A Travellerspoint blog

Leeds Castle, Dover, Canterbury, G'wich -Mon, 25 April 2011

Touring - Leeds Castle, Dover, Canterbury and Greenwich

ANZAC Day

Before I left Australia, I had enquired of my contacts at the Australian High Commission, as to whether there would be any ANZAC Day Ceremonies being held in London. There was going to be a church service at Westminster Abbey, to which we were invited, however, we decided not to accept the invitation, because it would have meant that Peter would have had to carry a suit all that way, just for one hour and as this was his first time in the UK, we still had a lot of sight seeing to do.

Up at 5.00 am and down to Windsor Station to catch the 6.28 am train to London to meet our tour group at the Victoria Coach Station at 8.15 am. Why aren't we staying in central London??!! Our tour today goes to Leeds Castle, Dover, Canterbury and Greenwich.

To our delight our tour guide is David Jordan from our "Total London" tour. He was in fine form but had no kids to pick on this time!

Leeds Castle was lovely. I had never been there before. It has been called "the lovliest castle in the world" and it certainly is up there with the best of them. It has been on its present site since 1119 and is in magnificent condition. The grounds are stunning too. It is surrounded by a beautiful moat. King Henry VIII used Leeds Castle as a home for his first wife, Catherine of Aragon.

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Called into this place for lunch on our way to Dover. Can't remember what it was called but it had a maze and beautiful gardens.

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Then on to the white cliffs of Dover. The beach was stones, nothing at all like our beautiful white sandy Australian beaches. I picked up a sponge fossil in a rock. The stones were dropped on Dover from Switzerland when the UK separated from Europe (or so our guide David said). David then stripped down to his undies and had a swim. The water was about 6 degrees. Crazy!

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Then on to Canterbury Cathedral. It was a fantastic place and we had a good tour through it and down into the crypt. There was a youth thing going on in the main church and they were singing and it echoed all through the church. It was just lovely.

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Then to Greenwich. Lovely wide open spaces here and lots of families enjoying the warm weather.

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We hopped on the ferry here and sailed back to London, with a glass of champagne and a muffin.

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We are getting good at catching the train now, so back to Windsor we went. Had a snack at a Spanish Restaurant and then back to the Clarence after a 15 hour day.

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No one could accuse us of wasting a minute. Poor Peter. I think I have worn him out as every time he gets on a bus or a train, the minute it starts to move, he falls asleep.

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Posted by gaddingabout 00:41 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

Edinburgh to London - Sunday, 24 April 2011

Edinburgh to London

Said goodbye to Edinburgh and took a taxi to Waverly Station for our train trip back to Windsor.

The Scottish Dream tour was good, however it fizzled out at the end. We all dispersed at Edinburgh Castle and didn't realise that we wouldn't see each other again. We should have had a farewell dinner on the Saturday Night. (That is why Phil and I love travelling so much with Scenic Tours. They always have a Welcome Function and a Farewell Dinner, which is a really nice thing to do.)

We caught the train back to Windsor without a hitch. The train from Edinburgh to London was with a different company from the Virgin train we caught from London to Glasgow, so we didn't get any free food, just tea and biscuits. And it was packed. Just as well we had booked our return seats on arrival in Glasgow. We sat next to a dorky pommie couple who had been in Scotland, bird watching. She was 44 (Wendy) and he (Jim) would have been in his sixties. They moaned and complained about the train and the service, ALL the way to London. Again I had to lug my bag up and down steps at several stations, but many guys (black, white and Italian) helped. They were very nice.

When we arrived in London, there was a lot of work being done on the platforms, to get ready for the Olympics. The board was saying a certain platform number for Slough, but it appeared to be all boarded up. I approached an African Railway Attendant and asked him where was the platform for the train to Slough. He just looked at me, so, thinking I was speaking too fast, I spelt it out - S-L-O-U-G-H. He still just looked at me and then with a big grin on his face said, "Slough, S-L-O-U-G-H, Madam wants to go to Slough!". I was so embarrassed and apologised profusely, saying that I thought I was speaking too quickly for him, with my Australian accent. "No Madam", he said, "the train to Slough is leaving from Platform 14". "Thanks", I said, "does it have a lift?" "A lift", he shouted out to everyone on the platform, "Madam wants a lift!". Then, addressing his fellow worker, he said "Bring the helicopter for Madam!". By this stage, we were all falling about laughing and laughing, so I whacked him on the shoulder with my Brit Rail Pass. With that, he put his arm around my shoulder, pointed up to the CCTV camera and said ever so sweetly, "Madam, you are now recorded on camera assaulting a British Railway Employee"! With that, I whacked him again, said thanks, and dragged my bag down to Platform 14, thinking to myself what a wonderful sense of humour that guy had.

It was nice to be back at The Clarence Hotel in Windsor. We have a different room this time - at the front of the hotel and freshly decorated.

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We had a quick snack at an Italian Restaurant and walked home the long way to take in a few of the sights of Windsor's back streets and into bed for an early morning start.

Posted by gaddingabout 19:27 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

Edinburgh - Saturday, 23 April 2011

Edinburgh

We had a bus tour around Edinburgh and had a 20 minute photo and shopping stop at Holyrood Castle.

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Then up to Edinburgh Castle. So glad I got to visit. Last time I was here with Phil, we just drove through Edinburgh and around the castle. It is a fantastic place. It was drizzling and cold. What else - it's Scotland! We queued up for a long time to see the Scottish Crown Jewels. Well, you know what they say about Scots - austere and nothing flamboyant. Well the Crown Jewels were just a crown and a sword and the Scottish Coronation Stone, the Stone of Destiny. The Stone of Destiny was installed in Edinburgh Castle on St Andrew's Day, 30 November 1996. The Stone, the traditional coronation stone of Scottish Kings and Queens was stolen by English King Edward I, 700 years ago and is still a powerful symbol of Scottish independence. I loved seeing it because it was just a hunk of old stone, but meant so much to the Scots.

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It was raining and miserable. We decided to walk down to the Port of Leith to tour The Queen's ship Britannia. It didn't look very far on the map (!) (famous last words), however it took ages and in the rain. We discovered later that it was about four miles. Leith was where Phil's family came from in the 1800s so it was good to walk through the streets so I could tell him all about it.

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On the way down from Edinburgh Castle, we saw Adam again, (from Culloden Moor) dressed up as Braveheart (William Wallace). It was so nice to see someone who we knew and he remembered us too.

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The Britannia was great and well worth the visit.

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We caught a taxi back to the hotel. We had arranged to have our own farewell dinner at the hotel with Amy and Peggy, seeing the "Scottish Dream" Tour weren't having one. We had a lovely evening and chatted for ages. Then we went into the foyer for a drink and were fascinated by the badly dressed guests at a wedding that was being held in the hotel. We got the giggles several times.

Posted by gaddingabout 19:22 Archived in Scotland Comments (0)

Aberdeen to Edinburgh - Friday, 22 April 2011

Aberdeen to Edinburgh

Good Friday today. Surprisingly, everything in Scotland is open. Not so in Australia. Good Friday and Christmas Day are the two days that nothing is open. Newspapers aren't even printed on these two religious holidays.

Toured Glamis Castle, the home of The Queen Mother. Just lovely.

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Then onto St Andrews for lunch. What a great little town St Andrews is. We spent quite a few hours here and we had lunch in a fabulous place with golf memorabilia all over it. I just loved it. The weather got really cold when the haar (mist) rolled in. We could hardly see a thing in front of us.

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Being the mad, keen golfer that I am, we wandered around St Andrews - the Royal and Ancient Golf Course. When we first arrived at St Andrews, our tour guide said that for a small price we could do some putting on the putting green, but I decided it was more important for Peter to wander around the town and see a bit of it, rather than get stuck on the putting green with me. Turns out, that there is a 9 hole pitch and putt course at St Andrews, especially for the tourists. Imagine how cranky I was when I realised that, with about five minutes to go before we had to get on the bus. It is every golfers dream to say that they have "played" at St Andrews!

We arrived in Edinburgh which is a very nice city. All Scottish cities are dark and grey and imposing but that's what you imagine they should be, and they are. This was the first time on the whole tour that they gave Peter and I a double bed. It took ages for the bed to be changed and our luggage got a bit lost, going to the original room, so consequently we couldn't change for dinner. Also, the lift wasn't working, so we had to climb several flights of stairs and would always encounter people huffing and puffing in the stair well.

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The view from our room

The bus drove us down to the Port of Leith for dinner at an Italian Restaurant, via the old and new city of Edinburgh. Edinburgh is a very lovely city but we couldn't see much because of the haar. It's all very Scottish.

After dinner, Peggy noticed that I had broken a blood vessel in my eye! Looks yukky. Must be from all the coughing.

The hotel is quite nice but our room was on the fourth floor and as the lift remained broken for our entire stay, we were knackered by the time we climbed all the stairs to our room.

Posted by gaddingabout 06:49 Archived in Scotland Comments (0)

Inverness to Aberdeen - Thursday, 21 April 2011

Inverness to Aberdeen

HMTQ - 85 today

Left lovely Inverness and headed for Duff Town and a tour of the Glenfidich distillery. I had been there before in 1998 with Phil and it was still the same - sipping scotch at 9 in the morning (or at any time, really) is not my idea of fun but it was still interesting to learn about distilling and the grounds and gardens are just lovely.

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We stopped at the Dean's Shortbread factory for lunch and bought some shortbread and went upstairs and watched it being made.

We continued on to the Falls of Feugh for a devonshire tea afternoon tea. Strawbery scones, crockery and curtains. Strawberries EVERYWHERE, but very lovely.

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A local "gilly" talked to us about fishing, salmon etc and a lady played the bagpipes and told us all about them. One of our group had a go but used a lot of effort for not much gain! She asked for requests and played "Highland Cathedral" for me.

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Then on to our lovely hotel at Blairs, Aberdeen - a 19th century mansion. Just gorgeous. Our room was huge but so far away from reception, it took us 270 walking steps to get there! The hotel is out in the middle of nowhere, so we couldn't walk into town but the grounds were huge, so we strolled around them before dinner.

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I still have a bad cough, so has Peggy. Peter is now getting a cold and other people on the bus are sneezing and coughing. The lady sitting in front of us on the bus keeps giving me dirty looks when I have a coughing fit. She even passed a throat lozenge back to me one day, without a word! This hand just appeared over the back of the seat waving a lozenge in it. Strange person.

Had a lovely dinner at the hotel with Judy, and Laura and her Mum, Dale.

After dinner, Peter usually had a drink with Amy and Peggy and I have some "me" time and go back to our room and write up the diary.

Posted by gaddingabout 06:30 Archived in Scotland Comments (0)

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