A Travellerspoint blog

All at sea

sunny 24 °C

Well, here we are on our 4th day at sea, on board the Equinox, and we're loving it - could easily get used to this cruising life! First stop after Barcelona was Villefranche, between Nice and Monaco. Didn't visit either of those, but did our own thing wandering round Villefranche, exploring its quaint streets and alleyways, not to mention climbing innumerable steps. Very enjoyable day.

Next stop Livorno, from where we did a tour to Florence and Pisa. Florence - stunning architecture, loads of statues etc, and also crowds and crowds of people - amazing numbers considering it's not even the height of the season yet. Hard to get our heads around the fact that people such as Galileo and da Vinci were here centuries ago. Pisa was amazing - totally blown away by the beauty of the colours of the leaning tower - photos we've seen have never done it justice. Also went in the Baptistry at Pisa and listened to a man singing to demonstrate the 3 second echo - great stuff!

Yesterday was Rome - still crowds of people, of course. The official tour in the morning took us to the Colosseum and St. Peter's Square - arrived there somewhat later than planned due to an "incident involving 2 cars" and the closure of some roads, detours etc. The afternoon was free time to do as we liked, so we joined forces with a lovely Canadian couple we met on the bus and explored the streets of Rome with them, seeing the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain and the Piazza Navona, before heading back to the bus (which was delayed by an hour due to chaos on the streets of Rome!)

Today we are docked in Salerno, and have chosen to spend it quietly. Took the shuttle into town this morning, wandered about the town for a while enjoying the lack of crowds, then back to the ship for some lazing by the pool in the sun. It's tough, we know, but someone has to do it!

Posted by brighting 07:21 Archived in Italy Comments (2)

Barcelona

sunny

Barcelona - a great place to stay. We ran out of time and will just have to come back. Gaudi architecture, and the whole city is very interesting - there are heaps of alleyways and great big main streets like La Rambla with people teeming everywhere. A very cosmopolitan city with a long history. On our last night we walked down La Rambla after dinner, and 7 police vans rushed past with lights and sirens going, followed by an ambulance. As we walked further down we saw heaps more. As we watched, we discovered there was an anti- austerity protest march happening. We heard the noise as the march approached, and waited until they came face to face with the police. Then we decided it was wiser not to hang around, so headed back to our hotel!

Posted by brighting 04:19 Archived in Spain Comments (1)

The Lake District continued

overcast 23 °C

The weather has been particularly kind to us on our sojourn in the Lake District. Today the car temperature gauge was reading 25 degrees at one point!
Yesterday we went up to Keswick to meet two of Lesley's old school buddies who had driven down from Edinburgh and who she hadn't seen for 40 years. Keswick turned out to be a bit of a challenge for the navigator (Les) and we ended up driving down a pedestrian only street. We actually walked past the two ladies without recognising them at first but eventually the arranged meeting happened and the three women were able to successfully bridge the gap of 40 years and a very lively lunch then ensued. On the way to the meeting we were able to stop at the historical home of William Wordsworth and so wandered about there relearning some old facts about the bard. Saw his garden where he spent many hours composing, this included the summerhouse where he also would contemplate and write, so we learnt.

Today we did a 20 minute climb up Orrest Head, a local look-out point behind Winderemere village. Quite a challenge over rough rustic paths, especially as we haven't been doing much strenuous walking lately! However, it was worth the climb for the view from the top. Then we explored 2 nearby villages, Ambleside and Grasmere, both quite picturesque. Lots of schist buildings around here, along with the stone walls everywhere, which is very impressive handiwork.

After that, on to Ullswater lake via 'The Struggle', a very steep and winding narrow road snaking its way between huge rocky bluffs. Didn't stay long at the lake, though as apart from being the spot where Donald Campbell launched his Bluebird boat and achieved the speed record of 202 mph in 1955, there wasn't much to do or see.

Tomorrow we leave Windermere and head back to Chesham for a week, before heading off on more adventures.

Posted by brighting 09:56 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (1)

Lake District

sunny 17 °C

Left Derbyshire yesterday, and headed for Cumbria - seemed a long journey, but we had several stops on the way. Scenery changed from the green hills of the Peak District to the barrenness of the Pennine range. Stopped on the top of the range for a cuppa at the Cat and Fiddle - the second highest pub in England at 1692 feet above sea level. From there another couple of hours or so to the once again green hills of the Lake District, and settled in to our b&b in Windermere.

Lovely sunny day today - went for a boat trip on Lake Windermere. Some beautiful homes are dotted along the shore on the east side with farms and forest on the west. We then visited a car museum before catching the return boat. The museum also had an exhibition of Malcolm and Donald Campbell's attempts at land and water speed records, including replicas of the cars and boat used, plus footage of old newsreels etc. The most noticeable thing was the number of people about, if this is how many people there are taking rides on boats and sightseeing now, what is it like in summer holiday time? Also visited The World of Beatrix Potter - some insights into her life, with models of characters from her books etc, including a 'Mr McGregor's garden' with all plants in the garden being the ones in the books.

Posted by brighting 13:21 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

Last day in Derbyshire

sunny 19 °C

Our last full day at the Pig of Lead today. Explored a few more villages, then did the Dovedale walk, from Ilam to Milldale, along the banks of the Dove river. It's about 3 miles (almost 5 kms) each way , and a very pretty walk. We did the outward walk in about 1.5 hours, stopping fairly often along the way to admire the scenery. Had lunch sitting by the river at Milldale, the walked back in just over an hour, so we're pretty pleased with ourselves! Jacinta, thanks for recommending it - definitely worth doing :)

Posted by brighting 11:08 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (1)

Derbyshire

sunny 19 °C

Woke up to a lovely sunny day - 19C today! :). Visited Matlock Bath, so named because in the late 1600s some thermal springs were discovered, and not long afterwards the first 'bath' was made - out of wood, and lined with lead, and the town later developed as a spa resort. Lead mining was also a big part of the town's history, and several of the old mines are below what is now called Heights of Abraham. We took the cable car to the top, from where there are magnificent views of the local area. There are also tours of one of the old mining caverns, which Graham did.

Also visited Richard Arkwright's original cotton mill, which is just down the road. Timed our arrival perfectly ( quite by chance) for a demonstration of some of the old machines, and how the cotton was sorted, carded, and woven into fabric. Amazing to see the conditions the people worked in, including children as young as 6, whose job it was to clear the cotton fluff from under the machines. What a hazardous job; and they worked the same long day, and 6-day working week, as the adults.

Then did a tiki-tour of the local area on the way home, and discovered Carsington Waters, a man-made reservoir, which is obviously well-used by locals and visitors for boating, walking etc.

Posted by brighting 10:27 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

Goodbye Norfolk

overcast 13 °C

The last couple of days in Norfolk were dotted with heavy showers, but didn't stop us getting out and about. Went to Norwich - the guys visited an aircraft museum, which didn't greatly appeal to the gals, who went shopping! Unfortunately we got there somewhat late to see much of the city, so maybe need another visit some other time. Also visited Blickling Estate, a National Trust property, which was well maintained and interesting. It was the birth place of Anne Boleyn, and apparently one of the early inhabitants was Lord Hobart (pronounced Hubbard) who was the founder of Hobart, Tasmania - the guide thought we needed to know that, being from NZ!

Then we packed up and left - said goodbye to the flat countryside of Norfolk, where wherever we went we could see for miles, with village church towers dotted around the horizon; through the Lincolnshire fens and Nottinghamshire, and into Derbyshire and the Peak District, with its hillier scenery. Was a 4 hour journey, and we chose to avoid the M1 motorway, and travelled the quieter roads. Eventually arrived at the Pig Of Lead bed & breakfast, to a very warm welcome by the owners. We'd chosen this one because it used to be a pub owned in the 1870s by Lesley's 3xgreat grandfather, John Boden. Turns out the current owner is his namesake - don't have any proof of family connections there, but there may well be!

Posted by brighting 09:54 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

Norfolk Pt 2

overcast

Action packed few days.
Been to Horsey Gap and saw some seals swimming, patrolling the coast just a few meters out.
Went for a boat tour on a broad and its river, the Bure, with a very good commentary from the skipper. Lots of interesting information on local history, thatching, fauna and flora. Not to mention the rules of boating on a narrow waterway and other boating stuff.
Rode on a steam train from Sherringham to Holt and back. Then visited Blakeney which is a seaside village on a saltmarsh which makes that area very different to the rest of the other places we have seen so far. As with many of the other villages round here, lots of quaint houses with front doors opening straight onto the street (which is likely to be narrow!)
Today visited Carbrooke, where some of Lesley's ancestors lived in the 1800s. A member of the local history society had arranged to meet us, and showed one of the houses where L's 3xgreat-grandfather lived, plus a visit to the church to see his gravestone. Also saw a Methodist church building which had been built on land donated by her 2xgreat-grandfather. Sadly, the church has closed and it's been converted to a private house. The village tour was followed by an afternoon tea in the village hall with some of the locals, several of whom had information about our family members, including some original hand-written documents from the 1800s. All very interesting.

Posted by brighting 12:45 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

Norfolk

semi-overcast

Arrived in Hickling, Norfolk, yesterday (May 3rd), staying in a house belonging to a friend of Lesley's sister. Very quiet village, narrow roads and thatched houses, on the Norfolk Broads. We arrived late afternoon, and had a very easy meal at The Greyhound, the local pub next door to our house. Today had a walk around some of the neighbourhood, watched some sailors pottering about on the water, and had Sunday lunch at the carvery of another local pub, the Pleasureboat Inn. Enjoying the peace and quiet, and looking forward to more exploring in the next week or so.

Posted by brighting 09:37 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

Settling in

Feel we've settled in now. Graham had a bit of a cold/cough the first week, which zapped his energy somewhat, but is over it now. We now have a rental car and have spent some time on most days driving along the highways and byways of the local area, revisiting some of Lesley's old haunts and discovering new interesting places. As you'll probably notice by the photos, we are rather taken with the old buildings! Yesterday we did a round trip - morning tea and a wander round Marlow, then lunch in a cafe by the River Thames in Benson, and home via Thame (pronounced tame) - an old market town, complete with market stalls (just happened to pick the right day!).

Last week we tried out the local public transport and went to a shopping centre in Watford. On the way over, had a couple of hold ups, one caused by getting stuck behind a hearse. The bus home was 30 mins late arriving, then had a very slow journey home - what should have taken 1.5 hours took 3. The delay meant we missed the connecting bus, so waited 20 mins in the rain at a bus stop with no shelter, then got even more wet walking home from the bus. Found out later there'd been an incident on the M25 motorway which had caused the local roads to be gridlocked. Still, all part of the adventure, and we had time while on the bus to have a good look at the surroundings, including street names - particularly liked Dog Kennel Lane, and The Clump :).

Posted by brighting 10:35 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (1)

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