Monday, October 31, 2011


October 31st, 2011 Chester

Happy Halloween! I had an early morning chat with Barbara and then she went back to sleep and I got out my computer! I shared her twin room last night and Nancy had the single room. We were all in the breakfast room by 9 am for a wonderful English breakfast before heading out for the day’s journey.

Yes, we’re moving again. The weather was a soft rain all day. We headed further north in the Lake District for the town of Grasmere to visit the Beatrice Potter Island; one takes a ferry boat to reach the island. But, we found out that yesterday was their last day for the season. Drove by the ferry dock but didn’t go over. Then we stopped at Dove Cottage that was owned by the poet Wadsworth. You’ll love some of the photos that we snapped on our drive along the shores of the lake this morning.

While we were in town we stopped to visit the Gingersnap Shop of Sarah Nelson; purchased some gingersnap cookies and homemade fudge…there goes the diet today! But we really enjoyed the freshly made sweets. Had a bit of a scare when I was parking the car to go to the store; there was a small (low) picnic table in front of the building and I nicked it a bit as I was pulling in. Car is okay…bench is missing a fifty cent piece of wood.

Then back over the same narrow road along the lake until we reach Windermere and then headed south towards the M6 motorway. Nancy will be happy to never see a stone wall again (it’s her job to tell me when I’m too close to the wall) and I really scared her when I went through a big puddle and created a “rooster tail” spray on her side of the car. Reached the M6 and enjoyed the three lane highway that took us all the way to Chester; fast even with the rain but not nearly as pretty as yesterday’s scenic ride through the twisting roads.

We arrived in Chester about 3 pm; found the city center and stopped on a corner to let Barbara and Nancy out to check with the Tourist Information Office about hotels. Barbara stepped out with her pillow in her hand…no purse or coat; suddenly there was a huge bus about to crash into our car and I had to move immediately. Nancy was still in the car and off we went! Three blocks later we found parking and walked back to where we’d dropped Barbara; taking her purse and coat with us. There she was, rather sheepishly holding her pillow (it’s the size of an airplane pillow), in the drizzling rain waiting for us to return! Check out the photo! You’ll love it.

We then went into the Information Office and worked with them on Hotels. Nothing in the price range we wanted in the center so decided to try one by the train station. Before going back to the car we decided to tour the Chester Cathedral before leaving. Our plan was to check into the hotel and then drive back to the center for dinner. Good thing because we never made it back!

We got lost finding the hotel…finally did find it but didn’t like the area so we decided to go back to the outskirts of town where we’d seen a lot of B&B’s plus hotels on the way into town. Oh boy…we really got lost….we went by the Zoo at least four times; Barbara swears it was ten times…saw a magnificent double rainbow during all of this. We were in residential areas, commercial areas, etc. etc. etc. We finally decided to just head south, leave the Chester area and find something on the highway. About this time we realized we were in the right area and stopped at the Comfort Inn that we’d seen on the way in. Anything in a storm! It leaves a bit to be desired but it has wifi, clean sheets and walk in showers…it’s do for one night.

We walked across the street to the local Pub/sports’ bar and had a nice dinner. On the way back across the street we actually had two trick or treaters that stopped us for a treat; the girls gave them some coins. And so we’re tucked in again for another evening. Tomorrow we’re heading for Shrewsbury. We’re hearing fireworks; I guess they use them to celebrate Halloween.

Sunday, October 30, 2011


Sunday, October 30th, 2011 Windermere

The time changed in England early this morning so when I woke at 7:30 am it was really 6:30 am. As the girls slept on; I worked on my computer in the dark. We’d gotten to bed by 10:30 pm last night so it was a good night’s sleep for all of us. Weather wise it started to rain lightly just after we checked in to the hotel; hopefully we have another nice day today. If not, we do have rain ponchos that we haven’t used yet! We always carry our umbrellas in our coat pockets. Sure glad that I was able to recover my coat from the airplane in Minneapolis….I’ve worn it constantly.

Breakfast was another wonderful English breakfast; this time there was also two bangers…English sausage. I ate one plus a slice of ham with my mushrooms, tomatoes, and scrambled eggs. It’s a big meal that gets one off to a good day!

Packed the car and headed out just before 11 am. We had about a ten minute drive to our destination: Castle Howard. This is the country estate of the Howard family; built in the middle of nowhere about fifteen miles north east of York. It was designed by Sir John Vanbrugh for the third Earl of Carlisle three hundred years ago. It’s located between Malton and Hemsley. We drove to Malton yesterday and spent the night very nearby. The family still lives in one wing of the castle with their young children. The castle is closed from the end of October until mid-March except for a brief period from Thanksgiving to Christmas when it is decorated for Christmas. Today was their last day.

The castle was severely damaged in 1940 from a fire; the large dome collapsed and the damage has not been completed repaired to this day. However, the film and miniseries called Brideshead Revisited have been filmed in this castle and two of the rooms that are still not finished were used as stages for production. The chapel in the castle was one of the largest ones that I’ve seen over my many visits to castles, chateaux and palaces.

The docents told us that when the house is closed the family uses all of the rooms and the wing that we are in is used for house guests. We asked about the beds and they said yes except they change the mattresses. Those on now are of straw and are replaced with modern mattresses for the guests.

It was a marvelous experience; the castle is far enough from the entrance that they had a small train for us to ride on…we could have walked but this was easier. After touring the castle we rode the train down to the lake and playground before returning to the entrance gift shops and farm store.

We had spent nearly three hours at the castle; it was after 2 pm before we started on the three hour journey on country roads North West to Windermere in the Lake District. Along the way we spotted the ruins of Castle Brough and stopped for some photos. There was an ice cream shop next to it and we decided to take a rest stop and have some ice cream so that we qualified for using the facilities.

We arrived about 5 pm and after a few stops found our nights lodging at Ellerthwaite Lodge on New Road. The season ended this weekend; it’s colder here and so we may or may not spend three days. We did make it to Mass just before the collection; it had started at 5:15 pm. When we talked to the priest after mass he was a bit miffed that we’d arrived so late in the service. But, better late than not at all; we thought we’d be here earlier. Best laid plans….

After Mass we went to the little grocery store down the street and picked up food for ham and cheese sandwiches at the hotel. Used Skype to call the husbands…cell phones still are not working very well. We need to go to a phone shop tomorrow among other things.

Hope you enjoy the photos of Castle Howard.

Saturday, October 29, 2011


Saturday, October 29th, 2011 Malton country Inn

I woke up about 7 am and worked on my journal and organizing the receipts for the trip. By 8:30 the girls were awake and at 9:15 we headed down to the breakfast room. A full English breakfast was waiting for us. We had to pay cash for this B&B but everything was really great except for the fact that my computer did not work with their wifi.

The owner and clerk was Arthur, a Scottish gentleman who owns three B&B’s in York. We had fun with him this morning as we were one of the last guests in the breakfast room and he took time to chat with us.

Packed up the car and headed into the town centre; walking distance if we were staying another day. We circled around trying to get to the parking lot across from the York Minster; oops…suddenly we realized we were in a pedestrian only walkway. We were getting all sorts of looks as we slowly wound our way through block after block looking for a way out. Suddenly there was a knock on our window. A young female policewoman said we were going the wrong way on a one way street. She very nicely worked with us giving us written directions out and to a car park.

We all relaxed and were delighted to pay the seven pound fee for parking! We started walking to the York Minister, a fair distance away. We had fun in a store of miniatures. Crossed the bridge and then Barbara spotted an On/Off bus service. For only seven pounds each we had a wonderful ride all the way around the city with a live commentary as we went describing the sites. We passed the Merchants Adventure Hall…the early Guild… St. Deny’s Church, Clifford Tower…the only thing left of a huge castle…one of two in the city…nothing left of the other one. But there is a wall surrounding the city!

We passed the Jorvik Center which we had already decided not to tour. Out into the suburbs where we passed the empty Chocolate Factory. Notice the clock tower on the factory; it says Terry York instead of numbers. So whenever it was photographed it was an instant advertisement for the city of York.

The race course was empty except for a track meet that was happening with young people. We finally arrived at Stop 1 and hopped off to visit the York Minister about a block away from the stop. That block required lots of stopping for jewelry stores that lined the street. But, we finally made it into the York Minister and enjoyed walking through the huge church. Much older and larger than Westminster Abbey in London.

Walked towards Betty’s Tea Rooms…everyone we talked to say we must go there when we’re in York….more jewelry stores to pass and noticed the costumed people advertising for the Ghost walks this evening. If we were staying those are fun…especially this close to Halloween. We easily found Betty’s Tea Rooms and the line was over a block lone…we decided to brave the crowds at the nearby McDonalds and enjoy our lunch there. We finally arrived back at the bus stop after more window shopping and hopped on for our ride back to the starting place and our car park.

By 3 pm we were on the road and headed north east towards Malton; our destination for tonight. We are stopping here so that we’ll be ready to tour Castle Howard in the morning. The signs said fourteen miles but it seemed a lot longer. We stopped at one hotel but there was no room at the Inn. Such a shame as it was like a castle but there was a wedding that evening and they were fully booked. But they did call ahead for us to another place about ten minutes up the road.

Didn’t think we’d ever arrived but after one false turn we did. It’s a dot on the country road but charming and only 90 pounds for one room with three beds including breakfast. And it’s on the first floor. Actually, it’s like a motel in the back; made it easy to take all the luggage into the room and replenish the small bags. Nancy has the mattress on the floor…her choice…I told her I’d take the next one if we have to do it again. Beats paying for another room and we’re quite good together.

First thing was to go to the bar and use the wifi for sending yesterday’s journal. Then we had dinner at the Inn. It’s called Cresswell Arms. We all decided to have the chef’s lasagna with chips and salad. I splurged and had a pint of delicious beer since the driving is done for the night.

Tomorrow we headed for a three hour drive to the Lake District and staying in Windermere; no reservations but so far we’ve done well. It should be easier on a Monday night. Our plan is to stay there for three nights. This should give Barbara a nice rest also.


Friday, October 28, 2011 Written in York and posted next day…

Awake about 6 am…decided to get out my computer about 7 since I wasn’t going back to sleep. Looks like we’re going to have a nice, but cold, day today! No rain predicted!!!

Ate breakfast in our rooms from food we’d purchased yesterday and the day before. By 9:30 am we’d arranged for Barbara to stay in her room until 2 pm while Nancy and I went to see the historical Shakespeare houses. First on the tour was his parent’s home and birthplace…within a block of our hotel.

The weather is dry and cold this morning but foggy as you’ll see in the photos. It gave an eerie effect to the garden; perfect for Halloween! We then walked to the Nash house, his oldest daughter’s home. We spent most of the time there in the gardens which are extensive and beautiful. Over the last few years they have put in a sculpture trail by Greg Wyatt in the gardens. Each statue is based on a Shakespeare character; they are very unique rock sculptures and sometimes it was difficult to find the face.

Then we walked on to the Holy Trinity Church where Shakespeare and his family are buried. He was baptized there but they’re not sure that he was married in this church.

Back towards the hotel we then went to the Hall House that belonged to his younger daughter. This house was much grander and had lots of furnishings. Outside we found another beautiful garden and the “dig” on the lot that was the site of the final home of Shakespeare. It was torn down by an owner who didn’t like Shakespeare.

We went back to the hotel and found that Barbara had gone to the hairdressers around the corner to get her hair down and then shopping at the stores near the Hotel. We all three then went to the weekly market across the street from the hotel and found wooden door stops that we all purchased for home. Finally about 2 pm we went to the Deli Café next door to the hotel for lunch. It was a little after 2:30 pm by the time we loaded the car and headed down the carriageway for York for our next adventure.

Traffic was a bear but then it was Friday afternoon and the kids are still on winter break. Our three hour estimated drive turned into a five plus hour drive. The signs on the highway that give traffic information kept saying that there were “Queues’” ahead indicating that there were lines of traffic and we’d be moving at less than thirty miles per hour. At times we were inching along the highway. We stopped at a service area for gas and to use the loos! Yes, we finally found that name on the doors to the toilets!

Arrived in York just after 8 pm…then the hunt began for a place to stay. The town is packed with all sorts of special events happening in the city. We’d stopped at five different places and they’d made calls for us without any luck. We were headed out of town and suddenly spotted a vacancy sign on a B&B. For 110 pounds including breakfast we have a family room in the attic! Beautiful full bathroom with a stall shower plus a tub. There are three single beds and a king but we’re each using a single bed.

There is a very nice television but all we could find was "not for children or old ladies"; finally had to get the clerk to come up and help us find the news channels. He didn't understand what we found objectionable about the show we had!!!

They have wifi but for some reason I’m not able to connect…something about the certificate so won’t be able to send this until tomorrow. We used the cell phones to call the husbands to let them know that we’d arrived in York. We’re at Clifton Bridge B&B. A ten minute walk to the town center along the riverside but I think we’ll probably drive into the center to visit everything tomorrow.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


Thursday, October 27th, 2011 Stratford Upon Avon

We slept until 8:15 am this morning….and just made it to breakfast by 8:30 am….our scheduled time! I was in the twin bedded room with Barbara and it’s the most hours that I’ve slept straight through since we arrived!

Breakfast was wonderful; the girls had a Continental Breakfast…bread, cheese and meats and I enjoyed the English breakfast with scrambled eggs, tomatoes and mushrooms. I did pass on the English Bacon. They enjoyed hot chocolate and I savored my black coffee.

By 10 am we were in the car…it’s raining steady…and after a stop at the cooking store in Broadway (I purchased some very tiny funnels for perfume bottles); we were on the road north to Stratford Upon Avon.

The towns in the Cotswolds are very close together so it was less than an hour by country roads. Arriving in Stratford Upon Avon is very confusing because of traffic mostly; it’s a very popular town for the tourists and the children are all on mid-term break right now so there are even more local people visiting. Barbara had a particular hotel in mind so we kept driving around the old center of the city until she spotted it! It’s called the White Swan Hotel. She and Nancy opened umbrellas and jumped out while I minded the car as we’d parked in a no parking zone.

Seemed like they were never coming back…but that’s a good sign and means that they probably got rooms and were checking them out. Sure enough…we’ve got parking in a lot plus two rooms (without breakfast) for 120 pounds that are close to each other; a twin bedded room and a single room. Tonight I have the single room. I have it toasty warm to dry out all my wet things this evening as I type my journal.

We were able to get into the rooms right away; unloaded our hand luggage and settled Barbara into her room so that she could elevate her legs and rest while we went to see Warwick Castle; about half an hour’s drive from our hotel. We turned on both of the cell phones and we called her when we arrived at the castle.

It was raining even harder when we arrived at Warwick Castle; but it didn’t seem to dampen the crowds. We found parking nearby with the dear cost of ten pounds; but with the weather it was worth it. Our tickets were about sixteen pounds each and they were selling special tickets to something else that we elected not to see. As we headed towards the drawbridge to enter the castle we noticed that there were extensive Halloween decorations. We soon realized that the castle was a massive Halloween Party! The State rooms were decorated and dark for the scary effects. I was able to take some flash photos in those rooms as we went through. Poor Nancy could hardly make out the interior decoration. So sad as it is normally a beautiful place to visit.

The basement was much as it always was but the upstairs was the Sceance Tour. Again, fun to do but not what we’d expected. However, we did climb up the hill at the back of the yard for the spectacular views over the river. Then Nancy said she wanted to climb the towers and walk the ramparts. Lots of steps that were very old, narrow twisting steps that went up and up. The views were great but we did three towers and the ramparts. There was an black iron railing to help in the towers; our hands were covered with orange rust when we finished!

By 3 pm we were ready to head home; the castle was not what we’d expected as I’d told her about my previous two visits and she was prepared for a totally different experience. But it was a fun day even with the rain.

We tried to call Barbara on the cell phone to let her know we were heading home but she must be asleep as she didn’t answer the phone. We need to go to a store to figure out how to increase the ringer volume. Home in about half an hour and then we had to find the car park but with two of us working together we finally found it.

Yes…Barbara was sound asleep when we opened the door to the room. We woke her up and then headed out for an early dinner. Ate at an Italian Restaurant around the corner called Bella Italia; we each enjoyed pizza. They had Margarita Pizzas and I had a vegetarian one with zucchini, artichokes, olives and lots of other good things along with goat cheese. I enjoyed every bite as it was the first food since breakfast!

During dinner my cell phone rang, I hadn’t turned it off….heard the ring and thought “oh, someone has the say ringtone as I do” and then realized it was my cell phone. Jim was calling to check on Barbara. Her husband wants her to go to the doctor and/or hospital for more tests. Jim was calling to see if we’d done it. But even though the bruises are terrible looking she seems to feel just fine except for soreness. To appease the husbands we did go to a Chemist (Pharmacist) after dinner and talk to him. He said if she had a blog clot her legs would be very hot. They’re not…he said elevation was important and to drink caffeine drinks which are a natural diuretic to reduce the swelling.

So I was a good kid and gave her my pillows for the night; actually I don’t use any pillows so it wasn’t that great a sacrifice! Tomorrow she is staying at the hotel with legs elevated while I take Nancy to see the Shakespeare House and other buildings here in town. We can easily walk to all of them.

We enjoyed our dessert in the girl’s room after we returned to the hotel; Barbara had a small toffee cake she’d purchased in Chipping Norton along with some Bailey’s Crème. A good way to end an evening on a good day! Hopefully, the weather will be clear tomorrow!

A note to travelers: the wifi system is fantastic; I haven’t had to pay for Internet Service since I arrived. All of the hotels seem to have it available if you have your own computer. I can’t believe the improvements since 2009.