A Travellerspoint blog

Tuesday in gay Paris

rain, art, history and skipping queues

rain 19 °C

Madison I headed out onto our street, rue Saint Dominque at 7.30 am to buy quarte croissant. Madison did all the talking and at the end, the mademoiselle who served us said bon journee, meaning have a good day…. cool

After breakfast we walked 20 minutes in the rain along la Seinne to the Musee d’Orsay. A museum of modern impressionist artists. I had been there before in 1987 (just after the All Blacks won the 1st world cup… that’s how I know the year!) I loved it then, so was keen to get the girls there on this trip.

We had booked a “skip the queue guided tour”. We turned up in the rain, at at 9.30 am. Found our guide, Caroline, an art history graduate and now lecturer in art history. As she said she knows the history and theory but no good in practice. An English speaking French woman.

Anyway, the tour lived up to its name. “Skip the Queue”. The staff at the Museum had decided to hold a strike meeting, and the museum was late opening by 30 minutes. The queues to get in were unbelievable, with such a fine array of umbrellas.

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Anyway the doors finally opened, and Caroline took us through the queue to a reserved ticket door and in we went. One of the first in. There was us and an American couple in our group. We were supplied with head phones and Caroline spoke to us all the way round.

Caroline was great. Passionate about art and she explained the history as we went round. Prior to the revolution artists were told what to paint. Mostly either to please the monarchy or the nobles, or to be used as almost propaganda to spread the good word. Both of religion or the nobility.

Anyway the revolution changed that, and artists started painting what they wanted, and this slowly evolved into painting what they saw, or what they wanted to paint. This evolution took 100 years to unfold. She showed us paintings that were important in the change, and explained the meaning behind each one. Slowly the story of the birth of French Impressionists unravelled, and then we saw more of their work. So we went from Thomas Couture through to his student Manet. Manet is considered the father of Impressionism. From there, he inspired others. Artists such as Monet, Renoir, Van Gogh and Gauguin among many others and they shaped the impressionist art world. In my humble view this is so much better than what came before and after. That is why I love the Musee d’Orsay. It was great being shown around by someone who knew their subject.

We couldn’t take photos, so have stolen a few images of the web.

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After that we found a dry spot for lunch and then meet up with our next guided tour of the Palace of Versailles. Again, skip the queue, straight to the front, and into the Palace with our tour guide, Katherine. Again head phones, and another family of 5. Catherine spoke to us all the way round, explained the history etc. The palace was built by Louis the 14th.

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The sun king who modelled himself on the sun. Like the sun the thought everything revolved around him. He was almost a sun worshipper. The order of things was God, him and then everyone else. The Pope was tolerated because he was God’s representative (actually I think God was only just tolerated as well!!). Louis became king at the age of 5 and reigned to his death at the age of 72. Louis the 15th and 16th succeeded him. Sadly for Louis the 16th, the peasants got sick of being the only ones taxed to fund the nobility lifestyle, and they revolted. Can’t blame them really. Anyway, they were marched off to prison and eventually lost their heads. The Palace was not destroyed, although a lot of the furniture etc was sold off.

The palace is now an art gallery and museum. It has 700 rooms and also 2,000 ac of garden and woodland.

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The palace itself was stunning, but equally impressive was the gardens, with their many fountains.
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Katherine guided us all the way, and shed so much light into the history and art works. Thankfully by the time we reached the garden, the rain had stopped and the sun started to exert its dominance. After all it is the palace of the Sun King!!

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We finally finished around 5.30. By the time we wandered back through the gardens to the exit, through the local shops, on the train back to Paris, we arrived back home around 7.00 pm. Shattered, exhausted with sore feet but once again a great day.

Posted by Touringteamf 12:45 Archived in France Comments (1)

Monday...Euro Disney!

Disney in the rain!!

rain 17 °C

DISNEYLAND

I woke up on Monday morning with the same ease as waking up on Christmas Day. Today was the day we were going to Disneyland! We had our breakfast, got dressed and we were on our way to the Train Station.

When we were on the train to Disneyland, we meet 3 Australians on their O.E. This was their last day and they were spending it at Disneyland. Towards the end of our journey, a man came around handing out yellow cards. On the cards there was a story about how he was homeless with 2 children and no job... blah blah blah, and at the end of the text was a note asking for a donation. One of the Australians was quite pleased to see the card, as she needed somewhere to put her ‘Chewy’ (AKA Chewing Gum). She spat out her gum onto the card, folded it up and placed it on the seat beside her. Nek minute the Man returned looking for donations, and to the Australian’s horror, the cards. Well... The Man saw the card folded up and had a spaz attack. He opened up the card, saw the gum and stuck it onto her bag! We had no idea he was going to collect the cards again. WIII nearly erupted, but was avoided with a bit of common sense from us. So much action and we weren’t even at Disneyland yet!

When we finally arrived at Disneyland I was so excited!!!

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We rushed in and headed straight to the ride that Dad and I wanted to go on which was Big Thunder Mountain. We ended up going the wrong way which led us to a Haunted Mansion ride. Dad and I went on but it was a bit of a bore, as it was just a little kiddie’s ride. This time, we headed in the right direction to Thunder Mountain to discover a 25 minute queue, not too bad. As soon as Dad and I were fully into the line, Mum called out that it was now a 55 minute wait. Too late to back out now.

Fifty five minutes later and we were sitting on the ride ready to go. The ride took off and it was soooooo worth the wait! It was amazing! We zipped up and down, side to side, inside and outside for 2 minutes!

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Whilst we were doing this, Mum and Madison hit the iconic tea cup ride.

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We pondered what to do next when I mentioned the fast pass, a free service to all where you basically pre-book your ride. Mum and Madison used theirs for a Peter Pan ride, while Dad and I used ours for Space Mountain. We went and had lunch (hotdogs and chips) and headed back to Space Mountain whilst Mum and Madison queued for a ride where you drive your own car.

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Space Mountain was a good but scary ride which on the first go (yes, we went twice) I had to keep my eyes shut the whole time. After we got out, we saw Mum and Madison were still in the line and the wait time for Space Mountain was only 5 minutes. We went on again, this time wasn’t as bad but I still have a bruise on my back.

We had seen everything we had wanted to see in the 1st Disney Park so we walked over to the next one. We all wanted to go on Crushes Coaster, but the wait time for that was over an hour. We decided to have a look at Ratatouille ride and saw that the wait time was about the same. Then we saw that the wait time for single riders was only 10minutes. We would be able to do it, just not together. Dad, Madison and I went in, while Mum sat outside with all of our gear. It was a 3D ride that Madison and Dad enjoyed, but me not so much.

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Dad and I were keen to go on The Tower of Terror, a gravity defying giant drop. By the way, free falling is one of my major fears, I can’t stand them, but I wanted to give it a go. Mum and Madison got there photo taken with Mickey Mouse, went on a Magic Carpet ride and a Cars movie themed ride.

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We went on the drop twice, mainly because the waiting time was 5minutes. I don’t think I have ever screamed so hard in my life!!! You are sitting in an elevator and when you are dropping, the only thing to stop you from hitting the roof was a small seatbelt. If you would like to watch a video of what it’s like copy and paste this into google https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qkj8tjW90CY . I can’t explain what it was like, the feeling of just free falling was so creepy.

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By this stage it was raining but it didn’t hold us back from all going on a Slinky The Dog (from Toy Story) themed ride. We were all cold so we went inside for a hot chocolate.

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After the hot drink Mum and Madison went onto their Peter Pan ride, while Dad and I went on an Indiana Jones roller coaster.

It was still raining while we walked down to our outside ride. It was only a 15minuite wait so we jumped right in. Five minutes before getting on our ride they stopped the roller coaster. Apparently someone had lost their shoe - I don’t know why they had to stop the ride. After another 5 more minutes we were strapped in and ready to go. Little to my knowledge there was a loop-the-loop where we went upside down, not my favourite thing in the world. The ride was alright but not my favourite. We meet up with Madison and Mum and before we knew it we were back on the train ready to head home.

Wow!! What a long day. Even though it was wet and a bit cold, Disneyland is one of the happiest places on Earth!

Posted by Touringteamf 15:18 Archived in France Comments (2)

J'adore Paris en été

I love Paris in the summer

semi-overcast 16 °C

I don’t think I have ever woken up this excited before. Just as exciting as Christmas morning!

We were going to Paris. If you don’t already know I have been a French lover from the age of 7. My dream was always to have a balcony looking over the Eiffel Tower. Mum and Dad have tried their absolute hardest to try and make my dream come true, even without being asked! Which I am trés, trés grateful for.

Anyway time for the exciting stuff.

We had some breakfast, packed up and left Iffin Farm House, Canterbury in the dust.

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After a couples of hours on the road we had arrived in Bonny London. We saw some more iconic landmarks in London before way gave our car back to the rental hire firm.

We took a taxi to St Pancras Station, with all our 8 weeks of luggage by our sides.

We were quite early getting to the station so we decided to put our luggage in a locker. They wanted to charge us 6 pound per piece of luggage. We decided to ditch that plan and get a table at a restaurant.

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We had lunch followed by a quick look around the station before embarking on our French adventure.

Once we had passed all the security checks we got onto our train and settled down for the ride through to France.

The Eurostar was great and when we went through the chunnel I had no idea we were in the English Channel.

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At last I could see the French sunflowers in the fields and vines full of grapes! I felt a tingly
feeling in my heart, and my hands were shaking! I was finally in France and I could not believe a single second!

As we speed into Paris we caught glimpses of the Eiffel Tower out the window!
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When we pulled up into the Paris Train station I was busting to get off.

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Once we had gotten in a taxi I could see it all! We drove past through the Concorde (or as I call it “the movie circle”) and I could of fainted! To my right was Arc De Triumph and Champs Elysees then smack bam in front of me was the EIFFEL TOWER!

We drove right around it and I probably had a family of flies in my mouth! It was AMAZING, it had carvings and writing all over it and it was so unreal!

When we got to our Loft Apartment With A View Of The Eiffel Tower, the first thing I did was step out onto the balcony and looking at the Tower. I didn’t mention that this apartment is on the third floor…four heavy cases and no lift!!

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I quickly FaceTimed one of my best friends Sam Faherty ( Who is currently in America ) and then went down to the street to find a café for tea.

We choose a traditional meal while listing to French music, you know Pizza and Elton John!

Once we had finished our meal we walked out of the restaurant and the Tower was all lit up!

We skipped down to the Tower and sat on a park bench and just looked at it for 5 minutes. When we saw a rat scurrying out of a pile of rubbish we made a run for the underneath part of the tower.

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I seriously couldn’t look up! I was about to fall over. It made me feel so giddy! When I finally did look up, I was so happy just seeing the Eiffel Tower made me one of the happiest people alive!

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We saw some more rats in the rubbish bins, but just carried on back to the apartment for a big day out to Disneyland tomorrow.

First Impressions…… AMAZING and totally worth the 5 year wait!!

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Posted by Touringteamf 14:19 Archived in France Comments (6)

Saturday we looked around Canterbury

and got a parking ticket... those Cantabrians... nothing changes

overcast 15 °C

We had a relaxed start after our long car trip from the previous day. We went over to the homestead for a cooked breakfast, then I listened to some of the All Blacks vs Australia on my cellphone, streaming the radio commentary via the internet.

We then headed into Canterbury and found our way to the Tourist Information centre. A walking tour was due to start at Butter Market, outside the gates of Canterbury Cathedral. So we bought tickets and quickly made our way to the start of the tour.

Like all of the tours we have done, it was very worthwhile. With such limited time, it is good to get guided around by someone who knows the history.

We heard the history of Butter Market. The town square, where “peasants” came to trade their butter for other goods. “Peasants” is obviously a medieval term applied to dairy farmers. We then went to Butchery Lane. As the name would suggest, farmers would bring their animals into town to be sold and slaughtered. Our guide painted the picture of what the very narrow lane, with a central gutter for blood to drain away would have looked and smelt like.

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Then down High St, and then back to Butter Market and into the grounds of the Cathedral. We did not go inside, but the Cathedral is very impressive, and holds a very significant part in Britain’s history. It was the base and/or start of Christianity in Britain.

The Cathedral’s history goes back to 597AD when St Augustine, sent by Pope Gregory the Great as a missionary, established his seat (or ‘Cathedra’) in Canterbury. In 1170 Archbishop Thomas Becket was murdered in the Cathedral and ever since, the Cathedral has attracted thousands of pilgrims, as told famously in Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.

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There are also ruins from an Abby.

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We then left the Cathedral grounds and looked at several other important sites in Canterbury, such as the birth place of Mary Tourtel the creator of Ruppert the Bear. We also saw the new arts centre and theatre.

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After the tour we wandered the city, particularly the River Stour, which was quite picturesque and full of small trout, of the same variety I can’t seem to catch back home.

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By this time it was early afternoon, and the girls were keen to look at the shops. I found a sometimes sunny spot in Butter Market with tables and chairs sitting outside. I perched up at one of those for the small price of a Kentish Ale or two, and was quite content to while away a couple of hours watching the passing parade.

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We returned to our car in the Park & Display car park to realise we had over stayed our welcome to the tune of a 25 pound parking ticket.

Anyway back to our farm cottage, to reorganise our packing before our French Invasion in the morning. Cooked ourselves a final UK dinner, and retired after an enjoyable and relatively relaxing day.

Posted by Touringteamf 11:50 Archived in England Comments (0)

Friday was a long day...we headed for Canterbury

overcast 18 °C

Well, this could very well be our shortest blog yet due to the fact that we don’t really have any interesting places or events to report on.

Todays plan was to travel from Tintagel to Canterbury via Highclere Castle (the castle where Downtown Abbey is filmed) - the trip is approximately 300 miles with an estimated travel time of 5.5 hours. Our friends Rose and Geoff had advised us that any travel in England always took longer than what it should - we did bear this in mind.

What a day! We left Tintagel at 10am and finally arrived at Canterbury just before 7pm! No, we didn't have a lot of stops and sight seeing on the way….we spent all of the time expect half an hour in the car travelling. The biggest hold up was the fact that it was bank holiday weekend and everyman and his dog were out travelling away for the weekend. To add insult to injury Highclere Castle is closed on a Friday and Saturday. I was disappointed at its closure as it was one thing I was really looking forward to seeing on our trip plus it would have been a welcomed break from the car. Never mind.

We had pre booked our accommodation - a self catering cottage at Iffin Farm, Canterbury. Boy were we pleased to see it when we finally arrived. The hosts Sarah and David were there to meet us. They are both very friendly as are the pet ponies that Madison and Mackenzie befriended.

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The end of a long uneventful day…good to finally be here, safe and sound, bring on tomorrow!

Posted by Touringteamf 11:55 Archived in England Comments (3)

Thursday we checked in with Doc Martin

and dined with Rick Stein

semi-overcast 15 °C

When we had all prettified ourselves for breakfast at the pub, we went down stairs to have some morning chow. After some goodies, we bumbled down the NARROW roads to Port Isaac.

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Some people might know Port Isaac from the Doc Martin Series as Port Wen.

We had heard from a little bird called Trip Adviser that the John Brown Port Isaac Tour was worth your precious time!

The tour started at 11am and we were 10mins late. John Brown’s cafe “May Contain Nuts” was really good and told us where we could meet up with the tour. The tour was well worth it’s 20 pounds and we learnt a lot about the history of Port Isaac and some Doc Martin facts and stories.

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After a couple of hours we dis assembled from our tour and got a free coffee from the cafe and a cornish pasty.

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Then we mosied on to the Eden Project. We were blown away (Not just with the prices!) but the Biomes were so big and impressive. Just imagine 50m high golf balls ( No exaggeration ) with international plants and fruits. In 1995 it was a chinese clay mine and now it has turned into something that everyone should see in their lifetime! It was really cool because it was so up my alley being all environmentally friendly.

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There was even a Rainforest with a waterfall, that felt like being in Singapore!

I really enjoyed the Eden Project but would of loved to do the giant swing that goes over the edge of a cliff thing. Mackenzie and Dad would have liked to do Britain’s longest zip wire over the Biomes, but we thought we didn’t have enough time.

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I can not say how cool this was and make sure to google the Eden Project. They even hold concerts there and have halloween and evening the winter they have an ice skating rink!

We went to Padstow.

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Padstow is the home of Rick Stein. We went to one of his restaurants for tea. It was good but the menu wasn’t my taste (No mushy peas) and the mini steins (Kids menu) was so last year! I did enjoy my starter of bread from his bakery:)

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Rick Stein owns 9 bussiness in Padstow and 5 of them are on his own block in on his own car park! In the end we would of had time to do the zip wire as we had to spend an hour or two wandering around Padstow!

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After we had dined at Ricks, we went back to Tintagel on the NARROW roads. Over all it was a great day full of facts and fun.

Madison

Posted by Touringteamf 13:44 Archived in England Comments (1)

Wednesday we headed for Tintagel

Via Clovelly

overcast 18 °C

After a lovely time in Bath we packed up and left the Gatehouse accommodation and headed for Tintagel.

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We decided to stop at Tiverton, the biggest town in Mid Devon for lunch. It was a nice town but not quite as quaint as some of the smaller villages we had visited.

Next stop was Clovelly. Peter was keen on stopping here as he had been there in 1988 and said it had a nice harbour. We arrived and parked the car in the main park as they don’t allow cars in the village. We walked through the visitor centre and discovered you had to pay to get into the village! The family pass was 17 pound which paid and set off.

Peter had failed to tell us how steep and cobbled the narrow pathways were. The views were stunning and worth the climb. We made our way down the 120 metre twisty descent to the pier which over looks the Bristol Channel, took some photos and headed back up again with the reward of an ice cream at the top.

Clovelly is a unique village being the only one in England to be privately owned. It has been owned over the last 800 years by only three families with no one in the village actually owning their own home. The streets are that narrow and steep that no vehicles are allowed. Donkeys were once used to carry goods in and out of the village. These days the donkeys are used for rides for the tourists on a green area and goods are dragged in and out on sledges. There is road access to the hotel at the bottom of the village but this is for the hotel guests and locals only. Originally a fishing village it is now mainly a tourist attraction with shops and cafes lining the narrow streets. It was a very interesting village and well worth the stop.

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Back in the car again and off for Tintagel. We chose to stay here as a base for Port Isaac and Padstow which we planned to visit in the coming days. We arrived at our accommodation, King Arthur’s Arms Hotel. We checked in and headed off on foot towards to coast to see the remains of Tintagel Castle which was built by Richard the Earl of Cornwall in the 1300s and has long been associated with the legend of King Arthur.

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On our way back we meet a Spannish girl who had been crying because she lost her bag down at the Castle. Inside the bag was her passport, the keys to her rental car and about 200 pounds. We felt devastated for her, but there was nothing we could do.

Our evening meal at the King Arthur’s Arms was good and interesting…no less than 6 dogs were in the restaurant - some even with their water bowls. No one seamed to mind or think it out of place. At times the dogs were even up at the tables. That has been one thing we have found odd as we travel around the UK, another would be the amount of people that still smoke.

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The village itself is quaint with mainly hotels and shops lining the main street. One building in particular, the post office was originally a yeoman farmhouse dating back to the 1300s.

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All in all a very interesting day.

Posted by Touringteamf 15:36 Archived in England Comments (1)

Tuesday we went to Stonehenge

and it really rocked.

semi-overcast 16 °C

We woke to a cool overcast day in Bath so we decided to head to Salisbury, Stonehenge and Castle Combe for the day.

We arrived at Salisbury and decided to take advantage of the park and ride bus facility. We were in the town centre within minutes and didn't have the problem of trying to park. A lady on the bus had given us directions to the information centre to find out about tours out to Stonehenge. We left the bus and strolled around the city market which is held every Tuesday and Sunday. Everything you could imagine was for sale with all the stall holders trying to entice buyers in.

We headed off to the information centre. These days they like people to pre book visits to Stonehenge - you just can’t arrive and expect to get in if they are busy. As it was already 12 o’clock we decided that rather than driving ourselves out to Stonehenge we would go by tour bus, be assured of getting in and enjoy a commentary on the way. Tickets purchased, we grabbed some lunch to eat en route and headed off on our tour.

We arrived at Stonehenge and never having been there before I thought we would be able to view the stones immediately - this wasn’t the case. We had to take a shuttle up to the site, some 2 miles away. The stones were impressive and the history that goes with them was really interesting. They believe that the stones have been there for more than 4000 years. It is not certain what Stonehenge was built for. It is believed however that the site may have first been used as a burial ground after finding cremated human remains in 2008. Other thoughts are that it has been a place of religious significance and pilgrimage, maybe also a site for astronomical events.

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The two main types of stones used at Stonehenge are the sarsens and the bluestones. Interestingly, neither of these stones are found locally around the site area itself. The huge sarsen stones which can weigh about 45 tonne are found about 18 mile away from the site with the bluestones being found in Wales! Amazing, how on earth did they manage to get the stones to the site in those times without the aid of modern machinery?

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We wondered around the site taking numerous photos and listening to our audio guides that were provided as part of the tour. Following that we headed back on the shuttle to the Stonehenge visitor centre and display area and the shop……there’s always a shop at the end of every tourist attraction! The garden plantings around the visitor centre caught our eye..among the ornamental planters were gorse plants surrounded by plant protectors - amazing...we're trying to get rid of the stuff in New Zealand and here it is protected!

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From there we boarded the bus and headed back to Salisbury via Old Sarum, the original site of the town of Salisbury. It is an Iron Age hill fort thought to have been there since about 3000BC.

When we arrived back in Salisbury we headed off to the Salisbury Cathedral for a quick look around and some photos.

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The cathedral was completed in 1258 and it has the tallest church spire in the UK, reaching 123 m and contains the world’s oldest working clock, from 1386. The cathedral also has a beautiful court yard and interior.The cathedral was never bombed. The Luftwaffe bombers were under strict instruction not to bomb the cathedral as they used it as a navigational marker.

Interestingly one of the four remaining copies of the Magna Carta is kept in the Cathedral. The original document from 1215 is on display but unfortunately we weren’t able to take any photos. The document is hand written in latin on vellum which is preserved animal skin…in this case calf skin. The hand writing was beautiful, so small and neat. The document which was issued by King John (England) to help prevent civil war between the king and his barons. It has 63 clauses and is now famous and is looked upon as a symbol of fairness, justice and human rights.

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We left Salisbury and headed for home via Castle Combe which is noted as being a quaint English village. It didn’t disappoint. There wasn't a lot happening in the village as it is very small but picturesque. We stopped for photos and a quick refreshment and then headed back to Bath for tea and a blog update.

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On our way back our Farm Cottage, we drove into a beautiful sunset.

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Again, another fun,history filled day.

Posted by Touringteamf 01:46 Archived in England Comments (1)

Monday and it was back to Bath

and the day had a Bizarre ending

overcast 16 °C
View UK & Europe Trip 2014 on Touringteamf's travel map.

We woke in Bradford all packed and ready to go back to Trowbridge to drop off the boat.

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It was a smooth ride and when we got there we had a look inside a very nice wide boat that was for sale. We even saw our friends (The 50’s) who we meet at the start of our journey. We said goodbye to them and got in the car to head to Bath.

By car, Bath took only 30 minutes to get to. Although, we had a bit of difficulty finding the house we were meant to stay at. It was out in the country and Helen couldn't find it either. But once we arrived we were very impressed. Downstairs it had 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a kitchen and a dining room. Then up the spiral stairs, there was a huge living room, complete with a massive tv (and about every single episode of Friends). We unpacked and settled in then headed into town.

The house also came with a reserved parking space in town. It ended up being a perfect spot for us. We passed a Sainsbury on the way passed (It had a very nice looking Thai restaurant above it, but more on that later) so we grabbed our lunch from there. We were walking the streets when we found a City Sightseeing Bus - just what we wanted! We jumped on and ate our lunch in the sun on the top story.

We planned to do a full circuit first, but when we passed by The Royal Crescent we decided to get off and have a look. We took a few photos and then went into a Museum, that was inside the house No. 1. It was very interesting, but unfortunately no photos.

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We got back on to the Bus which took us into town. We had been dying to go to Sally Lunns house (which is Baths oldest house) and also home to the famous Sally Lunns Bun. The bun is light - but expensive - and can be enjoyed sweet or savoury. I enjoyed my bun with strawberry jam and clotted cream with a side of hot chocolate. Underneath the café there was a Museum, if you'd even call it that. It was one room that smelt really bad and half of the space was taken up by a cash register.

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After that, we wondered the street and (to Dad’s horror) had a look at a few shops. By that time it was 5.10pm and at 8pm we planned to go on a walking tour. So we got a few groceries for the next day, headed back to the car and then… went to the nice looking Thai restaurant for tea! Well, I tell you what, it was so nice! I ordered a sweet and sour duck stir fry type thing which was incredible! The only fault would have to be the squid in Madison’s dish, it was a little bit rubbery. But we would recommend Thai Balcony.

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We headed down to the start of Bizzare Bath, the name of the walking tour we went on. It started off with a bang as I volunteered to go up in front of everyone in a challenge to win 5 Pound (which was the amount of the ticket to join the tour). Anyway, it was very successful and I now carry the 5 pound proudly in my pocket.

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The Bizzare Bath tour was the highlight of my day and I was laughing the whole time. It was a great time, passers by must of thought we were odd. At one point we were singing The Lord Is My Shepard (To ward off the ‘Youth’ of Bath from joining the back of the group) and a toy rabbit (After having escaped chains and a tied bag in the bottom of the Avon river) came flying around the corner on a remote control motorbike at another part. Anyway, the tour was brilliant and even the Germans on the tour were laughing!

We arrived back at the house at about 10pm and it was scary to think that we were on a boat when we woke up! It was honestly such a jam-packed (but fun) day!

Posted by Touringteamf 00:27 Archived in England Comments (1)

Sunday we toured Bath from the boat

and then set sail for home

overcast 16 °C
View UK & Europe Trip 2014 on Touringteamf's travel map.

Up ‘an at ‘em they used to say in WWI, apparently.

So in Bath we were. We’d breakfasted, organised ourselves, left our Narrow Boat on the canal and outside the Roman Baths just after opening time at 9.00 am. No queues to be seen, and very few people in front of us as we went through.

We were able to take our time wandering through listening to our Audio Guide. Quite incredible really, that they were built in 50 AD, up until the Romans were conquered in the 300s. Then over time, they gradually fell in into obscurity, until they were completely hidden, not to be seen again until the 1700s when they were rediscovered.. Since then, archaeologists have gradually uncovered what we can see today.

They really are quite impressive, and show how advanced the Romans were in some aspects. Hot Pools, Saunas, Steam Rooms etc. The ruins all point to the explanations, plus a bit of lateral thinking.

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It really does beggar belief that something so historically grand, could disappear and then be rediscovered. One word of caution, the rediscovery has been slightly embellished by some recent additions. (when I say recent, I mean up to 200 years ago)

Once again we fluked the weather. It was drizzling rain when we left our Narrow Boat on the canal. We had left our grand supply of umbrellas back in our car in Trowbridge, but we resisted buying any more. (thanks Moira) It rained steadily when we were in the Roman Baths, but by the time we remerged the rain had cleared.

Our next event was the Jane Austin walking tour at 11.00 am. Dickon guided us around Jane Austin’s Bath. He mixed up Jan Austin’s characters from Northanger Abby, Persuasion as well as from her own personal life. It was quite neat, because in spite of none of us having read the novels, it did give us an insight into the history of the city and her life. It gave us some history and relevance.

He explained about the “Bath Season”, the Arrivals Room, The Assembly Room, Sedan Chairs and Link Snuffers. It almost inspires one to read one of her novels. (written late 1700’s). I might try Northanger Abby though. Dickon told us that is the easiest one to read

Jane Austin died in 1817, at the age of 41, never having gained fortune from her works, as opposed to Beatrix Potter and J K Rowling.

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By then it was early afternoon. So we headed back to our Narrow Boat, via the “Bridge Coffee Shop” our number one milkshake shop. A quick visit to Tesco for some supplies.

Set course for Bradford on Avon. I drove the boat while Marg made lunch. No time to waste as I pushed the throttle to break neck speed, (or what we would call walking pace). We almost kept pace with the swans swimming upstream, and the pedestrians striding out along the “tow path”..... only got yelled at once for going too fast.

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We crossed under two swing bridges, a lock and two aqueducts. The swing bridges required teamwork to navigate. Me driving and the girls jumping off the boat, unlocking the bridge, swinging it round, closing it, and then running to catch up and re-board the boat.

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The lock required us to moor up, wait for the oncoming boats to exit, team up with another boat (two boats at a time), enter the lock, the girls would close the lock, drain the top lock into ours, float up to the next level, open the gates, steam out, the girls close the gates, re-board and off we go.

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A great opportunity to meet people off other boats.

We got to Bradford on Avon in time to go through the Lock. Moored up for our last night on the boat, Mackenzie cooked tea, followed by meringues pushed from our favourite cafe back in Bath,

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and then.... just because we could, we went to the pub for a drink..... 3 hot chocolates and an Irish Whiskey.

We had met some people on the way:

The “50s”..... a group of 7 from London celebrating a 50th birthday.
A farmer from Kent (surname Scott) who had spent a year working in a shearing gang in Otautau!!
A couple who had sold their house and semi retired and living on the canal.
Joe and Sandra whose boat we gate crashed. Retired, sold everything and travelling the canals. (Had their boat built at 70,000 UK pound)
Dave and Teresa from Cornwell, celebrating a 40th. They have invited us to stay with them in Cornwell. Dave fly fished for England, and won a
gold medal for the world championship fly fishing competition.

We were parked up for our last night on the canal, a quick round of “last card” and then bed before a push on in the morning to return the boat.
We all thoroughly enjoyed our Narrow Boating experience. To me there seems to be 4 types of canal users.

A neat experience and a great day.

1) The gypsy type people who have escaped "normal" living and just drift. They look rough, their boats look rough, but we are told most of them are great people. Mostly just parked up.
2) Those who have retired after a career of graft and have sold everything and cruising the canals at their leisure. They have some great looking boats. They have no where in particular to be and the have all day to get there.
3) A cross between the two. Own old boats and are "doer uppers". Some need to be scrapped from what we could see. Mostly just parked up.
4) The tourists. Hiring boats for short periods of time. Have specific places to be under tight time frames.

I have suggested to Marg when we retire, we should sell everything, buy a boat and spend 10 years cruising the canals of UK and Europe. Marg was quite supportive. Marg said, what a great idea. I'm sure you and your 2nd wife will be happy. (As our friends the Fahertys would say)

Posted by Touringteamf 01:03 Archived in England Comments (0)

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