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Third Age Adventures

Trafalgar by Bus

UNITED KINGDOM | Saturday, 9 May 2015 | Views [148]

With the overseas contingent of my family returning to Australia later in the year, I won't have that motivation to brave the long flight again. This may be my last trip to Europe and to my beloved England. So the last week of this trip has been - in my head anyway, a farewell trip to the U.K. So I decided to do a whirlwind tour of Britain and Ireland on a Trafalgar Tour.

The first thing I realize is that I've underestimated the weather. I'm Australian, I don't believe in Winter. Even though, of course we actually do have that season ourselves. But I'm woefully underprepared for the rain and the biting wind. I make do with positive thinking.

The first day we cover Stratford upon Avon, and York, and end up in Leeds. I spent a weekend in Stratford upon Avon with my daughter, ten years ago. Almost to the day. We went to a performance of "Midsummer Night's Dream" where all the workmen had Birmingham accents. It was Aussie mother's day - I was standing in Shakespeare's bedroom when my two sons rang me. Such memories are vivid. I had been to York as well, with my friend Marg in 1969. We hitch-hiked around the UK and Ireland, staying in Youth Hostels. This tour is going to be full of memories. A photo of my youthful self standing under the Whip-Ma-Whop-Ma-Gate sign springs to mind.

Day 2 it is raining again as we head into the lakes district. Some go on a cruise of Lake Windemere - I decide not to as I did this (with much better weather) in 2010 with my son when we stayed at Windemere for 5 days. Even with the rain, Ambleside and Grasmere (where Wordsworth is buried) were beautiful. Then north and over the border into Scotland and on to Glasgow. Thst night we went to Stirling Castle, where we were welcomed by a bagpiper, and a wonderful meal which included haggis (surprisingly tasty!) 

Day 3 we spend in Edinburgh. As we are arriving into the city we have a puncture. There is some discussion about piling us all onto public transport to get to the castle. While we are waiting we off load ourselves and all saunter casually into the hotel on the corner to find the toilets. Head down, don't look at anyone..  Eventually it is decided that despite the deflated tyre, we can drive up the hill to the castle. Our guide then took us on an improvised walking tour. It is cold and windy, and the guide is kilted up just to add to the excitement. He (and we) survive that; he is most entertaining and shows us where John Knox was buried - under bay 23 in the car park! Is that a British thing? I spend our free time in the Art Gallery. It is warm in there. It also has a lovely little collection of Impressionist art. But I come out with a burning question - why is baby Jesus always painted naked? Have the artists themseves ever sat with a naked baby in their laps? 

Next morning we leave early and drive via Robbie Burns house in Ayr. It's too early for iit to be open ad the plethora of mothers taking their chilren to the nearby school seem mesmerised by the numer of us that spill off the bus for a photo op. And then onto the ferry for Belfast.

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