Monday, October 23, 2017

Dover Castle

We found our hotel easily once we got to Dover. It is right across the road from the English Channel, near the ferry port. We can watch the ferries coming in, going out, loading and unloading constantly. It is quite fascinating. We are at the bottom of the famous white cliffs, one of which is shown below.

At the top of the cliff is the famous Dover Castle. It was founded in the 11th century after the Battle of Hastings and built up by King Henry II in the 13th century. It is quite enormous and was used during both WW I and WW II for several purposes.

This is a view of the castle from afar. You can't miss it!

Once we got parked we got our tickets and went to the underground tunnels. We had a guided tour through the area that was used as a hospital during WW II. It was quite dimly lit and certainly claustrophobic; the doctors and nurses who worked there were definitely heroes. It was mainly used as a triage and emergency centre; patients were moved on as quickly as possible -- the wards only held 12 patients. Below are the stairs that were the way out (our guide offered the lift and several others accepted along with me).

An observation station/small tower is perched right on the edge of the cliff. It was used for communications during both wars. Outside stands one of the three-inch guns from WW I.

This view of the ferry port was taken from the observation station. There are three terminals with ferries coming and going. Later in the day the entire lot was covered with lorries (trucks) waiting to load.

Looking the other way, you can see some of the small town of Dover. There is an enormous apartment block right on the Marine Drive. Just beyond the photo is the cruise ship port (none here at this time). We walked down into this area for dinner both evenings.

Next we climbed the hill to King Henry's tower, the main fort. The rooms are restored to what they were like in the medieval period. This is a bedchamber. There were some re-enactors performing but we didn't see much. It is a school holiday and there were loads of kids everywhere.

The king had his private chapel for worship.

The first night when we walked toward town for dinner, we tried the first restaurant we came to (Table Table), but there was a two-hour wait. We went on and found an Indian restaurant closer to town. Tonight we went back and easily got a table. This is Dan's steak pie with mash and green beans. 

Due to a couple of unplanned changes to our itinerary, we ended up with three nights here instead of the expected two. So tomorrow we are taking the ferry to Calais and will have a day out in France!

Canterbury Cathedral

On Sunday we left our one-night hotel in Rotherham near Sheffield and headed south, going around the east side of London. We got to Canterbury about noon, found a parking place, and walked up the street to see the cathedral. It was awe-inspiring, incredibly beautiful. It is on the site of the earliest Christian entry into England, where Augustine established his abbey. We spent about an hour walking around inside the church. These are just a few of the many photos I took.

The spot where Thomas Becket was murdered in 1170
A candle still burns in his memory nearby

A hallway in the crypt

Looking up into the tower

Stained glass window in the transept

Looking up toward the apse

One of the many graves

A view outside (the front was covered in scaffolding)
We went on to Dover and found our hotel, which is just below the white cliffs, overlooking the English Channel and the very busy ferry port.

Did I Say Scenery?

Our drive around the Lake District turned out a bit longer than we’d planned as the shorter road was closed. But we were glad — it was an incredibly beautiful drive. We stopped at a visitor centre by the Whinlatter Forest Park. There were many people on their way to go hiking or cycling. The road was very curvy, went up and down, and was often very narrow. We had one incredible view after another. At the top of Honister Pass sits a slate factory with a cafe. The shop had lots of interesting things in it. They will customize a slate slab with your house name or number on it — or whatever kind of sign you want. The mine was nearby but we didn’t tour it. The weather was good all day, no rain.

In the evening we went back to the same restaurant, but this time we knew how to order. Here is yet another order of fish and chips with mushy peas. 

Saturday morning we checked out of our B&B and headed southeast. We were on our way to visit our cousin-in-law and her three children. It was a pretty easy drive and we were at her place near Ilkley by noon. After a visit, we all headed to a neighborhood cafe for lunch. The children were well-behaved; even when the 2-year-old was fussy, she did it quietly. It was a wonderful time to be together after too many years.

From Ilkley we kept on heading south and are spending the night near Sheffield. Tomorrow we head to Dover.

Derwentwanter Lake

One of many scenic views

Looking back down the road from the slate factory

Slate animals for sale in the shop

In the evening we went back to the same restaurant, but this time we knew how to order. Here is yet another order of fish and chips with mushy peas. 

Saturday morning we checked out of our B&B and headed southeast. We were on our way to visit our cousin-in-law and her three children. It was a pretty easy drive and we were at her place near Ilkley by noon. After a visit, we all headed to a neighborhood cafe for lunch. The children were well-behaved; even when the 2-year-old was fussing, she did it quietly. It was a wonderful time to be together after too many years.

From Ilkley we kept on heading south and spent the night near Sheffield. Sunday morning we headed to Dover via Canterbury. Poor internet connection in both hotels delayed my posts. It is now Monday and the internet is back up! More coming soon.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Oban and Keswick

We had a good if brief stay in Oban. The town was small enough to walk all around the shops and harbor quite easily. We ate in an Indian/Bangladeshi restaurant for supper and the waiter was very impressed with Dan's Hindi. The view below is of the harbor. It is an active ferry port, the gateway to Iona and Mull and other islands.

On Thursday we drove south again, heading out of Scotland and toward Keswick in the Lake District. The first part of the drive along Loch Lomond was quite narrow, but about halfway it broadened out and was easier driving. Here is a quick view of the loch from the car.

Our B&B in Keswick is right on the main street heading into town. Unfortunately, roadworks are going on and there is a one-way system going on right in front. It makes parking a bit difficult. We decided to drive downtown rather than walk, as it is more than a mile. I saw this restaurant that caught my eye -- it had multiple rooms inside.

We walked around town -- it was market day and there were many stalls selling a wide variety of goods:  food, crafts, clothing, etc. We also found a pharmacy to get some more cold medicine for Dan. The pharmacist at the Boots was extremely helpful, asked about what other meds he was on and recommended a nasal decongestant, which did help him sleep better. After that we went to the restaurant and took a table. No one came for some time, so I read the menu and found out it is all electronic. I downloaded the app onto my phone, gave our table number and placed the order. It wasn't long until our food arrived. It was curry night and I had a sweet potato/chickpea/spinach curry and Dan had lamb rogan josh. It came with naan, rice and papadums (and a free drink but I missed checking the box on the order!).

This morning after breakfast we took a walk up the small street just outside our B&B. There is a stone circle at the top and I'd wanted to see one. It was about a mile going steadily uphill. We passed a farm that had chickens and ducks and geese. These were walking in a group across the yard.

The fencerow along this road was an old stone wall.

At the top of the hill the stone circle stood across a plain field of grass. It was quite wet, but fortunately the grass was short.

Here's a closer view of the stones. On the left was an outlined area called the sanctuary. The stones weren't very tall, but it was impressive.

After a brief rest, we will head out to do a scenic drive around some of the lakes. There was a low heavy cloud cover this morning after rain in the night, but it appears to be lifting.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Scenery, scenery, scenery

We left our fine small B&B in Inverness after breakfast and headed south toward Oban. The first half of the drive was along the west side of Loch Ness (no monsters visible). We stopped briefly at the Loch Ness visitors center, but didn't go through the exhibition (we really aren't that much into mythical sea monsters...). Our next stop was the Caledonian Canals near Fort Augustus. We were fortunate enough to be there when a boat was passing through and were able to watch the locks fill and the gates open. We took a small side trip off our main road into Glencoe and went to the visitors center there. It was oriented to nature, with guided walks and other activities available. There was a lookout point but it wasn't that much more scenic that what we saw from the road. We came into Oban and found our hotel and a parking spot. Dan is taking a tour of the local distillery and I'll meet him in the town when it is over.

Driving along the road there were amazing vistas all the way. Here is just one I caught out of the window.

Loch Ness is very long and the road hugs the side for most of the way. It was quite lovely.

The boat that was going through the locks. It was really interesting to watch the lock fill up and the gates open and close.

Looking toward the upper lock, you can just see a large boat waiting its turn on the far right in this photo. It would be possible for two smaller boats to go at the same time if they were coordinated.

Another view through the windshield. The clouds were amazing. They kept changing and sunlight kept peeking through. You can even see a bit of blue on the far right. The tops of the mountains were shrouded in mist.

This burn, or creek as I would call it, was at the Glencoe visitors centre. A nice bubbling brook.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Tuesday in Inverness

As planned, we moved into a B&B on the other side of the river. It is small but very nice, recently refurbished. The owner is from Mauritius, Indian heritage, and he was surprised that we knew where it is. We've been very comfortable and the breakfast is good, as it has been everywhere. Our street is right at the end of the northern of the two pedestrian bridges. It is a quick walk to be in the center of town. This elaborate funeral home (certainly once a church) is near us; this picture is from the bridge.

The first thing I did after breakfast was to go to the launderette. It is only about 2 block away, so an easy walk. I was able to wash and dry all our laundry in about an hour for £9.

We did a good bit of walking around and a little bit of shopping. We found this Victorian shopping arcade right in the middle of downtown. It was nice to be inside for a bit, even though it wasn't extremely cold or wet.

The very large Eastgate Mall is right next to the downtown, which is unusual in our experience. (And right next to the Marks and Spencer Food Hall, which made me want to fill a cart with all the amazing options). We happened around a corner just at noon and saw this huge clock in motion. There were quite a few children and parents standing around to watch the various figures move and play music.

This cock-a-leekie soup is actually from a few days ago. We stopped along the road and were happy to find it. I had heard of it, but not had it -- chicken, leeks and rice in broth. Very tasty.

Last evening we didn't want to go far and found an inexpensive place that did both take-away and eat-in. Dan had wanted to try a steak pie and it was pretty good. I had the mince pie and it was fine, too. But so many chips!

Tonight we found a fancier place attached to a hotel that had an early dinner special -- two courses for  £9.95. We had an appetizer of potato skins to share, then Dan had an even better steak pie. They kindly substituted vegetables for more chips.

I had a salmon salad. Light and very good. We shared a sticky toffee pudding with ice cream for dessert.

Tomorrow we head south along Loch Ness to Oban.

Monday, October 16, 2017


Early on Sunday morning Dan took a walk along the river and took this shot of the castle.

We have been watching the news about Hurricane Ophelia coming through Ireland and Scotland and have decided to stay in Inverness two more days. Our plan had been to go to Skye, but all indications are that it would not be a pleasant trip.

We toured the battle site at Culloden on Sunday. It was the location of the defeat of the rebellious Highlanders, who wanted to restore Prince Charles (Bonnie Prince Charlie) to the throne of Scotland and England. After a victory against the British in a guerrilla battle, the Scots, a rag-tag exhausted troop, faced the overwhelming power of the British Army on this open plain. It was a disaster, perhaps 1000 of the 1500 Scots being killed. (Thanks to reading Outlander, I was quite up to date on my Jacobite history!) The visitors centre had an excellent historical display. There wasn't a film as such, but there was a room with projection on all four walls. It showed the advance of the armies and the killing. I could only be in there a few moments. There was also a man in costume who showed us the various weapons used and even let us hold a musket and a sword.

The battlefield

This old cottage is on the field. The gable is made of stacked blocks of turf.

There were a number of these clan markers around the area. There were flowers on most of them. (I didn't see Fraser or MacKenzie, although those names were on the rolls of the dead.)

This cairn is in memory of those who died.

Later in the day we headed out for a walk through the town. Right outside our hotel I saw this heron right on the water's edge. He kindly held still for a photo.

A view across the river.

The weather has turned from sunny to rainy today. We will be moving to a different hotel, as this one is full. We are sorry to go; this has been one of the best hotel rooms we've had yet. There is a laundrette near our new hotel and that job is coming up tomorrow.