Holiday!

It feels like forever since I last had any proper time off, but now it’s finally my turn for a holiday! Tonight we fly to Gatwick, from whence we shall be travelling around Britain (well, mainly England really). I haven’t scheduled any posts and I won’t be posting while I’m away either, so this place will be devoid of activity for a while. Try to be good while I’m away πŸ˜‰ See you in September!

Lake Lucerne
Photo of Lake Lucerne from above for no particular reason…
Advertisements

A day in Manchester

Ugh, I’m a terrible blogger! Not only have I not posted in daaays… today’s post is about a day trip we took in October! Between being busy and, quite honestly, sheer lack of motivation, I’m way behind!
Anyway… while we were in England in October, we decided we wanted to have a couple of days away by ourselves rather than spending time just with my family. I knew I wanted to see the Wave exhibition at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, so we started looking into other places in Yorkshire. Then Jan pointed out that Manchester is only an hour from there, he had never been and I’d only made it as far as the airport. Plus my ex-housemate from uni days lives in Salford. And so the decision was made… Manchester it was.

I know I have a few readers from the Manchester area, so I hope none of you will be offended when I say it’s not my favourite city. Sorry! Culturally, there’s a lot going on – if we’d wanted to, we could have spent a week visiting all its museums! But it’s just too… cityish for me. It’s crowded, it’s loud, and while there are some nice buildings, they’re few and far between. I’m glad we visited, but I’m afraid I wouldn’t want to live there!

It was fairly sunny when we arrived, so after parking the car, we decided to just wander around for a while and see what we could find. And, in my case, take photos.

Maybe too many photos?

We also managed to buy some blue trousers for Jan (which he needed for a choir performance), having failed to find any he liked that fit him in Newcastle… so yay Manchester for that.

You may have noticed the sky getting rather cloudy in the last few photos above. At around 2 p.m., the heavens opened… after it had been such bright sunshine all morning. Yep, we were definitely in England! Obviously we needed shelter! My friend had recommended the John Rylanda Library as a place to check out and earlier in the day we had noticed a sign saying it had an exhibition on the gothic, which sounded interesting, so that’s where we went. The building is pretty cool – it looks like a converted church, except it never was a church… it was just built like that. Again, I took too many photos, but when you see them you’ll (hopefully) understand why.

By the time we’d finished with the library, it was pretty much time to meet my friend. Luckily by that time the rain had also stopped since we were meeting outdoors! On the way to meet him we ended up down by the river.

My friend was slightly late meeting us (something to do with trams), so we sat in the little park next to the tram stop and I tried to take photos of rainbows. It’s harder than it looks!

Can you see them? Click the photos for a bigger version.

After we met my friend, we asked him to recommend a place to eat – that’s what locals are for, after all πŸ˜‰ He took us to an amazing Thai place that I wish I could remember the name of! It was right by the Chinatown gate if that helps any locals. I ate incredible beef in a pepper sauce – so good it was all gone before it occurred to me to take a photo! Afterwards, we stopped at a pub around the corner for a few pints (by this time it was chucking it down again!), then it was time to leave my friend, pick up the car and drive back to our hotel in Yorkshire.

If anyone ever finds themselves in Manchester I would love to recommend a Thai restaurant for you to eat at… but unfortunately, I can’t πŸ˜‰

Alnwick and its gardens

Waaay back in October, while we were in England, we spontaneously decided to visit Alnwick one sunny afternoon. It was too nice to be indoors, so we skipped the castle and purchased tickets for the gardens instead. Being October, a lot of the flowers were already on their way out, but I still managed to take many, many pictures! There was a kind of treasure hunt for children which seemed to involve finding all the different fairy tales and nursery rhymes that were referenced throughout the gardens, and I took great delight in spotting fairy tale items as well, even though I didn’t have a sheet to fill in.

Alnwick itself is a pretty little town, and is home to the amazing second hand bookshop Barter Books, the place where the “Keep Calm and Carry On” slogan was first (re)discovered. It’s housed within the old Alnwick train station, with the bookshelves where the tracks used to be and space to sit and read in what used to be the waiting room. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to visit Barter Books that day, but if you ever find yourself in Alnwick you definitely should!

Before driving to Newcastle, where we were due to meet a friend for dinner, we of course had to stop on the Lion Bridge to grab a few shots of Alnwick Castle – which some of my may recognise from a certain film about a wizard with a lightning shaped scar… (others may know it from Blackadder).

Alnwick is one of my favourite places and I’m glad we got to have a stroll around the town and its gardens last time I was home!

Travel Monkey

Yorkshire Sculpture Park and “Wave”

Months before we had even booked our flights to England, Jan and I had decided to hire a car while we were over there this time – party to give us a bit of freedom from relying on other people/buses, but also so we could go away by ourselves for a few days. This was my first holiday since New Year and I wanted us to have at least some time to ourselves! Much as I love my family, visiting them doesn’t count as a “real” holiday for me. We had discussed a few options for where to go, but when I saw an article about a part of the poppies exhibition from the Tower of London was visiting Yorkshire Sculpture Park and would be there while we were over the decision was instantly made for me. I was disappointed not to get to see the poppies in London so I knew I had to see them in Yorkshire. Luckily Jan agreed – since he’s the driver forcing the issue might have been a bit difficult πŸ˜‰

While we were driving down to Yorkshire, it started raining heavily, as in can barely see through the windscreen heavily! It calmed down a little afer a bit, andΒ  after we stopped at Woolley Edge Services for food and coffee (or chai latte in my case) it had slowed to a mere drizzle. It still made for a rather damp visit to the park, but the gorgeous autumn colours at least partially made up for that. And also being a rainy Monday in October meant it wasn’t as crowded as it might have been πŸ˜‰

As soon as we entered the park, we saw signs for Wave, but there are plenty of other things to see on the way there. Some sculptures were more interesting than others (and some were just downright weird!). Here are a few of my favourites:

I guessed as soon as I saw this next sculpture that it was by Nike de Saint Phalle, even though it’s not her usual style – the colours fit, but her “people” are normally less recognisable for what they are.

Yorkshire Sculpture Park

There’s a country house in the middle of the park, Bretton Hall. Apparently at one point it was used as a college and the latest plan is to turn it into a hotel.

By the way, that metal slab on the right-hand photo is one of the sculptures. Told you some of them were odd!

Finally, we reached the main attraction and let me tell you it was worth the wait!First we went into a little hut where there were copies of poems about WW1 on the wall and a notice board where people could put their tributes to people who had fought or died in the war, plus a giant window to catch your first glimpse of the bridge where the sculpture was dsiplayed, then it was on to the sculpture itself. I may have gone overboard taking photos – this isn’t even all of them!

We walked all the way up to the Longside Gallery (through a field of cows, but no sculptures!) only to find that the current exhibition is very modern-arty and not that interesting. Random sculptures that even I could have made! Then we took the free shuttle bus back down to the main park and had a look at the last remaining sculptures.

Overall, we were there for about 3 and a half hours, including a stop at the end for a cuppa and some cake. If it hadn’t been such a miserable day, we could probably have taken even more time walking around! Parking costs 8 pounds for the entire day but entrance to the park is free, so I think it’s worth it (especially if you have a car full!). There are also buses from Barnsely and Wakefield that stop directly outside the park if paying for parking bothers you.

Even with the rain we had a good time and the poppies definitely met my expectations. The “Wave” sculpture is there until 10th January 2016 if you want to visit it, but otherwise the park is a great place for a day out in the fresh air at any time.

I’m linking this post up to Monday Escapes with Packing My Suitcase and My Travel Monkey. For more information and to join in click the button below.

Packing my Suitcase

Friday letters

I can’t believe it’s Friday again! It simultaneously seems like I was only just getting ready to go and see the Lion King Musical and like that happened weeks ago. What is going on with my perception of time? Anyway, it’s been a few weeks since my last Friday letters so I thought I’d jump back on the bandwagon.

Eye'm watching you...Dear godson. How are you turning three on Sunday?! Haven’t you only just been born?! I hope you have a fabulous birthday, anyway.

Dear England. Our flights are booked so we will see you soooooon! (By “soon” I mean 19 days. Not that I’m counting down to my holiday or anything…).

Dear flat. Every one of your rooms now has a proper light (as opposed to just a lamp) Admittedly the one in the corridor isn’t very good, but that’s just details πŸ˜‰ Only a few more items of furniture to buy and we’re done (for now)!

Dear supermarket. It’s barely even autumn yet I saw Lebkuchen in you today. Go away! It’s not time for Christmas stuff yet! (I know I’m stitching Christmas cards, but that’s different… it doesn’t take 3 months to buy some Lebkuchen!)

Dear “What am I stitching?” fans. I’ve already taken the first picture so get your guessing heads on – the post will be going up this weekend.

Right, that’s all from me. Have a great weekend everyone!

A Wedding in Wokingham

Bearwood College

My cousin got married this weekend at Bearwood College in Wokingham, so I had a (literally) flying visit back to England: flew out on Friday morning, attended the wedding on Saturday and flew back yesterday afternoon. It was worth it though – I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many members of my mum’s side of the family in one place! In fact, the last time I saw some of my cousins some of the other cousins weren’t even born! (That includes the bride, who I hadn’t seen in at least 12 years and unfortunately didn’t really see at the wedding either, other than to say congratulations as we left the room the ceremony was held in. She had a baby a few weeks ago and by the time I went looking for her she’d already taken him home).

I can’t post any pictures of people because I don’t like to do that without permission, but I can show you few of the venue and the decorations. The location was amazing! We even saw a deer when we first arrived and were waiting outside for things to start happening! Unfortunately my camera ended up on a wrong setting and most of my photos turned out blurry or too dark, but a few are vaguely okay.

Here’s Bambi, plus a shot of the hall (yes, there are people on that one but I think they’re far enough for it to be okay).

The groom’s mumΒ  made the cake! I was amazed – it looked so professional. And she also made the chocolate lollies that each person had at their place at the table.

Wedding cake

Instead of a number, each of the tables had the name of a place that holds some significance for the bride and groom. Ours was Bruges, which I presume is just somewhere they’ve been on holiday. The most important tables were Slough, which is where they met, and Windsor Great Park, where the groom proposed.

The food was delicious! Pork belly with Bramley apple sauce and chorizo to start, followed by steak with hand-cut chips and then Tart au Citron for dessert. The vegetarian’s obviously got something different, but I don’t remember what that was.

We continued partying until around 11:30, took a taxi back, then headed to the bar at the hotel for a night cap as it was my mum’s birthday the next day and she wanted to stay up until midnight. It was a really nice wedding, the bride looked beautiful (I’m sure I won’t look anywhere near that amazing less than 2 months after giving birth!) and it was amazing to see so many members of my family. It had been four years since the last big family gathering. Hopefully this time it won’t be as long before I see them all again!

Skips and Wotsits and Hula Hoops, Oh My!

On the way back from England, I found myself with rather a lot of time on my hands at Newcastle airport, so I went and checked out the shops. I may have gone a little overboard purchasing ALL the crisps (well, all the interestingly shaped ones anyway!)

crisps

I also had a packet of Quavers, but my self control isn’t that great… I ate those on the plane πŸ˜‰ Sadly, neither Boots nor WH Smith at the airport had either Squares or Discos, or I can assure you I would have purchased some of those as well…

My trip home may not have been for the best of reasons, but at least now I can fulfil my cravings for English junk food!