I realized that we would be leaving the Lake District and driving south to Gatwick in order to fly to France and this would be over my birthday. So, I managed to get tickets at the Royal Shakespeare theater again and we stayed in the lovely old Mercure hotel nearby.
We ate dinner at the restaurant there – Marco Pierre White Italian place (yum) and then walked down to the theater to see the show King John.
It was really a fun one with lots of heavy themes and even a good fight. I was glad I’d read the synopsis before as it got a tad confusing (what Shakespearian play doesn’t) and it was one I’d not had to read in school before. We all enjoyed it a lot and it was perfect birthday celebration!
The next days we enjoyed lazy breakfasts and boat rides on the Avon. Plus shopping of course.
I really like the city and Charlotte enjoyed it even more as we’ve been watching a fun detective show called Shakespeare and Hathaway set there!
We decided to spend some time in the Lake District in the UK for fall (Florida being just too hot to feel autumnal) and take Grandma along. We again used house swapping points as this is quite a pricey area to stay in. We had a great house just off the main street of Keswick shops and restaurants and could walk the entire town.
It reminded us a lot of Colorado in many ways as we were just about the only people not wearing high tech walking and hiking shoes and outfits. We had no fancy walking sticks or even a dog (Darwin stayed home this time) as did just about every person in the Lakes area! Still we enjoyed gentle walks and boat rides on various lakes in the area.
We also headed north to Hadrian’s Wall and then into Scotland briefly.
It was lovely weather overall and just a little chilly on the boats but nothing horrible. We did have to wrap up from the rain and Charlotte found a great riding school where thankfully we could watch her from the car as it was raining quite heavily (they battled on regardless).
It’s another incredibly beautiful spot in the UK. Very well worth a visit in any season.
If you would like to sign up here is a link that gets both
of us some extra guest points just to get you started:
I love serendipitous finds in our travels and the New Forest
was one of these. We were looking for somewhere for a couple of weeks so I was
browsing google maps and remembered a great book I had on my childhood shelves –
Children of the New Forest. I also remembered it was very horsey and in fact
there are XX New Forest ponies that wander freely around this large national
park. The houses all need gates or cattle grids and fences to stop the ponies
(and pigs, cows, deer) from wandering in and destroying gardens but it’s fun to
lookout and see 4 or 5 ponies just walking up the lane next to the house or
having to drive around them as they stand in the roads.
We found a lovely “cottage” (3 story) in the village of Burley. Within a 5 minute walk we had 3 pubs, a shop, small shops and some restaurants. The village shop was quite fancy with sushi/homemade pies and condiments, and a local butchery with sausages and pheasant/duck/chicken etc. all from the surroundings farms. Great to be able to eat local foods like that. We sampled the pub food and were not disappointed either.
The preserve has so many walking paths that it would take a couple of years to explore them all. Everywhere we went there were parking lots and hiking trails heading off.
Burley was about 20 minutes to the beach as well so we explored this coast. Some gorgeous small towns to wander the beach and eat fish and chips on. We had more glorious weather which was a pleasant surprise in October.
And close for a day’s visit to Stonehenge.
We had a great surprise from my brother and his wife who popped over from Dubai for the weekend too. It was fun wandering around a cider festival complete with old engines and traveler caravans – and sampling local ciders – with them.
Ponies and walking in the woods were our big favorites here. Charlotte is ready to move there!
We had another great house swap an hour and a half away from Scarborough in Knaresborough which was a new area for us and allowed easy access to York and Harrogate etc. It’s really a lovely area and the house was so comfortable for us all with great views onto the countryside and included rainbows!
We’ve always loved York and had a couple of fun days there. The Jorvik Viking Center is always a good visit as is the Minster and of course shopping and eating in the old city.
Darwin does just fine with buses, trains, boats and crowds. He’s a trooper.
More picnics this time in the Yorkshire Dales (near Scarborough it’s the moors).
And visits to market towns including Thirsk which was the home of James Herriot and still has his museum there. Charlotte and I are also fans of the show the Yorkshire Vet which is a reality show using the old Herriot vet practice (new vets) so we were groupies and visited the clinic.
Then there were Farm Shows and more picnics with friends and of course Darwin.
One of our main goals of summer 2018 was to all spend time in Scarborough visiting the place I was born (my grandmother’s house and where I mostly grew up is the red door) and to show the 3 younger kids (my two and cousin Janet) the town and special places for our family.
This included trips to Durham to see my grandmother’s, great grandparents and great-great grandparents graves and old houses. It might sound rather heavy going but our family spends most of the time laughing and being silly so there was plenty of that going on. We got to meet up with a cousin who brainstormed the family tree and expanded the ancestry site a lot. Later we also met his lovely daughter which was very special too.
England was going through a drought and it hadn’t rained in ages which was good for us as we had unusually dry trips out.
Charlotte was happy to ride quite a few times at my old riding school in Snainton. It was quite special for both of us. She now of course wants to move there and buy her own horse.
We had some amazing picnics at Abbeys and cliff tops all around Yorkshire. I think the theme of the summer has been picnics and family.
I think we had the most fun in England walking and picnicking and feeding ducks. Simple things but with lovely weather and the green landscape, England is perfect for walking and sitting enjoying the country (well in August it was).
One forest area was set up to encourage children to PLAY and make forts. They left branches and logs in piles out in the woods and kids could build shelters to play in. It was so much fun that all three of us got involved.
We spent time revisiting (for me) two places I used to go to with the older boys when we were living around RAF Lakenheath in the early 90s. It was fun to see some of the old places but the base has changed a lot and I didn’t recognize much.
We managed to get tickets to a production of Hamlet in Stratford at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and it was amazing. Incredible performance (modern/kind of set in Africa) and of course the theatre is wonderful. We were high up on tall seats like bar stools but this allowed for full views all around the stage. The kids stayed glued to the entire show.
We did manage to visit Shakespeare’s birth place too and some good food in town but certainly could have stayed longer.
We were thrilled to be able to meet up with Uncle Tim as we have missed him since moving from Dubai (where he lives). We took the train to London and met him at the station where he took us off to a couple of great restaurants (naturally as he’s an executive chef and also used to work in London) for lunch and dinner. We also went to see Phantom of the Opera as Max and Charlotte hadn’t seen it. This was a great show to start their London theatre viewing with as it never fails to impress (and they know the music already).
Later in our trip we went back to London as I just had to see my idol – Michael Crawford who was the first Phantom. We got to see him in a show called The Go-Between. He was on stage the entire couple of hours and sang quite a bit. We were front row and he was amazingly close which was quite exciting (I restrained myself). The show was good and he was incredible.
Trips to London have to include some of the amazing and FREE museums. We spent some time in the Science Museum and the National Gallery, which always amazes me. I love that museums in London are all free. Such a gift with so much to see and do.
Through our worldschooling group we found a lovely family who wanted to house swap their home in England with ours in Florida. We were thrilled to spend 5 weeks in a town called Saffron Walden, which is about 30 minutes from Cambridge and about an hour, by train from center of London. We swapped cars as well but after one day driving around minuscule roads on the opposite side with a stick shift, I opted for a rental that was automatic. Just too many things to focus on and it’s been years since I had a stick shift and I hated it then!
The house was a 15 minute walk into town which had all the main stores we needed plus plenty of eating spots. A favorite was Tea Amo for tea and sandwiches.
Town description here is from the site below:
Saffron Walden is a delightful medieval market town located in north-west Essex and just 15 miles to the south of Cambridge. It has a rich heritage of old buildings, including the magnificent Jacobian mansion Audley End House and Gardens and St Mary’s Church, the largest and one of the most beautiful parish churches in Essex. On the north side of town is Bridge End Garden, a restored Victorian garden of great charm, which contains a wonderful yew hedge maze and sunken Dutch Garden.
A market has been held here since 1141, and market days are now Tuesdays and Saturdays with shoppers enjoying browsing and buying goods from a variety of market stalls. Beyond the market place, there are many independent shops and eating places to choose from.