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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!

Further east…

Sea Palling…

When we were planning this trip, we had two options to get from Burnham Deepdale to our next stop Lowestoft.

One was cross country and the other was to follow the coastline as much as possible, so that was the choice.

Why did we pick Sea Palling as a stopping off point for lunch/leg stretch?

Largely because I’d seen a newspaper article extolling the virtues of the area, so Sea Palling was entered into the route planner as a stopping off point rather than Cromer, a place that we’d been to on several occasions.

Lunch was a pure and simple affair for us at the cafe pictured above after which we headed up to the Lifeboat station and onto the beach.

It was a grey day, so fleeces/soft shells were more suitable than t-shirts.

As I’m not much good walking on soft sand, Caroline went off for a longer walk on the beach whilst I stuck to more supportive areas to take photos.

Although a tractor was working on the beach, it hadn’t removed the dead seal pup that was lying on the sand – I did warn one or two people about this, but that was largely because the adults had small children in tow (an image of said seal is on this post, but one from a distance rather than a close-up).

Would we go back to Sea Palling? I’m not sure as there’s more places on the Norfolk coastline that we haven’t explored as yet along with a few around the Norfolk Broads – time will tell!

Another grey day..

More on Wednesday!

Happy eaters…

We’ll be back – The Priest Hole, Ambleside

If it’s Friday, then it must be Ambleside and time to head out for an evening meal at the place we’d book a table for 8.30pm earlier in the day.

The walk from Wanslea to that establishment wasn’t as long as I thought it would be, so we arrived early and that’s where our problems started.

The person at the desk couldn’t comprehend that we’d arrived early or that we had a table booked for 8.30 in my name. After ten minutes of faffing about on the computer, the booking was found, and we were in – or so we thought.

The next person we spoke to couldn’t understand why we wanted to just leave our name and telephone number in line with the guidelines at the time and insisted that we scanned a QR code. 

Eventually he relented when we pointed out that we’d already left a name and telephone number when we made the booking and that we’d never used a QR code ever for anything.

We were eventually shown to our table and given menus to peruse. What we hadn’t realised was that this particular establishment only offered vegetarian choices and I was looking forward to eating something a little meatier.

Given the palaver we’d already had, we left and went in search for another place to eat. The Michelin starred places didn’t appeal and the couple of nearby pubs were full, so we looked around and found The Priest Hole (thepriesthole.co.uk).

And it had a table – on a Friday night after 8.30!

Once in, names and numbers were taken and then we removed our face coverings and sat down, took a look at the drink’s menu, ordered and then examined the main menu. Both of our choices were easy to make – local lamb shank with all the trimmings and the fish special for Caroline. 

After the mains were polished off, extra drinks, dessert & coffees were ordered, thoughts turned to booking in at The Priest Hole for the next night. 

The small problem was that at that time, there wasn’t a table available for Saturday night, so my name and number was taken once more so I could be contacted during the day on Saturday should a table become available.

With that arrangement out of the way, it was time to head back to get some shut eye after our respective days out. Glasses of water were used to dilute the alcohol stream before turning in at a later than usual bedtime.

What we didn’t expect was the sound of car doors slamming outside at 1am and a few people congregating in front of the main door for a loud chin wag and ciggie consumption.

It was tempting to shout STFU out of the window, but I refrained because I just knew that that would not be a good idea, especially at breakfast time!

Lakeland bags…

A good day for a gentle stroll in the Lakes

After Lockdown 1 and that first escape to Oxford in July 2020, our second escape took us back to very familiar territory – the Lake District.

As both of us have visited the area on many occasions, you might think that packing our bags for the trip would be an easy one, but there were complications thanks to the weather and the potential activities over the course of the four days we were there.

We’d taken a close look at the forecast and whilst there was a favourable outlook, Friday looked like it was going to be wet – and it was!

Whilst I was up for a walk or two, Caroline wanted to get an off-road ride in if she could hire a bike for at least a day (the new car’s a bit small to get her hybrid in the back and we weren’t sure that there would be secure storage at our B&B to keep the bike safe and sound).

There was also the little matter of being a bit smarter on an evening when searching for places to eat in and yes, there were post-lockdown rules to follow too… like mask wearing.

So for the day times it was a mix of smartish t-shirts plus practical trousers, a thin fleece and a choice of either a softshell jacket (all from Rohan) or waterproof (TNF for me, Berghaus for Caroline) that went into the bags for walks and mooches. 

Shoe choices for the walks were simple – Oboz approach shoes or Clarks sports sandals for me and a pair of TNF Hedgehogs plus a pair of Ecco sandals for Caroline.  

As a bike had already been booked for her Friday ride Caroline packed a Rohan tech t-shirt, a Cycology bike shirt, a pair of Altura leggings, an Endura waterproof plus her Salomon Gore-tex lined shoes – and boy, did she need some waterproof stuff…

Choice for the restaurants, pubs and cafes mostly came from Rohan (although we’d packed, a few items were added after visits to Rohan’s clearance floor at their Long Preston shop and their Ambleside store.

In my case it was jeans and travel linen polo shirts that made the cut along with a soft shell for the after-dark walk back to the B&B once meals had been downed and some fine ales quaffed afterwards (yes, even Caroline sampled the local beers rather than her usual ciders).

Did it all work? Yes. 

Friday was as wet as the forecast promised and whilst I had the luxury of driving around in the car hoping for breaks in the weather in order to get some good photos, Caroline was a bit wet when she arrived in Hawkshead and joined me in Minstrel’s Gallery Tea Rooms.

Sheltering from the rain…

By the time she got back to Ambleside and returned the bike to the hire shop, she was both wet and muddy… 

“Looks like you had a good ride!’ was the comment from a passing American lady – to which Caroline replied, “Oh yes!!!”.

But it took two washes to get the mud out of her cycling clothes…

Sixteen years later

Ronda…

It’s not often that I can say that I know precisely what I was doing on 30th November in a given year, but in the case of 30th November 2004, I know exactly where I was – in intensive care at Airedale Hospital on the morning and in the Stroke Unit at the same hospital in the afternoon.

I was one of the most mobile on the Stroke Unit in that I was allowed out of a wheelchair after the first day or so. The care I received over the period I was in hospital was great, but the food was a bit Meh…

Sixteen years on and there’s still respect for the NHS, especially in the way it has had to cope with the additional pressures this year due to Covid-19.

I still get check-ups, but things like warfarin levels are done on home visits rather than at my GP’s surgery at this moment in time. Yes, my flu jab was done at the surgery, but in a very, very secure way.

Will I be getting the vaccine when it becomes available? Yes, but when I’m called in for it according to my place in the queue. Why? Because it seems to be a good idea to get rid of any Covid-19 threat and because I want to travel!

As ever, it’s many thanks to those from Airedale Hospital and to my partner Caroline too – she had just started a new nursing job on the day everything went bang and got one hell of surprise when she found out…

Here’s looking at you kid!

Books, books, books…

Just a few of this year’s guidebook purchases…

Yes, I have the technology to browse ebooks via Kindle on my iPad, but when it comes to planning sessions or usage on a trip, nothing beats a book.

Pages of interest can be marked by the use of sticky notes whilst places of interest can be highlighted using fluorescent pens.

The book itself can be stashed away in a pocket or day bag and consulted over coffee, lunch or beer or left in the bag when you decide to follow your nose and find things out for yourself.

Series of choice for years was Lonely Planet, but examination of their Portugal guide a few years ago led me to buy the equivalent Rough Guide as it was easier to use, had a better layout and was more user friendly.

Yes, buying two guidebooks was a more expensive way of doing things, but I did notice that there were other variations – different attractions were mentioned, different places to stay and eateries too.

Since then I’ve sneaked looks at several different guidebooks to get a quick idea of what they can offer whilst planning a trip.

Books from the Bradt, Insight and Marco Polo brands have gone into the mix as has Rick Steves Italy 2020.

Now this only arrived on Saturday, but first impressions are good ones.

Yes, there are plugs for his shop and other media resources, but the info is in there – travel by trains or buses, accommodation and food suggestions to suit most budgets along with packing suggestions & timescales for visiting.

Will it be used for planning? Oh yes, but in conjunction with other guides to Italy plus some addition ideas thrown in for good measure.

Such a those from Italy Top To Toe that BBC4 are currently repeating along with one or two from Great Continental Railway Journeys and maybe a couple of ideas from The Hairy Bikers, Rick Stein and Anthony Bourdain.

Keep on keeping on…

It’s over a month since Caroline and I returned from Sicily, but it seems longer, largely because things became rather hectic when we got home following a phone call whilst we were away.

There’s been quite a lot to think about since then – my boss Rob had been taken ill and passed away aged 34 just  after a holiday with his family.

The news hit everyone that worked or knew him or were customers at the shop and many have paid their respects to him and offered condolences.

One thing is for certain though – with this and other news we’ve had recently concerning family and acquaintances,  we’re going to keep on keeping on and enjoy life to the full!

Life really can be too short sometimes…

 

 

 

 

 

15 years…

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_15e4

I’d never been to Aldeburgh fifteen years ago.

There has been a lot in the UK media about the National Health Service for a while now, but with that election less than a fortnight away, it’s being discussed left, right and centre by voters, politicians and media outlets.

It’s fifteen years to the day since I had a close shave by having a stroke, but I’m very glad to have been looked after by those working in the A&E, intensive care, stroke unit, MRI unit and physios at Airedale Hospital.

The aftercare is still ongoing through my local medical centre a mile away who keep an eye on the meds I take everyday, sometimes at weekly intervals or three monthly intervals depending on test results.

Whilst there have been a few changes in lifestyle since that day in 2004, things that haven’t changed include a very healthy respect for the NHS and a shared enthusiasm for travel.

Caroline and I been to places that we’d never even thought of visiting fifteen years ago both in the UK and Europe.

Yes, there are places I’d like to go that are quite a distance away from home, but with work and holiday time still a major factor to think about, we’re still heading around the UK and Europe for the time being.

For our next few trips we have four new options plus four return visits to think about in Europe, a big rail based trip here in the UK, one or two ideas about rail trips in Canada and quite a few potential destinations that are also in the UK, we aren’t short of ideas regarding places to go.

Our new mantra as it were is “Keep on keeping on!” and the reasons for that my well be revealed next Monday…

In the meantime, Caroline and I are having a grand day out – a day of shopping in Manchester, not Milton Keynes!

The final countdown?

thumb_DSCN2149_1024Or is it?

As one deadline passes and one, two or more rear their heads, we still don’t know what’s happening with regards to Brexit!

With that in mind, I give you a list of tunes to ponder on as the powers that be here in the UK discuss things…

The Final Countdown – Europe

Road To Nowhere – Talking Heads

Should I Stay Or Should I Go Now – The Clash

Making Plans For Nigel – XTC

Madness – Madness

In Between Days – The Cure

State Of Mind – Fish

51st State – New Model Army

Mama Weer All Crazee Now – Slade

Slip Sliding Away – Paul Simon

On a different note, it’s a good job I checked the exchange rates on Monday when getting some Euros for next week.

Our local supermarket was offering a better deal than where I’d ordered from.

Mentioned this to our supplier who proceeded to check the supermarket’s rate and match it.

Result was an extra €15 or so to take away with us – a couple of local train trips for two at our destination or a larger light lunch!