Living it large in london!

Given they wanted a kings ransom to travel by train its was ‘all aboard the Megabus’ to head for the bright lights of London. To be fair despite the slightly odd route it was a very smooth & efficient means of travel that delivered us to Victoria Coach Station. From there we headed for our now favourite haunt for coffee & cake. Honestly I would forgive anyone who thinks all I do now is drink coffee & eat cake but seriously these cupcakes are worth the effort.

Ever keen to keep up with the tech I ditched waving plastic cards at the underground turnstiles in favour of my phone thus removing any kind of juggling to pay or read the underground map. The cashless world is with us & woe betide anyone who fails to keep up. I’m currently trying to embrace the evolving technology ever fearful of waking up one day & being unable to function due to being unable to use new methods.

Arriving at such an early hour gave us time to venture across town to the cost effective Point A Hotel & dump our bags. From there we set about exploring a bit of Camden. Nipping into the vegan restaurant we had ear marked to try for a lush meal we headed back to get an early night.

Next day we met up with one of my daughters old ship mates & spent a fun day exploring visiting The Angel Islington & Camden Market. When I attended Download festival a couple of years ago I marvelled at the outfits some of the festival goers where wearing & wondered where you bought such items – now I know! I could have spent much longer in Camden Town so think its a place to revisit at some point. Ever the awkward one I needed up ordering a vegan salad with bacon as the standard salad in one venue didn’t appeal. I just was grateful we had to order via an app for that one.

Six, a musical of sorts based on the wives of King Henry Vlll with elements of modern humour was the show we planned to see but as that finished early we were able to snag more tickets to see Jamie at the theatre next door.

As we criss crossed our way around London on the tube I couldnt help but think of the places on the monopoly board as we whizzed by. Indeed the visit to the Angel Islington made me think it would be fun to see if you could actually visit all the places named in that game.

I used to listen to a Radio 4 quiz show which featured a game called Mornington Cresent which I thought was fictitious until we actually passed through the station!

For the final day we opted for a visit to the gardens of Buckingham Palace which was weird for me as I last went there as a guest to a Garden Party in 1990. The weather wasn’t great but we still managed to get a good look around & picnic between the downpours. Remarkably it hadn’t seemed to change over much other than the addition of a shop & toilet block where the marquees that held the tea things had been located previously. In 1990 the Queen, Lady Diana & other royals were in attendance at the garden party however no one seemed to be home this time around.

Our visit done we headed back to the coach station and back to Bristol having had a brilliant little break which was fun provided an escape from the trials & tribulations of what seems to have been the long time cooped up in the various lockdowns.

Hope all reading this are staying safe & will have more to tell shortly as will have hopefully been to a couple of festivals if the music gods are on my side.

Numb bums & not counting the number of cakes

Bags strapped on & legs akimbo we triumphantly set off on the various long and winding roads to the land of free range haggis & whiskey.

Waiting with bated breath in case Nicola Sturgeon put a spanner in the works by changing any of the covid rules we cautiously packed, including the dog eared looking hotel voucher purchased over two years ago. Living in a state of sequential lockdowns has meant that booking anything with certainty is still challenging even with the promise of restrictions lifting.

Ayr at sunset

Numb bums aside we made it fairly uneventfully to Ayr where the air was clear and the sky was a bright shade of blue. Yes I did say blue as all previous visits to Scotland have involved a sky that was various shades of grey (possibly 50 but I didn’t count!) & full of cloud. It was astonishingly warm & the sun glowed upon us making it rather warm in the thick layers of bike gear we had set off in. 

A fab curry at a local restaurant with one of hubby’s former work mates was lovely & we woke to a chorus of seagulls who broadcast the arrival of dawn. I had signed up to take part in a literary experiment in conjunction with Bristol University to test memory & recall of Shakesperian sonnets. I have a memory like a sieve on the best of days but I think it was unfair of the universe to expect me to try memorising a poem while a dozen vintage scooters revved their engines before departing in a cloud of two stroke fumes whilst operating Zoom on a mobile.

From Ayr we headed north to through some truly awesome countryside that included the dice with death along a single track road along the side of Loch Awe to reach Portsonachan Hotel our base for a few days. Thanks to hubby’s excellent bike riding skills & quick reactions the attempts by the various lorries & vans pulling trailers travelling at immense speed towards us failed to dislodge us but only just. This is a plea from the heart for all drivers to please ‘think bike’ at all times as even at slow speed we most undoubtably would have come second.

Undeterred we checked into the lakeside venue & were rewarded with the most spectacular views of the mountains and lake. It amazed me how the light changing over the static view could alter it so dramatically. No wonder artists flock to such places as the source of inspiration would be potentially endless.

The next day we set out to roam around stopping for lunch in Fort William before heading out to Glenfinnan. The monument on the beach marks its connection with Bonnie Prince Charlie & start of the Jacobite rising in 1745. A little further back is the viaduct that is featured in various films including the Harry Potter movies in which the Hogwarts Express thunders across it. Just as we were marvelling at the number of visitors standing in awe of the impressive stone edifice an actual steam train rumbled across. Couldn’t have planned it better I thought recalling level of intricate planning that I’d had to do to catch a ride on the elusive Ghost Train, Ely, Nevada on a different road trip. Sometimes lady luck is on your side.

Best Victoria Sponge Ever

Inveraray turned out to have a tea shop that served the best Victoria sponge ever & we got to visit the goal & find out that you cant buy alcohol before 10am in Scotland!Thankfully I wasn’t the only one so we formed the ‘naughty queue’ in the corner for ten minutes until we could be served.

We had a great morning catching up with some more lovely people, before I indulged in some unashamed camper van & travel sized guitar envy before heading back to the hotel via Oban. We arrived at this quaint sea side town at a time that was too late for lunch & too early for dinner so fish & chips out of a packet on a bench was the obvious solution. It was fantastic to munch hot crispy battered fish & thick chips while watching the world go by. Again the weather was super warm and dry making for a very relaxing trip indeed.

Arriving in Coldstream ( yes where the Coldstream Guards originate from) a small border town that sits on the River Tweed we walked, took some snaps & feasted in the pub we were staying at. The next day found us heading to Berwick which was bathed in glorious sunshine that we soaked up while promenading along the waterfront. After a super lunch with more old friends we returned to walk about to create room to scoff more cake!

Biscoff Cup Cake

Travelling by bike on a hot day at the start of Scottish school holidays has its advantages because the carpark was full but we were allowed to squeeze in. A welcome break to admire the awesome Kelpies that involved a quick photo shoot & an ice cream which enabled us to be back on our ‘metal horse’ & heading for home.

Initial temptations to detour around the Lake District were thwarted by the weather forecast showing more than a 50% chance of rain. Waterproofs getting soaked twice came as no surprise but at least the wind dried us after the first downpour and we were near enough home by the second. Torrential rain aside the week away was really good and for moments you could almost forget the pandemic and associated trials & tribulations. 

As we move closer to the 19th July it will be interesting to see how things progress & if more of the restrictions will be rescinded. In meantime take care & stay safe.

Getting older but not giving up fight against agism in its many forms

%d bloggers like this: