England and ENGLISH!

January 12, 2010 at 7:31 pm (Travel)

Why do holidays always go so fast?  I’m already back at school and of course nowhere near ready for reality.  😦   I had a wonderful Christmas break travelling though England.  That was, when I finally got there.  I spent my first holiday weekend with Angela and her family and flew out to Manchester on the Sunday.  Of course the weather had other ideas… how about a snow storm Sunday afternoon?  I was late to the airport after my train was late, not that it mattered as my plane had already been delayed.  We took off five hours after schedule and arrived at 2am in Manchester.  (They told us as we were landing that when we took off from Frankfurt, Manchester Airport wasn’t even open!  They took off on the whim that they MIGHT open it!)

Luckily I had the most entertaining person sitting next to me… an international equestrian judge who has flown all over the world to judge something he loves.  He has also just written a book on horses for teenagers, competed in the 1988 Seoul Olympics AND survived a heart attack while on a flight.  Definitely made for some interesting plane conversation!

Poor Bec Haining (hockey) was lovely and even waited up to see me in.  Of course after copious

My Manchester tour guide and drinking partner Bec!

amounts of coffee and all the excitement it took me a while to calm down before I could finally sleep.  Was SO fantastic to see her.  We were literally jumping up and down in the snow.  While in Manchester we went shopping (I was reminded as to how much better shopping is in England compared to Germany and I am already considering a shopping weekend to Manchester to visit Bec later in the year.), had a pyjama day, visited the pub and went to Pub Quiz night.

After a couple of nights I travelled up to Scarborough to spend Christmas with family.  Some of you may remember that I spent Christmas with Chris and Jonty when I was last in Europe 2007/2008.  It was fantastic to be able to spend it with them and the family again, and in particular to get to know Dylan the newest (and cutest) member.  Christmas was the traditional roast dinner with Chris’ famous Yorkshire puddings and I got to speak to my whole family back home, which was lovely.

Of course, the highlight of Christmas in Scarborough is the Boxing Day festivities.  This includes a soccer game fisherman versus fireman, a raft race in the freezing harbour and copious amounts of alcohol.  Jonathan’s raft actually made it round the course this year, which was a big improvement on the raft I saw two years ago.  I had a fabulous night and made it home at a respectful hour.

With Kelley at the Lakes

I was sad to leave the family but also excited to be on my way.  Next stop Darwen (pronounced like Darwin) staying with Mark and Kelley.  I had shown Mark and Kelley a bit of Melbourne when they had visited and they had offered to have me for a few nights.  Mark showed me the highest motorway point in Britain on our trip from Scarborough to Darwen and we also went on a walk to the Darwen Tower.  We visited the Trafford Centre which was busier than I have EVER seen Southland and it was three days after Boxing Day.  They also took me to the Lakes District, which was absolutely breathtaking.  It was all covered in snow, which made the whole place look even more incredible.

New Years Festivities were had with Bec.  Neither of us had plans, so it made sense to spend it together.  I only have one word.  EPIC.

The next day a very tired and ill feeling Kate was picked up by Suzie Sheehy and her boyfriend John to spend a couple of nights in Oxford.  Suzie and I were in prep together and hadn’t seen each other for about three years.  It was fantastic to see her and catch up on all her news.  They showed me Oxford, which is an absolutely amazingly beautiful town.  I love the way that the city sprung up around the university, not the other way around.  We visited Christchurch (one

Outside Christchurch with Suzie

of the many colleges) and saw the Harry Potter Dining Room.  They doubled it in size for the movie but you can definitely see the resemblance.  We also saw the stairs where Draco and Harry had some fight.  Another highlight was visiting Magdalen College.  This was especially special as they had actually closed the college to visitors for the day but we got in because John used to go there.  (They even checked his name on the database!)  It was so quiet when we walked around, so you didn’t get the tourist vibe at all.  Very cool.  I was particularly impressed with the deer park.  Why a college needs a deer park is beyond me!

We also went into the Oxford countryside for a traditional Sunday pub meal lunch.  The pub was absolutely beautiful and also happens to be where Kate Winslet had her wedding reception.  The meal was absolutely delicious… god I miss good English pubs when I am not in the country!  A trip to the Stanley Spencer Gallery in Cookham was also very interesting.

Next stop London!  My big aim for my London trip was to visit Westminster Abbey.  Every time I go to London I mean to do it, but then the price of entry always puts me off.  Kate A however, had ensured me that the trip was well worth the effort so I was determined to do it this time.  I dropped my bag off at Catrina Denvir’s work (another school friend who I loved catching up with) and headed down to Westminster.  Well Kate A, thank you for the tip.  The building is AMAZING and well worth the entry cost.  Simply unbelievable, especially the Lady’s chapel.  I was there for hours.

The next day my plan was to meet up with Alisia Simmons (school/hockey).  We had somehow worked out that we were both going to be in London for a day.  🙂  Her plane had been delayed and as we were meeting up at Euston Station, I googled places of interest within walking distance and decided to visit the British Library.  Once again I was taken back.  The Sir John Ritblat Gallery houses the treasures of the British Library and has original documents from people such as Charles Darwin, Beethoven and Gutenberg.  There is even copies of the original Magna Carta which is ‘one of the most celebrated documents in English history’.  There were lyrics from the Beatles, including Yesterday.  But of course, I found the literary books of most interest… part of Da Vinci’s codex, Jane Austen’s Persuasion and most amazingly… Lewis Caroll’s original manuscript of Alice’s Adventures Under Ground.  Absolutely AMAZING!

Seeing Lis was also fantastic.  I can’t believe it’s been a whole year since she left Australia.  So much has happened!  We roamed the city and caught up with Tasma (hockey) for dinner.  It was so nice just having dinner and drinks with them, because it made me feel like I was just home in Aus having a catch up with mates.  Tasma heads home in February and Lis is coming to visit me  in Jan!  Already so excited.

Final stop, back to Manchester and one last night out with Bec.  Another big one, with the highlight of beating two boys at pool.  Not exactly sure how we did that one Bec (especially after our attempt on NYE!)  Even with all the snow I managed to travel home safely and easily (even had a double seat to myself as there were only ten people on our plane!)

My Christmas trip to England was brilliant and I would like to take this opportunity to thank everybody who made it so wonderful:

Manchester  –  Bec, Cahoma and Ros.
Scarborough  –  Chris, Jonty, Jonathan, Viki, Matt and Dylan.
Darwen  –  Mark and Kelley
Oxford  –  Suzie and John
London  –  Cat, Rach, Lis and Tasma

I seriously appreciated it guys and I hope to see you all again soon.

For now… it’s back to work and back to reality… at least for a little bit.


P.s  Bear had a great Christmas too.  Check out all our photos http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=185945&id=509745588&l=8949047429  and you will see him in his new jumper, scarf and hat, all Christmas presents!


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