Leaving Scotland, Pausing in England, Destination France

15 Jul

It has been a busy week with lots of travel.  We even managed to see the TDF highlights a couple of times.

The week started at 6am on Monday when we got up earlier than usual to get packed and do some last minute jobs before the homeowners, Robert, Heather and Tracey got home.  Their flight was due at 06h55 but we knew that it was expected in 20 minutes early.  So we estimated that they would arrive at the house about 07h45.  Next thing we know they arrived at 07h15 and caught me giving the lounge a last minute vacuum.  Embarrassing!  Anyway they had had a good trip and after a cup of tea and some scones that Leanne had made we set off for Edinburgh.
The weather was overcast and cool and there were even patches of fog on the drive to Edinburgh.  We arrived at 10h30 and parked the car at our accommodation so we could walk into the old city.  By now the sky had cleared and it was getting hot.  We walked in towards the Royal Mile stopping at the Scottish National Museum on the way. It was magnificent and the model Watt double acting steam engine was running at the time. From there we went up to Edinburgh Castle for a look at the outside and all the grandstands ready for the Tattoo. Visited a Scottish National Trust property on the Royal Mile called Gladstone’s Land, a six storey 17th century home of a prosperous merchant. By then it was time to stop at Deacon Brodies Pub for a pint.  Plenty more walking in the heat during the afternoon.  We walked down The Mound and along the Princes Street Gardens where we saw a fantastic clock garden. Went to Charlotte Square and visited Number 7 which is also a Scottish National Trust property. Then we made our way back along Rose Street stopping for some chips and small beer on the way. Back up to the centre then down the bottom part of the Royal Mile to see The Palace of Holyroodhouse. Spent some time resting by some paddling pools then walked back up the Royal Mile to the Tollgate Bar for dinner. Wandered back to the hostel from there, getting back about 19h30.  We were both ready to sit down and rest for a while.  Overall, Edinburgh impressed.  It has a compact central zone, which although being a bit hilly is relatively easy to get around on foot, something we like to do.  Like Wellington in that way.
The weather was great again when we finally got up at 08h45 on Tuesday.  We packed the car and walked to the café we saw yesterday with the sign on it claiming that JK Rowling had written parts of her Harry Potter series upstairs.  We had a very nice coffee but I didn’t feel any urge to start writing a seven part children’s novel series.  Something that did catch my eye as we left was another sign saying, “Any children left here will be given a double espresso and promised a pony!”
We eventually left Edinburgh at 11h30 heading towards Northumberland. We stopped at Berwick-on-Tweed for a walk and some lunch. The weather was perfect, we were getting hot!  We got to Alnwick at 14h30, dropped some stuff at the B&B, left the car there and walked to the castle.  This is the first non-National Trust property we have visited, i.e. we had to £29 (~NZ$60) to get in.  That allowed us to visit as many times as we wanted for the next year, a benefit that most people could never take advantage of.  Anyway, it makes the 30+ National Trust properties we have visited look like an absolute steal at NZ$69 we paid for the NZ Historical Society membership which includes full reciprocal privileges with the National Trust, English Heritage and the Scottish National Trust.
Wednesday in Alnwick dawned overcast and it looked as though there had been a light rain in the night.  We were back at the castle by 10am for a tour of the walls and another look through the state rooms.  The whole place is magnificent; it is a pity that photography is not allowed inside though.  We got on the road after a delay at 13h30 (see the photos) and drove to a Travelodge a few hours down the motorway.  Were we on our way to Sevenoaks but we needed to break the journey.
We went in to Grantham for breakfast on Thursday morning and then to nearby Belton House.  That was a whistle-stop visit but still took two hours so we only got back on the road at 13h30.  We used Apple Maps as usual to navigate. There was a traffic delay of 15 minutes or so on the Dartford Bridge. Our trip on the M25 was going OK till 5km from the Sevenoaks exit, Jct.5. Then it stopped. It took 20 minutes to get to the exit and Apple Maps said go left. This was completely wrong and put us into the M25 roadworks and the next exit was 17km. What a screw up!  In the end it cost us an hour in heavy, stop/go traffic. We finally got to Dani’s place at Sevenoaks at 17h25 and immediately sent a brutal feedback message to Apple Maps while trying to calm myself down with a medicinal cold beer.  I guess it had to happen sometime – we have become so trusting of the directions from Apple Maps that we don’t even question them, even when they don’t follow the road signage.  It has always been OK.  Except this time.  It put us into the worst section of road in the world to be in on a hot Thursday afternoon at ‘rush-six-hours’ with bonus 25km of roadworks.
We eventually settled in to a nice evening catching up with Dani and then all of a sudden it was midnight!  Bedtime.
We spent Friday chilling out with Dani.  In fact the weather started out a little chilly too!  It was a bit foggy and overcast but by mid afternoon it was back to full heat again.
Saturday was scorching hot from the start.  Sally arrived with baby Stan just before we left so it was nice to very briefly catch up.  I think it has been at least 15 years since I have seen her.  Stan is now three months old.  We hit the road at noon and got to the Eurotunnel checkin in good time.  We ended up getting on to a crossing two departures earlier than our booking which was ideal.  Something I did not realise until this time was that the train travels at 140kph!  It is very smooth.
Once in France we filled up with diesel again and picked up some supplies at a supermarket near Calais.  After adjusting for the time difference, it was 4pm by the time we set out for Siouville-Hague.  We took an hour break along the way and arrived as René, Ulrike and family and visitors were sitting down to dinner.

Sunday was a very relaxing procession of good company, too much food, adequate drink, perfect weather and a nice afternoon nap.  Being Bastille Day we were treated to a fireworks display in the distance starting at about 11pm (by which time the sky is only just dark enough).

Before they went away Robert promised to get me dressed up in his kilt before we left.  he remembered and this is the result!  Not quite the right size but I squeezed into it.  The tartan is that of Heather's family, the Mowatts.

Before they went away Robert promised to get me dressed up in his kilt before we left. he remembered and this is the result! Not quite the right size but I squeezed into it. The tartan is that of Heather’s family, the Mowatts.

A dominant but grey exterior of the National Museum of Scotland was hiding this magnificent atrium space.  There was a working model of James Watt's double acting beam engine in here and I spent some time talking to the engineer who was running it.

A dominant but grey exterior of the National Museum of Scotland was hiding this magnificent atrium space. There was a working model of James Watt’s double acting beam engine in here and I spent some time talking to the engineer who was running it.

The sound of bagpipes was everywhere in the streets of old town Edinburgh.  It would have been rude not to include a photo of at least one of them.

The sound of bagpipes was everywhere in the streets of old town Edinburgh. It would have been rude not to include a photo of at least one of them.

The stadium seating outside the entrance to Edinburgh Castle ready for the Edinburgh Tattoo starting nextt month.

The stadium seating outside the entrance to Edinburgh Castle ready for the Edinburgh Tattoo starting nextt month.

This clock garden looked absolutely stunning, the best I have ever seen.  To the right were images of birds made with great detail.

This clock garden looked absolutely stunning, the best I have ever seen. To the right were images of birds made with great detail.

Edinburgh Castle is a fortress which dominates the skyline of the city of Edinburgh, Scotland, from its position atop the volcanic Castle Rock. Human habitation of the site is dated back as far as the 9th century BC, although the nature of early settlement is unclear. There has been a royal castle here since at least the reign of David I in the 12th century, and the site continued to be a royal residence until the Union of the Crowns in 1603.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edinburgh_Castle

Edinburgh Castle is a fortress which dominates the skyline of the city of Edinburgh, Scotland, from its position atop the volcanic Castle Rock. Human habitation of the site is dated back as far as the 9th century BC, although the nature of early settlement is unclear. There has been a royal castle here since at least the reign of David I in the 12th century, and the site continued to be a royal residence until the Union of the Crowns in 1603. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edinburgh_Castle

The Palace of Holyroodhouse, commonly referred to as Holyrood Palace, is the official residence of the Monarch of the United Kingdom in Scotland. Located at the bottom of the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, at the opposite end to Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood Palace has served as the principal residence of the Kings and Queens of Scots since the 16th century, and is a setting for state occasions and official entertaining.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holyrood_Palace

The Palace of Holyroodhouse, commonly referred to as Holyrood Palace, is the official residence of the Monarch of the United Kingdom in Scotland. Located at the bottom of the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, at the opposite end to Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood Palace has served as the principal residence of the Kings and Queens of Scots since the 16th century, and is a setting for state occasions and official entertaining. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holyrood_Palace

Arthur's Seat is the main peak of the group of hills which form most of Holyrood Park. It was very warm and the children's paddling looks were popular.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur's_Seat,_Edinburgh

Arthur’s Seat is the main peak of the group of hills which form most of Holyrood Park. It was very warm and the children’s paddling looks were popular. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur’s_Seat,_Edinburgh

The approach to Alnwick Castle from the gardens. The light patch in the lawn was one of many - this is where the spring bulbs were growing and have only recently been mowed.

The approach to Alnwick Castle from the gardens. The light patch in the lawn was one of many – this is where the spring bulbs were growing and have only recently been mowed.

The inner keep at Alnwick Castle with the chapel left of centre.

The inner keep at Alnwick Castle with the chapel left of centre.

The Percy family State Carriage - a luxurious state coach which once carried the 3rd Duke of Northumberland as George IV's personal representative to the coronation of Charles X in France in 1825.  It was repainted in 1902 for use at the coronation of King Edward VII, and was beautifully restored in 2011 for the wedding of the present Duke's eldest daughter, Katie.  Lady Katie's wedding dress is also on display in the coach house.  The coach was used again in June 2013 for the wedding of the Duke's youngest daughter, Lady Melissa, to Thomas van Straubenzee.

The Percy family State Carriage – a luxurious state coach which once carried the 3rd Duke of Northumberland as George IV’s personal representative to the coronation of Charles X in France in 1825. It was repainted in 1902 for use at the coronation of King Edward VII, and was beautifully restored in 2011 for the wedding of the present Duke’s eldest daughter, Katie. Lady Katie’s wedding dress is also on display in the coach house. The coach was used again in June 2013 for the wedding of the Duke’s youngest daughter, Lady Melissa, to Thomas van Straubenzee.

This was funny!  We were sitting at the café at Alnwick Castle at closing time and this staffer turns up with his battery drill and uses it to wind down the umbrellas.

This was funny! We were sitting at the café at Alnwick Castle at closing time and this staffer turns up with his battery drill and uses it to wind down the umbrellas.

Alnwick Castle still has 100,000 acres of land.  It is said that the Percy family once once so much land in England that you could travel from Alnwick in Northumberland to London without ever leaving their property!

Alnwick Castle still has 100,000 acres of land. It is said that the Percy family once once so much land in England that you could travel from Alnwick in Northumberland to London without ever leaving their property!

Until the 1970s this bridge was part of the A1, the main highway north.  It was built by the brother of Robert Adam.  As to be expected with every grand house in England and Scotland (or so it seems) Robert Adam was involved in the development/rennovation of the property.

Until the 1970s this bridge was part of the A1, the main highway north. It was built by the brother of Robert Adam. As to be expected with every grand house in England and Scotland (or so it seems) Robert Adam was involved in the development/rennovation of the property.

Alnwick Castle after sunset, 22h11m.

Alnwick Castle after sunset, 22h11m.

Our departure from Alnwick was delayed by the super-moron who parked blocking the exit.  As you can see in this photo, there was plenty of space to park without blocking the only access, but no.  She parked, locked the car and went to the shops.  Freaking genius.

Our departure from Alnwick was delayed by the super-moron who parked blocking the exit. As you can see in this photo, there was plenty of space to park without blocking the only access, but no. She parked, locked the car and went to the shops. Freaking genius.

From their own literature… This classic 17th century English country house is set in delightful gardens with a magnificent deer park. Perfect symmetry, opulent décor, fine furnishings and Brownlow family portraits give Belton both grandeur and a more intimate feel.

From their own literature… This classic 17th century English country house is set in delightful gardens with a magnificent deer park. Perfect symmetry, opulent décor, fine furnishings and Brownlow family portraits give Belton both grandeur and a more intimate feel.

Looking across the cricket oval at the front of the house (the south facing entrance)

Looking across the cricket oval at the front of the house (the south facing entrance)

The Orangerie and ornamental gardens.  On the right is the village church, a Norman construction.

The Orangerie and ornamental gardens. On the right is the village church, a Norman construction.

The beach at Siouville-Hague.  It is a very flat beach - at low tide the water is about 400m out.  This photo was taken at about half tide.

The beach at Siouville-Hague. It is a very flat beach – at low tide the water is about 400m out. This photo was taken at about half tide.

The water temperature is 14~18˚C in the summer (10˚ lower in the winter!).  This didn't seem to bother the ones more energetic than me.

The water temperature is 14~18˚C in the summer (10˚ lower in the winter!). This didn’t seem to bother the ones more energetic than me.

Victor doing a good impression of someone who does not feel the cold sting of the water.

Victor doing a good impression of someone who does not feel the cold sting of the water.

This is closer to low tide.  The little dots are people!  Not really visible in the haze is Cherbourg.

This is closer to low tide. The little dots are people! Not really visible in the haze is Cherbourg.

There had been a bicentenary of naval warfare celebration based at the port of Dielette and there were a number of classic sailing ships off the coast.  When the air is clear you can see the Channel Islands.

There had been a bicentenary of naval warfare celebration based at the port of Dielette and there were a number of classic sailing ships off the coast. When the air is clear you can see the Channel Islands.

This was at Port Dielette where the sailing ships were based.  It was only a couple of kilometre walk from the house.

This was at Port Dielette where the sailing ships were based. It was only a couple of kilometre walk from the house.

Lunchtime on Bastille Day, Sunday 14th July.

Lunchtime on Bastille Day, Sunday 14th July.

The Hurpin family rent this large farm house at Siouville-Hague every year and all the family and their friends come to stay.  It is like a carnival.  At dinner there can be 20 people of all ages around the table.  It is a wonderful atmosphere.

The Hurpin family rent this large farm house at Siouville-Hague every year and all the family and their friends come to stay. It is like a carnival. At dinner there can be 20 people of all ages around the table. It is a wonderful atmosphere.

That’s all for now, time to hit the ‘post’ button.

Advertisements

One Response to “Leaving Scotland, Pausing in England, Destination France”

  1. tourist attractions April 24, 2014 at 14:20 #

    St James Cathedral – This majestic Church is tranquil inside which gives you time to think or have a silent prayer. Sitting on the highest point of the city of London, it really is a magical place that is extremely beautiful which is why it was the place of Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s wedding. The architecture inside is also extremely detailed and intricate.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: