Monday 25 October 2010

This was England

We had a fantastic holiday!  First I had a week visiting my long time friend in Germany.  We had a lovely time with a little sightseeing, a visit to Rothenberg to the Christmas museum and shops, and just spending time together.  I had a weekend in London on my own before Mick arrived on the Monday morning for a couple of weeks with a hire car to tour around England.

Our first destination was to Scarisbrick, North of Liverpool, to spend some time with Mick's half brother.  We only discovered Peter on our last trip to England in 2007 and saw him for only a brief few hours.  We spent an enjoyable few days getting to know him better this time, as well as meeting Anthony, their cousin.  Here is Anthony, Mick and Peter.

A bonus was that the sister of one of Mick's childhood friends lived just a few miles away in Ormskirk.  Mick hadn't seen Lynne for many years.  We both enjoyed meeting her and looking at narrowboats together. We also had a great day out to see the Anderton Boat Lift.  Lynne with Mick.

On the Saturday we made our way South to Buckingham.  Along the way we visited a couple of marinas and met up with Ray on Gypsy Rover at Fradley Junction.  We'd followed the travels of Gypsy Rover on Derek and Dot's blog for a few years so had been thrilled to find the new owners were fellow Aussies and would also be keeping a blog.  It was great to meet Ray and we enjoyed our couple of hours at Fradley - chatting about some of our many questions.  Ray and Dianne are the first bloggers we've encountered who are doing exactly what we plan to do.... years of planning, downsizing our house, researching from the other side of the world, buying a second hand boat, and planning on spending at least a year or two afloat including Winters. It will be very interesting for us to read their blog over the coming couple of years.  We may learn from their experience!

We hope to catch up with Ray and his wife Dianne (I can't imagine being left back in Australia while my husband starts off on our adventure alone!) while Ray is back in Australia over the UK Winter.  I'm cursing that I took not a single photo at Fradley Junction or of Ray or Gypsy Rover.  I'll definitely have to get better at this when we finally get a boat of our own.

The week we spent staying at Lillingstone Lovell, near Buckingham, was an enjoyable one.  Our accomodation was a delightful 400 year old thatched cottage. We highly recommend it as a quintessentially English place to stay.  It's called Little Thatch and had an absurdly steep, sloping, winding staircase up to the bedroom. The owners, Jane and Ian, live next door and were lovely hosts.  We enjoyed chatting with them - and much to our delight they were narrowboat owners!

We spent much of the week visiting marinas, looking at boats and lurking around the canals. We had a day trip to the Cotswolds and visited Moreton-in-Marsh, Lower Slaughter and Bibury among other beautiful Cotswold villages.

We also met up with New Zealand bloggers Barry a Sandra on Northern Pride.  Barry takes the most amazing photos so do check out their blog!  They generously invited us on their boat for the day but the logistics of working out how to get back to our hire car, and the fact that we were running out of time to see and do all we wanted to meant we needed to squeeze in other things on the same day.  We arranged to meet them at Cowroast for lunch at the pub.  As planned we arrived an hour or so ahead of the meeting time and began walking along the towpath in their direction. It was a pleasant half hour or so before we saw them coming out of a lock.  We jumped on board and Mick delighted in helping through the next couple of locks back to Cowroast.

I vividly recalled a blog entry by Sandra about Barry's camera and photography and a comment she made about him leaping about with camera in one hand and windlass in the other.  He's like a clambering monkey!!!  This day he didn't have to worry about the windlass but with the untethered boat drifting about in the double lock, I leaned out the cratch opening to see Barry leap to the roof of the boat from the stern, snap a couple of photos, and then off onto the lockside and up on the lock gate to take a couple more. Amazing.  I wish I'd taken more photos but was too busy watching! 

For our last weekend in England we drove to Cornwall and on the way stopped at Bradford on Avon where we had a picnic by the canal.  It was yet another gorgeous little town.  We stayed in Rosemary Cottage, a little cottage in the heart of Port Isaac. We are fans of the television show "Doc Martin" which is filmed there.  It's the most picturesque little village.  It was very restful to watch the fishing boats and we really enjoyed walking the steep, narrow streets. Our parking space was between the narrowest of spaces between the end of a building and the stone wall that was at the edge looking over into the water.

We drove to Padstow to have lunch on Sunday at Rick Stein's fish and chip cafe.  There was a queue at the door well before it opened at midday.  We joined the queue of course.  Padstow was very pretty with a lively harbour.  It was surrounded by interesting shops and eateries and being a perfect sunny day was crowded with people.  We enjoyed our visit there very much.

On Monday it was time to make our way back to London.  We detoured through Cheddar Gorge and drove through Bath but decided it was way to busy to try and find parking so we could look around.  We'll save that for a place to visit on our boat.  Our final visit was the little village of Turville, the film location for the Vicar of Dibley... yes, it seems we watch too much tv but we just love those English shows.

Finally it was back to a hotel near the airport to hand back the hire car before the long flight home the following day. 

All about the narrowboats we looked at in the next post !

1 comment:

paul said...

Hi Guys
We are at the same planning stage as you guys we met Barry and Sandra a few months ago when they stopped in Sydney for a few days whilst on the way to the UK. We are off to the UK on a business/pleasure trip in a couple of weeks. We are staying in a canal cottage in Stoke Bruene, my email is
Paul in Sydney