Posted in Travel

The Cotswolds and other adventures

Picking up where I left off in my last post… I spent the next few days travelling solo during the day.  I went back into Manchester and visited the John Rylands Library and the Manchester Art Gallery. I spent a day in Macclesfield and had a private guided tour of the Paradise Mill Silk Factory, and went for a long walk along the Macclesfield canal.

At the end of the week my mother arrived with her car.  We went for a brief visit to Jodrell Bank (big telescope, big gardens) and had a day trip to Buxton in the Peak District, where it rained solidly. Luckily we arrived at Poole’s Cavern (big cave) just in time for a guided tour.

Once my husband’s conference had finished, he and I headed to Manchester for the night.  We went back to the Art Gallery for a tour and checked out the canal and locks in action.  We had a not-that-brilliant night in the Novotel in the city centre, then headed back to Macclesfield to collect mum.

We drove back to Buxton – the weather was perfect this time and we saw an amazing view of the Jodrell Bank telescope sticking up out of the countryside from the hills. We walked around the lovely park in Buxton before heading south on the A515. We detoured through the tiny village of Tissington, the main feature of which seemed to be a manor house and a fantastic tea room.

Onwards we drove until we reached our overnight stop at Warwick.  Refusing to pay to go inside Warwick Castle, mum knew of a great place to get a view from the outside – The Mill Garden (only 2 pounds entrance!) Such a good idea, and a wonderful garden.  We then drove around looking for another good spot to see the Castle (mum thought she remembered one), when we came across a bridge “affording one of the finest views in England”.  We didn’t disagree, and the sunset behind the Castle helped immeasurably.

The next day we headed deep into the Cotswolds.  Embarrassingly enough I knew nothing about the Cotswolds before we arrived – only that it was somewhere that old people went on holiday…?  So I can now tell you, not only does the region have some of the most achingly beautiful, picture-postcard villages I have ever seen, but it’s also famous for its Cotswold Stone – the building materials of the area.

Our first stop was, of course, Stratford-Upon-Avon, Shakespeare’s birthplace.  The weather was miserable but that didn’t stop us from not paying to get into any of the Shakespeare attractions, and looking at them all from the outside.  Just as good I’m sure.

We then wended our way through many other villages, each one more spectacular than the next, until we arrived at Mount Pleasant Farm in Childswickham.  This is a true B&B farm house experience, and the view of rolling fields in every direction was breathtaking.

On our final day of travels we headed to Blenheim Palace: “Britain’s Greatest Palace”.  We spent most of the day there, exploring the extensive grounds, making plans for our own palace one day (haha), having a tour of the inside, and completing the maze in about 5 minutes. Well, my husband completed the maze: mum refused to even go in it, and I refused to use my brain.

After Blenheim we headed to Heathrow (another Travelodge) for the night. We couldn’t see any planes in the evening, but in the morning we were treated (if you like that sort of thing, which I do) to planes landing on the near runway, going straight over the hotel.

So after my husband had flown back to Boston, I had a few more days with my family in Bournemouth.  I went on a work trip with my Dad and we randomly came across Nunney Castle. Just sitting there, doing not much. Amazing.

Photos of the trip are below.

Posted in Life, Travel

Travels to the UK

For the past three weeks I’ve been in England, enjoying remarkable summer heat and generally catching up with family.

Because I’ve lived away from the UK since 2001 I only ever see the country in snapshots of time, and it’s been a very long time since I was there for August Bank Holiday.

This is what Bournemouth looks like in the postcards – I took the photo below on the afternoon I arrived. It was perfect.

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Bournemouth Seafront

After a week in Bournemouth we went by train to Macclesfield where my husband attended a conference.  While he was busy, I played solo tourist.  It wasn’t long before my negative childhood perceptions of the region were dismantled.

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The Macclesfield Canal.

Towards the end of the conference my mother drove up from Bournemouth to join us, and once the conference was over the three of us embarked on a road-trip, passing through the Peak District, historic Warwick, the Cotswolds and Blenheim Palace, ending at Heathrow where we deposited my husband for his flight back to the US.

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Warwick Castle.

For the last few days at home I spent ‘helping’ my Dad with his book. We went on a photo shoot, and laid out pages on the computer as his deadline approached.  By this stage the weather had deteriorated to coldish and rainy and the leaves were starting to turn.

We spent one afternoon searching the countryside near Bournemouth for Sloe bushes.  The sour blue fruit is the key ingredient in Sloe Gin (aside from gin, naturally) and no-one else had been able to find any in the area.  We were reasonably successful but spent the rest of the day nursing our shredded fingers.

Now I’m back (to strangely warmer and sunnier weather) in Boston I’ve posted my hotel reviews on TripAdvisor, and put some of my videos on YouTube.