Iceland – South

Iceland in many parts.

South Iceland

This blog will be way too long if I do the entire trip in one hit.  We’re 13 days here.  Or 11 full days, which is equal to Bath, Wales, Edinburgh and London put together.

Some info about Iceland used in my blog.  I will on occasion try and ‘phonetically spell’ out some names for you.  I won’t do it in the ‘true and proper dictionary’ type of way, but relate them to sounds we use in our own dialect, so you can try and get a feel for the words without having to gloss over them too much.  Test yourself and read it out aloud.  To start you off, I’ll give you one of the easiest being the capital city of Reykjavik. You would pronounce it ‘ray’-‘ka’-‘vik’ with a longer y in ray.  so it’s like rayy-ka-vik.  But don’t draw out the ‘y’ too long. That’s just silly right?  Americans say ‘wreck’-‘a’-‘via’, we don’t.

Where I have remembered, I have added google links to the blog so you can see where exactly we were.

General terms:
Foss = Waterfalls
Jökull = Glacier
Vatn = Water

Costs: Icelandic Kroner (ISK KR) is the currency here.  100KR is roughly $AU1.10.  So 1000KR is about $11 or so.  We basically treated the KR as 1000KR = $10 and knew we lost a bit on the way.


So our journey begins.

Day 1

Day 1 – Keflavik to an old farmhouse by Eyjafjallajökull

We arrived in Keflavik International Airport.  I’ve been here twice before.  Arrived once by myself in June 2010 (Jane was with family on the Isle of Wight) so I spent a week by myself before she met me here.  I arrived at 11pm that day and it was still light.  A surprise for me than, as different to when we arrived in 2012/13 where it was dark for all but 4-5 hours in the day.

The second time was with Jane and Geoffrey when we arrived in late December at about the same time. It was very dark, because it was the middle of winter.

Both times the airport was almost empty. Arriving at 4:30 (1 hour plane delay) the airport was full.  It was like London!  6 planes worth of luggage on 1 baggage belt.  Some people had waited for about an hour for their luggage apparently.  We waited about half that time.

We met our 4WD pickup person after a phone call and sorted out the car (a Toyota Landcruiser that had already done 255,000km) and we started our journey – to Keflavik, the town, or as it’s actually known – Reykjanesbær.  I’ll call it Keflavik, they’re interchangeable I believe.

Iceland_002Settling in to our home above a fast food cafe.  (You’ll see another angle in the final Iceland  blog).

Being above the ice-cream and fast food place the house was quite warm, although it was cool outside (around 10°C). We f0und our key and dropped our luggage.  Hafnagata is the main ‘strip’ of Keflavik, and found a hotel/restaurant called Rain.  A great lookout into the sea.


Travel Tip:
 I’ll say at the outset.  If you go to Iceland, be prepared for the cost of food to be up to double what you would pay in Australia. It’s really hard to get used to this cost.  $45-50 for a steak is something we aren’t keen on paying for, but this is what it is.    Soft drinks for up to $10 for a can!  We found the best way to deal with cost of food is to go to supermarkets like Bónus, Netto & Krónan.  grisThis is generally more possible if you are staying somewhere where you can have your own kitchen and can prepare you won meals.  Quite often the takeaway food is pretty average too.  Be prepared.

Settling in for the night, hitting the hay at around 11:30 pm, it was like 7-8pm at home during our summer.   Very light indeed.

The shore of the Keflavik on Hafnargata (the road) was a wonderful mix of playgrounds, reserves, sculptures and even a set of 4 coloured panels.  I used one as a ‘photo gel’ of the shoreline.  I did this late in the evening while it was still sunny.

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View through a blue gel on the shore of Keflavik

 

The trip begins

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The following morning was our first full driving day.  Starting off at Keflavik and visiting the Troll Cave down the road (with a real sleeping troll).  We hadn’t driven 2 minutes until we had our first experience….  Once we left the town, we travelled  50 minutes to Krýsuvík for a real visual treat and of course a nasal one too, with the sulphur filled pockets of gas filling the landscape.  Climbing to near the top of the hill, we had some great views of the landscape and took a deep breath to soak in the wonderful views around us.  Then we coughed..  The sulphur stunk and we were to have the smell on our clothes at least until we threw them in the wash later that day.

Because we took our time getting moving in the morning it was pretty much already lunch time.  An hour at Krýsuvík (Map) and another 50 minutes to Selfoss (the 3rd largest city in Iceland of 6,500) we stopped for lunch at the wonderful Kaffi Krús.  After my entire trip around Iceland, this is still one of my favourite places for food.  Such wonderfully friendly service.

With a tummy full of soup, we moved on to Waterfalls.  But before I do…

Travel Tip: Many (or most) of the cafe’s have a “Soup of the day”.  This is usually the cheapest option and is usually ‘refillable’ and comes with bread.  The soups vary from Mushroom, to Seafood (yum), zucchini or plenty of other choices, but if you’re lucky, Meat Soup (Lamb and vegetables) is on the menu.  Meat soup is very very icelandic and should always be had if it is on the menu.  In Selfoss I had a wonderful seafood soup (2 bowls) and was delicious. The cost of a “soup of the day” is often around the 1300-1400 KR versus 2000 KR (for the same soup on the menu.

Iceland_011 Seljalandsfoss (Map)  is one of the first waterfalls people will see when visiting Iceland.  It’s a bit over 60 metres high and a uniqueness to this fall is that you can walk around it from front to back (if you don’t mind getting a bit of spray on you).  Or in the case of Jane and Julia, getting completely drenched.. But they loved it!  My first real opportunity to use the tripod I carted all the way around the world. Seljalandsfoss  is not the most powerful or spectacular of the falls, but it is certainly is beautiful.  It is also one of the most popular because it’s directly on the tourist route only about 30-40 minutes for Reykjavik.  You’ll always find busloads of tourists here.
Jane and Julia hit the tourist shop at this location, Trevor and I finished up with our shots and we continued our journey to our accomodation.
Travel Tip: Locating places or even where you are.
Things you’ll need.  Satnav, GPS coordinates, a phone card with data, an offline mapping app like Here Maps. (iPhone – Google Play) and make sure you download the maps before you get to your destination.  You won’t always have access to data.
You cannot rely on the name of a location.  Iceland often has the same name of a place 2 or 3 times across the country.  For example, it takes 7 hours to drive directly from Selfoss (where we had lunch) to Selfoss the waterfall.  It varies which place the Satnav or Google Maps decides to choose for your destination.

We stayed quite near the volcano that erupted in 2010, Eyjafjallajökull

Okay we’ll go straight for the big one.
How to pronounce Eyjafjallajökull:  ‘Ay’ – ‘ya’ – ‘fyet’ – ‘ya’ – ‘yo’ – ‘ckl’.  The ‘ckl’ is a bit of a twister as you need to finish the sound with your tongue in your teeth like you have a lisp.  The end is definitely the hard part.  As I said above,  jökull means Glacier.  The name of this volcano actually means “volcano under a glacier”, which is why it was so explosive in it’s eruption and also why it’s harder for us to say.  In Icelandic (the way I understand it anyway) when you are saying Glacier, you say “jökull” or ‘yo’-‘cool’ (that’s a short ‘yo’ as in yoyo, not a ganster ‘yo’. and the “kull” is like a mixture between ‘cull’ and ‘cool’.  Another short sound and with an accent like when a German or scandanavian person says cool.  However when you are talking about it in a name, it’s jökli, which has the ‘yo’ – ‘ckl’ sound.  Check out the many icelandic pronunciations on Youtube to get this perfect.  I hope that helps somewhat, and I think I got it right.

Iceland_015So….  We arrived at our great little farmhouse under Eyjafjallajökull.  (Map). Like we did the previous night, we dropped our bags off and went for another drive. This time to see a larger waterfall Skógafoss.  I didn’t know this at the time, and wish I did.  Skógafoss (Map) falls off of the cliffs that used to be the Icelandic coastlines.  But as the island has grown, the cliffs are now 5km in from the edge.  Such is Iceland and it’s volcanic past, present and future.  It’s a large waterfall with a height of about 60 metres and width of about 25 metres. A roaring sound of this foss that is as loud as it is powerful.  There were a large amount of tourists in this area as well, but with slow shutter speeds and a bit of photoshop, they have all disappeared.  To give you a size comparison, I have left a few people in the photo, such as those on top and (way too) close to the edge.

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Skógafoss

And that ends Day 1.

  • At the base of a Volcano / Glacier that could erupt at any time, causing havoc to so many in 2010.
  • In the shadow of a glorious mountain with the sun shining hard on it at 11pm.
  • In a farmhouse on a farm traced back to owners 1000 years ago.
  • A visit to some craters you expect to see on an alien planet, 2 wonderful waterfalls…

… can’t wait for day 2

Kitchen Shot

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The Gallery of Day 1

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London Calling

London_003London is an AMAZING city.  So many people in the streets.  So many people on the roads. I find it hard to fathom that in the world we currently live in, where we fear the impact of a terrorist act, especially in a place with such a western culture as London, that so many people go about their business, attend public gatherings in their 10’s of thousands, crowd every street like it’s a rush to an Adelaide Crows home game and like there is nothing wrong with this world.

I say this for a reason.  We have travelled France, Western England to Wales, up to Scotland and down to this city. And for the first time, I realise the vulnerability of where we are. We know we’re a target.  But in the face of that, our culture has won.  We don’t fear the terrorist, we are warned against it.  With the sirens sounding around us as we walk along The Strand, as the police tear down the wrong side of the road and lock up their brakes to return to the left. The city is on alert, as it should be. But it stops nothing.

We caught our train from Edinburgh on Virgin Express in First Class (yup, we splashed for free wifi and a table).  But that didn’t stop the electricity failing on the line (yes, it’s not just the Seacliff line, it happens everywhere) and we had to change to another train.  Another Virgin Train where 2 trains joined with this one and we had to share.  3 trains crowded into one, with many people in first class having to stand.  Can you believe it?  Oh the whining that went on…

We finally arrived, after a 3 1/2 trip stretched to 4 1/2 (plus a couple of minutes).  Those minutes were important.  We now get a full refund thanks to Sir Richard Branson as we were over 60 minutes late!

Now I’m not one to dob, but a certain other male adult (not me) who was tasked to carry our accumulated groceries, left a certain Marks & Spencer Fridge bag on the ground at Kings Cross Station as we called our Uber Taxi.  He rushed back to get it after leaving it on the ground for less than a minute unattended.  In that time, the police were called on that lone bag of butter, margarine and unused bread.  Such is the life in London.

We found our 2 Uber Taxi’s (I officially respect the argument of Taxi companies, but Uber is amazing) and travelled to our accomodation in Clapham.  The area we stayed, as our Airbnb host calls it, the Nannyset.  A well to do area, covered head to toe in mums and prams, activewear and the best Fish and Chip Shop in London (thank you Benny’s).

Our house was a wonderful suburban 3 1/2 storey detached house with a backyard in Clapham.  The wifi wouldn’t work; which is really frustrating when you need to plan, book and otherwise do touristy things in a city that requires such things.  But we got by with average 3G network on the various levels of the house.  Comfortable enough, but those stairs. You actually forgot what floor you were on.  We had a basement kitchen, a street level lounge, a bathroom up 1/2 flight of stairs, a bedroom up the other 1/2 flight of stairs, more bedrooms and another bathroom somewhere up there as well.  The rear garden was between the kitchen and the lounge level and the front street was about 6 steps down from lounge level too.

Travelling days are full days.  The Fish and Chips was the best way to enter the London experience.

Day 1 – A day around London

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New Tate Modern

Getting around London is easy on the Hop on, Hop off bus. As long as you have the time.  Uber is also an easy way to get around London, as long as you have the money.  But for sightseeing the bus is the better solution.

We Uber’d it to the bus location, got our tickets and on we got.  It took as 1 1/2 hours to get where we wanted to get off, but we also got to see quite a few of the attractions London has to offer. Such as Trafalgar Square, Trafalgar Square, Trafalgar Square (as it went up the road, turned back, up the road, turned back) Buckingham Palace, Nelsons Column, St Pauls Cathedral, traffic…  Personally, I don’t like the buses, but they are useful.  It was lovely for Tracy to see these things though, as I’ve seen them before. London is a beautiful city and one I could easily live for a couple of years.

One of Tracy’s “bucket list” things was seeing Shakespeare Globe Theatre, which we did. We didn’t go inside, but we did get to see the outside of it.

Our trip on day 1 was really taken up by travelling, but we still saw quite a bit during that time. The Bus, the sights, the Globe, the “New Tate Modern” for contemporary art, a boat ride up the Thames and then an Uber to Madam Tussauds for Jane and Tracy, while I waited and had coffee.  We walked back to the London Eye  (about 2-3 km walk) for a spin through the wonderful streets of London, and finally an Uber ride back home (we were spent).  A full and lovely day.

Here are a couple of the things we saw on our walking trip through the streets of London.

Day 2 – Harry Potter World!

This was Julia’s bucket list thing to do.  To see the backlots of the Harry Potter films in Watford.  We made our way to Victoria Bus Station (Uber) where we had our breakfast (early start) and then an hour plus a bit drive on the bus.  They put on the first Harry Potter movie for us to watch. (is that the Philosophers Stone?). They cast look soooo young..  But of course we didn’t get to finish watching the movie.  Maybe we could make the rest up in our trip through the studio.  It did serve to put us into the wizard mood though.

London_Dobby-02The studio tour really was interesting though and I would recommend it.  Of course they had many of the actual sets and costumes there.  And apparently they’re filming the new movie in the other studio block about 1/2 mile away.  It wasn’t a tour which included rides and such, like they do in the USA, and was more interesting than fun.  Still, it is highly recommended.  The only camera I brought with me on this day was my iPhone.  We had some that obligatory Butterbeer.. Yuk!  Well it’s okay if you enjoy butterscotch with a pound of extra sugar..  Some may love it!  It was certainly cool to have something that you can’t have every day though.

Day 3 – Final full day

We had to vote for our new Government.  We could’ve escaped this if we really wanted, by citing overseas business and not being able to get near a polling booth, but we did the ‘proper’ thing and when to the Australia High Commission where polls were set up, some 2 weeks prior to voting day.  We would be in Iceland on voting day (2 July).  We Uber’d here.

London_015A walk along the Strand and up to Regent Street for a spot of shopping…  This included the world famous “where fun meets wallet” at Hamley’s Toy Store.  Large lego replica’s of the Queen and her Corgi.  Adults playing with toys in the shop, enticing you to buy, people blowing bubbles out the front of the store, others singing songs that just came into their head.  Would it be so much hard work to have all that fun?

It was Tracy’s last day before she was to head home to Australia.  And she was promised a special time in the way of a High Tea.  Lucky I was with them I say.  Because I had blisters on my heels and was finding it difficult to walk.  I was going to stay home, but nup.  So I got to go to High Tea at Café Royal Hotel (Café).  The first photo below is not mine as in here just to show the entrance.  The website is linked above.  The other photo’s are mine. The cakes really tasted better than they looked.  And they looked… well you decide.  What you can see here is the Ferrero Roche Macaroon and the Jaffa Cake.

I left the dynamic duo after the ‘nosh-up’ and decided to walk to Hyde Park and then home.  I made it as far as about 300 metres into the park, with 5km to go, and really couldn’t walk much further.  I did take a few other photo’s on the way though.

Hyde Park and the walk home.

Uber.. yes please.

The evening

No photo’s, but I Uber’d it back to the Arch Duke Hotel (right near the London Eye) met Jane and the others (Trevor had an espresso martini waiting for me) and we all had dinner with Jane’s cousin Debbie, her husband Darryl and their lovely daughters Holly, Daisy and Tilly.  What a wonderful family and a perfect night.  In the future we’d LOVE to get to know them better, and I have no doubt we will.

Kitchen Shot.

London – signing off, and our next trip is to the opposite of the Hustle and Bustle to the Waterfalls, Fjords, Volcanoes and Glaciers that form my favourite country, Iceland.

Happy 50th Birthday Jane

1987 Stephen and Janes Wedding 01I would like to express my love and devotion to my wonderful wife. I’d shout it from the rooftops if I could, but not many would hear it.  So I’ll do it here where everyone has access to the World Wide Web.  I’ll also #myloveforjane and maybe the twitterverse will see it too.

I would have been 16 years old when I first met Jane.  I know exactly where it was; on the back of a Church Bus as part of a Friday night youth group at Craigmore.  I can even tell you that we were on the way to Bartholomews Church in Norwood South Australia for a sing along thing.  My brother, the Reverand Paul Hunt will likely suggest this was God bringing us together.  I’m not so sure.  I’m not at all religious but despite that, even if it were true, I’m not sure he would have approved of us snogging on the back seat pretty much the entire way there and back.  However, the relationship didn’t last long with Jane and I dating for about a week before we ended the pairing.  It wasn’t the right time I guess.

About a year later, we came across each other again in the Craigmore Church on a Sunday afternoon. A day later, resulting from a phone call I received from Janes best friend at the time (Roseanne).  I rang Jane and asked her out again over the phone. It was about 7:46 pm on Monday 20 July 1981. The answer was yes. That was the time we became a couple for life.

Fast forward a few years.  We decided to marry.  It wasn’t a down on one knee, pop the question kind of engagement surprise.  We had often discussed it and it was probably assumed after being together for 4 or 5 years that we were always going to marry. We decided to head into the city and ordered a ring from Bell & Brunts, a wonderful handcrafted jewellery maker of Adelaide.  We celebrated with a Chicken Hot Pack for dinner.

In early 1985 Jane and I moved out together into a 2 bedroom flat in Salisbury. What an experience that was.   We really started to find our place in the world. With great friends with help when we needed it (from the likes of Dave and Mel Belton & Trevor and Julia Dansie) plus our own families, we started to carve our way through life together.  I had joined up with SAPOL and Jane was with the State Bank.  It was certainly a busy period of our lives.

P1050864Our joint love of Softball went on for many years.  But whilst we gave our all, eventually we needed each other more, and found that Softball whilst being thoroughly enjoyable, took away time from each other.  Jane however achieved some fantastic successes in her roles, particularly as an administrator.  She won the “Australian Softball Federation – Administrator of the Year” award and was given this accolade by a female sportsperson she looked up to, being Australian Swimmer Nicole Livingstone.  This really topped her career off.  However she was also involved in many SA State Teams as a statistician as well as being the South Australia Treasurer and Vice President.  I won’t even go into her life at the local softball association.  Such is the respect she deserved.

But she has also met many friends who have remained very close to her.  None more than Tracy Wolter who Jane left a visit to the United Kingdom to be with her ailing Uncle to return to see Tracy when she was in need of a friend, whilst undergoing surgery.  Jane is that kind of friend.  Devoted and loyal to the end.

Her family mean everything to her.  She was adopted into my family from the start.  We were always destined to be together forever. She is trusted and respected by all.

IMG_0176However, in more recent times, Jane has developed a closeness to her English family. This includes those living on the Isle of Wight as well as the mainland UK.  She has fostered those relationships and extended  a friendship, or kinship that wasn’t really present in times gone past.

Again, as friends come and go, Jane and I have regained a lost friendship that had gone missing.  By this, I mean we had lost contact with our friends, for no apparent reason other than distance.  It’s one of the things we have managed to forge back by not being involved in softball.  Distance and timing is much more accessible now.  However I want to say to our softball friends, that you are not forgotten, and like many things, it is something that we need to work on to regain that friendship, or closeness that has been temporarily severed.  We still love you guys. But at the moment it is important to re-establish those other things that have been missing for so long.

A close friendship rejoined by the entrepreneurship of the daughters of Dave and Mel Belton, for a surprise birthday in the Sunshine Coast, Queensland.  Several trips later where we have caught up (in Sydney, New Zealand and in Adelaide).  Currently we are away with one of the 3 groups of your young adulthood with Trevor and Julia Dansie with their son, Steven.  Another reunion of all 3 with other good friends Mick and Margaret, will continue the reunion.

But that’s not to discount the other strong friends we have made along the way. Eve Allen is a big part of Jane’s life. Having met Eve during a transitional, or developmental stage of Jane’s career, Eve and her daughter Megan have cemented themselves into her life.  The initiation of this friendship came at the right time where Jane and I had our only son, Geoffrey.  Megan, being a young 15 year old became a trusted member of our family by being Geoff’s babysitter.  Eve and Megan hold a special place in Jane’s heart.

There are probably too many people to name, and to single some out would be disingenuous to those who are not named, however people like Sharon Perkins and Kim Sanderson are right at the top of the list in softball.  But there are many many more, and I am sure you know who you are.  Friends for life no doubt.

This leads me to Geoffrey… Our son, born out of our love when Jane was working at the Hyatt Adelaide.  He changed our lives forever, and as we have seen him grow, through initial health issues, to become the person he is today, is a never ending source of pride for Jane.  The respect and love she has for him knows no bounds.  Yet, to let him go and be free to develop his own life, often away from us is hard, yet necessary.  Jane has been a great source of knowledge and support for Geoffrey (as she should be), yet continues to help guide and mentor him when he needs it.  Her love for him, as is mine, without bounds.  Without him, we are empty.

Jane’s happiness is linked to the people around her.  She has found herself in a place where her friends and family are such an important part of her life, yet she continues to grow in all areas of her life.  She has friends and family who trust and often rely on her, friends who love her and are as much a strength to her as she to them.

My love for her is the same. Without her my heart would die. And I think the same is true the other way around.

My love for her is eternal, and whilst she is celebrating her 50th birthday abroad with many people who cannot be with her, know that you have all played a strong part in who she is today.  I hope that you share this day with her, at least in your thoughts if you cannot be here.

A message from your devoted and loving husband x

Scotland. The land of the kilt.

 

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No cliches here about Scotland.  They’ve all been done to death.  Now lets talk about the weather!  It was about 3:30 -ish as we drove down a fairly steep decline to drive into the town.  One way streets, huge bank of cars and the fog had just come down to greet us. Thank you Summer!  We were looking for a place to drop the bags off, as it started to rain down on us. We were on the “Royal Mile”.  It was supposed to be a good location for an Airbnb apartment we were staying in.  I have to admit, I didn’t know what the “Royal Mile” was.

Edinburgh_15Now I do.  It is the mile of road located between Edinburgh Castle and the Palace Holyroodhouse (the Scottish residency of the Royal Family). It is also the busiest section of road in Scotland, covered in very old and undulating bricks (I won’t call them cobblestones).  We found a place where we illegally parked to dump and run and went to find a carpark.  We drove about 2-3 miles (in mostly circles) along the one way roads and found our park. We walked back to where everyone was standing in the rain. The walk was only 500 yards but steep up a hill!  We found are apartment and climbed the staircase, which was hidden behind a small door on on the Royal Mile.  The staircase was almost a ladder. It was small, steep and difficult to ascend with 20+ kg of luggage each.  But we managed.  The apartment was old, (although refurbished in areas), was a little like a warren of hallways and rooms, but it was ‘okay’.  Certainly not “The Threshing Barn“.  The beds were small, the mattresses were springy but we were comfortable enough.  The rain slowed down and we were able to make our way up and down the Royal Mile for a tourist visit.

Julia had on her bucket list, a tour of The “Real Mary King Close Tour“.  It is a tour under the old government buildings where previous lives were lived, through the settlement of Edinburgh and the days around the black plague in the mid 1600’s. A tour that I recommend to all if they do come to this town.  The tour is full of actual accounts of Real people in those hard times

A tired and restless sleep we woke the next morning and went out separate ways for a good portion of the day.

  • Group 1: Julia, Trevor and Steven
  • Group 2: Stephen and Jane
  • Group 3: Tracy

We started off at the same place for breakfast (The Edinburgh Lader).  Literally the best eggs I have ever been served.  Scot from Scotland was our waiter.  I said no cliches didn’t I?  Sorry.  He was brilliant.  Friendly, funny and very helpful.  I recommend this place for meals.

Holyroodhouse_01We then split up.  Tracy did come with us for a short time, as we made our way to the Palace of Holyroodhouse.  There is a lovely cafe at the front/side of the entrance where Jane ordered a very royal cup of coffee.  We didn’t decided not to take a long walking tour through the palace, because we were intending to walk back up the ‘mile’ and look through Edinburgh Castle.  This was probably a mistake in hindsight.  However, this was the choice we made, but I did get to visit the Gallery Exhibition to view “Masters of the everyday: Dutch Artists in the Age of Vermeer” which I thoroughly enjoyed.

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We made our way back up the mile (where we bumped into the Dansies) and we did some present buying, including a purchase of my new hat.  I love my hat 🙂  Several photo’s on the way, including a beautiful little close that Jane had spied.  White Horse Close is a hidden gem of a group of houses, actually on the Royal Mile.

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Bow before your king!

There are many buskers on the Royal Mile, from beggars to bagpipe players, witches mysteriously floating above the cobbles, and a certain “King Robert Bruce” we spied just before entering the castle.  Jane struck up a very find conversation with the Mel Gibson lookalike before posing for a photo with him.  He was raising money for Leukaemia and had just had an altercation with an 80 year old woman who took exception to him yelling out.  “Bow before your king you dog!”.  He insisted a dog had just walked past.

A donation from both Jane and I, and we continued on to where (apparently) the Sovereign Leader resided.

It was about 3:30 -ish at this time.  The fog was starting to roll in again.  Is this a standard thing here in Edinburgh?  This was SUMMER!!

We slowly made our way up the castle and through some of the very many nooks and cranny’s that these castle are built from.  We certainly didn’t go through every area.  We where starting to tire a little from the days activities.  We’d been walking most of the day at this stage.  I know it sounds like we didn’t do a lot.  But I can assure you…

We finished the day, catching up with our friends and eating some fine Thai Food.  A terrible nights sleep, but an accomplished stop in a lovely, old part of the United Kingdom.  I wish we could have stayed longer.

Kitchen

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Kitchen

Cumbria, The Lake District & more…

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The Threshing Barn

Without any doubt, The Threshing  Barn is the real deal.  We were met by Anna upon our arrival and were shown through this very special holiday location.   We each had 4 luxury queen sized bedrooms with ensuite (ours with a roll top bath as well), a lovely kitchen and 2 lounge areas.  But this is somewhat set aside when you consider the views we had. Views all around.  I’ll share more below, but this is what we arrived to. Wow!

Our day started in Wales as we made our way slowly through the very distinct Wales countryside and unique language.  Town names like “Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant”. If I were to describe the people of Wales, I would say everyone I met felt they were part of a very proud community, contributing to the country and region if by no other way other than a respect for each other and the place they live.

Windermere

We travelled north east back to England, slicing Liverpool and Manchester without seeing either.  We drove up into Cumbria and directly toward Lake Windermere.  Looking for a place to dine, we headed directly straight to the centre point of the lake at Bowness-on-Windermere.   Boy was that a mistake!  There was not a single car park in town due to a regatta or event or something that was going on.  After driving around for 10 minutes we went straight back up the road to a pub we had seen on the way in.  “The Brown Horse Inn” at Winster.  The hotel was pretty much full (as would be expected for a Sunday Lunch), but we squeezed into the beer garden.  I ordered and ate my “toad in the hole” (bangers and yorkshire pudding) which was lovely.  In fact we all really enjoyed our food here.  The location was as tasty as the food we ate.  Here are a couple of the photo’s I took.

The drive up to Dalston (near Carlisle) in the north of the country took us along the largest of the Cumbrian lakes in a windy, yet very scenic view.  The roads were narrow, the convoy of cars was long, but the drive was picturesque and very enjoyable.  Finally back onto a “A Road” for a 60 odd miles and we made our way to Dalston where we were to spend our next couple of nights in pure luxury.

Carlisle and Surrounds

The rolling hills were dotted with wonderful barns, bridges & manor houses. The fences were all either stone or hedging.  I can see why people go to Cumbria and never return.  I particularly liked this bridge which Trevor and I visited, to have a closer inspection.  Funnily, as we parked the car to walk over a bridge, a man, a woman and their child were walking back over the bridge.  With a kayak under arm!  He through he would have a play under the bridge over the bustling water flowing over the rocks.  Why not I say!  Probably more useful than just taking photographs of it.

The following day, we went to see Carlisle Castle, in the centre of the nearby city.  Carlisle Castle, about 900 years old was the scene of many wars between the Scots and the English.  Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned here for several months in 1567.  You can get a real sense of life as it was, when you walk through the tiny corridors and peek out at the landscape through the archers holes in the sides of the castle.  You also get a sense of how much history there is in England when you read about some of the battles they’ve fought and how the Kings used to claim an area, fight for it then renege it to another leader of an army who, at the time won the battle, before reclaiming it once again sometime in the future.

Hadrian’s Wall

On our final day, as we left Cumbria we drove up to Edinburgh via a visit to Hadrian’s Wall, which building was commenced in about 120 A.D. by the Romans in the Province of Britannia in the reign of Emperor Hadrian. What is left is a ruin of a wall that stretched from the East Coast to the West Coast of Northern England.  It was torn down after it fell into disuse, with most of the high stone wall being used for housing in the area.  The wall fronted several garrisons and fortifications across it’s length.  What can be seen now is basically a footprint of what it used to be.

After our stop at Hadrian’s Wall we continued up to Edinburgh hoping our next accomodation would be as luxurious.

Kitchen

Cumbria_04

The Photos

Finally, all of the photographs together. In one place to view them all, at one place, without having to look back to where they were not all together. …in one place…

…with a few extras chucked in…