Yorkshire Wales Gloucester Wells Winchester

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Ibis Gloucester
Wykeham Arms Winchester
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Friday, September 23, 2011

23 Sept – We woke about 1 hour before disembarkation and well up the Tyne heading for the dock. Off the ferry we quickly filled the car with petrol and headed down to Whitby (after getting lost a couple of times…as usual due to road works). We crossed dales and moors, both made famous in literature and film and after about 1 hours were on high driving across the plain and down to Whitby at sea level.

Whitby has been special to me since I first learnt about it and went up to see it in 1991. I wanted this time to return and see the changes (including the 'ring-fencing' of the Abbey (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whitby_Abbey )so they can charge 6 quid a head entry fee and charge for parking). After the amazingly stark Abbey ruins and St Mary’s Parish Church and it’s graveyard we travelled to the other side of the harbour to visit, on foot, Jim Cook’s monument overlooking the seaward entrance to Whitby harbour. I saw more than I recall having seen previously and thrilled to walk along the quayside. At the Sutcliffe gallery (http://www.whitby-yorkshire.co.uk/sutcliffe/sutcliffe.htm), instead of buy more of his works (I bought 12 in Christchurch in the 80s) I bought the custodian’s work (Michael Shaw). Very happy with that we stopped for fish’n’chips (ta luv….) for lunch and then headed for York. A detour to Kirkham Priory (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kirkham_Priory) and Pickering's castle (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pickering_Castle)was made on the way and both turned out to be ruins set in picturesque grounds.

Oh what a place is York (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/York). Negotiating a better rate we registered at the hotel opposite the York Minster (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/York_Minster). They also boasted (not unjustifiably) a gourmet restaurant where we enjoyed a fabulous dinner and a wine form the Margaret River in Western Australia.

Roaming about being ‘trigger happy’ I returned to the Minster to attend Evensong with the Minster’s choir at which they remembered all the donors over the centuries who have given to the Minster and its maintenance or reconstruction.

York was, of course, a material Roman settlement and York has lots to show of this and also its Viking past. Focal point for the war of the Roses and the notorious Richard III, York warrants much more time than we had to give it.

24 Sept – After waking early to do so much we lingered after a heavy breakfast to watch NZ beat France 37-17. A mad self-guided tour of York for ‘ticking-off’ what we didn’t see yesterday preceded our checking out of the charming Dean Court Hotel opposite the Minster. From early morning until we left the bells rang out their tune….tooooo much for a visitor but according to the hotel staff, eventually subliminal.

We then hit the road to Chester (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chester) erroneously believing (my mistake) it to be the capital of the Lakes District. Oh no…Kendal is what I previously went to but had forgotten and as such we should have left Newcastle for Kendal and then down to York.

Reaching Chester, on a race day, it was a struggle to find a park while checking my facts (eventually found to be wrong at Chester’s Grosvenor Museum where the receptionist not only advised me of Kendal but also recommended I go to Llangollen instead of Wrexham in Wales). Chester was also another Roman settlement and so lots to see as well.

With that advice we headed to the lovely and picturesque gem of Llangollen (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Llangollen) in Wales. There, with further advice we drove down to Ludlow. This places is even more beautiful and special though no pictures because I spent the whole time trying in vain to find a hotel. There was a wedding in town and all hotels were full.

On to Hereford and there the story was an army reunion and on to Gloucester we drove into the dark of night (trying en route Ledbury, also without success). Into Gloucester at 2030 we reluctantly took a room in the new Ibis which surprised me and was acceptable for 90 quid excluding breakfast, internet and cable TV.

25 Sept – A good night sleep behind us in a comfortable bed and we’re off to Winchester via Wells to see the famous cathedrals in those cities.

These structures are so impressive given their time in history. I caught the Sunday service in Wells Cathedral (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wells_Cathedral) and captured a bit of the choir. Wandering around the building, having read the Follett novels, made looking more informed (not as an architect or engineer would but still more than if I had not read the books).

After yesterday's difficulties in getting a room, fortunately my son-in-law booked a hotel for us in Winchester. The Wykeham Arms hotel was  just marvelously old, creaking floors included along with poor plumbing and great vitals and beverages (though twice the price of York). Dinner and breakfast were included and these were tasty and filling. The hotel is just near the King's Gate to the Winchester Cathedral (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winchester_Cathedral) and that made getting around to see the sights so easy. Fair weather too helped immensely. We slept very well in our comfy double bed with belt-like metal bed-ends and warm furnishings.  These places are so nice to visit and to see such old buildings going back hundreds of years.

26 Sept - After a wonderful night and breakfast we left this gorgeous little place and headed to Romsey (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romsey), another lovely little place, to visit the school my daughter Samantha started school at in 1990. It was a convent school run the the French La Sargesse nuns until 2005 when it became a spirituality centre and the school was moved. After so long it was interesting to see it again. Romsey also happens to be the home of the Montbatten family (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_Montbatten) at Broadlands.

Off then to revisit the Southampton University where my other daughter commenced to read law in 1990 and to see her old apartment. The house we used was nearby and seeing it too was memory jolting.

Immediately then to Windsor to show Susan the castle (but not pay the asking GBP16.50 pp to go inside) and Eton college was a beginning of the end and after lunch we headed back to base in Hampstead at the Spero family home and dinner with the grandkids.

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