[The exhibit mentioned in this post comes after the posts that will be written, but as it was all Rainhill, I included it in this post.]
For Tim’s long weekend in December, we decided to head back to the west coast and go back to Liverpool to do some of the tourist things, and to head to Blackpool. We decided to book a hotel out of town and take the train to the two cities, and Tim happened to pick Rainhill by default of the hotel in that town having an open room!
Rainhill, however, has an interesting history of it’s own. In 1829, a competition was held in Rainhill to pick the type of steam engine that would be used on the newly completed Liverpool and Manchester Railway. 10 locomotives were entered in the contest, and one-by-one nine of the engines were disqualified or forced to drop out. The Rocket was the only locomotive to complete the trials.
In 1980, for the 150th anniversary an exhibit was opened as part of the Rainhill library and features models of three of the engines, as well as a diorama of the event itself. The library exhibit is free to get in to, so Tim and I actually wound up going on our last day in town. It was actually really interesting to read all the stuff about the trials and to see some of the models.
Tim and I left with 5 prints of the event and a few books off their sale table for less than £2 before we headed back to Dunholme, with a stop at IKEA on the way!
[note to LJ feed readers: please click on the link at the top of this entry on LJ to leave comments, as I do not see comments left on LJ!]No comments
I still didn’t know what we were doing on our last day of Tim’s long weekend until that morning, when Tim told me we would “drive home the long way” and go to Stonehenge. When I first planned my trip, Tim had me make him a list of all the places I wanted to see and things I wanted to do, and Stonehenge was right there at the top of the list.
It was a pretty long drive from where we had been staying along the coast, but we soon found our way and spotted the big “Stonehenge” sign…then imagine our surprise when it was straight ahead!
Stonehenge is so surreal. It’s just there, in the middle of a field, with lots of sheep and rabbits wandering around near it. Not hyped up at all, no fancy museum, just the stone circle with a small gift shop/cafe across the street. They even offer “free” audio guided tours (which Tim and I declined, as I already knew the history of Stonehenge and Tim had been there before).
We took our time walking around the stone circle, taking lots of photographs and just being in awe of how long Stonehenge had been standing, and the role(s) it may have taken in early Druid life. I would love to go back during the Solstice, when they actually allow access down to the stones, but I doubt we’d have time to do it.
Tim and I timed our visit “just right”. We arrived with enough time to walk fully around the circle, then head back across to the shop to purchase a few souvenirs, and then walked back over to the circle to take some photos of the sun as it started to set. The grounds officially closed at four, but there was one other photographer standing with Tim and I, and fortunately, the workers allowed us an additional 20 minutes to take photos of the setting sun before they finally told us we had to leave.
I purchased a Christmas present for my friend Miss M while I was there, because I knew she’d appreciate having something from Stonehenge, and I bought myself a reusable shopping bag that has Stonehenge on the side, so whenever I do my shopping I’ll always remember my trip.
Collectively, Tim and I took over 200 photographs of Stonehenge and the surrounding area, and you can view them all in the gallery here, but here are some of my favourite photos from that day:
Tim and I
And, don’t forget my vlog if you haven’t seen it yet:
And, as I posted above, more photos can be found here: http://photos.beccajanestclair.com/uk-trip-2008/stonehenge/.
[note to LJ feed readers: please click on the link at the top of this entry on LJ to leave comments, as I do not see comments left on LJ!]6 comments
Tim had been given one “rule” for places to take me – I didn’t want to go to any military museums or see war stuff. I wanted history, but not war history. Tim asked me if I’d consider going to look at ships as “war stuff”, and then explained what he wanted to take me to. He wanted to go to Portsmouth and go see the Mary Rose, a ship ordered to be built by King Henry VIII in 1509! The Mary Rose sank off the coast of Portsmouth in 1545, but over half the ship remained intact and was recovered in 1982 by divers. I agreed to see it, as I’m a sucker for Tudor history, and we headed back to the train station and into Portsmouth. We got tickets that included entrance to the Mary Rose, the Victory, another warship who’s name I’ve forgotten, and several museums. Our ticket also included a boat tour around the bay, but they don’t run in the winter months. The nice thing about our tickets though is that they are good for an entire YEAR, so if I come back in the Spring and we go to Portsmouth, we won’t need to pay for admission again.
Seeing the Mary Rose was incredible. They managed to recover lots of artifacts from the wreckage as well, giving us a glimpse of life as a seaman in the 1500s. You can view the ship as it’s being treated with a wax drip. The hope is that the wood will absorb the wax to protect and seal it, so that the ship can eventually be walked up to and touched by visitors by 2016. While we were in the museum, they were doing a hands-on experience, so I got to hold an actual piece of the Mary Rose!
We then boarded the HMS Victory, the oldest naval ship still in commission, for a guided tour. The people running the tour warned us to be careful of headroom as we headed down into the lower levels of the ship, because the ceilings got lower, but even on the lowest level, I had no problems! I enjoyed the Victory, but not as much as I did the Mary Rose…and I also had a good giggle over it being called the Victory.
We headed into a few of the museums after a quick lunch and got to view the original Trafalgar sail. This was the sail used on the HMS Victory in 1805 at the battle. The sail has over 90 holes in it from cannon fire!
We also went into a museum showing ship figureheads, and experienced the “reenactment” of the Battle of Trafalgar.
I also found out that the story of the ship captain who had his body preserved in a barrel of brandy so he could be buried at home was the true story of Vice Admiral Nelson, who died during the Battle of Trafalgar.
I vetoed going into the other naval history museums, and Tim proposed an idea for the rest of our afternoon. If you’ve ever seen some of the Monty Python sketches, then you might be familiar with the line “my hovercraft is full of eels”. There’s also a website out there that translates that phrase into well over 20 other languages, including Welsh. Tim was trying to teach me how to pronounce it one day via Skype (I failed miserably) and I had asked him what a hovercraft was…
There is a company that goes between Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight using hovercrafts! Tim suggested we ride over to the Isle and take a trip through part of the island via train, have dinner on the Isle, and then head back. I agreed and we booked ourselves on the next hovercraft.
My video of the hovercraft we were on taking off to go back to Portsmouth
The hovercraft was really interesting. I still don’t really know how they move, but I know they go quite fast! The train on the Isle of Wight is made from old Underground cars, and we rode it from one end to the other, where we got off to walk around before heading back to the hovercraft and the mainland.
Once again, we got back to N’s house super late, and after stopping to pick up snack food we headed straight to bed since we had a long drive the following day!
The picture didn’t come out the greatest, but that’s the Mary Rose!
[note to LJ feed readers: please click on the link at the top of this entry on LJ to leave comments, as I do not see comments left on LJ!]1 comment
The next day, we took the train back into London to meet up with our Assistant Admin for burn-gorman.com, Xenutia. Xenutia and I dragged her dad and Tim to the Doctor Who Exhibition at Earl’s Court. We both were afraid the men would be bored, but they seemed to get along well and even enjoyed the exhibition! I was quite excited to get to go, as the Cardiff Doctor Who Exhibition was closed the day Tim and I were in Cardiff.
When Tim and I exited the Earl’s Court tube station, we immediately spotted the exhibition hall…with the front entrance roped off and a gaggle of young teenage girls wearing spanky pants and sparkles. Turns out, auditions for “Britain’s Got Talent” were also taking place at the hall. We had a funny moment when Tim and I walked up to someone “official looking” to ask them if they knew how to get into the Doctor Who exhibit and they asked Tim if he was there to audition! We were directed to go down the side of the building, and along the way we spotted a very sullen-looking 8 or 9-yr-old boy all dressed up in his Sunday best, flanked by his parents. We were taking bets that he was being forced to audition. Rumor had it (and Xenutia’s dad said he saw him) that Simon Cowel was present! Glad we didn’t run into him!
It started to rain, so we decided to go inside to wait for Xenutia. It was fairly empty, not surprising for a Sunday. The people at the box office almost were unable to process my US credit card (since I was dragging Tim along, I decided to pay for out admission), but it finally went through, and tickets in hand, we headed into the exhibit!
The exhibit was a bit jumbled, to be quite honest. It starts with Ten (David Tennant), and we see the costumes worn by Donna (Catherine Tate) and Martha (Freema Agyman), then we go into a section about Series One and Rose (Billie Piper). Very little about Nine (Christopher Eccleston) or Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman). Fortunately we rectified the lack of Jack by making sure we took photos of my mini-Jack with everything.
Both Xenutia and I enjoyed the costume section more than the other sections – They even showed the mock-up drawings and fabric swatches used for costumes. Quite useful for cosplayers!
The other section we had the most fun in was the Dalek section. They had a dalek you could crawl into set up with a similar microphone to the one Nick Briggs uses to distort his voice. Tim got into it and started making random train station announcements with the dalek voice. Sadly, my video of this picked up all the background noise in the exhibit and you couldn’t hear him on it :(.
The exhibit empties out into – what else? – the gift shop. Surprisingly I used lots of restraint and only purchased some stickers. I was disappointed with the lack of Torchwood merchandise, but I assume had we been able to go to the exhibit in Cardiff, we would have found Torchwood items. Oh well. Tim picked up a handful of the old Doctor Who books, and he and I have been reading them the past few days.
After the exhibition, I had agreed to go with Tim to a garden railway show at the Kew Pump House. Tim has his own garden railway and it’s one of his main hobbies, so we figured it was a nice trade-off. I actually enjoyed myself. The show itself was actually inside the pumping house museum, so while you were looking at the trains you also could see the exhibits..and possibly the largest steam powered water pump I have ever seen. I’m still working on getting those videos up on YouTube. We decided to take the train back into London to get our connection back to Shoreham instead of the tube, and had dinner in a small restaurant in Waterloo station before heading back to N’s house for sleep.
Xenutia, Tim, and me outside the exhibtion
We started our long weekend away with a drive down to Shoreham-by-Sea, where Tim’s friend, N, lives, and where we would be sleeping all weekend. We didn’t arrive with anytime to take a look around, but headed straight to bed because we needed to be up early for the next day!
Saturday morning we headed for the train station and purchased a “combination ticket” for me that would give me unlimited access to the trains, underground, and busses in London (Tim didn’t need a train ticket, as he works for the railway). Once we got to London’s Victoria Station, we had to sort out finding the loo (us: bathroom) for me as the loo on the train was broken. We had to pay 30p (US $0.45) to use the toilet! Tim explained to me they charge for it to discourage people walking on off the streets to us the toilet. Makes sense to me.
We didn’t have to meet Tim’s siblings for another hour or so, so he decided to surprise me and told me we were getting on the Tube (Underground) and would be getting off at King’s Cross. I immediately perked up, as I knew what was at King’s Cross I wanted to see! We exited the Underground and headed into the station and immediately started heading towards the signs for Platforms 9-11. In case you haven’t figured it out yet, we were in search of Platform 9 3/4, the mysterious portal into the wizarding world (as seen in the Harry Potter movies). We soon found it, and of course had to take a picture of me pushing the cart through.
We received a call letting us know Tim’s siblings were running late – part of the Underground was closed for maintenance and they were going to have to alter their route. We didn’t mind, and when we got to Covent Garden, we headed into the first pub we saw. I’m almost ashamed to admit I had a half pint of cider before 11 in the morning! (but so were plenty of other people!)
The five of us (Tim, his sister, his brother, his brother’s girlfriend, and me) headed for Lunch inside the market and then split up. Tim and his brother, B, headed to the transport museum and S, M, and I went shopping!
…Or at least, we tried. The trouble was, the shops were so crowded you could barely move around to look at things, let alone actually *buy* anything, so we wound up just walking around until it was time to meet the boys to head to the theatre.
Tim’s parents got us tickets to see Spamalot, the musical based on Monty Python and the Holy Grail. The show was hilarious, and thankfully not a word-for-word recreation of the movie, but it still managed to have in it all the best bits from the movie that were well-loved, such as the “bring out your dead” scene. I was highly disappointed though to find they had skipped over the entire witch sketch!
After the show, we were meeting M’s brother for dinner. Originally we were going to get Mexican, but the restaurant offering’s didn’t quite match up to my food restrictions, so we wound up at the Italian restaurant next door. We all had very fulling meals, and after taking some silly photos, we all split up. S, B, and M back up to Lincon, M’s brother back to his home, and Tim and I back to Shoreham-by-Sea.
For more photos see: http://photos.beccajanestclair.com/uk-trip-2008/london/
Sorry I haven’t been keeping up here, I was under the weather for a few days thanks to a lovely cold that seemed to come and go and the card reader on my laptop broke so I had to get a new one.
Last week on Tim’s day off, we headed towards Nottingham. Yes, Nottingham as in the Sheriff of. The plan was to spend the day in Nottingham, and then head out towards IKEA Nottingham for the evening — Tim hadn’t actually ever been to an IKEA and after his sister and I harped on him to go, he agreed to go with me!
We parked at a park and ride and took the tram into town. It was a much smoother ride over the bus we had in York! We purchased day passes and decided to ride it down to the end of the line before it turned around and the ticket-taker (conductor?) was very nice and gave us some advice about going to the castle grounds and how to get there. So we headed towards the castle, and on the way we spotted a Sci-Fi/Comic shop. We had to go in, and I came out with a Captain Jack figurine and a TARDIS phone charm. Shortly after, we saw a sign that said “The Hub” and I couldn’t stop giggling.
There isn’t an actual castle in Nottingham anymore, but there is a mansion turned into an art gallery on the castle grounds, so we headed towards that and climbed up the 130 foot high cliff. I love castles, but why do they always have to be at the top of cliffs? We had an enjoyable walk about the museum until I started not feeling well. We left, and after a stop for some hot chocolate and muffins, headed back to the trams and the car.
We made it over to IKEA though, and had a wander through the showroom and marketplace. Despite not buying any furniture, Tim still managed to buy £46 of household goods. We headed home and didn’t even bother unloading the car. We got inside, I took some medicine and slept. The next day I woke up briefly when Tim did, and then stayed in bed until early afternoon.
For more photos: http://photos.beccajanestclair.com/uk-trip-2008/nottingham/
After our night at the Bed & Breakfast, Tim wanted to share with me the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, and promised me I’d get to see the station used for Hogsmeade in the Harry Potter movies! We started our day at Grosmont and toured the rail yards while we waited for our train. We wound our way through the North Yorkshire Moors, making several stops along the way, including Goathland (AKA Hogsmeade!). The ride terminates in Pickering, where we turned ourselves around for the ride back to Grosmont.
The scenery passing by the window was beautiful – lots of trees, farmland, and farm animals, including some sheep who had wandered out of their pen and close to the tracks! We purchased some tea to stay warm from the food-trolly (and I suppressed my desire to say “we’ll take the lot!”) and jsut enjoyed the scenery on the way out. The way back, however, was only slightly enjoyable. I say this because our ride out was quiet and peaceful, and while people were boarding in Pickering a rather noisy party of about 12 or so got on and sat across and behind us. Tim dubbed them the noisy family.
It was early in the afternoon, so we headed down to York for the rest of the day. I had wanted to go to York specifically to pick up a few souvenirs for my family at home as we are from York, PA. We had fun just wandering the streets and going in and out of shops. We walked over to York Minister, but decided against going in (I was a little annoyed that the church actually charged admission as opposed to a donation box). We also spotted a sign that would have been Tim and my first fight, had either of the places still been opened:
Railway museum one way, quilts the other!
We poked around looking for a place to eat,and finally settled on the oldest Inn in York. The food was great, and it was extra special being in such an old establishment.
Immediately after dinner, we headed for the park-and-ride bus stop to head back to the car. This proved to be a bad idea, as the combination of cider, recently eating, and the bumpy bus lead to me feeling quite sick on our ride back to Tim’s house, but we managed with a few stops along the way.
We got in fairly late and headed straight to bed since Tim had to be up to work in the morning.
On the suggestion of Tim’s Mum and my request to see the North Sea, we headed for the Eastern coast of Britain on Friday.
We headed towards “The North” and made the jaunt across the Humber Bridge to our first stop, Bridlington. We arrived in time to watch a rescue helicopter drill including sending the rescuer down in the cage and releasing flares! It was freezing standing out there by the sea, so we went across the street to a pub for some Lunch, where I discovered “pickle” doesn’t mean the same thing in the UK that it does in the US. I ordered a cheese and pickle toastie (US: grilled cheese sandwich) and got brown relish type stuff on it.
We also overheard a very amusing conversation between two older ladies and Obama became “Alabama”. Oh, and women aren’t voting for “Alabama” because he’s Muslim. *rolls eyes*.
After lunch and being sufficiently warmed up from the hot chocolate and the sun coming in through the pub window, we decided to walk down along the shore. We managed to get as far out as a few yards away from the cliffs, but the tide started to come in and we didn’t want to get stuck somewhere! The shore is beautiful, the chalk from the cliffs really stand out, and while I haven’t seen the White Cliffs of Dover, I can’t see what would make those “better” than the ones we saw! The chalk that falls off the cliffs into the water gets rubbed smooth by the sea and is washed up onto the shore, so the shore is littered with white smooth stones and pebbles. We wandered back to the car and decided to continue North towards Flamborough Head, one of the places Tim’s mum suggested.
Flamborough is beautiful. A pristine white lighthouse dots the coastline, and if you walk out far enough on the cliffs, you can even catch a glimpse of the original lighthouse tower from 1647! We drove past the original tower, but there wasn’t any place to pull over to get closer photos of it, sadly.
We spent some time wandering the cliffs behind the lighthouse and being careful of the edges – if you get too close to the edge, the cliffs can crumble right under you!
We soon left, and decided to check out Scarborough. I spotted a castle in the distance, so we headed towards it. As it turns out, that was Scarborough Castle, built in the 1160s by Henry II! I touched a wall that is almost 850 years old! We also discovered Anne Bronte’s grave was located in Scarborough…and not only that, but the graveyard we parked in (sponsored by the Church!) was the same graveyard she was buried in!
We managed the hike up the hill to see the castle ruins after paying a small, nominal fee and I was just awestruck by the ruins. It’s absolutely amazing to see these places in person and to know just how old they are!
The sun was starting to get lower in the sky, and we had one more place on recommendation from Tim’s mum – Robin Hood’s Bay.
As we walked uphill (again!) towards the shore, we passed several Bed & Breakfasts and restaurants. We had originally planned on continuing onto Whitby before finding lodging, but after passing a Bed & Breakfast that had a sign claiming to have a Vegetarian English Breakfast in the AM, we decided to see if they had a room available for the evening. The B&B was beautiful, and the owners were really nice. We also had our pick of three places that served dinner along the block. We looked at the menu at the two places farther away from where we were staying, and in the end picked the Victoria, the bed and breakfast next door to the one we were staying at! We both agreed we made a good choice, as the food was excellent. True to the owner’s words, the following morning I had a Full English Vegetarian Breakfast with veggie sausage instead of the traditional bacon and pork sausage.
After Hey-on-Wye, we headed down to Cardiff. We originally were going to spend the night in Cardiff, but plans changed after we got there. I wanted to see the Doctor Who exhibit and see the water tower and other Cardiff Torchwood locations, but sadly the exhibit was closed for remodeling, and not even the shop was open to pick up DW/TW goodies! So we poked around the Plas for a bit and took some photos, then headed near the docks to check out some Torchwood filming locations including the dock Owen jumps off of in Dead Man Walking, and we found the Hub front door!
After dinner at a fish and chips type place, we decided since it was so early in the evening we would just head back to Lincoln to sleep at home. We got back around 11PM and shortly after went to bed.
Today has been spent doing some laundry and just having a relaxing day at home before it was off to meet Tim’s parents and sister. We had a good time, and now we’re contemplating what to do with the rest of our weekend before Tim has to get back to work. Tim’s dad was suggesting Scotland, but I’m not sure if that’s in the plans or not. Would be fun if it was, though!
My new wallpaper on my laptop – the millennium centre
We set off early the next day for Hay-on-Wye, a small town at the edge of the Brecon Beacons that is known for it’s book festival and book shops….a map we picked up contained a full listing and there were 29 stores all within the small town!
We didn’t go into all the shops…quite frankly, I would have been afraid of our budget as well as our backs if we had! As it is, we picked up about 20 books between the two of us. We did avoid some of the specialty shops, but imagine Tim’s surprise when we ducked into a Social Sciences store for me and he wound up purchasing two railroad books!
We also got to admire the Hay Castle, a lovely falling-apart building (that had apparently survived a fire in the mid-70s). In the courtyard was a honour system based store with books that had been left to be reclaimed by the elements. 30p/book, which sounded like a great bargain until you started to look at the books and realized they were all water damaged and faded and in some cases partially growing into the foliage!
We stopped for a bit of lunch in a small mom-and-pop sandwich shop. The shop owner immediately recognized my accent as being American and asked where I was from, then asked “is that a Pennsylvania accent”, so I had to explain I grew up in New Jersey and he said to me “oh, I thought I heard a bit of a New York accent there”…which *really* puzzles me because I don’t think I have an accent from NY/NJ at all! He and his wife had gone to New York the previous spring, so we had a chat about that in between bites of (my first) toastie.
We left around 2, and on the way back to the car picked up some delicious fudge. The view from the carpark was beautiful – rolling welsh countryside dotted with sheep.
We had a leisurely drive through the Brecon Beacons (and I didn’t get eaten by cannibals!*) and arrived in Cardiff sometime around mid-afternoon….
the view from the carpark
Up bright and early for our drive out to Shakespeare’s birthplace. A friend of mine offered me her tickets to the understudy performance of Love’s Labour’s Lost, and I wanted to see Shakespeare’s birthplace, as I was disappointed we didn’t see it when we went to the UK in high school.
We managed to get 5-in-1 tickets, which gave us access to five different attractions, with admission good for an entire year! We saw Shakespeare’s birthplace, Nash’s House, and New Place, and will hopefully go back to see Anne Hathaway’s Cottage and her parent’s house.
It was amazing to be in a place steeped with so much history. The tour guide told us we were walking on the original flooring William Shakespeare himself played on as a young boy. In the attached museum, we learned all sorts of things about Shakespeare and his family…for example, his father had been the mayor of Stratford at one point, and we learned that when Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway got married she was already three months pregnant! In another building we got to see the complete works of William Shakespeare and all the different editions that had been produced, as well as what some publishers/editors changed in their editions.
Soon it was time to head to the theatre, and we had really good seats in the second tier. The understudy performance was a chance for the main actors to take a step back from their roles and allow their understudies to get some stage time in front of an audience. In some cases, the understudies were doubling up on roles and sometimes they even had to talk to each other! David Tennant (Doctor Who!) was one of the leads and we weren’t expecting to get to see him, so imagine our surprise when we were informed before the performance that he was stepping in to play the understudy’s understudy’s understudy for two small roles! The Doctor Who fangirl in me let out a few quiet squees of delight. At the end when everyone was clapping and the whole ensemble was on stage for bows, I’m fairly certain David looked over at me and grinned.
After the play we wandered around the town for a bit and I picked up some postcards and other items. There was a Crabtree and Evelyn store so I bought my aunt some rose soap (and it’s still pretty expensive even in the country it’s made in!). We had parked in a carpark, so we had to get ourselves back to it before the last bus, and started the drive to Hereford, where we had booked a hotel for the night.
After arriving and checking into the hotel, we decided to go out in search of dinner….and the town was absolutely DEAD for only being nine in the evening. We wound up over at a Fish and Chips place where I ordered a veggieburger that turned out to have onions in it, so we stopped at the Subway on the way back to the hotel and I picked up a sandwich.
For more photos see: http://photos.beccajanestclair.com/uk-trip-2008/stratford-upon-avon/
We started out in Tim’s hometown, Lincoln, to run a few errands and then we were off on the road to Leicester (pronounced ‘Lester’). Tim gave me the choice of going to see the castle or going to the science center. I picked the science center, so we headed over there only to find we were five minutes too late for the last admittance! :(. Next door was the Abby Pump House that had been turned into a museum, so we poked around in there for a bit and learned all about how bathing and toilets have changed over the centuries and saw a giant steam powered water pump. We wandered a little outside, and found a (yellow) TARDIS! They locked us in, so we had to go the long way around back to the car in the rain/wind that already had destroyed my umbrella earlier in the day.
We got back on the road, and checked a map for towns close to our next stop, and we had the choice of two. I picked Leamington Spa and Tim located a Travelodge on the map…..unfortunately, after about a half hour, we still hadn’t located it. Fortunately, I spotted a Best Western along the road, so we checked in there for the night and FINALLY found a pub for dinner, called the Copper Pot.
We turned in fairly early, in anticipation of an early start the following day.
There was a TARDIS in Leicester!