A Travellerspoint blog

Part 3: Roadtrip around England

rain 10 °C

Day 18 & 19: Bath

Leaving Shaun's place, we drove to Cheddar. Yes Cheddar cheese was invented here :). We went to the Cheddar cheese factory- saw how they made cheddar & of course we bought some cheddar cheese.
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Blake and the Cheddar made on 19 August- his birthday!

We then continued on to Bath: Home of Jane Austen & Roman Baths. It was a bit of a shock to the system staying in a hostel after spending the last week in luxury and being looked after :(, but we survived. Hostels in the UK aren't great though, compared to those in Europe.

It rained a lot while we were in Bath but we can't stay in all day... So off we went into town to visit the Roman Bath House: The bath house is really well-preserved as it was lost under silt for a few hundred years.

The Sacred spring:
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The Great Bath- fed with hot water from the hot spring:
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Overflow water from the hot springs:
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Cold pool:
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Drinking the water from the hot springs- had a metallic taste :(
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Day 20

We left England, and drove to Wales. The first stop was Newport, to check out the Transporter Bridge: Blake was really excited about it, but unfortunately it was closed. They built this style of bridge because of the massive tidal ranges in the region. If they built any other conventional bridge ships wouldn't have been able to fit underneath. If you want to cross this bridge you drive onto the gondola (which is the segment of road suspended under the bridge) and they pull the gondola across to the other side. The caretaker said that they had to move the gondola away from the edge of the bridge as a bunch of gypsies looked like they were going to move in. Real shame we missed this.. will have to check out the one in Bibao, Spain. We hear that it runs all year...
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Then we continued on to Mumbles in southern Wales. UNESCO rates it so we thought we'd check it out.

Our B&B:
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It was sunny day so we decided to walk down to the beach - had lunch then went for a very long walk along the coast and into town - after all Michelle's brother did suggest we do some exercise (I think he was implying that we were getting fat) :).
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Isn't the scenery beautiful.. Not to mention Michelle's amazing photography skills.. Lol :)

Day 21

Rhossili: located at the most Western part of the Gower Peninsula. It was a very windy day.. we tried walking to the very tip of it, but we kept being blown over. We had to hold onto our beanies on our heads because it was that windy!! We didn't realise till later that there is a flood warning around Wales!! Driving home in hailing weather was pretty scary :( !!!

Rhossili Bay:
Looks like it would be a great place in summer.
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Worms Head- it stretches out to sea and becomes an island when the tide comes in. We weren't gutsy enough to attempt the walk across. Next time.
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On the way home we popped into the Gower Heritage Centre. Unfortunately half of the museum was closed due to the severe weather (apparently trees were falling over, and the river was flooding the place). Blake tried to ask the lady for a discount since half of the centre was shut. She initially said she couldn't but we stayed around and eventually she let us in for free. I think she just wanted to get rid of us... We really only stopped to see the Corn mill so we weren't too disappointed:

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Day 22,23,24

On the way to Cardiff to see Noreen (Michelle's 'English grandmother'), we stopped off at Cardiff Bay to check out the Dr Who Museum:
It was super expensive (£15 each!) but worth it for a one-off. The first half hour was an interactive Dr who episode where we had to fly the tardis and run away from the Darleks. It was damn nerdy but Blake felt like he was a kid all over again! Great fun. Nearly bought a Dr Who Sonic screwdriver universal TV remote except it was £60. Looked pretty cool but not sure if we'd get $100AUD value out of it... (Although.. *hint* *hint* Christmas present.. anyone?!?!? *hint* *hint*)
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Cardiff Bay & our yummy Spanish tapas for lunch:
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We stayed with Noreen over the weekend. Unfortunately it rained a lot, so we stayed home and drank wine, she kept feeding us with yummy home cooked food (she won't take no for an answer) and watched The All Blacks smash Wales and the Springboks beat the poms in the rugby.

The skies cleared for a little while on Sunday, so we took advantage of the weather and went to St Fagans National History Museum :
Its a huge outdoor museum with 60 odd buildings there. The buildings have been moved from all around Wales to St Fagans which makes looking at old buildings a hell of a lot easier for us.

A Circular Pigsty:
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Corn Mill
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A Farmhouse:
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Cockpit:
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Tollhouse & Historic Urinal:
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While walking around the museum, Blake had told me that the local blacksmith is making 'boots' today after lunch. I was thinking why the hell would a blacksmith make boots.. so i went to ask, i was told 'hooks', which makes more sense.. but a few hours later when we return to see the 'boot/hook' making process.. we saw the blacksmith with a 'metal loop that fits around a barrel'. Which was either a hoop or a loop. Looks like we were both wrong (though.. I (Michelle) still think i'm right.. why would a blacksmith make boots?!?! LOL :)).. Clearly we can't understand Welsh English.

Tannery:
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Hayshed & Barn
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St Fagans Castle & the surrounding garden:
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End of Part III... Time to get our fat butts back to London...

xoxo M&B

Posted by blake-michelle 09:35 Archived in England Comments (0)

Part 2: Roadtrip around England

Sleeping in the car.. some part of it..

overcast 8 °C

Day 6

Canterbury
Our first stop after leaving the boat house in Kent was Canterbury. We had both heard of the place but neither of us were sure why. I (Blake) thought it might be like that Tom Green skit "A Canterbury tale". Fortunately it wasn't. It turns out that the Canterbury Cathedral is here along with a lot of beautiful buildings and places to see.

Canterbury Cathedral: The mother of Anglican churches- like St Peter's (in Rome) is to Catholic churches.
The Cathedral is stunning but really expensive to enter (£9.50 each). The information board says that it costs something like £19,000 per day to maintain, restore and operate. Thats like $30k Aussie per day! Ridiculous.
Anyway, its a beautiful place and worth the admission if you're planning a detailed look around.

Canterbury Cathedral, courtesy of Michelle the photographer
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Canterbury Public library and free museum/gallery
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Sandwich
We found out just before we arrived that Sandwiches did not originate from here :( But that didn't stop us from having a sandwich in Sandwich. We were hoping that the town would make the most of this awesome tourism opportunity, maybe have a giant statue of a sandwich in the centre of town, but they just don't seem like they are into it. This is when we really started to look into the facts...

Just think about it, the only place you can buy a take away sandwich was from the supermarket. Doesn't make sense. The only explanation is that there must be a secret underground sandwich worshipping society. We started our investigation at the Sandwich council but we were turned away. Maybe getting too close to the truth?
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We decided to go to plan B, more of a ground roots entry into the sandwich society rather than through the council. We started to take photos of ourselves with sandwiches around town in the hope that a member would see our love of the delicacy and invite us into the society. Surprisingly this didn't happen so all we have is some silly photos of us with sandwiches...

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Deal and Dover Castle
We made it to Deal Castle which was stunning from the outside. It was closed, so we just went for a walk on the stoney beach. As we just found out, almost everything here shuts down in November till Feb (only open on the weekends).. Bit of a spanner in the works...

NO DEAL!! :( :( :( :
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So we drove to Dover (hoping that Dover Castle was open)- it too was closed :( :( .. We got some photos of the outside of Dover Castle and continued on to the White Cliffs of Dover which is nearby.

Dover Castle:
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The White Cliffs of Dover
What a beautiful afternoon for a walk. I think the last week or so sitting in a car has robbed us of our fitness. Time to get out and about.

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Found a cave in the cliff - used to be a bunker:
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From the cliffs, you can see Europe's busiest port (Port of Dover). Here ferries & cruise ships leave for Europe:
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This was our first night camping on a campsite so we were pretty excited. Most of the campsites are closed for winter (as we only just found out :() and the first campsite we tried wouldn't take us "for insurance reasons" as the van is insured as a car not a camper. Onto the next place (drove to the next town) they said they would accept us the first night but that normally they wouldn't as the van has advertising on the side of it. All it says is the name of the rental company so I don't see how this is any different from towing a caravan with a rental car. Ah well, they let us stay in the end so shouldn't complain.

Went out to the pub for dinner and had to wait until 6pm till it opened... This sundown before 5pm business is really confusing. Michelle had a Ginger beer and Blake tucked into some of the "Real Ale's" they had on tap. The real ale is brewed and transported to the pub in a keg without having the yeast filtered out or any preservatives. It's still flat and cool rather than cold but Blake loves it!

Back to the campsite and off to sleep. We were warm and dry so no too bad at the end. Still a cold run to the bathrooms in the morning.

Day 7

Rye
We started the day by driving to Rye (a historical fishing village). We found out a couple of days later that Paul McCartney lives here. We missed our chance on a celebrity hunt! We had a walk around and a cup of tea with crepes and a pastry. We then headed to Ypres tower/museum, had a look around and continued on to Hastings.

Ypres Tower:
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We made a quick stop at Hastings, bought some food & drink for dinner and continued on to find a campsite for the night.

Same hassle in finding a camp site: 1st one we went to was shut and send us to the only one in town that was open & it ended up perfect. The lady was so trustworthy that she told us to just park our car at a spot & pay tomorrow because she wanted to go home. So we got ourselves comfortable, fired up the camp stove and cooked some soup to go with our salad. Yum.
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Day 8

Hastings
We drove back to Hastings to check out Hasting Stade and the net shops. This area was a real gem. Most of the boats were pulled up on shore for winter so we could see the winches and tractors they use and how the boats sit up on shore. There was a free museum showing the fishing and boating history of the area.

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Fish head on the beach:
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We asked the guide at the museum where the best fish and chips were to be found and he pointed out a place called Maggies. He said that it is usually booked out for lunch all week so he didn't like our chances of getting in. Fancy that, a fish and chip shop that is booked out. As soon as we left the shop we had our little laugh, walked over to the Maggies and saw it was booked out :(
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We had a walk around the old town and found some cute, interesting looking houses:
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We had some fish and chips for lunch then headed off to Brighton.

Brighton
We walked through the famous 'The Lanes'- just shops really.

Checked out Brighton Pier. Even had a go at wasting some money at the arcade:
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Blake decided he needed a good night sleep (not in the car), so we bought a coffee at Starbucks and use their wifi to find a place to stay for the night. Luckily we found one in a nearby town- Lewes (although we had to back track a little). We stayed in a 'motel' above a pub by the motorway- beats sleeping in the car :) We got to experience how bad traffic can get here in Southern England. It should have only taken us 20 minutes to get from Brighton to Lewes- lets just say it was a very longggg 20 minutes.

Day 9

After breakfast (courtesy of the pub downstairs), we drove back to Brighton to check out the most amazing palace- The Royal Pavilion:
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It was built for the Prince Regent, later King George IV. Queen Victoria didn't like the palace- too far for her to travel and too small for a family of 10 children, so it was eventually sold to the Brighton government. The outside architecture is meant to be like india (ie. the Taj Mahal), but the inside is decorated in oriental theme with dragons & snakes. Really amazing place. Unfortunately we couldn't take photos on the inside :(

Bournemouth
It took us about 1.5 hours to get to Bournemouth from Brighton. We did a quick stopover at my dad's boarding school in Bournemouth and headed into town. We stopped over at the pier first- spent our parking money in the arcade (think we have the potential to be gambling addicts). Then checked into our hotel before the sun went down. Yes.. we've temporarily given up sleeping in the car.
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Day 10

We spent remembrance day at the Tank museum. They had a remembrance day service at the museum, and entry was free today- lucky us!!

Blake was soooo excited... boys and tanks.. I thought it was rather boring so i did a quick browse and waited for Blake at the cafeteria :)
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We spent the afternoon walking along the beach and checked out Bournemouth town:
They have sandy beaches here... (not rocks).. just amazing :)
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Day 11

Stonehenge
On a wet & rainy day we decided to drive to the Stonehenge. Its just rocks in the middle of a motorway. I guess its the kind of place you need to sit down and appreciate but it was cold and there was sideways rain so really hard to get into the mood.
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We checked ourselves into a B&B farm house in Cullompton (in the middle of no where in Devon). Awesome B&B with yummy breakfast.

Had dinner at the local pub. Once again.. we got there before 6pm (it was so dark), and we had to wait for it to open :) :)
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Chicken; very yummy fish pie :)

Check out the breakfast menu:
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Day 12

A quick stop at the tourist info in Exeter (20 minutes from where we were staying), and we drove along what they called the Jurassic Coast. It covers 95 miles of the coastline from Exmouth in East Devon to Dorset. We only made it as far as Beer (not even half way).

Jurassic Coast
Exmouth: This is meant to be the oldest part of the Jurassic Coast with fossils dating back to 200-250 million years ago (Triassic period)
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Budleigh Salterton: The red cliffs in the background (Triassic)
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Sidmouth (Triassic):
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Beer: This is a small fishing village. Note the rocks and cliffs here are white not red (Cretaceous period- 65- 145 million years ago)
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Day 13

Slept in- a very lazy day :) :)

Day 14,15,16,17

Drove to Uncle Shaun's place in Exmoor (North Devon) for the weekend. His house is a renovated old rectory in the middle of no where. Pretty amazing place. They have horses, sheep and bearded dragon pets.

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Two indonesian guys (our age) were visiting too.. so for a change we had other people to talk to besides ourselves. We were well entertained by Shaun's 12 years old son Charlie and well looked after by his wife.

We went on Shaun's tour of Devon:
Clovelly- an old fishing town that still uses donkeys and sledges to haul food and equipment up and down the paths. Either donkeys or children. All of the port towns have massive tidal ranges. basically when the tide is out the boats sit on the rocks, then float back up when the tide comes in...
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Donkeys:
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Porlock Wier -had the best fish & chips- owned by a Malaysian lady.. hahaha. We tried their triple cooked chips- very crispy as you can imagine:
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It was a very misty day as you can see..
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Ilfracombe- saw the weirdest skeleton pregnant lady statue- it is massive and very out of place... We got there just before 5pm, unfortunately the sun has gone down.
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We also went to Dunster, Lynton, Lynmouth, Valley of the rocks (saw some wild horses and lots of sheep along the way), and to Wells to visit Shaun's daughter at boarding school.

Wells Cathedral:
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Watched a school orchestra rehearsal in the church. They were amazing..
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Oldest & longest inhabited street in Europe in Wells:
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We watched the Rugby (England VS Australia) on TV on the weekend. Shaun actually had 6 tickets for us to go to watch, but we decided it was 3 1/2 hours drive (each way) to Twickenham. So we watched it at home. Lucky for us Australia won :)

The most awesome thing we did: A 12 years old kid taught us how to shoot a shotgun.

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We all had a go and it was soooo cool.. it was very loud & very powerful. I was lucky i didn't fell backwards with the impact of the shotgun. We aimed them in open air in Shaun's backyard. Not to worry, no one (animals or human) got hurt. So much fun though :) :) :)

We had an amazing & fun 4 days here.. Got a bit spoilt- we were driven around everywhere (even in a mini- its been a while :) ).. food cooked for us (pancakes & sausages for breakfast; Roast for dinner; got taken out for lunch, high tea, and dinner) and the luxury of sleeping in a comfy warm bed in a 1800s rectory (house of a priest), although Charlie had inform me that our room was once lived in by bats..

It's going to be tough to be back on the road again :(

End of Part II...

xoxo M&B

Posted by blake-michelle 07:14 Archived in England Comments (0)

Part I: Roadtrip around England

sunny 11 °C

Day 1

Bags packed, and we’re ready for our road trip.

For the first time we travelled without our luggage as Cliffe and Lou were kind enough to offer to take our gear down in their car. When we got to the train station we collected our tickets and went to the departure board only to find that our train was cancelled! We looked around, asked some people and found out that we could catch the next train in ½ hour. This was fine except that we would arrive at the van depot just before they closed, so no time for stuffing around on the way… On the positive side we get half of our ticket price refunded so that pretty much made up for it.

After a couple of connections we made it to our little “Gold Dust” as she’s known and we were off to our stop on the way to the ‘boathouse’ courtesy of Michelle’s dad’s friend, near Leeds castle (which is not in Leeds, but in Kent).

We had a delicious dinner and slept in the back of Goldy in the dark end of the carpark (where Lou & Cliffe were staying). We had 2 duvets (as they call it here) and some warm comfy PJs courtesy of the 24/7 Sainsbury’s down the road!

Gold Dust:
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Fish pie; pork belly; apple & berry crumble for dessert with warm custard :)

Day 2

Having survived our first night in the car, we drove to Marks & Spencer for breakfast, free toilet & wifi. Apparently the fire alarm at the Inn went off 3 times last night and we didn’t even hear it ☺ - must have slept alright. Once Lou & Cliffe were ready, we started our 1.5 hours drive to Kent where the ‘boathouse’ is located.

We had a couple of hours to kill before we were allowed in the ‘boathouse’, so we decided to visit Leeds Castle. Unfortunately, there was a special (Spooktacular) event on that weekend and tickets were sold out ☹. We were so disappointed, so we headed to the pub and made up for it with a yummy lunch (which happened to be the exact same menu as the night before- same company). Hehe… at least we knew what was good.

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Yummy grilled salmon and pork belly

After a quick stop at Sainsbury’s in Maidstone (the town centre nearby) to stock up on food, alcohol and fireworks, we finally made it to the awesome ‘boathouse’ by the lake. The backyard is literally surrounded by a lake with friendly ducks and white swans and the interior is warm and cozy with a nice wood fireplace.Thanks Uncle Shaun.. Best place we have stayed at all trip. It sure was nice to enjoy some luxury :) :) :)

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The backyard- ie. lake:
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Ducks on our deck:
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Once the sun went down, and we could hear the fireworks spooktacular from Leeds Castle so we decided to have a go at our own fireworks. Neither one of us had let off fireworks recently so it was pretty exciting! We had a pack of 16 individual fireworks, which had a bit of everything, and a mega 16 pack with one fuse for the finale. Our grand finale finished with a massive BANG - it was so awesome!!

Playing with fireworks:
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Day 3

We took advantage of the comfy bed & warm duvet and slept in a little longer.

We drove to Rochester to check out Rochester Castle:
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After a quick lunch, we farewelled Lou & Cliffe and headed to Upnor Castle which is nearby. We lucked out with Upnor as it was the last day it was open for the season ☺:
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Playing dress-ups :) :
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We returned to the ‘boathouse’ to a flooded road outside our gate. Luckily for us, Gold Dust made it without any trouble - Blake had to jump the fence to open the gate. Unfortunately one of the neighbours stalled his Beemer in the flood and Blake had to help him out. Lent him some rope so he could be towed out and the bugger kept it! Ah well, wasn’t our rope to start with so guess we didn’t really lose anything…

Day 4

Leeds castle was magnificent. It is not actually in Leeds but in Kent, really confusing we know. It is apparently 'The Loveliest Castle in the world', and it did not disappoint. It is really expensive to get in though (£16 each), but the ticket lasts for a year, which doesn’t help us in the slightest… But luckily for us, we had purchased a England Heritage Card which allowed us to visit quite a few heritage sites for free and some for a discounted price (ie. At Leeds Castle).

The castle dates back to 1119. King Edward I was the 1st royal to take up residence at Leeds castle. It has been handed down to many queens and was finally bought over by a rather rich American lady in the 20th century and has been a lived-in castle till the 1970s.

A 10minute walk through the manicured gardens, we saw plenty of wildlife. The weirdest thing we saw was a flock of black swans. We’d always thought these were Perth natives so we were pretty confused. Later we found a sign that said that they were imported in the 1950’s (after a visit to Australia) and that they are natives of “Australia and Tasmania”. Kinda thought that was the same place…
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Inside the castle:
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The amazing library:
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The G8 summit was held in this room:
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Tony Blair hosted the Northern Ireland peace talk in this room:
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After a tour around the castle itself, we went over to the maze and literally got lost in there for nearly ½ hour. I made it to the centre first and Blake cheated by getting me to show him the directions out.
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Help me!!?!?!

Day 5

Stocked up with clean clothes; Cleaned out the car; Michelle’s OCD & paranoia with bedbugs had the cushions in the car all sprayed with teatree oil. And we’re ready to get on the road again tomorrow…

We spent the day chilling out at the boathouse, enjoying the serene lake and watch our pet ducks and swans come for a visit on our deck (don’t worry, we didn’t feed them- apparently it makes them constipated).

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Catching up on trashy gossips & the news :) :) :)

Roasting mashmallows :) :
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End of Part I.. Stay tuned for more exciting M&B (& Gold dust) adventures :)

xoxo M&B

Posted by blake-michelle 14:20 Archived in England Comments (0)

Leeds

overcast 12 °C

Leeds

We stopped over in Leeds for a couple of days to visit Cliffe & Lou (Blake’s friends) who are living there. They were kind enough to put up with us for a couple of days in their beautiful apartment.

We went for a walk through their “backyard” and ended up swinging from the trees:
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We then caught a bus to the city and chilled out in a pub for some yummy English pub food: fish & chips and roast & Yorkshire pudding. The fish and chips was the best we’ve had for a very long time. Thin crispy batter with flaky fish!

My yummy Roast & yorkshire pudding; didn't take a photo of the fish & chips :(
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Lou rented a car and we drove to Malham to take a look at Malham cove. This was a waterfall created by the melting of a glacier 50,000years ago. No water anymore but still spectacular. We did find a rainbow and followed it to a money tree! I (Blake) thought that was all a fairytale:
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My donation in the money tree; Blake hammering his coin into the money tree:
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We saw a deer:
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And lots of sheep:
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On our last night in Leeds, Lou & Cliffe took us to a Cuban restaurant (we think it's Cuban- possibly spanish?!?) called Viva Cuba. We ordered the set menu which had 16 different tapas (chorizo, Spanish omelette, paella, Spanish meatballs, squid, mushrooms, lamb stew, chicken, etc). The food was so yummy but unfortunately we couldn’t finish it. And to finish with- a jug of Cuban Sangria (it had rum on top of the usual Sangria) :) :) :)
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xoxo M&B

Posted by blake-michelle 12:08 Archived in England Comments (0)

Glasgow

rain 6 °C

Glasgow

After a beautifully slow and scenic train ride from Fort William, we made it to Glasgow. We’d booked ourselves into a Best Western Hotel, with a bit more luxury, as we didn’t have much planned for Glasgow. It was more of an R&R stop, like a holiday from our holiday.

We caught up with Nash & Flore (Michelle’s friends from Sydney) for dinner at Jamie Oliver’s Italian. It was icy cold, so we were pretty happy to be indoors. In fact it was so cold outside we were “forced” to slip into a pub on the way to keep warm ☺ The restaurant was set up quite nicely with the bar section downstairs. The atmosphere was great. The food however was slightly disappointing. The entrée’s were excellent but the pasta was slightly sub par. We did spend 3 months in Italy, so we know what Italian pasta should taste like, and Jamie’s pasta was a bit below standard. The polenta chips were good though (tasted a little like agedashi tofu). I think we had high expectations for Jamie Oliver’s food and they weren’t quite met. I don’t think the restaurant should be called Jamie Oliver’s Italian - it should be more like Jamie Oliver’s Fusion- who the hell serves a burger in an Italian restaurant?!?!

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Entree at Jamie Oliver's:
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We didn’t do much in Glasgow. We spent our days in the hotel catching up on TV shows & ordering room service (that was how lazy we got)- we didn’t even realise day light savings had ended. On the odd occasion, we did get out for a quick trip out to the laundry and a walk around the city to see the shops & a yummy all you can eat sushi for lunch. At our regular in Perth the sushi is served by Japanese so we were a bit worried when we walked in and all the sushi was made by Scots! It turned out we were worried about nothing as this was the best (budget) sushi we’ve had in Europe.

Blake and Dr Who's police box:
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While walking through the shops, we saw a massive queue of teenagers, each with a twilight book in hand- so we checked it out.. the actors who plays Emmett & Rosalie in twilight were here for a book signing:
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Nash & Flore took us out for dinner on the Sunday. We went to the coolest church which has been turned into a bar. Followed by a bar in an old theatre type venue in Ashton Lane. It was so awesome:
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Our yummy dinner with Nash & Flore:
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Flore's lamb; Blake's pork belly with black pudding; yummy pumpkin soup; trio of tapas with mussels :)

On our last day in Glasgow, we decided to spend the day in their transport museum called the Riverside museum- not the best museum we have been to, but at least it got us out of the hotel and it was free ☺

Michelle's not happy they crashed a mini (a test crash)- but good news, apparently the mini is very safe
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Blake having a go at a car simulation:
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Probably the most exciting part of the museum was the Tall-Ship museum (this is a ship built on the river Clyde in the 18th century? That has served the UK and after that, Spain as a training vessel.).
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We had fun playing in the kids area building a barrel, transporting ‘salt & sugar’ to the upper deck and cleaning the deck. As you can imagine, it was very kids friendly.
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Having fun cleaning the deck; And reading the captain's log book:
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We decided to finish our tour of Scotland with a traditional Scottish dish (Haggis) & seafood chowder & potato skins at an Irish pub. LOL
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Farewell Scotland.

xoxo M&B

Posted by blake-michelle 10:31 Archived in Scotland Comments (0)

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