Travels throughout the UK

Trip Start Dec 10, 2005
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Sunday, March 4, 2007

Travels throughout England and Wales

Day 358 -Sunday 18th February - Calais to Sandgate
Had to get up at 6.30 in order to get to the channel tunnel in time. French customs were their typical selves and just waved us through and this time the English customs did not give us 20 questions but just came in and checked the bathroom to make sure that we were not smuggling any people into the country!! Half and hour later we are in England and because we gain an hour going back we thought it was too early to rock up at Mike and Caroline's door at 7.30 as Wayne had told them we would be arriving at 9.00am. So we went back to the great spot where they had previously showed us to park Misty...which is overlooking the Sandgate beach and English Channel. We had a bit of a snooze and Wayne managed to turn the alarm clock off so we slept to 10am. We later met up with Mike and the boys went out to the movies for the day while Gem did 2 weeks of washing and diary/blog updating!! Wayne cooked up a storm and then the boys managed to get themselves very drunk drinking a dozen 12% Belgium beers!
 
Day 359 -Monday 19th February - Sandgate
Oh there were hang overs this morning!! Poor Mike had to get up and go to work and then he had to come home at lunch for a nap as he was so miserable!! We spent the day packing up the gear we did not need to take with us, so we can leave it at Mike's and also cutting and polishing the outside of Misty while we had access to a ladder! Tonight we were going to go to the local pub but everyone was a bit worse for wear so we stayed in and Wayne cooked! We spent the evening chatting and we also got to meet Caroline's brother.
 
 
Day 360 -Tuesday 17th February - Sandgate
Today we found out that the guy who is buying Misty can't get all the money to us until the 2nd March, so we have to improvise and spend a while touring England before we drop her off. Given this Wayne is a bit excited as it means he can go to a few football games and he has managed to get tickets for this Friday's World Club Challenge between the Premiers of the NRL....The Bronco's VS the Premiers of Super league in England which is St Helen's...he is a happy chappy. So the rest of the day we spent trying to organise other tours that we want to do now that Misty is sold. Caroline dropped us down to Folkestone so that we could talk to some travel agents...but my GOD!! They are so frustrating as the system is completely different to home...they only seem to have package deals which involve sitting around on a beach for a week...which we can do anytime...we wanted to bang our head against a brick wall after speaking to them....Instead we went for a walk along "The Lewes" which is the waterfront from Folkestone back to Sandgate...lovely day for a walk...NOT...grey and raining!! Tonight we were off to the pub for a few drinks and then went out to a local Chinese restaurant which Caroline, Mike and Wayne were very excited about as it is all you can eat for 14.95 pound....I proceed to be very amused whilst watching them order as much food as they possibly could....the food was awesome and the Chinese owner, Ming, was even more entertaining as he proceeded to blast our ear drums off with Kylie Minouge!! Gem had to drive Mike's car home as the others had drunk (and eaten) too much!!
 
 
Day 361 -Wednesday 18th February - Sandgate to Windsor
We said goodbye to Mike and Caroline this morning...we are so lucky to have met them and they are so kind to let us use their house as a drop in centre and have given us the keys to get back in whenever we need!! We then proceeded to try and book a tour to Egypt...lucky for us Mike had given us a tip on an internet based travel centre and we managed to get an awesome deal for 2 weeks in Egypt at less than half to one third the price then what the other travel agents could give us yesterday!! So on the 5th March we are off to Egypt for our 8 year wedding anniversary and will be cruising the Nile, exploring Cairo and then soaking up some Sun in Luxor in 5 star luxury!! Even better it is prime season to go to Egypt as it is not too hot!! Yeh!! Next we proceeded to try and book something for Turkey but will have to keep trying over the next few days. We finally got going this after noon and were headed towards "Stratford Upon Avon" but Gem took a detour half way when she saw the signs for Windsor Castle...so we ended up doing several laps of Windsor in the dark trying to find the huge castle that the Queen sometimes lives in...Gem was certain that you could now go inside after the Queen opened it up to tourists so that she could pay for it to be renovated after a huge section of it burnt down a couple of years ago!! We pulled Misty up for the night in a car park out the front of the Castle grounds...hoping we would not get moved on as you are not supposed to free camp in England...stupid rule we reckon...so we are planning to ignore it as much as possible as we don't want to pay 25 pound...or $70AUD a night just for camping when we don't need it!!!
 
 
 
Day 362 -Thursday 19th February - Windsor to Stratford Upon Avon
Despite the rain and it being perfect sleep in weather, Gem got up early to make sure we had a parking ticket so we did not get wheel clamped!! Wayne had no interest in seeing the castle, so Gem took off on her own...however, forgot that most things don't open until 10am in England so went to the Library to do some more travel research on the internet. Anyway the castle was huge and absolutely dominated the town, which in itself was quite ordinary!! Lucky we got a parking ticket as after we both popped into town to get some lunch, we came back to find that they were wheel clamping everyone who did not have one. Next we drove to Shakespeare country and to the town of Stratford Upon Avon, which is apparently the second most visited place in England apart from London. We tried to park in a car park that was outside the town as we were not sure if Misty would fit through the streets...however despite being marked for motor home it had a height barrier...we got talking to the attendant and he was very apologetic that we could not park there but had told us that they had had a lot of problems with "the diddycois". We sort of game him a blank stare and he said "you know the poikys" and as we still gave him a blank stare he went on to explain to us that that is the term English use for gypsies. He soon redirected us to a spot we could park in and we were happy because it was really close to town and a couple of other motor homers. Although given that they were from GB we doubt that they would stay here overnight and free camp!!
Stratford Upon Avon is where Shakespeare was born and everything in the town is devoted to him!! It is a stunning little town full of gorgeous streets, gorgeous half timbered houses and has a very pretty river with lots of lochs!! We spent a fair bit of time walking through all the quaint streets, taking in Shakespeare's birthplace and the famous Shakespeare Theatre. We also walked through the gorgeous park watching a posse of 3 geese and were telling off all the other geese, swans and dogs!! We were discussing how they should all be thankful just to live in England and not France where they would meet their end as Foi Groi!! We then located the library and did some more organsing on the internet...we like English libraries as they let you use the internet for free! We are trying to book a tour to Turkey and the only one we have found that goes at that time is a Canadian company. We walked around the town a bit more then went back to Misty, alas the other motor homers (as predicted) were gone. We knew there were no camp grounds around that were open so we had to find a place to stay...we ended up having showers in the Leisure centre (Gem was in heaven as they even had a powerful hair dryer to use!!) and then we found a park in the marina for the night...the guy said it was not problem to stay and it was a bargain at 3 pound a night!! Except we the geese kept honking all night !!
 
Day 363 -Friday 20th February - Bolton - Rugby League World Cup Challenge
Wayne got up bright and early again this morning to get another parking ticket and then we had a lovely sleep in. Gem eventually got up at 10.00 and headed back to the library to make a booking for Turkey. We eventually got going this afternoon and set off up the highway through horrendous traffic to Bolton which is just past Manchester. We are here to go to the Rugby League World Cup Challenge which is the Brisbane Bronco's (winners of the ARL) VS St Helen's (the winners of the Superleague) which is being held in Reebok Stadium. We could not park Misty in the stadium because of height barriers but we found a great spot in the Tesco shopping centre next door. We dressed up in our Aussie gear, had our flags, Aussie tattoos on face and went to the game. Gem managed to sweet talk the parking attendants into not booking us during the 2 hours we were parked in Tesco's...sometimes having an Aussie accent is very useful!! The people from this area have such strong accents that half the time we can't understand what they are saying...we keep laughing and saying it feels like we are back on the continent!! We were sitting next to some very entertaining English guys throughout the entire match and we all had fun giving it to each other when our teams scored!! Unfortunately the Bronco's lost but it was very entertaining as one of the guys in front of us who was the size of a bear, was doing a happy dance and rubbing it into us and then it turned into a strip tease and he mooned us...it was all in good fun and very very funny!! Gem even got big kisses off them when we were leaving!! We later went into Tesco's and asked them if it would be O.K to park in their car park for the night as they were open 24 hours and had 24 hour security...it was no problem they just wanted to laugh at Wayne with his Aussie tattoos on his face and hear his accent!!
 
Day 364 -Saturday 21st February - Manchester to Shrewsbury
Woke up late and then drove a short distance into Manchester where Wayne thought there was a football game on between Man U and Fulham at the Man U stadium. As we pulled up to the stadium it soon became apparent that he must have gotten it wrong as it was not very busy. We pulled Misty up out the front and he went into check!! Yep no game on here...So Wayne ended up watching the game in the stadium on a plasma screen while Gem read her fantastic girlie novel!! Next we drove (for what seemed like ever!!) to just outside the town of Shrewsbury where we stopped at a pub and had a few drinks and games of pool...next door we found a fantastic Indian Restaurant and Wayne got to tantalize his taste buds with some great spicy food. We ended up parking Misty in the pub car park for the night.
 
Day 365 -Sunday 22nd February - Shrewsbury to Swansea (been traveling for a year....been on holidays for over a year!!! Yah hoo!!)
Today we got lost!! We thought we could find our own way as NAVMAN has been driving us a bit crazy!! We were doing well until we took the right road....in the WRONG direction!!! We gave up and ended up stopping for a couple of hours in a town called Bromyard so Wayne could go to the pub and watch the Carling Cup final between Chelsea and Arsenal!! Lucky for Gem she found that the library was open and got onto the internet to sort out our trips...it was funny because the two ladies next to her where heading off to Brisbane and Melbourne and were trying to book accommodation and had no idea...Gem ended up doing it with them!! Next we drove to Swansea...however Wayne managed to read the camping books wrong and we soon realized that no camping ground were open....we gave up and ended up checking into a hotel for the night as we were both just a little too tired to care about the ridiculous price tag that came with it (Aussie 5 star prices manage to get your 3 star in England!). We did not realize until later that we had treated ourselves to a bit of luxury on our 1 year anniversary of being travelers (technically we have been traveling longer but we did not include the trips back home or the time home!!) Yeh...nothing like a normal bed, hot shower and a bit of trashy TV...Wayne got to watch his favorite TV shows...24 and LOST...except that we had no idea what was going on as we have missed over a years worth of episodes!! We just want to leave England as we really don't like it that much!! We keep telling ourselves we only (Hopefully) have until Friday when we get our money for Misty and we can leave!!
 
Day 366 -Monday 23rd February - Swansea
Neither of us wanted to leave the hotel this morning as we were enjoying lying in bed!!! But we had a mission today...go and see if we could swap our Australian Drivers Licenses for UK ones at the DVLA...in case we come back and do this again... then we don't have to go through all the stupid procedures and exuberant insurance prices next time!! It was all going a little too smoothly as the lady said it was "No problem" after we handed her the paperwork!!! Yep it was too good to be true...they checked our passports and told us that we had to have a 12 month visa to get a license...we only had 6 months...we knew it was just all going too smoothly for the DVLA!! Next we drove into Swansea to have a look around...found it rather boring and a bit like a hick Queensland country town...so after checking our internet and changing our flights so we can get out  which is a waterfront promenade and has been classed as an "outstanding area of beauty. We ended up in a spot called Bracelet Bay which was stunning and we had a great view of the lighthouse. We had a lovely dinner in the restaurant and then watched a DVD. We were looking forward to listening to the water but at 11.00 when the restaurant shut the entire car park turned into a speedway for local "doof doof" cars and motor bikes...we were praying that none of them would hit Misty!! Thankfully they didn't.
 
Day 367 -Tuesday 24th February - Bath
Had a late start this morning and then drove straight through to Bath and found an open caravan park...yeh!! We could not go into town tonight as we have to catch the Park and Ride bus into town and it stops at 8 so we could not get back. We had a battle of the UNO tournament instead...Gem won!!
 
Day 368 -Wednesday 25th February - Bath
Bath is a very pretty little town where all of the buildings are made out of sandstone. We had a lovely time walking around exploring the town which has a very impressive Abby, and of course the main attraction is the still operational (but not swim able) Roman thermal baths. This is also the town where Jane Austen wrote a lot of her books. Everything shut promptly at 5.00 in this town so we then set off to the movies.
 
Day 369 -Thursday 1st March - Bath,  Bratford Upon Avon, to Stone Henge
We went and checked if the money for Misty had arrived into our account today, but alas it had not so we took off to the next town which was Bratford Upon Avon. Very pretty but not much to do...we did find a great little tea house and had some lovely scones with lashings (very British word) with jam and clotted cream...we rolled out the door. Next it was off to see Stone Henge...by the time we go there it had closed but you can see it as you drive past. The country side both here and in Wales has been so pretty and everything is so green. We went into town and managed to find to our pleasure that the library was open so we could get onto the internet and Gem could read a lonely planet book on Egypt. Again tonight we had another UNO tournament...Gem won yet again!!
 
Day 370 -Friday 2nd February - Stone Henge and goodbye Misty!!
We went back to the library this morning and were happy to find the money for Misty deposited into our account!! Yeh!! But it is sad as we have to say goodbye!! So we set out for Stonehenge and had a good time walking around listening to an audio guide explain the mystery surrounding the monument. Next we set off for the drive to pick up the hire car from Luxor airport...Gem was very happy to find that she had been upgraded to a top of the range RAV 4 with lovely leather seats...it was nice!!! We set off to Irchester where we had to drop off Misty at the Aussie guys relatives and managed to find a valet car wash along the way so the people could wash her and vacuum her and make her all pretty!! We finally arrived to Irchester and met the "Coopers" who were lovely and then it was time to say goodbye to Misty....we were both very sad because she has been such a wonderful home. When we bought her she had 20100 KMS on her and at the end she had 56100 KMS...so we find it rather amazing that we have seen so much and been to so many countries and only done 36000 KMS!! It was lashing  (very english word) rain on the drive back and we had to drive very carefully so we did not end up at Mike and Caroline's until after midnight....lucky we had keys!!
 
Day 371 -Saturday 3rd February - Sandgate
This morning we went out to breakfast with Mike at the local docks then went for a drive along the hills in the fantastic RAV 4. We had a great night tonight at their local pub playing a UNO tournament with a heap of the locals and howling at the moon as we watched the eclipse.  
 
Day 372 -Sunday 4th March - Sandgate
The boys spent the morning recovering from too many beers and then we spent the morning packing. Lucky we had the hire car as this morning both Mike's car and their motor home decided to stop. This afternoon we went for a drive along the waterfront out to the marsh lands and had fish and chips. Spent the night packing and Wayne cooked cracking meal.
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