A Travellerspoint blog


Rain, Rain...

rain 11 °C
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NOTES:I think it can be safely said that the blog updating will be slightly behind our travels. You can tell who has written the blogs, by Claire's impeccable spelling and grammer, and Taylor's ignorance of culture.

Train is definately an amazing way to travel. It was very simple and very comfortable. As soon as the main screen displays the platform number, it is a race to the train for the best seats. Being young and mobile, we managed to get double seats across from the luggage rack. The train ride was much quieter and the seats were quite roomy compared to the plane. It was nice to leave the city and enter the countryside of rolling green hills and narrow country lanes. Unfortunately, Taylor still wasn't feeling 100% so he rested a good part of the way.


We arrived in Totnes at 1600, where we were met by Sally. We were then whisked off to Buckyette through narrow country lanes, barely wide enough to fit one vehicle, with 8 foot hedges on either side. All local drivers are excellent at reversing. If you come across oncoming trafic, someone has to reverse until the road temporarily widens so you can fit two vehicles through. Most of the roads we have been driving on are not even wide enough to fit Dad's (Warren) F350.


The next day we slept in and walked to Totnes where Claire spent half of her childhood. We then had lunch at a nice delicatessen and walked up the main street of the town which is again only wide enough to fit a small car and is lined with small shops including the token butcher, baker and tea shops. After browsing the shops we met up with Sally and we drove down memory lane. We visted all the places where Claire grew up including her grade school, the local Waldorf school which was quite impressive.



We spent most of Wednesday indoors catching up on emails and started this blog because it was pooring rain all day. Sally arrived home after work with her son Nic who visited us in Canada in 2004. After a short visit we picked up Nic's girlfriend, Cari, and went to Start Point for a walk, where the last maned lighthouse in Britian is stationed. It is now available for let as a holiday house. The wind was fierce, but we persevered. After the walk we went to Slapton Sands for some fresh fish and chips.


Our next adventure was a river cruise down the River Dart. As we arrived at the boat it began to rain, which was only the beginning of a very wet day. The boat ride was very beautiful, full of lovely funny British commentary. We arrived at the end of the ride at Dartmouth. It then began to poor rain and we were soaked. We did manage to enjoy tea and traditional Cornish pasties before we boarded the boat back to Totnes, where the main concern was keeping warm.


An unexpected break in the rain caused an early morning on Friday. We went for a walk on Dartmoor National Park which is approximately the size of London.


Dartmouth was the next destination for the second time where he had an amazing traditional English breakfast of 2 eggs, 2 baccon, sausage, fried tomato and toast. Taylor thoroughly enjoyed any leftovers from Claire. Another break in the rain allowed us to walk this coastal town which is situated at the mouth of the River Dart. Hence the name. We walked to Dart castle where we encountered a few families of ducks. 14 baby ducks in total.


We spent most of Saturday with Nic and Cari, where Taylor was international Tech support, and Claire played with 'Oslo', Cari's bearded dragon. We all walked to Dartington and had ice cream while we watched some local tap dancers in the square. After another lovely dinner by Sally, she headed off to work while we played Craps with Sally's friends Erac and Viv. Since then, the roll of a dice has settled most of our daily decisions.


Sunday was a torrential down poor in the morning. Erac and Taylor looked up the weather forecast and it didn't look pretty. It was then decided that it was an indoor type of day, so we all headed off to Castle Drogo, which is Britain's youngest castle of approximately 100 years. Half the castle is still inhabited by the family, but the remaining half was remarkable. The stonework was amazing, stone arches throughout the house took 20 years to build. However, the castle sees over 2000mm of rain a year so there is a ongoing effort to repair water damage. The castle gardens were guarded by the queen of the castle. This cat would sit at the top of the gardens as every passerby gave her a pet. There was a quote in the gift shop with a picture of a cat that we thought was quite fitting, "You love me because I'm gorgous!"


Off to Wales tomorrow to visit Claire's Aunty Jilly!

Taylor's thoughts of Southern England thus far:
I have finally gotten use to the crazy Brits driving on the wrong side of the road. It takes you a while to change that ingrained notion to look left as you cross the street. I enjoy the country, but have an issue with the hedges. As beautiful as they are, you cannot see anything as you drive. The countryside is gorgous, but you wouldn't know it until you reach your destination! As for the roads themselves, they are crazy to drive on. They are most definately not north-south, east-west like I am used to. I am deffinately impressed with the parellel parking in London though! Only a few inches from bumper to bumper.

Totnes is fantastic. Besides the awful weather, we had a wonderful time. Sally was an amazing host, and we enjoyed good food and good company the whole time. Tea was regular, and I managed to eat 3 scones with clotted cream which is apparently quite a feat! I even impressed all the Brits.

PS - Real pints of Beer are £2.25, and they fill it to the top! If you get any gap at the top from foam you complain and they top it up!


Posted by TnC 12:00 Archived in England Comments (0)

Jetlagged in London

Eight time zones later

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After planning this trip for over a year, we were stoked to board the plane and let the journey begin. At 2015 it all began.

Now let me tell you, Air Canada is not all it is cracked up to be (or is it?) Cheap tickets equals cheap service. Onboard the 1983 Spruce Goose, we tried to settle in seats obviously built for midgets. People were clearly smaller in 1983. Claire pre-ordered a "special" vegetarian meal, but out of two meals, the only edible portion was the ice cream, oh and a little rice. She was also served a vegetarian breakfast, which was completely different, despite neither of them containing any meat. The only highlight of the flight, was being offerend one free serving of booze, which in Claire's case was wine and did not taste significantly different from wine.

Besides the cardboard meals, recirculated air, and three hours of numb-legged sleep, we arrived safely in London at 1315 the following day. We were somewhat groggy, but excited to be in a new country. We navigated our way through Heathrow, aka a small city, to the underground where we took the Picadilly line to Hammersmith, then the 220 bus to Chris and Laura's in Fulham, London. Tea was waiting - Brits are so civilized. After showering, we felt somewhat human again and took a sunny walk along the Thames to Putney Bridge.


It is difficult to describe Chris and Laura other than to say that their hospitality is fantastic. We had an attic room with a view, internet, our own bathroom, and a tray of tea things so we could have tea in bed in the morning. Home cooked meals every night. Claire even apprenticed and learned to cook shortbread and crumble. Yum.


The first day we managed to tour London a bit. We took the 74 bus to Knightsbridge, where we went to Harrods. All senses were overwhelmed, this store has high-end EVERYTHING, and occupies five stories of an entire city block. Doors were opened for us. Put it this way, there was even an opera singer in one of the many escalator areas. We were afraid to touch anything, and got a few strange looks for wearing flip-flops in one of London's fanciest stores. This place has a dress code.

Next we went to Hyde Park, and stopped by Buckingham Palace for a spot of tea with the Queen. Then we walked through St. James Park, no we did not pass Go or collect 200 dollars.






Our last stop was Big Ben and the parliament buildings, where we did not see the funny looking watchmen with their big hats, but there was a securty guard holding two machine guns. By then it had turned cold, so we headed home for yet another, you guessed it, spot of tea.


That night we went to the Blue Anchor with Edward and Laura (Chris and Laura's son and his gf, confusing I know), where we had REAL pints and inhaled real smoke.

The next two days we spent lounging at Chris and Laura's since the jetlag caught up with Taylor and he was struck with various ailments from a sore throat to a stomach flu. Poor thing. He could hardly get out of bed. It was nice to slow down though and rejuvinate after the craziness of exams and moving. Meanwhile Claire and Laura (senior) bonded over tea and shortbread, and Taylor slept and talked football with Chris and Edward.

And so, we didn't see much of London, but thankfully, it is the only place we will visit twice. We will be back in July before our we head home.

Monday, we were kindly escorted to Paddington Station, where we boarded the Great Western Train service to Totnes.

Posted by TnC 07:26 Archived in England Comments (0)

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