Results tagged “Castles” from UK and Japan 2010

Fairly standard night and breakfast.  Still think it's probably the best hotel we've had so far this trip.  

I went for a walk down to the beach while Stu was getting ready.  Not a terribly nice beach, and separated every twenty metres or so with walls to stop erosion.  Walked west to get a better look at the circus tent looking thing.  Didn't find out what it was until I looked it up just then - it's a Butlins Holiday Park.


Beach at Bognor Regis
Beach at Bognor Regis

Bathing Boxes at Bognor Regis
Bathing Boxes at Bognor Regis

Bathing Boxes at Bognor Regis
Bathing Boxes at Bognor Regis

So we headed off.  First stop was Brighton to have a look at the pier and the Royal Pavilion.  Was quite surprised that Brighton actually has no sand beach at all - it's all small rocks!!  Bizarre.  Found the place very noisy (from traffic) and not very pedestrian friendly.  Was quite happy to get out of there before our first hour of parking was used up.


Grand Hotel, Brighton
Grand Hotel, Brighton

Brighton Pier
Brighton Pier

West Pier at Brighton, finally destroyed by fire in 2003
West Pier at Brighton, finally destroyed by fire in 2003

Brighton Pier
Brighton Pier

Brighton Pier
Brighton Pier

Royal Pavilion, Brighton
Royal Pavilion, Brighton

Royal Pavilion, Brighton
Royal Pavilion, Brighton

Brighton Clock Tower
Brighton Clock Tower

Next headed for a view of the Seven Sisters at Beachy Head.  As we pulled up there was sun on the cliffs.  So jumped out with just my camera and headed off down the path to get a better view.  Well of course, that was my first problem.  Five or ten minutes later, just before I got to the cliff, it decided to start raining.  Rather a lot.  So I ran for the cover of a tree (which was actually quite successful I have to admit - an Australian native would offer no such protection from rain).  Waited waited waited.  Finally it stopped so went down a bit closer to take some photos.  As I was heading back, the sun started to come out on the cliffs.  But this was of course after I'd left the best position to document them.  It was just fail on so many levels.


Seven Sisters at Beachy Head
Seven Sisters at Beachy Head

Seven Sisters at Beachy Head
Seven Sisters at Beachy Head

Decided to skip another view of the cliffs and a drive through Eastbourne in favour of getting to Dover at a reasonable hour.  Actually went past the Long Man of Wilmington which I'd not listed in the day's activities thinking we'd be going around the coast.


Long Man of Wilmington
Long Man of Wilmington

Drove drove drove.  Stopped at a Scottish Restaurant for lunch.  


Getting stuck behind flocks of sheep is a minor hazard travelling in England
Getting stuck behind flocks of sheep is a minor hazard travelling in England

Saw France on the way into Dover :)

And finally made it to Dover Castle just after 4pm.  The place closes at 6pm.  And it was raining.  Have I mentioned how much it rains here?  Decided to go in anyway.  £13.90 each.  We definitely should have gotten English Heritage membership :/ They asked us if we wanted to go on the 5pm secret war tunnels tour and we said yes.  But that was way at the bottom of the castle, and the tower etc were way up the top.  Which meant we had a grand total of half an hour to explore the castle :(:(:( Which was a shame because it was a very cool castle to explore.  Rather than directing you in one way and out another, you can go in and just explore little nooks and crannies and rooms and stairways and corridors.  It was a lot of fun, but we just didn't have the time to do it justice :(  In fact I actually managed to lose the sweetie which was quite stressful because we had to get down to the tunnels. 


Dover Castle
Dover Castle

Dover Castle
Dover Castle

Entrance gate at Dover Castle
Entrance gate at Dover Castle

Dover Castle
Dover Castle

Dover Castle
Dover Castle

Interior of Dover Castle
Interior of Dover Castle

Interior of Dover Castle
Interior of Dover Castle

Corridor in Dover Castle
Corridor in Dover Castle

View of Dover from the top of the castle
View of Dover from the top of the castle

Top of Dover Castle
Top of Dover Castle

Top of Dover Castle
Top of Dover Castle

English Channel from Dover Castle
English Channel from Dover Castle

Dover Castle
Dover Castle

Dover from Dover Castle
Dover from Dover Castle

St Mary in the Castle church
St Mary in the Castle church

Dover Castle
Dover Castle

Interior of Dover Castle
Interior of Dover Castle

Dover Castle
Dover Castle

After much stress, we both made it to the tunnels by 5pm. But of course you can't take photos :(:(:(  So was really stressed out and then grumpy as well.  Blah!!  But it was pretty cool to see the tunnels anyway.


Entrance to the tunnels
Entrance to the tunnels

So left when the tour was done and headed for the hotel.

Stopped at the Battle of Britain Memorial.  It was raining.  A lot.  And windy.  Which was bad for my camera but in one way it was good because there was noone else there.  Had the place to myself.  Managed a couple of photos, with and without rain on the lens.  


Battle of Britain Memorial
Battle of Britain Memorial

Battle of Britain Memorial
Battle of Britain Memorial

Battle of Britain Memorial
Battle of Britain Memorial

Supermarine Spitfire Mark I replica at the Battle of Britain Memorial
Supermarine Spitfire Mark I replica at the Battle of Britain Memorial

Battle of Britain Memorial sign
Battle of Britain Memorial sign

Got to the hotel.  Internet access is a pain cause you really need a wifi username and password for each device.  And the fire alarm has gone off for ten seconds tonight.  Yay.  But the nicest thing about this hotel is its location, with an outlook to the English Channel.  Can see France! :)  The moon over the water was amazing before.

Went out to get a pizza for dinner.  At the local Pizza Hut.  Most expensive pizza I've ever eaten.  £11.99 - which is $25AUD for a standard size pizza!! Gah!!!! Just a plain old pepperoni pizza.  Insane, totally insane :(  Still, it was actually quite nice.

Hoping for five minutes of sunlight tomorrow morning to see the cliffs, that's all I'm asking.  It can rain the rest of the day, but some sun on the cliffs would be nice... kthxbai!

Photos on the Canon: 242
Photos on the Sony: 7
Photos on the Video: 6
Videos on the Video: 10
Steps walked: 15414
Pounds Spent: ?
Another small B&B last night so a lot more personal.

Had a bit of a slow start, then headed into town to do our washing.  While the washing was on we went for a walk down to the beach, and while the drying was on we went for a coffee.  Well the sweetie did, I had an OJ :)


Tourist train in Newquay
Tourist train in Newquay

Newquay
Newquay

Beach at Newquay
Beach at Newquay

Cool house on top of rocks in Newquay
Cool house on top of rocks in Newquay

Beach at Newquay
Beach at Newquay

Beach at Newquay
Beach at Newquay

Beach at Newquay
Beach at Newquay

Bridge to the isolated house at Newquay
Bridge to the isolated house at Newquay

Fountain at Newquay
Fountain at Newquay

Having lots of weather here on holiday - yeah, story of our holiday!
Having lots of weather here on holiday - yeah, story of our holiday!

Came back to the hotel and repacked our suitcases then headed out.

First stop was Padstow because Stu was interested in Rick Stein's restaurants.  We had trouble with parking.  The first car park was full, which mean a drive through pedestrian-infested streets trying to get out.  Then the second car park was also full, with about ten cars in front of us trying to find parking.  So tried for the top car park.  Got a park there but the machine wouldn't take money (for me or the people in front of me).  A city car park person came by and had a look and said yep, machine is broken (often happens in the rain)  (did I mention it was raining?).  So we got free parking!  Do you have any idea how exciting that is in this country??  Anyways, so wandered down the hill in the rain.  Had a bit of a wander around.  Found Rick Stein's "The Seafood Restaurant" but they didn't have any tables.  So went and found his cafe which is a bit more casual.  Had some lovely seafood there.  Our most expensive meal so far, but that was the point of going there.


Port at Padstow
Port at Padstow

The Seafood Restaurant at Padstow
The Seafood Restaurant at Padstow

Port at Padstow
Port at Padstow

Cornwall
Cornwall

So then headed south west and went out to the tourist trap known as Land's End.  We got there at 5pm, but paid a pound too much for parking (£3 instead of £2 if we'd just waited two minutes for 5pm).  Went down to the cliff edge and thought well that's lovely.  Took photos of ourselves with the "overnight" Land's End sign that they put up after 5pm and don't charge £9.95 to stand in front of.


Stu at the entrance to Land's End
Stu at the entrance to Land's End

Lighthouse at Land's End
Lighthouse at Land's End

Rocks at Land's End
Rocks at Land's End

Rocks at Land's End
Rocks at Land's End

Signpost at Land's End
Signpost at Land's End

Stu at Land's End
Stu at Land's End

Karen and Cutie at Land's End
Karen and Cutie at Land's End

Then headed back past Penzance (and the pirates thereof?) to St Michael's Mount to attempt to photograph it in the horizontally blowing rain (horizontally blowing *into* the direction of my camera, not away from it :( ).


St Michael's Mount
St Michael's Mount

St Michael's Mount
St Michael's Mount

St Michael's Mount
St Michael's Mount

At least the parachute wind surfers were having fun
At least the parachute wind surfers were having fun

Then back to the B&B.

It's raining here.  Severe weather warnings and everything.

Have I mentioned the rain?


Geotagging - Day 26
Geotagging - Day 26

Photos on the Canon: 168
Photos on the Sony: 27
Photos on the iPhone: 1
Photos on the Blackberry: 1
Photos on the Video: 3
Videos on the Video: 11
Steps walked: 8479
Pounds Spent: ?
Well the mattress I flipped yesterday was marginally better for being flipped - at least it wasn't lumpy but it was still lopsided.  But the real kicker was a cold shower.  There's not enough water pressure in the hotel for everyone to be having showers at once.  Not if they want hot water anyway.  I waited and waited and waited but nothing.  Attempted to have a cold shower but it was too cold so had a sponge bath in the sink instead.

And then complained to the hotel and Best Western customer support.  Because that is just ridiculous.  Got an answer from customer support, but not from the hotel yet.  Lame.

So headed out to Glencoe first up.  Found the hill behind Clachaig Inn where they built Hagrid's Hut for Prisoner of Azkaban.  Even walked up it too.  But not in the exact right location - I was a bit too far round the hill but it was too hard to get to the right bit.  So I satisfied myself with a view of the valley that was in the movie.  Although I did wait around for some sunlight that never came.  In fact the clouds closed in and it started raining.  Again.  

Loch Leven
Loch Leven

Hills near Glencoe
Hills near Glencoe

Creek behind Clachaig Inn
Creek behind Clachaig Inn

Hill behind Clachaig Inn where Hagrid's Hut was built for Prisoner of Azkaban
Hill behind Clachaig Inn where Hagrid's Hut was built for Prisoner of Azkaban

Hill behind Clachaig Inn where Hagrid's Hut was built for Prisoner of Azkaban
Hill behind Clachaig Inn where Hagrid's Hut was built for Prisoner of Azkaban

Hagrid's Hut was probably over there a bit
Hagrid's Hut was probably over there a bit

Clachaig Inn
Clachaig Inn

This shot of the highlands is clearly visible in the movie
This shot of the highlands is clearly visible in the movie

So continued up Glencoe, stopping at every P and taking photos.  Then got to the end and turned around and came back :)

Heading up in to Glencoe
Heading up in to Glencoe

Glencoe
Glencoe

Glencoe
Glencoe

Waterfall in Glencoe
Waterfall in Glencoe

Glencoe
Glencoe

Glencoe
Glencoe

Glencoe
Glencoe

Glencoe
Glencoe

Glencoe
Glencoe

St John's Church, Ballachulish
St John's Church, Ballachulish

Loch Leven
Loch Leven

Next up was the Castle Arrggghhhh! (aka Castle Stalker) near Appin.  Stopped at the Castle Stalker View cafe and ended up having lunch there.  Nice, but expensive.  The cheeses weren't as awesome as the ones we had the other day but were still pretty nice.  Then we went past Appin to find a view from the other face.  

Castle Stalker
Castle Stalker

Castle Stalker
Castle Stalker

Mooo
Mooo

And then suddenly it's like 2pm.  Like how did that happen?

So we just drove and drove and drove.  And stopped in heavy traffic around Glasgow.  And drove lots more.

Connel Bridge, Loch Etive
Connel Bridge, Loch Etive

Hills near Loch Awe
Hills near Loch Awe

Wind turbine south of Glasgow
Wind turbine south of Glasgow

Stopped in Lockerbie.  I wanted to find the memorial for the Lockerbie Air Disaster of Pan Am 103.  Didn't have much detail to go on, just that it was west of town.  Found a sign to the Garden of Remembrance, which turned out to be it.  It's in Dryfesdale Cemetary and was a really beautiful spot, especially in the light of the setting sun.  Was a little strange looking up at the planes flying overhead and their contrails.  Can't explain why I wanted to see this.  I don't think I really even remember the event happening in 1988.  I don't know, I have this thing about air disasters.  

Dryfesdale Cemetery
Dryfesdale Cemetery

Aircraft flying overhead
Aircraft flying overhead

Lockerbie Garden of Remembrance
Lockerbie Garden of Remembrance

Lockerbie Garden of Remembrance
Lockerbie Garden of Remembrance

Lockerbie Garden of Remembrance
Lockerbie Garden of Remembrance

Contrails overhead
Contrails overhead

Sunset at Dryfesdale Cemetery
Sunset at Dryfesdale Cemetery

So then had to find a hotel.  The Best Western was booked out with a wedding (who gets married on a Friday, sheesh ;) ).  Drove out to another hotel that was a big old manor house, but the car park was completely deserted.  No idea if it was open or not, there were no signs.  But it looked a little scary so we didn't look any closer.  Drove through town and saw a couple of B&Bs including one that looked like an ordinary suburban house but they looked too small (where the owners would want to *talk* to us! Can't have that! ;) ).  So found another one that I'd see on the way out to the Garden of Remembrance.  It's a small hotel but they had this massive dinner thing happening.  And, it being our last night in Scotland, and the fact that I haven't had any yet (!!!) I had to try a couple of the single malts they had.  The first was a Ledaig which was quite peaty but very easy to drink.  So had another - a Laphroaig (10) which was even peatier.  Rather enjoyed this one :) So the dinner was this massive buffet of food.  For three couples.  Very very weird.  I had this enormous lamb shank with tonnes of veggies.  Needed the sweetie to help me finish it ;)

The internet here is a little flaky but at least it's here.  Very late night again .. doh!

Geotagging - Day 21
Geotagging - Day 21


Photos on the Canon: 417
Photos on the Sony: 15
Photos on the iPhone: 4
Photos on the Olympus: 53
Photos on the Blackberry: 6
Photos on the Video: 10
Videos on the Video: 9
Steps walked: 8051
Pounds Spent: ?
Got up relatively early today.  We had to be out the door by 9am cause that's when our street parking ran out.

Was a pretty *meh* night.  My mattress had big lumps in it from springs poking through, and was lopsided.  This morning I flipped the mattress and told them they might want to replace it.  Also the internet was pretty much dead on our floor, not giving out ip addresses.  We rebooted the router we found in the hallway on the way to breakfast but it didn't help much (at least with the laptop - the phones were ok).

Breakfast was ok, nothing to write home about.  The waitress staff needed to be told to friggen *smile* as they didn't seem that happy to be there.  We actually got a much nicer good morning from one of the cleaning staff.  

So the plan for the day was to head out in about four different directions from Fort William.  We ended up in three.

So the first stop was Loch Ness.  Which turned out to be an epic waste of time.  There's a small visitors centre at Fort Augustus (complete with pay and display car park).  Skipped that cause there was no Nessie.  Then drove and drove along the northwest side of the lake looking for one of the Nessies my parents found, or at the very least a parking area with a decent view of the lake.  No such luck.  The was absolutely nothing.  And it was a pretty boring loch anyway.  And you couldn't even see it for the entire drive because it was all behind trees.  We went way past our turnoff trying to find a Nessie but never found one.  We stopped to take a photo at Urqhart Castle (a ruin, but they still wanted £7 entry).  And continued to the visitors centre.  But still no Nessie.  Have no idea where the parents found all the Nessies they did.  So declared that mission a failure and headed back.

Commando Memorial near Spean Bridge
Commando Memorial near Spean Bridge

Loch Lochy
Loch Lochy

Hills next to Loch Lochy
Hills next to Loch Lochy

Loch Lochy
Loch Lochy

Loch Ness
Loch Ness

Loch Ness
Loch Ness

Urquhart Castle
Urquhart Castle

Urquhart Castle
Urquhart Castle

This photo taken at Drumnadrochit is the furthest north I've been on the planet
This photo taken at Drumnadrochit is the furthest north I've been on the planet

Next headed out west to Eilean Donan Castle.  The drive between Loch Cluanie and Loch Duich was really pretty, but of course it rained for most of it, so little documentation.  Didn't go into Eilean Donan either, but I mainly wanted to see the exterior, which was used in Highlander and The World is Not Enough.  So that was pretty cool.

Dam creating Loch Cluanie
Dam creating Loch Cluanie

Hills around Loch Cluanie
Hills around Loch Cluanie

Hills on the A87
Hills on the A87

Hills on the A87
Hills on the A87

Loch Duich near Invershiel
Loch Duich near Invershiel

Loch Duich near Invershiel
Loch Duich near Invershiel

Eilean Donan Castle
Eilean Donan Castle

Eilean Donan Castle
Eilean Donan Castle

Eilean Donan Castle
Eilean Donan Castle

The MacLeod clan went to battle across this bridge
The MacLeod clan went to battle across this bridge

Came back via Fort William and then west out to Glen Finnan.  Found the viaduct (was a bit bummed that you can't drive up the road that goes underneath it, so had to walk).  Found some people that said there was a train coming at 3pm (it was 2:40), so we walked up to the far side of the viaduct for some crappy back-lit photos then came back to wait.  In the meantime it went from sunny to rainy to rainbows to sunny again.  The train came along (twenty minutes late) and it was very squee, but the loco was going backwards ;)  Then went back to the visitors centre to have some lunch.  I climbed the little hill behind the visitors centre to see where they filmed a cut scene from Chamber of Secrets and also get a better view of the viaduct and the loch.  Was pretty cool.

Loch Garry
Loch Garry

Coal
Coal

Coal was a pretty depressing little town
Coal was a pretty depressing little town

Fort William from Caol
Fort William from Caol

Glenfinnan viaduct
Glenfinnan viaduct

Glenfinnan viaduct
Glenfinnan viaduct

Glenfinnan viaduct
Glenfinnan viaduct

The Hogwarts Express?  Not quite!
The Hogwarts Express? Not quite!

Train going over the Glenfinnan viaduct
Train going over the Glenfinnan viaduct

Glenfinnan viaduct
Glenfinnan viaduct

Loch Shiel from the lookout
Loch Shiel from the lookout

Glenfinnan Monument to the Jacobites
Glenfinnan Monument to the Jacobites

Kept heading west to find Loch Eilt.  A little island of trees there was used in Prisoner of Azkaban.  Found a little path of sorts next a pullout, so it's obvious other Potterphiles have been there before.  Got my photos, and even some of a train going by right next to the loch.

Island in Loch Eilt featured in Prisoner of Azkaban
Island in Loch Eilt featured in Prisoner of Azkaban

Loch Eilt
Loch Eilt

Harry and Lupin came down here and talked
Harry and Lupin came down here and talked

Train near Loch Eilt
Train near Loch Eilt

We thought we might just head back to the hotel at that point, but Ben Nevis was all shiny in the setting sun, so we headed up the Glen Nevis road.  Was a cool little road full of bumps and bends.  And a nice view of the mountains too.  Ben Nevis is the highest mountain in the British Isles, at 1344m.  Of course, the base is at sea level, so the whole thing just goes straight up in front of you - very cool!

Hills near Loch Linnhe
Hills near Loch Linnhe

Street in Fort William
Street in Fort William

Hills in Glen Nevis
Hills in Glen Nevis

Hills in Glen Nevis
Hills in Glen Nevis

Hills in Glen Nevis, featured as backdrops for Quidditch in Philosopher's Stone
Hills in Glen Nevis, featured as backdrops for Quidditch in Philosopher's Stone

Got back to the hotel then headed out for dinner.  Decided to eat at the "Grog and Gruel" for some very nice beer, an Angus burger for me and curly fries.  The angus burger was a little odd - just meat and cheese on a fairly doughy bun.  Added the supplied relish and a bit of the salad and it was a bit better.

Street in Fort William
Street in Fort William

Then hotel and crashing time :)

addition:
Heading north east first up, as we were driving by Loch Lochy, this jet flew down the valley at low altitude making a lot of noise.  I actually had the camera out so got a couple of pictures of it.  As we came back along the same loch, another jet flew by in the opposite direction.  Unfortunately too many trees obscured it.  Just now (9:42 pm) I heard another one fly by Fort William!  I'd read in one of the Highlander film location pages (a jet does a flyby at the end of that movie) that there's an airbase or something near here, will have to try and figure out where it is.

Military jet flying over Loch Lochy
Military jet flying over Loch Lochy

Geotagging - Day 20
Geotagging - Day 20


Photos on the Canon: 378
Photos on the Sony: 25
Photos on the iPhone: 3
Photos on the Blackberry: 2
Photos on the Video: 16
Videos on the Video: 14
Steps walked: 8575
Pounds Spent: ?
Was a little bit warm in the hotel room last night (even with aircon on) so didn't sleep as well as could be expected.

No hotel breakfast, and the Laundrette opened at 8am, so we just got up and lugged our washing down the road to the Laundrette.  Set it running then went across the road for breakfast.  I had a "Scottish Breakfast" which included an awful lot of food, including haggis, which I've never had before.  After having tried a little black pudding the other day (which I didn't much fancy), haggis was actually quite nice .. :)  Went and had Starbucks while the washing was in the dryer, then wandered back to the hotel to checkout.  We didn't end up getting charged for the under the hotel parking - win!!

Looking up Montague St, Ediburgh
Looking up Montague St, Ediburgh

So we'd decided last night that we weren't going to try and see anything in Edinburgh.  To do this place justice you'd really need to spend a few days here.  Plus there were so many other things to see out of town.  So we decided just to leave, and come back and spend a few days here on another trip, perhaps when we go to Ireland or other parts of Northern Europe.

Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle

So first stop was Firth of Forth, and the bridges thereover.  Had to wait for little patches of sunlight to shine through between all the clouds.  

Firth of Forth railway bridge
Firth of Forth railway bridge

Firth of Forth railway bridge
Firth of Forth railway bridge

Forth road bridge
Forth road bridge

Then headed north west.  Our next stop being Doune Castle.  Read: Swamp Castle and a couple of other castles from Monty Python and the Holy Grail (but not Camelot - it's only a model - shhh!!).  Had a wander around the castle exterior and squeed quite a bit :)  Also had a look at the river Teith behind the castle which was flowing very high - there must have been heaps of rain around here recently!

Doune Castle
Doune Castle

Doune Castle
Doune Castle

Doune Castle
Doune Castle

Trojan Rabbit was just there
Trojan Rabbit was just there

River Teith at the back of the castle
River Teith at the back of the castle

Continued heading north west and did a little detour out to Duke's Pass to see if we could find the quarry of Tim the Enchanter.  Well we found it, but it was a twenty minute hike up the hill to where the filmed it - grunt! So got my photos and ran back down the hill again (before it started raining).

Quarry off Duke's Pass near Aberfoyle
Quarry off Duke's Pass near Aberfoyle

There are some who call me.. Tim
There are some who call me.. Tim

Stopped for lunch at a little cafe on Loch Venacher.  It was pretty awesome.  The cheeses Stu got were epic awesome!

Loch Achray Hotel
Loch Achray Hotel

We had lunch at this cafe on Loch Venachar
We had lunch at this cafe on Loch Venachar

Continued on.  Getting up to Glencoe was exceedingly cool.  The mountains were sooo pretty.  But really hard to document in the failing light and dirty windows.  And then the petrol light came on in the car so didn't want to risk stopping in case we didn't make the town of Glencoe. We'll just have to go back! ;)

Loch Lubnaig
Loch Lubnaig

Loch Lubnaig
Loch Lubnaig

Hills near Kingshouse
Hills near Kingshouse

Hills near Ardveich
Hills near Ardveich

Viaduct near Glenogle
Viaduct near Glenogle

Restaurant near Ardchyle
Restaurant near Ardchyle

The Green Welly Stop at Tyndrum
The Green Welly Stop at Tyndrum

Hills near Clifton
Hills near Clifton

Hills near Auch
Hills near Auch

Hills near Auch
Hills near Auch

Lochan na h-Achlaise
Lochan na h-Achlaise

Glencoe
Glencoe

Glencoe
Glencoe

Glencoe
Glencoe

Glencoe
Glencoe

So got to Fort William around 6pm-ish and checked in.  Got quite amused by the crazy path we had to take to get to our room.  Had some time to catch up on news feeds, and do some photo stuff.  Went out around 8:30pm to get some snacks and ended up with a bottle of pinot grigio, cheese balls, toffee popcorn and ice cream.  Yeah real healthy .. hrmm..   Not all consumed, some will carry on to other days...

Bleak looking Loch Linnhe
Bleak looking Loch Linnhe

Geotagging - Day 19
Geotagging - Day 19


Photos on the Canon: 310
Photos on the Sony: 16
Photos on the Olympus: 5
Photos on the Blackberry: 1
Photos on the Video: 23
Videos on the Video: 21
Steps walked: 11060
Pounds Spent: ?
Didn't sleep all that well last night.  Not helped by the pillows that were about a foot thick :/  And breakfast was pretty stingy too (had to order again, but this time they just had the choices, and they brought them out in a set quantity - so if you only ordered three things out of six, you'd get half a plate of food).

Well after seeing both Leaky Cauldron's last week, the Hogwarts Express two days ago and Hogsmeade station yesterday, today I finally got to Hogwarts!!

First stop was Durham Cathedral.  We found the Howlands Park and Ride thingie and caught the bus into town.  Apparently Durham has a congestion charge, but we didn't see signs anywhere, so we're a bit worried that our drive to and from the hotel was charged and we don't know about it.  Definitely not a user-friendly town this one.  When we got off the park and ride, we really had no idea where we were or the best way to get to the cathedral.  Ended up picking a direction and walking in it, and eventually found a tiny sign pointing to the cathedral and castle.

Kayakers on the River Wear
Rowers on the River Wear

So the cathedral is quite impressive (especially since the thing is nine hundred years old!!).  It's free to get in (they ask for a donation) but they don't let you take photos inside the cathedral itself.  I wanted to go up the tower (£5) so did that.  Then we paid £5 each to see the stuff around the cloisters.  You don't need to pay to see the cloisters themselves, just the other special exhibitions.  Of course I was there to see the cloisters and courtyard.  These of course being where they filmed the corridors and courtyard from Philosopher's Stone and Chamber of Secrets.  I was epic excited to walk down the same way the kids did and round to the little gate (couldn't actually go out into the courtyard).  Probably took a few too many photos ;)  Had a look at the "AV" presentation - a 17 minute doco about the history of the cathedral and St Cuthbert which was really interesting.  Also had a look at the "treasures" which included one of Cuthbert's coffins and a gold and garnet cross that was with his body (no photos allowed there either).

Durham Cathedral
Durham Cathedral

Durham Cathedral
Durham Cathedral

Cloisters from the tower
Cloisters from the tower

Durham from the tower
Durham from the tower

Durham Cathedral
Durham Cathedral

Durham from the tower
Durham from the tower

Cloister of Durham Cathedral
Cloister of Durham Cathedral

Cloister of Durham Cathedral
Cloister of Durham Cathedral

You can see the little gate over the other side that the kids walked through
You can see the little gate over the other side that the kids walked through

Here Harry tells Ron and Hermoine he's made the Quidditch team
Here Harry tells Ron and Hermoine he's made the Quidditch team

Fred and George are on the team too
Fred and George are on the team too

And here's where they walk out into the courtyard
And here's where they walk out into the courtyard

Cloister of Durham Cathedral
Cloister of Durham Cathedral

Courtyard of Durham Cathedral
Courtyard of Durham Cathedral

There's a shot of the towers in the movie, but they've completely CGIed the top of them
There's a shot of the towers in the movie, but they've completely CGIed the top of them

So then we headed north.  Made the decision not to go to Lindesfarne as it just wasn't going to fit in timewise.  Had lunch at a Little Chef on the motorway.

Angel of the North in sunlight this time
Angel of the North in sunlight this time

So went straight to Alnwick (pronounced Annick).  It was supposed to be £2 parking, but we walked up and down and couldn't find a ticket machine, so eventually asked someone and they said a dude at the entrance was selling the tickets.  Well the dude was nowhere to be seen so we scored free parking!  Win! :)  £12.50 each entrance to the castle.  More squeeing on my part as we came up to the gate that they filmed in Philosopher's Stone.  We arrived just before a 2:30 "Broadswords to Broomsticks" tour, so went along on that.  Most of it was telling me stuff I already knew, but there was some interesting history thrown in as well, some behind the scenes stuff, and stuff from other movies (Robin Hood Prince of Thieves) as well.  Some stuff I didn't know - they used twelve identical Ford Anglias, and wrote off seven of them; they filmed the train scene from Philosopher's Stone in a building in the courtyard, as well as the restricted section of the library scenes.  So after the tour had a good wander around the area where they had their first flying lesson, as well as the little courtyard where Ron pays out Hermione about "leviOHsa, not levioSAH".  Had a wander through the staterooms (no photography there unfortunately).  People actually live in this castle in the winter, so there were a couple of completely incongruous things, like a fusball table!, in one of the rooms.  Found the sweetie, went up one of the little towers, then another quick walk around the grounds before heading off.

Alnwick Castle
Alnwick Castle

Entrance to Alnwick Castle
Entrance to Alnwick Castle

The car drives through here in Chamber of Secrets
The car drives through here in Chamber of Secrets

Inner building of Alnwick Castle
Inner building of Alnwick Castle

There's a high angled shot of this courtyard in Philosopher's Stone
There's a high angled shot of this courtyard in Philosopher's Stone

Medieval Bridge.  I would like to have gone down to see where they filmed Black Adder, but we were running too short on time
Medieval Bridge. I would like to have gone down to see where they filmed Black Adder, but we were running too short on time

Hagrid's Hut was over there in Philosopher's Stone
Hagrid's Hut was over there in Philosopher's Stone

Alnwick Castle - give it here Malfoy or I'll knock you off your broom!
Alnwick Castle - give it here Malfoy or I'll knock you off your broom!

Here's where the kids had their first flying lesson!
Here's where the kids had their first flying lesson!

Alnwick Castle
Alnwick Castle

On the Broadswords to Broomsticks tour - that was our guide
On the Broadswords to Broomsticks tour - that was our guide

A very well defended entrance to the castle
A very well defended entrance to the castle

Alnwick Castle
Alnwick Castle

Little Princess
Little Princess

Alnwick Castle
Alnwick Castle

Alnwick Castle
Alnwick Castle

It's LeviOHsah, not LevioSAH!
It's LeviOHsah, not LevioSAH!

Same courtyard, different angle
Same courtyard, different angle

Stu inspects a canon
Stu inspects a canon

Alnwick Castle
Alnwick Castle

Headed down to the coast to find Bamburgh Castle, which looked quite impressive in the afternoon sun.  Went down to the beach north of it to get some photos.

We had to stop for like five minutes for this freight train to appear.  And a rainbow.
We had to stop for like five minutes for this freight train to appear. And a rainbow.

Bamburgh Castle
Bamburgh Castle

Bamburgh Castle
Bamburgh Castle

Bamburgh Castle
Bamburgh Castle

Lighthouse on an island offshore
Lighthouse on an island offshore

Sadly we didn't have time to get to Lindisfarne
Sadly we didn't have time to get to Lindesfarne

Then onto Edinburgh.  We arrived too late to do our washing (it closes at 8pm).  So just had a pint (not a quiet pint - the pub was filled with noisy people watching football) and then got some takeaway dinner and came back to the hotel to eat and do internetty stuff.

Scottish border
Scottish border

Scottish border
Scottish border

Driving through Scotland
Driving through Scotland

The local
The local

Prepare for some disappointment regarding Edinburgh in tomorrow's post...

Photos on the Canon: 343
Photos on the Sony: 7
Photos on the Blackberry: 2
Photos on the Video: 34
Videos on the Video: 8
Steps walked: 13164
Pounds Spent: 74.93
Well the blinds in the hotel at Aylesbury were super awesome.  The sweetie got up to go to the loo and I asked him what the time was and he said 8:00 and I'm *gah* we have to go! heh

So got up and ready fairly quickly and had breakfast (very similar to last hotel but with actual real bacon instead of some weird pressed ham thing).

Headed out, our first stop being Stratford-upon-Avon.  Cute, if very touristy, little town.  Wandered up to see Shakespeare's birthplace building, but at £12.50 each ($50aud for the two of us to go in) we decided to give it a miss, as we weren't all *that* interested anyway.  Instead we went for a little walk down to the Avon river and saw a boat going through a lock and lots of birds and that was actually really quite nice.

Hedge trimming - large scale
Hedge trimming - large scale

Medieval buildings in Stratford-Upon-Avon
Medieval buildings in Stratford-Upon-Avon

Morris Dancers
Morris Dancers

Birthplace of Shakespeare
Birthplace of Shakespeare

Stratford-Upon-Avon is a canal town, so even the ice creams are sold from barges!
Stratford-Upon-Avon is a canal town, so even the ice creams are sold from barges!

Distances via canals and rivers to other towns
Distances via canals and rivers to other towns

Lock
Lock

Canal boat in the lock
Canal boat in the lock

Feeding a goose
Feeding a goose

Swan Water Fountain in Bancroft Gardens
Swan Water Fountain in Bancroft Gardens

Avon River
Avon River

Our next stop was Warwick, as we wanted to see the castle.  Found parking in the castle grounds by accident (although £5 which was a little steep we thought).  Castle itself was also pretty pricey (we got the cheapest option of £17.95 - as the dungeon looked pretty kitschy - and probably a good thing we didn't get it anyway as we were pressed for time enough as it was).  Had a bit of a wander around the outside of the main castle, down to the mill house and around the back to see the trebuchet (didn't get to see it in action though).  Watched the falconry show which was very cool, although I might have taken way too many photos ;) Then went into the castle and around the towers and battlements, which I really enjoyed but Stu nearly died on all the steps.  Then through the chapel, great hall and state rooms, making this one of the rare castles/palaces I've been into that let you take photos!! So quite enjoyed that.

Warwick Castle
Warwick Castle

Entrance to Warwick Castle
Entrance to Warwick Castle

Warwick Castle
Warwick Castle

Avon River and turbine room of the castle
Avon River and turbine room of the castle

Trebuchet outside the castle
Trebuchet outside the castle

Victoria, the Crowned Eagle, a new arrival at the castle
Victoria, the Crowned Eagle, a new arrival at the castle

This Golden Eagle is having a bath
This Golden Eagle is having a bath

Young Palm Nut Vulture in the falconry show
Young Palm Nut Vulture in the falconry show

Young Palm Nut Vulture in the falconry show
Young Palm Nut Vulture in the falconry show

Young Palm Nut Vulture in the falconry show
Young Palm Nut Vulture in the falconry show

Peregrine Falcon in the falconry show
Peregrine Falcon in the falconry show

Peregrine Falcon in the falconry show
Peregrine Falcon in the falconry show

Peregrine Falcon in the falconry show
Peregrine Falcon in the falconry show

Peregrine Falcon in the falconry show
Peregrine Falcon in the falconry show

Peregrine Falcon in the falconry show
Peregrine Falcon in the falconry show

Peregrine Falcon in the falconry show
Peregrine Falcon in the falconry show

Peregrine Falcon in the falconry show
Peregrine Falcon in the falconry show

Warwick Castle
Warwick Castle

Inner part of Warwick Castle
Inner part of Warwick Castle

Inner part of Warwick Castle
Inner part of Warwick Castle

Kids in the stocks
Kids in the stocks

Warwick Castle
Warwick Castle

Warwick Castle
Warwick Castle

Warwick Castle
Warwick Castle

My parents have a photo exactly like this one from when they went
My parents have a photo exactly like this one from when they went

Inside the castle there's all these mockups of castle life
Inside the castle there's all these mockups of castle life

Princesses and Knights toilets
Princesses and Knights toilets

No Drinking Brew, or Eating Gruel
No Drinking Brew, or Eating Gruel

Model of Warwick Castle
Model of Warwick Castle

Chapel in Warwick Castle
Chapel in Warwick Castle

State rooms in Warwick Castle
State rooms in Warwick Castle

Armaments
Armaments

Knight on horseback
Knight on horseback

State rooms in Warwick Castle
State rooms in Warwick Castle

Bedroom in Warwick Castle
Bedroom in Warwick Castle

Entrance to the dungeons
Entrance to the dungeons

Entrance to Warwick Castle
Entrance to Warwick Castle

It was getting a bit late by then (4pm) so left and headed for Nottingham.  Did ok until we got into town where we kept getting stuck in the wrong lane and not able to follow the GPS, or having the GPS try and send us the wrong way down one way streets.  Went round in circles just trying to get to the hotel :(

So got in eventually.  The hotel (the Britannia) is a bit of a dump - we got a smoking room so it smells, everything is a little old and sad, no aircon to speak of, security on the door doesn't work at all, parking and access a pain in the posterior.  But it was cheap (£49 including breakfast) so can't complain too much.  It's only saving grace is free wifi, which sort of works if you look the right way at it.

So dumped our stuff and headed out again to go to Di's.  Again we had issues with the GPS and getting stuck in the wrong lane for where it wanted us to go.  Again we went around in circles :(  Was very frustrating.  But escaped eventually and got away without any further dramas, even getting a FREE parking spot right outside their door (first free parking we've had in this country! Unless you count the half hour we got near the hotel when dumping our stuff).  So went out to the local (the Stratford Haven) for a couple of pints, then back to their place for nibblies while Nick cooked up a storm.  Dinner was a high-class bangers and mash - absolutely delicious sausages, a herby mash potato that was lovely, and heaps of delicious gravy .. nom nom nom :) Chatted the whole evening, about all sorts of stuff .. a lot about travel, Paul had to get a mention, their recent dramas with M's mother, cameras etc etc.  Was a really lovely evening and I have a slight hangover headache to prove it :)

Di
Di

Nick
Nick

Kitty! Taken on one of Di's lenses
Kitty! Taken on one of Di's lenses

Made it back to the hotel in one go and collapsed into bed without blogging.

Geotagging - Day 15
Geotagging - Day 15


Photos on the Canon: 549
Photos on the Sony: 6
Photos on the Video: 69
Videos on the Video: 81
Steps walked: 12838
Pounds Spent: 69.29
Woke up by Stu's phone buzzing at 5:30 and couldn't get back to sleep :/

Breakfast - same.

Today we decided to go our own separate ways for the day. The sun was out so I wanted to do some touristy things while Stu had a relaxing day off.

So my first stop was Buckingham Palace. I considered going in, but the sun was out! So decided to go down past Westminster station to photograph the barriers (a la Order of the Phoenix), across the Westminster bridge, and up the London Eye.

Buckingham Palace in sunlight
Buckingham Palace in sunlight

Queen Victoria Monument in sunlight
Queen Victoria Monument in sunlight

Buckingham Palace gates in sunlight
Buckingham Palace gates in sunlight

Westminster Station, as seen in Order of the Phoenix
Westminster Station, as seen in Order of the Phoenix

London Eye
London Eye

London Eye
London Eye

Houses of Parliament
Houses of Parliament

Had about a fifteen minute wait in the queue to get tickets, then a fifteen minute wait to get on. There were some pretty annoying people (a couple of girls and also a bunch of guys that just wanted to pose for each other non stop through the whole ride). The view was decent enough and the clouds parted enough for me to get some ok photos.

Charing Cross station
Charing Cross station

The Thames
The Thames

St Paul's Cathedral
St Paul's Cathedral

Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace

At the top of the London Eye
At the top of the London Eye

Guys taking photos of themselves
Guys taking photos of themselves

Government buildings including 10 Downing Street and Treasury
Government buildings including 10 Downing Street and Treasury

Houses of Parliament
Houses of Parliament

Tower of Big Ben
Tower of Big Ben

Clock tower and Westminster Abbey
Clock tower and Westminster Abbey

Hopped on a train (when I eventually found the right line at Waterloo station) to London Bridge. And from there went across and up Tower Bridge. You go up in a lift in the north tower, then you walk across to the south tower across the top. There are all these info boards setup to read. Then you can go across the top on the other half as well - this part was only opened a few months ago. Then you take steps most of the way down the south tower (there is a toilet near the top of the south tower you can use - this would be one of the cooler places I've gone to the toilet :) ).  After the bridge tour you can also go see the old steam engine rooms that were in use until 1976. They were pretty cool to look at with lots of useful info.

Waterloo Station
Waterloo Station

Crossing Tower Bridge I had to stop because it was opening!
Crossing Tower Bridge I had to stop because it was opening!

Interior of Tower Bridge
Interior of Tower Bridge

Tower of London
Tower of London

London office buildings
London office buildings

HMS Belfast
HMS Belfast

Looking up the Thames
Looking up the Thames

Inside the top of Tower Bridge
Inside the top of Tower Bridge

Looking down on the road
Looking down on the road

Furnaces
Furnaces

Engine room
Engine room

It was pouring with rain at this point. !? So walked across the bridge and it was already clearing up again.

Tower Bridge, with tide as high as I ever saw it
Tower Bridge, with tide as high as I ever saw it

At this point I didn't know what to do next. Stu would have been interested in the Tower of London. But it was just there. Or I could have gone into Buckingham Palace. Either way I was going to miss out on the Monument because it was getting too late in the day. Even considered doing the Monument and the Belfast. So sat there for about ten minutes trying to decide what to do. In the end I went to Tower of London.

Went in around 3pm and stayed til closing at 5:30. And probably only saw half of it - and a lot of that was rushed :/ The place generally works pretty well in terms of crowd control - everything has an entrance and an exit so you're not battling through people going the other way. However some of the rooms are quite small so it's still a people battle that I find quite stressful. And that was late in the afternoon when the numbers were dwindling - I'd hate to see the place in the morning!! Anyway the main thing I wanted to see were the crown jewels. Which are spec-fricking-tacular :) The Cullinan I diamond in the sceptre is truly a sight to behold. Would loved to have been able to take photos, but alas not. Did a bit more wandering until closing time.

Tower of London
Tower of London

Traitors' Gate from the outside
Traitors' Gate from the outside

Tower of London
Tower of London

Tower of London
Tower of London

Traitors' Gate from the inside
Traitors' Gate from the inside

State room
State room

Tower of London
Tower of London

Tower of London
Tower of London

Buildings in the Tower of London
Buildings in the Tower of London

Buildings in the Tower of London
Buildings in the Tower of London

The Crown Jewels are in there!
The Crown Jewels are in there!

Model of the Tower of London
Model of the Tower of London

Tower of London
Tower of London

The Rack!  Part of the torture exhibition
The Rack! Part of the torture exhibition

Canons
Canons

Tower of London
Tower of London

Obligatory me in front of Tower Bridge shot
Obligatory me in front of Tower Bridge shot

Last stop of the day was The Leaky Cauldron!!! This was the first one in Leadenhall Markets. Extremelly squee :):):)

The Leaky Cauldron!
The Leaky Cauldron!

Harry and Hagrid walk here in the Philosopher's Stone
Harry and Hagrid walk here in the Philosopher's Stone

And then back to the hotel to collapse.

Last night of guaranteed internet for who knows how long.  So I've been trying to do things that require internet.  And not succeeding very well and doing any of it :/

Geotagging - Day 13
Geotagging - Day 13


Photos on the Canon: 443
Photos on the Sony: 40
Videos on the Sony: 1
Photos on the iPhone: 2
Steps walked: 16056
Pounds Spent: 148.57