Whitby

Friday 6th, and we arrived early evening at the White House Hotel on fd5ea91f-d6b0-4886-85b7-8c484608f762the top of the cliff above Whitby and were soon booked in, we even had 2 rooms to choose from.  Unusual you would think, well during the on-line booking process the connection broke and assumed the booking was lost so started again and got a confirmation; job done.   Well not quite, we had actually booked and paid for two rooms, hence our choice.   Fortunately the manager understood and our deposit for the second room was re-funded, we hope!!!!   Anyway after a shower and change, we went to the bar prior to dinner.   I enjoyed a nice beer whilst Christine had a dry day, but in the restaurant the food we enjoyed excellent.

Whitby is a seaside town in Yorkshire, split in two by the River Esk. 

River Esk

River Esk

On the East Cliff, overlooking the North Sea is the ruined ,”Gothic, Whitby Abbey” and was Bram Stoker’s inspiration for “Dracula”.   Nearby is the Church of St. 29b8beac-372c-411d-b6e8-a083c7c81f05Mary, reached by 199 steps. (We didn’t climb them!!). There is the Captain Cook Memorial Museum in the town, this is in the house Cook once lived in and displays paintings and maps etc. West of the town is West Cliff Beach that is lined with beach huts, and at the top of this cliff is the White House Hotel.   Unfortunately we couldn’t gain access to the cook museum as it was closed in December.   The two halves of Whitby are joined by a swing bridge built in 1908, and is still in daily use.

After a comfortable night listening to the wind outside, we went down to breakfast and enjoyed a very nice  pair of “Jack the rippers”,

View from restaurant

View from restaurant

(kippers) overlooking a links golf course.  A few people were playing but they looked cold and windswept which probably accounted for their “skills” or perhaps a lack of them.  One thing did surprise us though was how calm the sea was with all this wind, but coming from the west may explain it.

After breakfast we headed out to Goathland, the village used for filming “Heartbeat” the program that ran from 1992 – 2010 set around rural life in Yorkshire during the ‘60s.

Aidensfield Arms

Aidensfield Arms

  1. Scrips garage is now a souvenir shop though it did have an old green Austin A30 on the ramp and various old machine tools at the back.  The pub known in the programme as the Aidensfield Arms is still there but actually called the “Goathland Hotel” and like the program does bed and breakfast.  We went into the bar where a lot of the action took place;  it still looked f01839eb-575e-44a5-b1d2-37bc6caa0887unchanged other than “Oscar” was replaced with a more grumpy person behind the bar and of course there was no bubbly “Gina” to b3c764f7-6db6-4e9a-838f-f5502addcf13compensate, but there was a very nice welcoming fire in the grate which we enjoyed as we drank our morning coffee.

We drove all around the village spotting

Scripts garage

Scripts garage

various landmarks that were regularly used throughout the series and stopped at the row of shops where the much used telephone box is

Post office and general stores

Post office and general stores

situated.    Again these are mainly gift/souvenir shops, but there was still a “real” post office, naturally closed today being Sunday, but we did manage to buy some stamps.  Next we headed down to Goathland (Aidensfield) station but it was all deserted.  The train

Inside the garage

Inside the garage

station is part of the “North Yorkshire a417d90d-e2d0-41c4-b194-36ea5e0ca889moors railway heritage line” that runs 24 miles from Whitby to Pickering, but being December, it’s not running.

So unable to explore anymore, we headed back to Whitby where we had a difficult time trying to park the car.   The car park had a machine that only took coins, which we didn’t have enough of or we could pay using the phone.  Unfortunately every time Christine was answering the automated voice and gave our registration, being Spanish, it wouldn’t accept it.  Does Whitby not 548e9a47-7021-4485-b2e9-cd6c9ad774b2want visitors from another country that come by car?   I had to find a cash machine, then buy something to get 10 x £1 coins (very expensive to park here in Whitby)  to feed this machine, get a ticket and park, ugh!  Anyway after this ordeal we enjoyed wandering around Whitby’s narrow streets, harbour and quayside.  We were quite surprised how many people there were wandering about on a cold, windy but dry day, obviously a popular place to come.

  • The centrepiece of the port is a replica of Captain Cook’s ship “The
    Replica ship

    Replica ship

    Endeavour”; Replica in name but hardly a true replica, for example it’s made of steel with steel doors cut into the hull and upon entering one could see at a glance it was only a money making machine, minimal history but a cafe on board and all for an entry fee of £5.

b04a14a9-8ef5-4b91-bb24-8517ab1cc2e4Captain James Cook, 1728-1779, the English explorer, navigator, and cartographer is famous for his voyages in the Pacific Ocean and his accurate mapping of it, together with his application of scientific methods to exploration.

  • We rounded off our day with an excellent plate of local fish and chips, b88e9e36-95e3-4083-aecf-56ec77d48126cooked fresh and we thoroughly enjoyed it.   Afterwards we headed back to the hotel and relaxed in our room, a no alcohol day for both of us.

Round two with superb kippers again to set us up for the day as we are heading to Scarborough, but the moment we set foot out of the hotel the wind hit 91c42e33-b083-4ce9-8ee8-c05701140e8eus.  Yesterday we thought it was windy but that was nothing compared to this morning and looking out to sea, well, it looked perfect for surfing.  This also explains why we didn’t see any golfers out on the course this morning.

  • Arriving in Scarborough we drove along the beach front to the Spa and then along the cliffs overlooking the bay.  No doubt in its heyday it 1be3a9f5-c768-4020-9827-09194e6c1911would have been a magnificent place, there are many grand Victorian buildings, a number of Victorian engineering projects and of course the Spa complex right on the sea front but, it all looks rather yesterday and tired, what a shame.   Whilst on the cliff road
    The Royal

    The Royal

    we found the building that doubled up as the hospital in the TV series, “The Royal”  transmitted 2003 – 2011.  This building today is an elegant block of flats.

Back into the town centre we parked and strolled up the main shopping pedestrianised street finishing up in a shopping centre built around a Debenhams store, this I think confirms it is a yesterday town.   I suspect the Victorians would turn over in their collective graves if they saw what had happened to their town and to add injury to insult, along the sea front there is wall to wall “kiss-me-quick” type shops and arcades.

After being blown about and frozen for a few hours we decided to head back to our hotel for a cuppa before heading back to Whitby for some more “lovely” fish-n-chips”

“Fully dressed” we ventured out, nearly blown back through the door 39f73f98-8beb-4f81-97e8-78a318dd2a4fthough, and headed towards the cliff, we decided to take the cliff walk to Whitby, a 20 minute walk, allegedly!  Arriving at the cliff top path we had a wonderful panoramic view of the North Sea and the continuous rollers pounding the beach and Whitby harbour

Whale bones

Whale bones

moles.   It was certainly bracing and we were surprised by the number of dog walkers also on the cliff walk, some of the dogs were small so it was a good job they had 4 legs to keep them steady!!!!   We wanted to walk at sea level but the number of steps was daunting so thought we’d jump onto the funicular that runs up and down the cliff but no, it was closed for the winter so we carried on with the cliff path.  As we approached the point above the harbour entrance we passed the statute of Captain Cook looking out to sea.  There is also a pair of whale bones forming an attractive arch placed here to recognise the town’s important whaling history.  The whale bone arch was erected originally on Whitby’s West Cliff in 1853, and the archway frames a view of the town’s quaint cottages and cobbled streets as well as the ruins of the medieval Whitby Abbey, located across the bay on the East Cliff.

Picking our way down numerous steps, along very narrow cobbled alleys and through a tunnel we arrived outside the fish market.   Our “adventure” had two purposes, one to get some exercise with fresh air into our lungs, and secondary to re-visit the restaurant we had enjoyed fish and chips yesterday.  Arriving outside the restaurant, shock and 8d41b385-e355-4f4e-be83-d777f01a37e9horror, they were closed for their “one day a year” major service of their fish frying equipment; we were devastated, all that unnecessary exercise getting there!!!!   Rather than walk back uphill, we jumped into a taxi having decided to eat back at the hotel.

  1. Though we were miffed at having to return to the hotel, we weren’t disappointed.  We enjoyed a magnificent, both in size and quality fish and chips, and I have to say on both occasions we’ve eaten in
    Huge and delicious

    Huge and delicious

    this hotel, we have not been disappointed. 

Back in the room we endured another round of endless squabbles, un-truths and fantasising by 7 un-employable wannabe MP’s.  The more I listen to them, the more I realise why they want to be politicians, most of them would be un-employable in the real world.

After breakfast and a long chat with the hotel owners we left Whitby and headed to Micky and Ricky’s in Harden via Otley; still very windy but reasonably dry.   Otley’s en-route to Harden and was an ideal stop for a lunch, the other fascination of Otley is that the Police Station in the Heartbeat series was in fact Otley’s old Court House: the market square also featured in Heartbeat as well as DCI Banks and Emmerdale.

After a quick bite and walk about in the wind we headed to Harden arriving a few minutes before Ricky.  It was god to catch and have a chuckle about the going-ons and the deceptions etc., surrounding Christine’s birthday bash.  

The evening started with a visit to the George”, a local pub / restaurant that does excellent food.  Next we headed to their local Conservative club for an evening of quizzing and Bingo meeting a few of their

The George, another delicious meal

The George, another delicious meal

friends.   What a laugh we had, didn’t do to well with the quiz or Bingo but a very enjoyable evening, 

Wednesday morning we had to be up early as they both have their factory to run, though Micky did cook some superb Cumberland sausages, not to mention bacon and mushrooms and we all indulged and enjoyed sausage baps with trimmings. Thank you both for a short but very enjoyable visit.   We then hit the road heading back to Derbyshire.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Northampton to Whitby

Early Monday morning the family went about their businesses and left us to lock up when we were ready to leave.  Today was another sunny but cold day as we headed to see our accountant to complete our UK tax returns.  This was followed by Christine’s spending spree at Dunelm’s buying curtains etc., by which time a spot of lunch was called for before we headed north and low and behold there was a KFC, couldn’t be better.   When in UK this is the only fast food chain we will visit, and then infrequently but it has to be done as it’s nice chicken.  

After a pleasant lunch we hit the M1 heading up to Derbyshire, and after a stop halfway for a cuppa, we arrived late afternoon.   It’s always good to come to the Peak District but it does highlight one of the main reasons we moved to Spain; cold, wind and rain!

View first thing at Marian’s

View first thing at Marian’s

Anyway we had a lovely evening catching up with news etc., and Martin and I chewed the cud with half a bottle of very nice malt from Orkney.

Tuesday was rather a domestic day though we did get into Bakewell and visit the “Wee Dram”, this time for gin rather than whisky and was greeted like a long lost friend; I can’t think why!!!

Tonight we were in the Hayloft, one of the holiday cottages Martin and Marian let out but fortunately for us it was empty, so in we went!  After dinner we all decided an early night may be the order of the day, not only because of the previous late night but tomorrow evening we have a whisky tasting evening and anything can happen then!

Today, Wednesday, we were hoping to take Marian out for lunch but unfortunately she was waiting for a parcel containing a large suspension part for Martin’s car which was off the road and had to be signed for.  So after much debate Christine and I reluctantly left Marian at home and headed to Buxton.   I had been experiencing problems with my on-line accounts due to additional levels of security which prevented me getting on-line, so my priorities today were to visit Nationwide and Barclays to resolve the issues, hence Buxton as they both had branches there. Not only did we complete our mission we enjoyed a fine sandwich in the “Buxton Tap Room” washed down with an excellent pint of local beer.

Returning to Rockford House, the part still hadn’t arrived so Marian could have joined us for lunch, anyway it eventually arrived late afternoon, Martin will be pleased.   Tonight was the night, Adrian from the Wee Dram had organised a whisky tasting at the “Flying Childers” in Stanton-in-Peak, fortunately Marian was driving!    We tasted 6 very good single malts accompanied by factual, yet entertaining dialogue given by Adrian, supported by his wife, Allison.   meanwhile ChristIne and Marian entertained themselves, no doubt getting right up to date with all the gossip, sitting in another bar 😡.  Six Whiskies and a


Just a few Malt whiskeys

Just a few Malt whiskeys

couple of pints later and we were all back together before Marian drove us home.

Thursday, 5th December and it was Christine’s birthday but we couldn’t linger as we had to be clear of the Hayloft by 0900hrs as the cleaner arrived prior to the next paying clients.

After breakfast we left and headed to Chester for Christine’s birthday treat.  Apart from “requesting” that we stay at the Chester “Crowne Plaza”, she also wanted to meet up with our friends Leisha and David for a meal.  My “instructions” were clear but I added an extra twist, I also invited Martin and Marian together with Micky and Ricky to join the four of us.  Everybody was under strict instructions to avoid saying anything that would give Christine cause to be suspicious.   Obviously I would have struggled to complete this task from Spain so Leisha very kindly helped me.  Following a previous visit, “The Architect”, a very good pub restaurant in Chester was the chosen venue whereupon Leisha went in and organised a table for eight, and in a configuration we wanted, also during this visit we also got permission to bring our own cake in.  OK Leisha, please go and find a good baker to get a fruitcake with royal icing made. This was all going on in the background but being December we had no choice but to have the “Festive” menu and everything had to be pre-ordered.  This could have posed a problem with Christine buzzing in and out of our office as I was trying to collate everybody’s requirements into one cohesive order on my computer: it went off without a hitch, so far so good.   Leisha completed her task and sourced a cake exactly as I wanted. The wine list then arrived at a point when Christine was looking over my shoulder, oops!   How I passed this off without her “smelling a rat”, I know not;   Eventually all plans

Yes I was surprised!

Yes I was surprised!

were agreed and everything was in place for tonight.   

Where the surprise could have been blown out was during our stay with Martin and Marian, I have no doubt any slip would have been pounced upon by Christine and probably the most vulnerable time was when we were saying our goodbyes, and looking forward to our next meeting in a week or two’s time.  Additionally at the same time we were exchanging e mails with Micky and Ricky trying to arrange a meeting with them, all very dangerous.

We checked into the hotel mid afternoon and rested up for the evening, Christine understanding an evening with Leisha and David will be boisterous, little did she know!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Every time ChristIne asked what time we were meeting I said 1915hrs, I think she thought this was an odd time so I gave some sort of cock-and-bull story, the others though had 1900hrs as their deadline.   We were ready, but too early to leave so I had to think fast, I decided a last minute urgent visit to the loo was called for, this did it and we arrived spot-on 1915hrs only to see Leisha and David and say our hellos. I was a little worried at this point but david said there was a drink on the

Thank you everyone I had a brilliant time

Thank you everyone I had a brilliant time

table in the small bar round the corner and pushed Christine forward whereupon the surprise was sprung.  She was gobsmacked, couldn’t believe her eyes seeing the other four waiting round the corner; I think she was pleased.

We had an excellent 3 course festive meal washed down with copious bottles of wine then the cake arrived, it was superb and naturally washed down with a bottle of

Yummy fruit cake

Yummy fruit cake

champagne; well done and thank you Leisha.   After an very jolly evening with lots of laughter we went on our separate ways, obviously we all had different hotels.   

Next morning we agreed to join David and Leisha for breakfast at “Chocks Away” a cafe/diner inside the BAC factory and

Good night was had by all

Good night was had by all

airport complex. We were hoping to see the “Beluga”, An Airbus enlarged to carry the Airbus wings to Toulouse for completion of new aircraft, but we didn’t, shame.  The weather was atrocious so a little shopping in Cheshire Oaks and a visit to the agents who look after my rentals was the limit of our activities.  Fortunately our breakfast was so big a cuppa and a piece of birthday cake was all that was required.

Saturday we headed to Whitby but first, Christine was adamant she hadn’t been to the Anderton  boat lift and was insistent we went there.  

Anderton boat lift

Anderton boat lift

I knew we had been there but I wasn’t

Anderton boat museum

Anderton boat museum

going to win this discussion, so off we went. She as hoping to go for a ride but when we got there they were only doing a pre-booked children’s Xmas cruise but, as the lift was out of action it was only a trip along the river Weaver, oh dear what a 94447709-f297-450a-ad70-c49af0c80483disappointment for her.  We had a wander around, a cup of coffee and then back on the road.   I had already decided I didn’t want to go on the M62, I

Should we have sold the boat!

Should we have sold the boat!

wanted to go over the Pennines via Skipton which I knew would take longer, but had we missed out the boat lift it wouldn’t have seemed so far and we would have arrived earlier!!!

Our booking was for the White House, a hotel on the cliff above Whitby and when we arrived, in the dark, we were pleasantly surprised at what we saw.

 

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France to Northampton 

 

Thursday 29th November, and after a very enjoyable couple of days we left Sandy and Wendy’s and head to Saint Malo for the overnight ferry to Portsmouth.  Arriving in Saint Malo mid afternoon, we chased around looking for a nice restaurant to eat before boarding but to no avail; everywhere was closed due to it being winter and Sunday, so finished up suffering a Mc Donald’s, still it filled a hole.

Arriving at the port we cleared the formalities very quickly and after a very short wait, we boarded, being a winter crossing the ferry was far from full so the lines were let go right on time.  

The following morning, after a very comfortable night we arrived in Portsmouth and our first port of call was Tesco, fuel and a few provisions as we had a slight change of plan.   Originally we were heading straight to Northampton but due to the weather the new windows being fitted to Mark’s home weren’t installed on time so plan “B” was put into place and we stayed at Jenny and Bill’s for the night.   This was not all bad news, Christine managed to get up-to-date with the washing and visit her sister, Kathleen, who had recently been in hospital and was very poorly.

Saturday and we were up and away before 0700hrs, we arrived at

Outside pub on matchday

Outside pub on matchday

Mark’s at the appropriate hour (0900hrs) when Mark cooked us a superb English breakfast; well worth the early start.   We enjoyed a leisurely morning catching up before our taxi arrived to “whisk” us to to the “Sevens pub”, outside Franklin’s Gardens where we had several

The hallowed ground

The hallowed ground

Guinness and other refreshments before heading to the ground,

Franklin gardens

Franklin gardens

though en-route we did stop at the Saints shop for a number of items.

Just to remind ourselves, Mark and I had a little bet on the total number of points scored in the 48 matches played at this year’s rugby world cup in Japan; the loser buyers the beer at today’s match.  Fortunately I guessed better so I was enjoying every pint I had, and I had many!!!! 

Ashleigh with Benney the mascot

Ashleigh with Benney the mascot

In the ground the bar kept the Guinness flowing 😍😍 as we took our seats to watch Saints play Leicester Tigers; the local derby everyone gets excited about.   What a good game, many England players on both sides and end to end stuff, very exciting but the outcome was the best; Saints had a convincing 36/13 win “and” with a bonus point, very satisfying.  After the match the 7 of us were joined by Jeff and Hilary for celebratory after match drinks in the Tetley bar under the Carlsberg  stand along with both Saints and Tigers supporters all having a good time.

We finished off the day over the road in the Indian Brasserie for an excellent “Ruby Murray” (where we naturally we over ordered), after which, our taxis were waiting to take us home for a night cap at Mark’s before retiring.   It was a superb day and I enjoyed all the banter I had, sitting between my two grownup granddaughters during the match.  Of course we drank too much Guinness, but the bet was, the loser buyers the beer so naturally boots had to be filled!!!!!!

Lovely picture of Ashleigh and Tyla x

Lovely picture of Ashleigh and Tyla x

Sunday morning was a fairly leisurely affair but unfortunately Ashleigh had to return to Birmingham and would miss the family lunch.  Being a hard up university student she has got herself a job in a jewellery shop and being into the run-up to Xmas, she had to go.

Jane Dave and Mia arrived midday and we all strolled to the Spencer

Spencer Arms

Spencer Arms

arms for lunch.  Mark had booked the large table in a private room so the “Page gathering” could get into full flow without upsetting other customers.   It was lovely to have all my family together round the table, though we did miss Ashleigh.  This was the first time we have managed such a get together for several years and it was good fun.  Back at the house Mia entertained us until bedtime at which time they left us.

Tomorrow we head up to visit Martin and Marian in the wilds of (cold) Derbyshire 

 

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Home to Channel

After an uneventful drive through the rain we arrived in Burgos,

Burgos Cathedral

Burgos Cathedral

though we did stop for an excellent menu Del dia (somewhere) en-route.  After checking into our hotel with good intentions of going out, we collapsed and watched television, but thanks to our EE mobile WiFi box, watched BBC.

After a leisurely breakfast we set out to explore Burgos only knowing about Black Pudding and El Cid.  Our first port of call

Amazing steps with gold railings

Amazing steps with gold railings

was the obligatory Cathedral, a magnificent building in the Gothic-style; building started in 1221and from what we gleaned carried on ‘till

El CID burial stone

El CID burial stone

this day!  There are a number of current building projects ongoing.   

Burgos itself is quite amazing and probably a must if driving through Spain. Historically it was founded in 881AD and was the capital of the Kingdom of Castile; there is a lot of history here, (too much to write about) but the cathedral also contains the remains of Rodrigo Díaz, known better as El CID, the Spanish warlord who

El Cid

El Cid

won a few battles in the 11th century.

Lunch called and we enjoyed a superb “Menu Del dia” where naturally we indulged in the local delicacy, “black pudding”, after all that was the main reason to come here!!!!  After a superb

The infamous Black Pudding

The infamous Black Pudding

lunch we wandered back to the hotel through the numerous narrow streets and piazzas for a siesta.

Later that evening we strolled out, our plan was for a tapas and a drink.   This time we crossed the river but realised fba27242-89c1-4be0-89d6-75920de48d18this area was commercial, modern and apart from some attractive, but ordinary fountains we headed back to the old town.  It had been very cold today and this evening was no different, so we were both jolly glad we had our long overcoats, scarves and gloves!! 

In spite of the cold, the area in old town was heaving, families strolling

One of the many statues in the town.

One of the many statues in the town.

everywhere, bars all full, although mainly inside, only the hardy smokers were outside, as usual.   After much meandering around, pontificating as to whether we were actually or hungry or not, we finally decided our lunch was so

Burgos by night

Burgos by night

big, filling and enjoyable, that we really didn’t need anything else, so back to the hotel for us.

One comment: though the weather was mighty cold all day, we had wall to wall sunshine, not like our drive up yesterday when it rained most of the way.

Lots of tiny shops and restaurants

Lots of tiny shops and restaurants

Sunday morning we had a leisurely breakfast, but still away for 1000hrs and headed north to Bergerac, in the wine producing area on the north bank of the Dordogne.  We were originally going to head

One of the tiny streets in Bergerac

One of the tiny streets in Bergerac

straight up to Orléans but decided for a number of reasons to break the journey up.

One issue we have is Christine’s driving licence or should I say the lack of it.  Christine is in the process of replacing her U.K. licence with a

One of th many old buildings

One of th many old buildings

Spanish one; this is taking up to 5 months to complete. Let’s blame Brexit because all the Brits are rushing to change before the deadline, whenever the politicians decide that is!!!!   Anyway the bottom line is that during this process she only has a temporary piece of official paper that is only valid in Spain.   Normally on long runs we do 2hrs on 2hrs off but as she has no licence outside of spain, she can’t drive and is furious, oh dear should have done it earlier!!!

Again our drive from Burgos to Bergerac was blighted by rain, and a diversion due to a road closure following a pileup taking us on a tortuous route through some interesting countryside, still we arrived at our hotel, still in daylight. 

After a wash and brush up etc., we headed into the historic part of the town looking for a particular restaurant that we had found on line, and it was highly recommended. Fortunately it was open tonight as most were closed on winter Sunday evenings.   “Le Vinquatre” was

Many unusual buildings in tiny streets

Many unusual buildings in tiny streets

everything we expected from the comments we had read on line, probably more.  The irony of it was that this “French” restaurant was owned by a couple; he was English and also the chef!, and his wife was front of house, but was French!

Monday morning was Dry fortunately, and though cold we took the opportunity to wander around the old town again, but being daylight, we could get a better look at the architecture etc.  The wooden timbered buildings all looked in good condition and the old street cobbles looked new but the 4e81f518-3c76-42c3-b76e-418450566776general ambience was good.   We walked down to the mighty river Dordogne which appeared to be in full flow before returning up the hill, through another part of the old town heading for our hotel, though we did enjoy a stop for mid morning coffee.

Back in the car we headed north, planning to arrive in Orléans around 1800hrs and just as we were leaving the city limits, the rains came down, again.    We experienced a most miserable trip of heave rain, heavy traffic and dark very early; three things that I’m pleased to say we don’t generally experience where we live on the Orihuela Costa and therefore we found it a very difficult drive.   Waze Satalite navigation system eventually delivered us to their new house on time and we were very glad to lock the car and walk away.  Though our visit was brief we enjoyed a good meal, and followed this up with a hilarious game of Phase 10.

Tuesday morning Mike and the two boys had to be out of the by 0730hrs followed by Catriona at 0900hrs which meant we also had to be away before 0900hrs so we were immediately in the tail-end of the Orléans rush hour traffic, but to be positive, it wasn’t raining, yet!

Today we decided we would do the péage motorways, I’d had enough of smaller roads and guess what, yes the rains came down again.   After a reasonable, but very wet journey we arrived at Sandy and Wendy’s house in time for a nice cuppa with a slice of homemade cake.  

View of the Port

View of the Port

Tonight they had organised a dinner party, the four of us and their friends Jane and Mike who we had met on a previous visit.  We all had a great evening with lots of laughter, with Sandy and I eventually retiring to our beds around 3am after catching up following a long time, no see.

Following a lay-in and a light breakfast the four of us decided to go to Auray, a very pretty Port town with cobbled streets and timbered

The quaint little pot

The quaint little port

framed buildings.  We only wandered a short way to the nearest bar for a snack and a bottle of Vino, it was raining after all!!!!   Following a pleasant hour or so, there was a break in the rain so headed back to the car, then onto our hosts home.  After a pleasant dinner we retired early, we were all knackered from the night before: this getting old is interfering with our partying, not too happy about this👹👹👹👹

Tomorrow we head for the ferry to U.K.

 

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Our spring trip to UK

0500hrs on the 1st March and our drive back to UK starts; we were going to go a day or so earlier but we were “Parrot sitting”. We were very honoured to be trusted to look after Rita’s parrot “Jack” whilst she and her whole family had headed to over to the US to visit Disneyworld.

Our first stop was Andrew’s new home in Frejus (south of France), a hectic, 12-hour journey with minimal stops using expensive toll roads all the way. We were welcomed at the “building site” by Andrew and were told his plan to have a bed “up and running” for us didn’t work out and that we were booked into a local hotel for a couple of nights.   After an enjoyable French meal and catch-up we went to our hotel, exhausted.

St.Tropez buzzing as usual

St.Tropez buzzing as usual

We arrived back at the “building site” the following morning and took in the magnitude of the project Andrew was undertaking, converting this building from

Classic boats moored in St.Tropez

Classic boats moored in St.Tropez

four small flats into one, very nice home for himself.   Everywhere you looked there was work in progress but looking past all that, we could see a very “quirky”, “different”, and very modern living space; though 2881b5fd-a6d9-493d-a0ff-9eba4e69679dnot quite to our taste!!! We think, (well hope), Andrew was pleased for our visit as it gave him the excuse

Overlooking the harbour

Overlooking the harbour

to forget about the builders etc., and go out for a few hours. We had a very pleasant drive along the old coast road to St. Tropez where we had an enjoyable lunch and a relaxing walk around the harbour enjoying ice creams in the warm spring sunshine.

The next morning we headed north to Orleans where we spent a night with Catriona, Mike (Christine’s Nephew) and the two boys, Tobin and Max. Their apartment is right in the centre of Orleans so the buildings are not modern and their flat

Joan of Arc

Joan of Arc

was on the third floor with no lift; steep stairs and everything has to be carried up, ugh!!!! We had another enjoyable evening catching up with all the news etc., and naturally discussing the pros and cons of Brexit as we both have a vested interest.

The next morning Mike left early to go to work, the boys went to school and Catriona

Lovely square, shame about the weather

Lovely square, shame about the weather

had some business to complete before she could go “out to play”. We therefore took this opportunity to wander about Orleans “in the rain and cold” to get a feel of the place before the 3 of us met for an early lunch.

Orleans is on the River Loire and has quite a history stretching back to when Julius Caesar conquered the area in 52-BC. During the reign of Charlemagne,

Cathedral

Cathedral

(800AD-814AD) Orleans became the intellectual capital, and in the 10th and 11th centuries was the second most important city in France after Paris. Of course the most commonly known historical fact is about Joan of Arc, the “girl” who led the French army against the English in 1429 and broke the 7-month siege during the 100-years war: (1337-1453).   In the 16th century Orleans was a Protestant centre until the Roman Catholics took control in 1572 when they massacred around 1,000 Protestants on St Bartholomew’s day.

The centre plaza of Orleans was very modern with trams running around it and the centerpiece is a statute of Joan of Arc. Running of

Beautiful old buildings with modern shops

Beautiful old buildings with modern shops

this plaza is a modern street with fancy shops and at the end stands the magnificent Sainte-Croix Cathedral, started in in the 13th century, then largely destroyed by Protestants in 1568, and reconstructed after King Henry 4th of France made funds available to rebuild it.   This cathedral is the same size as Notre Dame in Paris.   Naturally much of the centre of town has been rebuilt following destruction caused by bombing etc., during WW2.

After a pleasant lunch with Catriona we headed north to Cherbourg to catch the overnight ferry. We were dreading this passage as there was a storm passing through the English Channel during this time and the wind and rain were frightening but I have to say we escaped, luckily the storm had passed us just in the nick of time, and we had a very smooth crossing.

We arrived in Poole early on the morning of Tuesday 5th March and headed to Portsmouth where we stayed with Jenny and Bill but prior to arriving at their home we spent the day in A & E Portsmouth as Christine was suffering extreme chest pains. Fortunately, and after numerous tests and many hours sitting in corridors, she was discharged as the tests they did confirmed her heart was good. Unfortunately these tests did not find out what her problem was but she did feel better. Met up with Kathleen and Tom and went for a lovely meal in local pub.

After 2 nights at Jenny and Bill’s we headed to Essex for a night before heading to Northampton for a weekend with Mark, Paula and the family.

We had a good and relaxing time catching up with all the news, especially the girls with their studies and love life etc., and being the middle of the 6-nations, watched a couple of matches on the TV.

We headed back to Essex on the Monday and had a hectic week at Jane’s and we were taken to ballet, gymnastics, swimming, pre-school etc., with Mia.

Friday morning and we were off again, this time to Towcester near

Franklin gardens

Franklin gardens

Northampton to Visit Jeff and Hillary for a “fest of Rugby”. We had tickets for the England V Scotland under 20’s game at Franklins Gardens, (home of Northampton Saints) in the evening where England scored 45 points against Scotland’s 7, a resounding win. On the Saturday we headed down to London as we had tickets for the main event, the “Calcutta Cup”,

Twickenham

Twickenham

England V Scotland at Twickenham, and being a late kick off we had booked into the Crowne Plaza in Ealing. This match was the classic game of two halves. England totally dominated the first half going into the break at 31:7 ahead. After half time there was a total reversal, Scotland totally dominated the second half and after a final scramble in the 82nd minute, George Ford managed to score a try under the posts and when he converted it, England matched Scotland’s score. A very

Before match

Before match

disappointed Scotland following their gallant effort; and naturally a disappointed England, that ruined their chances of winning the 6-nations championship.   Actually it was the fairest result under the circumstances and added to the atmosphere and excitement within the stadium, all of which made this a fantastic fixture.

Back to Towcester on the Sunday morning as we were then then off to Franklins Gardens again, this time to watch Northampton Saints; they were playing Saracens in the premiership cup final.   This was an extremely exciting match, which, un-expectantly Saints won 23:9 and won their first bit of silverware this season; long may winning become a habit!!!   Following this game we had another superb curry at the canal side Indian “Spice of Bruerne” at Stoke Bruerne.

Monday morning and we were off again, this time to Chester to have a night out with our good friends, Dave and Leisha. We stayed on the Chester Race Course and met them around the corner at the “Architect”, a Georgian designed pub serving traditional “good pub food”. What a good night we all had; we recounted our canal experiences and stories; we laughed, I don’t think we have laughed so much for quite some time; we drank, I don’t think we have had so much drink for such a long time, and after a very congenial evening went our own ways. Fortunately we hadn’t too far to stumble back to our hotel whilst Dave and Leisha fell into a taxi outside the pub!!!!

The other reason for visiting Chester was to finalise arrangements with my decorator, carpet man and managing agent for my new rental. Once completed we headed off to the Peak District to stay with Marian and Martin. A little bit of a detour on our journey south but always good to visit them in the peak district, however, Martin was on his own as Marian had gone to visit her Mother. Whilst there Martin up-graded my laptop and it is so much faster, thank you Martin.

Wednesday 20th March and we went South again, this time heading to Portsmouth, naturally via our usual haunt, “Ockham Bites” for our favourite double bacon baguettes.   Whenever we are in the UK it is strange how we always seem to manage a visit here.

Thursday and our last full day in UK and we had a number of things to do but the two main reason for being there was to collect all our boat “things” from Tom’s loft. These were left after we sold “Megastar” at the end of last year.   But firstly a quick visit to Pat, (Christine’s sister), where we met up with Marian and to check all was well following Pat’s new hip operation, then onto Tom’s. Our concern was that we had forgotten what there was in his loft and worried it wouldn’t all fit in the car, but once we arrived and lightened the burden in his loft, we were unexpectedly surprised that with Christine’s careful packing it all fitted into the car; what a result.   After a superb dinner with Tom and Kathleen, but before we headed off to catch the overnight ferry to Le Havre, we made a quick, un-scheduled visit to our friends Dave and Sue who were very surprised to see us.   Next stop Ferry queue, fortunately the weather was better and we were looking forward to an un-eventful crossing.

We arrived early morning in Le Havre with insufficient time for

Early morning in Honfleur

Early morning in Honfleur

breakfast, so once we cleared the town, we headed into Honfleur. This is an old and very pretty and quaint little town situated on the southern bank of the mouth of the

View from our cafe where we had breakfast

View from our cafe where we had breakfast

River Seine. Historically it was a very important port, firstly during the 100-years war then later as the starting point for goods travelling to and forth to England, Canada and many other places.   We enjoyed breakfast overlooking the harbour with its multi-coloured buildings all around. Later we took a walk around and decided we needed to come back here at a later date and explore it properly.

Today we were driving to stay with old pals of mine, Sandy and Wendy who live near Lorient, (Brittany), on the west coast of France. The last time we had seen them was when they stayed with us in Spain a couple of years ago, so there was much catching up to do. Again we had lots of laughs and after two nights set off, heading back to Andrew’s as we had been informed this time we would have a bed inside the building site. We had had enough of long days driving, so decided to stop half way at a place called Brive-la-Gaillarde, again quite an attractive b29b2b75-f021-47ec-9756-f499e7e16d87centre to mooch about, though it was cold.

Marina near Andrews

Marina near Andrews

Off again south, the weather improving as each mile went by and finally we arrived at Andrew’s, not knowing if we had a bed in the house or in the local hotel. Andrew greeted us with the good news, we were staying in the house, and looking around, it was obvious there had been a fair amount of work done since our previous visit, 3-weeks earlier. We had another good two night visit, with Andrew managing his time between his business commitments, watching his small army of builders going about their business, and looking after us: however, our opinions on this house haven’t changed, its not for us if for no other reason there are steps everywhere!!!

Leaving mid morning and not wanting a repetition of the 12 hour drive we did on the way up, we booked into a hotel in the ancient town of Tarragona with its many Roman remains. This place goes back to 2407BC and is steeped in History.   In the evening we did have a little time to look around the central area of the town but not the interesting parts, so we must return someday.

After a good breakfast in a very comfortable 3* hotel that most probably should have been a 4*, we headed back home, arriving early evening and we were very happy to be back having driven 3,574 miles.

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Sea Days

Saturday evening and our first night on this, the last leg of our cruise heading non stop back to Southampton, it got off to an uncertain start.  Eight of us met up on our new table, a retired Geography teacher from the South and his lady friend from Essex, a retired couple, both US

Our new table friends

Our new table friends

judges from Texas and two widows from London well into their 80’s; quite a mixed bag but we kept an open mind.    Looking around, it certainly looked as if the Britannia restaurant was full up, so any chance of moving table looked improbable. Oh dear, best foot forward and see what happens.

Fortunately everybody seemed to want to make it work, and after introducing ourselves managed to enjoy a light hearted conversation involving everyone throughput the meal; so far so good.  One of the ladies though was concerned she may not come back as she had to negotiate a number of stairs to get to our table but after persuading her to have a glass of port, I think she was having second thoughts.

Sunday and our first of five full days at sea.  Apart from round the clock eating, there were lectures, films  and reading to fill our day, or so we thought.   Remember the saying, “be careful what you wish for”,

Paul Debbie Geoff and me

Paul Debbie Geoff and me

well, walking into a lecture an Australian lady tapped me on the shoulder and said “hello Geoff” and gave me a kiss, I looked at her with surprise until it dawned on me who she was.  Paul and Debbie were two of our fun dinner companions on the Queen Victoria, what a coincidence.  This chance meeting re-kindled our friendship over a few beers in the Golden Lion pub on board.

Tonight is formal, it was also the captain’s cocktail party to welcome

Xmas decks in dining room

Xmas decks in dining room

everybody on board and we enjoyed it in the company of our dinner table companions, school teacher Andrew, and his lady friend, Angela.  Fortunately on this occasion we had a seat in the main “waiters” thoroughfare and champagne was flowing!!!!  Like a well maintained clock, dead on 1800hrs the party ended and we had to leave for the Britannia and go to dinner.

Fortunately all of us had enjoyed the ships “complimentary fizz” before arriving at our table so we were all quite relaxed and “Sonia” let go🤪🤪🤪, probably much to Gill’s disapproval!!!!  Sonia and Gill are the widows and well into their eighties so what the heck.  Another sociable night followed; what a difference a change of table makes!!!!!  Things were working out so well that we were the last but one table to leave; I bet we will be the last before we arrive at Southampton.

Xmas show

Xmas show

Monday and Tuesday followed the usual pattern, eating, lectures, films etc., but walking around the deck was not an option, well not for us as it had snowed, it was very cold and windy and the sea was beginning to get slightly uncomfortable, well for some anyway.

One thing we like about travelling this way across the Atlantic is, there is “no jet lag”, the clocks go on 1 hour at midday so no sleep lost, it just brings lunch an hour earlier!!!

Tonight we had another good night around our table and I also encouraged Sonia to enjoy a small port with her coffee.  

Wednesday and again at sea, though today we had all the political disruption about Teresa May and the vote of confidence so we were pretty well glued to the TV, well in between lectures and eating that

Geoff catching me unaware!

Geoff catching me unaware!

is!!!!!! Another good evening at our table and an interesting discussion with our American judges from Texas, Keith and Elizabeth, about the variances in the laws between the States.

Tonight our entertainment was music in the guise of two classical pianists, Worbey and Farrell, playing one piano with a lot of comedy; they were very entertaining and well worth watching.  After this we went to the Queens Room where the Queens Room and Royal Court bands joined up and produced “big band” music.

Thursday, another time-change at midday and the good news is the sea state has calmed down.  

Today, amongst the final lectures was one on the life and “times” of Oscar Wilde, very interesting it was to but this ship is all about “extracting” as much money as they can from their guests, and continuing this theme, today we had a Christmas market.  Following the lecture about Oscar Wilde, and whilst the Xmas market was taking place, I went to watch his play performed by a company of RADA, “The Importance of Being Earnest”.  It was an abbreviated version and adapted to fit into the ship’s timetable but good nevertheless.

Tonight we had agreed to meet Paul and Debbie, our Ozzy friends from the Queen Victoria in the Veranda Restaurant for a farewell meal.  We had a great night, lots of laughs and banter mixed with a little alcohol.   Cunard are getting quite naughty these days regarding money.  To enter this specialist restaurant there is a $39 pp cover charge and then if you stray off their “official” menue, there are supplements!!!  Still we had a good time.   Being much later than usual we went to the 2230 hrs show and as one would expect it had a Christmas theme, “Jingle Bells Rocks” performed by the Ships resident Bandmasters Singers and Dancers.   To finish off an excellent evening, Christine and I  went to the “Pub” and listened to the last of the “Karaoke” singers, some OK, some not so OK!!!!!!   One more sea day left😡😡😡😡😡

Posted in Queen Mary 2 | Comments Off on Sea Days