I think I'm caught up with LJ. I've tried my damndest, that's for sure. Let me know if you've not gotten a comment from me. (If you have, I've read through your recent entries. :) ) I should also say, some may not have, yet I have read your entries, but didn't see an obvious place to jump in.
So, Mel (the flatmate) and I went South.
It was a little scary. I must say there is something in the water in Scotland that makes you love Alba and feel at least a twinge of loathing for the land south of the Wall. Mel and I were a little sad to leave Scotland and happyhappy to return.
So, here goes.Monday 28 July
We rented a car and headed South. Mel's mother was a MacLellan so we jaunted over to Kirkcudbright to have a go at seeing MacLellan's Castle. Well worth seeing, but probably not the best idea since there were multiple detours on the A75 and it took us 6 hours to get from Carlisle and back during this side journey.
We finally made it to Leeds and the roads, again, defeated me. I swear, I can't drive in that city. I've driven in NYC, London, Edinburgh, Chicago, Atlanta, and various other points and never had the trouble I have in Leeds. It's truly bizarre.
The brother-in-law had to come meet us in car park in order to lead us to his flat. *sigh* Fail.
Since we were so late getting in, we chatted for a bit and then went to bed. I wish we'd gotten in earlier, I don't see Jack often.Tuesday 29 July
We headed out from Leeds and went to Burghley, the estate given to Lord Cecil by Queen Elizabeth I. Interestingly, that Cecil is related to the Cecils that own the Biltmore in Asheville. It's an impressive estate and house. Some of you may remember it as Rosings from the recent Pride and Prejudice film. Tom and I had been by there on our last trip south, but it was closed for the season.
From there, we drove on to Cambridge and met up with piercylove
. She showed us around, particularly in Johns where she's been working until late. Very excited to see the college. We then went punting on the Cam. I paid with a Clydesdale £10, prompting one to ask his co-worker, 'are we allowed to take this?' *sigh*
We went home and met up with the other half of the Piercys and had dinner at an amazing curry house in Great Shelford. Yum.
Then, a round of Phase 10 before bed. Sweet.Wednesday 30 July
We went onwards via the M4 to Bath. This was the first place in England that I felt like I could love enough to live in. Seriously having a love affair with the city. :) How could you not love a place where the church bells ring Hyfrydol to mark 5pm?
Also exciting as I got to visit the Roman Baths there. We did have to listen to these dorky phone like things to get the info, but ah, well.
Also did a bit of 'spot the places from the Persuasion film' while walking about. The colonnade above is where the kiss was filmed.
Drove on from there to S-u-A. Got in about teatime and had some decent pub food across the street before crashing.Thursday 31 July
Had a bit of a walkabout in Stratford. Saw Trinity Church which is unchanged since last I saw it.
Drove north to Kenilworth Castle which is associated with Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. Very impressive ruin.
From there we went south to Hailes Abbey. I'm impersonating the BVM in the pic above. Sacrilicious. (For shame!)
We drove back to Stratford to gussy up for the Hamlet performance. Because of my scraped knee, I was not in the finery I'd picked, but it worked out during our return in the pouring rain post-play.
The play was fantastic. I was entranced by Patrick Stewart as I'd imagined I'd be, and was impressed with David Tennant, having not seen him in anything previously (no, I'm not a Who fan...amazing, I know).
Ophelia was played a little differently and while her death brought a tear as always, she wasn't as convincing as others in the part.
Horatio was impressively good, however. I don't usually pay much attention to him, but this actor really gave him life like no other.
We decided not to try to brave the crowds in order to see the big name actors preferring to surreptitiously ogle the other players in the Dirty Duck. We were outside when Horatio came out for a smoke and I got to tell him, quietly, that I enjoyed his performance.
I think I spent my enthusiasm for celeb-stalking on Alan Cumming when he was in Aberdeen.
It started to pour and we headed back to the B&B, hoping for a chippie and being denied. We ended up with petrol station sammiches, which honestly weren't too bad.Friday 1 August
Started the long trek home.
We stopped near Manchester at Lyme Park. It's another of the places used in Pride and Prejudice, but this time from the Colin Firth version. It stood in for Pemberley.
From there, we went up the A6 to catch the ring road round Manchester, but managed to miss the signage and...well, it was not good. No offense meant to any Mancunians, but if I never go back to Manchester, it will be too soon.
We drove on and tried to find the Swinside stone circle near Broughton-in-Furness in the Lake District, to no avail. It didn't help that the clouds decided to take a nap on the hills making visibility almost non-existent.
We drove on to Penrith and saw Long Meg and her Sisters, a stone circle in Little Salkeld. I'd seen it before, but at sunset it was very atmospheric.
We ate at what I'm going to call the best Mexican in the British Isles (until shown proof of better) at a place on Castlegate in Penrith. Yum.
We drove through the night arriving at Aberdeen around 2:30am.Saturday 2 August
Tom and I set off in the rental car for a go at the Deeside on Sabbath afternoon. We saw ever so many things. Amazing how the scenery in Scotland seems to always be in shades of green, grey, purple, and yellow. I love it.
The most amazing find was at the Parish of Upperdonside. We stopped on a whim at the church and discovered the gravestones were very, very old and interestingly carved.
We did a bit of rural exploration at Wardhouse. The Wardhouse mansion is abandoned but sits atop a hill still looking quite impressive. We couldn't figure out how to beat our way through the prickly undergrowth, but walked around the perimeter of the house.
We did a bit of hiking at Dunnydeer and saw stones there as well as various other points.
By the time we got back we were tired, but very happy.Sunday 3 August
I'd discovered the joy of the Ordnance Survey maps and Tom and I went off to find a few places marked on the Aberdeen/Banchory map.
The first, Muchalls Castle, is actually someone's home now. Oops.
Our search for the standing stone and two stone circles was a bit more fruitful.
When we stopped to see the stone, we ended up in conversation with the farmer that owns the field that it is set in. He walked out to the stone with us as he was keeping a post-Caesarean cow in the field and wanted to make sure that we didn't bother her or her, us. Very interesting guy, if a tiny bit incomprehensible right at first. I'm used to Tom's Lanarkshire accent and a strong Doric one always takes a bit of brain adjustment for me. :)
Of the two stone circles, the first we saw was the better preserved. There were three concentric rings, with the outer ring composed of large, pointed standing stones, while the inner circles were smaller and squarish.
We decided that we'd better go back home after all this hiking about since Tom needed to pack for Vietnam.
And I'm done. Whew!