Saturday 31 May 2014

Return to the Midlands

We are all toured out after the last few days so decided to just head back to the Midlands and call in at Rose Narrowboats on the way to our accomodation.  We wanted to collect the things that we want to wash while staying in the cottage for the rest of our time in the UK.

By the time we got to Rose, did what we needed to do, had a chat with Anthony, checked into our accomodation, unpacked the mountain of stuff in the car (not sure how it's going to fit in two suitcases), drove to Warwick to buy groceries..... well, the day was gone.

We have a few things already lined up for our last 6 days. It's a scary thought that we have less than a week left.  Where, oh where, did more than 20 months disappear to?

So now we are tucked up in a converted barn on a farm.  The other self catering cottage is empty this week and the owners left us a note saying they're away until tomorrow night.  It feels so nice to be on our own here tonight.  Very peaceful.  

Friday 30 May 2014

Beamish Museum

After a nice early breakfast we set off on the drive to our destination for today.... the Beamish Museum near Newcastle upon Tyne.  Someone had told me about it when we were going to the Black Country Museum in Birmingham and said if we liked the Black Country then we'd love Beamish.  They were right!

We arrived there about lunchtime and stopped at a motorway service centre for a sandwich as I'd read that the queues to buy food within the museum were usually ridiculously long.  We hoped with it being a weekday that it might not be too busy.  When we reached the carpark we couldn't believe how many cars were in there.

I had bought tickets online the night before so it was quick and easy at the ticket counter.  Most of the other people had probably arrived in the morning so there wasn't a wait to go in.  We loved it from the start.  There's several sections over a very large area of 300 acres..... lots of walking involved.  There are old trams and buses to get around but there was a crowd at every stop.  We just walked.  Map courtesy of the Beamish Museum website.

First there was Pockerly Old Hall which represents how a wealthy farmer would have lived in the 1820's.  This weekend there is a Georgian Fair.  There were stalls selling old style goodies, crafts, rides for kids and even a punch and judy show.  There were rooms in the old hall set out as they would have been.  Most rooms had someone in period costume to talk to.

We enjoyed looking in the shops of The Town which is based on the 1900's era.  It was the best presented series of repro shops we've seen.  Just fantastic.  It was pretty much impossible to buy anything much, especially food, as there were such crowds.  I did buy a book about samplers in one little store and a couple of pieces of fabric for my patchwork quilt.  The sweet shop had a queue snaking out the door.

Then there was a 1940's farm which was lovely.  There were cute little piglets, curious horses, lambs being fed.  There was lovely gardens, especially vegies.

Our final stop was the colliery and pit village.  The houses were interesting.  We kept seeing people eating hot chips in a newspaper cone so while Mick went to look at the coal mining I said I'd wait in the queue to get some.  They smelled good!  After standing for 15 minutes and watching just one family of 4 emerge with their fish and chips I peered around the people who were nearest the door (the queue had about a dozen people outside the door and who knows how many more inside).  There was a sign at the door saying the wait from that point was an hour!!  Sorry Mick, no chips.

It was a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon doing something we love.  We had booked a hotel nearby so now we're having a rest after all that walking.  It was lucky with the weather too.  We had rain a lot of the way as we drove but it stopped by the time we reached the museum and we even had the sun peek out.  What a great day it's been.

Lots of photos to remember today...

Thursday 29 May 2014

Loch Ness and Loch Lomond

Wow!  Another spectacular day driving through the most amazing scenery.  First we woke to a misty morning and had breakfast at the hotel.  There was haggis so we tried it.  To be honest, if we didn't know what it was we would probably have said it tasted ok.

We started off heading South alongside Loch Ness.  We stopped to check out the Neptune's staircase locks.  They were absolutely enormous.  There was a lovely sailing boat making its way up the locks and we enjoyed watching for a while. 

At Urquhart Castle we stopped to take a photo but continued on our way.  By the time we reached Fort William it was lunchtime so we had a browse around the town and had lunch in a cafe that had a huge window overlooking the loch.  Mick was thinking of Peter back home as he's a fan of whiskey.  There was plenty to choose from.

We drove through Ben Nevis & Glen Coe which boasted more incredible scenery.  Then it was the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park driving down the Western edge of Loch Lomond.  We passed a car pulled over on an awkward bend and stopped to take a photo in a layby just beyond.  They were still standing there when we were ready to move on again.  Mick decided to walk back and check that they were ok. 

It was a Canadian family and they were driving a hire car.  They had veered too near the edge of the road and driven over a sharp protruding rock with both tyres on the left of the car.  They were both shredded.  To make matters worse they had no reception on their mobile phone so couldn't even call for help.  We lent them ours and it took over an hour of explaining their story over and over to each person they were put through to.  They had been told three different numbers to call, each one being the wrong one.  They almost used up the credit on one of our phones and the battery on the other!   While all this was going on I stood back at the previous bend in the road with the daughter of the family and her boyfriend as they waved traffic across to the other side of the road.  It helped to slow the traffic down too.  Once help was on it's way we said farewell, refusing their offers of money, and off we went again.

We had booked accomodation for the night just near Glasgow.  It's a country club equestrian centre with hotel rooms.  Nice quiet location and a restaurant on site.  We had a nice dinner overlooking the indoor arena.