Tuesday 23rd October
The trip started out as good as i could have hoped for. Doyle didn’t have any major complaints, but he was definitely exhausted by the time we got on the plane to Singapore. He slept for the majority of the flight, both on me and in the bassinet he got to use.
We only had a couple hours in Singapore, so we didn’t do much beyond stretch our legs before we were back on the next plane to London. This flight was nearly empty! Seriously, everyone on the plane probably could’ve had 3-4 seats to themselves. Considering it was about a twelve hour flight, Doyle did really well on it. He was still tired from the previous night, so the first half of the flight he spent more time sleeping than he did in the second half of the flight.
Jeremy and I both still managed to watch two of the in-flight movies. We both watched Meet the Robinsons, though not at the same time, and my second film was Shrek 3, which I mainly put on because I thought Doyle might like to watch the cartoony aspect even without sound. I wasn’t overly impressed with it, but Meet the Robinsons was certainly worth it. My other in-flight entertainment included playing an old Pokémon Gameboy Colour game that I found quite entertaining, wishing I’d be able to play it more. Alas, I don’t think I’ll be able to.
I think the flight felt like it went a lot quicker than I expected it to. I’m not sure why – you’d think if anything, having a baby there would make it feel like longer. Everything went pretty smoothly when we arrived in London, too. No hassles at customs, got the luggage all right, and even managed to get on the Tube with all our luggage and Doyle and his stroller and survived. Getting off the Tube was kind of another story, as the stairs complicated things a little. But some friendly folks lent us a hand.
I was a little surprised that, despite the fact it’s been more than three years since I was last in London, I still managed to remember exactly how to get to the hostel I stayed at for the latter part of my time here, which I had booked us to stay at for our first night here this time. Must be one of the advantages (and evidence) of having a near-photographic memory. I mean, it’s not like this place is on a main road or anything.
The waiting time to check in took longer than I’d have liked, but once that was done, we managed to settle in pretty easy, and get Doyle off to bed in his little tent.
Wednesday 24th October
The london hostel left a lot to be desired from my previous trip. For starters, we were right above the nightclub, which had music going until 2am – maybe longer, but I didn’t check the clock when it stopped. When I got up to find some water (my mouth gets so dry when I’ve been on long flights), Doyle began to stir, too. And he didn’t want to go back to sleep until about 4:30am. He then woke up at 6am, and Jeremy took him downstairs for breakfast so I could have a little more sleep. Then it was back downstairs for breakfast for the three of us (yes, Doyle got two breakfasts).
We headed out to King’s Cross Station so I could see where they had the Platform 9 3/4 sign for the Harry potter fans like me. Doyle and I got a photo by it and then we went off to find our car hire place.
The rest of the morning was a nightmare, apart from Doyle falling asleep at perfect times. It took us a good hour or so just to get out of London to find the M4. And we didn’t even have the car until 11am. We ended up in Windsor around 1:30pm and had lunch, then went to have a look around Windsor Castle. We decided against going inside, because we thought AUD$75 was a bit much, especially when meeting the Queen isn’t even included.
Then after a quick nose around Windsor, we set back out on the M4 to Bath. We hadn’t booked any accommodation and I learned my original drive around tour was perhaps a little too ambitious, especially if I actually want to see anything. We stopped for dinner, then spent the next two hours looking for somewhere to stay, only to end up back at the first place Jeremy suggested and I rejected. I also learnt that sometimes I have to just listen to my husband and let him make decisions. So he decided we would stay in Bath for two nights, so we don’t suffer the same problem again.
Overall it was not a particularly enjoyable day, but we got a couple of nice photos at least.
Thursday 25th October
Despite the fact someone tried to call Jeremy at 2:30am, therefore waking Doyle and him not wanting to go back to sleep at all, today totally made up for yesterday, and I only have Jeremy to thank.
We spent the morning wandering around Bath, taking a good many photos of all the sights. We first went to see the Bath Abbey and Roman Baths, but they didn’t open until 9am, so we went for a walk to Pulteney Bridge and had a good look around the River Avon before heading back to the Abbey and Baths.
We spent a good amount of time in the Abbey, which had fees based on donations – as would be nice for all sights, I think, if you get to choose how much you think it is worth. Because the fees of entering the Roman Baths were such that Jeremy decided he didn’t want to go. I insisted I did, though. After all, that was the whole reason I wanted to come to Bath in the first place. I therefore made sure I took a lot of photos and video for Jeremy. Whilst Doyle and I were exploring the ancient but still working Roman baths, Jeremy did a bit of shopping, and found some wonderful baby mittens for Doyle, as his hands had been freezing every time we went outside. Well, it’s been averaging about 12°C outside, so that’s no real surprise.
When I came out, it was time for a free walking tour of Bath to start, so we went straight there. It was a fabulous guide, but the best thing I learnt was the fact there was a plumber back in olden times called Mr Crapper, and all I could think was that’s how toilets got that slang term.
The tour also took us on to see other things we wanted to take photos of, such as the Royal Crescent and the Circus. We learnt some very interesting things about the history of Bath and its architecture. It really is a beautiful place just to walk around and look at everything.
We left the tour slightly early because otherwise we wouldn’t have time to do everything we wanted to do in the afternoon. We came back to the YMCA where we were staying, had lunch, and then set back off to our car. I couldn’t believe it when we only had to pay 6 pounds for parking and it had been there all night! Anyway…
We set off out of Bath to head back east, as I really wanted to see Stonehenge, especially after missing out the last time I was in England. And I must say, it did not disappoint! I absolutely adore seeing famous ancient things like that, and getting to stand not far from them, take photos, all of that! It was well worth the drive, and well worth the entry fee, in my opinion.
Then, as we had discovered that morning, some of Harry Potter had been filmed at Lacock, so we decided to take a look there, too. Listening to the radio on the way to Stonehenge also told us they were starting to film Half Blood Prince there this very night! It was excitement central. So we headed there next and, despite the entry fee and how late it was already, I insisted Jeremy let me in to see the Lacock Abbey, while he takes a look around the village, where all the film crew was clearly getting set up. For me, it was cool to take photos of different parts of Hogwarts Castle – and understand what rooms were used when. It just looked so very Hogwarts. I tried to speed through it, though, because I wanted to see the village as well.
The village is very Hogsmeade-like, so I’m guessing that’s what they’re using it (have used it?) for. As I was going through, though, they had to usher us out because of the shoot. So I didn’t get to see as much as Jeremy, but he took photos. I can’t believe our luck that we managed to be there on a day when they were going to be filming, though!
And that was pretty much the last thing we did today, before returning to Bath and our nice warm beds. I was hoping I’d be able to post the first three days on my blog tonight, but the Internet doesn’t seem to want to see my computer, even though Jeremy had no problem pinching it before. So instead I am going to go to bed, even though it’s only 9:15pm. Doyle and Jeremy are already in bed.
Friday 26th October
Despite the fact Doyle woke up at 1am this morning, he did much better with his sleeping. I had to feed him in my bed with me, and then he went to sleep next to me, where we kind of continued the cycle for the next 5 or so hours. At least we all managed to get some sleep and get up at a decent time for the first time this holiday.
Today turned into our Doctor Who day, as we ended up in Cardiff at around 11am, after passing briefly through Bristol and Avonmouth. First up in Cardiff, we found somewhere to stay for the night, so we didn’t have to worry about finding accommodation like we did in Bath. Luckily the first place we really looked at and were interested in were just able to squeeze us in and – despite being a hotel – was cheaper than the YMCA in Bath. It’ll be nice to finally share a double bed with my husband on this trip for once!
After booking in (it was too early to check in), we went into Cardiff to have a bit of a look around the town, take some photos, get some lunch, and go to the Visitor’s Centre to find out where to go for the Doctor Who and Torchwood locations. We went to Cardiff Castle, but decided not to pay the entry fee to go inside. It was nearly half the price of Windsor Castle, and therefore more reasonably priced, but we were more keen to see the Doctor Who things before missing out.
So we headed down to Cardiff Bay once we discovered that’s where the Torchwood base and the Doctor Who exhibition were. It was quite a good exhibit, albeit short, but not too badly priced. And I’ve never seen more Doctor Who merchandise in one place before than I did at that store. We then took a some photos around the area before heading back to our hotel for the night.
Just some quick commentary on the driving around the streets of Britain now. If you asked me on Wednesday what I thought of it, I would’ve said I hated it and it’s absolutely confusing to know what we’re meant to be doing, and where to go. It probably doesn’t help having a not-so-detailed map, but some of the signs aren’t so easy to understand, and I’m still not sure what double yellow lines beside a curb is meant to indicate, but I think it means standing is permitted, as double red lines means it isn’t permitted. However, I think I could live in the UK now and have a car, as long as it isn’t in London. London is too crazy to drive there, but most everywhere else we’ve been isn’t too bad. Admittedly I’m used to more speed limit signs, but maybe it’s better I don’t know what speed Jeremy should be driving so I’m not constantly checking he’s not speeding. And when I’m not too busy checking the signs to tell Jeremy which way to go around one of the crazy round-a-bouts they have here, the countryside really is beautiful to look at. When I’m in such lush green areas, I forget how barren and brown Australia can be.
Now back to your regular viewing. Tonight was the first night we were able to put Doyle down in his tent and he was able to put himself to sleep.
Saturday 27th October
I don’t know what time Doyle woke up this morning, but he ended in our bed for the rest of the night. After breakfast, we headed off pretty early. My navigating didn’t go too well to begin with but ending up in Caerleon to see some ancient Roman ruins wasn’t a bad thing.
From there we headed straight to Birmingham. On our way, we saw a sign for Cadbury World, and Jeremy wanted to go. We didn’t get to go straight there, though, because Birmingham is another big city and is almost as hard as London to navigate around. We found the same hotel chain we stayed at in Cardiff easy enough, though, but became a little frantic when they told Jeremy there were no rooms. Where else could we stay for under 50 pounds per night, given that was my hopeful accommodation budget? But rather than finding somewhere else to stay, we drove to Cadbury World where we had lunch and decided not to do the expensive tour, but just have a look at Bournville Village.
Whilst in the village, I called one of my Internet friends, Steph, who lives in Birmingham, to let her know we’d arrived. She tried to find us some alternative accommodation, then gave me directions to her house so we could visit. We called the alternative accommodation, and they were full. Out of luck! What do we do? Well, we’d already decided upon staying in Birmingham for two nights, so we went back to the etap to at least try and stay tomorrow night. Our luck was back, because they let us check in for tonight as well! Obviously the first lady Jeremy spoke to was an idiot.
Leaving there, we attempted to follow Steph’s directions, but the streets were so crazy we ended up getting lost and almost calling her twice. The first time I ended up finding one of the streets she mentioned in my map book, and the second time, I realised we were just around the corner from her place, so we didn’t need to after all. So we took a lot longer than she expected us to find her, but we got there eventually!
We only stayed at her place briefly before going on a short drive to one of the largest parks in the UK so we could take her dog for a walk. Despite the fact we’ve communicated a fair bit over the Internet, I found it a little hard to make conversation – as I usually do when I’m meeting someone new. I always wonder if I seem boring because of it.
After the park, we followed Steph to Tesco Extra so we could buy Doyle some socks, shoes and a couple more warm clothes.
Following Steph’s directions back to the city was easy, but trying to turn around to get back to our hotel proved far more difficult, and we got lost a couple of times, and it took us far longer than it needed to have. By the time we got back, we were all so exhausted that we didn’t have much dinner, and Doyle and I fell asleep on our bed. Doyle had pretty much refused to sleep in his tent at all, and I was too tired to care. I just didn’t want him screaming.
Sunday 28th October
Jeremy didn’t like the fact Doyle slept in our bed all night and says Doyle isn’t allowed to get into this routine, but I don’t know what he suggests I do instead – I’d rather we all have a good night’s sleep by doing this than continuing on the same path we did when we were in Bath and having someone up from 3am or even earlier with him.
We had to switch the clocks for daylight savings this morning, too, but that didn’t seem to be too much of a problem.
It rained a bit this morning (as it did yesterday, but I forgot to mention), but we didn’t let that stop us from doing what we wanted to do. We headed south to Stratford-upon-Avon to see Anne Hathaway’s cottage and photograph it, as well as doing the exhibition and tour of Shakespeare’s birthplace. I’m not all that knowledgeable on Shakespeare, so it was interesting learning more about his past by going to this.
We headed back to Birmingham after eating our lunch in the car and actually got a spot in the hotel’s car park this time. From there we walked to the city centre at around 2:30pm or so, realising it was about the same distance as our apartment in Perth is to the city centre. Not too bad! So after some brief looking around the area and some photography, we explored the entire museum and art gallery in only one hour, lending to how much time we had before it closed, and Doyle’s temperament.
Once we had done there, we tried to find somewhere to eat dinner with free WiFi, but we had no luck. Instead we ended up at a pub called The Shakespeare, and Jeremy had a chicken and leek pie, and I had bangers (sausages) and mash.
By the time we finished, it was well and truly dark, so we headed back to our hotel in the hope Doyle would want to go to bed. He seemed more interested in playing, though, so I entertained him for a little while. I must say, apart from the whole bad habits at night, Doyle is doing remarkably well on this holiday. He’s showing signs of progressing to wanting to crawl and walk, and for the majority of the time we’re driving, he’s either happy looking out the window or sleeping. Not too much screaming from him in the car, which is good, considering how stressed we’ve been when he has been like that.
Monday 29th October
Doyle got us up pretty early this morning, so after breakfast, we headed out pretty early. We had decided against travelling to Manchester, Liverpool and Blackpool, and ended up going to visit a couple of castles today.
First up was Warwick Castle, which was even more expensive than Windsor Castle. So we just took some photos from the outside and the town before heading out to Kenilworth Castle, which was a lot cheaper, and awesome to look at as it was mostly in ruins, but there was a lot of history there, and it was very old. We learned a lot about Queen Elizabeth I and Robert Dudley the Earl of Leicester, plus the civil war of the 1600s and about the kings that predated Queen Elizabeth, who had once lived in the castle. It was fascinating, and we spent more than three hours there!
Once we were done, we headed straight to Nottingham to visit my brother-and-sister-in-law Matt and Bec and niece and nephew Cara and Luke, who had moved here last month. We surprised them by not even calling them to say we would be arriving a day earlier than I had previously said. We found them by asking some men in a pub where their street was. Only they weren’t home when we got there, so we looked around the main shopping strip for a little while before heading back.
It was lovely to see them all again, and I’m looking forward to spending the next couple days here with them. And not just because I can finally access the Internet to post this blog entry!