|The Three Tuns, London, UK|
|Meal at the Three Tuns, London, UK|
|Edward in Hyde Park, London, UK|
Back at the hotel by 18 00 hours and then off to the same pub for dinner which we enjoyed just as much as the day before. I guess we could have found another pub as there are plenty in this area but we had enjoyed our first night there and decided to repeat it! I had macaroni and cheese and Ed had lamb shank.
|The Three Tuns, London, UK|
|Insight Coach, London, UK|
Day One (August 12) we were on the coach at 08 15 hours and on our way to our first stop which was Oxford. This first portion of the trip we did in 2008 but it is always nice to see Oxford and we were happy to do that. We parked once again by the Martyr's Memorial (this large stone monument remembers Thomas Cranmer, Nicholas Ridley and Hugh Latimer (three Anglican bishops burned at the stake by Queen Mary). Our guided tour took us back into the colleges and the Sheldonian Theatre. We then looked around in a slightly different way this time walking up and down the various streets as the last time we had concentrated on the different colleges that comprise the University of Oxford. It was here that J K Rowlings developed and wrote her Harry Potter series and there were a number of shops devoted to Harry Potter in terms of items to purchase. We had lunch in the Market and that always gives opportunites to try something new and different.
|Bridge on the campus of Oxford University, England|
|Anne Hathway's home, Shottery, England|
|Clinton Tower (I am coming down the stairs with the white jacket on), York, England|
|Edward at Grasmere, England|
|Military Tattoo, Edinburgh, Scotland|
|St Andrews, Scotland|
Day Six (August 17) and we were up early and had a nice walk before breakfast. Inverness is a small city and fairly quiet. We were off for a boat trip the Jacobite Rebel on Loch Ness at 08 30 hours for about one hour. A rather pleasant trip and the views were rather interesting. We had had a boat trip on Loch Ness in 2008 but on another part. Back on the coach and we were headed to Wick and this would be a mostly driving day as the road is now just two lanes and fairly busy. We always stopped every two hours or less for a break and the rides were quite pleasant. This was also a part of Scotland that we had not yet seen. In 2008 there was still snow on the high mountains in Scotland and it was cold but this time the mountains were bathed in heather and it was taking on a reddish hue. It was quite beautiful. We stopped for lunch and then on to the Pulteney Wiskey company where we had a tour and whiskey tasting. Our tour was about one hour and was quite interesting. I, like Ed, had taken Chemistry in my undergraduate days (Ed did his PhD in Chemistry) so the whole process is well known to me. However, we have never tried to make whiskey in all of these years! The whiskey was strong for me but the whiskey liqueur was most pleasant. We then went on to Wick not far away and we had chosen to do the optional tour to Castle Mey which had belonged to Queen Elizabeth (wife of King George VI) and best known as the Queen Mother all of these years. The Castle is smaller than some of the others but has a beautiful spot overlooking the North Sea. Her touch is everywhere in the Castle and it is beautifully preserved to the mid 1950s. One can imagine Charles, Prince of Wales, enjoying his boyhood there. He still comes apparently for ten days in May in her memory. The gardens attached to this castle were beautiful. Amazing that so many plants can grow this far north. The Gulf Stream does give an interesting climate to the British Isles. Back to the hotel and dinner and I had salmon which was excellent. We had a pleasant walk and than off to bed as we needed to be up early for our trip to the Orkney Islands.
|Castle Mey, Scotland|
|Skara Brae, The Orkneys|
Day Eight (August 19) and we left Wick (our second two night stop) at 08 15 hours but we had had a chance to have a walk first. We said goodbye to the North Sea. Perhaps one of these days we will do our cruise from Norway to Russia. It looked like rain and we had several storms between Wick and Skye where we were headed. The Highlands have a lot of variety we discovered as we moved along; the rounded hills give way to mountains that are high and craggy. There are huge vistas with deep valleys. There were a number of camera stops along the way. At Laing Ed and I had tea and scones around 10 30 hours. This is a pleasant small village and the rain lifted just at this time. The road was single lane in this section and there were laybys for passing. The traffic was surprisingly heavy. One thinks of this area as being rather isolated but then there aren't too many roads either. Back in the coach and on to our lunch stop at Ullapool. A sleepy fishing village that was again surprisingly large. There is a large summer population probably as there are a lot of shops. We spent a good two hours there which included our lunch stop where I had sweet potato soup and bread. I ate a lot of soup and bread on our trip. That is my favourite lunch on vacation. We arrived at the Isle of Skye at 15 15 hours and it was raining fairly heavily. The last time we had had a perfect sunny day on the tour of Skye and could see the Hebrides but this time everything was pretty shrouded in rain and Ed could just barely get a good picture of the Old Man of Stor. Lucky that we had already been there but we often think it is nice to do these trips at two different seasons. The hotel was very neat and I enjoyed my dinner at 19 30 hours - a little later tonight.
|Old Man of Storr, Isle of Skye, Scotland|
|Edward and Elizabeth, Loch Lomond, Scotland|
|Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland|
|Ben Bulbenn, Ireland|
|St Mary's Well, Killarney, Ireland|
|Edward at Waterville, Ireland|
Day Fifteen (August 26) and we were at breakfast by 06 45 hours. This was our day to go to Blarney Castle and see/kiss the Blarney Stone. When my father came to Canada with his mother in 1913 (his father was already in Canada having come earlier in the year to set up house) they stopped at Cork and probably because he had come second class he was taken to see and kiss the Blarney Stone. He always said that you had to hang upside down and it is a little like that but more like you are on your back and edge out to the Blarney Stone. But he was only nine years old and telling the story many many years later to his children! By my calculation he would have done this on the 26th of August 1913 and here I was 103 years later at Blarney Castle. There were cruise ships coming to Cork today we learned from our Tour Director so as soon as we were through the gate at the Castle we headed quickly towards Blarney Castle. Even at that we waited in the line for well over an hour before we were even on the Castle ramparts. There were 120 steps in the narrow turret tower to climb to get to the Blarney Stone. As soon as we were finished we headed back to the gift shop as we needed to be on the coach in time for us to get to our tour of Waterford Crystal at 14 00 hours. We were in time and looked around the show room. The tour was interesting and we bought a christmas decoration "A partridge in a pear tree" made of Waterford Crystal. We then went on to our hotel - Doolie and it was a nice hotel. We had a walking tour of Waterford by a local guide. He was interesting and very Irish. The Grey Friars Waterford was one of our stops and of course this is one of the oldest educational universities in Europe. The original monastery was partially demolished during the reign of Henry VIII of England. We ended at the Viking ship. Then on to a local pub for a drink - The Gingerman Bar. We stayed on and had lamb stew, salad and garlic toast. The hotel was closeby the pub and easily located by us on our return.
|Edward and Elizabeth, The Gingerman Pub, Waterford, Ireland|
|Taylors Three Rock, Dublin, Ireland|
|Edward and Elizabeth, Geography Building Trinity College Dublin|
|Lamb Tree, Craven Arms, England|
|Tamar Bridge, Calstock, England|
|St Mellion, England|