Our 3 week UK trip, RLWC & so much more.

Old Feb 2nd, 2014, 09:07 PM
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Our 3 week UK trip, RLWC & so much more.

So I've just realised that I haven't done this T/R, getting a bit slack!! But I really do owe you all a huge thanks for help in planning this rather last minute trip, so here goes.

Our future son in law (wedding in Oct' ) was selected earlier in the year to be on the squad to play for Italy in the Rugby League World Cup, being played in the UK, from late October into November. Yes, he is Australian but he qualified as his father is Italian and he plays in the local comp' here in Brisbane. He didn't actually get the call up to tour until about 4 weeks before game 1. So with much excited we put together a 3 week trip to watch him play. There would be a few of us going to watch the games, but we would all travel independently, his fiancé, our daughter travelled over with his parents, as we used points with Malaysia airlines and they travelled Etihad. They left a few hours before us, and arrived into LHR at around midday, we were due to land about 4pm. So they booked 2 Yotel rooms at the airport to wait for us. They highly recommend this, as they got to shower and have a rest while waiting. We travelled b/class so managed a fairly restful trip, and were ready to go as soon as we arrived.

They were waiting for us at arrivals, then it was onto Sixt to collect the van we had booked, due to 'us' being 5 adults with lots of luggage. We headed off to Cardiff, where the first game would be the next day. On the way we got a call from Sam (the football player) to say he'd like us to call into their team hotel to say 'gidday', as he'd been there for a couple of weeks and was ready to see some faces from home (one in particular ;-) )

So we called into the beautiful St Pierre Marriott at Chepstow and had a quick catch-up, before grabbing a quick bite at McDonalds and onto our hotel in Cardiff, Future Inn on the Bay. Where we met up with some other family friends who'd come over for the game, all in all there was 9 of us there to watch Sam play against Wales. We loved this hotel, great location by the bay and all the restaurants there, staff were great. We effectively had two rooms (as we shared with our daughter, Samantha, yes they have the same name!) but only one bathroom but it was fine for the three of us. So needless to say we slept very well this night, it had been a very long day.

After a good sleep and a really nice breakfast we headed out for a walk around the hotel area. Really enjoyed walking around the bay, it was quite cool and threatened rain but much worse was to come!!!!!!! Then with much excitement we got ready, donned our Italian scarves and headed for Millennium Stadium. We'd all decided as we'd travelled so far we 'deserved' to get corporate tickets to each game. So we got to go quite early, as there was a drinks package and full lunch before the game. This was so much fun, not only were Italy playing Wales but it was the opening ceremony and Australia played England in the double header, we were 9 very happy Australians. It really was a fantastic afternoon, and the excitement when Sam took the field was just terrific.

The others all went out to celebrate Italy & Australia’s wins, but dh, Samantha & I headed off in a cab to the hotel, it was cold and raining. We stopped in at Woods Brasserie at the bay for the yummiest fish & Chips (with mushy peas ), but as we left it was teaming down with rain, so a lovely cabbie said he'd be happy to take us 'over the road' to our hotel.

Thanks to the lovely Jamikins, I am now obsessed with Flickr and is also part of the reason I'm so late with this TR ;-) so I will add the photos as I go.......there is a lot!

http://www.flickr.com/photos/1046325...7637717261716/
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Old Feb 2nd, 2014, 10:56 PM
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The next day some of the others headed off to Spain for the week, so we took advantage of the van and Dh, Samantha, her inlaws and I headed towards St Fagans Welsh village museum. The others had never been to the UK, so we wanted to show them as much as possible. It was a fantastic day, we all enjoyed the drive, the weather was very kind to us. We walked around the rebuilt village showing how they lived,.  Great fun going in and out of the houses.  Then wandered up the hill to the 'castle', more like a manor house.  Beautiful gardens and grounds, it even stayed mostly fine, just a couple of light showers, the others really loved it all. Then drove about 20 mins to Caerphilly Castle (1368).  It was pouring rain, we knew there was a castle but it was raining so hard we just parked the car. We walked about six paces and ran into a pub..WOH...there out the window was this huge old castle ruin.  Just perfect,it's the second biggest after Windsor.  We sat by the huge picture window having our Sunday roast , watching the rain sweep across the moat and castle. 

It cleared a little so we took a walk over and wandered around, didn't go in, the weather was very dodgy.  But I think it was awesome from the outside, if we hadn't been inside other castle ruins we would've gone in.  Made it back to the car as the heavens opened.

Drove back to Cardiff with the best of intentions to visit the castle but it was just too wet,  we all slept the afternoon away.  Had dinner in the restaurant down stairs, we were all a bit zonked and it was still wet.  But it was a good meal.  Went to bed with news of a massive storm to hit the UK and that Cardiff Bay was to be the hardest hit!!

Oh dear, how our plans were to change..........
 

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http://www.flickr.com/photos/1046325...7637718672694/
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Old Feb 3rd, 2014, 12:05 AM
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Looking forward to seeing how it all went
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Old Feb 3rd, 2014, 01:31 PM
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This is great! I'm looking forward to more.

Lee Ann
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Old Feb 3rd, 2014, 01:46 PM
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>>Oh dear, how our plans were to change..........
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Old Feb 3rd, 2014, 02:25 PM
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hi aussie - great start.

looking forward to more.....
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Old Feb 3rd, 2014, 04:59 PM
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Great adventure. Can't wait to read more. Also enjoying your pictures. I was at St. Fagan's thirty years ago and enjoyed the day wandering through the houses, farms and various collections. For some reason the pig and his pig house really fascinated me and it still sticks in my mind. Perhaps it is because that day was on a roll of film that went missing when sent in for developing.

Thanks for sharing and please continue.
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Old Feb 4th, 2014, 08:07 AM
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Cool photos. Sorry you had to be in the soggy center of storm.
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Old Feb 4th, 2014, 08:57 PM
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Thanks for the lovely responses, I am really happy with the photos.

It was a very wet & windy night, Samantha's inlaws were flying from Bristol to meet the other friends in Spain and the plan was we would drop them at the airport on our way back to London. Just before heading down to breakfast I did a quick google map search of the way from Cardiff to London via Bristol........oh dear........there seemed to be an aweful lot of red warning signs all over the map. So I zoomed in, bridges closed! Eeek so the next google search was how long would it take us to drive the long way.......okay for us with no real plans but we were never going to get them to Bristol in time. So after a few panicked phone calls, we discovered that the trains were still running, so off they went. We figured we'd just take the scenic route and see what the day bought. As it happens by the time we headed off, the bridges had reopened but the traffic was really really bad. Sure glad we weren't on a strict schedule.

We knew we wouldn't be able to get into the apartment till later in the afternoon. With traffic and a quick stop off at the Bicester Shopping Outlet , then into Oxford to see if Samantha could get a train up to Leeds for a couple of days to visit Sam' at his training camp, (no chance as trains still weren't running to time due to the storm) dropping the car back to LHR and making our way into london, I never did make the GTG planned for that night. I was really disappointed as its the first time I've been in the right location at the right time. Oh well..........maybe next time.

We stayed in Bow Lane, right by St Pauls again, we really love this location. And our apartment was as we expected fantastic. http://www.chevalresidences.com/our-...l-calico-house we had a two bedroom apartment, although the second room was a single bed and tiny but it was pretty perfect for us, great size bathrooms, kitchen and living area. We headed off to One New Change to pick up some dinner supplies and had an early night.

We only had 5 nights in London but as we'd been several times before, it really was just to soak it all up again, meet up with some friends and most importantly try to find a special outfit for our other daughters wedding, in April. YES both the girls are getting married this year.........no trips for us!!

The next day samantha headed up to Leeds for the night as Sam had a couple of days off training, I headed for Oxford st........its a crazy place but I do love it. Stephen msg'd that he'd bought a Pret a Manger picnic for us, so I met him by Marble Arch. I love this city so much, and every time I go back I feel more at home. After some more shopping we headed 'home' and I just explored Bow Lane, I went into the lovely church not realising evening mass was just starting. So I was given an order of service and shown to a seat....didn't plan it but I did enjoy the singing. We ate in again, we do love having an apartment and with so many food choices in Bow Lane we could eat in every night.


Had a lovely slow start the next day, we headed to to Shepherds Bush, lovely shopping Centre but no luck with the outfit. I caught the tube home, Dh walked stopping off at Kensington Palace to buy me a royal baby t towel . Met Samantha just back from Leeds and had lunch in the pub in Bow lane.....bit disappointed really, wanted to say it was a great meal in a great pub..........but it just wasn't.

I had decided that this was the trip I was going to go to an Evensong, so I headed over to St Pauls, the others weren't interested. Got there nice and early and was invited to sit in the choir section. What a beautiful experience, I'm really not at all religious but this was very moving. In fact it was special to just sit inside this beautiful church but the singing was just lovely.

Back soon with news of the outfit............ ;-)
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Old Feb 4th, 2014, 09:31 PM
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Book marking to read later
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Old Feb 4th, 2014, 10:38 PM
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lol, a-d - it's STILL very wet and windy, and they've just said on the news that the train service between Exeter and Penzance is suspended due to the high winds and seas. "Luckily" I opted to fly up to London but I've got to go back tonight. with any luck the worst will have gone by then.

While we were in OZ people kept saying that they had heard that we were due for a hard winter in the UK this year; i think that we were all contemplating ice and snow, rather than the constant battering we're actually getting. I'd prefer snow, actually.

sorry to divert your thread - which I'm enjoying very much.
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Old Feb 5th, 2014, 01:03 AM
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Hi Ann......we are getting the edges of a couple of cyclones here in Brisbane. Windy and occasional showers, nothing too dramatic. But the UK floods did make the news tonight, and I quote "There's nothing like a jolly good disaster to get people to start doing something". End quote lol
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Old Feb 5th, 2014, 12:20 PM
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hi aussie - it's no better today and with more bad weather on the way for the next few days, we are feeling a little depressed. however, compared to the people who have had to be evacuated from their battered and flooded homes, we're lucky.

but we will "keep calm and carry on" - stiff upper lip and all that.
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Old Feb 5th, 2014, 12:20 PM
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Dreamer, loving your report and am so glad you are in London--my favorite city outside the US! Reading carefully of all the things you are doing as I am planning to go in the fall. Enjoy!
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Old Feb 5th, 2014, 02:21 PM
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Really enjoying this Aussie - and thanks for the information re the apartment in London.
Had not thought of that location but certainly will investigate for next trip.
I love Evensong and we try and attend at least once each time we are in UK.

Gosh annhig you have had an awful time with the wet weather. I was watching a program on TV last night featuring the Lizard area (Cornwall ?) and was so tempted to visit - hopefully all will settle.

Things here in SA have been dreadful with a weekend of 42C and 44C and then very high winds that took out power for over 90,000 homes. Some are still waiting three days in - seems they have had to re build the entire Adelaide eastern suburbs power network because of so much damage. We were reasonably lucky with a 20 hour outage.

Still we are dry and can drive around - just have to look out for branches on roads.

Looking forward to the next instalment!
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Old Feb 5th, 2014, 08:11 PM
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Thanks for coming along with me.........

The next day Samantha & I made our way to Harrods, determined to buy my outfit. As it happened we walked out of the station the wrong way and ended up walking a bit further than intended. But we passed lots of great shops, so after trying on so many things I went back to the LK Bennett store and bought a lovely dress. Very classy fitted dress, sort of a shimmery bronze colour, real classic style, so I'm really happy. (sorry for the detail ;-) ) We had lunch at Harrods, as always too expensive but lovely, lasagne for Samantha, crab salad for me...yum.

It was this day that dh asked Samantha to meet him at Harrods for something, I thought it was to show her a suit, which I had suggested strongly that he needed. But as I was to find out a month or so after getting home, it was to show her my birthday present. An absolutely gorgeous Arthur Price of England, Sovereign Silver plated 88 piece cutlery set. I really have never owned anything as lovely, Harrods delivered it to his work, so I was very surprised to receive it. The box it is all stored in is beautiful just on its own, I still feel very spoilt and it will absolutely be an heirloom.

Dinner was at One New Change at Jamie Olivers Barbecoa restaurant with friends who live in London. We met them in Dubai years ago and we catch up when we can. It was a lovely night, great food, terrific view, the only negative was as we'd booked an early sitting we were 'politely' asked to vacate the table at around 8pm. Which apparently had not been mentioned on booking, no biggy, we had a lovely night.

The next day was our last in London, so we all just headed out to do our own thing. I wanted to tick off an inside look at Westminster Abbey, but I just couldn't bring myself to line up for what looked like would be a couple of hours. So I still haven't done that, I guess it means we'll have to go back! So I just walked and walked, all around the Abbey, along the river up to Trafalgar Square and onto The Mall. I was just deciding whether to go and take some photos of the palace when dh messaged to say we should all meet at Borough Markets for lunch, so off I went. I love this place, Samantha had never had a Kappacasein Cheese Sandwich, so we shared one of those, also some of their amazing potatoes and dh got a duck wrap from somewhere. Its terrific looking around all the amazing stalls in the lead up to Christmas....I especially love all the game birds, very exotic to us Aussies ;-).

So thats it, London done till next time. My dream would be to spend a full year in the UK, basing somewhere and doing short trips all over and going into London whenever the mood struck......sigh one day.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/1046325...7637718527736/

Next stop Workington for game 2, Italy vs Scotland.
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Old Feb 6th, 2014, 02:12 AM
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Gosh annhig you have had an awful time with the wet weather. I was watching a program on TV last night featuring the Lizard area (Cornwall ?) and was so tempted to visit - hopefully all will settle.>>

yes, love-travel, do come to Cornwall, which is indeed where the Lizard is [the UK's most southerly point, whereas Land's End is its most westerly]. I flew over it last night on my way home from London [Flybe from LGW to Newquay 3x a day] and although it was cloudy, from the sky you could still see how lovely it is. I'm sure that the weather will settle down, eventually!

Aussie, sorry you missed the Abbey, but you'll just have to come back again. When you do, after the Abbey, jump on a no 11 bus, and stay on as it takes you up Horseguards parade, past the now infamous Downing Street Gates, round Trafalgar square, along the Strand, and jump off either on the Aldwych or along Fleet Street, and take the chance to visit the Royal Courts of Justice, which is where I went yesterday. I was there for work of course, but the building, which is Grade 1 listed Gothic revival, is open to all. tour the building upstairs and down [make sure that you see the exhibition of legal costume] then exit via the front of the building and cross Fleet street and use one of the little lanes going south to find your way into the Temple - an oasis of green calm, with fountains and gas lamps. Don't miss the Temple Church with its romanesque arches and sleeping crusaders.

back out on Fleet street take in the old fashioned lobby of Lloyds Bank [my branch - after you've admired the marble basins make sure you go through the doors into the inner lobby to see the carved wooden owls] then cross the road and hop on the bus again to take you up to St. Paul's or the Tower.

quite a nice day out, I reckon!

Back on Fleet
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Old Feb 6th, 2014, 08:23 PM
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Oh Ann Stop It........so jealous.

The next day we got up nice and early and caught a cab to Kensington to collect our hire car for the next two weeks. I love this cab ride, so did Samantha, its like a mini tour of the city. We collected our lovely Mercedes and off we went, towards Workington. As much as we love driving, the road out of the city was slow and tedious, lots of traffic. It took us the better part of the day to get there. It was really really cold on arrival, we found our hotel without any issues. What a great find, the Washington Hotel and as it turned out the opposition team (Scotland) were staying there. So it made for some interesting breakfast and bar room chats. The others had arrived earlier in the day, so we all had a lovely dinner in the hotel and a very cosy warm sleep in a really great room.

The game wasn't till the afternoon, so dh and I headed out to explore Workington. No one had really talked it up while doing my research, so we weren't expecting much. But we really liked it and if you find yourself there for any reason its a most enjoyable stay.

We walked all round the lovely old ruin of Workington Hall, through the streets, down to the bay were we watched the fishing boats and also a couple of lovely old churches. Note to self..........when you peer in a window of a church on a Sunday there’s every chance the priest will give you a friendly wave ;-) .

We walked to the ground for the game, a really great atmosphere but boy it was cold. Our tickets this time were for lunch and a couple of interviews with some of the players. Sam hadn't been selected to play in this game, so he got to join us for lunch and in our seats, which was really nice. The game was a draw.......a fun walk back, the lovely bartender had reserved a lounge room for us, so we had drinks and were visited by some of the Scottish team, which was fun. The weather was really dull and cold but very cosy in the hotel, I really would recommend this hotel if you find yourself in Workington.

The next day the others got a car service to Manchester for a flight to Paris. We drove Samantha to Carlisle so she could spend the next week in Leeds with Sam, made sure she was settled on the train then headed to Keswick.

So excited to finally spend some time in the Lakes District, after an earlier failed attempt.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/1046325...7637718863656/
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Old Feb 7th, 2014, 09:06 AM
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I really would recommend this hotel if you find yourself in Workington.>>

yeh, right. Not quite at the top of the list of tourist destinations in the UK, aussie. in fact, I'd probably go so far as to say that it doesn't even make the bottom of the list; nice to know that should i by any chance be going past, [unlikely, admittedly] it's worth stopping for an hour or so. But that's the point [partly] of these tournaments, I suppose, to attract people to the places that other tourists don't reach!

Nice that you had a chance to mix with the Scottish team. When we were sheltering from the NZ rain in a pub in Arrowtown, [near QT on the SI] we fell into conversation with an aussie couple whose son in law was playing for Australia - sadly, I can't remember his name! They were dead proud of him., as you were of Sam I'm sure, and rightly so.
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Old Feb 8th, 2014, 03:38 PM
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Oh Ann, you do make me laugh I thought I'd sufficiently talked it up ha ha.........
I knew that Workington wasn't a 'must see' for anyone but hey when you’re given lemons................

Just to explain, a few years ago we found ourselves driving in the Lakes District. We called into Keswick and surrounding villages but due to a festival that was on we couldn't find any accommodation. So when we found out that there was a game in Workington, we knew it was our chance to visit this lovely part of the world. So we made sure to do a lot of research and chose Keswick as our base and I'm so glad we did. What a beautiful town and the proximity to 'everywhere' is just terrific. And to top it off our B&B was perfect. Stonegarth.com we had the huge bedroom upstairs at the front, so we had picture windows and a four poster bed, a spa bath for my poor aching legs.....lots of walking was done. The breakfast were great, the hosts just lovely and we really enjoyed taking our glass of wine downstairs to the lounge room, of an afternoon.

On arrival into Keswick, we just parked the car and walked all over, had a Cornish pasty for lunch and just enjoyed getting our bearings. After settling in the B&B we headed off towards the Lake just as the sun was setting, what a pretty place, had a drink in one of the many great pubs (our haunt for the stay was The George), loved that dogs were welcome. It was really getting cold, so we probably stayed a bit longer than planed but we had some great chats with the locals. Dinner was at Casa Bella and I have to say it was really really good. It was a very brisk walk back to the B&B, I do love the cold.

The next day we roughly followed a driving route in the Rick Steves book, stopping where ever the mood took us. We really wanted to do a walk so headed for Castle Crag, parked the car at the Borrowdale Hotel, used their loo and had a cuppa. It was such a great day for walking, clear and cool. The walk took about 3 hours and was just wonderful, the scenery was breathtaking. I especially loved the bit of the walk that took you through a farm, got a lovely cheery hello from the farmer. Got back to the hotel, just as the heavens opened...........sat in the beautiful lounge watching the rain and having soup and beer, perfect end to a great walk.

Had an amazing dinner at Morrels, just lovely.3 courses for 19£, we chatted and drank it was really nice. I had trout starter, beef daube and a yummy nickerbockerglory!!! dh had pork belly starter and crumbed plaice. Another great walk home, the B&B really is in a great location.

The following day we headed for Windermere, the weather wasn't great but okay for driving/site seeing. We used the ferry to cross over the Lake to Windermere, a lovely way to travel. Had a good walk around but the weather was closing in, so we headed into the MacDonald Hotel for a cuppa. While I was in the bathroom dh had ordered a lovely hightea for us. So we sat in the huge picture window, watching the rain over the lake, just perfect. We also did a small walk around Wray Castle, although it wasn't open, it was a picturesque spot.

As this was our last night in Keswick, we thought it only fitting that we have a final dinner at The George....YUM Crab cakes & partridge for me, venison stew for dh, another great meal!

Keswick & the Lakes
http://www.flickr.com/photos/1046325...7637720440484/

Walking Castle Crag
http://www.flickr.com/photos/1046325...7637738512833/

Wray Castle
http://www.flickr.com/photos/1046325...7637737910505/


Next we head to York.
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