Monday, July 28, 2014

July 25: Time to take back the motorcycle and revisit some friends

We slept in today and then got our things of the bike in order to take it back to the rental store.   We were greeted this morning by our hosts Eveland and Rafik who gave us a wonderful breakfast and advised us how to make the most of the tube and busses.  We took the bike back and headed across the street where we had coffee on the day we rented the bike.   The owner and his wife were there again and we chatted with them for a couple hours before heading out. We got caught in the rain on our way back,  but we really can't complain because we haven't had much rain at all.   Most people we've talked to say this is VERY UNUSUAL,  and greatly appreciated!   No pictures today.

July 22: Audleys End

We had a wonderful time visiting one of the restored country Estates today, Audleys End.  Not only was the house restored,  they had the gardens and stables redone too.   We were able to read personal accounts of life on the estate circa 1830-1840.  It never occurred to me just how many people were may to run such an estate.   I will definitely watch Pride and Prejudice and Dowton Abby with new eyes.   As a matter of fact,  many of the novels and period films I love have been put in context as well as some of the great English literature I've always enjoyed.   It all makes so much more sense when you are familiar with the land and culture. Unfortunately we didn't make it to Highclere Castle aka Dowton Abby,  but I think we did just as well or better with Audleys End because instead of having to be on a1 hour guided tour we were able to walk around at our own pace.   We spent the whole afternoon there.   Hope you enjoy the pictures,  some areas didn't allow pictures.
Pictures are here :

Sunday, July 27, 2014

July 24: Back to London

We decided not to try to see anymore of Cambridge,  but instead to head towards London.   Tim could not get out of the "hotel" fast enough.  We packed up and rode to the nearest McDonald's (for WiFi), to sketch out where to go next.   We looked at our guide books and Tim came up with the idea to go see the National Motorcycle Museum which was sort of in the same direction as London.   We arrived there around 3:30, just in time for me to have tea while Tim perused the 900+  motorcycles on display.   I'm sure I had a similar look on my face when we stepped into the bookstore in Carlisle. Tim was like a kid in a candy store!  After they closed we went looking for somewhere to have dinner.   After a bit of travel we found a place called "The Bull's Head" in a little village.   The place seemed a bit pricey,  but we were so hungry that we didn't care.   I ordered a gnocchi dish and Tim ordered soup.  My dish was very good,  but there wasn't much of it,  I've not seen such small portions.  Tim's soup was ok.  We then took a look at the  dessert or "pudding" menu. We could each have our own or we could get the sampler.   We chose the sampler!   Needles to say that I'll need to diet when I get home!   With our sweet tooth's satisfied,  we headed for our lodging in London.   This time we'd booked with another home stay. It had great reviews so we were looking forward to it.   We had a little trouble finding the house because of the crazy way they number addresses here,  but Rafik and Eveland came out to get us.   Rafik is Indian,  but was born in England,  and Eveland is Estonian.  They are so cute together.   Their house is beautiful and our room was large,  pretty,  and comfortable.   They were having dinner and asked if we wanted to join them.   We would have if we hadn't eaten all that day!   After some chatting we went to bed in our comfy bed.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

July 23: Cambridge

What comes to mind when you hear Cambridge University?  I always pictured students sitting in groups discussing various subjects from science to world politics. .. That was NOT what I saw.  Cambridge is definitely a college town.  Not only is Cambridge University there,  there are SEVERAL other world renowned universities here as well.  Kings College,  Queens College, Trinity College, and 27 other colleges are all part of the University. School is out for most students,  which meant that the tourist season had begun. (By the way,  today was the first of what I would call summer weather.  It was about 78 degrees.) The place was packed with tourists in large and small groups. As bicycles are the main mode of transportation,  there were literally hundreds of them.  We were much more likely to be hit by a bike than a car!  We went to see the beautiful colleges but found that there were "admission fees" for EACH of the 31 colleges and the fees would only allow you in the gates to admire the gardens and architecture. For all it costs for students to attend,  you would think people could admire them for free.   Not to mention that Cambridge and It's 31 colleges are the country's largest land owners Thanks to Henry Vll who gave the land to them. I took my pictures of the colleges where possible,  but I was internally dreaming of what it would be like to be a student here.  At one point we went into the university's book store and I drooled over the books wishing I could run into Stephen Hawking whose office was in the building across the street. Inside I was scheming how I could sell my house, abandon my life in NC, and move to Cambridge to live amongst "true academics". !  Reality did kick in and I realized that I am no longer 22, but will turn 50 in just a few short weeks. :(  Nevertheless,  I DID Sign up to get their brochure about summer programs !  Who knows,  maybe next summer?   One of the main tourist attractions is "punting" on the river.   We bought our tickets earlier and had a 5:30 departure time.   We arrived at 5:15 as instructed.   We were told there would be a short delay;  45 minutes later an employee came to walk us to the dock.  When we got to the dock,  another employee told us it would be another 45 minutes as they were waiting for boats to return.   At that point we went and got a refund.  The owner gave us 10 £ for our inconvenience.  So,  we didn't go punting BUT,  while we were waiting we got into a conversation with some students and got some very useful information for our next trip.  As it was a bit late,  we walked back to where we parked the motorcycle.  When we first got to Cambridge,  we were in need of breakfast so we stopped at a Cafe in one of the main streets.  Luckily there was an open space to Park.  As we were looking for where to pay, and how much,  one of the waiters rain out to us to tell us that motorcycles Park FREE !  We parked and went in to eat.  The waiter told us he would be happy to hold the helmets in the restaurant office for us so we would not have to carry them around! He and Tim exchanged some motorcycle jargon, and we'd gone off to explore the city.   Now,  how later we arrived to get the helmets.   I confess I was a bit nervous,  but we got them safe and sound with warm regards and best wishes for the rest of our trip.   We have met so many nice people on our trip,  many because we were on the motorcycle,  but others who were just nice people.
Pictures are here :

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

July 21: York Minster, Molly's Tea room, small cathedral, travel to peterborough

This morning we set out to see the famous "York Minster Cathedral".  I can tell Tim is getting a little bored with the buildings.   It's not that they're not awesome,  it's that there are SO MANY OF THEM,  each one as beautiful, if not more so,  than the next.   York Minster is supposed to be as elaborate as Westminster Abby in London. We arrived just in time for a tour where I learned that the cathedral was unknowingly built over a former Viking Cathedral,  and that built over a Roman military building.   They had no idea of the history beneath until one of the towers was in danger due to cracks in the foundation. I was able to see and touch parts of buildings that were over 2000 years old!  Then we took a tour to the top of the tallest tower.  We had to walk up over 250 steps in a spiral staircase. The view from the top was well worth it.  It took most of the day to see all of the Minster.   Earlier,  before we got there we walked by another church,  a tiny old stone one, with beautiful stained glass windows.   Unlike many of the buildings we'd seen, the doors were wide open and there was no entry fee.  From inside I heard the most beautiful, peaceful music,  so I went in to check it out.   The church was being used as a haven for prayer.  Every day it was open for people of any faith to go in and pray.   The young man explained that the congregation there had almost dwindled to nothing when about 2 years ago a new priest (Anglican)was appointed. In no time there was a revival in the church and it got so large they had to move to another building!   He asked me if I wanted prayer for anything and we prayed for Joel.   I felt so peaceful when I left there.
Anyway,  Tim and I had tea at a place called Molly's Tea room.  It was a beautiful day. Until we went to our hotel in Petersbough, which is just outside Cambridge.   This was an actual hotel,  not a homestay. It was pretty poor.   Not as bad as the London place,  but close.   At least we didn't pay a fortune for it.  Good night.
Pictures are here:

July 20: Sleeping late, Down town York, and an evening cruise

We slept in till late,  but isn't that what vacation is for?   We had a bite to eat and set out to see the city.  Wouldn't you know, I forgot my phone/camera so I had to use Tim's.  Will get them off his camera eventually!  We'd heard that the River cruises were very good so we booked an early evening cruise.  After dinner at Witherspoons we headed for the dock.  The cruise was very relaxing and we learned much about the city. Nothing earth shattering today,  just a lovely day. The city has to many historical sites to count! The city itself still has a wall surrounding it that is hundreds of years old.  I think it would be fun to spend a few days just walking the walls and finding all the hidden passage ways in this city,  but we just don't have the time.   The United Kingdom is small,  yet it has so many historical and asthetically beautiful areas that I could easily spend a month (or more) in each region. Each area has its own style,  history,  and "personality" much like each state has in the U.S.  I wish I had the time to see it all.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

July 19: Rain, Rain, go away !

We didn't sleep well,  so we slept late.   When we finally started walking into town it was past noon.   We found a place for " brunch" at a restaurant located in--a Travel Lodge !  The food was really good,  and very reasonable prices.   While we were there it began to rain very hard.   We decided to hang out till it blew over.  I made plans for the next leg of our trip.   I also tried to find us a room for the next two nights as we really needed the sleep.   Everything in our price range was BOOKED.   When it speed raining we headed back to Chris' house .  We passed a B and B and on a hunch we checked it out.   They had one room left!   So here we are,  we're going to sleep.   Sweet dreams everyone!

July 18: It's all part of the adventure !

We slept late today after yesterday's adventure,  packed up or things, and heard to York. We were truly sad to say goodbye to our hosts Al and Sue as we really enjoyed talking to them.   One thing we've learned NOW about the highways in the UK is that unlike ours, there are not gas stations on every exit.   Here's how we learned this,  we ran out of gas!   We were running low on gas and kept trying to find a petrol station. We put it in the GPS, and went to the exit.   There was an empty building where the gas station was supposed to be.  We turned the bike around,  started up the street,  and the bike died.   I just looked at Tim, laughed, and said "it's all part of the adventure".  We decided to take our phones,  split up,  and try to find help.   I went into the little sore I saw and explained to the shop keeper and his wife what happened.  They told me that maybe the man up the street so is a mechanic,  might have some gas. I walked over there and there were two men there working on cars.  I ended my explanation with " could you sell us enough gas to get to the petrol station?  "  (which was, I found out, 6 miles away in the next village)  the man looked at me and said,  "it's going to be expensive"  I frowned and said that figured,  but had no choice.   Just then Tim texts me that he found help,  so I told the man that I didn't need his help after all.   Tim saw a young boy playing and asked if there was a gas station around.   The boy said he didn't know but would ask his dad.   He ran down the street and came back with his father who offered to take us to the gas station in the next village to get gas.   He drove us there,  let us use his gas can,  and refused to take any money from us.   There still are kind people in this world.
After this mishap,  we filed or talk and speed at a McDonald's for some coffee.   While their we meet a wonderful family from Scotland and ended up talking to them for over an hour.   While it did put us behind schedule,  it was very enjoyable,  and really, this is what is really all about,  getting to know people.
We also found an Asda, Walmart,  to pick up some supplies.
When we finally made our way to York, it was later than we'd planned.   we had made arrangements to stay with a couch surfer.  Chris lives in a house he rents with 2 other graduate students.   While I figured it wouldn't be like our last accommodations,  I was surprised at the conditions.   After all,  these were Graduate students!   The house was really dirty,  but we were exhausted and hungry,  and Chris so willing to help us,  that we just unpacked and said to each other that  we'd make the best of it.   Chris took us to a local pub where we had the best,  and last expensive meal yet!   Then we went to another place where the locals were singing folk music.   People would just show up with their instruments and " jam" together.   They played old Scottish and English ballads.   It was an unforgettable experience.   When we went back to the house,  we found that Chris gave up his room for us and was sleeping on the couch.   The kid was so nice,  we felt horrible when we laid on the bed and could feel the Springs poking through!   Well,  we were going to make the best of it!
Pictures are here :

Thursday, July 17, 2014

July 17: The Scottish Highlands

We had beautiful weather for riding,  so we headed North.  Our first stop was Doune Castle.  This was where Monty Python and the Holy Grail was filmed.   This is the best,  well restored Castle we've seen.   After this we went riding into the moors to see the beautiful countryside.
Pictures are here :

July 16: More Edinburgh

Got started late but went Back into town to see more of the historical area. We had some time in the National Museum of Scotland,  but could have spent the day there.   We left after only 1.5 hours because we had tickets to your the underground vaults beneath the city.
Pictures are here :

July 15: Edinburgh Castle & Downtown Edinburgh

After a wonderful night's sleep we woke to breakfast laid out for us in the kitchen!   I felt so spoiled.   Then we took the bus to downtown to explore the city!
Pictures are here :

July 14: Rainy day travel to Scotland, our comfy B & B.

This morning it was RAINING,  real rain,  not just a drizzle.  We packed up and headed for Edinburgh,  Scotland.   It took us a while to get there as we stopped several times because it was raining so hard. By the time we arrived we were soaked.   The sky had cleared though and the sun was peeking through.   I booked us another home stay and although the ones we had previously were adequate,  we hit the Jack pot this time!   The house was in a clearly "upscale" neighborhood, and it was about 100ft from the coast !  We were tired and wet and our hosts invited us to join them for dinner.   The house is lovely and our room SO MUCH NICER than anywhere we'd stayed thus far.   And the best part?  It only cost $62 per night!
Pictures are here :

July 13: Hiking in the Lake District

Finally we have a day to go hiking!   We looked up one of the MANY
 " walking" tours available of the Lake region and choose one that ran from the village of Keswick to the top of Skiddaw mountain in a loop.   The guide labeled it as 'difficult', and stated it should take 4-5 hours. We headed out from the trailhead about 1pm.  It wasn't long before we figured out that we were doing the loop backwards.   This would not really be a problem, we just needed to follow the directions in reverse,  right?  Easier said than done.   The trail became steep VERY quickly.   It wasn't long before I was wondering WHO decided to call this a 'walking' trail.  It was hard as I hadn't done much hiking recently.  We were determined to get to the top of Skiddaw which is the 4th highest peak in the lake region.  Each time we thought we'd reached the top, we were disappointed.   The trail kept taking us higher and higher.  Finally we were at the top but could see where the trail forked to go to the higher peaks.  While tempted to go higher,  we knew we weren't prepared for a longer hike so we started down.   As difficult as up was,  down was harder!  My knees were aching,  and by the end we were exhausted and sore. By then it was 6:30pm.  We found a little cafe that sold fish & chips, inhaled our food and ordered dessert, or "pudding" as a reward. We slept Very Soundly!  Pictures are here:

July 12: More Carlisle Castle, Carlisle Cathedral and village, BOOKSTORE BLUES, and afternoon tea

Today it was a little rainy with drizzle on and off.   It didn't bother us too much because we went back to ser the rest of CARLILE Castle.   The Castle is truly amazing.  After the castle,  we went to the Cathedral.   The stained glass and carved wood were beautiful.   One thing I'm seeing is that every church here is fairly old and that they were all built beautifully.   While some are more elaborate than others,  they are all very lovely.   After the Cathedral we went walking around the town and spotted an old bookstore it was wonderful!  It was an old English home converted to a bookstore.  I could have spent the whole day there. Later we went to a tea shop for a late lunch.  We are staying at another home stay.   This time in what's called a " terrace house" .  What we would call it is a " town house".  Our host's,  Allison is a primary school teacher.   She bought the house about a year ago.   The house has been repelled many times.  It was originally built in 1862 !  While it's cozy,  the layout is a bit strange as the bathroom was put in much later.   For the most part, all the homes we've seen in towns are very small due to the scarcity of available land.   We have so much land in the USA,  that we don't worry about expanding.   Here you either have to treat a building down, or build on top of it. We take for granted how really huge or country is.   The people in the UK think that driving 2 hours is a long way,  but that doesn't seem very far too us.   For them they could be half way across their country!   It just shows how geography effects culture.
Pictures are here :

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

July 11: Ferry back to mainland, Travel to Carlisle, Carlisle Castle

This morning we were up EARLY to catch the ferry back to England.  While in line for the ferry check in,  Tim noticed that we were right in front of a fan that contained none other than Guy Martin !  I went over and asked for a picture with him.  All Tim's motorcycle friends were green with envy when they saw the picture on Facebook!   We were heading to Carlile.  Once of the ferry it only took us an hour or so.   It wasn't time for us to check in with our home stay host,  so we went to see Carlile Castle.   We only got to see a bit of it so we plan to go back tomorrow.
Pictures are here :

July 10: Working, The Sound, and Cap Island

Today I spent most of the day working on the class I'm teaching online.  I want to a coffee shop that had wifi and graded assignments and tests.  Tim spent the day watching the races.   It was good to have some time to myself even though I was working.   After the races are over we went out to the sound and had dinner with Cathryn to say goodbye to the island.

July 9: Motorcycling, Point of Air, The Craig, & Racing

Today we went for a motorcycle ride along the TT route.   Yes, we went Fast as there are no speed limits outside each village border. It's funny though because I never feel afraid because I know Tim is being careful.  He wants to have fun, but he knows the limits of his bike and his abilities and he wants to live to ride another day.  It was a VERY cool and windy day.   After riding the tt track we went to the coast at the"Point of Air" and we could see Scotland from the beach off in the distance.  Someone has actually written it in chalk with an arrow!  We walked the show and I collected some rocks to bring home. While the Beach was beautiful,  it's a bit too chilly for me.   60 degrees in July is not summer to me.  This is a beautiful place, but I wouldn't want to live here.
Pictures are here :

July 8: Castle Rushen / Elevensies Tea

Today we went to see Castle Rushin. It is a very old Castle but pretty well preserved. I was really surprised at how small the rooms are andhow dark they were.  It must not have been a pleasant life living in those circumstances.  Once it wasn't used as a Castle anymore, it was used as a prison.  It was so solid and we'll built even though it was made of uncut stones piled up.  I'm seeing that the people in Europe reuse old buildings rather than tear them down or build new ones because they lack the SPACE. In the USA we take land for granted because there is so much of it,  but here land and space in general come at a premium.  All the homes are small in comparison to ours and everything in them as well,  from the appliances to the furniture. I guess I never really thought about how large our country is in comparison to each European country. While walking in the Castle I thought of the people who lived there and what their lives may have been like.   Seeing a real Castle,  its size and characteristics do not fit the romanticized picture I had in my head. Ate the Castle we had tea and headed for the races.
Pictures are here :

July 7: Tynwald Day, Viking Village, and Tea (of course)

Today was Tynwald day which is a national holiday of the Manx people.  It is when the Parliament meets to discuss matters of state.   What I did not understand before is that the Isle of Man is a separate country and only militarily protected by British rule. Actually the whole thing is pretty confusing to me, I need to do further research.  The Whole ceremony while full of "pomp and circumstance" didn't actually accomplish anything.  We enjoyed going to the Viking exhibits and taking pictures of the historic buildings.   After this we went to a tea shop for lunch and just enjoyed the afternoon.  After our late lunch, I went back to the flat for a nap.  Tim and I always feel tired.   This is because we are always "on alert" in a sense.   Everything is a learning experience.   From figuring out how to work the shower in each place we stay,  to learning the different words they have here for items that are familiar to us.   One example is that I'd always heard of the English eating "tea and crumpets".  I wondered what a crumpet was.   Cathryn bought us some to try and they ended up being what we call "English Muffins",  only a little thicker.   They use different words for things.  They say "toilet" or "loo" instead of bathroom or restroom.  Our minds are constantly working to process all the new information.
The temperature is in degrees Celsius,  rather than Fahrenheit.   They call gasoline,  petrol and it's sold by the liter,  not the gallon.   The currency here is the Manx pound,  which is technically the same as the British pound except the Manx pound has a different picture on one side of the notes AND the mainland stores won't take the Manx notes and vise-versa!  If we look at the prices in pounds as dollars,  they seem about the same as in the U.S., but they really aren't because the exchange rate for the dollar is so low.   It takes $1.60 dollars to make one pound.   If we go out to eat,  and a meal is say 8.99 £,  it's really $14.36, almost double !  This is making us be extra careful with our money. We usually eat breakfast wherever we are staying and eat only one meal out per day. We won't be bringing back many souvenirs, but I did get myself a Viking necklace and Tim got a Southern 100 T-shirt.  Oh,  and I did get some rocks from the shore at Tintagel Castle. :)
After my nap we went out to where the races are being held.  We met some people there from the Netherlands.   Tim talked to so many people. He was in heaven talking to so many motorcycle enthusiasts.  For me,  the races weren't that exciting,  but it was wonderful to see Tim's face light up.
Pictures are here:

Monday, July 14, 2014

July 6: Church, Sunday Dinner, & Interesting Conversation

On Sunday, Cathryn was going to church, so she invited us.  Tim was itching to go on a lone ride, so he went riding and I attended church with Cathryn.  It was a wonderful experience.  We haven't found a church we like yet in our new area, so it had been a while since I'd been in church.  I realized just how much I missed it.  All the people were so welcoming and friendly.  The service was much like the ones we attended in Greensboro when we were going to Westminster Presbyterian.  After church they had tea in the fellowship hall and I had the chance to talk with a few of Cathryn's friends.  Cathryn is very invested in her church and community.  I really like that about her.  She is very much a soul like me.  I even went with her to check on her teen group who were camping this past weekend.  After church we went back to the flat and met up with Tim.  We wanted to take Cathryn to lunch so she chose a place in town.  We had a typical English Sunday Dinner of assorted meats, potatoes, pudding, and tea.  It was wonderful.  After dinner we went back to the flat and relaxed and just talked with Cathryn.  She has many of the same books in her book shelf as I have.  We also did laundry, and I did some work on my online class. I learned so much from talking with Cathryn.  The Isle of Man is a separate country and is a protectorate of Great Britain.  It has it's own government, laws, economy, currency and culture.  A person has to have 4 Manx grandparents to be considered native Manx.  The Manx tail-less cats are bred here, and ONLY here.  We learned that it is quite difficult to get permission to live on the island.  Cathryn is not native Manx and had to have a job request her in order to move here.  There is hardly any crime here.  The biggest crime they had last year was when a woman had a garden sculpture stolen from her yard.  It was returned to the police station a week later with a note of apology !  It is even more expensive to live on the island than in the UK as a whole as everything not produced here has to be brought over on the ferries.  The government owns the ferry lines and has a monopoly on it, the electric service, internet, and phone services.  So, they can charge what they want, and do so !  While some building of new homes happens, the new homes are made to look like the older ones.  More to learn tomorrow !

July 5th: Ferry Ride to the Motorcycle Meca, Island of Man !

We got up this morning and headed for Heysham to catch the ferry.  We loaded up the bike and settled in for the 3 hour trip.  The food on the ferry was expensive, but they had the usual offerings: a curry dish, and a "full English breakfast" which consists of: eggs, tomatoes (roasted or stewed or fresh) fried mushrooms, bacon, sausage, and what we call in the states "baked beans".  some places also include "chips"-- steak fries.
While sitting on the ferry we met up with an older gentleman who was also going over for the Southern 100 race.  His name was Bryan and we enjoyed talking to him about motorcycling, racing, etc.  Once we arrived on the Island, I understood why Tim loved it so much.  It is so picturesque.  The Island has several perfect little seaside towns.  We were couch surfing here so we went to meet up with our hostess, Catheryn.  She welcomed us with open arms, her flat was beautiful and we could see the race pavilions from her living room window !  Her place was so clean and neat, and honestly, the best accommodations we'd had thus far !  Cathryn had some errands to run, so Tim went for a bike ride and I wandered around the town for a bit.  We didn't stay up too late, we had much to do on the morrow !
Pictures here:

Saturday, July 12, 2014

July 4: Rainy day/Manchester Museum of Science & Industry When

When we got up in the morning it was raining. I'd  hoped to go back to Bath, but it wasn't an option as I misjudged the distance, it was 4 hours to Bath, not two, and we weren't going to do it in the rain. We donned our rain gear and headed for the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry. At the Museum there was an exhibit about the LHC (Large Hadron Collider) and the discovery of the Higgs Boson particle. The need that I am wanted to see it so I went to do that while Tim went to look at old engines. It was a slow, relaxing day.

July 3: Lost in Bath / Travel to Manchester

We got rather a late start after our exciting trip the night before. The plan was to stop in Bath for a few hours on our way to Manchester and see the old Roman Baths, and maybe even have a Spa treatment or two. .. That was the plan anyway. When we first got into town we were surprised at how large a city it was. The first order of business for me, with my small bladder was to find a restroom, and quick! We were on a one way street when I spotted a McDonald's so I asked Tim to just pull over and let me off.  That's what we did, I had to use the toilet so urgently that I didn't think of anything else. I assumed Tim would go around the block and come get me and we'd be on our way. I used the "loo", and went back out to wait for Tim. There was a little bench outside the McDonald's so I sat there. When he didn't show for 10 minutes, I figured he was stuck in traffic since it was rush hour. When 20 minutes went by I started getting uncomfortable, then 40 minutes, then 45 minutes.... I couldn't call him because my phone was with him on the bike. I believed that he was either lost, or had been in an accident. Since he had the GPS, I started to think the latter. I started wondering what I should do. "Do I go into the McDonald's and ask to use the phone? Who do I call? I had no money, no identification, --nothing. Over an hour had gone by. . I was sitting there beginning to panic when Tim walked up behind me looking just as paniced as I. We cried in relief. Not only did he get stuck in traffic, he got caught in a traffic detour due to a University graduation which had just ended. When he finally got on to a clear road, he was lost. When he put the McDonalds address into the GPS, it took him to a Street but there wasn't a McDonald's there. He finally parked the bike and started out on foot to find me. Needless to say by the end of this ordeal we just got on the bike and rode towards Manchester. We arrived in Manchester fairly late, 10pm, and went to our host's house. We knocked for over 10 minutes before they answered, we thought we were in the wrong place. When they finally answered, we just went in and went to bed. No pictures today. :(

Thursday, July 10, 2014

July 2: Okehampton Castle, Tintagel Castle, and Port Isaac

 We had high hopes of seeing about 6 different sites today, but instead we saw only 3. I had to accept that we just can't see everything. We first went to Okehampton Castle. It was really interesting. Despite being a ruin, it still had many recognizable areas and I wonder what it would have been like to live in that time period. We spent quite a while there, and then headed for Tintagel Castle on the coast. It was about an hour drive father West. This Castle was on a cliff face. It was also very interesting and we took lots of pictures. As evening approached we wanted to make it to Port Isaac which is where Doc Martin is filmed. We walked along thestreets we'd seen our favorite characters trod. Sunset was beautiful over looking the Bay. As we were eating, seagulls tried to steal or food and we laughed and joked. The funniest part of the day was our ride back to Witheridge. We were using the gps which was telling us to go down little dirt or travel roads that you would not have expected to have been registering as real roads! many of them were more narrow than our drive way at home! This brings me to another point. Since the country is small in comparison to the USA, people here see driving an hour to go somewhere as a great distance. We finally made it back on the"pig paths" sometime after midnight. Pictures are here:

July 1: St. Martin's Church And Cathedral in Essex

 It was drizzling a bit today, but as the morning went on, it cleared up. There were a bunch of sites I wanted to see that appeared to be close together on the map, but we found that some of the historical sites were not really maintained and/or restored. We took a ride to Essex to see St. Martin's Church. We had difficulty finding it because it was a tiny church tucked in between a coffee shop and another store. It was built in 1069 !--amazing! At some point someone thought it was a good idea to PAINT OVER the beautiful murals with GRAY PAINT! They are in the process of restoring the church now. Across from the little church there is a HUGE Cathedral. We were going to go inside but they charged an admission and we didn't think it was worth it. We did take a lot of pictures of the outside which is beautiful. After that we went to our place and went to sleep. Pictures are here:

June 30: Stonehenge

June 30: Stonehenge We got going pretty early, at least for us, still on NC time. We put our destination on gps and started out. It was only to be a couple hours ride to our destination but we were unsure of where we were going in terms of where the different sights are. So there we were riding down the road and then what did we see in a field on the right? Stonehenge ! We did a quick u-turn and went to see it. While it was amazing to see, it was a little disappointing because we were kept about 25ft from the actual stones. It was interesting to find that it was still a mystery as to why the stones are arranged the way they were. While walking around we spoke to many people from around the world. Again, I am reminded how culturally deficient we are in the U.S. and how overall we think everyone is, or should be, like us. While we were there we bought a pass that is good for most of the historical sites so now we have a map and guide book with most of the sites in it. In the evening we finally got to Witheridge, a TINY village. We went to the address of our host and we're pleasantly surprised to meet Laura and see the cozy room we had rented. We brought our things in and went across the street to the village pub for dinner. While there I tried a "cider" which are fermented fruits. I am sold-- cider is now officially my favorite drink. I am partial to Strong Bow classic and look forward to trying the other flavors ♡ it was a good day;photos here:

June 28-29: "London and all its diversions"

June 28-29: "London and all its diversions" Still not acclimated to the time change. We keep going to bed late and getting up late. It was afternoon before we got into London to visit some of the sites. One thing I must say about the public transportation system is that it is very clean, safe, and comprehensive. There's no trash on the trains. They are well lighted as well. Even late at night it's safe because we see young people, families, etc riding them. Of course we have noticed that one reason is so safe is because there are security cameras EVERYWHERE ! In the subway, on the streets, in the shops, "Big Brother" is watching. This would not go over in the U.S. We would see it as a violation of our privacy instead of a way to be kept safe. I'm not sure how I feel about this. I mean if you're not doing anything wrong, what's the problem, right? I just think it's a little creepy that you're always being watched. We went to the Tower of London, and walked along the Thames River. At one point it began to rain and we decided to go to the museum of modern art. Although I'm not much of a contemporary art person, I did enjoy looking at some of the items and trying to figure out what may have been going through the mind of the artist. On a different note is been trying to get in touch with Rachael for several days by using Skype. I was finally able to reach her and it really warmed my heart. Despite having Tim here, I miss my Rachie-Roo. On the river walk area there were shops and booths set up celebrating the Love Festival which was inspired by the Gay Marriage Act being passed. The message was to celebrate all types of love. It seems that people here in London get along well regardless of their differences. We had a late lunch at a Greek restaurant which was really good. Unfortunately I'm beginning to see how expensive everything is here. Our dollar is worth only about %65 of a pound, making us extra cautious as to the things we are doing. While we wanted to ride the London Eye, we decided to do it at the end of our trip instead of now, that's if we can afford it. It's about (20 £) $35 each. On Sunday many things were closed as far as monuments and such so we went into down town London. It was VERY MUCH like Manhattan with large, fancy shops, clubs and restaurants. We went back to the hotel relatively early and got packed and ready as we were leaving in the morning for the Southwest coast. We decided to try using a service called Air B&B which is a system where people rent out rooms in their homes. like couch surfing only you pay to stay there. It's much less expensive than hotels. We are scheduled to stay with a lady in a small town named Witherage. This will be our base for a few days while we explore the surrounding area. Pictures can be found at:

Sunday, July 6, 2014

June 27: Picking up the Bike & The "Expensive Dump"

 We had a good night's rest in Epping, we slept till 11am. I noticed that it didn't get dark till VERY late. I mean very, very, late. It was 11:30pm till it was full dark! This made us think it was earlier than it really was. That and we were still feeling the effects of jetlag. Anyway, we finally got our things together and went to the tube station. The " tube" is their word for the subway. Our first task was to go to the bike rental shop, so we took the tube into London. When we finally got to the bike shop they let us know that the bike we had rented was no longer available. We started to panic because the bike he wanted to give us was far too small and we knew it wouldn't have space for all our luggage. Fortunately he gave us another bike that had large cases on it that we could use instead. We finally got the bike packed and prepared to leave for the hotel, b but we weren't sure where to go. While Tim was looking it up on the GPS, a young woman got on the bike next to us, so we asked her where the street the hotel was on was located. She said that she should know because she was a London cab driver in training. Instead of just telling us how to get there she took us there. A woman we knew only a few moments took time out of her day to help us. When we finally got to where the hotel was supposed to be we were puzzled because we didn't see a hotel sign. Instead we saw what looked like an abandoned building. Then we saw someone come out of the building so we asked where the hotel was. He pointed to the building. We were pretty shocked but it was getting late and I thought it might not be too bad inside. I went in to see the room, it was a dump. When I tried to get my money back I was told there are no refunds. I was really mad because we paid the equivalent of $125 a night for this place. I wouldn't have been upset if we'd spent only $49, but I expected much better for the price. Then we needed a place to park the bike as its illegal to park on the street. The clerk told us that therewas no parking for the hotel but he knew of a lot 2 blocks away that was only 5 £ ($8) a day that his friend owned. While Tim was having this discussion, I saw another man come by who was cleaning out the trash bins along the street. I thought surely be would know where we could park. He told us we were welcome to Park the bike in the church parking lot right there. To make sure I went in and asked the priest. He said it would be fine and said the bike would be safe because they locked the gates at night. We went to our room, unpacked, and headed out to find a place for dinner. After a LONG walk we found an Indian Restaurant. While the menu was in English, there weren't any explanations of what the dishes were so we asked the waiter for help. We had a wonderful dinner. What impressed me were how many different languages we heard spoken in that tiny restaurant! French, Spanish, Italian, and Hindi. We never see that in Rockingham County! --OR even in Greensboro for that matter. It was amazing to see all these people of differing ethnicities getting along peacefully. After dinner we went to bed, the mattress was pretty hard, but we were exhausted.

Pictures are here-click link to see pictures