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.
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.
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!!
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.
If it’s Saturday, then it’s our last full day in the Lakes and it’s a walking one.
The route was very familiar as I’ve been using it for years, but we chose to walk under half of the usual distance and take it at a leisurely pace too.
The full route is from Ambleside to Rydal Hall then to Grasmere via the Coffin Path. After that It’s out on the road for a while before heading upwards over Red Bank before hitting the village of Elterwater.
From there it’s onward to Elter Water, Skelwith Bridge and skirt Tarn Foot Farm before going up over the back part of Loughrigg and then dropping back into Ambleside via Rothay Park.
The full route is around thirteen miles and it’s the one I used often back in my days as a gear tester as it’s a) familiar and b) has just about every surface you’re likely to encounter if you’re assessing & reviewing new boots.
Our choice, and we chose to accept it, was to wander through Ambleside, walk towards Rydal Hall, have some coffee and cake then head upwards towards Rydal Mount (former home to the Wordsworths) and then along the Coffin Path to How Top before taking the road down to Dove Cottage (the other home of the Wordworths) before walking into Grasmere itself.
The way through to Rydal Hall was the quietest I’d seen it for years and the campsite I’ve used on many occasions was quiet.
After taking some shots of the waterfalls, coffee and cake was ordered and paid for by card for a change as there was a no cash policy in operation.
Then it was up to Rydal Mount and time to hit the more rugged part of the track leading to Grasmere. This was also quiet and surprisingly so considering how many people had been wandering around Ambleside on Friday and first thing on this Saturday morning.
Dove Cottage was reached in no time, but there was no chance of heading inside as it was closed to the general public at that time.
We did get the chance to pay homage to the Wordsworths, because one place was open as a means of paying respects…
Lunch beckoned, but it wasn’t to be at the first place we sat down in. We were shown to a table, given a couple of menus and that was it. Staff came and went with food or taking orders at other tables, but not ours, so we legged it in search of another café.
And found one – Heidi’s (heidisgrasmere.co.uk). It’s a café and there’s rooms available too, but we were there for lunch and yes, it was warm enough to sit outside to eat.
Once fed, we took a look inside Sam Read Booksellers (samreadbooks.co.uk) and came away with a couple of paperbacks that I’d taken a shine to. Caroline and I had the place to ourselves as only two mask wearers at a time were being allowed in to browse and buy.
We also took a look inside a couple of art gallery shops too, but didn’t buy anything as we are running out of wall space at home due to the calendars, photos from previous travel trips and the pieces of art work that Caroline has made over the years.
Another coffee beckoned, as did a soft drink, but the soft drink may well have been one of the worst I’ve ever tasted so it was time for another double espresso to take the taste away!
We did take the easy way back to Ambleside – by bus, so we got back, had time to wash & brush up before heading out for our evening meal.
Which was at The Priest Hole once more – they were as good as their word and rang me after a table came up, so it was back there for another evening of good, unpretentious food and a bottle or two of fine local ales.
The next stop was back to Wanslea to prep for the next day, which turned out to be a quiet one. The museum we drove to turned out to be advance bookings only, so we ended up going to Booth supermarket in Kirkby Lonsdale for sandwiches, soft drinks and the chance to stock up on some unfamiliar ales and cider for home consumption.
Then it was time to head home, sort the washing out and use the phone to order a couple of curries for delivery as we didn’t feel like heading out again.
A good few days? Oh yes…
Thought that I’d lost these pics, but they were just misplaced!
Caroline, The Minstrels Gallery and a wet hire bike...
So much for spending today in Manchester!
Caroline and I took an early bus towards our preferred railway station this morning, only to find that trains heading west were either running very late or cancelled altogether.
Plan B was easy – get the bus to Leeds and do our shopping there. Simples!
Managed to get everything we were looking for (new bike lights and inner tubes for Caroline in the wake of last night’s club ride and some socks and a new copy of the classic Bogart and Bergman film Casablanca for me).
With lunch at Roots and Fruits and some good coffee and cake at M&S’ cafe, it was quite a grand day out!
Yes, still working..
The above pics from the wisepacking archive may give you a hint as to recent travels.
There’s still the Isle of Man pieces to come along with items on Dumfries and Galloway and Suffolk too.
Plans for further afield are being made, but flight prices are high for our dates at the moment, so there is both a Plan A and a Plan B being put together.
In the meantime there’s a busy time coming up at the day job, but writing sessions are being rostered to clear the log jam that’s occurred in recent weeks.
And besides, Caroline and I have both had one of those money can’t buy impromptu experiences.
Something to do with being invited to sit in the driver’s seat of an iconic British steam engine!
Ready to roll – Caroline on a pretty good hire bike
Just part of the beach at Wells-next-the-Sea
The tide is low – and then some…
Wash and go. Or wash and boldly go?
It’s Tuesday on a hot week in June and Caroline and I are heading off in different directions. Although Caroline had taken her cycling kit, she hadn’t brought a bike.
Fortunately we knew that there was bike hire available at Deepdale Backpackers and that the bikes in question were all very much on the new side. After making her choice of steeds and gearing up, we arranged to meet at the beach cafe at Wells-next-the-Sea.
One plus point of having visited Wells so often is that I’ve sussed out where the free car parking is. Yes, it’s a few minutes to get into the centre, but it’s also the difference between giving the local council money or local traders.
Which is what we do when we’re in the area – at Whin Hill Cider, a couple of preferred coffee stops, local fruit & veg shops or bakers or the locally owned mini-market.
After a couple of stops to make small purchases, I made my way down to the harbour and then along the footpath that follows the road down to the beach. The last time I was down here there were some serious television vans down there making a commercial for Lloyds Bank.
Not today though. The car park was filling up and there was a stream of people heading to the beach and in some cases coming back again because of the restrictions placed on walking dogs on that nearby stretch of beach.
It wasn’t long before Caroline appeared, a good move on her part because it wasn’t long after that a cycling club turned up and filled the rest of the bike racks outside the cafe.
This had had a makeover since out last visit and was now apparently being run by the Holkham Estate. Although tidied up, it hadn’t gone all hipster beardie on us and the prices were still quite affordable, hence the numbers sheltering from the sun in the cafe and the greater numbers sitting outside and slapping on SPF 30.
Once lunch was over, we hit the beach. Well I did for a few minutes and Caroline did for a lot longer. I still have problems walking on soft sand following that stroke a few years ago, but I was also conscious that there were a heck of a lot of people around, so the beach wasn’t as quiet as the ones I’d been walking on in Northumberland a few weeks beforehand.
Ice cream was the order of the day when Caroline returned and we were both rather intrigued by the Wash ‘n’ Wag device pictured above.
Wet and sandy dogs go in, very wet and clean dogs come out, much to amusement of those gathered around, especially when the dogs came out and start the usual rigmarole associated with shaking themselves dry.
With Caroline heading back to Deepdale on the bike, I was put in charge of finding food for the evening meal. Well two evening meals actually as I ended up buying stuff for both Tuesday and Wednesday night’s cooking sessions.
When it came to Wednesday, Caroline was back on the hire bike, heading this time in the direction of Holkham Hall. As I’d had a sleepless night because of the heat (despite the fan in the room being on all night), I drove down, bought some coffee and started to read a couple of short books on the iPad’s Kindle app.
Not only does the cafe do good coffee, they also do a very good sausage baguette. Coffee and one of those came and went for lunch whilst Caroline chose something with a rather more healthy attitude to go with her coffee.
Once done, we made arrangements to meet up for coffee and cake at the cafe near Creake Abbey. This has also had a makeover, but the coffee and cake were first class and not out of the way expensive either.
With time running out on the bike hire, it was time to head back to Deepdale. Whilst there were thoughts of staying on another night, we decided not to.
Which was a good move as we awoke to find that it was throwing it down. A brief respite gave us the chance to make a dash to Deepdale Cafe for breakfast and then head back to pack our bags and head for home.
We’d enjoyed the break and the changes at Deepdale will ensure that we’ll return for more of the same… And to take photos of the revamp!
Next up – Two days, hostel and hotel, a new tyre and lots of rain!
Malaga – not what you might expect!
“Why are you spending so much time in Malaga?’ was the comment Caroline’s eldest made when he found out that we were spending three nights in the city – two at the beginning and one at the end of our recent trip to Andalucia…
The answer was simple – we’d spotted comments years ago that Malaga was an interesting place to visit and to wander around.
There are arty connections, museums to visits and sights to see – providing that a) you’re not planning on going on a Monday and b) it’s not raining….
Although we’d left the house and started our journey around 9am, we didn’t actually check into the Ibis in Malaga until after 10pm Spanish time.
Our plane was leaving Manchester Airport in the afternoon, but by the time we’d factored in getting a bus to the railway station, getting to Manchester Piccadilly and then transferring to the replacement bus service to Manchester Airport, we thought we’d better leave early, just in case.
The RyanAir flight went smoothly on the way out as we’d reserved seats on the plane and had opted for Priority Boarding so we knew where we were heading towards once we’d boarded the 737 and that we could have our packs in the locker and be sat down and resting way before the rest of the passengers got onboard.
At the Malaga end though, we had to wait until we could actually get off the plane, hit passport control and then find the railway station to get a train into Malaga – to the end of the line as that was apparently about ten minutes walk from the Ibis.
Getting the tickets was easy. Getting the train was easy. Using the printouts from Apple Maps wasn’t, but fortunately Caroline spotted the Ibis lights and that put us in the right direction – almost.
Pavement works meant that there was a detour to take rather than using the direct option, but we got there in the end, checked in, dropped the bags in our room and headed down to the bar for drinks and a snack or two.
Getting the breakfast option in the hotel did save some time (but not money!) the following morning before we headed out to explore Malaga on foot.
I’d booked the Sunday flights before I’d looked closely at the opening times for the places we wanted to explore – big mistake as most of our potential destinations were closed on a Monday according to both of the guidebooks we’d used to plan the trip.
So we wandered around, aimlessly at first and then with a little more purpose as we found Teatro Roma, spotted the Alcazaba, famed tapas bar El Pimpi and stumbled across the Museo Picasso as we strolled up a side street.
What was unexpected was the fact the the guidebooks were wrong and the Museo Picasso was open. The other surprise was that the admission charge was less than that quoted in the guides as the number of works on display had been reduced.
With Caroline taking two spins around the museum, I headed to the cafe after one to sort out where to go next and to partake in a coffee and the second beer of the day.
One thing we didn’t use on our strolls around Malaga was our map. Yes, we were misplaced a few times, but it all added to the fun as we explored!
We’d found a cafe for lunch, a couple of places for coffee or orange juice and had bought one or two things too – Caroline had bought a leather belt and had had extra holes punched into it whilst I’d bought some Axe deodorant (aka Lynx in the U.K.) plus some bottled water (we’d heard about the quality of the tap water in Malaga – allegedly!) and some wipes for those times when finger food beckoned and there wasn’t a wash basin in sight.
The other place we’d stumbled across was the Mercado Central – a market the likes of which I haven’t seen for years.
Bread, cheese, cooked meat, fish, fruit, olives, raw meat, seafood and food of all kinds to go (along with drinks too) made for a wish that we’d booked into a hostel rather than a hotel.
Our evening meal also led to furthering that thought. After mooching around looking at menus, we settled on a small place where we were the only Brits among the customers.
The menu was in English though and whilst I picked a favourite meat dish, Caroline went for the tuna option. The pork & veg and accompanying beer went down well , but Caroline and I hadn’t realised that the tuna was going to be served raw.
It was well presented though and it went down the same way as the wine, even though Caroline would rather have had it cooked than raw – her youngest son is the sushi fan, not her! Or me…
The walk back to the hotel was interesting, because we ended up walking for more than we we needed to in order to get back to the Ibis.
A stop was made to stock up on bottled water and to get a bar of chocolate, before we spotted the Ibis once more and headed back, but not before taking a look in the window of the local KTM dealer.
I’m not a biker, but Caroline’s youngest is and whilst he’s expressed a few interests in KTM motorbikes in recent months, he’s still got his 650cc Suzuki.
As I’ve mentioned before, the following morning was a washout for wandering around as the heavens opened and we ended up killing time in the hotel lobby before getting a taxi to the bus station in readiness for our bus to Seville and tapas, breakfasts in a local cafe plus flamenco, time on the Parasol, chats with religious types from the state of Georgia and possibly the best ice cream, sorry – Gelato – we’ve ever had.
Could this be our new back garden getting the first set of visitors?
No, it’s part of the Alcazar de los Reyes Cristanos in Cordoba…
Even The Alhambra in Granada needs some TLC from time to time.
This is part of Palacios Nazaries complex as is…
Palacio del Partal which is also undergoing some restoration work…
More on our Andalusia jaunt next week!
- Your camera – digital compact, DLSR, smartphone, tablet or even film!
- Travel towel – to dry self or roll laundry in when washing on the road…
- Wet wipes – to clean up after spare ribs, fixing a bike or on a hot day!
- Body spray – high temperatures and it’s sweaty when you’re in a crowd!
- Bottle of water – handy at any time (sparkling rather than still).
- Trousers with zipped pockets – to keep thieves at bay
- Bags that can be locked or have pull-tight openings – see number 6!
- Copies of passport, travel docs & insurance (and phone numbers).
- Comfortable shoes, sandals or boots suitable for what you’re up to
- Loose change – for purchases in shops that don’t want €20 notes…
It was a long way down from this spot!
One thing that’s surprised me over the last few months is how many people are logging onto forums or asking questions on newspaper websites as to whether they should take travel insurance or not.
To me, it’s a no-brainer. Yes, you should is always my answer as I have pre-existing conditions that have to be declared in the wake of having had a stroke, but I’m also aware that the EHIC card doesn’t cover you for all eventualities or things like repatriation in the event of a biggie occurence.
Yes, specialist cover should be sought for dangerous sports etc, but even if you aren’t going paragliding or doing free-fall, there’s always the possibility that something unexpected might happen.
My stroke happened three days after a medical at a new GP practice and a few months after a nasty infection occurred following a small graze on my left leg (open leg wound for 3 months and an abcess inside open leg wound too).
There’s always the effects of liquor mortis to consider – either down to your consumption or a visiting meathead intent of drinking themselves into oblivion. Or inattentive drivers, unknown allergies or stumbles in the street…
Yes, the insurance premium will add more pounds or whatever to the cost of the trip, but it may be a lot less than the medical bills or those for repatriation to a hospital in say the UK after a crash or medical problem, especially if it’s happened on the other side of the world or in the US of A…
Treat ’em and street ’em may not be possible!