United Kingdom Stories and Tips

Road Back to London and Points Between

Shakespeare's tomb, Trinity Church Stratford Photo, Stratford-Upon-Avon, England

This morning we heard about David's family business, a cattle farm in Tipperary which he runs during the off season. He has a manager for when he's touring. We drove down through the lowlands at the border where Jedburg Abbey is. We also had a quick photo stop on the road where we could see Sir Walter Scott's old house. There was also a rest stop at a roadside souvenir stand. I picked up a couple of things and spied some lovely white Port Merion china!

We had another photo stop at the Scotland-England border where there was the requisite piper. Nice views of the rolling hills and hearing Hava Nagila played on the pipes was not to be missed! :) We saw a small bit of Hadrian's Roman Wall but i know there are better parts. This wasn't much to talk about. Nor was the lunch stop at a motorway truck stop. We had a lot of territory to cover today so there was no scenic drives. We were headed across the flat Yorkshire dales for an afternoon in the historic city of York.

That was worth the wait, crowded with tourists though it was. The medieval streets no wider than a car, the old buildings, leaning so that you think they might topple over, the city walls and the amazing Minster. I have already had to buy more film and am now on my 11th but one mother and daughter couple had 13 developed in Edinburgh with double prints and the tour was only 2/3 over by then! I really liked York and i would love to go back there again when i have
more time to explore. There's a Viking museum and lots of little shops you discover in the oddest places. The most famous street, The Shambles, was once the area where the butchers had their shops and you can still see the meat hooks outside under the eaves of the overhanging upper storeys. Today of course there are expensive little shops all along there.

Our hotel was one of the Stakis chain and built around an old windmill. I had a very small single room by the elevator but the food and company was good as usual.

Leeds to Leamington Spa

When i woke up i wasn't feeling all that well, and i don't really know what it was. It hung on most of the day so i didn't really enjoy myself today. We spent another hour or two on the motorway down through the midlands before arriving in Coventry to view the new cathedral built beside the burned out ruins of the old one. The old one was destroyed during the second world war by fire bombs. The new one doesn't impress me really. It just looks like an oversized church. There is one wall that is all etched glass and another that has small windows from floor to ceiling, each being stained glass. After the old style Gothic cathedrals we've been seeing, this was just too modern to be in the same class! I didn't walk around too much, just sat on the steps with a bottle of water which helped some.

We were driven to Stratford and had our group picture taken outside Anne Hathaway's cottage. Only it was in the car park in the back so you couldn't see the cottage in the photo. I suppose there isn't really a good spot for a group around the front. I would have thought a group photo somewhere more recognizable like Edinburgh Castle or in Chester might have been better. The cottage is really lovely, and much older looking than in pictures.

We were set loose in Stratford for lunch and for the afternoon. Not hungry, i walked a bit. Changed some money in American Express which was in a tourist information kiosk in a park by the Avon River, a park dotted with statues of Will and some of his characters. I went through the birthplace of Shakespeare which also has a room of costumes from plays put on by the BBC and a gift shop of course. I walked along the Avon to Trinity Church to see where he was buried and along back by Hall's Croft where his daughter lived and down the high street. I finally had a bowl of soup in a little cafe around 4 o'clock, starting to feel a bit better. Our hotel in Leamington Spa is fairly close to Warwick Castle but we didn't get to see it. I would have liked that. I ate lightly although the service and food was impeccable at the hotel dining room but I went to bed early after watching Coronation Street, the first night I've had the chance since I've been here!

Leamington Spa to London

Feeling better today, i slept from about 8 last night right through to this morning. We drove through the Cotswolds. It's sunny this morning and the scenery is flat and agricultural. Lots of farms. I was always under the impression that the cottages in the cotswolds were thatched but most of them are not. They are built of a honey coloured stone with slate roofs! We had a photo stop in Stow on Wold and another in the churchyard in Bladon where Winston Churchill is buried. Our other morning stop was the university city of Oxford, another place with a lot of wonderful old buildings! Oxford university actually consists of 35 colleges, the earliest founded because England was at war with France so the students couldn't go to the Sorbonne in Paris. David walked us around by the Bodlean Library and the quads by some of the colleges and the reading rooms. On my own after that i found an indoor market that was built into, well it felt ike
it was all underground or in a cave. You went in off the street and there were all sorts of shops for fruit, veg, fish and meat as well as books and clothing along a few corridors with were low ceilings.

Our next stop was Windsor. We were allowed into the Castle grounds for another walking tour. There are a lot of buildings and they cover a large area. It was originally a wooden fortress built by William I (The Conqueror) in the late 11th century shortly after he invaded England and took the throne. I didn't bother to pay to see the State apartments or the doll house there. I am getting a bit tired of seeing things!! Can't take too much more in i think and i really did want to see St. George's chapel, a lovely gothic style structure! There are crypts underneath the floor and markers telling you who is buried there and i was thrilled to see Henry VIII's stone. He's buried with Jane Seymour as we all know. You weren't allowed to take pictures inside the chapel though and it was enforced.

I walked back into Windsor with an older couple from the bus that i met after i came out of the chapel and we found a small restaurant called Cody's where we had a lovely but somewhat expensive lunch before making our way back past the rail station to the parking lot where the bus was waiting.

We hit the road and arrived back in London at the Barbican hotel by around 4. That was rather sad, parting with some of the group and our wonderful guide, David. He really was a gem! Some of the group were staying at the Barbican so we met up for a meal in the hotel, too tired to walk further today. I had planned to take the optional Thames cruise with dinner but i cancelled. Had a few drinks in the bar with some of the crowd before heading to bed. Many are leaving tomorrow but I'm changing hotels to the Tavistock and staying on a few more days. I offered the other ticket to Miss Saigon to a single lady from Montreal who was on our tour who was also staying on a few days. She was delighted and we made arrangements to meet in front of the theatre tomorrow night.

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