Ever the optimist, I just can't keep myself from trying to do something fun and exciting.
Bob, Taryn, and I went to Colchester once when we were here on vacation in 2000. We enjoyed the castle museum, but our memories of the town involved great difficulty in getting around, and we've never been back even though we're so close. But last month we went to the Snailwell Medieval Fayre, and one of the vendors there had fliers out for the Colchester Medieval thingy and Oyster Fayre. I looked it up online and it sounded pretty impressive. And the weather kept getting more and more clear and bright as the week wore on.
So Saturday morning we loaded up and headed out in search of Medieval fun. Except I forgot that the case of water I'd bought the week previous was in the van, not the bus. And then we didn't stop and get money anywhere. And, while I did look up parking, I didn't pick any out because the closer you get to the castle the more exclusive the parking lots are. (The "Castle Car Park" doesn't even list rates; you have to call and inquire.)
We stopped at the commissary and bought 2 bottles of water, some chips, and Rice Krispy Treats from the bake sale outside. We made it down to Colchester with no trouble. But then! We decided to follow the signs down toward the castle and try to find parking. The first 2 parking places were "multi-storey car parks" (parking garages), which we can't use in the high-top bus. We were hot and tired of driving. We found one lot that was full, but a family was leaving. While we waited for them to get buckled up I checked the meter - 2 hour limit. So back out on the street, and after going around in circles a few times we found a long term parking lot, level, with no height barrier. But we didn't have enough change for the meter.
The sign kindly informed us that we could pay by phone, if we first registered online (no web address given). Yeah. It also said there were toilets at the location, but it was lying. Bob went next door to the Blockbuster and bought a bag of crisps to get change, and we were good.
We had a picnic on the grass at the edge of the lot (there were shade trees, and funny as this sounds, we were hot). Then back to the lying sign to check out the town map. It said that we were somewhere (we weren't), and that nearby was a river with a path that would lead to the castle grounds, where the Fayre was. Through great skill and cunning we all decided to go right, then right again, then left, then right, and there WAS a river with a path. And it did lead to the castle grounds. So the sign was right about that.
Entrance fees were quite high, but the kindly man let us in on a family ticket, so we still had a few pounds when we got in. First things first; the toilets. Then we wandered around. The boys got to shoot a cross bow, and the girls bought a recorder. It was HOT. We discovered trees on one end of the field, and kept going to sit down in the shade. We got hungry, but had no money. I did buy a dress at one tent that took credit cards. We were hot, and thirsty. And hungry. So we finally gave up and left before we got sick.
My map showed A134 going into town, but not coming out, so we figured if we found any A134 it would be the right one. We saw a sign that said A134, and some towns we'd never heard of, so we went that way. After a few turns that were marked, the road split - one lane turned and the other went straight. Neither way was labeled at all. We chose wrong. And silly me,being optimistic again, told Bob just head for any highway and I'll find it on the map and bring us back around toward home. So we found the A133, which led us to the A120, which was a divided, limited access highway that went straight across the A134 without any way to get onto it. Needless to say, the trip home took twice as long as the trip down, and we didn't go past the McDonald's that we were longing for, being nearly sick with hunger, thirst, and fatigue when we left the fayre over an hour ago.
We did stop in Bury, as parking is free after 5 on Saturdays, and had dinner at McDonald's there. And then we came home and went to bed, after a few glasses of water. So yeah; Colchester: twice in 10 years is once too many.
Sunday we went to church (yea!) and on the way home we saw a Mini for sale. Stopped to look; it is over 25 years old, looks good, and was cheap. We called the guy, looked it over, and came home to sleep on it. Today we bought it. It would fit inside our bus if we took the seats out. Anyway, we haven't taken pictures yet. It's the Mayfair edition - not sure if that is an Austin or a Cooper or what. Not quite the Jaguar I was hoping to take home with us, but I guess it's time for me to admit we just aren't classy. We'll settle for odd. :-)
The deal with it being over 25 years old is that we can take it back to the US without having to modify it, because it's considered a collector's item. If we decide not to keep it forever, we can probably sell it at profit once we get back home.
Not used to long posts anymore, my fingers are getting sore.