Kazza the Blank One: September 2010 Archives

Third day of our Chisun breakfasts but alas no bacon-wrapped asparagus this time. Oh well, three days in a row of takoyaki is nothing to complain about :):)

Breakfast bar at Chi-Sun Shin-Osaka
Breakfast bar at Chi-Sun Shin-Osaka 

Checked out and wandered up to the station and got some reservations for the next Hikari at 10:13.

So sat on the train for the next three hours. Didn't get to see Shiny - it was covered  in clouds again :(

Crossing the Fuji River
Crossing the Fuji River 

Shiny is hiding behind those clouds over there
Shiny is hiding behind those clouds over there 

Freeway bridge on the side of Mount Ashitaka
Freeway bridge on the side of Mount Ashitaka 

Office buildings in Shinagawa, Tokyo
Office buildings in Shinagawa, Tokyo 

Arrived in Tokyo and switched to the Yamonote line to Akihabara. Was exceedingly excited to be back. Felt a bit like we'd never left, especially since the station is still under construction heh :)

Yamonote Line train arriving at Tokyo station
Yamonote Line train arriving at Tokyo station 

Akihabara!
Akihabara! 

Colourful buildings in Akihabara
Colourful buildings in Akihabara 

Big Apple building in Akihabara
Big Apple building in Akihabara 

Denny's!  We had a couple of breakfasts here
Denny's! We had a couple of breakfasts here 

Harbour Bridge in Akihabara
"Harbour Bridge" in Akihabara 

Canal in Akihabara
Canal in Akihabara 

Wandered down to our hotel and suddenly realised why we couldn't book the last one we stayed in - it doesn't friggen exist anymore - it's just a vacant block with some cranes and workers in it - freaky as!!!!

Former site of Green Hotel
Site of former Green Hotel 

View from our hotel room window
View from our hotel room window 

So after cooling off for a little bit we went down to put some washing on (Japan hotels rock by often having coin laundries, other countries should take note). These washing machines were simple as, not requiring you to understand Japanese to understand the intracacies of operating them! Win!

Washing machine!  Europe/UK should take note of this!!
Washing machine! Europe/UK should take note of this!! 

When everything was dried we got ready and headed out for a wander around Akihabara. Looked at a few places selling cables that might work with Stu's laptop. And Stu took fliers for various places :)

Dad would love all the old electronics in Akihabara
Dad would love all the old electronics in Akihabara 

Having your photo taken with the Colonel is the done thing ;)
Having your photo taken with the Colonel is the done thing ;) 

Streetscape
Streetscape 

Buildings on Chuo Dori
Buildings on Chuo Dori 

Chuo Line Train passing overhead
Chuo Line Train passing overhead 

Lights in Akihabara
Lights in Akihabara 

Lights in Akihabara
Lights in Akihabara 

We decided to have dinner and drinks at Cafe Moco which Gaelian had recommended. We had a cheesy hotdog thing which was huge and we ate it Lady and the Tramp style :) Was a good little place and we had a really nice long talk about *stuff* :)

Cafe Moco
Cafe Moco 

Interior of Cafe Moco
Interior of Cafe Moco 

Hot dog in Cafe Moco
Hot dog in Cafe Moco 

So kept wandering til we found one of the Maid Cafes that we had a flier for. There were three guys that were also looking to go there so when we were trying to figure out where to go I said let's just follow them :) I think they understood me cause they talked to us which was cool :) So went up the lift but the non-smoking floor was closed so the other guys said they were going to find somewhere different. I think we both were sad we didn't decide to follow them heh. Anyway we went in and it was bright and colourful, with the waitresses dressed up in cute sort of maid/cats ears costumes. There were several groups of people there, and a single guy as well. Stu said a lot of "otaku" guys go to those sorts of places to pay to have attention payed to them. We had a couple of drinks and I got a bit stressed that people on the next table were laughing at us but one of them came to talk to us. I think generally people were very impressed that the sweetie understood and was able to speak some Japanese (I certainly was :) ) They made a bit of a fuss of him because it was his birthday  and he had his photo taken with Meru-nya :) So a very very bizarre night but still quite fun :)

Stu and Meru-Nya
Stu and Meru-Nya 

Then came back here to blog and do computery things and have a couple of different Asahi beers. The aircon totally works in here, so will get to sleep with the doona tonight hurrah!!

Assortment of local beers :)
Assortment of local beers :) 

Geotagging - Day 4
Geotagging - Day 4 

Photos on the Canon: 52
Videos on the Canon: 3
Photos on the Sony: 71
Videos on the Sony: 9
Photos on the iPhone: 5
Steps walked: 6936
Yen Spent: 11159
Had a bit if a sleep-in this morning. Or at least we attempted to, not very successfully :/ Had trouble with temperature - too hot with the doona, too cold without it.

Wandered out the door a bit after 10am, and went up to Denny's for breakfast. As is a 27-year tradition, I had bacon, sausage and eggs :)


I took a photo of this stand of electronics last time we came to Japan.
At least one thing on there is still the same! 

Bacon, sausage and eggs at Denny's!
Bacon, sausage and eggs at Denny's! 

So then we went into Akihabara electronics town to do an audio walking tour of the place. It would have been really good except for the heat (have I mentioned the epic heatwave they're having?). Got to see lots of things that are hidden away in alcoves and up lifts that we never would have thought to look at otherwise. Highlights were the shops that had model kits of ships and planes, Super Potato (if we'd found that place last time with Nat we never would have gotten her out of there!!) and some of the retro toy collections.

Octopus Game & Watch picture
Octopus Game & Watch picture 

Game & Watches!!!
Game & Watches!!! 

Soups in a can
Soups in a can 

Jawa Sandcrawler RC model
Jawa Sandcrawler RC model 

We were hot and thirsty at the end of the tour so went back to Cafe Moco for a light lunch and drinks.

These electronics mosaics were all over the place and had all different pictures
These electronics mosaics were all over the place and had all different pictures 

Then Stu went back to the hotel while I went across to Yodobashi Camera to have a wander and ask about my camera. But they didn't understand my problem so abandoned hope and also headed back to the hotel.

Yodobashi Camera
Yodobashi Camera 

Sega Gigo
Sega Gigo 

Spent a decent chunk of time organising my photos on Stu's laptop (we got the cable we needed to make it work). Twitpicced some, still have a few more to do.

Around 6pm we headed out again, this time to Ikebukuro. Had a little bit if a wander around the place and had sushi train for dinner.  It was getting a bit late, so there wasn't a lot of choice unfortunately.

Canal in Akihabara
Canal in Akihabara 

Akihabara buildings by night
Akihabara buildings by night 

Big Apple building by night
Big Apple building by night 

Akihabara buildings by night
Akihabara buildings by night 

Akihabara buildings by night
Akihabara buildings by night 

Cosplay store
Cosplay store 

Akihabara buildings by night
Akihabara buildings by night 

Ikebukuro
Ikebukuro 

Ikebukuro
Ikebukuro 

Ikebukuro
Ikebukuro 

Ikebukuro
Ikebukuro 

Ikebukuro
Ikebukuro 

Then hopped on another train to Shinjuku. We were hoping to find the eye. Took a couple of headings in the wrong directions and a pit stop for coffee/cake, but we finally found it.

The Eye! at Shinjuku station
The Eye! at Shinjuku station 

The Eye!
The Eye! 

There's a lot of train lines at Shinjuku station
There's a lot of train lines at Shinjuku station 

Finally we went to Sibuya to have a look at the scramble intersection and the lights and Hachiko.


Dogs at Shibuya
Dogs at Shibuya 

Buildings in Shibuya
Buildings in Shibuya 

Hachiko at Shibuya station
Hachiko at Shibuya station 

Scramble crossing in Shibuya
Scramble crossing in Shibuya 

Starbucks
Starbucks 

Bubbles in a roving advert truck
Bubbles in a roving advert truck 

Scramble crossing in Shibuya
Scramble crossing in Shibuya 

Scramble crossing in Shibuya
Scramble crossing in Shibuya 

Geotagging - Day 5
Geotagging - Day 5

Photos on the Canon: 185
Photos on the Sony: 80
Videos on the Sony: 3
Photos on the Olympus: 2
Photos on the Video: 6
Videos on the Video: 35
Steps walked: 13626
Yen Spent: 8891
Had another slow start this morning. Didn't get out the door til 10:30 am.

The first stop was to climb a building in Akihabara. Just before the trip I'd seen a video that showed shots from a building in this location, so I went looking to find where it was. Turns out it was an apartment building with an external staircase. There was nothing saying no entry, so up I climbed!

Looking towards Ochanomizu from a building in Akihabara
Looking towards Ochanomizu from a building in Akihabara 

Looking towards Ochanomizu from a building in Akihabara
Looking towards Suidobashi from a building in Akihabara 

The building I climbed up was an apartment building
The building I climbed up was an apartment building 

Train on the Harbour Bridge
Train on the "Harbour Bridge" 

Chuo Line Train
Chuo Line Train 

Went to Denny's again cause it's local and convenient.

Stu eating natto in Denny's
Stu eating natto in Denny's 

After breakfast we went to Ueno to go to the Tokyo National Museum. There were lots if cool bits and pieces there, and with lots of stops we didn't end up leaving til about 4:30pm.

National Museum of Nature and Science
National Museum of Nature and Science (didn't go in here today) 

Fountain in Ueno Park
Fountain in Ueno Park 

Vending machines to buy tickets for the Tokyo National Museum
Vending machines to buy tickets for the Tokyo National Museum 

Honkan Building, Tokyo National Museum
Honkan Building, Tokyo National Museum 

Hyokeikan Building, Tokyo National Museum
Hyokeikan Building, Tokyo National Museum 

Flowers in the grounds of the museum
Flowers in the grounds of the museum 

Keiseikan Building, Tokyo National Museum - we went in here first
Keiseikan Building, Tokyo National Museum - we went in here first 

Mummy of Pasherienptah, excavated at Thebes, Egypt
Mummy of Pasherienptah, excavated at Thebes, Egypt 

Agate and glass Kodama Beads
I really liked the colours of these agate and glass Kodama Beads 

I think the backs of these were mirrors
I think the backs of these were mirrors 

Really cool looking pottery
Really cool looking pottery 

Main staircase in the Honkan Building, which we went into next
Main staircase in the Honkan Building, which we went into next 

Funky glass ball light
Funky glass ball light 

Tierd Box With Cover
Tierd Box With Cover, with camellia, pine, bamboo and plum design in
overglaze enamel with openwork. Kyoto ware, Edo period, 18th century 

More really nice pottery
More really nice pottery 

Up close
Up close 

Writing boxes in maki-e lacquer - these things were amazing!
Writing boxes in maki-e lacquer - these things were amazing! 

Writing boxes in maki-e lacquer - these things were amazing!
Writing boxes in maki-e lacquer.  The resized photos really don't do them justice!

Bamboo comb
Bamboo comb 

Cormorant painting
Cormorant painting 

Arashiyama! We were there a couple of days ago! :)
Arashiyama! We were there a couple of days ago! :) 

Gallery of Horyuji Treasures (we didn't go in here)
Gallery of Horyuji Treasures (we didn't go in here) 

Had a bit of a walk through Ueno Park and it was a little freaky to see all the cherry trees in full leaf after last seeing them a year and a half ago in the beginnings of their blossomming.  And the park on a Thursday is so desolate compared to a Sunday - and no cool food stalls setup anywhere :(

Fountain in Ueno Park
Fountain in Ueno Park 

Ueno Park
Ueno Park 

Tokyo Sky Tree under construction
Tokyo Sky Tree under construction 

So headed back to Ueno station to make our seat reservations on the NEX tomorrow then back to Akihabara.

Had a quiet night in - got our lunch/dinner from the Family Mart downstairs and apart from some washing did a whole lot of nothing :)

Assortment of beers
Assortment of beers 

Geotagging - Day 6
Geotagging - Day 6 

Photos on the Canon: 211
Photos on the Sony: 28
Videos on the Sony: 2
Videos on the Video: 10
Steps walked: 7276
Yen Spent: 8980
So my day began twenty three hours ago when I woke up at 4am Tokyo time to go to the toilet and couldn't get back to sleep :( Got up a bit after five to get ready and we were out the door by 6am. Took a Yamonote Line train to Tokyo and caught the 6:30 NEX (after not being sure where it actually left from and getting a bit stressed that we'd miss it before we could find it).

Tintin says have a nice day!
Tintin says have a nice day!

NEX arriving at Tokyo station
NEX arriving at Tokyo station

Had to go to T1 this time at Narita Airport which we'd never been to. Were very impressed with the electronic info boards on the trains that told you which terminal to go to depending which airline you're taking *and* they even have flight details - very cool!

Airport info boards on the NEX
Airport info boards on the NEX

So getting through security/immigration was no problem, then a long walk out to the end of the terminal to see our A380!!! (and about an hour to kill in the terminal but no Yahoo cafe :( There was a Google free wifi desk, but I couldn't get it to work :( ). Was filled with lots of squee going on an A380 - right up until we got to our seats and found it's really really hard to look out the windows :( The walls are really thick (probably 25-30cm) and the windows are positioned a lot higher. So it's practically impossible to get a good view out the windows :( I ended up using random camera exclusively cause the canon is just to unwieldy for that sort of thing :/

My first A380!
My first A380!

Rows 50-59 go left, rows 60-94 go right
Rows 50-59 go left, rows 60-94 go right

Engines of the A380 from the skybridge
Engines of the A380 from the skybridge

Boarding the A380 - economy class section
Boarding the A380 - economy class section

Leg room on the A380.  Pretty standard (ie, non-existent for Stu)
Leg room on the A380. Pretty standard (ie, non-existent for Stu)

The fuselage is very thick at this point, so the windows are a *long* way away :(
The fuselage is very thick at this point, so the windows are a *long* way away :(

So settled in for the flight. I started to watch Robin Hood but the screens just weren't bright enough to see what was going on in the nighttime scenes in the movie. So abandoned that and put on "You've Got Mail" which I'd actually been thinking about only recently.

We flew out to sea then turned 180 degrees when leaving Narita
We flew out to sea then turned 180 degrees when leaving Narita

GPS track of the flight leaving Narita
GPS track of the flight leaving Narita

Engine of the A380
Engine of the A380

Tail cam!
Tail cam!

Ground cam
Ground cam

Snackages on the plane
Snackages on the plane

About 11:25 we hit the coast of Russia and they brought out lunch. Shortly after that we went through some pretty impressive turbulence - the worst I've ever been in. The engines and wings were flexing considerably, but I couldn't document as I needed both hands to hold onto my lunch to stop it sliding or bouncing off the table! Gah!

Landfall in Russia
Landfall in Russia

Real knives!
Real knives!

Google Earth cam?
Google Earth cam?

At 1pm they told us to lower the blinds, which is somewhat annoying for a daytime flight as I want to take photos. But it did make watching movies easier.

I watched Fantastic Mr Fox next which was pretty lame and only very loosely based on the book. Recognised Dumbledore as one of the baddies heh.

Next was The Princess and the Frog which wasn't too bad.

5pm Tokyo time now and I'm getting *hungry*

Next watched Alice in Wonderland which was pretty good.

*Finally* at 19:40 got dinner.

Dinner on the plane
Dinner on the plane

Rhine River near Frankfurt
Rhine River near Frankfurt

Runway 18, Frankfurt Airport (we took off on this later)
Runway 18, Frankfurt Airport (we took off on this later)

Pulling up at the terminal in Frankfurt
Pulling up at the terminal in Frankfurt

Arrival at 21:25 Tokyo time, seven hours before that Frankfurt time.

Me and the plane
Me and the plane

Had a nice long meandering stroll to our next plane. Then had a slight panic because they'd moved the gate of our plane and there was a different one there!  Fortunately they'd only moved our plane three gates away.  And the climate was so much better!  So nice to be out of the oppressive heat of Japan.

Smoking zone - sealed room for smokers
Smoking zone - sealed room for smokers

German toilets and their viewing platforms never fail to amuse me
German toilets and their viewing platforms never fail to amuse me

Our A320 from Frankfurt to Heathrow
Our A320 from Frankfurt to Heathrow

Flight was otherwise uneventful. Missed out on seeing London because we came in from the west, however I did go squeee a lot when I saw Legoland :):):)

Our plane, reflected
Our plane, reflected

Rhine River near Oppenheim
Rhine River near Oppenheim

Cool clouds, over Belgium or possibly the Netherlands
Cool clouds, over Belgium or possibly the Netherlands

Legoland!!
Legoland!!

The Long Walk of trees leading south of Windsor Castle.  We drove down that road in the foreground to get to Runnymede.
The "Long Walk" of trees leading south of Windsor Castle.
We drove down that road in the foreground to get to Runnymede.


Looking out over Old Windsor (Runnymede is in the distance)
Looking out over Old Windsor (Runnymede is in the distance)

Traffic on the M25 west of the airport
Traffic on the M25 west of the airport

Had another very long walk through Heathrow. Immigration took all of a minute, and no customs people even there in the nothing to declare section. I still can't get used to the fact that the rest of the world is not as paranoid as Australia.

Then used our Oyster cards to hop on a Piccadilly Line to Earl's Court where our hotel is. On the train I was a little freaked out at how closely the verges looked like Sydney verges.  Everything from the way they string wires along beside the tracks, the types of trees and foliage, and even the brown paint used to cover the graffiti.  It made me feel like I was home!  Which was kind of good because I'd been feeling a little apprehensive about coming to England - just because I've never been here before.  I was quite relaxed about Japan and Frankfurt, but London is uncharted territory.. 

So the train was pretty easy, altho finding our way out of Earl's Court station was more challenging heh.  Came out of the station and saw my first red double decker bus and black taxi :)   

Checked into our hotel (decent enough place, although very small, but with free internet), dumped our bags, then went out to get some food so we wouldn't end up starving at 3am. Tragically the food that best met this requirement was Burger King. In our defense I'll say that we didn't have MacDonalds once in Japan! Heh

Dinner at Burger King
Dinner at Burger King

My Twitter apps are both broken hence the lack of tweets. I suspect I'll be waking up extremelly early so should have some to look at it then.

Meanwhile, my eyes are swimming so need to get ready for bed.


Geotagging - Day 7
Geotagging - Day 7


Geotagging - Day 7
Geotagging - Day 7


Geotagging - Day 7
Geotagging - Day 7


Geotagging - Day 7
Geotagging - Day 7

Photos on the Canon: 31
Photos on the Sony: 329
Videos on the Sony: 4
Photos on the iPhone: 3
Steps walked: 7893
Yen Spent: 1090
Pounds Spent: 7.39
We went to bed quite early last night (like 8pm or something). Slept quite well until 2:39am when the hotel fire alarm went off #grunt. Had almost finished getting dressed when it stopped. Then it started again. And stopped/started/stopped again :/ Went out and some people had gone down to find out what was up. Yup false alarm. Was worried that I wouldn't get back to sleep but think I must have eventually. Woke up a little while later maybe around 4am but couldn't get back to sleep so got up early and did computery stuff.

Around 8 we went down for breakfast. It was actually pretty good with a decent selection of cooked and other food.

The Tardis!! At Earl's Court
The Tardis!! At Earl's Court

Then we headed out for the day. I thought that it might be good to do a bit of a walk around the place to get a feel for the place, and we could plan the rest of the days at night. So started by getting off at St James Park (Victoria station was closed due to a security alert). This was around 9:30-10am.

So the day turned out to be a nine-hour long walk with pitstops :) We didn't go into anything, this was just a walk by with photos.

Started with New Scotland Yard, then Westminster Abbey (huge), Houses of Parliament (I was squeeing lots at being in London at this point), across the Lambeth Bridge, then meandered slowly north then east along the southbank walkway seeing lots of bridges and buildings and stuff. Ended up crossing Tower Bridge around 4pm. Was a super awesome day of seeing stuff and finally getting to see stuff I'd only ever seen in pictures/tv/movies.

Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey

Clock face of Big Ben
Clock face of Big Ben

Westminster Abbey
Back of Westminster Abbey

I think this lion on the Houses of Parliament is poking its tongue out at me!
I think this lion on the Houses of Parliament is poking its tongue out at me!

Houses of Parliament
Houses of Parliament

Buxton Memorial
Buxton Memorial

Lambeth Bridge
Lambeth Bridge

Looking down the Thames
Looking down the Thames

Bus on the Lambeth Bridge
Bus on the Lambeth Bridge. This is where the Knight Bus passed between two regular buses in Prisoner of Azkaban

Houses of Parliament and Big Ben
Houses of Parliament and Big Ben

Houses of Parliament
Houses of Parliament
Photo by Stu


South Bank of the Thames
South Bank of the Thames

Houses of Parliament
Houses of Parliament

Me in London!!
Me in London!!

The Southbank Lion, and the London Eye
The Southbank Lion, and the London Eye

Westminster Bridge and Houses of Parliament
Westminster Bridge and Houses of Parliament

London Eye
London Eye

Queues for the London Eye
Queues for the London Eye

Hungerford Bridge
Hungerford Bridge

Blue Morris Dancers
Blue Morris Dancers

Underground Skate Park
Underground Skate Park

St Paul's
St Paul's

London CBD across the Thames
London CBD across the Thames

St Paul's
St Paul's

Millennium Bridge and St Paul's
Millennium Bridge and St Paul's

Tate Modern
Tate Modern

Shakespeare's Globe (it's only a model! shh!)
Shakespeare's Globe (it's only a model! shh!)

Southwark Bridge
Southwark Bridge

Borough Markets
Borough Markets

Location of the Leaky Cauldron in Prisoner of Azkaban.  It's now a florist.
Location of the Leaky Cauldron in Prisoner of Azkaban. It's now a florist.

Winchester Palace - the remains of
Winchester Palace - the remains of

The Golden Hinde
The Golden Hinde

The Golden Hinde
The Golden Hinde

London Bridge
London Bridge (boring!)

HMS Belfast
HMS Belfast

City Hall
City Hall

Tower of London
Tower of London

Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge

Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge

Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge

HMS Belfast
HMS Belfast

Tower of London
Tower of London

Decided to get some food at this point, so stopped at a fancy(ish) Italian place at St Katherine Dock.

Didn't think we had much energy left so decided to see Fenchurch St station and then Liverpool St station. Found those so decided to head for home. But home had the option of going via Kings Cross so that's what we did. First I found Euston Road but went the wrong direction to find Pentonville Road so had to go back, after photographing the outside of St Pancras station (trees have grown a bit since Chamber of Secrets was filmed). Then of course was the mission to find platform 9 3/4. They're making a real mess of the station at the moment, and sadly the little bridge where Hagrid gives Harry his ticket has been pulled down (at the end of 2008). I didn't even try to find the waiting room from Order of the Phoenix.  But back to 9 3/4. Well it seems they filmed this between platforms 6 and 7. Or maybe it was between 2 and 3. Not quite sure now, will need to go back to check. Anyways. The trolley they have set into the wall is actually just past the bike racks 2/3 the way along platform 8.

Old London red bus
Old London red bus

St Pancras Station - recognise this from Chamber of Secrets?
St Pancras Station - recognise this from Chamber of Secrets?

King's Cross station
King's Cross station

All that's left of the bridge across the platforms where Hagrid gave Harry his ticket for the Hogwarts Express
All that's left of the bridge across the platforms where Hagrid gave Harry his ticket for the Hogwarts Express

Platform 9 3/4!!  This has been moved as of 2012 apparently
Platform 9 3/4!! This has been moved as of 2012 apparently

The brickwork between platforms 4 and 5 where they filmed the entrance to Platform 9 3/4
The brickwork between platforms 4 and 5 where they filmed the entrance to Platform 9 3/4

Finally got out of there, and went via the supermarket to get a snack so we won't need dinner.


Geotagging - Day 8
Geotagging - Day 8

Photos on the Canon: 578
Photos on the Sony: 30
Photos on the Olympus: 65
Photos on the Blackberry: 11
Photos on the Video: 11
Videos on the Video: 22
Steps walked: 21557
Pounds Spent: 55.65
Had a pretty good sleep last night. Woke up at 7am :)

Breakfast much the same as yesterday. Got out the door closer to 9:30, slightly later than I wanted.

Headed to Victoria (the station was open today). Had a quick look at Westminster Cathedral (not the abbey).

Victoria Station
Victoria Station

Westminster Cathedral
Westminster Cathedral

Then headed to Buckingham Palace. There was the mayor's bike ride so The Mall and the roads in front of the palace were closed to traffic. This meant we were able to wander around the whole area that would normally be teeming with cars. Was very cool.

Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace

Beefeater
Beefeater

Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace

Palace gates
Palace gates

Victoria Memorial
Victoria Memorial

Looking down The Mall
Looking down The Mall

Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace

Canada Gate
Canada Gate

Victoria Memorial through the Australia Gate
Victoria Memorial through the Australia Gate

Next we had a bit of a wander through St James's Park and saw lots of birds and SQUIRRELs.

Flowers in St James's Park
Flowers in St James's Park

St James's Park
St James's Park

St James's Park
St James's Park

Geese in St James's Park
Geese in St James's Park

Heron in St James's Park
Heron in St James's Park

Seagull in St James's Park
Seagull in St James's Park

Swan in St James's Park
Swan in St James's Park

Seagull in St James's Park
Seagull in St James's Park

St James's Park
St James's Park

Squirrel!
Squirrel!

Got to the end of The Mall to Trafalgar Square.

Looking up The Mall
Looking up The Mall

Duke of York Column
Duke of York Column

Admiralty Arch
Admiralty Arch

Looking up The Mall
Looking up The Mall

Mounted police coming through Admiralty Arch
Mounted police coming through Admiralty Arch

Nelson's Column
Nelson's Column

Lord Nelson
Lord Nelson

Then down Whitehall and across to the Ministry of Magic's visitor's entrance (they've repaved the bit of footpath they used in the movie and the rest of the street is a bit of a mess too). Up past Northumberland to Strand then around the back of the National Gallery to Leicester Square.

Visitor's entrance to the Ministry of Magic
Visitor's entrance to the Ministry of Magic

Me standing where the visitors entrance was located
Me standing where the visitors entrance was located

Trafalgar Square
Trafalgar Square

Trafalgar Square
Trafalgar Square

Odeon Theatre, Leicester Square
Odeon Theatre, Leicester Square

At this point we decided to stop for a pint and a rest.

Decided to go to Notting Hill and the Portobello Markets, thinking it might be better on a weekend.

It took five trains to get there due to line closures :/

The poms are mental.  You have to keep left basically everywhere *except* on elevators.
The poms are mental. You have to keep left basically everywhere *except* on escalators 

Same station, but keep left on the paths.  Make up your mind England!
Same station, but keep left on the paths. Make up your mind England!

When we got to Notting Hill I saw an O2 store so went in to see if I could get a sim (and see if my phone was unlocked). Well surprise surprise it's not unlocked. Whether it's Optus or iTunes I don't know but it made me pretty depressed :/

Wandered up Portobello Road and had some lunch (nice lunch but $60aud :/ ). Then basically just came back to the hotel to try and do some planning for the rest of the week.

Coronet Cinema, Notting Hill
Coronet Cinema, Notting Hill

I thought this might have been some dealer in antique sewing machines, but no actually it's a clothing store!
I thought this might have been some dealer in antique sewing machines, but no actually it's a clothing store!

Earl's Court Station
Earl's Court Station

Geotagging - Day 9
Geotagging - Day 9


Photos on the Canon: 329
Photos on the Sony: 60
Videos on the Sony: 1
Photos on the Blackberry: 1
Videos on the Video: 23
Steps walked: 12594
Pounds Spent: 66.39
Woke up very early this morning. Like maybe 4am or something. That'll learn us to go to bed at 9pm. Lay there for ages and finally got up at 6am to use the puta.

Breakfast the same as last two days. Out the door a bit after 9am.

Checked out a local laundromat on the way to the station which should work for us later in the week.

Bicycles for hire in Earl's Court
Bicycles for hire in Earl's Court. They had these all over the place. We might have
used them except the process seemed overly complicated so thought it was all too hard.


So headed into town.

Our first stop (after passing Piccadilly, Mayfair and Vine St) was the Apple Store on Regent St.  Unfortunately they don't do iPhone unlocking.  So I am royally screwed :( $20000/gb because Optus and/or Apple couldn't get their act together.  Bastards.  Epic hate. So switched off data and will only use data in emergencies. 

Toilet at Mayfair
Toilet at Mayfair. Yes even the toilets are fancy in this part of town!

Ritz Hotel
Ritz Hotel

Burlington House
Burlington House

Old building on Great Marlborough St
Old building on Great Marlborough St

Apple Store on Regent St
Apple Store on Regent St

Continued up Regent St and along Oxford St, past Park Lane to Hyde Park.  Had a bit of a meander through the park and took lots of photos of gooses and stuff.  

Clock on Selfridges
Clock on Selfridges

Marble Arch, Hyde Park
Marble Arch, Hyde Park

Speaker's Corner, Hyde Park
Speaker's Corner, Hyde Park

Speaker's Corner, Hyde Park
Speaker's Corner, Hyde Park

Hyde Park deckchairs
Hyde Park deckchairs

Hyde Park deckchairs can be hired - £1.50 an hour!
Hyde Park deckchairs can be hired - £1.50 an hour!

Reformer's Tree mosaic
Reformer's Tree mosaic

Geese on the march!
Geese on the march!

Heron
Heron

Flowers
Flowers

Monkey Puzzle Tree
Monkey Puzzle Tree

Flowers
Flowers

Gum tree outside a toilet block
Gum tree outside a toilet block

Queen Elizabeth Gate, aka The Queen Mother Gates
Queen Elizabeth Gate, aka The Queen Mother Gates

Grand Entrance gates
Grand Entrance gates

Wellington Arch
Wellington Arch

Then hopped on a train to Temple.

Got out and wandered up to the Temple Church, but unfortunately it was closed for maintenance.  Was very cool walking amongst the buildings around the church - little passageways between and through the buildings - very cool!

Entrance to Pump Court
Entrance to Pump Court

Cloisters
Cloisters

Temple Church
Temple Church

Temple Church
Temple Church

Column dedicated to the Knights Templar
Column dedicated to the Knights Templar

Column dedicated to the Knights Templar
Column dedicated to the Knights Templar

Walking up Inner Temple Lane
Walking up Inner Temple Lane

Came out onto Fleet St and saw the Royal Courts of Justice, which I'd never seen before.  It was a pretty spectacular building too.  Walked down and back past that.

My attempt to get a red double decker bus, a black taxi, a pillar box and a phone box all in one shot.  Sorta worked.
My attempt to get a red double decker bus, a black taxi, a pillar box and a
phone box all in one shot. Sorta worked.


Royal Courts of Justice
Royal Courts of Justice

Royal Courts of Justice
Royal Courts of Justice

Continued up Fleet St.  Stopped for lunch and a pint at Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, which is a funky little pub rebuilt 1667 (after the great fire of London).  It had a whole series of little rooms and bars, which would make it a bit of a fun place to explore.  We found a room with a free table and I had bangers and mash (which had to be done being in England and all :) ).  Also had a couple of Samuel Smith beers - I had an alpine lager and Stu had a brewers bitter.

Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese
Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese

Continued on.  Had a quick detour up past the Old Bailey (which has been restored nicely after being blown up in V for Vendetta ;) ) and continued on to St Paul's Cathedral.  It was raining at this point which made photography somewhat tricky.  Went into the entrance of the cathedral.  It's £12.50 to go in but of course there is no photography permitted. Stu has been in this one before, so if we're going to shell out that much money with no photos to show for it, we might do Westminster Abbey.

The Old Bailey
The Old Bailey

The Old Bailey
The Old Bailey

St Paul's Cathedral
St Paul's Cathedral

Queen Anne statue outside St Paul's
Queen Anne statue outside St Paul's

St Paul's Cathedral
St Paul's Cathedral

Then we walked across the Millennium Bridge to the Tate Modern, to see an exhibition - "Exposed - Voyeurism, Surveillance and the Camera".  Some of it was pretty interesting.  Some of it was a bit meh.  My favourite thing was a serious of webcam grabs of Linz in Austria.  A dude had gone down the plaza in front of the webcam at the same time each day and taken a grab of the webcam at the time.  There were a series of short comments as well.  For some reason I really liked this display :)  By the time we'd finished looking at this it was nearly 6pm, so we walked back across the bridge, up to Mansion House station and back to the hotel (via Burger King for a snack dinner).

Heading down to the Millennium Bridge
Heading down to the Millennium Bridge

Seagull on the Millennium Bridge
Seagull on the Millennium Bridge

Looking down the Thames
Looking down the Thames

Crossing the Millennium Bridge
Crossing the Millennium Bridge

Jurgita & Peter Forever.  Says so on the label.
Jurgita & Peter Forever. Says so on the label.

St Paul's from the Millennium Bridge
St Paul's from the Millennium Bridge

South end of the Millennium Bridge
South end of the Millennium Bridge

St Paul's and the Millennium Bridge
St Paul's and the Millennium Bridge

Interior of Tate Modern
Interior of Tate Modern

Millennium Bridge
Millennium Bridge

Looking up the brick tower of Tate Modern
Looking up the brick tower of Tate Modern

Geotagging - Day 10
Geotagging - Day 10


Photos on the Canon: 297
Photos on the Sony: 163
Videos on the Sony: 1
Photos on the iPhone: 1
Photos on the Blackberry: 3
Photos on the Video: 13
Videos on the Video: 22
Steps walked: 16133
Pounds Spent: 58.31

Sleep - same
Breakfast - same

So there was a tube strike planned for today.  While there were some services still running, we decided we'd have a day of "local" to the hotel things. ie, things we could walk to from the hotel.  

So we headed in the general direction of what we thought was the Natural History Museum, but the road curled around to the north instead of staying going north east, so we decided to have a look at Kensington Palace first up. Just the exterior, didn't go in.  Went down to the pond where The Birds were gathered.  Got some way cool photos of some starlings on a dude's hand.

Doggy poop bins in Kensington Gardens
Doggy poop bins in Kensington Gardens

Kensington Palace
Kensington Palace

Kensington Palace gardens
Kensington Palace gardens

Geese in Kensington Gardens
Geese in Kensington Gardens

Swan in Kensington Gardens
Swan in Kensington Gardens

Starlings in Kensington Gardens
Starlings in Kensington Gardens

Starlings in Kensington Gardens
Starlings in Kensington Gardens

Starlings in Kensington Gardens
Starlings in Kensington Gardens

Swan in Kensington Gardens
Swan in Kensington Gardens

Feeding the geese
Feeding the geese

Kensington Palace gates
Kensington Palace gates

Then we meandered through Kensington Gardens, and had a look at the Albert Memorial, and the Royal Albert Hall.

South Flower Walk
South Flower Walk

Albert Memorial
Albert Memorial

Royal Albert Hall
Royal Albert Hall

Albert Memorial
Albert Memorial

And then down to the Natural History Museum.  It wasn't as good as I thought it would be.  Maybe it was trying to cover too much.  I was expecting it to be choc-full of stuff, but it was a little bit spartan, representing whole swathes of things (eg all of mammals or all of fish) with just a few cabinets.  Actually one of the best displays in terms of sheer volume was the mineral displays.  It took up a whole big room!  Stu also liked the contents of the cocoon (some detail on the scientific and museum process), but by that time we were exhausted on our feet and didn't really have the energy to look at it on more depth.

Natural History Museum
Natural History Museum

Amazing stone carvings were all over the building - inside and out!
Amazing stone carvings were all over the building - inside and out!

Central Hall
Central Hall

Moose I think
Moose I think

Whales
Whales

Whale
Whale

Sensory and Motor models of the body
Sensory and Motor models of the body

Dinosaur
Dinosaur

Dinosaur
Dinosaur

Charles Darwin
Charles Darwin

Central Hall
Central Hall

Giant Sequoia cross section
Giant Sequoia cross section

Giant Sequoia cross section
Giant Sequoia cross section

Mineral hall
Mineral hall

Iridescent Stalactites
Iridescent Stalactites

Mocha Stone
Mocha Stone

Fluorescent diamonds
Fluorescent diamonds

Agate
Agate

This looks like a cityscape or something
This looks like a cityscape or something

Side of the cacoon
Side of the cacoon

Genes V!  I had this book in uni!
Genes V! I had this book in uni!

Petrified wood
Petrified wood

So at this point Stu headed back to the hotel and I decided to go to Harrods (just to say I'd been).  Oh. Fricken. Dear.  First of all you need a map to find your way around (and even then you still got turned around and upside down).  I was constantly trying to figure out how to get out of where I was.  The whole bottom floor of course is the super exclusive perfumes and handbags.  With an Egyptian theme (!).  Went up to the fourth floor to look at toys.  Had to walk through the childrenswear section.  £300 for an outfit?? hrmm.  They did have RC which I'd not seen in stores (only online) for £79.  Lego was comparable to our pricing (perhaps more with the dollar the way it is).  Went downstairs to have a look at electronics stuff, but if they had memory sticks I didn't find them.  TinTin books were £7. The coolest part of the whole store (that I saw) was the fossil and mineral gallery.  Having literally just seen some of this stuff at the museum, to see it for sale was super cool.  Horrendously expensive, but super cool :)  I didn't find the statue my parents found last year, or the Dodi and Diana one (I didn't even know it existed til just then), but did find a gold Egyptian thing.  At this point I figured any exit was a good exit, so bolted for the door before I got lost again!

Harrods
Harrods

Rhodocrosite
Rhodocrosite

Petrified wood
Petrified wood

Shells
Shells

Gold Egyptian thing
Gold Egyptian thing

Harrods
Harrods

Twenty five minute walk back to the hotel, then went out again to get dinner (KFC - I know, lame) and back to *sit*.  Another ten kilometre walking day today, not including walking around the museum or Harrods or the walk to KFC and back.  Feet. Very. Sore.

Geotagging - Day 11
Geotagging - Day 11


Photos on the Canon: 320
Videos on the Canon: 5
Photos on the Sony: 88
Photos on the Blackberry: 2
Videos on the Video: 13
Steps walked: 18836
Pounds Spent: 28.53
So our morning began at 12:45am when the roadworkers outside decided to start jack-hammering.

Seriously.. WTF???

That would never happen in Australia - there are laws about such things!!

Anyways.  It stopped after about ten minutes, but it took me ages to get back to sleep cause I was anxious about it starting up again.

Breakfast much the same.

First stop of the day was the British Museum.  I knew in advance that you could easily spend a week in that place.  And I wasn't wrong.  We had a couple of "must sees" - the Rosetta Stone, the Mildenhall Treasure, the Lewis Chessmen, the Elgin Parthenon marble, the Sutton Hoos burial stuff.  And in two hours we easily saw those. But there was the hints at so much more.  You could easily spend a hour in each small room.  If we lived in London it'd be cool to pop in for an hour or two on weekends and just explore the place.  We barely scratched the surface of what was there.  

The British Museum
The British Museum

The grand foyer of the British Museum
The grand of the British Museum

Statue of Amenophis III
Statue of Amenophis III

My first view of Egyptian heiroglyphics
My first view of Egyptian heiroglyphics

Red granite head from a colossal figure of a king, about 1390 BC
Red granite head from a colossal figure of a king, about 1390 BC

Quartzite figure of baboon, about 1400 BC
Quartzite figure of baboon, about 1400 BC

Winged human-headed lion, Assyrian
Winged human-headed lion, Assyrian

I loved the amazingly detailed stonework of the Assyrian pieces
I loved the amazingly detailed stonework of the Assyrian pieces

The Rosetta Stone
The Rosetta Stone

Ramesses II
Ramesses II

Gayer-Anderson Cat
Gayer-Anderson Cat

Elgin's Marbles
Elgin's Marbles

Statues from the Parthenon
Statues from the Parthenon

Hoa Hakananai'a Easter Island Statue
Hoa Hakananai'a Easter Island Statue

The Lewis Chessmen, as seen in Harry Potter :)
The Lewis Chessmen, as seen in Harry Potter :)

Spoons of the Mildenhall Treasure.  Roald Dahl put me onto the Mildenhall Treasure, I've been wanting to see it ever since!
Spoons of the Mildenhall Treasure. Roald Dahl put me onto the Mildenhall Treasure,
I've been wanting to see it ever since!


Flanged bowls
Flanged bowls

The Mildenhall Great Dish
The Mildenhall Great Dish

Fluted bowl
Fluted bowl

The Sutton Hoo helmet
The Sutton Hoo helmet

Roman Glass
Roman Glass

Ancient weapons
Ancient weapons

Pottery
Pottery

The Lindow Man
The Lindow Man

Mold Gold Cape
Mold Gold Cape

Early image of Christ from Hinton St Mary
Early image of Christ from Hinton St Mary

Hadrian
Hadrian

Enlightenment room
"Enlightenment" room

So at 12:15 we headed back to the station to meet Shazzy for lunch.  Went to Pu's Brasserie - Thai - and had some very nice curries.  Lunch was over all too quickly.

Then we headed into town to have a wander past Downing St and onto the Cabinet War Rooms and Churchill Museum.  Fascinating stuff!  A couple of odd highlights for me - that Churchill was a pretty talented artist!  And that Neville Chamberlain looks exactly like Barty Crouch in Goblet of Fire.  Freaky!  (actually a website I read suggested Barty Crouch looks like Hitler - which is also true! Gah! :) )

If this is a woman she totally took a lot of steroids!  

On Horse Guards Avenue
If this is a woman she totally took a lot of steroids! On Horse Guards Avenue

A horse guard
A horse guard

Horse guards entrance
Horse guards entrance

Entrance to Downing Street
Entrance to Downing Street

Arches on King Charles Street
Arches on King Charles Street

Bomb suspended near the entrance - an original german 250kg bomb.
Bomb suspended near the entrance - an original german 250kg bomb.

Meeting room
Meeting room

Art of Winston Churchill
Art of Winston Churchill

Door to 10 Downing Street
Door to 10 Downing Street

Prime Minister's dining room
Prime Minister's dining room

Chiefs of Staff conference room
Chiefs of Staff conference room

Graffitti of Hitler
Graffitti of Hitler

Communications room
Communications room

Winston Churchill's bedroom
Winston Churchill's bedroom

Winston Churchill's bedroom
Winston Churchill's bedroom

When we were going through Westminster station on the way back I was thinking hey this could be the station from Order of the Phoenix - and sure enough it was!  But I don't have any photos dammit!!  Will have to go back ;)

Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey

Clock tower closeup
Clock tower closeup

Then we headed back to the hotel to pick up our washing to take to the laundromat.  It was a pretty sad place - half the equipment was "out of order" - including the detergent machine which was somewhat annoying.  Fortunately Earl's Court has enough mini-mart type places that we could buy some.  We even donated some to some kiwis in the same predicament as us.  

While we were waiting for washing and drying we went next door to the "New Asia" Indian restaurant for dinner.  Because Indian has to be done when you're in London :)  It was pretty good.  Also had a couple of pints. 

When I was transferring our washing to the dryer I noticed a couple of things that weren't ours.  I thought they must have gotten stuck in the corner of the washer and missed.  But as we pulled the stuff out of the dryer we found more things.  Another couple that had come in at the same time as us said those things were theirs.  They also had had to switch between the small and the big washers.  I'm guessing she threw a handful of stuff into our washer by mistake.  So we gave them back most of their stuff, but we missed a couple of socks.  So they will have to be thrown out as they don't even match - doh!!

So now it's 10pm and I haven't downloaded my photos yet... maybe tomorrow..!

Geotagging - Day 12
Geotagging - Day 12


Photos on the Canon: 389
Photos on the Sony: 14
Photos on the Blackberry: 2
Videos on the Video: 3
Steps walked: 11707
Pounds Spent: 104.48
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
Got to have a slightly slow start today as we didn't need to pick the car up til middayish and checkout was 11. So caught up on as much internetty stuff as we could before we left.

Hopped on a train to the car rental place and found it quite easily and got all the paperwork sorted. Unfortunately the automatic had a big crack in the windscreen so we got stuck with a manual. We can drive manuals (we both own manuals) but when you're dealing with driving in a foreign country, not having to worry about gears makes a huge difference. The big difference between this trip and our honeymoon of course is that at least here they drive on the *correct* side of the road. The suckiest thing about the car is that the blinkers and windscreen wipers are backwards to most Australian cars. This sux *a lot* as when you want to indicate in a hurry the reflex action will turn on the windscreen wipers :( (indicating when you plenty of time is not such an issue because you have time to remember to hit the opposite lever).

So anyway, after getting honked at by impatient drivers two minutes into the trip, we managed to escape London and headed for Windsor. Didn't get to see the castle except for glimpses of it, and drove past Legoland (coming soon!) with a final destination of Runnymede and the Magna Carta memorial. £1 pay and display parking even in the middle of nowhere.

Teenage swans on the Thames at Runnymede
Teenage swans on the Thames at Runnymede

Magna Carta Memorial, Runnymede
Magna Carta Memorial, Runnymede

Magna Carta Memorial, Runnymede
Magna Carta Memorial, Runnymede

Magna Carta Memorial, Runnymede
Magna Carta Memorial, Runnymede

Under the roof of the Magna Carta Memorial
Under the roof of the Magna Carta Memorial

Runnymede
Runnymede

Magna Carta Memorial, Runnymede
Magna Carta Memorial, Runnymede

Magna Carta Memorial, Runnymede
Magna Carta Memorial, Runnymede

Blackberries - yum!
Blackberries - yum!

Runnymede
Runnymede

From there headed back into Windsor to find some lunch. Found a pay and display parking station and a Subway nearby. Then fought with the Tomtom which didn't have a couple of the places in it I wanted to go to. Well it did, but under different location names.

Windsor Castle
Windsor Castle

Itty bitty parking spots in a parking station in Windsor
Itty bitty parking spots in a parking station in Windsor

So the next place I wanted to see was Picket Post Close in Martins Heron (actually Bracknell). Because it also happens to be 4 Privet Drive, Little Whinging. (!!!) I squeed lots and lots. Didn't get out of the car though cause it's a tiny culdesac and I didn't want to look toooo much like a stalker ;) There was a van and a skip out the front which didn't help either. So basically did a drive by shoot and headed off again.

Picket Post Close - aka Privet Drive Little Whinging!
Picket Post Close - aka Privet Drive Little Whinging!

Privet Drive Little Whinging
Privet Drive Little Whinging

Privet Drive Little Whinging
Privet Drive Little Whinging

Number 4, Privet Drive Little Whinging - Harry's house!
Number 4, Privet Drive Little Whinging - Harry's house!

Next we headed for Henley on Thames. Just to have a quick look really. We found a shopping centre carpark and walked down to the river and had a half pint of a couple of Brakspeare ales.

Henley on Thames
Henley on Thames

Thames River
Thames River

The Angel pub
The Angel pub

Bridge over the Thames
Bridge over the Thames

Crazy medieval buildings in Henley on Thames
Crazy medieval buildings in Henley on Thames

Next up was Privet Drive number 2, used in the Prisoner of Azkaban. This was Dowding Way, Leavesden, altho the Tomtom couldn't find that so we had to put in Watford. Approaching this I could see the purple Knight Buses across the road in the Leavesden Studios backlot. As you can imagine there was much squeeing on my part :) Got out this time and walked up the same bit of road that Harry did. There's not any swings in the little park where he first sees Padfoot but the grass is there. Also went to the end of the road and could see across into Leavesden studios and the top of the row of houses they used as Privet Drive for movies two and onwards. And one of the hangers (the great hall was built in one if the hangers and was used for all the movies).

Street in Leavesden where Harry walks before seeing Padfoot
Street in Leavesden where Harry walks before seeing Padfoot

There was a roundabout and swings setup for the movie but they're not there anymore
There was a roundabout and swings setup for the movie but they're not there anymore

Where Harry catches the Knight Bus
Where Harry catches the Knight Bus

Leavesden Studios - where Harry Potter was filmed
Leavesden Studios - where Harry Potter was filmed

Possibly sets for the Deathly Hallows movies
Possibly sets for the Deathly Hallows movies

Privet Drive set built for Chamber of Secrets
Privet Drive set built for Chamber of Secrets

Knight buses!
Knight buses!

So then we headed north-west thinking we might stop at Aylesbury or keep going depending how we felt. Just outside of Aylesbury we saw a Holiday Inn so decided to stop. After the London hotel we were very impressed at how much *space* this one has!  I completely repacked my suitcase which made me feel a bit better. The big downer is that the Internet is £15/day.. WTF?? They can take that and shove it :(

Had a beer and a snack dinner at the onsite pub, sharing the area with a wedding reception's pre dinner drinks. And spent the evening repacking suitcases and selecting images to resize for twitpics.


Geotagging - Day 14
Geotagging - Day 14

Photos on the Canon: 139 
Photos on the Sony: 2
Photos on the Blackberry: 1
Photos on the Video: 2
Videos on the Video: 8
Steps walked: 6999
Pounds Spent: 29.58
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 relatively early (with slight hangover headache) so got up and did computery stuff.

First stop was the Major Oak in Sherwood Forest.  The GPS took us around the long way to the road we needed to be on (lame), so actually went past it on the first loop because it brought us in from the north instead of the south that we were expecting.  #grunt.  Anyways so went in (£3 parking) and of course there's a whole visitors centre setup with bows and arrows etc for sale.  Went for a walk to find the tree, which would have been quite pleasant, except for all the screaming kids.  The tree itself is huge - well at least in girth anyway. :)

Robin Hood and Little John fighting
Robin Hood and Little John fighting

Sherwood Forest
Sherwood Forest

The Major Oak
The Major Oak

The Major Oak
The Major Oak

Next we went a little out of the way to Chesterfield to see the church with the crooked spire.  Cute and all, but it did take at least half an hour out of our day.  

Chesterfield's Crooked Spire
Chesterfield's Crooked Spire

Bolsover Castle
Bolsover Castle

And then onto York.  I was hoping to get there around lunch time, but everything else took so long we didn't arrive til around 2:30pm and didn't get into the town to start exploring til after 3pm :(  So I was a bit stressed that I wouldn't be able to do the couple of things I wanted to.  In the end Cliftons Tower got dropped off.  So wandered in through the west gate and through the old town up to the minster.  It was enormous!  Obviously not as an enormous as Cologne's (we've been totally spoilt by that cathedral!!) but still pretty huge.  Paid the £8 each to go in, and I paid £5 to go up the tower.  Wandered around inside (you can take photos in this one hurrah!) then went up the tower at 3:45pm.  The tower was pretty cool, I enjoyed that.  After that I went back down and found the sweetie and we wandered off again.

St Pauls Church, York
St Pauls Church, York

Micklegate
Micklegate

River Ouse
River Ouse

All Saints Church
All Saints Church

Newgate Market
Newgate Market

Roman Bath Museum
Roman Bath Museum

Stained glass windows inside York Minster
Stained glass windows inside York Minster

Ceiling of York Minster
Ceiling of York Minster

Ceiling of York Minster
Ceiling of York Minster

York Minster
York Minster

York Minster
York Minster

York Minster
York Minster

Beautiful stonework
Beautiful stonework

York Minster
York Minster

York Minster
York Minster

View from York Minster
View from York Minster

View from York Minster
View from York Minster

View from York Minster
View from York Minster

York Minster
York Minster

York Minster
York Minster

The next stop was the National Railway Museum.  I wasn't counting on the Hogwarts Express still being there, but I asked when we went in and she said it was! So did a wander through the Great Hall, and up there back was the Hogwarts Express!!!!!  There was much squeeing on my part :)  

Guy Fawkes Inn - birthplace of Guy Fawkes
Guy Fawkes Inn - birthplace of Guy Fawkes

High Petergate Road
High Petergate Road

River Ouse
River Ouse

Tunnel through to the National Railway Museum
Tunnel through to the National Railway Museum

Loco 737
Loco 737

Duchess of Hamilton
Duchess of Hamilton

Hogwarts Express!
Hogwarts Express!

Hogwarts Express!
Hogwarts Express!

Hogwarts Express!
Hogwarts Express!

Hogwarts Express!
Hogwarts Express!

Me and the Hogwarts Express!
Me and the Hogwarts Express!

Hogwarts Express!
Hogwarts Express!

Stu and an early bullet train
Stu and an early bullet train

Thomas the Tank Engine
Thomas the Tank Engine

Channel Tunnel cross section
Channel Tunnel cross section

The Warehouse was filled with all sorts of cool railway artifacts
The Warehouse was filled with all sorts of cool railway artifacts

Platform 9 3/4
Platform 9 3/4

Victoria Line cross section
Victoria Line cross section

Finally, around 5:30, we went looking for food.  Wandered back into York and found an all-you-can eat Chinese buffet, so went in there for a decent variety of food.  

York city wall
York city wall

Looking towards the minster from Station Road
Looking towards the minster from Station Road

Micklegate
Micklegate

York city wall
York city wall

Sunset from the city wall
Sunset from the city wall

Then back to the hotel to collapse.

Geotagging - Day 16
Geotagging - Day 16


Photos on the Canon: 391
Photos on the Sony: 27
Photos on the iPhone: 1
Photos on the Video: 4
Videos on the Video: 13
Steps walked: 15008
Pounds Spent: 64.23
Breakfast was a little different in York - we actually had to order off a menu.  I had a chefs special which was a croissant with bacon, tomato, cheese and mushrooms, with scrambled egg on the side - but it was huge! Had trouble finishing it (I didn't).

The internet also died overnight which was a big pain as I hadn't blogged, or booked Edinburgh accommodation, or sorted out our day's itinerary.  Poo.

Anyways.  

We decided to skip a drive through the Yorkshire Dales as it wasn't going to fit in timewise.  So first stop was Thirsk. (Thirsk was the town that vet/author James Herriot was from). Found the Darrowby Inn on a drive by and then found parking nearby.  There was a tourist information office next door to the Darrowby Inn so went in and asked where the museum was.  So had a wander through that.  It was the building that Herriot used to live/work in, so some of the things in there (like the phone in the hall) were very squee to see.  It was quite well done, and was a good snapshot of a vet's working life in the 1940s etc.  Even Stu enjoyed it :)

Kilburn White Horse
Kilburn White Horse

The Darrowby Inn, Thirsk
The Darrowby Inn, Thirsk

James Wight's practice
James Wight's practice

Front room of the house
Front room of the house

Mrs. Pumphrey and Tricki Woo
Mrs. Pumphrey and Tricki Woo

The hall phone
The hall phone

Family room
Family room

Dispensary
Dispensary

Kitchen
Kitchen

Austin Seven car
Austin Seven car

Back garden
Back garden

Back shed/garage
Back shed/garage

Next door they've recreated the sets of the TV show All Creatures Great and Small
Next door they've recreated the sets of the TV show All Creatures Great and Small

Recreation of the TV set
Recreation of the TV set

Dining room of the TV set
Dining room of the TV set

Recreation of the TV set
Recreation of the TV set

Dispensary of the TV set
Dispensary of the TV set

Kilburn White Horse in stained glass
Kilburn White Horse in stained glass

Next we headed for Goathland (Hogsmeade Station).  Yes, much squeeing was had on my part :)  But what was also nice was driving through the North Yorkshire Moors to get there and out.  Unfortunately the wind was blowing hard and it was raining a bit, so photographing it proved tricky.  The drive was pretty awesome though.

North York Moors
North York Moors

The moors are all in flower, turning them pink
The moors are all in flower, turning them pink

Closeup of some of the flowers
Closeup of some of the flowers

Closeup of some of the flowers
Closeup of some of the flowers

Train passing through the moors
Train passing through the moors

Goathland Station - aka Hogsmeade!
Goathland Station - aka Hogsmeade!

Goathland Station seat
Goathland Station seat

First years! Follow me!
First years! Follow me!

Goathland Station from the overpass bridge
Goathland Station from the overpass bridge

North York Moors
North York Moors

Tiny little road on the moors
Tiny little road on the moors

Found lunch at a road-side Subway, that was actually drive through! Freaky!

At this point we'd had planned to go to Durham to see the cathedral (Hogwarts) but changed our plans earlier in the day and decided to go see Hadrian's Wall and do Durham in the morning.  So trekked out (past the Angel of the North) to Housesteads Roman Fort.  By this stage the wind was blowing a gale, and it was raining fairly heavily.  So we got out our jackets and went up anyway!  It fell into the category of "you don't have to be mad but it helps" :)  So paid the £3 parking, and the £4.80 entry each, and went and had a look at the fort.  And it was super awesome!!  Even in the pouring rain.  I had to use random camera as it was much easier to shield from the rain.  But walking around this two thousand year old fort was very squee :)

Angel of the North
Angel of the North

Hadrian's Wall (this was the only part of it we saw)
Hadrian's Wall (this was the only part of it we saw)

Model of Housesteads fort
Model of Housesteads fort

Baaaa!
Baaaa!

Housesteads Roman Fort
Housesteads Roman Fort

Stu on the fort wall looking out at Hadrian's Wall
Stu on the fort wall looking out at Hadrian's Wall

Housesteads Roman Fort
Housesteads Roman Fort

Housesteads Roman Fort
Housesteads Roman Fort

Housesteads Roman Fort
Housesteads Roman Fort

Barracks
Barracks

We got drenched.  The photos don't show it.
We got drenched. The photos don't show it.

Housesteads Roman Fort
Housesteads Roman Fort

Watchtower
Watchtower

The fort toilets with flushing water
The fort toilets with flushing water

Housesteads Roman Fort
Housesteads Roman Fort

Part of the commandant's house or headquarters building
Part of the commandant's house or headquarters building

Base of a column
Base of a column

Well-worn steps
Well-worn steps

Base of a floor
Base of a floor

This is where I sheltered while Stu stood out in the rain for ages
This is where I sheltered while Stu stood out in the rain for ages

So we were completely drenched from the waist down, and headed back into Durham.  Found the hotel, got changed and went to have some dinner in the hotel bar.  Then stayed up entirely too late trying to find accommodation in Edinburgh (internet/parking/laundry were all factors that had to be considered).

Geotagging - Day 17
Geotagging - Day 17


Photos on the Canon: 298
Photos on the Sony: 137
Photos on the iPhone: 1
Photos on the Blackberry: 1
Photos on the Video: 7
Videos on the Video: 14
Steps walked: 6835
Pounds Spent: 101.51
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
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: ?
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: ?
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: ?
Today was probably the worst day of the trip so far.  Failure after failure after failure.  Tempered by 3/4 bottle of Australian chardonnay tonight so maybe this won't sound as bad as it would have.

So this morning started off very slowly.  The pace set by the hotel and the timing and delivery of breakfast.  *Heaps* of food which is always dangerous heh.  I'm sooo going to need to go on a diet or something when I get home heh.  Had a chat to the owners as we were checking out about the bombing/crash 22 years ago.  They actually knew people on the street that was hit (I'm sure I read about them in wikipedia last night) - the parents and daughter were killed but the two boys were out of the house and survived.  They were given a heap of compensation money and had different lives because of it.  And they're both dead now.  One of them had a son who is destined to be worth £23 million when he comes of age.  Went for a quick drive around Sherwood Crescent to see where it all happened.  11, 13 and 15 where the plane hit are just a garden now, they didn't rebuild the houses there.  Perhaps because noone was left to rebuild them..

Sherwood Crescent, Lockerbie.  A large part of the plane fell here
Sherwood Crescent, Lockerbie. A large part of the plane fell here

So then headed south.  The idea being to stop at Gretna to see the first/last house in Scotland and stand on the bridge over the river that forms the border with England and get a photo.  Except the exit we wanted wasn't marked and we missed it.  And it was about eight miles further south to the next exit so I decided it wasn't worth it and missed out altogether.

Fail.

Welcome to England!
Welcome to England!

So continued south.  Bought petrol.  Oh yes, this country doesn't believe in windscreen squidgees at service stations, so you can't actually clean your windows here.

Fail. 

Then headed out into the Lakes District.  The idea being to drive a loop around Keswick to some of the lakes then past Windermere and out.  Well first let me warn you.  If you're just here for a drive around and some photos, forget it.  The only way to get photos is if you're a hiker.  This country doesn't believe in cars.  And certainly not in parking.  And views of lakes from the road?  Forget it.  Pretty much no such thing.  Didn't get a single photo of Buttermere and a very crap one of Windermere simply because a) there's nowhere to stop and b) there are so many trees between the roads and the lakes that you can't even get photos from the car.  It was pretty much epic..

Fail.

Heading for the Lakes District.  On the A66 near Threlkeld
Heading for the Lakes District. On the A66 near Threlkeld

Bassenthwaite Lake
Bassenthwaite Lake

Heading down B5289 towards Crummock Water
Heading down B5289 towards Crummock Water

Fields off B5289 near Crummock Water
Fields off B5289 near Crummock Water

Fields off B5289 near Crummock Water
Fields off B5289 near Crummock Water

Sheep on the road
Sheep on the road

Crummock Water
Crummock Water

Crummock Water
Crummock Water

South end of Crummock Water
South end of Crummock Water

Buttermere
Buttermere

Heading up Honister Pass
Heading up Honister Pass

Honister Pass
Honister Pass

Honister Pass
Honister Pass

Derwentwater, south of Keswick
Derwentwater, south of Keswick

Thirlmere
Thirlmere

Windermere
Windermere

We were very excited after four and a half hours driving to finally find somewhere with toilets.  Of course it was a pay and display carpark.  So we found someone else's still valid ticket lying on the ground and used that. 

Small win!

Decided to drive on.  Thought we were up for a quick visit to Chester to see the walls and the Roman Amphitheatre.  Even in the pouring rain.  Because it was 3:30pm and we hadn't eaten since breakfast.  So thought we'd go into one of the city parking stations.  Which was gridlock with people trying to get in and out.  We went down one way (after trying to get past someone trying to get out) and found it was actually a dead end.  With nowhere to turn around. 

Epic.  Fricken.  Fail.

So decided "screw you Chester" and got the hell out of there as soon as we could.

Fail.

Part of the wall at Chester
Part of the wall at Chester

So the Welsh border was not far away.  Was watching it coming on the GPS and had the camera ready.  But it was raining so heavily that firstly my camera was focussed on the rain on the windscreen.  And by the time the wipers went, we'd passed the sign.  So missed it.

Fail.

Britannia Bridge near Llanfair
Britannia Bridge near Llanfair

Looking through the rain towards Menai Bridge
Looking through the rain towards Menai Bridge

Island in the water dividing Anglesey from the mainland
Island in the water dividing Anglesey from the mainland

Arrived at the hotel.  Carpark was full.  But someone moved their car so we took their spot.  Checked in ok.  Room is a bit stuffy so we have the window open.  It's raining.  It's actually kinda nice to listen to.

Dinner was in the bistro downstairs.  I just had a starter which was probably a good thing as don't think would have gotten through a main.  There was lots of saladdy stuff, so lots of lovely fibre to counter the meat I've been eating for breakfasts.

8:30pm.  Time to wash hair and go to bed methinks.

Hoping for a better day tomorrow...

Geotagging - Day 22
Geotagging - Day 22


Photos on the Canon: 130
Photos on the Sony: 21
Steps walked: 679 (?)
Pounds Spent: ?
Rain. Rain.

Have I mentioned the rain?

Got up and had breakfast and off we went into the rain.

Rain.

Went under the Menai Bridge to photograph it. Got a crappy one of the Britannia Bridge through the rain. Headed up to Llanfair cause it's just an epic cool place name so took some photos of the place name signs.

Menai Bridge
Menai Bridge

Brittania Bridge
Brittania Bridge

Llanfair station
Llanfair station

Llanfair station
Llanfair station

Then headed out of Wales the way we came in. Dipped into England then back into Wales to see the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. Which is like the highest and longest aqueduct in Britain or something, and get this - canal boats go across it!! It's epic cool!! Walked part way across then down to look at it side on.

Welcome to Wales!
Welcome to Wales!

Canal boats near Pontcysyllte Aqueduct
Canal boats near Pontcysyllte Aqueduct

Pontcysyllte Aqueduct
Pontcysyllte Aqueduct

Canal boat going across Pontcysyllte Aqueduct
Canal boat going across Pontcysyllte Aqueduct

Pontcysyllte Aqueduct
Pontcysyllte Aqueduct

Pontcysyllte Aqueduct
Pontcysyllte Aqueduct

Pontcysyllte Aqueduct
Pontcysyllte Aqueduct

Turning a canal boat
Turning a canal boat

Canal boats near Pontcysyllte Aqueduct
Canal boats near Pontcysyllte Aqueduct

Near Pontcysyllte Aqueduct
Near Pontcysyllte Aqueduct

On my quest for bridges, the next stop was Iron Bridge to see the iron bridge - the first ever iron arch bridge built.

Iron Bridge
Iron Bridge

River Severn from Iron Bridge
River Severn from Iron Bridge

Iron Bridge
Iron Bridge

Then we returned to Hogwarts - at Gloucester Cathedral. Pretty cool cathedral. Lots if beautiful stonework and lots of little alcoves and doorways to go through and explore. But of course I mainly wanted to see the cloisters where Philosopher's Stone and Chamber of Secrets were filmed. Was epic squee. Of course. :) Found a girls bathroom, altho it was downstairs so Moaning Myrtle couldn't have flooded the corridor, and I didn't see her in the toilet either ;)


Funny sign on the M6 near Birmingham
Funny sign on the M6 near Birmingham

Gloucester Cathedral
Gloucester Cathedral

Gloucester Cathedral
Gloucester Cathedral

Gloucester Cathedral
Gloucester Cathedral

Stained glass in Gloucester Cathedral
Stained glass in Gloucester Cathedral

Interior of Gloucester Cathedral
Interior of Gloucester Cathedral

Organ in Gloucester Cathedral
Organ in Gloucester Cathedral

Quire in Gloucester Cathedral
Quire in Gloucester Cathedral

Altar in Gloucester Cathedral
Altar in Gloucester Cathedral

Roof of Gloucester Cathedral
Roof of Gloucester Cathedral

Stained glass in Gloucester Cathedral
Stained glass in Gloucester Cathedral

Cloisters in Gloucester Cathedral
Cloisters in Gloucester Cathedral

Harry runs out here when the floor is covered in water
Harry runs out here when the floor is covered in water from Myrtle flooding the bathroom 

This is the corner where the kids see Mrs Norris hung and the writing in blood  
This is the corner where the kids see Mrs Norris hung and the writing in blood 
"enemies of the heir beware" 


Me in Gloucester Cathedral cloisters
Me in Gloucester Cathedral cloisters


"It's written in blood!"

This corridor is used in a couple of scenes too 
This corridor is used in a couple of scenes too 

Chapter house of Gloucester Cathedral 
Chapter house of Gloucester Cathedral.  This is McGonnagal's transfigurations classroom.
This room was being used for a function, and I was able to get a quick snap of the room 
before they locked it up.


No Moaning Myrtle in the girl's bathroom though
No Moaning Myrtle in the girl's bathroom though

The kids walk out this door when Harry remembers Hermione doesn't know about the troll
The kids walk out this door when Harry remembers Hermione doesn't know about the troll

Cloister in Gloucester Cathedral 
Cloister in Gloucester Cathedral 

Gloucester Cathedral 
Gloucester Cathedral 

Gloucester Cathedral
Gloucester Cathedral
Had KFC for lunch/dinner (it was six pm).

Headed for Swindon to go around the Magic Roundabout and nearly didn't get off it. And it's freaky cause you end up going around the wrong way! After several loops we dove for an exit, no idea if legally or not!

Swindon Magic Roundabout
Swindon Magic Roundabout

Then to Salisbury. GPS didn't quite have the location of the hotel right so had to go around a few blocks trying to get back :/ Pretty funky hotel (The Red Lion). Cloud Internet which is a pain. Wanted to book tomorrow night's accommodation which was stressful cause it took forever to find something :/

Blog. Bed.


Geotagging - Day 23
Geotagging - Day 23

Photos on the Canon: 309
Videos on the Canon: 1
Photos on the Sony: 19
Videos on the Sony: 3
Photos on the Olympus: 53
Photos on the Video: 22
Videos on the Video: 14
Steps walked: 7883
Pounds Spent: ?
Hey it wasn't raining when we got up!  Just a bit overcast.

Got up early and headed out without breakfast to make it to Stonehenge by 8am for the stone circle access tour.  Which, after Dave and Di got up my expectations, they say that you can NOT in fact touch the stones.  So that was a bit of a bummer.  Not that it would have been that exciting, I mean they're just stones right?  But it was pretty cool to walk around in the middle of the circle that you can't do normally.  After the access finished (ours went from 8am to 9am), we waited for the ordinary access to open at 9:30 so we could go round on the audio tour (and actually take better photos of the outer ring without all the other stone circle access people in the way).  It's true what I read somewhere - either pay to go on a stone circle access thingie, or just look in from the fence on the road.  The audio tour isn't that great, (face it you can read about it on the internet) and the best view (with all the horizontal plinths) is from the road anyway.


Stonehenge
Stonehenge

Stonehenge
Stonehenge

Stonehenge
Stonehenge

Stonehenge
Stonehenge

Stonehenge
Stonehenge

Stonehenge
Stonehenge

Stonehenge
Stonehenge

Stonehenge
Stonehenge

Stonehenge
Stonehenge

Stonehenge
Stonehenge

Stonehenge
Stonehenge

Stonehenge
Stonehenge

Stonehenge
Stonehenge

Stonehenge
Stonehenge

Stonehenge
Stonehenge

So it was nearly 10:30 before we headed for our next stop - Longleat Maze, in the grounds of Longleat House.  £3 for just the maze.  I decided before I came away that I wanted to do a maze, and why not pick the biggest? :)  Well it was fun for about 3/4 hour before I kept ending up in the same place no matter where I turned and walked around and around in circles (meeting up over and over again with another couple who were equally frustrated).  After an hour and a half I went out and bought the postcard with a picture of the maze to see what I was doing wrong.  Only took one turn from the picture to get me to the place I wanted to be an hour ago, and solved the thing (this was after standing on the bridge and directing at least two couples to the right place that I couldn't get to).  The other couple went a different way, and we ended up solving the thing at the same time.


Tank Crossing
Tank Crossing

Longleat
Longleat

Longleat Maze.  The objective is to get to that tower in the 

middle
Longleat Maze. The objective is to get to that tower in the middle

It's looking a long way from here..
It's looking a long way from here..

Made it!
Made it!

Longleat House
Longleat House

So after nearly two hours in the maze we headed off again.  Drove by the Westbury white horse.  Got very frustrated with UK signage that thought the best way to see the thing would be to take you to the top of the hill which it's on - ie, so you can't really see it at all.  Bumheads.  So drove all the way back down to find a better view of it.


Westbury White Horse
Westbury White Horse

Next stop was Lacock - because they used Lacock Abbey and a house in Lacock for Philosopher's Stone and Chamber of Secrets.  As a location it was a bit disappointing (and £10 entry which is a bit pricey too).  Especially since so many things I'd seen about the place were just plain wrong.  Even the abbey itself put up the wrong information - they put up pictures of Durham cathedral cloisters, and said it was filmed at Lacock.  Well ok yes it might have been filmed there, but not the shots you posted.  Dumb.  The Sacristy and the Chapter room were the only things that were recognisably correct.  Took a bunch of photos anyway.  What was actually more interesting was the rooms upstairs that had been converted to a private residence with the dissolution of the monastries by Henry VIII.


Entering Lacock Abbey
Entering Lacock Abbey

Lacock Abbey
Lacock Abbey

Sacristy of Lacock Abbey
Sacristy of Lacock Abbey

Sacristy of Lacock Abbey.  This room was used in Philosopher's 

Stone as Snape's potions room
Sacristy of Lacock Abbey. This room was used in Philosopher's Stone as Snape's potions room

Corridor in Lacock Abbey
Corridor in Lacock Abbey

Chapter House of Lacock Abbey.  This was the study room in 

Chamber of Secrets
Chapter House of Lacock Abbey. This was the study room in Chamber of Secrets

Info board about the movie.  Showing shots from Gloucester and 

Durham cathedrals
Info board about the movie. Showing shots from Gloucester and Durham cathedrals

This was in the Warming House.  I don't think it was used in the 

movies, but the cauldron looks pretty cool
This was in the Warming House. I don't think it was used in the movies, but the cauldron looks pretty cool

There's a shot of Harry in this corridor in Chamber of Secrets
There's a shot of Harry in this corridor in Chamber of Secrets

Lacock Abbey
Lacock Abbey

Chaplain's Room, Lacock Abbey
Chaplain's Room, Lacock Abbey

Corridor upstairs in Lacock Abbey
Corridor upstairs in Lacock Abbey

Lacock Abbey rooms
Lacock Abbey rooms

Lacock Abbey rooms
Lacock Abbey rooms

House in Lacock used in Philosopher's Stone as James & Lily's 

house
House in Lacock used in Philosopher's Stone as James & Lily's house

House in Lacock used in Philosopher's Stone as James & Lily's 

house
House in Lacock used in Philosopher's Stone as James & Lily's house

And then we headed for the hotel.  Had to get past peak hour traffic in Bath.  What a pain.  I think noone lives in Bath, they all live in Bristol, and we had to share a road with them all the way to our hotel :/  Hotel is the closest to a real B&B we've had.  I didn't really have to check in at all, the dude just gave me a key.  Very odd.  Went across the road for a couple of pints and some food, then back here to try and book hotels and figure itineraries...

Oh yes, and we finally had a clear night that I could go out and look for stars.  After much peering through sodium (?) vapour lights I finally saw what I thought was the Big Dipper and North Star.  The time on the EEE PC must have been wrong, cause it actually put the thing upside down so took longer to find it.  Had a stone fence to mount the camera on, and it was low enough in the sky that I actually got some semi decent photos of it...!


The Big Dipper
The Big Dipper.  Loses something in the resizing! 

Geotagging - Day 24
Geotagging - Day 24


Photos on the Canon: 469
Photos on the Sony: 8
Videos on the Sony: 1
Photos on the iPhone: 1
Photos on the Olympus: 75
Photos on the Blackberry: 1
Photos on the Video: 13
Videos on the Video: 14
Steps walked: 17139
Pounds Spent: ?
Being a B&B the place was tiny.  There were four tables in the breakfast room and only two were set, so I assume there was only one other room taken last night.  Breakfast was decent enough though.

So checked out and headed into Bath, parking at the big "Pay on foot" parking area off Charlotte St.  


Street in Bath
Street in Bath
Headed into the main bit of town first.  On the way passed lots of decorated lions, setup as a public art project, much like the Bears of Berlin some years ago.  Some of them were pretty cool!  I think my favourite was a gold-foil wrapped chocolate lion :) Or the QR code one or the scrabble letters one.  


Lindt Gold Lion? :)
Lindt Gold Lion? :)

Scrabble Lion
Scrabble Lion

Starry Night Lion
Starry Night Lion

Got into the middle of town and Stu stopped for a coffee so I went to find an ATM.  The first two I found were broken, so had to walk like a mile just to find a working one and then back to Stu.  

Went into the roman baths first.  I'd only ever seen pictures of the outdoor bit of the bath (which used to be indoors) so didn't realise the place was so extensive.  Was actually really cool and spent nearly two hours wandering around the place.  Took one look in the Pump House and thought it looked too fancy for the likes of us, so took a picture of the room and left.


Entrance to the baths 
Entrance to the baths 

Roman Bath
Roman Bath

Bath Abbey
Bath Abbey

Statue
Statue

Roman Bath
Roman Bath

This is where the hot water spring surfaces
This is where the hot water spring surfaces

Roman Bath
Roman Bath

Roman Bath buildings
Roman Bath buildings

Roman Bath
Roman Bath

Lead pipes
Lead pipes

For some reason they drained out where the spring surfaces
For some reason they drained out where the spring surfaces

Pump House
Pump House

Then went next door to have a look in the abbey.  As Dave2 had shown, it was indeed quite beautiful.


Bath Abbey
Bath Abbey

Bath Abbey
Bath Abbey

Bath Abbey
Bath Abbey

Organ in Bath Abbey
Organ in Bath Abbey

Ceiling of Bath Abbey
Ceiling of Bath Abbey

Bath Abbey
Bath Abbey

Bath Abbey
Bath Abbey

It was getting late by this point, so we headed up to The Circus (and couldn't get "Who will buy?" from Oliver! out of my head - you can see where they got the inspiration for the scene (which was actually filmed on a set - they built the whole thing from scratch)).  And then onto the Royal Crescent, where we saw our first rays of sun for the day.


The Circus
The Circus

The Circus.  Who will buy this beautiful morning?
The Circus. Who will buy this beautiful morning?

Royal Crescent
Royal Crescent

Left a couple of minutes before four hours for parking and saved a pound, hurrah .. only to find the boom gate was broken and we could have left without paying the 5.40 at all - doh!!

So we didn't have time for the Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol, or the Cheddar Gorge and town.

Just went straight onto Wells.  I'd seen a documentary some months back about the Wells Cathedral - and how the unique "scissor" arches were actually to stop the whole thing collapsing after they put on a tower extension.  So of course I had to see it :)  It was pretty cool.  Although seeing a cathedral and an abbey on the same day has not helped with remembering the details of each one.. hrmm.. :)


Glastonbury Tor from the A39 north of Wells
Glastonbury Tor from the A39 north of Wells

Wells Cathedral
Wells Cathedral

Wells Cathedral
Wells Cathedral

Ceiling of Wells Cathedral
Ceiling of Wells Cathedral

Scissor reinforcing in Wells Cathedral
Scissor reinforcing in Wells Cathedral

Scissor reinforcing in Wells Cathedral
Scissor reinforcing in Wells Cathedral

Altar of Wells Cathedral
Altar of Wells Cathedral

Organ of Wells Cathedral
Organ of Wells Cathedral

Quire of Wells Cathedral
Quire of Wells Cathedral

Stairs to the Chapter House
Stairs to the Chapter House

Chapter House.  Stunningly beautiful, but I needed a wider lens!
Chapter House. Stunningly beautiful, but I needed a wider lens!

Chapter House
Chapter House

Wells Cathedral
Wells Cathedral

And finally south west.  Stopping at a Burger King on the motorway for Linner.  And onto Newquay, arriving around 7:15pm.  We were just a little too late going up to the headland to see the sunset but had a nice walk anyway.  Then into town to have a look around and find the laundromat opening times.


Welcome to Cornwall!  Stu was pretty excited to see this
Welcome to Cornwall! Stu was pretty excited to see this

Cornwall
Cornwall

Sunset at Newquay
Sunset at Newquay

Came back to the B&B via a supermarket to pick up snacks and drinks.

Then watched some telly (including Australian Border Security!) and used the internet.  

Hopefully will get a sleep in tomorrow.. unless I get hungry .. prolly a good thing too, it being 11:15pm and all.. :/


Geotagging - Day 25
Geotagging - Day 25

Photos on the Canon: 492
Photos on the Sony: 27
Photos on the iPhone: 9
Photos on the Blackberry: 6
Photos on the Video: 23
Videos on the Video: 43
Steps walked: 15432
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: ?
Let the sweetie sleep in til 8am this morning and were slow getting going (didn't leave the B&B til 10:20).

First stop was the Headland Hotel, which is is just south-west of Newquay, and was used in the 1990 movie of Roald Dahl's The Witches.  


Newquay
Newquay

Headland Hotel, Newquay, used in the 1990 movie
Headland Hotel, Newquay, used in the 1990 movie "The Witches"

Then we headed east.


Tiny little roads
Tiny little roads

First stop on the south coast was Polperro.  Because my parents went there last year and raved about it and said it was one of the nicest places they went to.  Because obviously they had a good day for it.  For us, it rained.  Of course it rained.  The rain was fairly short lasting and was mostly gone by the time we'd stopped for a drink.  But the tide was all the way out, so the little harbour was just a bit pile of mud.  So didn't leap out for us as a nice place.  Got ourselves a Cornish pastie cause we still hadn't had one, then headed off again.  Had intended to see if we could find somewhere to get some photos of Looe (the next town along), but it was bigger and more crowded and the parking lot looked full to overflowing.  So even though it was now sunny, we ended up just driving through and I didn't get a single photo :(  But the tide was out so I suppose it wouldn't have been that great anyway.


Horse-drawn wagon in Polperro
Horse-drawn wagon in Polperro

Polperro
Polperro

Cornish Piskies!
Cornish Piskies!

Muddy harbour in Polperro
Muddy harbour in Polperro

Muddy harbour in Polperro
Muddy harbour in Polperro

Harbour in Polperro
Harbour in Polperro

Polperro
Polperro

Polperro
Polperro

Polperro
Polperro

Cornish Pasties
Cornish Pasties

So then had a big long drive, and stopped again at Lyme Regis.  Walked down to the beach, but couldn't get very far along because the tide had come in and was blocking access.  Don't know if there were other access points.  So really just took some photos of the cliffs then headed off before them impending thunderstorm dumped on us (just made it back to the car in time!)


Seagull at Lyme Regis
Seagull at Lyme Regis

Cliffs at Lyme Regis
Cliffs at Lyme Regis

Lyme Regis
Lyme Regis

Stu at Lyme Regis - hey look! Sunshine!
Stu at Lyme Regis - hey look! Sunshine!

Stu at Lyme Regis
Stu at Lyme Regis

This is as far as we got before we couldn't go any further
This is as far as we got before we couldn't go any further

Cliffs at Lyme Regis
Cliffs at Lyme Regis

Cliffs at Lyme Regis
Cliffs at Lyme Regis

Lots more driving.  Ended up in Portsmouth around 7pm.  We thought we'd be able to have a wander around the Historic Dockyard.  Except it closes at like 6pm and there's no access at all, just a super high brick wall blocking the view of everything :(  We should have known - the two nearby carparks were closed and we thought we scored by getting a free on-street park.  I thought the place would be somewhat like Darling Harbour where you just wander around.  Instead the place was almost completely dead.  Just a couple of shops open, a couple of restaurants and a night club.  We had expensive pizza and beer for dinner.  Took some photos of the Spinnaker Tower then headed off again.


Cute cloud
Cute cloud

Entrance to Portsmouth
Entrance to Portsmouth

HMS Warrior, Portsmouth
HMS Warrior, Portsmouth

HMS Warrior
HMS Warrior

Spinnaker Tower
Spinnaker Tower

The only things open in Portsmouth after 6pm
The only things open in Portsmouth after 6pm

Spinnaker Tower
Spinnaker Tower

Arrived in Bognor Regis and found our hotel (Best Western Beachcroft).  Probably one of the nicer hotels we've stayed in this trip.  Or maybe it's just the view out to the English Channel with the moon rise over the water.. super awesome :)  And lots of space too.  Although the poor sweetie had to drag our bags up to the second floor.. sorry sweetie!


View from our hotel in Bognor Regis
View from our hotel in Bognor Regis

Geotagging - Day 27
Geotagging - Day 27

Photos on the Canon: 219
Photos on the Sony: 11
Photos on the Video: 3
Videos on the Video: 10
Steps walked: 10361
Pounds Spent: ?
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: ?
Got up fairly early and the SUN was SHINING!! In our windows and bright blue sky and everything.  So gently encouraged the sweetie to get up so we could go see white cliffs in the SUN!


Sunrise over the English Channel
Sunrise over the English Channel

Headed off around 8:20 and went up to St Margarets Bay.  On the way the clouds started rolling in from the west.  I did the only appropriate thing - burst into tears.  Because I was so completely sick of cloudy and rainy weather.  But the clouds passed a little way north of us, and when we got there it was still a bit sunny on the cliffs.  The view wasn't hugely great - you really need to get out on a boat for the best views.  But hopefully got some ok photos.


Dover Castle
Dover Castle

Entrance to the tunnels at Dover Castle
Entrance to the tunnels at Dover Castle

Buildings under the White Cliffs in Dover
Buildings under the White Cliffs in Dover

White Cliffs of Dover
White Cliffs of Dover

These clouds made me cry
These clouds made me cry

Channel ferry
Channel ferry

White Cliffs of Dover at St Margaret's Bay
White Cliffs of Dover at St Margaret's Bay

White Cliffs of Dover at St Margaret's Bay
White Cliffs of Dover at St Margaret's Bay

White Cliffs of Dover at St Margaret's Bay
White Cliffs of Dover at St Margaret's Bay

White Cliffs of Dover at St Margaret's Bay
White Cliffs of Dover at St Margaret's Bay

White Cliffs of Dover at St Margaret's Bay
White Cliffs of Dover at St Margaret's Bay

Second stop was at Samphire Hoe, which is an area of reclaimed land they created by using the diggings from the Channel Tunnel.  The view wasn't great there either - all the cliffs were covered with plants around there.


Heading down to the tunnel to the Chunnel landfill
Heading down to the tunnel to the Chunnel landfill

Going through the tunnel
Going through the tunnel

White Cliffs of Dover from the Chunnel landfill
White Cliffs of Dover from the Chunnel landfill

Chunnel landfill
Chunnel landfill

Dog Poop bin!
Dog Poop bin!

Heading back out
Heading back out

Reminding Europeans to drive on the left
Reminding Europeans to drive on the left

So then we drove on to London, hoping we'd see a roadside Maccas where we could have breakfast.  Except we didn't find any.  We found a Burger King but bypassed that in hopes of a Maccas.  So suddenly we were in London and we hadn't had breakfast :(  Note to self: don't try to attack driving through crazy busy big city streets on no breakfast.  It makes for unhappy campers :(  Stoopid traffic jams too which added to the stress levels.  We'd allowed heaps of time to return the car, but in the end only *just* made it back in time :/  


Naughty person on board!
Naughty person on board!

Battersea Power Station
Battersea Power Station

So jumped on a train (15 min wait) to Earl's Court to stay at the *other* Earl's Court Best Western - on the north side this time.  The room wasn't ready so left all the bags with the sweetie and headed into town to see Buckingham Palace.  

It was about a half hour queue to get tickets, then the entry was 45 minutes after that, so wandered around Green Park for a while.  They've also resurfaced the road in front of the palace in the past two weeks.  This spot I've been to three times in three weeks, which is all a little odd.  So went back at 2:45 and accidently ended up in the 2:30 queue .. oops.. didn't mean to.. oh well .. 


Gates open at Buckingham Palace
Gates open at Buckingham Palace

Canadian War Memorial in Green Park
Canadian War Memorial in Green Park

Queen Victoria statue from Green Park
Queen Victoria statue from Green Park

The palace state rooms tour was actually pretty good.  Of course you can't take photos :(  But the audio guide was pretty decent.  Lots of very beautiful rooms and only one thing that was too crowded (too much commentary for such a small space).  Quite enjoyed it overall.  Took around an hour and a half to do the whole thing.  Then headed back to the hotel.  


Rear of Buckingham Palace
Rear of Buckingham Palace

Rear of Buckingham Palace
Rear of Buckingham Palace

Pond in Buckingham Palace grounds
Pond in Buckingham Palace grounds

Security at the back of Buckingham Palace
Security at the back of Buckingham Palace

Went for a wander and had a pint at the Kings Head (one of about a billion Kings Head pubs in England - either that or Red Lions) and then across the road to a French restaurant for a very yummy three course meal for £9.95 each.  


Geotagging - Day 29
Geotagging - Day 29

Photos on the Canon: 142
Photos on the Sony: 27
Photos on the iPhone: 1
Photos on the Video: 1
Videos on the Video: 7
Steps walked: 10086
Pounds Spent: ?
Had another crappy nights sleep.  Was too hot (even with aircon on full) and stressing over my dumb body and then the building started humming.. loud enough for at least one other person on the floor to complain about it.  No idea what it was.

So got up fairly late.

Had breakfast at the local Scottish Restaurant (for £5 for the two of us instead of £30 the hotel would have charged).

Then hopped on a tube train then a regular train out to Charlton to walk up to the Thames Flood Barrier (past a half marathon in progress which closed off the road we walked up).  The flood barrier stuff was pretty cool.  Interesting to see how they built it and how it works.  Had a toasted sandwich in the cafe there for lunch.


Security cameras at Charing Cross station
Security cameras at Charing Cross station

Rows of houses outside Waterloo station
Rows of houses outside Waterloo station

Marathon runners on Woolwich Road, Charlton
Marathon runners on Woolwich Road, Charlton

Thames Flood Barrier 
Thames Flood Barrier 

Thames Flood Barrier 
Thames Flood Barrier 

Thames Flood Barrier
Thames Flood Barrier

Model of the flood control system
Model of the flood control system

Stu ponders the denting caused by stress-testing the scale model
Stu ponders the denting caused by stress-testing the scale model

Scale model of the flood control system used for testing the design
Scale model of the flood control system used for testing the design

Thames Flood Barrier
Thames Flood Barrier

Thames Flood Barrier
Thames Flood Barrier

Thames Flood Barrier
Thames Flood Barrier

Thames Flood Barrier
Thames Flood Barrier

Instead of walking back to the station and training it two stops, we decided to walk for a while back along the Thames.  You can actually walk all the way along it, but we cut across the Greenwich peninsula (and cut across the end of the half marathon, and even saw the exact same girl wearing an Elmo on her back that we saw the first time two hours ago!).  


Thames Path National Trail tunnel
Thames Path National Trail tunnel

This wall showed the length and height of the Thames as it comes down from its headwaters
This wall showed the length and height of the Thames as it comes down from its headwaters

Thames heights near Runnymede
Thames heights near Runnymede

Looking towards London and the North Greenwich Arena
Looking towards London and the North Greenwich Arena

Greenwich Peninsula Ecology Park
Greenwich Peninsula Ecology Park

Elmo girl!
Elmo girl!

Buzz Lightyear was also running
Buzz Lightyear was also running

So headed into the park at Greenwich and up to the observatory.  Joined the hordes trying to get their photo taken on the prime meridian.  Also had a look at the old telescope buildings.  And got filled with rage at people taking photos of the telescopes when it says all over the place that photography is forbidden :(:(  Epic grunt.  Should have taken some myself :/  The GPS doesn't actually line up with this, as the meridian for GPS is actually about 102m east of the prime meridian.  Go figure.  Headed back to the station and found another marked location of the prime meridian, with (hurrah) no tourists! Win! :)


Sundial in Greenwich Park
Sundial in Greenwich Park

Greenwich Observatory
Greenwich Observatory

National Maritime Museum
National Maritime Museum

North Greenwich Arena
North Greenwich Arena

Greenwich Observatory
Greenwich Observatory

Shepherd 24-hour Gate Clock and Public Standards of Length
Shepherd 24-hour Gate Clock and Public Standards of Length

Greenwich Observatory
Greenwich Observatory

Greenwich Observatory
Greenwich Observatory

Stu on the Prime Meridian
Stu on the Prime Meridian

Prime Meridian
Prime Meridian

Greenwich Observatory
Greenwich Observatory

Prime Meridian on Park Vista just north of the gardens
Prime Meridian on Park Vista just north of the gardens

Prime Meridian on Park Vista just north of the gardens
Prime Meridian on Park Vista just north of the gardens

Prime Meridian on Park Vista just north of the gardens
Prime Meridian on Park Vista just north of the gardens

Trained it back to the hotel.  Got our washing together and went and put it on, and had Thai for dinner next door.  Two mains, two desserts and a bottle of wine, and suddenly we have a $100AUD bill :(  This country is so expensive it's more than just a little ridiculous.  Put on the drying and had a McFlurry then back to the hotel to research tomorrow..

Oh I forgot to mention.. I got THE BEST value for money deal possible in this country tonight - sixteen 500mg paracetamol caplets for 16p!!  Yes, that's 1 pence per tablet!!  At that rate I considered buying a whole bunch to stock us up for the next few years .. altho customs might have had something to say about that!!


Geotagging - Day 30
Geotagging - Day 30

Photos on the Canon: 163
Photos on the Sony: 24
Photos on the iPhone: 6
Photos on the Olympus: 9
Photos on the Blackberry: 6
Photos on the Video: 21
Videos on the Video: 11
Steps walked: 18641
Pounds Spent: ?
So was awake for two and a half hours in the middle of the night cause it hurt *sigh*

Got up around 7:20 and convinced the sweetie to get up too.

Had a repeat of Maccas breakfast and then headed for Paddington.  Discovered the different ticket machines give different priced tickets - go figure.  Found one that did a return for the same price as a single (again, go figure) and booked it.  9:21 to Oxford.

Had a pretty good day in Oxford.

It rained nearly all day.

First headed for the Bodleian Library to get on a tour of the Divinity School and the Duke Humfrey's Library.  Had twenty minutes to spare so wandered around and got the sweetie a coffee.


Sheldonian Theatre
Sheldonian Theatre

Bridge of Sighs
Bridge of Sighs

The Bodleian Library tour went for an hour and was quite interesting.  I would have enjoyed it even if it wasn't a Harry Potter location ;)


Divinity School
Divinity School

Convocation House, next to the Divinity School
Convocation House, next to the Divinity School

The Tower of the Five Orders
The Tower of the Five Orders

Silence Please!
Silence Please!

Went and climbed the University Church tower for some nice views

Radcliffe Camera from the University Church
Radcliffe Camera from the University Church

Looking into All Souls College
Looking into All Souls College

Looking into Brasenose College
Looking into Brasenose College

The University Church of St Mary the Virgin
The University Church of St Mary the Virgin

The University Church of St Mary the Virgin
The University Church of St Mary the Virgin

Next went to find some lunch.  As we were both low on energy levels it took us a little while to find something suitable.


The Saxon tower of St Michael at the North Gate
The Saxon tower of St Michael at the North Gate

After lunch wandered back up to where we'd seen a walking tour advertised.

The walking tour turned out to be really good.  The dude took us into four colleges (Jesus, Exeter, Lincoln and New), and we saw quadrangles and dining halls and chapels for most of them.  It was just nice cause he took us behind doors and down paths we probably would not have thought to have gone down if we were doing things by ourselves.  Even came across a couple of Australian Rhodes Scholars (a girl from Brisbane doing law, and a guy (who looked about 16) from Adelaide doing inorganic chemistry).  They'd only been in the country a few days.  The tour finished in the cloisters of New College, where Goblet of Fire was filmed :)


Entrance to Jesus College
Entrance to Jesus College

Jesus College dining hall
Jesus College dining hall

Jesus College quadrangle
Jesus College quadrangle

Jesus College chapel
Jesus College chapel

Jesus College chapel
Jesus College chapel

Exeter College quadrangle
Exeter College quadrangle

Exeter College chapel
Exeter College chapel

Exeter College chapel
Exeter College chapel

I love the detail on the organ of Exeter College chapel
I love the detail on the organ of Exeter College chapel

Exeter College chapel
Exeter College chapel

Exeter College quadrangle
Exeter College quadrangle

South side of the Divinity School
South side of the Divinity School

Radcliffe Camera
Radcliffe Camera

Lincoln College quadrangle
Lincoln College quadrangle

Lincoln College dining hall
Lincoln College dining hall

New College quadrangle
New College quadrangle

New College grounds including the old Oxford city wall
New College grounds including the old Oxford city wall

New College chapel
New College chapel

Beautiful stained glass in New College chapel
Beautiful stained glass in New College chapel

Crook of the crozier of William of Wykeham
Crook of the crozier of William of Wykeham

New College chapel
New College chapel

Cloister of New College featured in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Cloister of New College featured in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

New College quadrangle
New College quadrangle

New College quadrangle
New College quadrangle

New College quadrangle featured in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
New College quadrangle featured in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Draco gets turned into a ferret under this tree
Draco gets turned into a ferret under this tree

After talking to Cedric, Harry walks through this gate
After talking to Cedric, Harry walks through this gate

So next headed down to Christ Church to go in and see the hall and cathedral.  The hall being the inspiration for the great hall in Harry Potter, and they used the entrance staircase in Philosopher's Stone.  So that was pretty squee.  


Christ Church college
Christ Church college

Christ Church Cathedral
Christ Church Cathedral

Christ Church quadrangle
Christ Church quadrangle

There's a shot of Ron and Hermione at the top of these steps at the end of Chamber of Secrets
There's a shot of Ron and Hermione at the top of these steps at the end of Chamber of Secrets

Entrance to Hogwarts!
Entrance to Hogwarts!

Steps used in the first two Harry Potter movies
Steps used in the first two Harry Potter movies

Steps used in the first two Harry Potter movies
Steps used in the first two Harry Potter movies

McGonnagal stood at the top of these stairs to welcome the first years
McGonnagal stood at the top of these stairs to welcome the first years

The kids all walk up here
The kids all walk up here

The real entrance to the Great Hall
The real entrance to the Great Hall

Christ Church dining room
Christ Church dining room

Christ Church dining room
Christ Church dining room

Christ Church ceiling - does it look anything like Hogwarts?
Christ Church ceiling - does it look anything like Hogwarts?

Christ Church dining room
Christ Church dining room

The fireplace with the
The fireplace with the "long necks" that inspired Lewis Carroll

Christ Church Cathedral
Christ Church Cathedral

Christ Church Cathedral
Christ Church Cathedral

Another Christ Church quadrangle
Another Christ Church quadrangle

Feet were dead by this point and we were hungry so we headed back to London.


Bicycle parking at Oxford Station
Bicycle parking at Oxford Station

UK trains with built-in GPS and airline style entertainment system (that you had to pay for)
UK trains with built-in GPS and airline style entertainment system (that you had to pay for)

Stopped at a Chinese restaurant near the hotel for dinner - had some very nice szechuan twice fried pork and bok choi in oyster sauce.

Got back to the hotel and my world fell apart...


Geotagging - Day 21
Geotagging - Day 31 

Geotagging - Day 21
Geotagging - Day 31

Photos on the Canon: 294
Photos on the Sony: 158
Photos on the Video: 1
Videos on the Video: 10
Steps walked: 15637
Pounds Spent: ?
So yeah last night my world fell apart because I looked to find out what time Legoland opened, and found that it doesn't open at all on Tuesdays and Wednesdays :(
Actually a single sad face doesn't even begin to cover my devastation :(

So we slept in late.

Maccas for breakfast - but only just - got there at 10:40 and had the last of their hash browns and two of the last four sausage and egg McMuffins.

Then trained it into Leicester Square.  Stu went and got a haircut and I went to get photos of a couple of Monopoly streets I somehow missed last time.


Kate Winslet's handprints at Leicester Square
Kate Winslet's handprints at Leicester Square

Stu outside the barber shop he got his hair cut at
Stu outside the barber shop he got his hair cut at
Then we went to a couple of book stores - Orbital and Forbidden Planet - the latter being more interesting (for me) and bigger, but Stu bought a couple of books from the former.  


Jareth and Hoggle
Jareth and Hoggle
Carried on walking.  Arrived at Temple Church just before 2pm, which is when it was opening for the day, then had a look around inside.


Telephone boxes
Telephone boxes

Australia House - Gringotts!
Australia House - Gringotts!

Foyer of Australia House
Foyer of Australia House

Bus on Fleet Street
Bus on Fleet Street

Temple Church
Temple Church

Temple Church
Temple Church

Temple Church
Temple Church

Temple Church
Temple Church

Temple Church
Temple Church

Temple Church
Temple Church

Temple Church
Temple Church

Temple Church
Temple Church

Angry looking pegasus
Angry looking pegasus

Temple Church in stained glass
Temple Church in stained glass
Up to St Pauls to get a few more photos of the exterior (because it was raining last time which made it quite difficult to get photos).  


St Paul's Cathedral
St Paul's Cathedral

St Paul's Cathedral
St Paul's Cathedral

St Paul's Cathedral
St Paul's Cathedral

Queen Anne statue outside St Paul's Cathedral
Queen Anne statue outside St Paul's Cathedral

Queen Anne statue outside St Paul's Cathedral
Queen Anne statue outside St Paul's Cathedral
Then headed for St Mary-Le-Bow church, to find the vegetarian cafe (Cafe Below) which Stu had read about in his Secret London book.  Had a bit of lunch there (it was about 3:30pm by now).


Royal Exchange, Bank
Royal Exchange, Bank
Then Stu found a Starbucks to have a coffee in while I went and climbed the 311 steps of the Monument.  Kicking myself I didn't get the chance to go up it when it cost me £1, so I had to pay an additional £3 today - doh!  Was a crap day for a view, but did get to see Tower Bridge open up for a cruise liner to go through it.


Monument
Monument

Looking up the stairs of Monument
Looking up the stairs of Monument

London from Monument
London from Monument

Tower Bridge from Monument
Tower Bridge from Monument

The Shard under construction
The Shard under construction

London Eye and Tate Modern
London Eye and Tate Modern

Golden Hinde and Pickfords Wharf
Golden Hinde and Pickfords Wharf

Strata SE1 (aka Isengard)
Strata SE1 (aka Isengard)

Tower Bride opening
Tower Bride opening

Alexander von Humbolt going through Tower Bridge
Alexander von Humbolt going through Tower Bridge

The Gherkin
The Gherkin

St Paul's Cathedral
St Paul's Cathedral

Gold top of Monument
Gold top of Monument

Top of Monument
Top of Monument
Finally headed up past Liverpool St station to meet Campbell for dinner in a restaurant called Ping Pong hehee.  Was a pretty good yum cha sort of a meal, and it was super awesome to catch up with Campbell.


The Gherkin
The Gherkin
Then headed back to the hotel to try and sort out our finances (we seem to have gone over our travel card limit by £13 so not sure what's going to happen there) and sort out paperwork.


Geotagging - Day 32
Geotagging - Day 32

Photos on the Canon: 194
Photos on the Sony: 103
Photos on the iPhone: 27
Photos on the Olympus: 3
Photos on the Blackberry: 9
Photos on the Video: 9
Videos on the Video: 9
Steps walked: 16521
Pounds Spent: ?
Took a whole 68 photos today, 55 of them on Random Camera.

Maccas for breakfast, rinse and repeat.


Stu and the Tardis at Earl's Court Station
Stu and the Tardis at Earl's Court Station

Then tubed it out to Camden Town to have a look at the markets.  Didn't actually make it as far as the stables markets, just as far as the lock.


Camden Market
Camden Market

Plane on the side of a building
Plane on the side of a building

Camden Market
Camden Market

Vespa seats
Vespa seats

Stu and the Camden Lion
Stu and the Camden Lion

Camden Lock
Camden Lock

Camden Lock
Camden Lock

Camden Lock
Camden Lock

Camden Lock
Camden Lock

Camden Lock
Camden Lock

Camden
Camden

Camden
Camden

White chocolate and dark chocolate fountains
White chocolate and dark chocolate fountains

Mind the Gap
Mind the Gap

Then wandered back to Leicester Square for lunch.  Went to this Mexican place Stu thought looked interesting the last time (actually the first time, this was our third time to Leicester Square) we were there.  So we sat down outside but noone came.  Started at the windows hoping someone would pay attention to us.  Finally the woman on the door came out and said oh we're not serving outside today.  Fail.  You could have told us that before instead of letting us sit there.  Had some margaritas and some nice nachos, but my caesar salad was probably the worst caesar salad I've ever had - just a bunch of lettuce and a few croutons with a bit of sauce.  There were a couple of token bits of parmesan cheese but no bacon.  Fail fail fail.

So I was grumpy and a bit stressed, because my next destination I was going to by myself and didn't know exactly where it was.

The next destination being the Adelphi theatre for a production of "Love Never Dies" - a sequel to Phantom of the Opera.  It had mixed reviews and I didn't know any of the songs, so I was trying to not to expect too much of it.  In the end I really enjoyed it, even though when I recounted the story to Stu it actually sounded really lame (and I suppose it was).  An encore performance with the whole ensemble at the end would have been nice, as the ending was quite sad and quiet.

Then back to the hotel at peak hour.  In the rain.  Have I ever mentioned how much it rains here?

After resting for a bit, we went back to No 10 Chinese again for dinner (spicy chicken this time, which wasn't too spicy unless you had the dried chilies.

And then repacked our suitcases and tried to mentally prepare for the next 48 hours...


Geotagging - Day 33
Geotagging - Day 33

Photos on the Canon: 13
Photos on the Sony: 55
Photos on the iPhone: 6
Photos on the Blackberry: 5
Steps walked: 8053
Pounds Spent: ?