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YEAH: York and Edinburgh for April Holiday

YEAH: York and Edinburgh for April Holiday

Old Apr 26th, 2012, 06:53 AM
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YEAH: York and Edinburgh for April Holiday

It was a quiet holiday, or felt so, and this may not be a long trip report, but I've a few things I'd like to share. Writing the report also gives me a chance to reflect and remember the trip again

Friday, 13 April to Sunday, 22 April

BOS - DUB - MAN and return

I started thinking about April vacation last fall, so now and again put in flights to take me from BOS to somewhere in the UK. I stumbled on going to Manchester and found the BOS-MAN flights on Aer Lingus for only $778 (total price). The best price? I don't know. It sure seemed good enough, so I hit "buy."

The method to the "madness" of going to Manchester was its nearness to York and I definitely wanted to go to York at some point on a trip. I stopped briefly in the 2009 April trip report and saw the National Railway Museum, but I wanted to see more, particularly the air museum and Minster.

Aer Lingus now uses the new Terminal 2 in Dublin for the connections. I like the 2-4-2 seating on the Airbus 330. The 2 seats are good for couples traveling, and if you're solo, you're not climbing over any more than one set of legs to get to an aisle!
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Old Apr 26th, 2012, 11:48 AM
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Lodging logistics:

4 nights
Number 34 Bed and Breakfast
34 Bootham Crescent, York
Number 34 is recommended on various Fodor threads and I'll add my recommendation to the list! I used the en-suite single room. Sure it's not overly large, but it's a great room for a solo traveler. An en-suite bathroom is a good comfort (nice-sized shower with good water pressure), so was the built in hair dryer and towel warming rack. Breakfast was great each morning. Cost for 4 nights in April was £150. It's a straight walk in to York center, just 5-10 minutes. The B&B is also walkable from the rail station (granted, easier now that I know the route across the S'boro bridge). Google Maps shows the standard route from the rail station, just under a mile. There's an easier route that comes out on Bootham Terrace (kitty-cornered to Bootham Crescent), but I can't get it to show. I learned by following the signs for the rail station from the top of Bootham Terrace and then walking back.

3 nights
Dene Guest House
7 Eyre Place, Edinburgh
I have stayed here twice before and find it a very good value for the solo traveler. An en-suite single was a bit over £40, so I used the single standard room and paid £29 each night (one night's stay was billed to the credit card before I arrived). The hosts are friendly, breakfast is filling, and a lot of bus stops right around the guest house. I like the Dene.

1 night
Radisson Blu Hotel Manchester Airport
I stayed here using points, so no money out of the pocket for the night. I've stayed at a couple of Radisson's for conferences and the experiences was that: conference hotel. I don't know if Radisson is upping its service, or if it's this particular Radisson taking nice customer service initiatives: I rec'd an e-mail after making the reservation asking if I would like some welcome gifts (ex: chocolates) ordered for the room to be in when I arrived, I rec'd an e-mail after coming home asking about doing a survey. I had a very good stay and didn't mind indicating that my name could be used, so I rec'd another nice e-mail from the hotel thanking me for my feedback. When I couldn't get the key to work, the staff member in the hallway helped me right away (I don't know if it was his job or not). A lot of nice gestures and positive feelings came from this hotel. It's also right on the walk between the terminals and I never heard a peep from the airplanes. The desk clerk at check out mentioned thick glass. It must surely be thick! I would definitely stay here again if needing a flight out of Manchester.
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Old Apr 26th, 2012, 02:55 PM
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Ah, memories--we stayed at Number 34, too! Looking forward to rest of trip report. Well done so far.
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Old Apr 27th, 2012, 03:30 AM
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Travel Gadgets

I do like going through travel catalogs/stores, to see what catches my eye, so before the regular packing info, these are the items purchased from various travel catalogs and/or web sites, all but one since the last trip in 2010. I've put the list in recommended down to just mentioning order:

* mini tote that packs in its own pocket .. this one is from Rick Steves, though you certainly may find one from another source. Hmm, looks like you will have to go to another source b/c I don't see it on the web site anymore. Flat and open it measures about 13x13x5 and if you can fold it correctly again once open, it zips away into the built-in 5x3 pocket. I found this so convenient to keep in my coat pocket and yank out for getting picnic items at Sainsburys as well at museum gift shops (just about all clerks, no matter the store, asked if I needed a bag while ringing up my purchases). I started skipping putting it into its pocket and just folded by thirds and rolled before stashing away.

1/2* Tom Bihn Travel Tray, .. my jaw just dropped by the end of the little demo video and I quickly ordered an ultraviolet tray for myself. In actual use, well, it was very useful standing up in the room, but the shutting and going into my bag did not work as well as the demo, I think because I didn't have a flat location for it; the top of my bag was an angled squish. Now that I have it, I will continue using it, now that I have it, but the ziplock used on my last trip did the same function and was less $.

1/3* sewing kit luggage tag .. a present from my Christmas stocking. It's a great idea, but the execution in this model is cheap. The strap came undone at one point, but I noticed before losing it. I will continue using it .. until the strap probably breaks someday. Didn't need to use anything from it this trip, and combining the two uses--emergency sewing kit and luggage tag--from two items to one Is imaginative.

- Colgate Wisp, mini-brush with freshening bead .. this is a tiny brush with a toothpick at the other end. I found these in the travel section at a department store, and I saw them for sale at BOS also. Sure, I used one, but I did start thinking that as a single use item, they are a bit wasteful. I'll use up my pack (comes with 4), but I'm not going to recommend buying them as regular travel accessory.
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Old Apr 27th, 2012, 11:31 AM
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The packing note starts first with the items I forgot to pack:

.. for all my trips I have brought a bit of duct tape on a pen. Only used it once, and the benefit was to a fellow tour member not myself, but it's an emergency "might need" item and I meant to bring it.

.. vitamin C drops, or anything useful for sucking on when the throat is ticklish, but not really a cough. I had some items in my purse, but these would have been better than what I did have with me.

.. I don't know if it's the Incognito Pants Wallet, Hidden Travel Wallet, or Undercover Hidden Pocket, but I have three of one version from Magellans, I use two large safety pins to pin the pocket to my pants waist (I pin it in horizontally along the waistline). To have three means I can leave the pocket on each pair of pants and just move the stash, not pin/unpin .. but I forgot to bring the other two this trip and Did have to pin/unpin with each change of pants. (While packing I saw the extra wallets, wondered why I had so many, so a true V8 moment when I finally remembered on the trip!)

My printed packing list now has those three things on it!
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Old Apr 27th, 2012, 12:01 PM
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Looking forward to reading more of the trip!
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Old Apr 27th, 2012, 01:16 PM
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Packing con't

My bag:

This trip I used the Lowe Alpine Ti Carry-On 40, I've used a different bag for every trip thus far but the next trip will again use this one. I like the size (a bit below "normal" carry on), compression straps are both inside and out (and the outside go from top to bottom, not almost top to bottom, leaving some space outside of the compression zone), and it has some organization slots included, and the convertible straps worked fine for the short distances I used them (up to mile).

What I put in the bag:

Basically, pj's and clothes for two days. I did put in two extra sets of underclothes/socks and then wish I hadn't. Yes, it meant I only did sink washing one night of the trip, but by the end I was wishing for a second night of sink washing and not lugging the laundry around. One pair of socks that I take are just for nighttime use: SmartWool hiking socks .. a heavyweight pair, so soft and cushy when new, and warm!

311 bag:
shampoo (an ounce or so), Febreeze (travel bottle with under 1 ounce), travel Woolite (2 packets) .. I was having trouble with dry skin and picked up some Neutragena at the Terminal 2 in Dublin. Yes, cost more at the airport, but it met a need.

The mini-messenger bag from 2008 is my favorite bag for trips. It's not too large and has a very comfortable strap. The pocket probably meant for a small cell phone has cough drops and ginger chews (but no hard candies/vitamin C drops, which I was wishing for later on the trip). Another zip pocket had my emergency first aid: a travel wet wipe, a couple band aids, some Pepto pills, two travel packets of Tylenol (one dose in each), and a travel packet of Dramamine. I used one Dramamine, half at a time, and a band aid was passed over to a young man who caught his hand somehow on the plane home and needed it. A few other items always in the purse: Moleskine Cahier notebook, 8 1/2 x 5 1/2 with blank pages (nice for drawing/tracing), pen, pencil, and mini Kleenex (usual use and emergency use for public WC with no paper .. yes, it happens). A small glue stick and mini scissors are used with the Cahier notebook for an on-the-go journal/scrapbook of the trip.

umbrella (used it when returned home and family picked me up at the bus station, though I know it's luck to not have needed it on the trip
gloves, hat, scarf .. never used on trip

usual .. a tip I'd read online was for frequent travelers who buy new deodorants, etc, to put the new in the always packed bag, so to never be out while traveling. I do the opposite: when my deodorant was down to about 1/4 stick, then it went into the trip toiletry kit, and the same with my toothpowder (powder works well and it's one less item for 311 bag).

just one pair .. the New Balance 811 shoes that I first wore in 2008. I liked them so much that I clean and put them away between trips. I did try purchasing another pair, but even though the 2nd pair was the same kind, they didn't fit as comfortably, so I am conserving this pair for trips! I do bring an extra set of Dr. Scholl air pillow insoles and swap those out daily.

adapter for UK sockets
camera charger
iPhone charger
microphone-earphone to use with iPhone

Well, I hope that all isn't into too personal land, it gives some idea of what I took along. As I was rushing about on the Friday before leaving for the bus station, I worried about what could be missing (definitely discovered those few items I wished for later), but I remembered Ira and knew I was "packed" .. tickets, passport, ATM and credit cards .. good to go!

(LOL, I used some of my 2010 trip for summer course projects and cited Ira's advice )
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Old Apr 27th, 2012, 01:18 PM
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texasbookworm and irishface, glad you're coming along the trip. What I used for the trip is done, so what did I do? Time to crack the Cahier notebook...
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Old Apr 27th, 2012, 03:09 PM
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Friday, 13 April

The morning was very busy with getting ready to leave, so many final details. I carefully called the banks and credit card companies to leave travel alert notes.

My ticket was for the later Aer Lingus flight and I was hungry enough to get something to eat while waiting. Past Security in Terminal E, I tried O'Brian's Pub. The chicken quesadilla came with some guacamole, sour cream, and salsa .. okay. For fun I ordered some mac & cheese from the kid's menu--it was just a Kraft's type, plunked on a big plate .. oh, lol .. rather a disappointment.

The flight experience was the ordinary: wait to board, board, dinner, and try to sleep. I must have slept, some, but it was the sleep that doesn't feel like you're asleep, in bits and snoozes.
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Old Apr 27th, 2012, 04:06 PM
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Saturday, 14 April

We landed in the morning at the new DUB Terminal 2. I tried to have both onward boarding pass and passport ready. All the agent looked at was the boarding pass, which beeped a warning at her.

I had a long layover, 6 hours, and that was the reason for the warning. The agent suggested leaving the airport and I agreed, but only if I knew where I was going. I wasn't prepared on this trip to leave and come back, so I just stayed.

After scanning the boarding pass, the little office for an immigration official was empty, so I passed on through and next was security, where I managed to set off the metal detector.

The agent asked if my bag had an computer or iPad? No. He didn't say iPhone, and that was in my pocket at this point, not my purse. Also, I'd forgotten about paying for supper and the change that was in another pocket. So embarrassing, but also not uncommon, I would think, for a fuzzy headed traveler, walking with sleep deprivation.

If you have to be stuck for a long layer, it's nice to be at a new terminal. I browsed shops, and browsed some more. There were quite a few displays of things Titanic-related (100th anniversary, of course).

The flight from DUB to MAN was on an A320. It was a noisy plane; something in the mechanics made grinding noises, and someone near me made a comment, "Okay, you can take the handbrake off." (Quite a few giggles.)

It's a short flight to MAN, barely time for the flight attendants to do a beverage service (you purchase on this flight). At MAN, we disembarked using stairs and were bused over to the arrivals hall.

I had studied coach schedules to get from MAN to York. I also looked at the train schedules. Knowing that flights can be delayed, and rail works can disrupt things on weekends, I decided to splurge and take a hired car.

I searched car hire possibilities through the Manchester airport web site. I also searched Fodors and that's how I found Marc Smith and The trip took a little over an hour and cost £140. Along the way, we chatted about passing scenery and possible things to see in the area. It was a good trip.

After settling in to my room at Number 34, I walked into York for my first look at the Minster. Everyday I took a picture or two on the iPhone to post to Facebook for friends/family. The picture this day was a beautiful shot of the west end, with the last of the sun brightly lighting it.

FYI, Number 34 and the Radisson had general wifi. The Dene has wifi for guests, though only in the breakfast room. Every evening I posted something about the day on Facebook and called home on Skype ($10 credit to make calls to landlines at .05/minute).
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Old Apr 28th, 2012, 06:04 AM
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Sunday, 15 April

Breakfast at Number 34 can really fill you up. Everyone can start with tea/coffee, orange juice, yogurt, fruit, toast and cereals, and then you have options of the full English breakfast, a vegetarian full breakfast, or other options (scrambled eggs on toast, bacon or sausage sandwich, or fried egg on toast). What you want for the full or other option breakfast is indicated on a menu beforehand. All very good!

I made my way back to the Minster for the Sunday morning Sung Eucharist and stayed for the coffee time afterward in the Chapter House. I stayed long enough to then sit in for Matins as well. I exited through the gift shop to come back around and pay for entry and a guide booklet. The guided tours weren't on Sunday, but my entry purchase allowed return visits, so I could do a tour later.

I had to stop taking pictures because my camera's battery died! A walk back to Number 34 gave time for charging both the battery and myself. I watched And the Band Played On (while scanning for titles on the TV, more than one channel would have something about the Titanic during this anniversary week).

Since last fall, I gathered quite a few "Like"s on Facebook for museums/organizations that related to my trip. A Vintage Fair (just £1 entry fee) at the Merchants Adventurers' Hall was happening that afternoon and posted on Facebook by Visit York. The rest of my day was spent walking (15,500 steps on the pedometer that day): to the MAH for the Fair, finding the bus stop that would take me to the Yorkshire Air Museum, through crafters stalls in the area around Parliament Street, a stop in the Marks and Spencer to buy items for a picnic supper in the Dean's Park, and following signs from the top of Bootham Terrace to the railway station and back.

I used a Barclays ATM for some cash and the statement on the screen made me chuckle. Yes, it accurately and plainly described the action, but something just tingled the funny bone: Please wait while your bank deals with your request.

After picking a bench in the Dean's Park, a spork in my purse provided the utensil to enjoy the Marks and Spencer pear/blackberry yogurt and salad. A little bird came very near and even sat on the bench. I didn't know what I could offer, but tried some crumbs of the hard boiled egg in the salad, which were flown off.

I have some pictures if anyone can identify the type: songbird size; brown on the back and tail, a reddish breast and line of gray between.

Hmmm, searching myself, I guess it was a robin, I thought it a very cute bird, cuter than an American robin, now that I know its name.
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Old Apr 28th, 2012, 07:04 AM
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Monday, 16 April

After another great breakfast start, I headed out to walk around the center, gradually making my way down to a bus stop past the Merchants Adventurers' Hall.

I had a hard time walking in York. For someone with weak ankles and now one experience with a broken ankle (last summer's "fun"), the walking surfaces were one vast potential for catching a toe. The walking could be a cobbled surface, but also sidewalks of an irregular flagstone-like surface. I looked down quite a bit.

While trying to find one of the public WCs in the center, I walked and looked, walked, finally looked up, discovering I had walked by the door already, but watching the ground in front of me, did not see the sign above the door! It was .40p for the WC near the St Sampsons Center for Over 60s.

I could not believe it when I saw the bendy buses! Obviously the route must go around the center, not through the very center, but even wherever I caught sight of one, it just looked too big for the streets.

The return bus ticket to take me to the Yorkshire Air Museum .. .. was £3.70. The ride was 30-40 minutes, I think. The route went through housed areas and pastureland, with some zigs and zags both in town (between the parked cars) and out of town.

I visited several hours, catching the first of two times to take the bus back to York. A video in the main display hall theater told the story very well of one young man who married a local girl but did not survive the war. Memorial brick walls in the main hangar display include the one his wife bought. YAM was a great day trip. It has good displays for children to learn about military aviation and life during WW2.

I picked up some supper items in the Tesco near the bus stop, but going by Drakes Fish and Chip Restaurant (97 Low Petergate) to reach the Dean's Park again, I instead had fish & chips and mushy peas for supper (£5.09).

I had no sooner sat on the bench and I could hear an eruption from the brush behind me. A couple walking by were also startled and exclaimed a bit to see the little robin come to the bench. Some bits of a Tesco roll and potato (from the chips) flew off this eve.

Heading back to Number 34, I first walked the wall from Bootham Bar to Monk Bar and back. I saw a mention somewhere, so I knew York had a museum for Richard III, but had not realized it was IN the Monk Bar. I did not go up from the gift shop area, so cannot offer info other than location.
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Old Apr 28th, 2012, 07:49 AM
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Tuesday, 17 April

Monday's pedometer reading was 11,600. Tuesday ended up quieter with just 9,700 steps.

The weather had not been great, but certainly could have been worse on my trip. Tuesday rained early and late, so rain when I was comfortably in Number 34 was okay by me

I returned to the York Minster and arrived in time to catch up with a group that had started a few minutes earlier. It was a delightful hour of informative background and stories.

Walking down to the National Railway Museum, I saw the Multangular Tower and York Explore Library ( ). I thought the Library a wonderful, well-designed space. Now knowing it's the result of a refurbishment, I really think they did a good job. (When inventing my Fodors username: A librarian who wanted to go to Scotland = scotlib.)

I did not walk around the Yorkshire Museum gardens much, so a return visit will be longer than just seeing the Tower, More about the Tower:

The York Wall from Bootham Bar to Monk Bar has a metal railing. To start walking near the railway had no railing, so for me, I was glad to have already walked some part and not walk on the next section.

The National Railway Museum was a repeat visit, I first saw it on my April 2009 trip ( ). I'm sure a museum can't stay the same all the time and keep visitors happy, so it was good to know the displays were changed, though I missed not walking underneath a train as I did in '09.

Walking around as much as I was doing was enjoyable, but I was also very conscious of taking a week's trip and getting sick if doing too much activity as the body gets tired (been there, done that = no fun!). So I spent some time walking around the trains and displays, but also went up to the NRM's library area and just read train journals for a while.

When I arrived at the Dean's Park for a supper picnic, I had another takeaway from Drakes and a seeded cracker. I couldn't sit at the same bench, so thought I wouldn't have a visitor again, but either the robins zoom in on any food source, or there's more than one family, because I had two robins visit my bench for some little offerings.

Perhaps my story will annoy readers? Pigeons are pests (IMO) and I had no interest in attracting the attention of the ones flying around the Minster's area, but the robins were cute .. but better if I had not given even any crumbs?

I did not offer anything (money or food-wise) to the young man sitting in the tunnel to reach the railway museum. I asked about that situation on a recent thread,
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Old Apr 28th, 2012, 10:03 AM
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I live near York but am enjoying your report and seeing the city as a visitor might. You also put my packing to shame with your organisation!
Robins are considered 'cute' and no one would blame you for throwing one some crumbs. They feature on Christmas cards over here! They can be friendly and cheeky, and if you walk along a country lane they can seem to follow you. I always like to see one in my garden.
Glad you liked the Air Museum - I've been once, late one afternoon and we practically had the place to ourselves. Not sure if you agree, but we found some of the buildings very atmospheric and more than a little bit creepy. You'd have to pay me good money to spend any time along in the Control Tower! Great place to visit though.
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Old Apr 28th, 2012, 10:19 AM
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I'm loving your report - lots of good detail. I'll be in Yorkshire for a few days next month, but not sure if I'll make it into York. I love York and your report is making me wish I had more time this trip.
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Old Apr 28th, 2012, 12:51 PM
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Hi Morgana, thanks for the info about robins. I was amazed at how close they would get, not that I was about to try and touch or do anything untoward. I rushed a bit at the Air Museum, I felt, by trying to get the next bus and not the second one back. Hopefully I will have a chance to return someday. The Control Tower was not open during my visit, but the day was quiet enough that, yes, being surrounded by old buildings could make you wonder what might be around a corner.

Thanks, janisj, for reading along. I'm also a great fan of James Herriot (James Alfred Wight), so more time in Yorkshire will be a definite .. someday. I thought of him while spending time in the York Minster; I know they held the public memorial there. I enjoyed learning about the man behind the pen name in The Real James Herriot: A Memoir of My Father by his son Jim Wight.
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Old Apr 28th, 2012, 01:08 PM
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aside: Some years ago I stayed for a week in a small village east of Thirsk, and come to find out, Jim Wight lived across the road . . .
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Old Apr 28th, 2012, 01:19 PM
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Trying to see if I've left anything out of the first half of the trip.

A reason I mentioned calling the bank and credit cards on the day I left .. one card was with Chase Bank. It was easy to call and leave the travel notice. The next morning, though, while I was getting ready to board the connecting flight to MAN, I rec'd a call from home. An automated call from Chase Bank wanted to confirm that I had called and left a note about travel .. argh .. a call to me at DUB and me calling Chase Bank to hit "1" and confirm I'd called.

I've read online of not leaving the calls to banks and credit cards to the last minute .. now I'll ditto the recommendation!

LOL .. this doesn't have an impact until the end of the trip, but just when family was about to take me to the bus station (hour away) to catch the bus to Logan, we fortunately discovered the gate to the heifer yard was open. Better to chase one critter back and fix the latch than for them to come home 2 hours later and find them all out ;-)

When doing the landing card for coming home, on past trips I have marked a "yes" for a question about being near livestock in the last two weeks. My trip was less than two weeks, so within the past two weeks, yes, I've been near livestock--I live on a farm.

This trip, there was still a question about livestock, but it was written in a way that it just meant while on the trip, not prior, so I was able to check "no."

Another thought about the going over flights: I've made two other trips with Aer Lingus and I know with getting off the flight in DUB that we all had to speak to an immigration official. It was very weird not having anyone look at my passport, just the boarding card.

In fact, another advance peek .. when going home from MAN to DUB, again I first showed my next flight boarding card to an agent, then even though there was an immigration official in the booth to pass by, all he did was also look at my boarding card, so I have No stamps in the passport from this trip, none at all.

Something I managed to find while in York was Gü puds--enjoyed some each evening
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Old Apr 28th, 2012, 01:20 PM
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Meant to add - this was while Alf was still alive but retired (maybe around 1993) and Jim still ran the veterinary surgery and before the visitors centre/museum.

My girlfriend and I were standing across the road from the office - thrilled that we were seeing 'James Herriot's' place when the door opened and a woman walked out the door, a carryall over her arm. As she turned around in our direction -- there sticking his head out of the bag was a baby goat and he was chewing on the lapel of her jacket. It was the cutest thing
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Old Apr 28th, 2012, 05:10 PM
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@janisj .. what a cool story! thank you for sharing the memory.

A final thought (I think final thought) about York, and then the story heads north:

While visiting the Minster on Tuesday, twice an announcement came over the public address system, welcoming the visitors and asking for a moment of our time, and then a general prayer was said, asking for good things for people everywhere. I liked this. It was a nice reminder that before being a huge, old, glorious building for gawking, the Minster is someone's church home.
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