Daily Musings

UK Driving

I made a playlist of our car windshield GoPro footage driving around the UK.

You can follow along by looking at these Google Maps Timelines:

Daily Musings

Vlog Thursday

I did a talky thing! Today I talked about what it was like travelling to the UK, driving on the left, on tiny country roads, and things of that nature.

Daily Musings

Sunderland Beaches and Bamburgh Castles – UK Trip Day 11

The Rowan Tree bed and breakfast was excellent beginning to end. The breakfast was lovely and we looked out over the garden as it started to rain.

The coffee served was in a french press and it definitely hit the spot. With our bellies full and ready to go, we checked out. We had a mission to complete before leaving the area of Whitby. Victoria’s mum wanted some Whitby jet. We searched in the jewellry shops (there is a Jet District) but we found some for free on the beach! And we bought a small polished piece.

This is the most important day of the trip for Victoria. Sunderland was her ancestor’s home so she wanted to really be present and see what Sunderland had to offer.

When we had set down the pin in Sunderland in Google Maps, it had landed on a vape shop. Everyone who knew anything about England told us that Sunderland was a hole.

That knowledge in tow, we set out for Sunderland from Sleights. We drove for quite a while and then reached the beaches of Sunderland which are, of course beautiful. The town itself feels a little more city-like and less pretty than many places in the UK, but still quite nice.

We picked up rocks and shells along the beach and soaked up the sea air. It was lovely on the beaches.

When it started to rain, we ducked into the Scullery Pier Point restaurant across from the beach.

The roast beef meal (with mushrooms, tomatoes, peas, chips and gravy) was substantial and somewhat tasty. We also ordered dessert and it was quite decadent.

While we were eating, Victoria figured out a route to take in all of the family name related places in Sunderland, and the Angel of the North finally to arrive at our AirBnB in Bamburgh.

The route figured out, we set about executing this plan as best we could. Let me tell you, Sunderland has streets like a dropped plate of spaghetti. There are endless round-abouts with streets unlabelled, labelled by the largest destination in that direction, or something else generally unhelpful.

So we took quite a while actually getting a 5 minute’s drive across Sunderland to each destination. Maybe that’s why people don’t like it very much.

The last destination was an important one for Victoria. She wanted to take a selfie under the “Davison” sign, but refused to because the middle two letters had been worn so faint as to be almost invisible. She was a bit upset about that.

Now that we had all of the important check marks on our list, we headed out of Sunderland around Newcastle and toward Bamburgh.

On the way the Angel of the North is a pit stop at the side of the road. Where we were told there is no parking lot, it appears one has been created. We parked and took a really terrible all-chins selfie looking up at the angel itself, and several other neat shots.

Yay! All of our important places were found! Well, some were a little tarnished, but we did what we came to do. So all that was left was to go onward to Bamburgh.

Bamburgh unveils itself before you as you descend hilly roads with a large castle on a peninsula of the beach.

The town is quite a sleepy little place and when we tried to park in the castle parking lot, it appears to have been closed. We wanted to figure out where we were going, so we stopped in the driveway there for a moment and realised we had only a little further to go.

Once we pulled up to the AirBnB, we met the owner who was already there. She’s a lovely lady and showed us our comfy room. This one had no TV, but that’s great for me getting this blog done!

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Bamburgh! #uktrip2019🇬🇧

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Having stowed our things, we weren’t quite ready to pack it in for the day, and set out for a short walk… well it was supposed to be short.

We ended up walking straight out to the dunes, which are just stunning in the setting sun. A view I highly suggest taking in if you have the chance.

We took a lot of panoramas, and then packed it in so that I can write this blog and get a bit to eat. It’s 7:30PM our time when we came in.

Have a lovely day and I hope you like reading our adventures! We have a few more days here left!

Google Photos of Bamburgh beach & dunes

Daily Musings

Incredible Vistas – UK Trip Day 10

We woke up in York and it was already a bit late. Sleep was okay, as it was a bit cool in our room. I turned the new-ish style radiator heater on in the room while we awoke and made some coffee.

I didn’t have time to type my notes, and we were supposed to have a whole day set aside to be in York, so I figured I could at least get an hour to type the blog for yesterday and upload some images.

We found what looked like a delightful all day breakfast place for £4.95! What a nice sounding deal! So we went in. There really wasn’t anyone around. Every table was deserted and the staff were nowhere to be seen. We waited around a while and eventually tentatively dinged the bell at the counter.

We were served by what seemed like the only staff there.

We set ourselves up on a table at the window. The full English breakfast was actually a decent size and we ate and I typed up yesterday’s blog.

I had finished typing my blog in about 10 or 15 minutes and turned around my computer to let Victoria read it. Great! Time to upload images!

Well… that didn’t work well. This breakfast place had no WiFi. No free WiFi in any nearby place, and my mobile service had 1 bar. This is in the middle of York, by the way.

So I tried for a few minutes and gave up, frustrated. We quit the restaurant, me in a bit of a huff, and proceeded to enjoy the city of York instead. I would upload the images later.

Well York was pretty indeed, but nothing was particularly interesting. It was a lot of prettied up common brand stores with some individual shops as well. Maybe we just needed a real coffee. The downtown didn’t seem that interesting.

We headed into the Cathedral and absorbed the views. There were many great photo opportunities here. Victoria took my camera to make sure we captured some that were important to her. Some duplicates as well.

We entered the crypt and saw the underground sights as well, which were kind of neat, including some kind of markings on the floor. [Victoria’s note: the rubber markings indicated the location of the old Roman and Norman walls that predated the cathedral.]

When we felt satisfied that our £12 admission was worth it, we left and found a Cornish pasty shop! Finally one that had them in stock! We bought one just in case we wouldn’t have the chance.

Deciding it was important to have a bit of it warm, we had a bite in front of a monument in a small park and then headed on, checking out shops and alleyways here and there.

I’m sure downtown York is lovely on a nicer day, when you feel better, but we had neither of those advantages. I did take quite a few photos however.

Once we had our fill, we went toward the car park, as I had not asked Victoria how much time she wanted to spend downtown, and I picked 2:30pm as our cutoff point. Seemed reasonable as we arrived at 11:30am downtown.

The train museum was the next destination. We headed toward that, through the windy streets of York, and found that there is free admission to the train museum, and only £10 to park for the day at the museum parking lot. That sounded like a great deal! Kind-of like a £5 admission to a huge area with many trains, demos of equipment, cross sections of steam engines, and examples of all kinds of trains.

We had a coffee and I spilled that, all over the service counter. Then Victoria checked out the gift shop looking for something for her dad and spilled toy trains all over the place. We were getting very spilly so we decided to leave. They were closing soon, anyway.

We left York and finally set out for our bed and breakfast, this time not an AirBnB but a proper B&B reserved through Expedia.

The trip took us through the Moors, and it was positively stunning. We were not at all prepared for the sights we saw, and I promise to share the footage once I’m back. You’ll definitely want to see it.

The car crested hills and the whole landscape unfolded below us, with rolling hills of heather and sheep. Some of them quite steep with the road winding back and forth down the hillside.

The views were just breathtaking and when the car finally passed the RAF base, we came to a junction and Google Maps told us to go left. We parked immediately after the turn where a small ice-cream truck and a few drivers were parked.

We grasped this opportunity to take some panoramic photos of the vistas. Hopefully those will come out nicely when stitched together. Since we saw someone else having ice-cream, we walked over to the truck, which had been idling for a few minutes now.

We had a lovely rhubarb and custard ice-cream as well as a 99 with a flakie in it! They were both wonderful ice creams! Such lovely, creamy and unique flavours. Even something as simple as vanilla can be so different.

It was at this point that a few sheep crossed our paths! Hi sheep!

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UK Trip day 10 : the Moors! #uktrip2019🇬🇧

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After watching one of the sheep just squat and pee on the road in front of us. Gee thanks! We headed onward through many more twists and turns, and came out above an old railway, which Victoria photographed while I parked.

The landscape just kept showing us new wonders. We rolled into the Rowan Tree in Sleights and I parked the car. We met the owner of our B&B and apparently we’re the only ones staying here right now.

After dropping off our things we headed into Whitby proper this time. We had to get Victoria some Magpie’s famous fish and chips! They came highly recommended and they were certainly worth the trip!

On the way we saw a monument Canada had donated! It had a plaque in English and French which looked out over one of the most stunning sea views we have seen this trip.

Now I’m back in the B&B and writing this up before bed, actually on the day! (I’ve been a night behind for the past few.)

Now we can finally relax after I upload this one.

Daily Musings

Lincoln, a town of many hills – UK Trip Day 9

Our next destination was York! A university town that we were informed would be lovely, and that we should spend a whole day there.

The roads were treacherous outside of King’s Lynn. Once on the highway the rain fell in sheets on the windscreen, making visibility pretty low at some points. Some areas of the road were flooded out. At one point we tried to pass a truck which had been spraying us with fine mist for a half hour, with a wide gap in the oncoming traffic lane, I made an attempt but quickly gave it up when a large lorry emerged from the mist in front of me.

Victoria choked back her heart while I re-took the left lane and continued on behind the mist-slinging transport truck. After a while it turned off while we continued on.

There was a very beautiful bridge near Hull where you could see for miles around, if not for the mist. We captured a bit of this on the GoPro while driving. We also came up to our first toll booth. It only cost 1p50 to cross, and we were amused to try it out the first time. I confirmed the price, tipped my hand into the hand of the booth attendee, and thanked him while driving off.

First we had to check out Lincoln which had some of the steepest streets in the UK. They were indeed very steep and it’s hard to show in pictures just how steep they are. I found it quite easy but on previously injured knees, Victoria may have had a hard time. She didn’t complain at all, but she was huffing lightly each time we stopped.

There are so many pretty shops in Lincoln. I took a lot of photos but if you find yourself in the UK in a similar situation, I definitely recommend stopping here.

The place is just steeped in history, with winding cobblestone roads and beautiful vistas atop the hill. The roads seemed to have each brick laid with the striations in the stones perpendicular to the slope, which helps. It didn’t feel slippery at all and it had been raining the morning when we drove in.

After exploring the hill, we headed down toward the famous house-on-a-bridge, which is a historical landmark in Lincoln. Winding through the streets we found our way there while stopping into a few shops with curiosities and delights to take in.

We continued onward and the rain picked up again. It had been raining on and off all day. I tried a few photos of the canal in the rain when we finally arrived. Turning around, we were able to see the famous house-on-a-bridge. It now contained several small businesses such as cafes and other eateries.

We passed a lady in a traditional maid outfit on the way in. This place was going to be something a little different for sure.

The houese inside was very well kept up, and included custom made brass fireplaces, and some simple chairs. The trims all painted black with light walls.

It seemed pretty posh and Vitoria and I were in the mood for a coffee. A real coffee. We suspected this place had the real goods. So we went to the top floor to order one from a delightful little cafe with a view of the canal.

Let me tell you, the coffee was fantastic. We ordered a Kenyan roast coffee served in a french press, which came with an hourglass I couldn’t help fiddling with. (Actually a 3 minute glass? What do you call an hourglass that only does 3 minutes?)

Having enjoyed our coffees, the host who was in a crisp outfit with a waiter’s apron picked out a brochure about the building from amongst the things under the cash and pointed to a picture asking us what’s remarkable about a picture inside.

Victoria and I sat for a moment or two and then I said, “It’s this room, isn’t it?”

We looked at the historical photo and the waiter told us all about the place, and how people want to buy the custom fireplaces from the owner. Also how the owner chose to polish them, which I agree with, rather than preserve the patina.

After that we had to get to our car. Our parking pass was running out and we had to make it to York before it got too dark.

The drive to York was lovely and the rain started to subside. At one point our rental car from Europcar started beeping every 5 miles.

Back at the rental counter they had told us the car had been topped up with AdBlue and it would be fine until our destination. It seems they were flat-out lying to us as the car was telling us now that it would simply not turn on in 90 miles.

So we stopped outside of Lincoln at a gas station and I asked if someone could help me with it, because I wasn’t even sure how to verify what the Europcar rental agency representative had told us. It turns out the only way to verify it is to turn on the car and actually heed the warnings on the dash. Thanks for nothing, Europcar.

I paid 10.99p or about 18.10 CAD to buy a 5 litre jug of the AdBlue and filled up the tank. The car ran much better afterward. Apparently without AdBlue, your diesel car will start to run poorly to preserve the emissions goals of the car. (Some cars apparently limit you to 20mph when you run out or turn right off!)

As we drove into York the hilly, sleepy university town revealed itself before us and it was lovely. Today we get to explore it in the daylight and I can already tell it’s going to be a nice time.