Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

The volcano gods smiled, then frowned. UK citizens endangered

The volcano gods smiled, then frowned. UK citizens endangered

Old Jun 14th, 2010, 04:28 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 18,783
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
saraho, I'm not finished uploading photos of this trip to flickr but I have already uploaded the pics of 14 Hart if you want to see them. www.flickr.com/photos/basingstoke2/sets

I only have the Edinburgh and Warwick Castle ones left to do. The ceilidh videos are already uploaded.
basingstoke2 is online now  
Old Jun 15th, 2010, 01:11 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 18,783
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Two more days to go. We are keeping a close eye on news of the volcano and do not like what we have been seeing. It's getting lively again and parts of Irish airspace and some of northern Scotland have been shut down. Will we be able to leave Edinburgh? Will be forced to stay a few more days? Will our trip insurance kick in if we are? Will our flight leave Edinburgh only to leave us stranded at our Heathrow connection? Heck, we are having too good a time to care very much about it, except for the last possibility.

So, without carrying a heavy burden of concern, we begin our penultimate day. On our morning walks from the B&B we had noticed an interesting building just around the corner. This morning it had a sign "Auction Today" or something like that, so we walked over to see what it was about. Shades of "Cash in the Attic" there was a lot of interesting looking stuff there, or as I overheard one cynical local remark "what a load of rubbish." I stuck to the former assesment and we decided to stay for a bit, looking around to see if there were any small objects that might be fun to bid on. A small 18th century memorial locket with a man's portrait on the front and a lock of his hair behind glass behind caught DW's eye. I thought it was creepy. We both liked the set of six very nice imitation Chippendale dining room chairs, but we could not figure out how we would get them into our luggage for the trip back, even with the large pieces we had been schlepping about. We stayed for the bidding through the locket (#32) that went for a few hundred pounds as part of a group of 4 similar pieces. The chairs were #200 something so we decided not to wait, not having solved the packing problem. Still, it was fun.

Edinburgh is filled with traps to take our money. On the way up to the Edinburgh Museum, we passed those music shops I mentioned earlier and had promised myself to stop in and visit the brass shop, aptly named "The Brass Section." Since I rarely break such a promise to myself, we stepped in. There, hanging on the wall among a few used French Horns was a beautiful Alexander model 107 descant horn -- with a sterling silver leadpipe that had been added on. Dear reader, I don't expect you to know what this means to a horn player like myself, but it was a rare and very desirable find. Feigning little interest with my best middle eastern suk bargaining face on, I asked the price. Two thousand pounds was the answer. Quick mental calculation told me that was about 3 thousand dollars. One like that in the US sells for somewhere between 5-6 thousand dollars and that is with a standard brass leadpipe. I asked if I could play it. Sure the proprietor answered-he even let me borrow a mouthpiece. It played like a dream! How much to ship it to the US? About 100-150-quid was the answer. Summoning every bit of self control I could muster, I did not buy it. Why? I had to face the reality that my first chair days are over - given to the younger and sturdier members of the orchestra and a descant is an instrument that specializes in high range - first chair horns play the high and solo parts. Also, I am not in the horn trading business, even though it would probably turn a nice profit. For me, it would be just a toy and an expensive one at that. I had no way to rationalize the purchase, so with a still doubting heart, I left the shop.

Well, the past, even the recent past is still the past, so we walked to the Museum. Again, there was a free tour to go along with the free admission. Our bearded tour guide looked very Scottish in his kilt but sounded German in his accent. Yes, he said, he was from Munich but moved to Edinburgh some years earlier. His tour was interesting in a different way. Somehow he put politics in much of his presentation and somehow managed to make, shall we say not positive, allusions to US policy as he went along, looking at DW and myself as he did as we were the only Yanks in the group. We stuck with the group, even though a bit uncomfortable at times. At tours end I had a nice talk with him - really, it was nice and we both learned from each other.

After a few hours in the Museum, we had time left to visit Holyrood. We loved the art collection, grounds and interiors, but as you can tell by now, we are pushovers for that kind of thing. We decided to walk back from there, and it was a long walk, passing the newish Parliament building. I won't comment except to say that even though I am against capital punishment, I would make an exception for the architect of the Parliament.

Arriving at the B&B we had time for a change into some fresh clothing and dinner, before going to a Ceilidh for the rest of the evening. Dinner was at the Urban Angel about a block from the B&B. I noticed vegerarian haggis on the menu and although it is a contradictory concept, ordered it. It was delicious - something that I would order often if available in the US.

A Ceilidh is something that every visitor to Scotland should experience. I have another thread about it as well as videos that I have also posted and will link again at the end of this post along with all of our other photos. For those who have not seen the Ceilidh thread, I'll copy my original post here.

Ever been to a Ceilidh? We went to one in Edinburgh last month and it was more fun than should be legal. If you are in Scotland, be sure to find one and attend - it is an authentic Scottish experience and often they are held to raise money for a charity - this one was to raise money to help Edinbugh's homeless. We learned of it through the TI office.

See if you can spot "The Jew Dance." As the Ceilidh was going on, the caller put a Virginia Reel in the mix for any Americans that might be in the crowd. I said to DW, "next they will be doing a hora. " Wouldn't you know, the next dance was announced as "The Jew Dance." It cracked me up. If you have never seen men in kilts doing a combination of hora and hasidic dance, you'll see it now. Also try to spot a fellow who is the John Travolta of Ceilidhs. He is a young man in a kilt, long hair and a beard.

Have fun and turn the sound up.

UK trip photos link: www.flickr.com/photos/basingstoke2/collections

Next and last: Warwick (not the reformatory - those from NY would know what I mean) and the volcano gods frown.

basingstoke2 is online now  
Old Jun 16th, 2010, 09:43 AM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 5,967
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Fantastic trip report!
semiramis is offline  
Old Jun 16th, 2010, 05:08 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 18,783
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks semiramis. I like your ancient goddess screen name.

So here is the final installment of the trip.

After the ceilidh we slept well and arose early for our day in Warwick. We wanted an early start because would you believe it, we still had some shopping to do. DW decided that tea cozies would be nice gifts, so we needed to get back before stores closed to see if we could find some. We also needed to turn in early for a 4:30 AM taxi pickup that our hosts kindly arranged.

A short walk to the train station and we bought our tickets to Warwick - only 6 pounds for a return ticket. Arriving in Warwick, it was up to the castle, and I do mean up - it is quite a steep climb. Pantingly, we arrived at the castle gate and used our heritage pass for the last time on this trip. The pass was well worth it - we received full value and then some.

Warwick Castle impressed as very unlike Edinburgh Castle in that it seemed oriented more toward entertainment than history, although there was plenty of the latter. That day- a Sunday- there were no tours. Instead of the tours, they had costumed historical skits, demonstrations and entertainment at the different castle buildings. If you click on the photo link above and choose the Warwick set, you will find 2 videos of the music demonstration/entertainment. You will also see some of the beautiful views of the nearby countryside - I believe that is the beginning of the highlands, or so said a tour guide back in Edinburgh.

Leaving the castle, it was a much easier walk down to the train station and a comfortable ride back to Edinburgh, arriving in time for a tea cozy search. We couldn't find one among the high street shops but were directed to Jenner's department store and there was a good assortment to choose from there. If you are looking for a tea cozy, Jenner's is the place.

Cozies in hand, it was back towards 14 Hart with a stop for a combination lunch/dinner at Magnums - a nearby restaurant recommended by our hosts. Vegetarian haggis was on their menu too, so we had it again.It was spicier than that at the Urban Angel, but delicious. I guess that haggis is a perfect last meal before leaving Scotland.

Amazed that we were able to get all into our luggage with breakables in a carry-on, we brought our swollen luggage into the hall-way near the door, so as not to disturb other guests in the morning. Our taxi arrived at exactly 4:30 AM as ordered and it was a quick ride out to the airport. I believe it was under 15 pounds. The flight on B.A to Heathrow was on time so we breathed a sigh of relief - not so fast Basing the volcano god said. We had a 3 hour lay over at Heathrow and as the gate to the waiting area for our flight opened, there was an announcement that because of a shifting wind pattern, our flight would be delayed for 2 1/2 hours so that a new flight path could be plotted and plan filed. The allotted time passed and we boarded. OK, so we are only 2 1/2 hours delayed. That's not too bad. Not so fast Basing, frowned the volcano god. The doors had closed and we were backing away from the gate when the airplane stopped. Announcement - the winds had shifted again at it would be at least another 2 1/2 hours. We would have to stay on board. Actually, it was 3 hours, so 5 1/2 hours late, we took off. The new route was longer than the original so we landed at JFK at 9 PM rather than 2:45 as scheduled. We still had to gather our luggage, pass through customs and get our car for our 5 hour ride home, arriving at 3 AM or 8 AM body time. Now that was a long day. We were fortunate though because soon after, our flight would have been cancelled and then we would have been thrust into the midst of the space available hordes. I had planned to go into the office that day. I didn't.

Next: well, there really isn't any next, although I do plan to follow up with a short overall impressions post. Thanks for sticking with it and I hope you found it useful and perhaps a bit entertaining.
basingstoke2 is online now  
Old Jun 16th, 2010, 07:47 PM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 73,054
Likes: 0
Received 50 Likes on 7 Posts
OKay -- for the last 2 days I kept wondering how you got from Edinburgh to Warwick - - and then figured out -- you meant <u>Stirling Castle</u>. Different place, different country

Fabulous report!!
janisj is online now  
Old Jun 16th, 2010, 08:12 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 18,783
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
janisj - you are so right - of course it is Stirling Castle. Where did Warwick come from since I've never been there? Perhaps, the street where I was born and lived the first 20 years of my life was named Warwick Street. Could there be something subliminal going on?
basingstoke2 is online now  
Old Jun 17th, 2010, 12:42 AM
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 29,744
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
A final bravo. Looking at the first of your Ceilidh sets then will go through pix. Super report.
TDudette is online now  
Old Jun 17th, 2010, 12:43 AM
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 29,744
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
ps-Delays on the way home are doubly "painful"-one wants to be home NOW, eh?
TDudette is online now  
Old Jun 18th, 2010, 04:47 PM
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 12,820
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Great report, Basingstoke. Sufficiently detailed but not over-detailed.
Pegontheroad is offline  
Old Jun 19th, 2010, 07:16 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 18,783
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I would like to end this TR with some final thoughts and impressions.

People - It is the people that you meet that make the real difference in a trip and the folks we met in the UK enhanced our venture. Without an exception, we met people who were friendly, kind and helpful to strangers.

Food - food in the UK gets a bad rap. Our meals, except for that one Burger King breakfast, were memorable. Some were simple and others more upscale but all were good. We particularly enjoyed pub grub where we had some of our best meals and enjoyed new things. Some things stood out, for example the soups were outstanding. We really liked the carrot/coriander soup and the Celeriac soup at the Creel restaurant in Edinburgh was unbelievably good.

Prices - surprisingly reasonable. Our most expensive meal was 16 pounds at Bath's Pump Room, but most restaurant meals were 11-13. That is not more than we would pay at home. Pubs were less at about 7-10 pounds, even less, and one can eat very well sticking to pubs. One of my best meals was in a pub - the cheese plate with soup and a pint at the Dirty Duck in Stratford-upon-Avon. It was simple but very satisfying and one of the most reasonable in price. Probably our best meal overall was the sea bream at the Kingsbridge Inn, a pub in Bourton-on-the-Water. In restaurants we pretty much stuck to set menus and pre-theater menus which were always a good value. You don't have to spend a lot to eat very well.
Semi-vegetarian DW ate very well and finding food to match her diet was no problem at all. Vegetarian alert! If in Edinburgh, seek out David Bann's. It is what a vegetarian restaurant should be.

Our B&Bs were very well priced, we never spent more than 80 pounds (hotel in London and B&B in Edinburgh) and would not hesitate to recommend any of them to our closest friends. Most were considerably less. Particularly outstanding was 14 Hart in Edinburgh and Woodstock in Stratford-upon-Avon. Cornerway's in Bath is also worth a mention for our hostess's outstanding hospitality, location, simple but very pleasant room, breakfast, and for Bath, a rock bottom price.

Our British Heritage Pass was very worthwhile and for us, a good value. An added benefit is that one can often bypass lines and since it is already paid for, we went to places that we may not have otherwise, to our benefit.

The beauty of the UK - One thing that made this trip special for me, was being able to see some of the UK through DW's eyes. Although I had been to some of our destinations before, it was the first time for her. We were both taken with the beauty of the countryside, especially around the Cotswolds, architecture, and lovely towns and villages.

Deserving of a special mention when speaking of beauty were the rapeseed fields that were in full bloom when we were there. Imagine driving, surrounded by fields of the brightest yellow. It turned even gray days to days of sunshine.

Attitude - as you can tell if you follow my TRs, we travel with a "glass is half full" attitude and enthusiasm for what we find. We are not hard to please. As the old joke goes, if we entered a stable piled with manure, we would find the pony.

Best experience - That is hard to say because there was so much that was memorable. We will never forget our evening at the Ceilidh nor the beauty of the countryside.

Driving - We thought the road signs were excellent and even got used to the roundabouts. Roads were all decent even when narrow. We particularly enjoyed driving in the Cotswolds on the narrow winding roads with a new vista beyond each turn. Learning to drive on the other side of the road was no big deal other than some stress on the first day where I had to adjust to where the left side of the car was. Just remember to give way to traffic coming from the right.

Lastly, thank you to all of those who have stuck with long TR - I hope you find things that will be useful for your own future trips to the UK.
basingstoke2 is online now  
Old Jun 19th, 2010, 10:52 AM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 57,091
Received 5 Likes on 3 Posts
Lastly, thank you to all of those who have stuck with long TR - I hope you find things that will be useful for your own future trips to the UK.>>

basingstoke - it was no hardship to do so. I really enjoyed reading about how you "foreigners" see us! and learning some things about my own country as well.
annhig is offline  
Old Jun 20th, 2010, 12:26 PM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 3,269
Received 33 Likes on 2 Posts
What a wonderful trip report. I enjoyed every bit and relived many of my own memories of a similar trip about 12 years ago. Thanks so much for sharing.
althom1122 is offline  
Old Dec 17th, 2012, 09:51 AM
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 356
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Snowflake25 is offline  
Related Topics
Original Poster
Last Post
Jul 1st, 2015 11:43 AM
Jul 22nd, 2013 05:11 PM
Mar 12th, 2009 06:28 AM
Aug 16th, 2004 11:58 PM
Oct 3rd, 2002 04:55 AM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Manage Preferences Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Your Privacy Choices -