On to Merry England

Trip Start May 01, 2008
Trip End Jun 24, 2009

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David and Doreen

Flag of United Kingdom  , England,
Friday, June 6, 2008

So on to Merry England! H breezed through customs at Liverpool with his UK passport while I waited for ages to be processed, rather annoying after our 'plane had been delayed about an hour in Paris, and they had left us standing in a stuffy bus on the tarmac for what seemed like an eternity, with crying kids and hysterical women. Ahh the joys of international travel!!
From then on though we had a wonderful time!
H's cousin David picked us up from Liverpool's John Lennon airport (which has a large yellow submarine outside) and he and his wife, Doreen proceeded to treat us like royalty, taking us to all the places we wanted to see and satisfying all H's food cravings for the Lancastrian fare he had grown up with....fish and soggy chips, mushy peas and pudding, potato pie and even cold tripe with salt and vinegar which he pronounced delicious!!!
We visited the trough of Boland, an area of natural beauty in the north of Lancashire with open moors scattered with black-faced sheep with long tails, many with lambs bounding along beside them, and small villages with stone houses sporting honeysuckle vines and rose bushes, and trickling mountain streams rushing over moss covered rocks. We even "discovered" a beautiful old Catholic church complete with Stations of the Cross, ancient cemetery guarded by an enormous statue of an angel in the grounds and marvelous stained glass windows and painted Gothic ceiling and whose priest has written books about Miss Mac and Ko-ko, the church cats!
Then what a contrast, I had wanted to go to Blackpool where "the Lion et Albert" and many Lancastrians go to dip their toes in the Irish sea, or ride the roller coaster at the "Pleasure Beach", and the Lanky lads (complete with skinheads and tatts) go to let off steam. Think of the tacky parts of the Gold Coast and triple it and add a touch of 20th century decay with shop after shop selling gaudy pink fur covered hats and ornaments of the Blackpool tower which is a third size copy of Paris's Eiffel Tower, and t shirts saying "My grandmother went to Blackpool and all I got was this lousy t shirt." However I hear they do have a very good laser light show along the foreshore in the evenings and the trams still wend their way along the strip, now dressed in modern 21st century pictorials.
On our last day, we needed a walk so climbed up to the top of Mam Tor (Mother mountain), the remains of a Stone Age fortress, along with the other half of Lancashire that wasn't at Blackpool (it was a Sunday) and down the other side to the lovely town of Castleton. There were a group of paragliders taking off from the top, and many mountain bikers either riding slowly up the rough track or carrying their bikes on their shoulders, then hurtling down, bouncing all the while on the smooth grey rocks which had been used to make the paths. My knees hurt just to watch them! Even little children as young as three and four had struggled up the top and skipped down the other side. Must say that the English love to walk, but on a beautiful sunny day like today was, why anyone?!  Back to the car via Winnats Pass, a steep sided ravine cut by a glacier during the ice ages and housing spectacular caves where a beautiful blue stone unknown elsewhere in the world can be found. The slopes are covered with spongy grass and the occasional nettle which I discovered to my chagrin when i stumbled in a bog hole and put my hand straight onto the nettle. It tingled for two days! Luckily Doreen found some Dock which took away most of the sting. Nature is so wonderful; she almost always has an antidote nearby for poisonous plants!
I love the names in England.  We went past Chapel en le Frith; Ashton under Lyne; Cheadle Royal; Diggle; Ramsbottom; Knott End-on-Sea; Windy Wappins; Breedy Butts and shops or pubs called Sue's Chippy; the Fleece Inn; Billy Goat; Dog and Partridge, and street names like The Ladysmith and Lane Brow. A "chippy" by the way is not a carpenter but a take away food shop.
Up early for the flight from Manchester to Frankfurt, then on to Tokyo.  It always amazes me when I fly somewhere that when you get on most of the people seem to come from where you started, but something miraculous happens during the trip because when you get off there suddenly seems to be more of the people from the destination, speaking that language!
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