A Travellerspoint blog

He had ten thousand men

After spending time with Kayleigh and Iain in London there came time to head north to meet Emma. We had arranged to meet in York on the 23rd but our travel arrangements changed and we went to York on the 22nd, giving us extra time to see this wonderful castle town. The train trip from Banbury (Cross) was lengthy and we realised that British Rail over subscribed seating as xmas gets closer so it was about an hour before I could take my seat as there was no room for luggage storage in the carriage, and eventually I had to leave the bags outside the carriage looked after by a nice guy happy to read his book and look after ours as well as his own bag.

on arrival we grabbed a bag to Friars Rest, our accommodation and then dinner at The Lighthorseman, about 100m down the road. We had been advised that it had an Italian menu and we had a garlic bread starter (which came topped with caramalised onions) and in hindsight with a beer miggt have been enough. Still when the mains arrived we knew we were in trouble - neither of us able to finish substantial meals. The B n B had 3 breakfast options, however after the full English the following morning (even with sending the baked beans back) we realised that one of the 'other' options would suit us best the next day - but not the vegetarian option. We wandered around looking at the sights until it was time for Emma to arrive by train. Sharon was very excited, and it was hard for her to hide her anxiety as we waited at the York Railway Station. Eventually the train pulled in and this statuesque blond bombshell stepped out across the platform. The hugs we long and hard as it has been a long time since we shared the same location. We took her bags to the B n B and had a great afternoon wandering York as the sun set and the xmas lights gave the city a beautiful light. The markets we had gone to see were closed, unfortunately, but there were plenty of replacement activities. We did attempt the York Castle just on closing, walking up the 60 steep stairs to find it closed. A hard grind repeated again on the 24th again to find that, this time, it was closed for xmas. We also walked the historic walls of the city on the 24th with a plan to look through the Norvik Centre at the conclusion only to find that it also was closed for xmas.

So with our shopping done for Christmas Day (important things like wine, black pudding, and last minute present shopping) and with York closing down we headed to the Mason's Arms (after finding the Red Horse full) for a beer and some snacks before picking up the bags from Friars Rest and heading to the railway station to rail to Sunderland where we will spend Christmas with Emma and Anthony.

A quick trip to Mobrary Park on arrival in Sunderland proved Emma to be correct when she suggested that it'd be colder up north. The wind was bitter, but our UK adventure is still pretty much rain free, and still quite warm.

We'll see how long this lasts.

Posted by claptonisgod 13:03 Comments (0)

Of paper xmas hats and off with her head

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With the plan to spend almost a day (of daylight) at the Tower of London we footed it there first thing in the morning to beat the crowds. {Footed meaning a walk from Wapping}. The walk took us through the docklands and along the side of the Thames and was dotted with picturesque bulidings and of course the new 'renorvations' to existing stock. Aparantly we could use our skills to design a bespoke apartment for only £6m.

We did beat the crowds as there was no line at all on arrival at the Tower. We stumbled upon a Beefeater Tour and with a group of maybe 50 worked our way around the main areas of the precinct with a very embellished history thrown in. We we naturally amazed by the age of the castle, dating back to 1066. There was a lengthy list of those who were incarcerated within the facility, and those who either never made it out losing their heads within the castle precinct, or were dragged up the hill for the public to get their jollies to from heads being removed from shoulders and paraded through town on a pike. When one of the juiciest tales was being told there was a loud crack as one of our party hit the cobbles and opened his own head up. With first aid being called we left the scene and started the tour further inside the walls.

After the tour concluded we spent the rest of the day looking through the buildings, walking the tower walls and seeing the crown jewels. Seen at pace with such a small group meant that we had unobstructed views and a very pleasant time. The Queens Chapel on site was particularly simple (Humble) maybe as it was rebuilt quickly after a fire, but with so many important people under the floor has real status in UK history. Still used, the Queen was there just a week before. I had to ask the Beefeater where the torture chamber was, but enjoyed seeing the rack and other machines of medieval torture. So having trapsed up and down flights of steps for hours (after the walk there) we decided to return via the same walk.

We had seen a couple of small pubs on the morning walk and had decided to stop at one on the way home for a mixture of brunch, lunch, and dinner (as we were off to the panto that evening and thought tea out of the question). So we stopped at the Ramsgate. It is xmas here, probably xmas everywhere, and the season is best advertised by our willingness to put silly crepe paper hats on our head. The Ramsgate was in full party mode and with a mixture of silly hats and silly xmas jerseys we were well entertained. Kayleigh joined us for a beer and a snack which enabled us to reinitiate the walk home. On that walk I wondered whether silly hats should be outlawed and their silly hats put on a pike, but then is the season to be merry, so I've repieved you lot for another year. There may still be room for the rack for a couple of you. You know who you are.

Posted by claptonisgod 12:24 Archived in England Comments (0)

Run rabbit, run rabbit, run run run

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run rabbit run rabbit run run run

Well the small space and the large number of people have meant that Londoners have become amazing at moving large groups of people efficiently. However for those of us who come from a lìttle county where this is not a huge problem...it was quite an eye opener. many of you will have traveled to london before we haven't so it was all a new fun adventrure. Firstly there is always a quick speed. If you are not running you are at least clipping along at a very fast walk. There is also ettique which you learn quickly...if you are not sure where you are going stand by the wall so you don't get mowed down by the rush. Have your card ready before you go through the turnstyles so you do not hold people up and on a busy train squeeze in carefull as to not touch anyone unnecessarily but to ensure you are in before the doors are closed. All great fun. Then there are the trains themselves. The noises! I can not explain but they are different from anything I have ever heard, and the way the carraiges move in the distance can really do your head in. For those of you who are Harry Potter fans it looks like the night bus that Harry took in one of the movies...I did take a video of it but it really only gives you a suggestion of what the movement looked like. Then there was the words and phrases used. Mind the step said in various ways that sometimes were unreconisable as english words as the three little words were ephasised in differently...then there was "alight"...does anyone other than british rail still use this word? I have to say we both smiled every time we heard it :-). Then there was the stations . The many words that we have heard in songs and movies all our lives. Waterloo, Paddington,Kings Cross...one of us may have been heard to break into song every now and then. Each station had it's own personality. We loved St Pancras station . The shops and just general colours and things to see were great. However Wapping was our favourite at the end of the day as we knew Kayles was there waiting for us with a cuppa after days of 5-6 hours of constsant walking...just time to get settled before we were all out the door to do something exciting but that is another story.

Posted by claptonisgod 08:19 Archived in England Comments (0)

The shows

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The shows!

Kayeligh and Iain had pre organised for us to go to two shows. The first being the christmas Panto at Greenwich. What an awesome place this was. We wandered through what had been the naval training Centre. We could have been lost in this place for days quite happily with its beutiful buildings painted ceilings. Walking though here at dusk (4.00pm) was something that really is hard to explain. The old naval lights swaying in the wind and lights shining stragically on the old buildings made for a very pleasant walk. We could see Greenwich mean time in the distance on the hill with its green lazer light. That will be a must to visit next time. We met friends and Iain at the Gypsy Moth pub which was really cute and then we were off to the Panto. This has to be community theatre at its best. The hustle and bustle and excitment of small and big kids was everwhere. Kayles said "you guys have to get into this" and we did. As we waited for Jack n the Beanstalk to start we were not quite sure what to expect, The next few hours were filled with song and laughter with the sayings "oh no its not ...oh yes it is" and" its behind you" staying with us for the rest of our stay in london. The singing, dancing and costumes were great and as always the Dame, in this show Dame Trott stole the show. A great night was had by all. We all got home tired but happy. I do have to say it brought back lots of great memories of the shows I was in as part of Cambridge Repertory in the day.

The next night after a day at the Tower of London we were off to the Westend to see War horse. We got there earlyish. Kayleigh wanted us to see the lights so we criss crossed the streets seeing London at night. as a city it has energy in the day but it also hums at night. The nice thing was we always felt safe. The show was great! The people moving the mechanical horses were so good that by half way through the show you couldnt see the people working the mechanics of them. The horses seemed real. David also loved the mechanical goose. The Tank was pretty cool too. The show interacted well with the audience and the people in the front rows got more than a few frights during the show. It has to be stated that one of us may have been seen having a weep at the end of the show. Another fantastic night with the Orsums.

The next morning was interesting with skype calls to Nan and Pop as two lots of people were getting organised to leave... one lot to Oxford and one lot to Austria. With hugs and a see you in Paris we were on our way.

Posted by claptonisgod 08:07 Archived in England Comments (0)

Oh no you can't - Oh yes I can!

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A lot has happened in London, and perhaps the cheers and actions of an xmas pantomime might explain it best. As for all the things you don't think you can achieve in London there is every chance that you can, with time (getting anywhere in the city takes planning), selection (there are simply hundreds of things on the 'wish list' to see and do and some filtering of that list needs to be undertaken every day, if not more often every day), cost (assessing what the cost might be of some activities is a must when there is so much that can be done), and energy (with the light levels at their lowest levels as the equinox is achieved, so the sun isn't in the sky until 8am and is sometimes gone by 3.45pm, you have to scamper around everywhere to see the outside city highlights. You can do the inside ones as soon asthe lights are turned on).

For me this trip is about managing the times spent in galleries with art and everything else that I can see without becoming exhausted. Unfortunately there is too much art and the weather is so warm that I am often exhausted getting between venues. And all the bloody steps!!! Anyhow we have had a nice trip to Margate where I saw the new (well 3 years old) Turner Contemporary, and I have also been through the British Art Gallery in London and saw the Late Turner exhibition at the Tate Modern, also in London. My knees are killing me, but my soul has been nourished by seeing many of the works I cut my teeth on whilst at art school. The lectures on Renaissance, Baroque and Rocco art seemed like yesterday as one after another their existence was confirmed on wall before me.

Then works by artist's I so admire and for whom I have studied so closely also appeared, Corot, Vermeer, Titian, Saurat, and of course Turner (so much closer to an abstract expressionist than I could have believed) and I am breathless. I share some images on Facebook like a child expressing a crush on their very first love, but my soul sings and I have already fulfilled a great deal of my OE with random flashbacks to the slides and monotone preaching of my art history masters [thanks Tony, Ron, Liz].

So, Oh yes you can! Did I have time to do it all. Not by a month or two. A week in London is about enough to wet the whistle of any art lover. Throw in a panto and a night at the theatre and It'll take till the end of the year to build up enough energy to return. And there's Paris and Rome to get to yet! Don't look behind - look forward.

More to come on London soon.

Posted by claptonisgod 06:29 Archived in England Comments (0)

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