England, Wales and Ireland - Week 3

Published: May 27th 2013
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<strong style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">Day 15 – Stoke-on-Trent

I did a big estate home today. A very popular one. Chatsworth House didn’t open until 11am but buses and cars were rolling in early and filling the place up. I don’t know how but I managed to get near the front of the queue and once in the house everyone takes their time checking every little detail in every room. I passed the crowds two rooms in so I explored the rest of the house by myself. HA! This was the first house where I was allowed to take photos inside and I was so glad. The ceilings are incredible and being by myself for most of it I didn’t have to worry about people being in the way of the camera. The grounds are immaculate with many water features, a rock garden, maze and more. I love that they let dogs wander around the grounds too.

Next up was Haddon Hall and it was the complete opposite of Chatsworth House. Where Chatsworth had its man-made hedges and garden features, Haddon Hall had wild and tangled flowers with natural streams. Chatsworth House had symmetry and was well maintained. Haddon was lopsided, rustic and looked its age. I loved both of them but they were so very different. I went to Haddon Hall because it was the setting for one of my favourite versions of Jane Eyre (BBC, 2006). Its origins date back to the 11th century. The stairs inside all slope or have been worn away so much that they have a massive U-shape in the centre of them. The door ways are small and it is freezing inside because of the stone walls and floors. It’s quite dark and spooky. The perfect setting for Jane Eyre.

<strong style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">Day 16 – Stoke-on-Trent

This is a day where I shouldn’t have got out of bed. My original plans were to go to Alton Towers which is a massive theme park like Dreamworld. I changed my mind closer to the day because it was quite expensive, I would have been frozen the whole day, and I’d be a loner. This is how my actual day panned out…

Desperately hanging out for some pancakes for breakfast from Maccas. No pancakes on the menu. And so it begins. We had to do some laundry so drove around to find a laundromat. We went to 3 laundromats before we found one that was open. Over an hour of driving. I drove through the middle of a hospital cause our sat nav was playing silly buggers with me. English road rules were starting to really do my head in today. Why even have two lanes if you’re just going to park in one lane leaving ALL the other traffic going in both directions ONE lane to use. I still don’t know how I’ve not lost a wing mirror yet. It’s come pretty close.

Thought we might check out a steam train thing – only open on weekends. Stoke-on-trent is known for pottery so I wanted to paint my own ceramics. Drive half an hour out of our way – place is closed even though the sign clearly states it’s open from 10am – 5pm. Hanging out for a curry for dinner. Curry arrives with no naan bread. While I wait for the naan bread the curry goes cold (I waited a bloody long time). Naan bread arrives but curry is taken away to be replaced. I didn’t know whether to cry or punch the waitress in the face. I was well and truly over it by this stage.

Day 16 Summary = I washed some clothes. Should have gone to Alton Towers instead. The End.

<strong style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">Day 17 – Holyhead - Wales

Time to get out of Stoke-on-Trent and never return. It was a long drive day today. About 2 and a half hours. I know that’s not really long in Australian terms but it was quite a distance to travel in the UK seeing as it’s not very big. I saw lots of wind turbines today. I seem to have developed an obsession with them. I can’t take my eyes off them every time we pass one and I want to get up close to see how big they really are.

I finally hit country number two of my big trip – Wales. It’s… interesting. The locals are a bit rough. Friendly but rough. We were in Holyhead so that we were nice and close to the ferry terminal. It was blowing a gale in this place. I don’t know if it’s normally that gusty but I couldn’t even walk in a straight line because I was getting pushed so much. Also made the mistake of having my hair out. If I wasn’t eating it, then it was either blinding me or choking me.

<strong style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">Day 18 – Dublin - Ireland

We were sent off this morning with a packed lunch from our accommodation manager. No joke. She knew we were taking the ferry to Ireland so she made us sandwiches and popped in some juice packs. Now the ferry ride. I could sum this trip up in one word. VOMIT! I didn’t throw up but I was coming bloody close. The weather was atrocious on the water. Huge winds making huge waves making it a huge mistake to have eaten breakfast. It was 3 and a half hours of torture. We sat about four storeys above the water level and the windows were getting hammered by waves. I’m not looking forward to another ferry trip back next week or two more trips I’ll be doing in August.

Once on land (hallelujah) we were in Dublin. The sun was out but there is still that nip in the air. Locals keep telling us this is the coldest May since the 70’s or something. Brrr! We jumped on another hop on/hop off bus. These are the best. I love just being driven around while someone tells me interesting facts about things. I don’t have to look at a map or research anything myself. You get good photos too from the top of the double deckers. It also gives you a chance to work out where you may want to go exploring next. Got myself some souvenirs already cause I’m in IRELAND! Fiddle dee dee.

<strong style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">Day 19 – Dublin

Today would have to be the best weather day so far. The Irish were out sun baking it was so good. 15 degrees - they were practically melting. We drove out to what I can only describe as the seaside. Clontarf and Howth were our destinations. We watched container ships coming in, ferries going out and sailing boats having a lazy Saturday. We met the cutest border collie pup called Yumi. We got awesome shots over the bay and port from up a hill. I even had an ice cream to celebrate the sun being out.

Back into Dublin we did a bit of shopping and had a nighttime bus tour. Now I say ‘nighttime bus tour’ loosely. It left at 9pm and the sun was still as bright as anything. It was still light when the tour finished an hour later. I find this weird. When you eat dinner or go out clubbing/pubbing it should be dark. So weird.

<strong style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">Day 20 – Athlone

We headed to the middle of Ireland today and no one came with us. The roads were deserted. Obviously no one gets out of bed before 11am on a Sunday. I had the best shopping experience once in Athlone. They only have a tiny shopping centre but I found heaps. I even bought a pair of crocs. HA! I never thought I’d be the owner of some crocs but there you go. Now they’re not those horrible clog looking things with the holes. I got a nice pair of slip-ons but they are by the same company.

<strong style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">Day 21 – Lisdoonvarna

We headed off to Lisdoonvarna today with a quick diversion through Galway. While driving I was thinking the scenery wasn’t very pretty. After going through the English countryside which is picturesque I was expecting much the same for Ireland. I was a little disappointed. I could have been driving in Australia. Nothing was screaming out at me ‘Look you’re in Ireland, look how different it is’. That was until we hit the coastline. WOW! Finally I had my ‘This is Ireland’ moment. Rocky hills with the Atlantic Ocean stretching out in the distance. Perfect! We went to the Cliffs of Moher. It was crazy good. I don’t like how they make you pay to see the cliffs. That just seems wrong but the views are spectacular. I think I took 100 photos just in the one area, hehe. Zoom in, zoom out, little to the left, selfie and so on.

Now a little about the town. When booking a place to stay I wanted to stay in a town called Ennistymon. I didn’t know anything about it but it looked alright. Mum insisted we stay in Lisdoonvarna. It was the only place she really insisted on. So then I found out that Lisdoonvarna is the town for single people. Thanks Mum. I’m sure there was a hint in there somewhere. They have a month long match-making festival in September and apparently single people flock from everywhere in the hopes of marrying an Irish guy or gal. What a shame we came in the wrong month :-P


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