Published: September 5th 2012September 5th 2012
This is where the Great Fire of London started.
LONDON AND LEEDS, ENGLAND - SIGHTSEEING (PART 1)
I am going to write the English part of the trip in a few sections, because some of the sights we have visited have been real surprises and deserve mention on their own…..
We got into London, and was met by our Best Man, Ian Wheeler, which was appropriate since we are celebrating our 25th on this trip. We stayed with him and his wife Annette for three nights and had a lovely time. If ever you need a Bed and breakfast in the outskirts of London, Chez Wheeler is the place for you! We would come down to a wonderfully set table with cereals, fresh fruits, yogurts, coffee or tea, toast or pancakes or anything cooked if our heart desired. The first day we just ran an errand or two and had lunch out. It was just nice getting caught up, since we hadn’t seen them for a couple of years.
After watching the Olympics and seeing the equestrian routines at Greenwich, I said to myself that I thought there was a palace there. Yep, so off we went. The original palace, where Henry VIII, and his daughters Mary
Leeds Market meat stand
Beautiful to look at, and reasonable prices!
and Elizabeth (I) were born is no longer extant, unfortunately, though there were models in the Visitor’s Center. Greenwich is where Henry had his jousting accident, rendering him unconscious for 2 hours, and caused Anne Boleyn’s miscarriage of a boy when she heard the news. And the rest is history, as they say… What is standing there is the palace that Charles II built, though he never lived in it…It is beautiful and the renaissance artwork is wonderful. Later, it became the hospital/retirement home for men from the Napoleonic wars, and was eventually closed due to lack of survivors. Then it became the Naval College, and is still used for certain ceremonies today. The exciting thing about Greenwich is where the Meridian Line is (Greenwich Mean Time) so we had to go stand on it. Not a big deal to a lot of people I suppose, but I have also straddled the International Date Line, so it was cool for me. We were also able to see the stands that were still left up for the Equestrian arena events. Cool.
It was fun being in London after the Olympics. When we flew in we came in over the city
Heather field on Ilkley Moor
Beautiful, and all over the place...
and it was exciting to see all the stadiums, after seeing them on TV. Luckily it was fairly clear that day and the view was really good.
Saturday we got on the bus and headed north to Leeds and Kevin’s family. We are staying at Kevin’s sister’s place in the burbs of Leeds, which is really a central location for seeing lots of historical stuff up here. To give you a partial list:
Scarborough (are you going to Scarborough Fair?)
We are also up here to spend a lot of time with Kevin’s mother and are doing some great day trips.
The first day on our own, Kevin and I took off to Leeds and went to the Leeds Market and do a little shopping. It’s hard to explain the market but if you can imagine the Melbourne Victoria’s Market, you can get the idea. Fruits and veg are very abundant, and it was all Kevin could do to keep me from buying everything. HUGE raspberries….strawberries, grapes. Everything BIG, and very inexpensive.
The next day we went up to the Moors with Mavis, Kevin’s mother, and went to the
In excellent condition
Wensleydale cheese factory. We took a tour, which was pretty marginal, then had lunch and, of course, had to buy some cheese. Kevin found a wonderful blue cheese so he bought a pound, and I found a great cheddar-style cheese that was very full-bodied but not sharp. I only got 170 grams…After that, we were on our way home, and came across Bolton Castle. I will write more about this castle in the blog in a couple of days so watch this space. We arrived just when it was closing, so Kevin and I are going back.
Another one of our adventures was going into York. We have done the Shambles and the Viking Museum, and looked at the outside of York Minster (they charge up large to go in). But we haven’t done the Treasurer’s House. So that is what we decided to do. The last person to own it decided to renovate it to the 18th century, unfortunately without consulting a specialist, but it was still beautiful. The furnishings were lovely, and the Prince and Princess of Wales had stayed there so that was cool to hear about. We took a tour of the attic area, which
Mary, Queen of Scots' bedroom
Where she lived for two years, with her 50 servants
were the servants’ quarters when the last owner had it. Although it wasn’t furnished, it had been left intact, and it was interesting to hear some of the stories that the servants had provided after the house had been turned over to the National Trust. I highly recommend the additional tour. The docents are all volunteers and very knowledgeable and enthusiastic about their subject. Each specialize in the room of the house they are in.
UP TO THE NORTH
Kevin had a “Living Social” deal for 2 nights at a hotel with dinner in their 2 Rosette restaurant and 2 breakfast mornings so we thought this would be a good time to go see Hadrian’s Wall.
On our way up, we went back to Bolton Castle and had a good look around. I bought a guidebook to share with friends when I get home which was a good thing, as the signage wasn’t that good. We saw where Mary Queen of Scots was held prisoner for two years. She had a retinue of over 50 people working for her as a prisoner.
The hotel had a Shooting Pahtay (yep, 9 men with guns) in so they
Part of the Shooting Party.
Up from London to shoot grouse and partridge on local estates.
had to put us in a 4-bedroom cottage. A lovely spot but we rattled around in it. Dinner the night we arrived was a beautiful meal. The next morning we were off to Hadrian’s Wall, at a point called Housesteads Fort, which is a site just opened in the last year. Hadrian (a Roman) built a wall across England, supposedly to keep the barbarians from the north out, but I think he was scared of them. Anyway, while building this wall (around 170 AD) he decided to build forts, instead of lookouts, across the country and Housesteads is one of these. It has excellent signage for the various buildings, and signs of the little village just outside the gate are visible. 800 men were stationed here at its height, and that doesn’t include the villagers or family of the Commandant (the Cheesus Biggus as we called him). We went off to another, which was a current dig, but it was going to cost money for the privelidge of seeing virtually the same thing so gave it a miss.
Into the car and off to Beamish, a park developed by a man wanting to preserve the history and lifestyle of the
Housesteads Fort from a distance
A Roman fort built along Hadrian's Wall in 170 AD. 800 soldiers lived here at any time.
North East of England. If you think sort of like the Shelbourne Museum in Vermont it will give you an idea. It is a living history museum, sort of, with all the people very well-versed in the history of the times and the area. It had been a long day, driving through the back roads with a stick-shift car, so we headed back to the hotel.
The next morning, yesterday (Tuesday) we loaded up the car and started our way back to Leeds, with a few stops on the way. This time we headed West, to Carlisle, another castle city, and the start of Hadrian’s wall on the west coast of England. This was another castle that held Mary Queen of Scots, though only for 6 weeks. That tower had been destroyed around the 18th Century though. Again, the signage was inadequate, but I didn’t buy the book. We kept smelling wonderful baking and finally asked the guide where the tearooms were, but he said it was the McVitties (cookie) bakery down the road.
After a quick lunch in the car of pork pie and fruit, we then set the GPS on the Ipad (which I really have to recommend!)
Those Romans were very clever.
for the Lake District, and HillTop, the first home of Beatrix Potter. We were surprised, because it was in a village and surrounded by houses, whereas in the movie you got the feeling you were out in the country. Anyway, I did buy the guidebook to send off to my sister, who is a BP afficionado. It was about 4:30 and about time to start heading home…
The next couple of days are quiet time with Kevin’s mother and family before heading off to France.
There are more photos below