Archive for July, 2012

July 31, 2012

30 July 2012 Bus to Whitby

Joined Lindsay, Adam, James (Amanda’s son), Daniel (his friend) and Rita on a bus ride to Newcastle. Then another bus to Middlebrough and another to Whitby. Took 3 hours. Went on a 20 minute boat ride around the seaside. It’s a fishing village. Had lunch at Alexanders Fish restaurant. You guessed it, fish and chips again. Lindsay, Adam, JamesandDaniel went to the Fun Palace. Rita and I went to see St Mary’s church and Whitby Abbey ruins. Up a couple of hundred steps (my training camein handy)and past cobbled stoned streets full of tiny shops but the climb was worth it. Great views over the bay and the abbey is in ruins but awesome to see.
After waiting an hour for the bus to Middlebrough it broke down we had to wait for the one behind to catch up. A couple of buses later we got back about 9.30pm.

July 31, 2012

29 July 2012 Hadrian’s Wall

Played around with Lindsay’s laptop. Managed to check emails and put a couple of photos on Facebook.
Lindsay and Adam took Rita and I to see Hadrian’s Wall at Housesteads roman fort. It seemed a long way. Latrines were communal then! Felt like I was hiking again going up to where the fort is. It was cold and rainy and then the sun would come out. Had a photo taken at the South Gate!
Had lunch at the Swan at Heddon on the Wall carvery. Nice pub and very busy.

July 31, 2012

28 July 2012 Bamburgh Castle and Seahouses

Tom’s friend, Stan, took us out in his car to Bamburgh Castle. On the way we stopped at his daughter’s place. They are building a stone ‘bungalow’ in the country. Bamburgh Castle is on a hill overlooking the sea near a country village called Seahouses. We had lunch there at the Neptune fish House. Of course we had fish and chips!

Back home by 5.30pm and over to Lindsay’s place to see Amanda and their friend, Kerry who were going out for her birthday. Had a glass of wine then back home again.

July 30, 2012

27 July 2012 Gloucester to Newcastle

Slept well. No need to get upinthe middle of the night! I was really tired! Had breakfast alone with Eric and Mary still in bed.

They took me to Cheltenham Spa station for the train to Newcastle (no changing). Found a spot on the train in a quiet zone carriage. Only shared my seat for a short while. Tried to get the laptop to work but no luck. Called but had to leave a message.

David Southgate picked me up in his car with Rita and Tom. So glad to see them! Went to their place and had a cup of tea (of course!). Tom went to the doctor and it seems he has had a small stroke. He felt unwell, dizzy and his face was numb! Seems to have recovered okay though. Will have tests when he gets an appointment.

Rita took me to see Lindsay and Adam’s flat. They’ve done it up nicely. Not far from Rita and Tom’s place.

Out for dinner to the Hungry Horse with Rita and Tom. It was fairly crowded. Came back to watch the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games but I was too tired and went to bed.

July 30, 2012

26 July 2012 London to Gloucester

Caught a Circle line train at High St Kensington to Paddington after having breakfast at the Muffin Shop instead of the hotel. At Paddington I caught a Great Western Cheltenham Spa line train to Gloucester. Trains have video screens but you need your own earphones. There’s also a socket for charging electrical appliances.

Mary and Eric Southgate picked me up at the station. Thank goodness as I didn’t know how to get to Churchdown! We talked for a while then Eric took me to St Bartholomew’s Church, built in about 600AD. He used to play around there when he was young. He also pointed out a pub that my Dad used to frequent. They cooked me dinner and some of their familycame around to see me. Stephen, partner Bec and her daughter Olivia; Trevor by himself; Avril who’s pregnant; Sheena, Leo and Louisa. David was the only one who couldn’t come.

July 26, 2012

25 July 2012 London to Aspley Guise

Chatted with Sue and Shaun this morning. My Tep device is not working so I logged into the hotel wifi.
Caught the District line (Circle not running!) to Euston then the Midland train to Bletchley using my British rail pass for the first time. Everyone I showed it to seemed very impressed! Changed at Bletchley for Aspley Guise where my Mum’s cousin, Clara Andrews lives.
I did let her know that I was coming but she was getting ready to go out. The council bus was coming to pick her up to go shopping! No problem, I hitched a ride with her and went to Tesco’s in Milton Keynes. The supermarket is massive and sells everything! It is 2 storeys high. We wandered around crossing things off her list. She knows everyone there as she’s been going ever since it opened. I took credit for the weather being really warm. Said I’d brought it from Australia. She seemed to show me off a bit and everyone was very friendly.
We bought a sandwich for lunch and had it when Mark dropped us off (he really is a very caring man) back at her place. She made a cup of tea for us and I pumped her for information on the family tree. Her memory is not all that good but I did discover a few good bits. She went through some photos and kept asking me if I knew people. Most of them were from Mum and were pictures of my family in Australia!
Back on the train to London after a lovely day with a very sweet lady.

July 25, 2012

24 July 2012 Harry Potter exhibition at Warner Bros Studios

Up at the crack of dawn in order to catch a train around 7am to get to Victoria Bus station and join the Golden Tours Harry Potter bus at 7.45am. The queue was a mile long already when I got there! Lots of foreign tongues and not many English-speaking people which I thought was unusual. Made it onto the first bus that left at 8am. It was a long boring ride out of London which took an hour. Heaven help the traffic when the dedicated lanes go in tomorrow for the Olympics! Arrived at 9.30am for our 10-10.30am tour. Did the usual queuing like cattle and watched the obligatory video with the background information in it. Next room was more interesting. Plenty of sets and costumes and animatronics. It is amazing all the detail that went into that set of films. Everything is original although it may have been moved from somewhere else. The flagstones in the Hogwarts hall are real. Watched myself on the blue screen driving the flying car and playing quidditch. Got photos of both but no videos. Wandered around the souvenir shop at the end. Bought a t-shirt and wax seal. Most of the stuff is made in China etc. Ate my lunch and waited for the bus to appear. It was 27 degrees today!
Marilyn and Mike Whelan met me after I got off the Harry Potter bus at Victoria bus station. We sat and had a drink and talked and talked. I recognised them straight away. Caught the train from Victoria station to High St Kensington and had dinner at Wagamama (Japanese). It was pretty warm in there. So glad to get out into the fresh air which was a bit cooler by then. It was lovely to catch up with Mike and Marilyn and actually see them in person. Thank you both for buying my dinner!

July 24, 2012

23 July 2012 Paris to London

Met Sally, Kevin and Rhonda at breakfast. Jo caught the Air France bus ( like I did coming to Paris) early. Said our goodbyes and I caught up on Facebook before I checked out about 10am. Bumped my way down the stairs at St Placide station (no lift) and caught the Metro train to Gare du Nord where the Eurostar leaves from. The train was not crowded so I sat down for most of the 8 stops. Gare du Nord (North Station) is a rabbit warren. Followed the Eurostar signs up about three floors to Immigration and got through customs okay. Whew! Got into the ladies before the queue built thank goodness. The trip takes about two hours but there is a one hour time difference (probably daylight saving). Got out at St Pancras and through customs again. No one looked at anything although a few passengers were pulled up. Went to Paddington station to pick up the TEP device for wifi. It’s brilliant. Just have to have it in my pocket and I can use my laptop anywhere!
Caught yet another train to High St Kensington on the Circle line. The Oyster card is easy (why doesn’t Melbourne have them?). Copthorne Tara Hotel is just behind the station which was a good pick.
Strolled over to Kensington Gardens after getting my room sorted. It is about 27 degrees here! Warmer than France. Read the London Evening Standard which is free. Tons about Wiggins and the Tour de France in it. I was there!
Over at the Orangerie I spotted a couple of squirrels playing until a dog barked at them. They are so cute! The palace has a commemorative structure for the Queen’s 60th jubilee. I bought a mouse for my laptop at Currys PC World. Some things are difficult to do without it.
Had dinner at Simply Authentic Food which is organic and wholemeal. Also bought lunch for my outing to Harry Potter tomorrow.
On the way back to the hotel a policeman on a motorbike held up traffic for someone important to get through to Kensington Palace. Wonder who it was. Have a few participants in the Olympics staying at my hotel too.

July 23, 2012

22 Jul 2012 Jardin du Luxembourg and Le Tour de France, Paris

Had breakfast with the others then arranged to meet at Pont de la Concorde. Jo, Sally and I strolled through the Luxembourg Gardens dodging joggers, staring at tai chi and martial arts classes, perusing wood sculptures and watching toy yachts sailing on the pond. It’s where Parisians go to relax. Not very relaxing for tourists! We walked towards the meeting place and found a street market in the Place de St Germain (I think). They had lovely French soaps and I bought a ring for myself!

Stopped for lunch (exotique salade) at a cafe close to Place du Palais Bourbon then met Kevin and Rhonda at the bridge meeting point. They had a good spot in the shade across from where the riders came up from underground. We saw them go past eight times right in front of us! Walked to find souvenirs but it was hard to get around the barricades. Stopped at the end of the Champs Elysees where the riders were doing a lap of honour (yet again). It took ages for them all to go past. Saw Cadel Evans with his baby (bit slow to take a picture though).

I lost the others so caught the train at Concorde back to Montparnasse and got ignored by the waiters at Cafe Montparnasse! Changed to Chez Berbert where they served a chicken tagine that was massive, enough for at least three then creme brulee. Mmmm yummy.

July 22, 2012

21 July 2012 Barege to Paris

Left Barege this morning after saying goodbye to Kate, Steve, Deb and Grant who drove to St Sebastian for the rest of their holiday. Vic and Geoff who run the chalet have more people coming in today!┬áKevin, Rhonda, Margaret, Linda, Jo and Sally caught the bus with me to Lourdes at 9.35am. The bus driver was a bit cranky if you didn’t have correct money of 9Euros30.

Kevin, Rhonda, Jo and Sally are staying in Paris with me. Margaret and Linda left us at Lourdes and met their husbands after a golf trip. The TGV train from Lourdes to Paris Montparnasse was 20 carriages long! I thought I was in 19 until the conductor told me I was in 20 and showed me to my real seat! Unfortunately there was someone else sitting in it already. She begged me to change so she could sit with her friends. I did and moved to carriage 18. It was okay until a bunch of kids going away for holidays got in the carriage!

I spent the time texting and reading and organising my GOPRO movies on the laptop. There are heaps. We stop at Dox, Bordeaux St Jean, Angouleme and Poitiers. Thank god the kids got out before Paris. Wandering down the train towards the others is an experience. I was in second class. They are in first class which means they get a bit more room but otherwise not much different. The scenery changes from suburban towns to acres of wheat and cornfields and the beautiful yellow sunflower fields. Just like a patchwork quilt. I even spot an old bridge.

Montparnasse station in Paris is massive. I have been through the Metro part but where we came in is outside. Thankfully a passing railway employee gives us directions to get out near the Montparnasse Tower where I visited when I first came to Paris. Just a short walk to Boulevard du Montparnasse, across the road and around the corner is Hotel Le Littre where I stayed when I first arrived. At check-in we agree to meet at 8am for breakfast the next day to plan our attack on the final day of Le Tour de France.

I spend the night trying to find the Jardin du Luxembourg. After turning the map around a few times I find it. Le News Cafe is across the road so settle down for a croque monsieur and chocolat chaud first. The waiter is very abrupt but warms up after a while.

The Luxembourg Garden closes at 9pm so I do a quick scoot around before the gendarmes blow whistles and shoo everyone out! It really is very beautiful. Will have to go back and have a proper look at the Luxumbourg Palace as well.