UK – Friends, food, wine, ales and fun!

Trip Start Aug 15, 2012
Trip End Jan 10, 2013

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Flag of United Kingdom  , England,
Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Our UK trip was all about seeing friends and we got to see all but one which is not too bad given August is summer holiday season in the UK.

Our UK itinerary was:

  • We flew in to Birmingham to have a long Happy Birthday lunch with Kaz;
  • Hired a car and went driving on the M6;
  • Drove up to Nantwich to visit Melinda, Clint, Riley and Cienna;
  • Popped in for a cup of tea with Kat, Matt, Fin and Fraser;
  • Spent two nights in a beachside hotel outside Edinburgh;
  • Drove back down to Malvern to spend a long weekend with Kaz, Tom, Sandy, Francis, Jess, James and animals;
  • Caught the train down to London to catch up with some old friends, minus Alan =( ;
  • Fly off to Spain to meet up with KT and Karl.

Our experience with driving on the M6 motorway was a delight, for a couple of reasons:

1. It is notorious for its unpredictability (you never know how long a journey is going to take) and all three times we were to meet up with our friends we were running late (aarrgghh, we hate running late).

2. Queuing (traffic jam) is constant.

3. We had hired a medium sized car but it was not available when we arrived at the allotted time and usually in this case the car hire company in question upgrades you. Not this time, this time we were downgraded!! It was that or wait another hour (or so). So off we went in a little Kia which wasn't a bad car it just had no 'go’. I can’t tell you the amount of times we had our pedal to the metal and it still wasn’t going anywhere. Its the first time I've ever been in third gear doing 100 kms. We really, really missed our beemer at this point.

4. Our car had no air conditioning (not many cars do here) which we thought would be fine given summer was almost over but we didn’t count on the queuing and spent an extra 1.5 hours crawling along the M6 with the sun shining directly on us (YUCK). Next time… we get aircon as well as a bigger car!

5. The dynamic road signage was warning the traffic when to slow down to help stem the flow of the traffic but everyone ignored it and kept going at normal speed. This seemed to exacerbate the whole queuing problem.

6. This is not the M6’s fault but… it really is important to remember the speed limits in a foreign country before you commence the drive.

Anyway, lessons learnt.

It was all great fun and we had too many good times to mention here.

We did do a few things we had not done before in England, like taking a stroll along some old canals with Melinda and a bunch of charming kids and a few zombies. This stroll included a walk through some sheep and cow fields and a lovely view of the countryside in slug season. Thanks to the boys we also discovered that slugs do not float… a very important scientific discovery.

We took a touristy boat ride along another canal with Kaz. We were planning to hire a boat of our own but the boat seemed a little sick and we weren’t prepared to take the risk of sinking (aarghh). There was a very serious fishing competition going on while we were there and big prize money was on the table for the winner. The sun was out and so there were crowds everywhere. It was a real festival atmosphere.

Edinburgh is a new city for us. We had been to Glasgow back in 2005 and it was lovely but Edinburgh is amazingly beautiful.  The view from Edinburgh Castle is just lovely and we were there at the same time as the annual Military Tattoo, we didn't go and see it but we did see the grand stand which was marring our view from the castle slightly. We loved it so much we are planning on going back there to see more of Scotland and to look for job opportunities.

We stayed a half an hours northeast of Edinburgh in North Berwick because we stumbled across this amazing old castle like hotel and couldn't not stay there. It was right on the beachside just after the golf course, the body of water there is called Firth of Forth. The 19th century Victorian architecture  is so beautiful and a favourite style of ours.

London was shining in it’s post 2012 Olympics state. We noticed a lot of buildings and tube stations had been cleaned of soot and other stuff and we really noticed the difference. We stayed in a different area that we had not stayed in before, Spitalfields, around Liverpool St train station and we were pleasantly surprised by the modern area. There was a whole area that was newly built in 2005/6 with loads of restaurants, shops and cafes.

Another silly London first for us was seeing the Borough Markets on an off day and the area which is usually filled with vendors selling delicious fresh produce, meats, veges, fruit, liquours, deli food and freshly baked produce. We used to go there frequently on market days to fill our tiny fridge while we were living in London.

One day we'll be living in the same city as these folks again... maybe Melbourne and manybe sooner than we might think =).
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