<strong style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">Day 8 – Oxford
Our month long road trip began today. Yippee! We headed back to Heathrow to collect our hire car. A very nice one too. So modern that mum and I sat in the car for 5 mins before we could work out how to turn the park brake off so we could actually move forward. Hehe! I’ve been doing all the driving so far but with the in-built sat nav I’ve not had a problem finding my way. There are a few strange road rules but I think I got away with it. I’m dreading finding a ‘magic roundabout’ though. Seriously… google a picture of one. The conversation in the car is interesting. This is what mum might say within a 1 minute period ‘30, it’s 30, camera, camera coming up, are you doing 30, look out he’s braking, another camera, WOULD YOU SLOW DOWN!’. This is what I might be saying within the same 1 minute period ‘I’m doing 30, I know, I’m not blind, oh my god, yes, I saw him before you did, sigh, WOULD YOU STOP!’ Needless to say it was a LONG drive to Oxford.
My great plan for the day was to visit Highclere Castle or Downton Abbey as it may be known to you. My flawless planning let me down as the house and grounds aren’t open in May except for some weekends. FAIL! I was guttered. I’m determined to take a trip out to see it when I get back to London later in the year (sound like a plan Kel???). So we drove straight to our accommodation at Heythrop Park. Wow! This place is impressive. The driveway alone was at least 1km long winding through a forest. The house is spectacular and I didn’t know where the grounds began or ended. Funny thing was a one night stay in this mansion was still cheaper than one night in a basic London hotel. It rained and rained all day so we pretty much just rested and caught up on some good old English telly. Top Gear and Antique Roadshow anyone?
<strong style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">Day 9 - Birmingham
The weather was still dreary but not raining too much so we finally got to explore Oxford. We didn’t have a map so it became abandon the car and hoof it. We found the Christ Church College part of Oxford University. I headed in to see what I could see. I found the food hall that was used to design the Hogwarts great hall. They also had this open grassed quad which looked familiar so I’m sure it’s been in some movie or other.
Next stop was Coventry for lunch. We had a bit of a look around the cathedral that had been bombed in 1940. The ruins are still there. Birmingham was our final stop for the day.
<strong style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">Day 10 – Birmingham
Day 10 – the day of chocolate. We headed to Cadbury World today (with about 8 school groups, lucky kids). As soon as you walk in they hand you chocolate bars. Score! We saw the history of Cadbury, the packaging factory, the chocolate factory (a cup of melted chocolate, don’t mind if I do), the decorating area and more. We also got to experiment with our own creation which they poured more melted chocolate over… drool! The whole place just smelt like chocolate and it was purple, purple everywhere. I was in heaven. We left with chocolate on our faces and a bag full of goodies.
Our next stop was the Bullring shopping centre. Inside it’s just a normal shopping centre but the outside looks pretty cool. I didn’t get a picture of it but google it cause it’s worth a look. I had a traditional English roast for dinner and my first ever Yorkshire pud. We topped it off with these crazy choc brownie sundaes. It was the day of chocolate after all.
<strong style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">Day 11 – Grantham
Today I was finally going to see a lovely estate home or two. Not just glimpses off them as you drive past but actually going in to explore the grounds and house. The plan was to see the two homes which were used as ‘Rosings Park’ from the Pride and Prejudice movie and BBC series. We started with Burghley House which was used in the movie version (think Keira Knightly). The house was not open to us and we were only allowed to see part of the grounds. I really wanted to see the house from the back but it was blocked off. We didn’t stay long.
Our next house was Belton House (from the BBC version) and in this one we were allowed to go everywhere. The grounds were beautiful and so well maintained. I walked up the same path that Lizzy, Charlotte and Mr Collins took (true fans will know what I mean). I saw the blue bedroom where Mr Darcy wrote his letter to Lizzy. I got to see the hidden staircases that were for servants only and a carpeted bathroom, hehe. A very cool property to visit.
We spent the night at The Red House in Grantham not far from Belton House.
<strong style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">Day 12 – York
On our way to York we stopped in at Doncaster to do a bit of washing and visited/donated items to a local dog pound. We thought they might let us walk or play with the dogs but they wouldn’t. We also passed Sherwood Forest on the way to York. Good ole Robin Hood territory.
Once in York we went to explore the town and managed to get stuck in a traffic jam. Then we tried to avoid the traffic jam and only found dead ends. So we ended up back in the traffic jam but further back than when we started. SIGH! We should have just walked. York is all cobbled streets, small doorways with a fortress wall surrounding it. They have an impressive looking Minster and some cute little shops. We only looked around for an hour but I’ll be back in York again in August so I can see a bit more then.
For dinner my mum and I met up with Lesley and Mark who are from Newcastle but I met them on a trip to Vietnam in 2011. Our restaurant was called The Blue Bicycle and naturally it had a blue bike out the front (although we managed to walk right past it and had to ask for directions). It had live music, an awesome atmosphere and AMAZING food. It was great to catch up with Lesley and Mark, and so kind of them to travel down from Newcastle too. I’m still trying to get them to come to Australia 😊
<strong style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">Day 13 – Liverpool
Guess what!!! Today the sun is supposed to come out. Woohoo! We’re heading to Liverpool bright and early when I take a wrong turn into Leeds. Oh well, we saw the Leeds United Stadium before hitting the motorway again. I quite like Liverpool. It’s on the water so they have everything going on along the dock. There’s a big wheel, plenty of boats, restaurants and museums all in one spot. We missed seeing the Queen Mary cruise liner by one day. That would have been a good photo op.
We walked everywhere and then took a bus around to see the things we’d missed on foot. The sun came out and wouldn’t you believe it… I got a headache from the glare, HA! I can hear sea gulls outside my room at the moment and it seems so different to where I was this morning.
<strong style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">Day 14 – Sheffield
We took a drive through Manchester and then drove straight out again. Not a fan really. It got much better the closer we got to the Peak District. We headed to Lyme Park and I have been dreaming of this for years. Lyme Park is where they filmed the exterior of ‘Pemberley’ for the BBC series of Pride and Prejudice. As we drove up the long drive it was slightly misty and just perfect. I had a look through the house but I really wanted to get out into the grounds and get some pics. There are walking paths in every direction but I took the one that would lead me around the lake and always in view of the house. I took a photo almost every ten steps I think, haha. I also bought up big in the gift shop so I had to get the ‘I love Mr Darcy’ bag just to carry everything.
Of course :-P
There is no mistaking when you hit the Peak District. It has incredible scenery with bare hills, fields full of animals, tree lined peaks and flowing lakes through the valleys. Beautiful! We stopped at Derwent Dam to get a few more pictures. We also could get nice and close to lambs, geese and ducks which were near the road. Our stop for the night is in Sheffield at the Fox Inn. The inn dates back to 1773 and used to be used for passengers off stagecoaches.
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