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Cotswold bound

Small and frugal – Skoda Citigo Monte Carlo

When the UK lockdown ended in April, it was all hands on deck to take advantage of some freedom to do things.

First up was my first haircut in six months – my hair was never that long in the days when I was managing bands and reviewing three to four gigs a week in the early 1990s! There was also Caroline’s birthday to take into account and then the packing for three nights in a Cotswolds cottage.

Sunset at Hook Hill Farm

As we were going to be using the car to get to, from and around the area, the Skoda was tanked up before we left, but once packed with our bags, space was also left to accommodate the food we would be buying as sustenance over the time we were self catering in the farm cottage at Hook Hill Farm near Royal Wooton Bassett.

Packing for the trip was easy as we’d looked at the weather forecast and packed accordingly. We had a bag each and also a waterproof, hooded soft shell and a fleece as just in case items.

My own bag contained a couple of fleece crew necks, two tees with a silver content, two pairs of trousers with loads of pockets to take care of my phone, digital compact camera, wallet, change, keys and reading glasses.

All of my stuff mentioned above was by Rohan, but a pair of shorts by The North Face and a couple of Uber Moose cotton tees were also packed as lounging around items. Undies were from M&S and Rohan whilst socks came via M&S & Bamboo Clothing. And footwear? Merrell Jungle Mocs and a pair of the same brand’s sports boots.

Wash kit was in the usual see through bag that I use for most trips with a Gillette razor, Via Sonic battery toothbrush, shaving foam, after shave balm and cinnamon flavour toothpaste in a handy size that was picked up at Yorkshire Soap Company.

The contents of Caroline’s bag were roughly the same with Rohan long sleeved tops, jeans, tech trousers, her padded gilet and Bamboo Clothing vest tops & loose fitting pants that she could longe around in or do yoga sessions. Her footwear items were by Ecco and Merrell.

Burford

With a cottage and a well equipped kitchen at our disposal, our food and drink choices were simple, largely because we were on holiday and didn’t relish the thought of spending hours prepping and cooking meals.

So we kept it simple by visiting a Tesco shop on the outskirts of Swindon.

A dine in for £10 deal took care of the first night whilst a ready meal variation on a pub meal theme ensured that the two of us could each eat when we wanted to rather than make compromises.

As some of the other ready meals were on a two for £6 deal, they ensured that we could eat what we wanted to without breaking the budget, especially as the food bill ended up being a lot lower than three nights of bar meals.

With food choices made, drinks choices were easy – three beers for me, three bottles of cider for Caroline and a pack of Pepsi Max Cherry all ended up in the cottage fridge along with milk & a few bottles of sparkling water.

Breakfast choices were easy – granola for Caroline and bacon or sausage butties for me, along with a bit of toast too.

Coffee was our usual choice of Taylor’s Italian blend and a bit of milk and whilst we had a brace of Alladin flask style mugs with us, these weren’t used as we decided to keep caffeine levels down and stick with sparkling water.

A taste of things to come…

Did we make good choices? Everything worked both packing and food wise.

The tech choices also worked well – my items all did their stuff in keeping me in touch with the world and getting some camera practice in and my iPad’s Kindle software also behaved itself!

And Caroline’s Android phone and tablet? Again, no problems.

How did the trip go – the answer to that starts soon!

Taking off

Catalina – a seaplane on the ground

Leaving Bury St. Edmunds behind wasn’t hard – we’d been there three nights and it was time to move on.

Our next destination was The Red Lion in Duxford in readiness for a day at IWM Duxford Air Museum.

We’d chosen The Red Lion over the nearby Holiday Inn Express as the thought of staying at a coaching inn appealed, especially as we were due to stay at a Holiday Inn Express whilst in Cambridge later in the week.

What we didn’t realise that the two Duxford hotels were so close to each other and were linked. The car was parked outside the Holiday Inn Express and that’s where we had to check into for The Red Lion.

Given the previous three days, the remains of the day were spent relaxing, reading, snoozing before our evening meal and then a brief indulgence courtesy of watching a fully functioning television to catch up on news and the weather prospects for later in the week.

Breakfast was taken in the Holiday Inn Express the following morning – porridge and coffee for Caroline and a bacon roll and coffee for me. We’d already indulged in coffee in our room though as we had a bag of decent coffee with us to use in conjunction with the stainless steel cafetières that are usually packed on our UK ventures.

Yes, we have tried coffee bags to make brews, but the cafetières definitely make a better brew as a wake up call.

With tickets already booked and a guidebook paid for in advance, all we needed to do at IWM Duxford was to mask up, use the hand gel and show the hard copies of the booking confirmations.

The visit had been on the cards for a while as we’d missed it out for various reasons when we’d made a couple of visits to nearby Suffolk.

Whilst there’s numerous famous warplanes around Duxford, the must sees in AirSpace were the Lancaster and the TSR2. Thousands were made of the former, but only two flying examples exist at the moment – one with The Battle Of Britain Memorial Flight at Coningsby in Lincolnshire and the other over in Canada. There are plans for a third to fly once more, but as far as I’m aware, that is still a work in progress…

The TRS2 is a different animal though. Only two exist after the project was cancelled in the 1960s – the other is at RAF Cosford (pictured below), but other examples were placed as targets on RAF firing ranges.

TSR2 – at RAF Cosford

The other aircraft of interest in AirSpace were civilian ones – Concorde and the De Haviland Comet airliners, both planes that I’ve always admired and ones that are among those that I’d wished I’d had the chance to fly in.

Spitfires were starting up and taking to the skies as we investigated other hangers, but the aircraft I really wanted to see where in the line-up of commercial aircraft that are kept outside further down this working airfield.

Bristol Britannia in Monarch livery

The likes of the BAC 1-11, Bristol Britannia, Trident, Vickers VC10 and Vickers Viscount all played their part as the popularity of air travel increased. I have flown in a BAC 1-11 on a few occasions, but the last time was the memorable one – a Dan Air (aka Dan Dare – allegedly) – from Bergen to Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

We’d arrived at the airport early, checked in and then waited for the flight to be called. A member of the check in crew found us as we waited to head into the departure lounge to tell us that the plane had been delayed due to a fault and a replacement aircraft was being sent out.

The plane touched down, people disembarked and then we boarded and the engines fired up for the flight home.

We commented on how quick the replacement aircraft arrived and got the reply “It’s not a replacement – they fixed the fault at Newcastle”.

Such reassurance wasn’t the first thing in our mind when the plane hit turbulence halfway across the North Sea…

We did get to Newcastle, but one thing was for certain – we never flew on a Dan Air BAC 1-11 again – the HS 148 was much, much better on the other trips we made to Bergen using Dan Air!!

Trident in BEA livery
Vickers VC10 in BOAC livery

Last up after this visit to the airline memory area was to the American Air Museum. I thought that this was going to be more interesting than I thought, but I suspect that that is down to being more interested in UK aircraft.

The only personal standouts were the SR-71 Blackbird, the F1-11 and B52 bomber. Some of that was down to the layout of the display area and personal thoughts regarding how space could be created as a means of getting a better look at the planes themselves by moving the static display section to another part of the museum.

After the amount of wandering around we’d done, food beckoned and ended up being a sandwich deal and this was followed by some serious shopping as Caroline needed to sort out pressies for her grandsons and her son-in-law’s imminent birthday date. And me? A new watch at a not unreasonable £40 and a Spitfire themed face mask.

Once back at The Red Lion, a decision had to be made. We were due to move on to Cambridge the following morning, but we’d seen the weather forecast for the next couple of days and it did not look good…

Although we’d booked tickets to visit King’s College Chapel the following day, we had a message to say that it was going to be be closed on the day of our proposed visit and that a refund was being processed. So cancellation it was and the Cambridge leg of the trip was postponed until we head back down to the area at some point.

Hotel hobbies…

A better class of buskers…

So, where were we?

Oh, yes, Bury St. Edmunds, but there was a slight problem.

The hotel (which shall remain nameless) didn’t have any bookings in our name and I had to fight our corner as a means to get around the problem as the hotel was denying that they’d had a booking from booking.com.

It’s a good job then that I had ample evidence in my hand to say that I had a booking as I’d not only got the original emails from booking.com on my phone, but had hard copies too to back up our case.

After a while, a room was found and the hotel agreed to honour the prices stated on the paperwork.

Our room was in the annex are – sizeable enough with everything we needed for our stay, apart from china cups to drink tea or coffee from – only disposable ones were available, but these lasted just two brews, so necessity was the mother of invention when it came to coffee time…

As it was getting late, we opted to eat in the hotel rather than walk into town on a rainy night in search of eats.

We ended up ordering food and drink, but then realised we were placed between two sets of loud diners who were intent on ensuring that every one in the room knew what there thoughts were – especially about wearing masks indoors when they weren’t sitting at their table eating or drinking.

Breakfast was much better the following morning as we followed the rules regarding getting our breakfast choices.

Once fed, it was time to walk into the centre of Bury St. Edmunds to do some exploring. It was drizzling and overcast as we wandered in, but we managed to get a couple of free coffees from Greggs as I had two full coffee cards in my wallet from the time before lockdown one, so it seemed like a good idea to use them and warm up.

As it was so cool, keeping ourselves drier by indulging in some retail therapy seemed like a good idea and whilst Caroline tried a couple of dresses on in one shop, the only purchases came from WH Smiths and Body Shop.

With lunch at Bill’s taking care of food and drink out for the day, more fodder came along from the food section at Marks & Spencer. As we’d spent more than anticipated at Bill’s, we were quite happy to hit M&S as they were doing the daily round of food markdowns, so our respective evening meals were easily sorted, as was a supply of beer and cider to wash it down with.

With the TV set at the hotel playing up, I ploughed through the magazines I’d bought earlier whilst Caroline fired up her Kindle to do some reading

One better day…

Fortunately Monday morning was looking good, so we wandered back into the centre and whilst Caroline hit the museums and Cathedral, I took the opportunity to get a few shots on the camera before going for a coffee.

What we had noticed as we’d been away was the different approaches used to stick to track and trace requirements – some were being rather pedantic about scanning QR codes whilst others were more laid-back and simply took our names and telephone numbers as a means of recording our presence in their establishments.

The visit to B-S-E was an odd mix between the two methodologies with some places getting narked at the fact we’d never ever done any QR code scanning for anything whilst others just asked for our details or handed us a clipboard to do the deed ourselves.

After lunch at the Cathedral cafe, Caroline went off for another wander whilst I took a seat to do some reading and take some more photos.

Abbey Gardens
And a cheeky squirrel

After meeting back up again, we took a wander down to the area around Greene King Brewery.

It wasn’t open to visitors, but a nearby pub was, so liquid refreshment was ordered and quaffed – slowly but surely.

As it was getting on by now, it was time to hit M&S again for food bargains and non-alcoholic drinks before heading back to the hotel to sort out the washing we’d done the night before and then pack the bags once more in readiness for our move towards our next destination – The Red Lion Hotel in Duxford – and our visit to IWM Duxford Air Museum.

Back east…

Woodbridge…

Yes, it’s back into the breech after job searches, my first ever video interview and more job searches after the ‘No’ came through the following morning.

There’s also been a bit of taking things easy too plus the planning & taking of a city break along with research for a three destination Autumn break.

But now it’s time to rewind and head back in an easterly direction…

After a restful stay at Hotel Katherine in Lowestoft (01502 567858) it was time to move on to Bury St. Edmunds.

Now the initial thought was to go to Woodbridge, do some shopping and have lunch before aiming for Orford.

Then we saw the afternoon’s weather forecast and changed our minds…

So we just hit Woodbridge. Shopping was on the agenda as we had £10 Rohan gift cards to use up and as tech t-shirts never come in wrong, that was my choice of the day…

Woodbridge II – the lunch cafe was further up this street…

As it was approaching lunchtime, a place to eat was sought and after much mooching around, we ended up at a small traditional cafe that was rather busy, but fortunately had a table available for the two of us to have food and a couple of drinks each – one hot, the other not…

Closed doors at The Angel…
More shopping opportunities

Once fed, it was time to do some more mooching around before heading back to the car and pointing it in the direction of Bury St. Edmunds and our hotel for the next few nights.

It took a little while to find the place and Caroline stayed in the car whilst I went in to do the check in deed.

A small, but infuriating detail cropped up when I entered the hotel’s reception are and tried to check in.

Although I’d book the room a few weeks before via booking.com, the hotel had no trace of my booking…

More on Wednesday!

Still looking east

As seen on Michael Portillo’s railway programme last week!

Today’s post is a quick one, as there’s things to do and people to talk to…

After leaving Normous Newark behind, we headed to our usual bolt-hole in North Norfolk, Deepdale Backpackers at Burnham Deepdale. We’d booked an ensuite room, but the communal areas – kitchen, lounge – were closed due to Covid restrictions, so we were eating outside at meal times.

We’d booked a rail trip on The Poppy Line between Holt and Sheringham for our first day down there and whilst I would normally post pics about that day on here, guess who forgot to take both cameras with him! D’oh!!!

I didn’t forget them on our second day out though – a short ride on the Wells & Walsingham narrow gauge route followed by an afternoon in Wells and on and around the beach…

Back on Monday!

Oxford weekend…

Hampton by Hilton, Oxford

After leaving Burford behind, it was time to head to Oxford and the Hampton By Hilton next to Oxford United’s home ground.

Well, the theory that it would be easy to find was great as we were following the route card we’d got from the AA’s route planning software (we don’t use rat nav…), but there were one or two problems as we approached and ended up in the wrong place…

Fortunately, Caroline has an app on her phone to deal with such matters and after a while we found the hotel, got the bags from the boot and headed to the check-in desk.

Now we’d booked directly with Hilton (£110 for two nights) and knew what the post-lockdown breakfast would be – continental style, in a paper bag.

Unfortunately, not everyone had got the message. One bloke in front of us was adamant that he wanted a cooked breakfast and only a cooked breakfast as it had said on a third-party booking site that cooked breakfasts were available…

Our check-in was easier as we joked about the unhappy eater before getting our keys and heading to our home for the next two nights. 

We’d asked about places to get an evening meal when we checked in and as luck would have it, there was an open Chinese buffet restaurant on the leisure park behind the hotel and also a good selection of local takeaway leaflets in the reception area.

As we hadn’t eaten out for a while, we headed to the buffet and embraced the new norm by getting our temperatures taken, leaving names and contact details and slathering our hands in hand gel before we could get a table.

Drinks were easily ordered, but instead of putting our own food onto the plates at the buffet, a full-face covered member of staff asked what we wanted from each section and served it onto our plates as we went mask clad around the one-way system.

Yes, the food went down well, as did the second round of drinks before it was time for desserts – fruit for Caroline and a slice of a seventies favourite for me – Black Forest Gateau with cream…

With the place slowly emptying, it was time to call it a night and we headed back for coffee and a good night’s sleep before heading into Oxford the following morning.

Which started with a very good pot of Taylor’s Rich Italian coffee made in our own stainless coffee presses as a means of getting caffeine into the system just in case there wasn’t any at breakfast.

But there was – the usual Hampton By Hilton coffee machines were sparked up and ready to roll, so the usual methodology was used to fill the disposable cups – three pushes of the espresso button for me and two presses of the same button plus some hot water for Caroline as a means of getting something approaching the coffee we had in the room.

Our breakfast bags contained the milk pots, bread rolls, butter or spread, jam, yoghurt and disposable cutlery as a means of providing some sustenance to start the day. Yes, I’d have rather had the usual breakfast buffet selection, but unlike the unhappy eater, I could live without it until things opened up and changed once more.

With breakfast done, it was back to the room to pick up the day bags and then go in search of a taxi to get us into the centre of Oxford

We could have used our car, but with last night’s navigating and the potential cost of car parking in the city centre, we lashed out a bit (£12) for a cab ride into town in a posh for us Mercedes.

With no map or guidebook on us, getting around the centre of Oxford on foot was quite easy as we used the maps on street signs, finger posts and a couple of ideas scribbled on a Post It Note to find places of interest.

As the UK had only opened up for travel purposes the week before, we weren’t expecting to do much in the way of indoor sightseeing. 

One open venue that we did come across was Oxford Jail. Yes, I’m a bit of a heathen when it comes to visiting museums and historical sites, so it’s usually down to Caroline to head off and take a look around such places whilst I head off with a camera in search of interesting places or buildings to photograph or to find a cup of coffee, beer or whatever instead.

My mission on this occasion though was to find the location of a café that I’d seen reviews of whilst doing the day of research for this trip. After finding it and then doing some book shopping at the nearby Waterstones, I headed back to find Caroline as it was approaching lunchtime.

Which was spent in a very leisurely way outside the The Handle Bar café. The adjacent bike shop may have been closed, but the café was very much open for business with a good menu selection that allowed me to have a full English a little later than usual. 

Although we’d had drinks with our lunch, we decided to find somewhere else to have coffee and cake, but I will admit we wished we had stayed put at the The Handle Bar rather than move and indulge at the café we found later…

We did wander around the shopping centre, but many shops were not open for business, so spending was kept to a minimum. What was a delight was wandering around the Covered Market and spotting various characters from Alice In Wonderland looking down at us from above.

One thing I wasn’t expecting was my knees playing up, something that hadn’t happened for a few years, so I plonked myself down on a seat for a while and Caroline wandered off to do some exploring on her own around the colleges and the Cherwell.

Once recovered and with Caroline back, we headed off into parts unknown by just following our noses and ending up by Radcliffe Camera, The Bridge of Sighs and Trinity College before heading back to the main shopping streets to hit M&S food department.

Trinity College, Oxford

As we’d had a full lunch then coffee and cake, a picnic style evening meal was declared and bought along with beer and cider to wash it all down with.

Although we had a card from the taxi company, we decided to bus it rather than lash out on another cab ride. Although I had plenty of cash on me, the buses were only accepting contactless payments, so Caroline came to the rescue with her debit card and I just handed over the cash to her instead…

With this being one of the few full days we’d had in the open air since the start of UK Lockdown 1, eating and drinking the contents of the M&S bag were the highlights of that particular Saturday night as there wasn’t much on TV and the cinema at the leisure park remained closed to one and all.

Sunday started in much the same way as Saturday, but whilst we had intended to bite the bullet and drive into Oxford, park up and have another wander around, we reckoned without the Road Signs of Oxford.

Yes, we got lost and the road we were on was the one out of the city. 

So we decided to do a bit of exploring by car, top up with petrol, seek lunch and then head in a homeward direction…

So we’d done it – our first weekend away since UK Lockdown 1.

The second one started just four days later…

But we will return to both The Cotswold and Oxford!

Boris says…

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Boris says – we can do more!

Well it looks like we will be getting some measure of independence back when restrictions are lifted here in England on Saturday 4th 2020.

Whilst it’s potentially possible to head to a bar, restaurant, hotel and campsite or caravan site on this date, the finer points of what you can or can’t do aren’t known yet.

This is being written three hours after Boris unveiled the plans in the House Of Commons, but there are still Covid policy restrictions notices on some booking sites, even though the prices being asked for stays are very, very reasonable.

A case of watch this space? Quite possibly…

Man bags…

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Yes, it’s Laxey Wheel – again!

This was taken on a very fine day on Isle of Man, but it was the only one…

The packing for our visit was a last minute affair. I’d been tracking the 10 day forecast for Douglas and surrounding area and as the departure date loomed, so did the prospect of rain (and plenty of it!).

Things looked good for the first three days of the break, so we had to balance the packing between clothes for sunny days, clothes for overcast days and for days when there was the potential for heavy rain.

We’d also caught the tail end of a TV programme on Isle of Man and had seen Julia Bradbury sheltering besides the trig point on the summit of Snaefell and trying to do a piece to camera about the weather conditions being experienced.

Words weren’t needed, because the visuals provided evidence of what Julia and the television crew were experiencing!

Now this wouldn’t have been a problem if we were pointing the car towards Liverpool or Heysham for the ferry to Douglas, but we weren’t.

We’d booked rail tickets to Liverpool, seats on the Manannan sea cat to Douglas and were going to traipse around the island using a mix of a five day Heritage Travel Card and feet.

We were also using a hotel/guest house mix of accommodation and were eating out, so there was a need to take some smarter clothes as well of those that could be used as a layering system during the more inclement weather conditions.

There was also one more thing to consider – after reading up on the reviews of the guest house we were using as our base in Douglas, the potential for washing and wearing was going to be restricted to undies rather than shirts, t-shirts or fleeces.

The main bags were our usual weapons of choice – 2013 vintage Osprey Farpoint 40 travel packs, but as these were packed to capacity, second bags were brought into play.

In Caroline’s case the second bag was her handbag for the trip, a brightly coloured small size Healthy Back Bag. In my case, it was my Rohan Stowaway 20, a packable day sack that normally is packed  into the Osprey and brought into play as and when it’s needed.

We did get creative with our choice of clothing and footwear for the trip and whilst we would have busted any size and weight restrictions on a budget airline for instance, we took a good look at our clothing and kit and put together a mix that covered all eventualities.

Both my jacket and my windproof fleece gilet came from The North Face. The jacket is a longer length HyVent waterproof with a hood that goes into the collar, has pit zips for ventilation and the kind of pockets that will take guidebooks, bus timetables, camera, iPad Mini and my reading specs.

The gilet is a ten year old TNF Windwall with a chest pocket for the phone and handwarmer pockets that will take the camera and specs case.

Tops came from a couple of sources. Crew neck fleeces and zip necks came from Rohan, as did a couple of Core Silver t-shirts, Stratum long sleeved polo shirts and a couple of merino wool based t-shirts.

These, coupled with a Peter Storm merino wool long sleeved zip neck formed the basis of the layering system employed on the trip to combat the expected bad weather.

Rohan Stronghold shirt also came into play as a wind shirt and a secure place for my passport that may have been required for ID purposes.

Two out of the four pairs of trousers were the usual suspects – Rohan Goas– and these were complemented by a couple of pairs of Craghoppers Kiwi style cargo pants.

Socks and underwear were largely Rohan, but sock choices also included a couple of pairs of M&S trainer socks with a silver content and a couple of pairs of Bridgedale Light Hikers for the days when boots were needed rather than trainers.

And footwear? One pair of Merrell Mesa Ventilator shoes were packed whilst a five year old pair of Hi Tec casual/hiking boots were worn en-route and on various days out.

Whilst the mix of clothing and footwear was much more than I would normally pack fora trip, it worked and coped with all that was thrown at it – sunshine, wind, rain, squalls and downright filthy weather.

The wash kit and meds combo was the usual one with Lush shower gel, tea tree oil (good as a shaving oil IMHO), sample size toothpaste (courtesy of the help yourself boxes in my dentist’s) along with a disposable razor and my ViaSonic battery powered toothbrush.

With a Sanex roll-on anti-perspirant thrown in for good measure, all I needed to buy locally was a can of Lynx body spray and some baby wipes.

Not convinced about the need for the baby wipes? Trying eating a freshly cooked kipper bap from the kiosk down by the pier in Peel or a bacon buttie down by the beach in Port Erin and you will be convinced about how useful these things can be!

My main bag also had the paperwork – rail tickets, ferry tickets, hotel booking info, the paper only guidebook and travel insurance documents.

Why travel insurance documents for Isle of Man?

Although there’s an agreement regarding health care between the Isle of Man and mainland Britain, there’s no repatriation agreement between the two, so any repatriation after a medical emergency or an accident, has to be covered by travel insurance.

The other thing that needs to be taken into account is that the EHIC card isn’t valid on Isle of Man. Why? Because the Isle of Man isn’t in the EU

But what about Caroline’s bag? By and large, the contents of her bag reflected my choices, even though we hadn’t really talked about what should be taken.

Her Nike Gore-tex came into play along with her TNF Windwall jacket, a recently purchased Rohan Trail hoodie, a zip neck fleece from the same brand and another zip neck fleece from Craghoppers.

A couple of Rohan Stria tops were also packed along with merino base layers, Ultra Silver camisoles, a few pairs of M&S socks, two pairs of Endura cycling socks, Rohan Trailblazer trousers and a pair of that brand’s travel jeans. Footwear? Merrell trainers and two pairs of Ecco Biom shoes.

Did everything work? Yes, is the answer to that one.

We both had more clothing than we would normally have on a break when we’re not using the car to get around, but that was down to the potential weather conditions we were due to face. Out of the six full days we had on the island, only two were rain free.

Was everything used? Just about…

I had one t-shirt that wasn’t worn and a bit of washing to do once we got home, but that was a thankfully minimal task given the properties of the items taken with us and the decision to stick with a couple of colour pallets in the clothing choices.

We did forget one thing though. Weighing those bags!

Taking the…

thumb_DSCN2316_1024No sunloungers here! Thank goodness…

One of the main news stories here in the UK today is about a holiday company that is bringing in a £22 charge that allows you to reserve a sunlounger by the pool at selected hotels.

The story has been run on news websites and on TV news bulletins too.

We won’t be paying the charges though as the photos and news footage I’ve seen on said stories appear to be suggesting the type of holiday experience that Caroline and I would go out of our way to avoid.

There are a few suggestions in the melting pot for our trips in 2018 and none of them come even close to this kind of holiday venture!

Three legged race…

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Laxey Wheel

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One of the little trains that helped inspire a certain tank engine…

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Sea, sun and a sandwich by the beach – Port Erin

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And the last day in Douglas

The term Three Legged Race was our name for the basic plan for our recent visit to Isle Of Man.

The decision to head there was made at relatively short notice as Caroline and I had a two week break coming up, but hadn’t planned anything.

I’d held up a road book with a circle indicating four hours driving time from Wisepacking Towers, but wasn’t expecting Caroline picking out Isle Of Man as a destination for this upcoming trip.

By close of play two days later, we’d got return train travel booked to Liverpool, a night in Liverpool before the outward ferry trip, two return seats on the fast cat running between Liverpool and Douglas, , seven nights in Douglas, found out about smart cards for use on our travels and made sure that travel insurance was also in place.

With no motor sport or other festivals taking place over our visit, we did have to amuse ourselves, but we’d got a few things sussed.

Some came from the only guidebook we could find, some of it came from the Tourist Board’s brochure and website, but there was also some prior knowledge coming into play too as Caroline had made two visits to Isle Of Man about thirty five years ago.

More to come over the next month or so!