Archive for June, 2009

Statistics

June 25, 2009

This is the really geeky bit, and I will update it as I work out more bits.

We made 37 separate journeys by train, a total of 2,277 miles or 3650km approx in 9 days of train travel.

We made 8 bus journeys, mileage to be worked out.

We climbed the highest peaks in England, Wales and Scotland, climbing 3020 metres and walking 43.7 km in the process. We walked at least the same again on other walks, to be worked out.

We spent GBP1248 on hotels and GPB50 approx on campsites.

Jet lag

June 21, 2009

Wednesday morning continued very pleasantly, with a trip to the  beach cafe at The Knoll for a ginger beer (this is Enid Blyton country after all) and a Dandelion and Burdock fizzy drink, and then along to the South Beach for a coffee. On the way back to the hotel we went to the local church, which is Norman, but with parts of it going back even further. Lovely old place, and discovered a link between Whitby (NZ) and Studland! Joseph Banks the botanist on Cook’s voyages, was a member of the Bankes family that owned much of Dorset. There is a street in Whitby named for him.

Back at the hotel we rested for an hour or so before making our way out to the bus stop to catch the 1:34 bus to Bournemouth. Andrew was coming with us to help carry our bags. However, the bus was 20 minutes late arriving, and 30 minutes late arriving at Bournemouth, so we missed our first choice of train, the 14:59 changing at Woking for Heathrow. So we got the 15:45 to Manchester Picaddilly and changed at Reading for Heathrow. What I hadn’t researched properly when I looked at these two train journeys was that neither the Woking connection or the Reading connection were onto normal trains. The Woking connection was onto the underground rail system, and the Reading connection was on to the Rail-Air bus link. Our Britrail pass covered nether of these. At Reading we had the alternative of taking the  train to Paddington and then the Heathrow Express back out, but we had no idea of the times and stations involved, so we spent 30 pounds on bus tickets to Heathrow. The bus got us to Heathrow with 15 mins to spare, so while it was stressful at first, in the end we got straight to the correct terminal in plenty of time, so it worked quite well.

Heathrow is an unpleasant place when you are hot and tired as we were, so we spent an uncomfortable couple of hours having a light meal and a drink, and trying to get rid of all our loose change before we boarded the flight to Singapore .

The flight to Singapore was on an A380 Airbus, which are quite roomy and quiet, even in cattle class, and we both managed to sleep for a few hours during the 12h40m  flight. I also watched Pink Panther 2 with Steve Martin, a bit of harmless slapstick, nothing like as good as the original with Sellers.

At Singapore, we grabbed a quick shower (they let us use the same shower room at the same time, being able to scrub each others backs was a real luxury!) and a hot chocolate, as well as buying a new case for my netbook. Then straight on to a 777 for the flight to New Zealand. Compared to a 747, these are nice planes, compared to the airbus, they are cramped and noisy! As I was unlikely to sleep much on this flight, I watched a couple of films (Coraline with the voices of Teri Hatcher and Dakota Fanning, and a dark French film called La Barrage Contre La Pacifique, or The Seawall – very strange even for a french film).  9h 15 mins later we were in Auckland.

Auckland to Wellingtom was the usual, and a shuttle took us home to Whitby. The weather was quite nice, cold but fine when we arrived, but has been pretty awful up to then, and since.

Not sure whether  we have jet lag, or are just very tired, or have a cold of somesort, but the last two days have been quite hard, and while Lynn went work today, I am not sure she was really up to it.

Having rested for two days, I am now getting down to sorting out all the stuff that is outstanding, WOF for the car, insurance claim for the burst hot water cylinder while we were away, applying for jobs etc. It may take a while!

Final Days

June 17, 2009

So Sunday was spent cutting the hedges at mum’s house, about 30 metres of them, up to 3 metres high. As they hadn’t been cut in a year or so they took a while to cut, and even longer to clean up after. We put everything into bags, squashing down as tight as possible, and still filled the car 3 times to go to the recycling centre. I made a final cut of the lawns to save mum the trouble for a week or so, as she is not very well at the moment. The rest of the day was spent packing and repacking.

On Monday we said our farewells to Mum, and took a taxi to Flint to catch the 8:17 to Crewe. We had a fairly tight timetable, with just 6 minutes to cross Crewe station to the train to Birmingham New Street, and 8 minutes there to catch the train to Bournemouth. We were supposed to have a similar change at Bournemouth onto the Bus, but the train was running 20 minutes late (first delayed train we had been on in 7 days and 24 train journeys), so we had 10 minutes to get to the next bus. Arrived at Knoll house at 3:00 which was quite pleasant. Had a nice walk along the beach, through the nudist area (a bit like large pink, fat(male) meerkats standing around in the dunes looking out for god knows what. What was disturbing was when the navy were doing helicopter exercises off the coast, almost everyone of them had a set of binoculars!

Saw Andrew at dinner, as he was our waiter for the night, and took him out for a drink at the local.

On Tuesday, we had a short beach walk while waiting for Andrew to finish breakfast service, then a coffee and another walk when we was on his break, finishing with a cornish pastie for lunch. While Andrew did lunch service, Lynn and I sat and read for two hours – lovely!

In the afternoon (well nearly 3 really) we walked over Ballard Down to Swanage, did a bit of shopping, and walked back over the sea cliffs. About 4 hours and 9 miles! Andrew had the evening off, so had dinner with us, and breakfast this morning.

Today we are going to take it easy around the hotel and beach, and then take the 1:35 bus to Bournemouth, to catch the 14:59 to Heathrow, but more on that later.

Loose Ends

June 14, 2009

On Thursday, we rested after our exertions of the day before, I did this by removing a huge pile of trimmings from a hedge which a neighbour had removed because it took light from his bathroom, but had then left in her garden! I also cut the lawns, and removed the trimmings to the tip.

On Friday we drove to York, where we spent a happy few hours at the National Railway Museum, and then walking through the city and on the city walls. We carried on to Northallerton where we met Richard. We booked ourselves into the Golden Lion Hotel, and then went out for a meal with Richard at an Asian restaurant.

The hotel was a bit of a disappointment, the room was clean etc, but it was up in  the top of the building, and overlooking the main street, despite the hotel being almost empty. The  last drunks rolled home from the local nightclub at 3am, and the street market started setting up at 4am, with the fish stall under our window, with its cooling truck generator running! Breakfast service was lousy, when we asked for tea for two, they gave us a pot with just two cups of tea in it, and when we asked for more water, we got barely a cup full in a milk jug! Porridge was freshly made, but the waiting staff did not deliver it until the cooked breakfasts were ready, so the porridge was congealed and lumpy, and the cooked breakfast had to go back under the grilll until the porridge was finished. When we paid our bill, we weren’t even asked whether we enjoyed our visit. It was if they knew the service was bad, and didn’t care!

We picked Richard up from camp and took him to visit a couple of Lynn’s relativs we he endured quite well. Ken and Bea  (and Jill and Stephany) were our first call, and then onto Tommy and Gwen. We had lunch at the Oddfellows Arms (Fish Chips and Mushy Peas for 3) which was delicious, and took Richard back to camp where he was due at a barbecue at his bosses place. We left him at base and drove back to Wales the ‘pretty way’ (over the A59 rather than the M62).

Today I intend to cut the hedges at mum’s place, and pack for the trip home which starts tomorrow with our journey to Knoll House to see Andrew again, before going to Heathrow on Wednesday for the flight home.

Snowdon

June 11, 2009

The trip up Snowdon was always a bit on again off again, and as late as yesterday evening we were looking at taking today off, but we got up and decided to go for it, despite walking 19km yesterday! A bit of a late start saw us driving through North Wales past old favourite places, to Rhyd Ddu, on the Beddgelert to Caernarvon Road. At 190 metres, this is one of the lower points to start Snowdon, but is a great route, exposed in places but quite straightforward to navigate. The day started quite pleasant, but got cold and wet half way up. As we approached the top, along a rather scary (for Lynn) ridge, it started to improve a bit.

Rhyd Ddu from Bwlch Main

Rhyd Ddu from Bwlch Main

Crib Goch,Garnedd Ugain and Y Lliwedd from Snowdon summit

Crib Goch,Garnedd Ugain and Y Lliwedd from Snowdon summit

At the top it cleared quite dramatically for 360 degree views and was actually quite warm and pleasant.

Looking back down Bwlch Main, and down the Clogwyn Ddu path

Looking back down Bwlch Main, and down the Clogwyn Ddu path

We walked down the Snowdon Ranger path, which we last walked 30 years ago.

Rhyd Ddu from Snowdon Ranger Path

Rhyd Ddu from Snowdon Ranger Path

As we got near the bottom it started to get colder again, but as it was now getting near 17:00, it was to be expected. The whole walk took about 5 hours, for 14 km and 800 metres climb. The drive back was disappointing, we went to Caernarvon to get fish and chips, but couldn’t find any! So we drove back to Mold and got them there!

Great day’s walking, and now we have done all three national highest peaks!

Rest days.

June 11, 2009

Monday 8th June was a bit of a shopping day, stocking up for ourselves and mum, but also for a cellphone. It seems a bit late in the holiday, but we are into the busiest part now with a lot of travelling, so it will pay for itself, and we can leave it for mum. It was only 15 pounds including 10 pounds airtime.

Tuesday was a bit different than planned, as we went for a local walk. As this area is where wde used to live, we wanted to visit some of our old walks. So we decided to go to Ewloe Castle. This castle was built by Owain Glyndwr as a protest to the English (read Normans) had decided to take a large portion of Welsh lands. So he took it back, and built a castle. We tried to walk our usual routes across the fields, but found that all our paths were crossed by the new A55 dual carriageway, which we didn’t fancy crossing, so we made a detour through Ewloe Green. A bit too much road walking, but we got there. Lynn took some pictures of the castle.

Ewloe Castle

Ewloe Castle

Ewloe Castle

Ewloe Castle

Dave at Ewloe Castle

Dave at Ewloe Castle

Ewloe Castle

Ewloe Castle

We walked through Wepre Park to the visitor’s centre and enjoyed a coffee and biscuits and read about the history of the park and castle. The walk continued back up the park, out into Connah’s Quay and back to Northop Hall via the disused railway line. Visited our old house, and then carried on back to Sychdy via Northop. Altogether about 19 km (12 miles) which was a bit more than we planned. Still, we can always rest tomorrow, can’t we?

The Big Smoke

June 8, 2009

Thanks to Sarah and Dave for putting us up for the night. On Saturday morning we left early and took the local train from Waun-Gron park to Cardiff central, and then the 7:55 to London Paddington. Very nice journey, arrived in London at 10:05 – amazing!

Walked across Hyde Park to Knightsbridge, spotting these two icons of Britain on the way.

Albert Memorial, Hyde Park

Albert Memorial, Hyde Park

      
Aston Martin, Princes Gate Court, Knightsbridge

Aston Martin, Princes Gate Court, Knightsbridge

Then we spent an hour at the Science Museum. We intended to do the Natural History and the British Museums, but carrying packs etc was tiring us out, so we walked into Knightsbridge and found a Sushi restaurant with a very nice Teranyaki Chicken for a reasonable price. Fortified with food, we looked at taking the tube across town, but at four pounds each, we decided the walk would do us good! So out came the map, and we plotted a route avoiding the worst of the crowds and traffic, across Hyde Park, Mayfair, Soho, Bloomsbury to Euston. This is a great way to see the real London, with minimal traffic and crowds. We crossed Knightsbridge Road, Park Lane, Regent Street, Oxford Street, Totenham Court Road and Euston Road, so we did see that side of it briefly, but we also walked through Hyde Park, Mount Street Gardens, Berkeley Square, Hanover Square, Soho Square, Bedford Square, Bloomsbury and Endsleigh gardens, all wonderful green oasis in the city. Got a superb coffee at Coffee Republic on Great Marlborough Street.

Caught the 15:10 from Euston to Chester, which took just 2 hours, scarily fast! Changed onto the Flint train, straight onto the bus, and back to Sychdyn by 18:00!

Sunday we relaxed a bit, but also climbed Moel Fammau from Cilcain, then went along the ridge line towards Moel Arthur, and from thee down into Cilcain again, about 8km in 2 hours, with 400 metres of climb.

Today we are planning the last week or so of our trip. We have decided to have another two nights at Knoll House if we can get in, before taking the train to Heathrow. This trip and the trip to Bournemouth will use up our last two days of tickets on the Britrail, so we are planning a trip to York and Northallerton the weekend before in Mum’s car. More details as we finalise the plans.

Parade Day!

June 5, 2009

Thursday we travelled to the Cardiff area (bus to Flint, 11:00 train to Shrewsbury, connection to Cardiff. We spent a couple of hours in Cardiff, looking at the castle from the outside (too expensive to go in for an hour) and then  wandering through the city centre, eventually getting a decent coffee at Caffe Nero in James Howell’s. Then the train on to Llantwit major, where we were met by Sue and Dave, distant relatives of Lynn’s. (Sue’s mum is Lynn’s dad’s cousin!)

I had a very interesting evening with Dave using his Meade 175mm telescope,  and didn’t get to bed until 11:00.

Next morning Dave dropped us off at the East Gate of St. Athan’s camp. The passing out parade was interesting and fun, Richard won two of the trophies, one for best overall student, and one for best overall in physical education. Just as he was being presented with the COs award for Best Overall, a VC10 did a surprise flypast, arranged by the lads the night before while having a curry in Llantwit Major, where they met the flight crew, who offered a special flypast for them. It just happened to co-incide with Richard’s presentation, but was perfectly timed. Photos follow.

 

Richard's personal flypast

Richard's personal flypast

Richard and Trophies

Richard and Trophies

Graduation class and Commanding officers

Graduation class and Commanding officers

Richard and Helen

Richard and Helen

After a quick tour of the workshops, we caught the bus to Llantwit Major, and the train to Bridgend then Cardiff. Tonight we are staying at Sarah’s and Daves, Sarah is a school friend of Lynn’s.

Photos added

June 3, 2009

I have been through the posts below and added a few photos to give a feel for what we have been doing. Enjoy!

Back to Wales

June 3, 2009

We had a restful day in Keig with Alan and June, just looking around the farm, and going for a short drive around the Alford, Insch area to get a feel for the countryside. I attempted to get a wireless network going on June’s computer, but I think AOL defeated  me, and I spent most of the time making the computer work the way it had before I started!

June and Alan were struggling with the heat a bit, it was up to about 25 degrees ! A pleasant day to us, but very warm for that part of the country.

On Monday, we were dropped off at Insch station for the 9:03 to Aberdeen, and at Aberdeen we got on the 9:52 to Edinburgh. We were supposed to change at Edinburgh for Carlisle, and go down the west coast, but we decided to stay on the train as far as York (the joys of a Britrail pass!). On the way we went passed Lindisfarne and Holy Island, and Bamburgh castle, all in the distance, but at least we saw them. The air con in the carriage we were in was faulty, so it was a long (5 hours) hot journey to York.

At York, we changed to the Transpennine route, and took a train to Manchester. This was also a bit crowded. In Manchester we got on a commuter train to Chester, the heating was on full so another hot journey! Straight onto a train to Flint, and 10 minutes later we were in a taxi back to Sychdyn, where we arrived just an hour after we originally planned.

On Tuesday, I did some physical work around mum’s house, concreting a small patch of the garage floor and the driveway, to get rid of a large pothole that had been damaging her car, and today (Wednesday) I will use the rest of the concrete to put her rotary washing line in the Kiwi way!

Tomorrow we are going down to  St Athan for Richard’s passing out parade, which we are really looking forward to. A distant relative of Lynn’s  (Sue) has offered us accomodation in Llantwit Major just  a few miles away, and Lynn has a school friend to visit also. We can take the computer this time, and with the Vodaphone card, we may be able to stay more up to date!