers and not much else.
    I got back to the hotel just before five intending to go and do some washing but discovered the laundromat closed at 6 so watched a movie instead. I eventually went across the road for some dinner and have been catching up on my TripAdvisor reviews.

    Photos
    TARDIS
    Ood
    Weeping angel - don't blink!
    Cyberman
    Mermaid Quay
    Millennium centre
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