Friday, 24 July 2009

Written Monday. (trip part 1)

It is now Monday night, July 20, 2009.

Saturday we went to Cambridge. Bob had signed up for a PhotoWalk, where a group of people gt together and walk around and take pictures, later to be uploaded to a group Flickr page and a winner chosen to receive a gift and be entered into the worldwide contest. Friday night I found a parking lot that we could get into (our minibus being tall, we can’t just park anywhere) – it was the Babringham Road Park and Ride. No height restrictions and even special large spaces for parking caravans. Anyway, we parked and rode. Then we went to the toilets, as Ella announced a dirty diaper the minute we got onto the bus. By this time Bob was concerned about meeting his group, so we split up. He went to meet his group and the rest of us went on into the park. The children played hide and seek while Mom took pictures of the flowers. Then we had our picnic lunch. After lunch we walked down to King’s College, where a graduation was going on. In spite of the crowds of gawkers, there wasn’t a lot of people inside, so after finding the ticket shop, we bought tickets to go in to the chapel.

King’s College Chapel is famous; they do televised choral programs there at least once a year. It was big, and pretty, but felt a little empty. Most old churches have lots of unique and interesting details, but this one seemed very well planned and kept, and the oddities weren’t there. I tried to take some pictures, and put 2 on my Flickr, but as I haven’t been online since, I don’t know if there have even been views.

Our hosts tonight have internet, but they don’t have OpenZone. (So if we want on we have to find them and ask for the password).
Okay, Cambridge. We were just coming out of the chapel when Bob called me. He’d gotten separated from his group, and wanted to meet up with us. Turns out he was just out front of the college, so we got together pretty quickly. We got a quote on a punting tour, but at 70GBP, even for the whole group, it seemed a bit much for 45 minutes of “cool.” We walked through the craft market, then to the round church. It is one of 3 round churches in England, built by the crusaders in honor of the chapel built over Jesus’ tomb in Jerusalem. About the time we got there we noticed that Ella’s diaper was leaking. The nearest toilet was a couple of blocks away, and cost 20p each. There was also a line. After that we saw we weren’t far from another park, which bordered the river. So we went out there, watched the ducks and the kite, and had the leftovers from our lunch. Being rather tired and hungry, we decided to forego waiting for the punt prices to go down (we were told it’d be half-price in the evening) and find something to eat. Decided to go back to the minibus, and on the way Bob saw Nando’s , a place he’d heard good things about. So we drove back into town a little ways and had a decent dinner. It wasn’t awesome, but there were free soda refills, and it didn’t rain until we were done.
It rained on the way into town and the way home, but we had perfect weather while we were there.

Sunday we headed out on our big trip. Mom and Dad are fans of “Last of the Summer Wine” which is filmed in Holmfirth, and they wanted to see it. So that was our destination. About ½ way there was the birthplace of Sir Isaac Newton, and we thought it’d be a good rest stop. Only problem, we got there at 10 and they don’t open til 11. So we went back on the road a little and stopped at Clumber park. It’s a big place, part of Sherwood Forest, and used to be a private estate. Fancy chapel there, and lots of flowers and trees and a couple of frogs. I recommend it. We stayed longer than expected, but only because we liked it so well. Then on to Holmfirth. We got there a little late and most of the shops were closed, but we did get to go into Sid’s Café. We walked around town, took pics, oohed and ahhed over the scenery, and got hungry. There was a hotel with restaurant, but it was Sunday carvery until 6:30 and we didn’t want to wait (or eat roast beef). So back in the car. We kept eyes out for places that would suit us, and stopped at one restaurant, but it was Indian and had only a set menu that was pretty pricey. We saw several curry places and pizza places, and finally stopped at McDonald’s. Wouldn’t you know it, just around the corner was a nice-looking pub. Oh, well.
We found our hotel in Bradford with little trouble, but getting in was another matter. Had to drive all around the block to find the parking garage, and it was height-restricted. On our way past, I saw another parking lot, so we drove around the block again and pulled in there. It was pay-and-display, open air, unpaved. You gotta do what you gotta do. We parked, unloaded, and started hauling everything up the hill, across the street, and around the corner to the hotel entrance. Boy, we were about ill by the time we got to the door. The reception in 2 floors up, so after 3 trips of the elevator we were all there. Got checked in easy enough, but they didn’t have rooms next to each other, even though I’d requested that a few weeks earlier. They were close. Up the elevator again, to find the rooms without A/C. It was nearly cold outside, but it was HOT in there. The windows opened about an inch – for our safety. We got the children to bed and I took a cold shower. The shower had no door, so the bathroom got a bit damp. Then we tried to sleep. Yeah. Mom came over to get a diaper for Ella, and said she’d got a fan from the front desk. After trying to make do for awhile, Bob decided to go get one. SO I pulled the duvet out of its cover in order to use the cover as a sheet. With the fan on the temp was almost bearable. Even so, the bed sloped down at the head, so I slept with my head at the foot. But it also sloped to the side so badly that the only way I could sleep at all was to lay a pillow down and sleep half on the pillow.

This morning we got up at 6 – 6:30 and started getting things together. Oh, at check in the man said we could ask the parking lot security guy, and they let us park in the back entrance of the garage. But we had to be out by 8 so the delivery trucks could come in. So packed up, loaded the van, and moved it back across the street, then breakfast. It was a decent breakfast, and the place was very clean. But with the heat and the parking and the bed, I do NOT recommend the Bradford Holiday Inn Express.

Leaving there we headed for the Lake District. Words cannot describe the beauty of the place, so I’ll direct you to wait for pictures on Flickr, which will likely not do it justice at all. Bob’s a good photographer, but scenery has to be experienced. We stopped at the visitors’ center between Windermere and Ambleside, and spent 4 hours there. Bought lunch in the café, walked the grounds, played in the playground, saw the lake, and went back to the café for ice cream. Beautiful place. After that we went on up to Keswick and out to the Castlerigg Stone Circle. It was more crowded than I expected, remembering the circles we stopped at in the peaks, but pretty nice place. Lovely setting.

We went back into Keswick to see the pretty town and have dinner. Ate in a little café that was friendly enough, just not overly serviceable. Decent food, okay prices. And then on to our B&B, down a narrow single-lane (two-way) road several miles. More than once I thought we’d taken a wrong turn and were in someone’s back yard. But we made it. The lady here was very welcoming, and the place is just gorgeous. A couple could stay here for a week. Huge bathroom with claw-foot tub (that’s calling my name right now), king size bed in one room and queen in the other, plenty of room for two cots in each room, closets, bathrobes, etc.
We’ve been relaxing as hard as we can, and it is tiring, but oh, so worth it. Looking forward to tomorrow, which should be just loads of fun.

Sorry I’m not detailed enough to give miles traveled, or hours of sleep, or numbers of toilet stops. But you all know vacations are full of that stuff and nothing is as simple as it sounds. I must say that the whole time, we have seen rain every day, but never had to walk in it. Always had a meal at meal time, and no car trouble. I don’t think anyone’s got terribly mad, either. God is good.


Wil said...

I was halfway through this and started wondering if Mom & Dad were even there... Then I saw you mentioned them briefly. :-)

I assume you guys have been busy like crazy. I hope you're all having a wonderful time!

The HoJo's said...

Sorry, but sniggering at the thought of A/C in the UK :o) the locals just don't


MamaOlive said...

HoJo's, I know it's not normal to have A/C, but somehow I expected it in a name like Holiday Inn. And it would have been fine without it, if the windows opened at all, like most hotels around here.

The HoJo's said...

I dread places with heating that comes on unexpectedly when you are asleep and windows that appear glued shut. Guaranteed headache in the morning


Ganeida said...

*sniggering* along with the Hojos. lol However I wish I was with you to do the Lake District! I loved it there. Absolutely stunning & the tourism simply can't spoil it. I read backwards so that's where my comment is. Enjoy Scotland! Ah. I know you will. Too lovely for words.