A Travellerspoint blog

UK in photo's - 1

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Cambridge - a university town, where entry to university is through one of the colleges and where college life isa big thing.


Buxton - a suprise find, this is the park near the centre of the town, but theyy also have an Opera House and people used to go there for the therapeutic waters.

Thirsk - home of James Herriot, the author's home and surgery are just like he described it in his books. We even found Mrs Pumphries & Trikie-Woo waiting for the vet.

York - the York Minster cathedral is the largest Medieval Cathedral in the world and the stained glass dates from those times.

Durham - another university town, but not collegiate like Cambridge and Oxford. The castle in the centre of town is actually a residential college for the university.

Hadrian's Wall - built by the Romans to keep the barbaric Scots out of England, the Romans built forts and mile towers right along it and while all that remain are ruins, they give an idea of the scale of the original.

Posted by thomastour 15:43 Archived in England Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Tales of Blaspheming Bishops

.. and the wrath of God

sunny 14 °C
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After overnighting in York in a B&B that was quite small (I had to come out of the ensuite to change my mind!) - we went back into the town we had been lost in the night before, this time with the aim of visiting York Minster Cathedral.

This is a huge cathedral, being the largest Medieval Cathedral in the world and it had massive stained glass windows. Not long after entering the cathedral I was accosted by this old fellow who had a story or two (or more) to tell. He had some interesting stories and one was related to a massive circular stained glass window high up on one side of the cathedral. It seems he was involved with some work going on at the cathedral (he was a plumber) at the time there was a lightning strike that caused a fire in the ceiling of that part of the cathedral and led to the window being damaged. They couldn't match the colours of the medieval glass and the pieces were so fragile that they ended up sandwiching them between 2 panes of clear glass. But the best part of the story was that apparently just before it happened the Bishop of Durham had made some statement where he basically said that there was no God (yet another C of E issue) and the old fellow saw the lightning strike as God's retribution.

Anyway, we didn't get lost in York for a second time (we had the map and our glasses this time!) and headed off from there to Thirsk to look through the James Herriot centre - very interesting if you know anything about the books. It was the working vet surgery of the author until just before his death.

Then onto Durham (home of the Bishop I mentioned earlier) and saw their cathedral built in the 11th century - we could only see it from the outside because there was a University graduation ceremony on inside it. We did walk around some of Durham's cobblestoned streets. The age and history of these towns is amazing.

Then it was further north to see part of Hadrian's Wall - we were too late to get into any of the best parts, but had a bit of a look and drove along some great 'B' roads through the Pennines countryside. The only thing stopping me from pulling up every 100 metres for Cathy to take photo's was the width of the road.

We finished up at a great B&B in a village called Corbridge - the B&B was hard to find as there was no sign, and we ended up with the owner standing out in front waving to show us where to turn. Tea at a pub in the village and back to a room that had wardrobes from the sister ship to the Titanic. Corbridge was one of those villages with houses right up against narrow roads - plenty of character!

Cathy's thoughts;
We woke up to clear blue sky and got an early start , Yorkminster opens at 7am ( one of the few places that does open early ), we weren't there quite that early but no one was around to pay admission to so we just wandered around. I couldn't see any signs saying `no photos' like all the other big cathedrals so I took heaps! The old tombs with statuettes are fascinating and the sheer size and magnificence of the place is amazing since it was built in the 1200's. We did a bit more walking around the wall of the city before heading for Thirsk and the home of James Herriot. I just loved it as soon as we walked in and saw Mrs Pumphrey and Tricky Woo sitting in the waiting room! They'd tried to set it up similarly to how it was when James ( Alf ) lived there. In the kitchen you could sit at the table, cook on the stove, etc and they had a barn set up as many of the ones he would have had to work in. Upstairs was a television studio set and you could put yourself in the show plus hands on stuff for would be vets including trying to deliver a calf stuck inside the mother!
Our next stop was Durham which is another picturesque town with cobbled streets and ancient cathedral and castle. It's also full of uni students many of whom were graduating when we visited!

Moving on we saw Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the distance as we veered off for the North Pennines and Northumberland. What beautiful scenery; rolling hills, patchwork fields, stone buildings, hedges, trees in Autumn colours interspersed with delightful little villages. Our B&B, `The Crofts' was just gorgeous too, an 1800's built home, very spacious and full of character.

Posted by thomastour 12:20 Archived in England Tagged tourist_sites Comments (1)

"All journeys have secret destinations ...

... of which the traveler is unaware.” – Martin Buber

rain 19 °C
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And for us today - it was Buxton.

Our plans had us travelling from Leicester to York and Cathy found this place called Buxton in the 'Let's Go - Western Europe' book - it was in the Derbyshire Dales and used to be somewhere where the fashionable people went to take the waters.

Well a middle of England traffic jam slowed us down, but we got there for lunch. What a place - magnificent old buildings, including an opera house. Lovely park and a main shopping street full of real character. This is the England I was wanting to see. Getting there was on a mixture of A roads (secondary or tertiary highways) and the M1 (a river of cars and trucks). we are trying to use the A roads wherever possible because they give us a far better view of the countryside.

Then we went onto York - getting there late in the afternoon. We had enough time to walk around half of the wall and then get totally lost trying to find our way back to the car. The only map we had was too small to read without our glasses - and guess where they were? But a couple of locals got us sorted out. Once again we have found the local people really friendly.

Also this morning - I bit the bullet and bought a cheap GPS after not being able to get my Australian one to accurately position itself. It certainly made things a bit easier.

Cathy's thoughts;
Absolutely loved Derbyshire, patchwork fields, hedges, handmade stone walls, little villages with ancient buildings and quaint streets. Wished we had more time to explore Buxton and other gorgeous towns,

York is an amazing walled city dating from Viking times. Yorkminster cathedral looks amazing too , hopefully we'll have time to explore inside it tomorrow

Posted by thomastour 12:02 Archived in England Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

We thought we would never get out of London

... it's bad when even the Garmin GPS got lost!!

rain 14 °C
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Well our time in London has come to an end, and we picked up our hire car (from just around the corner from our hotel). The car is a Vauxhall Vectra turbo diesel - very nice!

We had put our faith in the GPS we'd brought from home with UK and European maps loaded. However, while the maps worked and the GPS calculated the route, for some reason it couldn't accurately identify our position - it was out by some margin that I still haven't worked out (but it's at least of the order of 100's of metres). Therefore it was giving us directions that didn't make sense. Getting out of London was a nightmare - we were staying north of the city and wanting to head to Cambridge (also north), but found ourselves heading into the city. After some uninspiring guesswork on my part as to which way we should be going, we eventually found a service station and rushed in and bought a London street directory and a UK road atlas. Cathy managed to interpret the maps and direct us out of London (thankfully) and the expected 1 hour drive to Cambridge ended up more like 3 hours. Then we got it wrong leaving Cambridge and were actually heading back to London for a while until we realised that something was wrong.

Cambridge was great - such history. We walked around taking heaps of photo's and then went on a punt on the River Cam. Our boat-person (punter?) was a girl who had recently graduated with a degree in English, but decided she preferred the outdoor life. We got lots of stories about the university. Apparently Cambridge was formed after some students from Oxford got into serious trouble and fled to Cambridge and this led to a university being started there. The university is a full collegiate university, which means that all students must live in/be part of a college. Entry to the university is through being accepted into a college. Several are ultra rich - Kings College owns most of Cambridge, having been initially funded by the assets taken from the Catholic Church when England turned protestant. And Trinity has similar wealth - owning much of Manchester - they bought the land before there was much of a city there and have been able to capitalise on it's growth.

Cathy's thoughts on today:
Despite our initial problems finding our way out of London Geoff stayed very cool and decided we needed a map! He came out of the service station with 2 very large books of maps! Oh dear I was back to map reading !! We found the route out OK only to find a traffic jam due to gas works closing down 3 lanes to 1. Never mind we enjoyed looking at the small towns and scenery on our longer than expected trip to Cambridge. Cambridge is full of very old colleges, ancient buildings dating back from as far as the 1200's! Many of the streets are made of cobblestones. Pushbikes, many complete with baskets, are the most popular form of transport. Our punt ride was fun, relaxing and informative.
Unfortunately we had to leave Cambridge which seemed to be going well until we discovered we were heading in totaly the wrong direction! We saw Cambridge from a few different angles today! Eventually we made our way to Leicester, our stop for the night.

Posted by thomastour 13:48 Archived in England Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

London in photo's - 3

These are from various places in London

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A few of the friends we met up with in Madame Tussaud's


And giving Sherlock a helping hand at 221B Baker Street


Travelling on the canals in one of the original canal boats


St Pauls Cathedral

The Westminster area, including Westminster Cathedral & Big Ben



Tower Bridge

The Tower of London


London Eye

Southwark Cathedral

And finally one that is a little bit outside London (but which we saw while staying in London) - Hampton Court


Posted by thomastour 15:13 Archived in England Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

I've serious concerns about the Queen

...she seems to be a hoarder - you should see all the old crockery!

semi-overcast 17 °C
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After a good night's sleep we headed to Windsor for another cuppa with Liz. We've been really impressed by the public transport in London, despite the train lines being worked on we haven't experienced any delays, buses have been so frequent. Windsor Castle was huge and Henry the 8th is being celebrated there too. We saw the Staterooms; amazingly rich and sumptuous looking as well as artworks and drawings by Leonardo Da Vinci, Hans Holbein and others. We walked straight into the Staterooms but when we came out there was a long queue for Queen Mary's dolls house so we gave that a miss and just enjoyed the town of Windsor that virtually surrounds the castle. We have had delightful weather while we've been in London, the lift operator from Tower Bridge told us it's been like Summer.

From Windsor we headed back to the West End to find Hillsong London in the Dominion Theatre. As we got close all we could see were adds for the show 'We Will Rock You' and began to think maybe the church had moved but there were no shows on Sunday as Hills had 4 services during the day. With such a set up they had some spectacular video clips and it was great worshipping with a huge crowd but we missed our worship team from home. Gary Clarke spoke and I didn't realise it's Hillsong London conference this week. After church we found a lovely Italian restaurant and had tea. The meal was delicious and we finished off with the 'Godfather', an extremely wicked and large sundae with chocolate covered honeycombe and vanilla and toffee flavoured icectream, scrolled wafers and cream.

Geoff has his say:
Windsor Castle has some magnificent artworks - all the old masters and it was good being able to walk through the staterooms and look at them. There was also a massive display of table settings that had been presented or commissioned by royalty over the ages (hence my comment about the Queen being a hoarder). One set even sent the maker broke.

Hillsong London was good and the message was very much in line with the study we have been doing from Derek Prince's book 'The Atonement' - but I have to say that the worship still fell short of what we have under Bek's leadership at Increase.

Posted by thomastour 13:16 Archived in England Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

All the world's a stage

And all the men and women merely players:

overcast 15 °C
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Yes- I'm quoting Shakespeare (in particular from 'As You Like It') because yesterday we visited the Globe Theatre which is a re-creation of the original Globe theatre that Shakespeare was involved with. This version was built in the 1990's by a rich American actor (who died before it's completion) - but is relatively true to the original styles of theatre that were built on the southbank of the Thames. They were built there because that put them out of the control of the puritan controllers of the City of London (which was confined to the northside of the river). We learnt lots - including that many common phrases in use today can be attributed to Shakespeare. Also the theatre is made in a circle (actually a 22 sided polygon - but who's splitting hairs) with the stage and seating around the outside (3 levels) covered, but there is standing room (for 1,000 people) in the middle in front of the stage. This was the cheap entry (1p) and those who stood there were referred to as the penny stinkards - the name describes the experience from what we could gather. Also we learnt that Shakespeare & others wrote plays for us to listen to - they weren't epic visual experiences as the stage props were minimal, instead the words created the scene and those attending needed to listen to understand. Also the Globe Theatre is the only thatched roof in London - it required special permission as thatched roofs were banned by law after the great fire.

But before we went to the Globe Theatre - we visited one of London's main landmarks - namely St. Pauls Cathedral which was designed and built by Christopher Wren. Wow - what can you say about it - it was magnificant. We climbed to the whispering gallery (which goes around the the base of the dome (on the inside) then climbed to the top of the dome. apparently the church reaches a height of 365 feet - Christopher Wren was not just an architect - he was a scientist and astronomer and the height was meant to represent the number of days in the year. Just like Westminster Abbey there are lots of tombs and memorials, but they are seem to fit in a lot better and many of them are downstairs in the crypt.

We also viewed Southwark Cathedral - nowhere near as massive or impressive as St. Pauls, but still awe inspiring. It has been a church for a long while, with some parts dating back to around 1200 (I think) but was only declared a cathedral in about 1907.

We visited the London Bridge Experience - which was a role play type view of London through the ages - and was quite good, but we wasted around an hour in the queue waiting to get in.

Then a flying visit to the British Museum, where we could easily have spent a day, but instead got around in an hour before it closed. Cathy spent time looking through European history while I did a quick walk through most of the musuem just to get a feel for what was there.

And to top off our day, it was off to another show (our 4th in 5 days) - this time 'The 39 Steps' which is based on a novel by John Buchan and was also made into a movie by Alfred Hitchcock. But this version wasn't serious it was a comedy, with 4 actors playing all 139 roles (actually 3 play 138 roles as the lead actor only plays himself). It was a real laugh and we greatly enjoyed it. Our seats were front row and we were eye level with the stage and only a couple of feet from it.

Posted by thomastour 23:45 Archived in England Tagged tourist_sites Comments (2)

London in photo's - 2

The Queen

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We'll start off with the Australian State carriage -donated by Australia as part of our Bicentenary in 1988

Now the Horse Guards (but I think the last one needs to lift his game a bit)




Then one of the alternative residences (Winsor Castle)


Now Buckingham Palace


And finally the Changing of the Guard


Posted by thomastour 15:05 Archived in England Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Finally saw it..

..that is the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace

semi-overcast 17 °C
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Third time lucky - we finally managed to get to Buckingham Palace on a day when they had the changing of the guard. The day before when we went to the Guards Museum, an American lady asked the attendant (a retired guard) what happened when they didn't change the guard and he said that the current guard had to stay on for another day. When we were walking on later, we passed her and her friends and I heard her say that the 'poor guard' had to stay on duty standing to attention for another 24 hours!!!

There was a massive crowd there and it was hard to see clearly, but still quite good. Cathy had a vantage point about 3 back from the fence, while I was actually sitting on the base of the statue over the road- further away but able to look over the heads of everyone else. Cathy got there just a few minutes before it started because we had been walking through Hyde Park and spotted a group of the Horse Guards all lined up on the Rotten Road (look it up if you don't believe the name) - she went to get photo's and found that they were being inspected and having individual photo's taken.

Anyway after the changing of the guard, we headed off to Tower Bridge, with a detour into the 'Britain at War' display - lots of old posters and diarama's of what it was like during the war - especially during the times when London was being bombed. Just makes you realise how easy we've had it in Australia (with the exception of Darwin).

The Tower Bridge was interesting - being only about 110 years old - I thought it was much older. The opening mechanism was interesting and it only takes less than a minute to fully open. From the style of the iron work and brickwork you would put it as a lot older.

Then it was the Tower of London - this is much bigger than we thought and unfortunately we didn't allow enough time - we were being ushered out before we saw all that we wanted to. But we did do a tour with a Beefeater - who took every opportunity to pick on the Australians in the group, but was also very informative. we saw the Crown Jewels and also a display of Henry VIII armour, weapons etc. Also discovered that Henry VIII was 6ft 1in tall which was a suprise.

Final activity was a cruise up the Thames with a commentary by one of the crew that was informative, but not necessarily fully factual. He didn't claim to be a tour guide - just someone giving his own description.

More footslogging is coming up over the next 2 days as we wrap up our time in London - still like this city, but may have slightly different views by tonight as our underground line (and others lines too) is closed for maintenance work over the weekend and we will have to rely on buses.

Weather has been great - and one guide we spoke to said that it was more like July weather ie. mid to late summer).

Posted by thomastour 09:10 Archived in England Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Sore feet

.... but we've seen lots

semi-overcast 17 °C
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The last 2 days have been pretty busy getting around London and catching up on the sights. Here are the things we've seen (but with not much of a description - sorry)

Hampton Court - it's huge & magnificent, especially the massive tapestries commissioned by Henry VIII
London Eye - great views
Westminster Abbey - interesting, but really just a large, magnificent, building over a cemetary.
Houses of Parliament (from the outside)
Trafalgar Square
Guards Museum
Horse Guards Musuem & changing of the Horse Guards
Jewel Tower (next to Westminster Abbey)
Banqueting House
St. James Park
Downing Street (not that much is visible behind the gates & massive security)
We've walked around much of the area where the above are and just been overawed by the magnificance of some of the buildings.
& several more stage shows (The Mousetrap & The Jersey Boys)

We tried to see the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace again yesterday but once again it wasn't happening - so try again today.

And for my warped sense of humour - considering England had so many problems with the IRA - the contractor setting up security bollards around the government buildings is called 'Murphys'!

Posted by thomastour 00:12 Archived in England Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

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