Becca Jane St Clair

Personal Blog

UK Road Trip Part VI: The North Yorkshire Moors and York

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.

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Stamford Photo Album

Oops! I forgot to post the Stamford album from last Friday!


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UK Road Trip IV: Cardiff

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

the pier Owen jumps off of

Tim forgot to take off the wide-angled lens after we played with it, so I look a bit funny, but here I am at Torchwood!

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UK Road Trip III: Hay-on-Wye and the Brecon Beacons

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

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UK Road Trip Part II: Stratford-Upon-Avon

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.

Shakespeare’s birthplace

a poster of David Tennant

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UK Road Trip Part I: Lincoln and Leicester

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!

Tim and me

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Just a Quick Note

I just wanted to let everyone know that I will be updating over the next few days later today with posts and photos from Lincoln, Leicester, Stratford-Upon-Avon, Hey-on-Wye, the Brecon Beacons, and Cardiff.

A few highlights before I forget:

Shakespeare’s Birthplace
29 book shops in Hey-on-Wye
The nice man in the sandwich shop who asked me what part of the US I was from and then chatted to us about his trip to New York
Finding the Torchwood door in Cardiff

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Ships and Dippers Invade Liverpool

Yesterday, Tim and I drove across the country to meet up with some of my fellow Ships and Dippers in Liverpool. Our plans were to meet at 3 at one of the pubs, do some sightseeing, go to more pubs, then go out to dinner. Of course, plans never quite go as they should.

Tim and I managed to get slightly turned around on our way into Liverpool thanks to an ambulance Tim got out of the way for, so we wound up taking the long way into town instead of the partial bypass, so we were about an hour behind schedule before we finally made it to the pub. Drink #1 was a lovely IPA. My friends decided they had to take me to a store called Quiggins, which is basically Hot Topic’s older and cooler sister. We had so much fun looking around. I wanted to buy a T-shirt, but sadly it wasn’t in my size. We decided to move onward to an Irish pub, where I had real Guinness. The next few stops became a little blurred. I remember an Irish-American pub, an American pub that had a statue of liberty outside of it, and we tried squeezing into the pub The Beatles used to play at before heading over to our dinner reservations at the Liner – a themed hotel made to look like a cruise ship.

Dinner was fantastic, though I think we might have really driven them a bit crazy with the different dietary restrictions in our group, but we managed. The picture on the wall behind us was a beach scene/water scene with a cruise ship and a naked person (behind shot). We decided that since we were the Ships and Dippers, we had to get our photo taken with the naked person before we left. Out group was actually the last group to leave the restaurant, but the staff was nice and didn’t really try to kick us out. Instead of trying to figure out what everyone ordered, we just decided to split the bill evenly, and then we asked to get our photo taken. We offered to explain why we wanted the naked person in the photo with us, but the Maitre D’ didn’t seem interested. Instead, he told us we could also find an exposed breast in the bar next door, so of course we had to go get our photo there, too.

We hung around for several hours chatting and having a good time before we had to break things up. Tim and I headed back to his car, and our plan was to just grab a hotel room at one of the hotels nearby. Unfortunately, there was a football (Soccer for you Americans) game the same day and all the hotels were booked solid. So, we headed back to the car and decided we would just start heading home and stop to nap along the way.

We broke down and stopped at a McDonald’s around 6AM for some coffee, as it was the only place around that was open and had public toilets that early in the morning. We rolled back into Lincoln around 8AM and promptly went to bed for a few hours.

The rest of today has been pretty relaxed. We wound up finally going to Tesco to get stuff to make dinner with, and then we’re going to plan out the rest of our week.

rainbow along the way

Our group

sunrise on the way home

[And a small note to those of you reading this on the RSS feed on LJ: If you want to leave a comment, would you mind clicking on the links at the top of the entry and commenting directly on the blog? The comments left on LJ don’t actually get emailed to me, and if I don’t look for a comment there I might miss yours!]


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