It’s been a very long time since we went to the UK, so finally… here are some pics, in public.
So today really felt like winter – which does officially start tomorrow, so I guess that’s fair enough. So, in an effort to at least look a bit cheery, I wore my lovely bright red jumper to school. It’s very nice and warm… and I haven’t worn it (naturally enough) since we got home from the UK. It still has little bits of fluff on it from wearing it underneath my puffy jacket when we were over there.
All of this, also naturally enough, made me think about our trip. It feels like such a long time ago – only January! – and sometimes I still can’t believe we actually went. When I am over the next couple of weeks (report writing, NatCon (woohoo!), more report writing…) I really will blog more about The Trip. For now, just let me sketch Christmas, which is something we’ve had occasion to talk about a bit recently.
So we must have got up at sunrise – like about 8.30 or so (actually I’m sure it was earlier than that, but you get the picture), and I think we had toast or such like. We were staying with J’s cousins, and once their daughter and her boyfriend had arrived we opened presents. They were so generous to us – we got genuine Sheffield silver spoons, and chocolate enough that basically lasted the next four weeks, and I got a really nice pashmina. Anyway, all of this brought us to late morning, at which point we all piled into two cars and went to the cousin’s brother’s place. There, there was the other side of the family (J’s cousins, who are brothers, married sisters…) – we drank champers, darling, and ate nibblies. For an hour or two. Then it was back into the car and back to where we were staying. This bit I remember exceptionall well, because it was probably a 15 or 20 min trip during which I was balancing an entire turkey, in a foil tray, in my hands. It was at least 5kg, and because there were thre large adults in the back seat, it didn’t actually fit on my knees. So I balanced it with my arms underneath, hands on the sides, trying to watch the corners so as not to spill juices everywhere (I lost it once, and poured some on Matt – the cousin’s son (who is our age… the cousin mentioned earlier is actually J’s dad’s cousin… confused yet?) – who kindly forgave me). When we finally got back, and the turkey was taken out of my arms, I cramped. And my arms continued to ache for the next 48 hours or so.
We finally sat down to eat a real meal at about 3.30 or so. There was turkey, and ham, and lots of salads, and vegies, and sauces… and French red wine… it was incredible. We had bonbons – nice ones. After sitting a little, we had dessert – there was Christmas pud, but also a chocolate cake, because it was someone’s birthday, and it was brilliant. Complementing that was one of the nicest dessert wines I have ever tastes: from Samos. Bet you can’t buy it here.
And then, because that’s not enough for one day, we played charades (pronounced sharaaaads…). Competitively.
It was one of the most amazing days ever. Certainly one of the most memorable Christmas days I’ve ever had – it was just so different. And that was our third day.
So we’ve been home for a number of months now, and sometimes I feel like we never went. So I’m going to start trawling through my diary* and write up a few bits and pieces. I’m going to start by listing all the places we stayed, with a couple of words about what I thought of them.
# Started in Sheffield, because that’s where J’s relatives are – we stayed there for a week over Christmas. The ‘burbs we were staying in were very nice; the city – basically just like any other city.
# Windemere, in the Lakes Country. World’s Biggest Tourist Trap. Nice enough town, but expensive… the lake itself was quite nice. I’m sure it’s lovely in summer and even more expensive and crawling with even more tourists.
# Dumfries. Once we managed to find somewhere to stay – long, and annoying, story – a nice enough town. Had a very cool bridge in the middle of town, built at some time just to transport some huge gun.
# Haltwhistle. Very little border town. Not much to say about it, really. Nice pub; Newcastle fans to the max.
# York. I loved York – because we stayed within the walls (at a scummy backpackers’… more about that later). I loved the Shambles – they were beautifully crazy, cool little shops, and the Minster’s spire above it all.
# yeh, then we went back to Sheffield for a night, to do some washing…
# Llanberis, in Wales (so glad we stayed somewhere with the aspirated l). Lovely little town in Snowdonia; surprising variety of food, and J fell in love with the bike shop.
# Abergavenny – another lovely Welsh town. And another glorious bike shop for J to moon over. This was a really nice town, in general – pleasant ‘burbs, nice town centre… I could probably live there.
# Crosley Heath. The weirdest place we stayed, simply because we were staying in the post office and the owner of the house… well. Old and a bit crotchetty, but quite nice to us; we got weird looks from people down the pub when we told them where we were staying… and the farmhand dude was a bit odd, too. The house itself was nice. The town was really a village.
# Oxford. As a city, my least favourite place in the entirety of the UK. Dirty, congested, impossible to park in the town centre – and maybe I’m a bit biased because we nearly didn’t go there, due to not finding somewhere to stay. Crazy bikes, crazy motorists…
# Cambridge. As opposed to Oxford, probably my favouritest town in the entirety of the UK. The town centre, anyway – didn’t spend any time in the ‘burbs. The colleges and the Backs are glorious… the Heath is wonderful, to have such a huge space for anyone to use… it was just so liveable.
# Canterbury. A very nice town – small, easy to get around.
# London! There is absolutely no way I could ever live in London. The ‘burbs are more like separate towns that just happen to connect – funny, that’s just what they are. Inner London was entertaining, for a short period of time, but I couldn’t live there or work there. Way, way too many people. And cars. And pollution. But it was fun.
* I kept a diary every day. Every Day. It became quite a chore by the end, but I’m glad I did it.
So we are home; actually have been for a few days. We were in the UK, for those who don’t know. Most of it was England, a bit in southern Scotland, and a bit in Wales. It was totally overwhelming. I will eventually get around to writing a bit more here, and put up a few (out of the 400 or so) photos here and on Flickr. But I just can’t, yet. It was too much. But I had a huge amount of fun, and saw pretty much everything I wanted to. And it wasn’t nearly as cold as I was expecting either, except for the last week when we were in London and it snowed. The snow lasted until past midday, so it was pretty cold.