Saturday, March 3, 2012

A Story of Kilts and Wedding Dresses

What I Did On My Summer Vacation (well technically it was my fall vacation)

It was a wet and stormy night when the plane lifted off from Canadian soil and took to the air. Okay so it wasn't exactly wet, or stormy, in fact it was warm and dry, but when it landed it was drizzling, foggy, and dark. Yes that is correct, just a few days after our one year anniversary of living out in the east we ventured further east and headed to Scotland to all things damp. And when I say we, I mean the hubby, the daughter, her brood, a.k.a., the Poop Brigade, and the son in law. Here is a picture with one member of the Poop Brigade outside of Ravenstor, a YHA somewhere in the UK (I'll let you decide who is the member). We spent a couple of nights there, to get our bearings and to recoup. The weather was damp, and so were the children.

Oh and just a note to all those other North Americans who think that a minibus in England means the same thing as a minibus in North America, it doesn't. See when you travel with human beings the size of small poodles you also have to travel with more luggage than Madonna, or even the queen, so you need more vehicle than they can even imagine over there because most of theirs are the size of jujube beans. And as a note to all those interested in getting a normal sized vehicle, be prepared to pay a lot of pounds. Or as we say here in the western hemisphere, a shite load of cash.

Our driver, the son in law, was pretty thrilled to be driving in foreign parts, in a vehicle where the steering was on the wrong side, and the road was too. I think the thrill probably wore off sometime between the 499th, or 500th scream from the smallest member of the Poop Brigade.  Or as I call him SLAG (Screams Like A Girl)
I have to admit that I have never been on a trip like this before, where we would get up in the morning and leave the hostel at the crack of 10am.  I had also never been on a trip which was so poopy diaper intensive, and where we actually paid money to eat English food, made by English people. (I don't recommend it.) But I do have to admit that the 10am bit was better than the usual 6am wake time, and given enough exposure anyone can get used to poopy diapers.  Just kidding, no one can ever actually get used to cleaning shit off asses!

After Ravenstor we headed for Whitby, on the way we stopped to eat lunch and have a pee. Peeing in the heather is okay, peeing where there are prickly bushes, not so much. Here is a picture of the heather, not the bushes or the bums which were exposed to the cold blowing winds, and the pricks. Er...prickly bushes. 

We stayed in Whitby in a hostel which was located right next to Whitby Abby. I highly recommend this hostel, and town, it was pretty cool. Literally and figuratively.

The town of Whitby is very picturesque. 

After Whitby we drove up to Alnwick Castle, that is where they filmed Hogwarts in the Harry Potter movies.  I was pretty impressed with the castle, and even more impressed by the fact that they didn't ram Harry Potter crap at you everywhere.  Not that they didn't have a few Potterish things, they just didn't make it the theme of the place, which was very nice. 

However they did have this guy in one of the dungeons, and he was NOT very popular with the Poop Brigade at all.  A fact brought home to me by the one of the members getting up every hour on the hour asking if there were any "scary dragons" around.  All night long!  The daddy of the Poop Brigade came very close to having his ass booted sometime during the night for his part in this little drama.  The only thing saving him from a serious whopping was the fact that I was too tired to get out of bed.   

Having spent an ever so restful night, we once again all jumped into the torture mobile and drove up to Edinburgh where we took in the castle and some of the sites.  I love Edinburgh and have been there before, it is such a cool city, but I highly recommend doing it on foot.  Driving in the city of Edinburgh sucks the big royal arse. 

We wandered through Edinburgh castle.  This picture is of a door in the castle that was used in the prison, the graffiti on it is by the prisoners.

Then we participated in the wedding, the whole reason for going to Scotland in the first place.  Here the senior member of the Poop Brigade is helping the happy couple with their first dance.  She loved the wedding and felt that it was her duty to keep the activity level at full tilt the whole day.  If I was putting a video on this blog you would have the privilege of hearing SLAG in the background.  Fun times!

After the happy couple ran away, I mean went on their honeymoon, the rest of us continued our journey to the nether regions of Scotland.  On the way to Lochness we ran across this fellow, his name is Hamish, and he is a hairy coo. He says "ma-OOO."  Of course he does, because he is, after all, a Scottish hairy coo.

Unfortunately we ran out of time and daylight and returned to our hostel after not actually getting to Lochness. I wasn't greatly distressed about it, because as I have mentioned before, I've been here a few times.  We did find some actual edible food that night in an Italian restaurant, the food was great, the bill was greater. 

We eventually decided that it was important for the children to do some serious educational sites so that they would have a good start in life.  No more stopping to take pictures of silly Hairy Coos, from now on we would only go to areas which would enhance their littles brains.  Here we are teaching them all about the penal systems in Stirling.

We wandered around Stirling Castle for a bit, went for a bite to eat in the castle keep,  and then headed to the Wallace Monument.  I can pretty much say that at around this point I was done with castles.  In fact I feel that I have lived up to my end of the bargain in terms of helping to maintain castles all over England.  With much relief and happiness we headed for Hadrian's Wall.  I LOVE this area of England and would have been happy to spend the remainder of my time just wandering around the wall and the Roman sites nearby.  We stayed at Once Brewed, a hostel which only has one redeeming quality, it is within a stone's throw of the wall. 

After spending a tiny little bit of time on the Wall we headed down south, wayyyyyyyyy south, and figured we may as well see a few more places than we had anticipated at the start.  The drive was no where near as long as I thought it was going to be.  We ended up spending the night in Bath. 

What a difference a few years makes.  The last time I was here things were a lot less...a lot less...everything.  And of course a lot cheaper.  But all in all I still really liked Bath.  Even the hostel turned out to be nicer than expected.
And of course, if you are in Bath, it is only a stone's throw away from the henge, so off we went to check out the monoliths. 
And of course, like usual, the weather was dark, overcast, and rainy.  Every single time I've been here it has been exactly the same.  Well the last time I was here they didn't exactly make you take a mortgage out in order to get in.

A little side trip led us to this place, it is Highclere Castle, disguised as Downton Abbey.  The place was closed for the season but the grounds were spectacular.  I did not know so much empty spaces existed in the southern part of England.

And then finally we hung around in London and toured a few sights.  The queen, as usual, was being a bit of a snag and refused to have tea with us.  Then it was off to see the crown jewels, street urchins, and gorillas.  The bridge looked the same, the jewels looked even more sparkly, someone must have polished them up because they knew we were coming, and the skies were all dank and rainy.  Shocking.
Then home again, home again, tickety-boo. 

What's that you ask?  Blue in the sky, no moisture falling from it, and obviously warm...must be back in Canada.  Yes folks, that and about another thousand or so pictures, wraps it up. 


  1. What a great travel journal! About the food: Do you know the difference between heaven and hell? In heaven, the English greet you at the door, the French do the cooking, the Italians provide the entertainment, and the Germans organize everything. In hell, the French greet you at the door, the English do the cooking, the Germans provide the entertainment, and the Italians organize it all.

  2. Too funny, I think I might have a postcard with something like that on it from a journey from years gone by.