Sometimes funny, sometimes stressy but always enlightening (aka NO MORE ROONS!)
05.04.2007 - 13.04.2007 20 °C
Its been a couple of months since the actual adventure but I find myself getting busier and busier (a symptom of staying in one country too long perhaps) so its only now I come to write of the places we went the things we saw, the food we ate and the people we encountered.
On March 30th my mum and dad arrived for their much awaited third trip to the UK. This time my sister was pregnant and wee baby Johnson was due a week after they were expecting to get home so you can guess that their minds were perhaps a bit diverted.
Having done no more than book a weekend in Rome we were pretty much able to just write a list of places they wanted to see and plot a course. We started out over Easter travelling first to Great Yarmouth to show mum and dad a true British seaside resort town (and the seals near Horsey). We got to do lots of shopping for tack and ate fish and chips that were NOT good strolled the promenade and just soaked up this uniquely British tradition. Anton and I stay in a wicked cottage we hire through a friend of Anton’s mums and it was fantastic to be able to show mum and dad one of the places I've spoken about so much. It was also a chance to take Jack somewhere with us. As a huge dog he’s a little hard to take everywhere! But Great Yarmouth loves our dog and we can't walk more than 50 yards at a time without being stopped so people can pat him!
After a couple of days in Great Yarmouth we headed for Lowestoft as Dad wanted to see if he could buy some fresh fish there (turns out he couldn't) and then Thetford, which was a lovely little town last time we went but has gone to the dogs in the intervening months!
We had one night at home to do the necessary before we set out on our next little jaunt first going to Betws-y-coed in north Wales. My Grandmother went there on one of her trips here with my grandfather (this is going back to just before I was born so its been a while...). We stayed in a farm stay B&B (fabulous views) in a wee village called Clawddnewydd after spending about 1 hour in the actual town we had been to see (it was sooooooo busy you could hardly move). The next morning we set out from the B&B for Chester stopping on the way to see a bit of Ruthin and a random castle on the map. Once in Chester we took the tour of the city walls and shopped and ate and generally enjoyed the atmosphere (despite the chilly weather). A bustling place, it is fantastic to wander around the most complete old city walls in the UK passing old buildings and new apartments and walk around a bend or out past a tower and see beautiful landscaped grounds or the back gardens of old town houses or the magnificent high street or (best of all) these teeny little shops that just service the foot traffic on the walls. After exhausting ourselves seeing as much of this pretty city as we possibly could we headed north to Blackpool - everything that Chester is not!
The weather was grey, cold and dismal - all you can really expect from the first week in April. It was going to get fabulous though.
Blackpool is not a place you visit because you want some high brow culture and tasteful living. The hotel we stayed in was rubbish apart from the excellent breakfasts - absolutely grotty - but the cultural experience of visiting one of the UKs seaside gems was well worth it. We went to Bingo that evening for a laugh. Sat in a room that knows more about blue rinse and ciggies than you could write in an encyclopaedia, we got our heads around how the games all worked (something you MUST be able to get a degree in) and started having a go. I won £7.50 and still do not know how! That pretty much sums up the evening really.
The next day after a walk around and a wee visit to the donkeys on the beach we headed south again to ...brighter climes. Having booked into a BnB we have enjoyed in the past (Bridge Farm - highly recommend it!!) we were eager to be able to get to Cheshire and begin the green, lush northern experience (well - after Blackpool you would be!).
Bridge Farm has Jodrell bank on its back door (almost literally) and is just a stunning 15 century building with 19th century buttery added when the train line went through the area. Complete with fake window (thanks window tax) and low ceilings/beams/doors with honest to goodness latches rather than handles this place is a truly wicked experience. Set near to Holmes Chapel, Knutsford, Wilmslow and so on it was well placed for walks. We particularly enjoyed going around Aulderley Edge (if you happen to be reading Jane Austin when you get to this part of the world your appreciation of the books will double!). The hazy weather lifted considerably so we were able to actually see some of the views but it was short lived!
We spent an entire day at Tatton Park - wandering all over the park and seeing the white deer (real name??) and watching the model planes being flown around and just enjoying this most glorious of estates. we also got ourselves into the gardens and the house which was a terrific experience. Considering the number of ruins we would come across after this little excursion, when I look back now the experience of being at this immaculately preserved house was just brilliant. The gardens just go on and on with such a huge variety of style covered - Japanese, the Maze, Traditional, Bluebell wood etc etc. The topiary and the vege gardens were worth the time we spent just soaking up the size of the operation. To stand in the gardens and imagine this magnificent house at its peak, entertaining or just getting through each days requirements, is astounding. You almost wait for a maid or kitchen hand to come out to gather herbs and vege for the next meal. You can also imagine a swinging '20s lawn party when you stroll out in front of the house to enjoy the view across the park and can totally understand why the more recent members of the family were such adventurers!
Tatton park estate is so well preserved and maintained I'd recommend it as the only estate you'd need to see to get a really good idea of what it was to be upper class in the UK (and get a feel for the working classes in these houses).
After Tatton park we had Treantham gardens to go before heading back to our little flat land home in Cambs. We moved from Bridge Farm to a neat little dairy farm BnB south of Congleton. Farms - that’s dads idea. Its his way of being at home away from home! but it was fabulous and your hosts are just so good at it! The breakfasts are phenomenal, the rooms/houses are full of character and the people are very relaxed about guests in their homes.
Trentham Gardens is enormous and quite commercial. With lots of shops you can imagine what we did for the first hour or two! Shopping itch scratched (not the nicest metaphor - sorry) we then aimed for the Macaques enclosure which was wicked and I will pop some photos up here because they roam free and can actually get quite close. The whole enclosure is absolute huge and it took ages to walk around (that and you keep stopping to photograph macaques or watch them leap around the trees or see the little ones have fights over carrots) but was fab.
From the macaques we aimed for the sensory experience of a foot adventure - walking a course made up of all sorts of surfaces including cold water, mud, pine cones, hay and stones. You can imagine the squealing when we walked through mud up to our calves and the challenge of then not slipping over as we went across little streams and along smooth wooden planks... It was extremely good though it did take a while to wash the mud off!
And finally it was time to head back to Long St Anton and get back to the real world for a day or two before heading off on the next adventure... (come back and I'll tell you more)