Best time to visit….end of the day when all the crowds are gone.
Lots of laughs with these two!
Mini golf in the rain….
Rainy days don’t stop these guys 😉
A surprise visit to Dr Who Experience for Isaac 🙂
First day of school…Tudor Museum in Stratford Upon Avon.
Kenilworth Castle…one of my favs!
Unplanned stop at the Beatles Experience in Liverpool.
Matthews Street, home of the Cavern Club (big Beatles venue).
Lulworth Cove…part of the Jurassic Coastline, and a favourite spot for pirates back in the day.
Up close and personal with the Neolithic stones in Avebury.
The quid ditch lessons at Alnwick castle paid off.
As you can see, we packed quite a lot into three weeks 😉 We started September with 4 nights just outside Bath. We drove from Southampton up to the Bath area. We weren’t planning on stopping at Stonehenge, but after looking at the map, and realizing we were driving right past it, we decided to stop. Josiah especially got quite a lot out of the visit, and was telling me things that I didn’t even know… he had read it or asked a guide. Anyways, we then spent a day checking out Bath, which was really quite interesting (we downloaded a free walking tour from the internet, and took our time walking around and learning about this historic town). We checked out some more Neolithic stones in Avebury, where we were also lucky enough to catch a local cricket game on our way out. We sat in the sidelines and learned all the rules and how the game works thanks to some friendly locals who were kind enough to explain and answer Jo’s many questions 😉 Then we took some days to just chill; gray and rainy weather helped us not feel so guilty for staying inside and reading/watching movies/catching up on journals, although we did go for a nice walk and the boys played some mini golf in the rain. From Bath we headed up to Stratford Upon Avon, birthplace and home of William Shakespeare. We took the long way up, heading over to Cardiff, Wales to surprise Isaac with a visit to the Dr Who Experience. He LOVES the show, and we lucked out by getting tickets just days before the place closed. In Stratford, we stayed about a 20 minute walk outside of town. So we walked into town a couple times, took a drive down to the Cotswolds, and enjoyed the beautiful English country 🙂 Oh yes, we also checked out Kenilworth Castle, which was quite interesting. I won’t bore you all with the history, but it is quite something to stand on the ruins of an old castle and just imagine what life was like “way back when.” We saw quite a few castles this month, and each one has been interesting and unique. Heading back up to Scotland, we again took an unplanned stop when I realized we were driving right by Liverpool. We decided to stop and check out the Beatles Experience (Isaac is also a big Beatles fan), and some of the Beatles sights in the area. That is one place I wish we had planned to stop at and spend a bit longer. Anyways, from there we headed over to Scotland’s east coast; Dundee area. Again, we just chilled and explored the local area….we took a day and checked out St. Andrews, used the local indoor pool, played at parks, and played some board games in the cottage. From Dundee, we headed down for three nights in Berwick Upon Tweed, where we enjoyed Eyemouth Harbour, and Alnwick Castle. Then it was back down to Poole area, where we explored a bit of the Jurassic Coast, and again, just enjoyed the company of friends, and being in England. We seriously debated staying in the UK for another week, (skipping Holland), because we love England and Scotland, and it really did start to feel like a second home. (we’ve even started using words like “queue,” “carpark,” and “mind….” without even realizing we were “speaking British.”
Part 3: the Logistics
There are a LOT of roundabouts in the UK
The roads can be pretty narrow (this was for two lanes of traffic; opposite directions).
Always check the tide tables if you are driving to an island 😉 This was on the way to Holy Island….it was completely under water about 4 hours previously, and we had to wait another 30 minutes before it was clear to drive across.
Not UK, but the only screen shot of a map I took. We alternate between using google maps, and waze app for driving.
Lots of trees and hedges also lined the roads off the main highways.
For those of you interested in how we did it all….
We rented a car in Poole and drove for the three weeks. (Actually Nathan drove, I navigated). I’m not sure how he did it, but Nathan had no real problems diving on the “other” side of the road for three weeks. I, on the other hand, couldn’t get my head around sitting on the left side of the car as a passenger, and kept getting into the driver’s side (over here)….oops! We had nothing booked ahead of time in terms of hotels or Airbnb’s for this month, so we spent a lot of time on the Internet, looking up places within budget and that had good reviews. We have found that Wifi is a big must, and laundry is a very nice bonus….if we find a place that has a washing machine, we will pick that over one that doesn’t, even if it costs a little bit more, as it saves us having to go to a laundromat. Websites we use for booking are: Hotels.com, priceline (note prices are in US dollars though), VRBO, and Airbnb. We have used all of these with no problems. I also will not rent a place (on Airbnb), that does not have 4-5 star reviews. Hotels are different…we still read all the reviews, but you can kind of week out the complainers from the facts 🙂 We tried hostels a couple of times, as the UK seems to be more family oriented in this area, and offers family rooms. (Europe ones seem to charge per person, so it is still cheaper to get a hotel or house vs hostel over there). We liked the socializing part of hosteling…meeting travellers and chatting about adventures. It was also nice to have a “bigger” living room (although they were shared with quite a few other people 😉 ) What do we prefer? Hard to say: hotels are nice because you don’t have to do anything…garbage, bed, etc. And we stayed at some that included breakfast, so that is also nice. But you don’t have a fridge, or anywhere to store perishable food, so it’s hard to get food on the go. (Cold rainy weather was nice for that; we used the car and our hotel windows as a “fridge” a couple of times. Airbnb’s are nice because you can spread out a lot more. You also have the kitchen, laundry, and sometimes a yard. But you are also living in someone else’s house, so you tend to be a bit more careful about using things, and worried about breaking something. (We only might have broken one lamp so far, so that’s not too bad). So really, for us, it’s mostly about good reviews, cleanliness, and good location. In terms of driving, we have been using google maps, and the waze app. Both are quite good. We have had no problems with finding places so far. If one doesn’t have it, the other one usually does. They both give you traffic reports, and Waze also gives you the speed limit for where you are. Nate also used the google maps app for walking around the cities and using transit. Amazing! Also, in terms of phones, we both have unlocked cell phones. I got a plan from Tesco (British grocery store) when we first got here in July, and we topped it up for August and September. So far it has worked in every country we’ve been in. Haven’t used the phone/text much, but for data, it has definitely been worth it! Nate got a card at Asda (UK Walmart), and it worked well while we were in England, but didn’t get the recpetion/data that my phone did after leaving England. Both were about 20 pounds a month. One more random thing: we have an online account with our home library. This has been awesome for downloading ebooks, as well as audio books to listen to on the drive. We listened to two books while driving so far, and Isaac has read quite a few on his tablet. I have downloaded a couple for me, but honestly, have been too tired to read so far 🙂 So those are some of the things that have helped us along the way so far. If you have any questions or I’ve left something out, feel free to message or comment. Sorry this has been a longer post, and if you made it all the way through, well done! haha. Hope you all are doing well, and as always, thanks for checking in 🙂