Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Great Brittan the First

So I am still massively behind on updating you regarding my travels but I will do my best to catch up in the next few days. Train travel means I have time to write and I am mearley dependant on having sufficient power to do the jobs I want to do. I am also going to have to try to do a photo upload at some stage as I am a good few months behind where I should be.
Well when I left you last I was leaving Dublin and headed for London. Well what to say about London. Its big, its busy, its everything Washington dc and NYC want to be, in the one city, its expensive and its kinda cool. But be prepared for everything to cost mega $$$ in London. Food, accomdation and attractions are expensive. But I will say this much, there are still free things to do. So we hit up a copple of very cool free places on our first visit to London. We visited Harrods, BP house, the national gallery the national portrait gallery, the strand, the tower bridge, the globe, the exterior of St Pauls, the changing of the guard, Greenwich observatory and Westminster. Also we just walked around London. That is something I can recommend doing. There is just so much to see in London that just visitng a few places makes the most sense rather than trying to do it all. But just walking around you get a feel for soo much of the history and if you could find a good self guided tour that would be cool.
Well we managed to go stand at the middle of the world (well the 0° mark of the world), saw some of the masterpieces of art in the national art gallery and just experienced what it was. Also be picky on hostels. Some are over croweded and don’t have a lot of facilties. Make sure that there is kitchen facilities and they have all the ammenties that you want or need. Also seeing the globe theater and London bridge are kinda cool. For all the scout nerds out there I recommend atleast seeing BP house if not staying there for at least one night
After our brief stay in London we went out to Waterloo to pick up our campervan, from a company called wicked campers. These guys basicly provide you with the most basic camper van set up you can imagine but it works and the cars run reasonably well. Well without a lot of a plan (except for when we were going to Bolton) and that we wanted to go to Scotland and Wales, we set out upon the road. The first stop that we plotted our course to was Portsmouth. As I hadn’t driven in more than 6 months, and I had to drive out of London during peak hour, it took a bit of settling in and adjusting but I got straight back into it. But unfortuantly for me, the actual act of driving was not as easy as it has been in the past for me. Once we reached Portsmouth, we found a pub that was open and their kitchen was still working (a wotherspoon, the McDonalds of pubs) and got a tip that we could park on the water front over night without any hassle. So that we did.
Day two of our driving odessey of the UK saw us actuly exploring the town of Portsmouth, driving to Bath & Bristol, deciding we didn’t like Bristol and then promptly deiding to drive to wales and a town called Lleanly. Portsmouth is a town worth visiting just for the military and naval history displays. But for free there isn’t a lot, except for a very pretty rose garden (that you have to be there at the right time of year for) and if your there you have to visit the coffe shop at the par 3 golf course, because they have one of the best ranges of cakes I have seen and they are all wonderful! After that we got on the road and started driving from there to Bristol, with the intention of parking in bath and having a look around. Well once it became obvsious I wasn’t going to find parking for less than a small fortune, we decided to just drive around and got a great perspective of the town and took our little camper up into bits of the town that I maybe shouldn’t have piloted her into ;P. then it was onto Bristol. Well we found a spot for dinner, went to look for some where to stay the night and then decided, that given we couldn’t find a spot we liked, we would head over the bridge to wales. Bristol is a bit of a nothing town. Theres a university, its kinda cute and there is a cool bridge but its more of the surrounds that make Bristol special. Also we saw two of the 3 must see spots as we drove out of town. After corssing over, we decided it would be a good time to call susan, and see if she would be happy to see me the following night. Well at that point she suggested that we drive to where she was that night and we would be made welcome and we could go for a drive the following day. Well not being one to miss an opportunity, we drove up past Cardiff, the one nerd stop on the trip I had intended, and staright up to Lleanly.
Well the following day we were greated by a full welsh breakfast, cooked kindly for us by susans friend, including black pudding, musrooms and tomatoes. After a good breakfast we drove up to St Davids, the smallest city in the united kingdom and also the place where the prince of wales gets crowned. Well the town isn’t realy all that exciting but the cathederal there is quite pretty and the views near by are wonderful of the welsh coast. After stopping there for a while we hit up Fishgaurd, and took in more of the coast line and the wonderful country side that is wales. The view from the fishgarud fort is quite lovely and I would recommend heading into that part of the world. After driving back down and enjoying fish and chips for dinner, we decided to head up to porthmaddog the following morning to the Bleighnigh Festinog railway and  then up to Bolton, to my family up there.
The drive up to bleighnigh was fairly straight forward, if not a bit longer than we thought it would be. After finding a spot to park, we enjoyed some lunch and jumped on the train through. The train takes you through some lovely country side and up to a slate mining town. I could spend hours here describing what I saw and the amazing country side we passed through, but I wont. But I will talk about the drive from Porthmadog to Bolton. We discovered after plotting our course, that the road we had een intending to use was closed so we had to make a small detour, well after following the detour de disocverd another orad block. Well to describe Foxy, our camper to you, she had 3 gears and was an old people mover out of japan which the company had shipped over to the united kingdom. Whilst she ran well, sometimes hills and her just didn’t get along. And some of the hills and holes that the road had torwn at me were maybe a little much for her. As it was I manged to get us through that region and the rain and through the welsh hills as we drove through. It was quite stunning. Finaly, 2 hours after I had intended we arrived in Bolton, to a welcoming family and a place to stay the next two days.
After a good nights sleep we headed into Manchester for the day. Now most people say you can skip Manchester as it is a working town. whilst it s a working town it is still quite beautiful and I enjoyed visiting it, visiting the museum and also the cathederal. We headed back out to Bolton to go for dinner with the family to celebrate my aunts 50th birthday.
After saying goodbye the following morning to my family, we got in the car ready for a short drive to Glasgow in Scotland. Well that was the plan any way. After stopping and attempteing to visign part of hadrians wall and roman displays, discovered a mall where the display had been promised, we headed further north to Glasgow. Well once we got to Glasgow we were a bit disappointed. So we at that very moment decided that it was a good time to head further north, so I started driving, and kept dirivng and didn’t stop until we hit Loch Lochy after stoping for dinner along the way in a small Scottish town.  we were treated to one of the most magnificent views of the Scottish high country as we drove through, with the sun being low in the sky but it still being light out. It’s a beautiful region, even without the lights playing the way they were.
Ok so I think I might end this post here but don’t worry I will continue.

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