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Farewell to Old England ...

UNITED KINGDOM | Sunday, 17 May 2015 | Views [153]

I hope not. But I'm being realistic. I may not get to my beloved England again. That doesn't mean no travelling. I'm an addicted traveller - wanderlust is never far away. But I chose this Trafalgar Tour in the belief that I might not get back. It has unleashed so many memories. My 1969 hitch-hiking trip; staying in Youth Hostels. Trips with my children who were living in the U.K. My own time living in London.

The second last day we arrive in Cardiff. As the bus unloaded, most of the passengers headed into the Castle, but I was all castled out. On the opposite corner I spotted a tea-house. I love these little tea-houses, although I wonder how the make enough money to survive. The first person I see is a lady of African background wearing traditional dress and a head scarf. Behind her is a small thin woman with dark hair and eyes, and large hooped gold earrings. She looks eastern european -perhaps Romanian. I tentatively ask for a hot chocolate. It arrives in a giant tea-cup and it is warm and delicious. A woman nearby hears my accent . She is Irish, and she and her boyfriend travelled through Australia last year. She has the lovely lilting accent of the Irish. The two other women join in. They have British accents. Four women, different ages, different backgrounds. All in this little tea-house in Wales. These are the moments that stick in the memory. The sheer one-ness of us all.

That night we go to the Millenium Centre for dinner and "the Welsh Experience". Singing like only the Welsh can do. A harp recital. Some banter. But for me the glass of mead that welcomed us was itself worth the evening!

The last day of the tour we stopped at Bath. This is one of  my favourite parts of England, and some of my ancestry came from around here. We had only a short stop - just enough to whet the appetite for anyone who hasn't been here before. I have been here and I decide not to revisit the baths, the cathedral or the covered bridge. A friend had told me to find Sally Lunn's. This is the oldest house in Bath, and it is yet another teahouse,  but one more famous than most. Sally Lunn's Buns are renowned. I find it easily and settle down to hot chocolate and a lemon curd bun. Not a vitamin or mineral to be found - but the bun was delicious. Apparently there are often queues to get in (It's only small). but this time I was able to just walk in. Attached is an interesting museum. No matter how many times you go to a place, there are always things still to see and new experiences.

Our final stop is Windsor. The flags at the castle are indicating that the Queen is in residence, and the queues to get into the Castle are ridiculously long. This later becomes a bone of contention among some of the passengers, who feel that we didn't spend enough time in the towns and cities on this tour. People often underestimate how much there is to see in the U.K., especially when they come from a "big" country (say, Australia or the U.S.) One week to cover all that we have done is always only going to be a taster.

Trafalgar have been excellent to travel with (as they have been in previous trips). Our tour leader, Amy is a gem. Organized, patient, and funny. During the trip she took many photos and video footage of us and the trip, and a few days later she emailed the links to us. I watch it periodically and think "That looks like fun. I might do that trip!"


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