October 4, 2012

Our trip to the UK + Ireland!

As you know if you’ve been following the blog, or twitter, or instagram, or tumblr… Pete’s awesome parents just took us across the pond for most of September, traveling in a big loop through southern England, Wales, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and northern England.  I could write a separate long blog post on every single day of the 20 day long trip… but I don’t have the time for that and you don’t have the time to read that, so instead…

Trinity College

I scrolled through the 5000ish photos I took, picked out a couple from each location that caught my eye, edited those and stuck them on flickr, and will take you through the trip very quickly in a whirlwind adventure blog post right now.  Then, over the next several months I’m sure, I will sort through and edit all those photos (probably cutting the 5000 down to around 500 maybe, we’ll see), put them up on flickr as I go, and tumbl individual photos that I want to share beyond flickr.  We instagrammed a bit while traveling, so I’ll link to some of those shots here as well.  I’ll also be blogging a few more specific trip-related things, like the Tourist Sweater I’m making (at which point I’ll talk about all the yarn shops I visited!), at some point in time.

So, if you are interested in more photos and stuff beyond this, follow my tumblr and/or flickr and see bits and pieces spread out over time…

our London hotel

And off we go!  We started in London, arriving early in the morning for one extremely sleep-deprived weird first day, then 2 full fun-packed London days.  We squeezed in the British Museum, V&A museum, Tate Modern, National Gallery, Westminster Abbey, Harrods, Liberty (where we had a very fancy afternoon cream tea), Savile Row, briefly explored lots of different areas, curry lunch in Camden, dinner at a pub, I’m surely forgetting other highlights but yeah, tons of London fun was had.


V&A museum

(I love taking self-portraits in interesting reflective surfaces, so there will be more of these as we go on…)


On the fourth day we started by taking a train to Oxford, where we explored the town, loved it, and ate lunch in a pub a bit off the beaten path, where they offered a vegetarian version of sausage & mash!  As a non-meat-eater, I didn’t think I’d be able to try many traditional foods on this trip, so I jumped on the chance here, and it turned out to be delicious (thanks to good quality veggie-filled fake sausage, which wasn’t trying to imitate real sausage too closely and therefore be gross).

Oxford pub vegetarian sausage & mash!

Then we started our rented car adventures part of the trip and drove through the Cotswolds, stopping in the towns of Stow-on-the-Wold and Chipping Campden, then eventually ending up that night in the country outskirts of Bristol where we were staying for the next few nights.


I made these maps of each day that we traveled the most, or through the most places… color coded for different travel modes: red is car, pink is train (orange will be bus, blue will be ferry).  They are not super accurate, but I had fun making them.  So here’s day four, Oxford/Cotswolds day:

Day 4

Day five was Bath – Pete and I were just along for the ride and didn’t think we had much interest in Bath, but we were both surprised to love it!!  The town was great, and the Roman Baths turned out to be extremely interesting and cool!  Two thumbs up to Bath!



The next day was spent in Bristol, which we also LOVED!  Having just one day and wanting to see as much as possible of this city, we decided to do a hop on hop off guided bus tour – cheesy and touristy, yes, but it allowed up to see and learn a ton in one day!  We ended up doing these tours in a couple other cities as well, when time was limited, and it works out well, I totally recommend it  ;)


Bristol highlight: we didn’t know it was Banksy’s hometown until we noticed that wall and had a minor flip-out moment!  We saw a couple more Banksy pieces in the art museum, but the street art was the coolest to see in real life!

Banksy in Bristol Banksy in Bristol

Day seven was Wales day – we drove from Bristol, across the water to the southeast Wales, then diagonally, through 2 different national parks, and past about a million sheep (yay!) up to the northwest.  Those little white dots below are sheep…


Day 7

We stayed in Criccieth that night, then drove about an hour further north the next morning to Holyhead at the northwest tip of Wales, and took the ferry across the Irish Sea to Dublin!

We spent that day and the next exploring Dublin – the highlight being Trinity College Library, the Book of Kells and all the other amazing old books!  One of my favorite things was the flower patterns in the French Book of Hours, which you can see a couple pages of here – those pages are not big; those flower designs are super intricate and beautiful!  No photos allowed inside the library, but Pete kinneared this one with his phone.

Trinity College Guinness in Dublin

Trinity College

On day ten we took a train straight across Ireland to Galway.  We loved Galway!!  Loved it.  There was a highlight involving yarn that I’ll tell you about later; another highlight was all the street musicians scattered all throughout the town playing all different traditional and non-traditional instruments and music.  The harpist was playing a lovely cover of Mad World by Tears for Fears!  <3



After Galway, we spent another half-day in Dublin, then on day 12 we headed up to Belfast for a partial-day.  We took the guided bus tour in Belfast to see and learn as much as possible with our wee bit of time in the city, it was great!  The bummer was that this was the day I started to feel a cold coming on, so with the cold+rainy weather we called it a night early, but not before spending a good several hours in the unhealthy weather, not good.

Belfast Belfast

The next day we took the ferry from Belfast to Cairnryan, Scotland, then a bus to Ayr and a train to Glasgow.  We got to see a lot of the beautiful west coast of Scotland on the bus, yay!

Day 13

Once in Glasgow, we had lunch and tea at a cafe then walked through a big chunk of the city to the modern art museum, in the cold rain.  This is what killed me; upon arrival at the museum my health was shot and the cold hit me full force.  We saw the museum, walked back to the hotel, and I sadly watched tv for that half-day and the entire next day, since I woke up the next morning much worse.  That was the saddest low point of the trip, considering how much I loved Glasgow when I was there ten years ago and how excited I was to go back.  This is in the museum:

Glasgow modern art museum

On day 15 I was partially recovered from the brutal cold, so after traveling to Edinburgh in the morning I was up to exploring the town a bit, before calling it a day in the afternoon and resting up so I wouldn’t get worse again.  We managed to squeeze lots of Edinburgh amazingness into those few hours – LOVED Edinburgh!!  I even got to visit Ysolda briefly while yarn shopping and see her new studio, and I also had some shopping fun at Avalanche Records and Armstrong’s Vintage, and Pete got an extra special souvenir.




The next day was Scottish Highlands bus tour day!  I love Scotland so much!  We saw lots of hairy coos, including Hamish in Kilmahog, tons of amazing views, multiple castles, and we took a boat around Loch Ness!


Loch Ness

The tour went northwest, up along the lochs to Inverness, then down southeast back to Edinburgh.  The only thing I wish had been different is that I’d wanted to spend a bit of time exploring the towns we passed through.  Since we traveled so much distance and spent a couple hours on Loch Ness, we didn’t get to spend time in any other towns or anything, we just had rushed meal stops and we didn’t even stop at all in Inverness, just drove through.  I’d love to take a Scotland trip sometime in my future life and spend time in lots of towns all over the country!

Day 16

The next day we took a train down to York, along a big chunk of Scotland and northern England coast, which was beautiful!  Saw lots of coastal sheep and cows!

Scotland coast

Day 17

York turned out to be another of our absolute favorites!  We knew nothing about York and didn’t have any particular interest in it, but we ended up being so happy to spend a day and a half there, it was fantastic!  Everything was walkable, which is always great, the medieval-ness of it all was so cool (winding narrow streets, the whole town surrounded by medieval walls, etc), the sinking buildings (that’s Shambles street below), everything, we just loved it.  But that’s not all!  There are more craft shops in York than almost all the rest we saw throughout the whole trip put together!  Seriously!  Multiple yarn shops, many craft shops with yarn and other stuff like embroidery, needlepoint, etc, bead shops, buttons shops, they just kept popping up every time we turned a corner!  So I’ll talk more about those when I post separately about yarn shops… There was also a great little record shop, lots of handmade stuff and things in cute stuff shops, vintage clothes, basically everything we love!  So yeah, York was our kind of town!



On day 19 we headed back down to London, where we stayed our final 2 nights in a fancypants hotel in the middle of the city, right next to the tower of London, with a rooftop bar and amazing views!  (We stayed most nights at little b&b type places out of the main cities, so this was an exciting change.)  Our last full day was supposed to be spent in Brighton, but we collided with a hurricane traveling through England, so we decided spending a day outside in a coastal city might be a bad plan…

So we spent an extra day in London, getting drenched in hard rain, drying off, then enjoying the late afternoon and evening in the dry eye of the hurricane, when we walked around the Notting Hill neighborhood (loved it!) where we did a little shopping, ate one last Indian dinner, saw the lit up London Bridge from the river docks, and had drinks in the schmancy rooftop bar.

London view London view

Here’s Pete and his wonderful parents in front of the bridge on that last night, all wearing Wobble Basses!  Oh so many thanks to them for taking us on this incredible adventure!

Wobble Basses at the London bridge

And I’ll leave you with a couple tea shots:

Tea at Liberty in London tea


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