Hullo! and welcome to part 1 of the UK trip report picspam palooza. I say part 1, because I want to post this bloody thing already, but I still have a bunch of photos to edit. So I’ll post what I have so far, which is the report and about 60% of the photos, and will do a second picspam post some time during this coming week.
Day 0. Because all we saw on March 29th were roads.
We left for our annual UK trip Thursday evening, March 29th. We usually take our own car, and so this time we drove Lola (our fabulous teal Renault Kangoo) to Calais, France (it was her first trip, and she made us proud) where we embarked on the Eurotunnel train and sped off across the Channel, to Folkestone, UK. A mere 30 minutes later we arrived at our hotel in Ashford, and after we set our clocks back one hour, we turned in for some well deserved sleep.
Day 1. Glorious Bath & Castle Comb
First of, I should say we were in such luck with the weather during our trip. The only chilly / cloudy day we’ve had was Saturday, March 31st. Friday was lovely however: sunny & dry, and pleasantly warm. The ideal day to take Wil and explore Bath together. Bath’s buildings deserve to be seen in the sun, turning golden and making you believe you are in an ancient Roman place. I’ve been to Bath in 2006, briefly. So briefly, in fact, that I wasn’t able to visit the actual Roman baths. And you can’t really go to Bath without visiting the baths.
We had some time left after that, because Bath is beautiful but it isn’t very big. So I suggested we’d check out Castle Combe, the idyllic small town which I’d last seen while watching the movie Stardust, and last visited in 2006. I do love the charm of Castle Combe, honestly.
(Moar Bath and Castle Combe) photos to follow in post #2!)
Day 2. The Black Mountains
I’m the type of traveler who goes the extra mile, if that means being able to see more. We were in Bath, so close to Wales, a country I’ve been dying to visit, and so naturally that’s where we went.
For a short time, because we had to head over to Lincolnshire and get there by 5PM Saturday. So we spent the night in Newport, and took a drive through the Black Mountains in South Wales, just to get a first impression.
The weather was cold, it was foggy and gray out… EXACTLY what I’d been hoping for. I wanted this mysterious kind of atmosphere for my photos, you see
We took a scenic route, and my, it was exciting. (I’ll post a few photos soon that I took as we drove, haha.) It was the smallest, bendy little LONG road, and because our steering wheel is on the left, Wil couldn’t see ahead of him very well, so I had to be on the look out, which meant plastering my face against the car window to see if any traffic was coming.
We stopped a few times to take in the landscape, and then made our way over to Hay-on-Wye, the bordertown which is known for its bookshops. We didn’t have much time, and I was there to browse bookshops after all, so I have not taken any photos there, but I did find some lovely books.
At around 5PM we did arrive at our motel, and headed over to the local pub to meet up with our friends for food and drinks and laughs! (And a bottle of Peri-Peri sauce, courtesy Mike.)
Day 3. Toy tractor show.
Ah, Sunday. This means: toy tractor show day. Oh woe is me… Wil is an avid collector of (blue) toy tractors, he has been ever since he was a boy.
…I knew what I was getting myself into, I suppose. It was May 27th 2007 when I first laid eyes on his already huge tractor collection, but by then it was too late, as I’d already committed to him. Dammit!
I joke (…ish), of course. The tractor show is an annual thing for us now, since 2009. We’ve gotten to know a lot of wonderful people (except for Claude, he’s nasty ) and it’s become more about seeing familiar faces and catching up; the tractor show’s an added bonus (for him). (And there’s something in it for me too – I usually dash off to the bookshop in between lugging tractors around!)
I have decided to join Wil in making a farm diorama (“We should spend more time together and find shared interests! Yes, I’ll make a toy tractor landscape with you my love!”) so you’ll probably see some photos of our efforts pop up every once in a while.
I’ve not taken any photos of the show this year. But I shall next year, so you can experience, vicariously through me, some of my hell. o.O
It should also be noted that I had a hangover until about 2PM. (I don’t get hungover often and didn’t even have that much to drink, but the pub did serve two different house wines instead of sticking with the initial brand… tut tut… and that did me in.) It adds to the whole experience, seeing all those toy tractors while suffering from nausea and a headache. *nods*
I was a trooper.
Day 4. Kent area
We both had to go back to work on Tuesday, and I was not looking forward to driving ALL day on our last day in the UK. In the end we decided to head towards the Folkestone area on Sunday evening, which we did – from Lincolnshire, arriving after 3 hours – and visit some places down there, before making our way back to The Netherlands and our home. We had initially planned to visit Canterbury, but I ended up not really being in the mood to visit one place today, and rather felt like seeing more scenery.
One of the places we visited is a lovely old town called Rye, near Hastings. It’s charming and authentic; we absolutely loved it. I loved it more than Castle Combe, so did Wil. And that’s saying something.
I think I have a few more photos of Rye for picspam post 2.
We finished our visit to charming Rye with a cup of coffee – and getting a little lost on our way back to dear Lola – we took a scenic drive through the countryside, circling around, stumbling upon a few castles, one of which (Bodiam Castle) we visited, the other (Leeds Castle) we decided we’d rather not go see, as the entrance fee was a whopping 20 pounds per person! That’s over 25 euros each! (Bodiam was 2 pounds for a walk around.) Granted, you’d have access to Leeds Castle for an entire year… but we didn’t need a yearlong ticket and weren’t given other options. We just wanted to spend a little time there before heading back to Folkestone. I wish we’d have the option for a day visit, but alas. It was a lovely drive, true… but I wish the destination would have been more rewarding.
Bodiam Castle was lovely, thankfully, exactly what I’d hoped it would be, photographically (simple, elegant, ancient, romantic):
I was briefly stricken by what I call Tourist-sees-photographer-and-wants-photo-taken-syndrome. It sometimes irks me when tourists see people carrying bulky Canon or Nikon equipment and then assume these people want to take any random stranger’s photo. Once you start saying yes to one tourist, which I usually do, it’s best to get out as soon as possible and look the other way, before The Others find you.
Once when I was traveling – I believe it was in Greece – I was interrupted in my own photo taking constantly, because tourists wanted their picture taken. Which is fine, once, but when I focus on photography I’m concentrating, relaxed… I hate being pulled away from that every 5 minutes, especially because I don’t have hours to take photos, often only moments before I have to move on. At some point I just went into “I don’t speak English” mode (variably, depending on The Tourist and their suspected nationality, “No habla Ingles”, “Ik spreek geen Engels”, “Je ne parle pas Anglais”, etc) and proceeded to take my photographs while I still could.
…get a tripod, people. For the love of God. It is your friend whereas I… am really not.
But I was in a good mood at Bodiam Castle, and took this one couple’s photo, strangely enough they didn’t want one in front of the castle, but just a pic of the two of them. Oh well
My only regret this trip is that I forgot to take photos of things like our food and of us. Next time, I’ll try and add a bit more of a human & experience element to my UK photos!
So, post #2, coming soon.