A Travellerspoint blog

Wednesday we headed for Inverness

saw Dick's birth town and got caught out in the rain

overcast 14 °C
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We had a big day of travelling ahead of us, so we were one the road by 9.00 am. Our wee hoose in Edinburgh was great. The owner Lorraine was great to deal with. Warm, friendly and helpful.


We hit the road and headed north to Inverness. Over the impressive bridge that takes you to the north side of the Forth of Firth. We stopped for lunch at Perth, got a sandwich and continued north.

We saw a sign to Kingussie, the birth place of Dick Bragan, our Best Man at our wedding. So in we went. It was neat to see where Dick was born. It is a hustling bustling wee village….. well no not really. That was an exaggeration, or as Dick’s mates like to call it…… a Dick Braganism. To be fair to Kingussie, it was lovely wee village.





Back on the road and continued our trip to Inverness. Now here’s something you don’t learn every day. Inver refers to the mouth of a river. So Inverness is situated at the mouth of a river; the river Ness. Invercargill is therefore also situated at the mouth of a river. Anyway, I digress.

Got to Inverness and we checked into our B&B. Our host, Russell, was fond of a chat and full of ideas and information. He pointed us into town, walking distance. We set off and next thing the rain started. Had a walk passed several promising restaurants and pubs. a quick look at the Inverness Castle, and the rain got the better of us. Went to Primark to buy a couple of umbrellas.


Not sure why Inverness has a Castle. It was built in the mid 1800s, long after a castle was needed. The only thing I can think of is that before the Castle was built they didn’t have one. After it was built, they did.

Found a nice pub not too far from our B&B, had dinner including a Haggis entrée and retired back to our B&B.

An quiet day, with plenty of travelling.

Posted by Touringteamf 01:00 Archived in Scotland Comments (1)

Fern hits Scotland

and makes some new friends

overcast 15 °C
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Hi 7NA,

So we are now in Scotland but I haven’t told you all about my last adventures in England yet!

Once we had been to Goole we went to York. York is a medieval town with history of vikings, romans and normans.

We started our day off with a lovely lamb-friendly bus tour around York. Madison seemed very odd that day, she had entered a photo competition where you had to take a photo of the bus at different landmarks. She was chasing the buses all over York looking for the ideal photo!


We walked down the Shambles that trace back to the 13 hundreds! I found a rather cuddly bear and decided it was photo worthy.


We then went to Ambleside but sadly I didn't star in any of those photos Mackenzie stole my Spotlight!

After Ambleside we trotted off to Scotland! We stayed at Edinburgh in a nice wee hoose with a lot of flowers that were just to my liking! Luckily we got to go to Edinburgh Castle for the day and we also got to see The Royal Military Tattoo. New Zealand featured in the Tattoo, they had an award winning Kapa Haka group and Highland Dancers… What a mix! The castle was very impressive but I nearly fell off the cannon when the solider did the one o’clock gun salute.


Now for a game of Where’s Fern. Try to find me in the miniature version of the Horse’s Heads at Falkirk Wheel. The real Horse’s Heads are 30m high! Just imagine the tallest diving board at Splash palace x by 6! You’ll get the picture. These horse’s heads aren’t even near the size of the real ones! The Falkirk wheel was an amazing piece of engineering. It helps the canal boats go from one canal to the other. The canals are at all different levels so that’s why they need the wheel.


After Edinburgh we went to Inverness. This is where we are currently. I met a lovely wee sheep called Shelly and a rough little Highland Cattle called Randy on the staircase near our pen. We are having a sleepover tonight!


Well I better be off and make the lucern corn now

Fern, Randy and Shelly xox

Posted by Touringteamf 00:52 Archived in Scotland Comments (0)

Tuesday 5 August 2014 - Tracing our Scottish Ancestory

a long day but full of interesting finds

overcast 16 °C
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Today is the day when I am hopefully going to find out a little more about my Grandfather,
Samuel Reid who left Scotland around 1911 bound for New Zealand.

We left the house here in Edinburgh at 10am and headed off for West Calder. We travelled for about half an hour in lovely country side and then we spotted the West Calder sign.

The township itself wasn’t that inspiring (nicer than Mataura). While we were looking for a park Mackenzie spotted the council building with births deaths and marriages. We found a park and headed back to that building. The building was closed up and had relocated. Fortunately, a lady that was passing by (with a big bag full of empty wine bottles) stopped and asked if we wanted that office. She gave us directions for the library and council offices down the road. Before she left Pete asked her if she had had a big night the night before. She laughed, said her husband was due home on Thursday and she thought she should get rid of the empties!







We found the library and council office rooms successfully. The lady there, Anne, was very helpful and enlisted the help of a customer, Allan (a headmaster), who also gave us a lot of information on the area and the Shale Mines. The mining in the area was for shale and not coal. Anyway, they told us about Hermond Row where my Grandfather came from. Unfortunately there aren’t any houses remaining - just the mund (we think he meant mound) of old shale. Alan told us that the “Row” of houses were just across the road from the mund before they were destroyed. He also said that the workers for the Shale Mine Company were paid with coupons instead of cash – these coupons were only redeemable at the company store! How any of the families got ahead I don’t know.

Anne told us that there was a local historian (Sybil) in Linlithgow that would be able help with the history. She gave us the postal code for Linlithgow and a book on shale mining off the library shelves – “take it, we have plenty in stock”. she said. We then headed out to where Hermond Row would have been for a look and to take some photos.

This is all that remains of the "Row" area - the shale mine pile:



From there we headed off to Linlithgow. It is a very picturesque little town. We were looking for somewhere to have lunch when a lady stopped and asked if we needed help. She advised us that a great spot for lunch was up near the canals. Taking her advice we headed up that way.





Unfortunately nothing was open for lunch however, we did start talking to this retired man who is coming to New Zealand next March. What a delightful man. He spoke with a real Scottish accent, just like I imagined they would over here (haven’t heard really broad accents prior to this!) Within quarter of an hour we knew he was an ex gardener, had four granddaughters, what they did regarding schooling, their names, places of interest to visit in the area, he goes to the gym three times a week, does Norwegian walking on a Tuesday, that he was a member of the Whiskey Club and that he had a wee dram each night – only one mind you!

He spoke of New Zealand “over the bye”. It wasn’t that he went on about himself at all but that we asked questions and he answered. He advised us to take a trip to the Falkirk wheel. He gave us directions to the eating and drinking houses in the town and wished us well.

We had lunch and headed down towards the library to meet Sybil. We talked to Sybil for awhile and then she logged into the Scottish People website and we started! We looked through the census details for 1891, 1901 and 1911. Granddad was on the first two census returns but not on the 1911 census. So he had either left home and was living somewhere else or had left for New Zealand by 1911.

The census returns themselves are worth seeing. All hand written, with name, age, address, occupation, type of home and how many windows being recorded.

The addresses we found were Hermond Row (no longer in existence) and 4 Woolford Row. Sybil knew the Woolford Row homes were still standing! We also managed to look up Granddads birth certificate, his parent’s marriage certificate and details of where they married.

Sybil said they married in a little town called Addiewell. When she told us that she screwed her nose up a bit and said that it wasn’t that nice a town – she had prepared a lot of history material for the area. It was a poor town. The church is still there but she said they wouldn’t have married there, it was normally at the bride’s home or at the local hall where the reception would also have been held.

Granddad’s father was noted as being a shale miner. Sybil said that Shale Miners were a step up the ladder from coal miners as the shale miners didn’t have to bend down to work!

From there we decided to head off to Falkirk and see the wheel and return back to Edinburgh via Woolford Row.

The wheel was very interesting – an amazing piece of engineering built to shift boats from one canal to the other. Also at the Falkirk wheel were scaled down versions of the Kelpies. The Kelpie structures are to recognise the draught horses that helped pull the boats/barges down the canals in years gone by. The original sculptures of the Kelpies are at the helix park and stand at 30 metres high.











From Falkirk it was off to Woolford Row – how exciting. We took a couple of wrong turns but as luck would have it we travelled around the West Lothian district and through Addiewell.





Next thing we were in the Lanarkshire district – down the road to Woolford Row. We parked and got out the car in the rain.





A local lady Phyllis saw us and told us to visit Mrs Higgins in house 2 – “Mary has been here forever and knows all there is to know about the Row”. Phyllis took us along to Mrs Higgins house and introduced us. She was a wee stout woman all of 4 foot tall – she made Grandma Waide and Nana Flannery look tall.

She was lovely - 94 years old and knew all about the Reid family. I had to kneel beside her to talk as she couldn’t hear me. She kept rubbing my right wrist where my bangle is talking animatedly about Mr and Mrs Reid.

I asked what their first names were – “Mr and Mrs Reid” she said. “They lived at number one not number four” she said.

“When they arrived Mr Reid didn’t even have a job but my husband managed to get him one at the local restaurant as head waiter – he looked very smart in his uniform “she said.

I asked Mrs Higgins how long she had lived there. “I’m 94 now and I moved here when I was 8”

Mrs Higgins tried ringing her daughter down the “Row” but her line was engaged. She said she wished she was more mobile so she could make us a cup of tea. She said she gets a lot of people calling wanting to know the history of the “Row”. “I might be 94 with limited sight, dull hearing and sore legs but this is still bright as a button” she said tapping her head.


Unfortunately Mrs Higgins was talking about a later family of Reids as Granddad would have been well gone by the time Mrs Higgins arrived at the Row in 1928 – nevertheless she was a delight and I didn’t have the heart to tell her it was the wrong family. When we went to leave the house she made a great fuss of Peter and the girls, telling the girls what pretty wee lasses they were.





Peter then went down to number 4 and talked to Alistair the current owner. He was happy for us to take photos, come in for a cup of tea and even look around the house. It has been altered internally and had a sun porch added. The original home had two bedrooms and a kitchen /living area with an outside wash house. Would have been very cramped for a family of 10! We declined the house tour and cup of tea, took some photos and left.









We headed off again down the road. The satnav told us we needed to turn about face at the next possible opportunity. We did so and I spotted some yellow sheep at Woolford Farm. I got out to take photos and Peter said he was going to go in and ask the farmer what breed they were. Long story short, Matthew Hamilton, the owner, invited us in to show us photos of the “Row” when they mined there. In this particular area they mined coal not shale. He showed us this extensive map of the mining tunnels – mind blowing the amount and lengths of the tunnels. He also offered us a cup of tea.
While we were there Madison made friends with Guiness, the Hamilton's very likeable dog.













It turned out that the sheep were sprayed dyed yellow as a mark of identification between the stud stock and the flock. Matthew’s family had been on the farm for over 150 years and owned over 3,500 acres.

After that we headed back to Edinburgh. It had been a very long but interesting day. Along our journey we had met some very interesting, friendly, helpful and genuinely hospitable people. Coupled with that, we were able to drive all around the area that Granddad came from, and that in itself was special.

I am very grateful to Pete and the girls for their interest and patience today.

Posted by Touringteamf 14:59 Archived in Scotland Comments (1)

Monday and we went to the Edinburgh Tattoo

and took in some of the sites of Edinburgh Fringe Festival

sunny 17 °C
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We had a leisurely start to the day as we had plenty of time to do the things we wanted to do. We got the bus into Edinburgh to see the Castle and other sights. We got off at the Royal Mile, and the streets were buzzing with the street performers of the Fringe Festival, which runs in parallel to the Tattoo.

We drifted through the gathered throng watching the performers all do their sales act just to get us to their evening theatre performance. Just the sales pitches were theatre enough. They all had their own method of attracting our custom. Of course they all failed.



Anyway time passed us by and it was time to see the Castle. We had failed to join the dots. School holidays, Tattoo, the Fringe Festival and the Glasgow Commonwealth Games had just finished. Who would have picked it would have been busy?

It took us the best part of an hour just to get our tickets to get into the Castle.


Just in time to see the 1.00 O’Clock Gun salute. We all knew it was coming, and it should have been no great surprise that at one o’clock the gun (canon) would go off. We were about 15 m from it waiting for the guard to pull the trigger. But the loudness of it just about put us all into orbit.


We made our way round the Castle. The highlights were the wee St Margaret’s Chapel (1100’s) the oldest building there, the prisoner rooms, Mary Queen of Scots state palace, the views and of course the “Scottish Honours” or aka the Crown Jewels. Complete with the stone of destiny. The Coronation Stone that the newly crowned monarch of the United Kingdom sits upon during the crowning ceremony. It was only returned to the Castle with the current Queen’s permission in 1996. It sounds really special but it is just a bit of limestone rock, roughly hewed into a block of stone. It weighs 250 kg.


By the time we finished, it was time to head back to our wee hoose to get ready for the Tattoo. We cooked ourselves dinner, and headed back into town on the bus.

The Tattoo was brilliant. A beautiful clear and calm evening, albeit a wee bit chilly. It’s not just all Bagpipes and brass bands. Zulu warriors, Caribbean Steel drums, Highland dancers, Maori Kapa Haka, Singaporean Military Band and the Royal Marines.

The lighting and the choreography were spectacular as was the fireworks display. The night also coincided with the 100 year anniversary of the start of WWI. We all lit up lights to commemorate and remember.


After the show, the ever efficient bus service had us home within half an hour. So home by 11.30 pm after another great day.

Posted by Touringteamf 14:42 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Sunday Was The Day We Saw Beatrix Potter's House

... and arrived in Edinburgh

rain 14 °C
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We woke up on Sunday morning, quickly got dressed and went down to our buffet breakfast. My breakfast consisted of runny baked beans and twice the amount of bacon I had originally wanted. Anyway we made our way back up to our room and got packed and ready for the rest of the day.

We left the Ambleside Hostel at 9am and headed into town (Bowness) for a quick look. As soon as we got out of the car it started bucketing down with rain. We saw a sign on a shop window that said ‘Dogs Welcome, But No Food Or Drink’. They sure do love their Dogs in the UK.


After our look around we went back to the car (dripping wet) and off to see Beatrix Potter’s House. After a longish ride through narrow, stone fenced lined country lanes, we arrived at Near Sawrey the ticket office to Hill Top Farm, Beatrix’s house. (the full name of the village is Near Sawrey as opposed to the other town… Far Sawrey!!) It was still raining and we had to walk up a long path to get to her house. Thankfully though, they supplied free umbrellas!


As soon as we walked into the house we could feel the heat from the roaring fire in the first room. Apparently the house was just as Beatrix would have left it, according to one of the guides there. Throughout the house there were her books, her letters, and a photo copy of her first story of Peter Rabbit! The idea came when her Old Nannies’ Son was sick, so she wrote a get well card to him. She didn't know what to say so she made up a little story, Peter Rabbit. He enjoyed it so much that he showed some of his Friends who also enjoyed it. She then realised that it must be worth something if so many people enjoyed it, so she tried to get it published. As she was a Woman, no-one was interested. So she published it privately. After all of the copies jumped off the shelves, the publishers reconsidered and the rest is History!

Is this a descendent of Peter Rabbit, grazing in Hill Top Farm's front paddock? No sign of Mr McGregor.


She quickly became a very rich woman. She was also a good business woman. Not only did she get a good deal from the publishers but she also controlled all the mechanising of all the toys, prints and clothing. She ended up owning 3,500 ac of farm land around her original cottage, so developers could not destroy the countryside as she knew it. She was also a breeder of Herdwick sheep, of which she showed at A&P shows, winning numerous awards. Her Trust still owns the farms, and are leased out, but the lessees must have at least 1 flock of Herdwick sheep on the farm. She was also an artist and a scientist. An amazing Woman. Dad likened her to J K Rowling, but thought she was even better.


After we left the House, we were on the way to Edinburgh! We were all hungry so a quick stop off at Hawkshead for lunch. We walked past one shop that had MASSIVE sponge cakes! They must have been pretty good, the queue was out the door! We got our lunch from the Co-operative, Sandwiches for Mum and Dad, A Salad Meal Deal for me (Salad + Drink + Snack) and a Sausage Roll for Madison, which we had in the car.


Back on the road to Edinburgh and not much happened. We had a quick stop for the toilet, a snack and to stretch our legs. Towards the end of our trip, Helen wasn’t being helpful and lead us into a Supermarket, NOT where we told her to go!

We arrived to our house, settled in and ended up turning the TV on for the first time since we have been away. It is a lovely wee hoouse! A semi-detached, 2 story hoouse, 2 bedrooms and a bathroom upstairs, and a kitchen and living room downstairs, with a nice sunny backyard. We watched the end of 2 movies (Sister Act and The American President) had tea and dessert then went to bed, ready to go off to Edinburgh Castle the next day!



Posted by Touringteamf 13:27 Archived in England Comments (4)

Saturday we drove through the Yorkshire Moors and Dales

... and saw a few things you don't see everyday

all seasons in one day 17 °C
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Our last day in York...Pete headed off to the local hospital to have his stitches removed after I was reluctant to do it for him. The wound still looked quite deep and inflamed. The doctor at the hospital removed them for Pete saying that it was rather a basic job from Singapore!

We decided rather than going directly from York to Windermere that we would like to see some of the Yorkshire Moors and Yorkshire Dales. It made for a longer trip but hopefully would show us more of the countryside. It didn’t disappoint.

The Moors are shown below.


We stopped for lunch at a small village called Sleights. Exactly the same as Speights except different. The Eskdale Fisheries took our eye. Traditional fish and chips for lunch complete with vinegar, mushy peas and bread. Delicious!


Our second stop was later in the afternoon for a break at Askrig. We only stopped long enough for lemonade at one of the pubs, to stretch our legs. Like so many towns from York they were displaying yellow painted bikes and bunting for the Tour de France which rode through Yorkshire. They also had English flags out for the Commonwealth Games.


We saw a lot of different things along the way which are shown in the photos below. Quite a few road signs that you wouldn’t see at home in New Zealand and the rolling dales with all their stone fences.


We thought they were a bit mean to the Squirrels. I'm sure they are a bit smarter than the signs make them out to be.


There were also some stunning stone bridges.


More than one herd of cows heading up the narrow lane roads for milking. Very small herds compared to those at home and only going into milk at 5pm!


A long day, but a really enjoyable one. Great scenery. Pete said he thought it was the kind of drive Tom would have loved. We got to the YHA at Ambleside around 7.00 pm. A great spot, right on the lake’s edge. We had time for a few photos, a catch up on the blog, tea and bed.


Posted by Touringteamf 09:37 Archived in England Comments (3)

Friday we were in York

a day seeing the cathedral, vikings, shopping and supping high tea, but no Yorkshire pudding

overcast 20 °C
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Day two in York. A cooler day to what we had previously on the tour but still pleasant. After advice from the receptionist at the YHA we decided to walk into York town centre via the Dame Judi Dench river way walk.

We visited the information centre and arranged a Hop on Hop off Bus Tour, River Cruise and Visit to York Minster.

The bus tour took us all around York’s major sightseeing attractions and gave us an informative commentary along the way.


Again we heard the origins of old sayings that are used today. Some of the shops had windows that had been bricked up. According to the guide, people back in the early years were taxed for the amount of sunlight that they received in their shops/homes. If they failed to pay the tax the windows were bricked up....hence the saying “daylight robbery.”

Some of the buildings around the city have ceramic cats on the frontages – these cats were placed there by one particular builder to keep the rats away!


When the tour finished we hopped off and made our way to Betty’s Tea Rooms. This iconic tea room has been going since 1919 and is very popular. We were shown to our seats and our orders taken. The formal cake trolley made its rounds – very grand looking cakes and slices on board. Finally our morning tea arrived, complete with silver tea service, napkins and cake forks. Betty’s Tea Rooms was very traditional and a great experience.


Next stop was York Minster. We just missed the free guided tour start time so decided to look around ourselves. As luck would have it we asked a volunteer guide what is the difference between and Cathedral and Minster - after explaining that a Cathedral must have a seat for a Bishop and that a Minster has a seat for the Bishop and is a place of learning she offered to show us around. How lucky is that??


One of the most amazing things she showed us was the area of the church which has its stained glass window removed for repair. In its place is a life size photo of the window which Hewlett Packard produced. The window is the size of a tennis court, consisting of 108 stained glass panels. It depicts the different books of the Bible, from the creation to the apocalypse. It took 4 years to make (1405 to 1408). This window is the largest stained glass window in the world. The artist was paid the princely sum of 56 pounds for his effort. The artist was John Thornton.

Luckily for us four of the restored panels were on display under the window – these panels are over 600 years old and within hands reach (covered by protective glass) – truly beautiful.. Where else would you ever get to be that close to something so amazing?


From there we went into the centre of town again and looked around the shops and streets. They were all so quaint. The “Shambles” which was rebuilt in the 1400’s is a very narrow street once housing the butcher shops in town. The cattle were herded, sold and slaughtered at the end of the street. The street is named after the word Shamel meaning “the stalls or benches on which meat is displayed.” It now houses lovely gift and food shops.


We saw a couple of unusual things. The city had yellow bikes all over the place. It took us a while to understand the significance of them. They were put up as part of the celebration of having the Tour de France through York... and this humorous topiary outside a florist shop.


Pete was keen to do a Viking tour. We found one and Madison decided to join him. Mackenzie and I went shopping for the hour the tour was on. The tour was very good, based on a local dig which unearthed Viking artefacts from 600-1000. The shopping was also successful – Mackenzie finally found the pink vans she was after!

The river cruise was next. Unfortunately it started raining so we had to retreat inside for the duration of the tour which took us up and down the river Ouse. Again, a very informative and entertaining commentary.
Once the cruise finished we headed towards Clifford Tower and the Court House and prison buildings. Very old and impressive buildings.


From there we walked around the old city walls of York. Fantastic views of the city.


After 8 hours of sightseeing we were ready for home. We decided to walk back home and have a traditional roast with Yorkshire pudding at a local pub on the route home. Unfortunately roasts with Yorkshire pudding are only on offer on a Sunday and this was Friday! Never the less we had a wonderful meal at the “Bay Horse”. Just as we were due to walk back to the YHA it started raining heavily, so we had to seek shelter at the Bay Horse and wait for a taxi.


Back to the York Youth Hostel and away to bed.


Posted by Touringteamf 01:22 Archived in England Comments (1)

Thursday was the day we traced Nana's heritage

.. and went to Rugby and Chatsworth House

overcast 22 °C
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We headed out from Stratford for York, via Rugby, Nottingham, Chatsworth House and Goole.

We were pleased with our Stratford apartment. Two bedrooms, one with an ensuite, good kitchen and a living area. Tescos just over the road. Brilliant.

First stop was Rugby. We found the school, which was deserted apart from groundsmen. Drove into the sports fields and wandered around. Finally found the plaque commemorating William Webb Ellis.


Back in the car heading north, with Fern keeping watch. We drove past a massive coal powered power station, and some wind powered power stations.


Went into Nottingham. Not too sure why we went to Nottingham, other than it seemed like a good idea at the time. There was nothing to impress. Got a sandwich and carried on for Chatsworth House, the home of the Cavendish family and the Duke of Devonshire.

Drove throughout the Derbyshire Dales to get there, and the scenery was impressive. Rolling hills, farm land nestled amongst the trees. They’ve not heard of rotational grazing based on the rank pastures. We passed through some lovely villages on the way.

Chatsworth house is huge, and seems to be just a massive art gallery. Even before the first Duke was awarded his Dukedom the late 1600’s, they were a wealthy family, having made their money as property traders.

William Cavendish was instrumental in helping dispose of King James II who was far too Catholic for the English’s liking. The new king, King William III awarded him with a Dukedom.

With their own wealth, they purchased the land and built their own home. Ever since, each succeeding Duke has been an art collector. They have an extensive painting, sculpture, tapestry and porcelain collection. The recently sold a small sketch of a bird for 29 million pound. Presumably that would have helped clear the OD.


Then on to Goole. Mum, her 9 siblings and their mother immigrated to New Zealand from Goole. My Grandfather, who was a merchant seaman had jumped ship in Port Chalmers, and had sent word to sell the house, pack and come on out. Was that an executive decision or what??

Anyway we went back to 41 Cottingham St, from which they left. We spoke to some neighbours about what the house would have been like in 1925. They all decided it would have 3 bedrooms upstairs. One big and two small. Downstairs would have had a small kitchen and presumably a living/dinning area. The toilet was outside in a shed, and I think there may have been a bath outside as well. It was great for Marg and the girls to see where Teresa/Nana came from. I had been there before, but probably appreciated the moment more now than before. Took some quick photos, paused for a moment’s reflection and headed for York.


We finally arrived in York, but not before it took us 20 minutes to drive the last 1,500 m. Peter Snell, John Walker and even Nick Willis could have been there and back in the same time.

We are staying at the YHA. They had no record of a booking for the 31st of July, but they did have a booking for us on the 31st of August, if we would like to come back!!

However, they were able to squeeze us in, so all good.

Posted by Touringteamf 13:49 Archived in England Comments (2)

Fern's Trip to Stratford Upon Avon

and surrounding area.

sunny 27 °C
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Wednesday 30 July 2014

Hi Everyone, I haven’t made a post for a while so thought I had better check in.

Yesterday I arrived a Stratford Upon Avon – the birth place of William Shakespeare. It’s a lovely quaint wee township with a population of about 25,000. Beautiful old homes with flowering baskets and boxed hedging (looks like extremely good eating to me!).


Today we ventured out to Blenheim House or Palace as it now known. This is a historic palace dating back to 1705. The palace has never been the home to any royal family. It has been in the family of the Dukes of Marlborough since it was built. A Duke is the next level down from being a member of the royal family. It is the only non royal building in England to hold the title of palace.


This palace is also the birth place of Sir Winston Churchill. I managed to get my photo taken beside a vest belonging to Winston Churchill as a baby and beside the bed in the room he was born. Amazing!!





I had a great day looking around the grounds and palace.





The palace had a guide "Dusty Chambers" who told us facts about the palace - she was very informative and entertaining. Dusty was very funny, she even had Madison and Mackenzie doing housework around the palace!





Tomorrow we are off to York – looking forward to that. Will post another blog then.

Fern xoxo

Posted by Touringteamf 15:05 Archived in England Comments (2)

Wednesday was the day we went to Blenheim House

and saw Churchill's beginning and end

sunny 27 °C
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Today is Wednesday and after Dad dragged me out of bed we headed off to Blenheim Palace through the Cotswolds.

We headed off at 9am in our car Theo (Everyone else calls him Enie) in our Summer clothes with our new sunglasses to Chipping Norton. We (after a bit of trouble) parked our car and headed over to the market across the road. We found that it was quite cold early in the morning and Madison was the only one to bring a warm layer. We had a look around the rest of the village before heading to a cute cafe for morning tea. I had a hot chocolate with not 1, not 2, not 3 but 4 teaspoons of chocolate powder (I also had a jam donut that was very nice). We then headed back over to the Market to purchase potatoes, tomatoes, cherries and turkish delight. Then back on the road to the next Village!


We next arrived in Woodstock, hoping to find a sandwich shop.


With luck we found a shop around the corner to where we parked our car. It was kind of like a Subway, only a bit fancier.

We each each got some custom made sandwiches, picked up some strawberries, looked around and we were on the road to Blenheim Palace (which turns out was down the road a bit).

The Park outside of the Palace was amazing! Beautiful lake, grass and the weather finally warmed up and it was super hot!



But by this point I was starving, Mum and Dad said that we would go inside the Palace and sit down in the grounds. But as soon as we walked in, we spotted a free guided tour about to start. So, lunch had to be put on hold. Although all I could think about was food (nothing unusual to be honest) I found the tour really interesting and funny! Madison and I had to put on hats and dust windows. The lady taking the tour (Dusty Chambers) told us that Maids would begin working as young as the age of 9! And they would only get 10 Pound a year! That’s 20NZD!





The tour finally ended and we had our lunch! It was very nice eating, looking at the Palace and the fountains in the gardens. I then tried to get a bit of a tan which ended badly with the wind sweeping up my skirt which I didn’t notice for quite a while. It was even worse when I tried to get back up but fell flat on my face!


We went back inside the Palace for yet ANOTHER tour, this one (in my opinion) was not nearly as good as the previous one. But one thing I did find interesting was that the first Duke of Malborough, John Churchill, started off as a Footman for King James II. He found his fame as a very successful General winning important battles for the King. He was richly rewarded with a Dukedom and the impressive estate at Woodstock, later to be known as Blenheim Palace. Winston Churchill is a Grandson of the 7th Duke of Malborough.


We then continued on to the Winston Churchill Exhibition and then upstairs for yet another tour, this one the best of all. You walked into each room and the doors automatically shut behind you. When it was time to move on, the next door would open and you would move through. In each room, you would watch a story or listen to a conversation. Oh, did I forget to mention that our tour leader wasn’t a real person for this tour? They were either a hologram or made out of wax! The tour was really cool and I would recommend visiting it if you ever go to Blenheim Palace. Before we headed home we visited Winston Churchill’s grave, it was quite creepy with crows cawing in the background.


Then back on the road where we stopped off at one Village called Burford. We had a quick look around and stopped off to get an ice cream. We also passed two Villages but didn’t get out to look at either of them. We finally arrived home to a good well deserved rest!



Posted by Touringteamf 15:01 Archived in England Comments (1)

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