When planning our current 5-month holiday in UK, I checked out the RCI website, the timeshare exchange organisation, to determine what timeshares were available in UK that we could exchange for our Worldmark credits. Our goal was finding options in Yorkshire, Lake District, East Anglia, Cornwall and Devon.
Signing into the RCI website, I found options for all the above except the Lake District, but another very interesting option was provided – a week on aboard a canal boat cruising the inland waterways. This was something Judi and I had discussed previously and had always planned to give it a try. Mentioning it to Judi, she immediately responded, after a nano-second of thought, with a resounding “Yes”.
Remembering the adage, “Happy wife, happy life”, the canal boat immediately jumped to priority status, so the Canal Boat Club at Union Wharf, Market Harborough, was the first exchange I reserved, and it did not disappoint. Continue reading →
As a huge Harry Potter fan, Alnwick Castle was one of the first items on Judi’s list of places to visit. Located on the south bank of the River Aln, it is the 2nd largest inhabited castle in U.K. after Windsor Castle. However, it is more than the stately home of the 12th Duke of Northumberland – Ralph Percy, as aficionados of the “Big Screen” and TV Documentaries will recognise it from numerous productions. The castle was used as Hogwarts in the first two Harry Potter films, Downtown Abbey 2014 Christmas Special and the final episode in 2015, and many other productions dating back to 1964. Click here to view the list.
What is an AONB? – it is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, that is protected. In Canada and the USA, I believe the equivalent is our National, Provincial & State parks. Having spent a full day driving the local roads, this area is an exceptional candidate for this designation. It also means that it is popular with tourists.
A couple of nights before leaving Strathkinness, I phoned a couple of the B&B’s I had shortlisted, OMG – none of them had any vacancies and it was the middle of May.
The Farne Islands Bird Sanctuary is a National Trust attraction, a few miles off the NE coast from the fishing port of Seahouses. It comprises Inner Farne, Outer Farne, Brownsman, Staple Island and a number of rocks that are awash only at low tide. Access is only provide by one of the local boat operators from Seahouses.
It is one of UK’s premier bird sanctuaries, with over 23 species of birds, some which have thousands of nesting pairs. There are an estimated 37,000 pairs of Puffins on the islands. In addition to the birds, they have a large colony of sea lions, with over 1,000 pups born every Fall.
In addition, the islands have a number of structures dating back to the 7th Century.
When visiting London and you want some respite from the hustle and bustle of the city, I highly recommend a trip out to the Royal Borough of Greenwich, commonly referred to as simply Greenwich. The 4 Royal Museums of Greenwich are definitely worth a visit – National Maritime Museum, Queen’s House, Royal Observatory and Cutty Sark. Visiting all 4 in a day is possible, but I preferred a more relaxed schedule and took 2 days.
As a retired mariner, I was in heaven, but Judi also thoroughly enjoyed her single day, especially the Observatory & Prime Meridian.
With 4 full days in London, prior to jumping on the train to Southampton, our objectives included – Florence Nightingale Museum (Judi), National Maritime Museum (Andy), Royal Observatory (Andy) and a Ho-Ho tour (Judi). Yes, we have taken the big red buses in London before, but when the weather isn’t the best, they are usually a great way to see the sights. The Met. Office forecast rain on day # 1; therefore, we started with the Ho-Ho tour, followed by a couple of days in Greenwich, with the last day walking to the Florence Nightingale Museum, Westminster Bridge and along the south bank of the Thames, around Waterloo. We have additional visits to London for a couple of days prior to and after the cruise, so will visit Buckingham Palace, Tower of London, London Eye and hopefully the Palace of Westminster/Parliament on those days.
Arriving in London Heathrow (LHR) at the end of April, we faced a new challenge. How do you get from LHR to downtown London.
Over the past 40 years, we have arrived in LHR way too many times, but have either caught a connecting flight to Edinburgh, or some other distant continent. Not this year!!
This time, we have 4 days in London, followed by the annual P&O re-union lunch in Southampton, before finally taking the train up North. Many others have the same challenge, and reviewing on-line forums, TripAdvisor, etc you will find numerous posts, with the question, “What is the best way to get from LHR into London?”. Continue reading →
On our first day in London we jumped on the Original London Ho-Ho bus, completing the city loop in the morning, followed by the western loop after lunch. While driving along Brompton Road, Judi spotted a carphone store, so we jumped off at the next stop to get a UK SIM for her phone. Returning to the bus stop, I spotted Harrods across the street; it takes up an entire city block, so you really can’t miss it. I asked Judi if she fancied a wander through Harrods and a cup of tea? Judi never declines tea, an opportunity to shop, or even wander through shops, so we headed across the street.
Since our round the world sojourn in 2015, we have taken a 2-year sabbatical from long haul flights, but at the end of April, we were back in the air, aboard a British Airways (BA) B-747, bound for London Heathrow. While we normally opt for Business Class on long-haul flights, this time we decided to splurge and spoil ourselves in First Class.
You may ask, how can we afford First Class? If paying cash, we definitely couldn’t, and if truth be known, we really can’t justify paying the premium for Business either. However, with over 500,000 BA points, we had options – Business is 125,000 points & First is 170,000 points, with the taxes, fees etc. being the same price for each option. Prior to booking the flights, we discussed our options, with the decision being – was 45,000 points x 2 worth the upgrade!! Even with my thrifty heritage, we decided that in all probability, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity, so we booked return flights in First Class. The just completed outbound flight was aboard a B-747 (Jumbo Jet) & the return flight will be on one of the new BA Airbus A-380’s (Super Jumbo).