Matilda, Catbells and Crabbies: UK and Scotland

We didn’t celebrate Halloween when I was a kid in England in the ’50s, although they do now. So while everyone else is getting ready for Halloween I’m still reviewing our four weeks in the UK this summer.

I plan other posts with more detail. This is a skip across the terrain of my memories to share some high points:

London (which was having, according to a headline, the driest July in 237 years, and it was hot):

With my patron saint, George, in Hyde Park (note the summer shift)

With my patron saint, George, in Hyde Park (note the summer shift)

 “Matilda” My cousin from New Zealand and her husband were near the end of their UK stay when we arrived, so we had arranged to have lunch and see a matinée of Matilda, the musical based on a Roald Dahl story. The lunch (New Zealand “fusion”) was overpriced and disappointing but we all enjoyed the show. That evening, Gary and I attended a second play, “The Woman in Black,” a thriller with an extra twist: we left the theater through a side entrance and the door banged open as a young woman came around the corner. Hearing the door bang and seeing me (in black) she screamed, genuinely terrified. I apologized profusely but she was clearly still shaken.

British Museum: What is there to say? Half a day doesn’t scratch the surface. I found myself fascinated by jewelry, which is timeless. I could wear a piece hundreds of years old and it would be stylish. They may have thought I was casing the joint, I took so many pictures of jewelry.

British Museum jewelry 2

British Museum jewelry

A walk past St. Paul’s, the Millennium Bridge and a few hours in the Tate Modern.

St. Paul's Cathedral, the Millennium Bridge, seen from the Tate Modern

St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Millennium Bridge, seen from the Tate Modern

Stockton-on-Tees, Yorkshire:

Escaping hot London, we took the train to Yorkshire to visit my cousin Kay, her husband Phil and their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. It’s interesting to meet for the first time people to whom you are related and in whom you see family traits and resemblances. Kay and Phil took us to a terrific local museum, the

The Preston, in Stockton-on-Tees, and

A new friend at the Preston Museum

A new friend at the Preston Museum

Whitby, famous for its ruined Abbey, James Cook, Dracula’s landfall; also my grandmother’s birthplace.

Whitby Abbey

Whitby Abbey

Cemetery where Dracula hung out

Cemetery where Dracula hung out

Whitby waterfront

Whitby waterfront

with my cousin Kay in Whitby

with my cousin Kay in Whitby

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scotland:

St. Andrews, Mecca for a golfer like Gary.

St. Andrew's, a golfer's Mecca

St. Andrew’s, a golfer’s Mecca

3SAndrews 18 stone marker

Edinburgh was fascinating; also cool and rainy, blessed relief from the heat in England. The misty, mysterious castle in the rain, an escape into the National Gallery, the Royal Yacht Britannia, the Royal Mile, St. Giles Cathedral, jazz in a pub and lots more for future posts.

4 Edinburgh Castle

The castle in the mist.

National Gallery of Scotland stairwell

National Gallery of Scotland stairwell

4E Edinburgh cemetery sepia, JillInverness: Rick Steves gives Inverness very little praise, but we found it beautiful and friendly, a perfect jumping-off point for Loch Ness but worth visiting in its own right. The walk along the river is gorgeous.

River Ness

River Ness

5I River Ness upstream view

Culloden Battlefield, where Bonnie Prince Charlie’s forces were defeated.

Culloden Battlefield

Culloden Battlefield, appropriately gloomy

Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle. A boat ride on the Loch and visit to the castle ruin.

Urquhart Castle and Loch ness

Urquhart Castle and Loch Ness

5I Urquhart Castle from Loch Ness

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Return to England:

Lake District. Keswick, charming little town on Derwentwater. This is the actual “high point,” where we climbed a mountain called Cat Bells, my first “fourteener,” except it was fourteen hundred, not fourteen thousand, feet. But it was rainy, chilly and windy, with wet, slippery rocks and a real challenge. The ascent took about two hours, then we found a short way down, which was grassy, so that’s where I slipped and fell on my butt (luckily unhurt). We also got lost and went many miles out of our way trying to find our way back to the lake and a boat to take us back to Keswick.

Gary in the main square, Keswick

Gary in the main square, Keswick

We also visited Bowness and Grasmere (Wordsworth’s home) and rode through Windermere. Keswick was the least touristy.

Lake Windermere, Bowness

Lake Windermere, Bowness

Ground rainbow on Derwentwater

Ground rainbow on Derwentwater

Triumphant conquest of Catbells!

Triumphant conquest of Catbells!

Bath:

Our b&b was run by a former mayor, so we had insider tips on what to see and do in our two-day visit. Unusual and interesting city which I’ll cover more later. We caught a breathtaking production of “King Lear,” with David Haig as Lear.

Bath Abbey

Bath Abbey

Roman Baths

Roman Baths

Great Poultney Bridge (with shops on it), Bath

Great Pulteney Bridge (with shops on it), Bath

 

One of my favorite places, King George V garden, Bath

One of my favorite places, King George V garden, Bath

Cambridge: King’s College Chapel, the Scott Polar Research Center and museum (which we luckily stumbled across, since I’m fascinated by polar exploration. I was awed to behold items Scott used before his death in Antarctica. A very brief closing-time visit to the fabulous Fitzwilliam Museum and a relaxing break watching punters on the Cam.

Kings College Chapel

Kings College Chapel, Cambridge

 

Punting on the Cam

Punting on the Cam

Newmarket, my birthplace. We walked past my old home and the church where I was christened, and had Sunday lunch on High Street.

My childhood home

My childhood home

St. Mary's (Anglican) Church: "Take the damn picture already!"

St. Mary’s (Anglican) Church: “Take the damn picture already!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back to London, where it was cooler and even rained:

Courtauld Gallery: I had wanted to see Manet’s “Bar at the Folies Bergère,” a reproduction of which we have in our house. I also hoped to see Manet’s “Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe,” but it was not on display.

Manet at the Courtauld

Manet at the Courtauld

Trafalgar Square: We missed Piccadilly Circus and Buckingham Palace this trip, but, like Times Square, Trafalgar Square is a crossroads of the world. The blue rooster had been dedicated only a few weeks before. Its significance and appropriateness to the site escapes me.

The obligatory Trafalgar Square shot, with blue rooster

The obligatory Trafalgar Square shot, with blue rooster

 

 

St. Martin-in-the-Fields

St. Martin-in-the-Fields

We had lunch in the crypt at St. Martin in the Fields, and spent an afternoon in

The National Gallery, where I was chided by a guard for a forbidden photo (most galleries do allow photos without flash).

9L2 Nat Gallery forbidden flowers

Forbidden photo of flowers at the National Gallery

Big Ben, Parliament and Downing Street, on a rainy evening

Big Ben

Big Ben

The Tower and Tower Bridge as the sun set

Tower of London with the new Shard.

Tower of London with the new Shard.

Tower Bridge as the sun went down (from London Bridge)

Tower Bridge as the sun went down (from London Bridge)

British Library: astonishing. Original manuscripts, music from Bach to the Beatles, really weird statue of Isaac Newton.

Newton

Newton

Look who represents propaganda!

Look who represents propaganda!

Greenwich: Maritime Museum, Royal Observatory and Prime Meridian, the Painted Hall, Naval Hospital Chapel, the Cutty Sark and unexpectedly good margaritas and nachos (prepared by a friendly Turkish chef)

Maritime Museum, Greenwich

Maritime Museum, Greenwich

Prime Meridian

Prime Meridian

Cutty Sark

Cutty Sark

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Margaritas and nachos in Greenwich!

Margaritas and nachos in Greenwich!

Army Museum, Saatchi Gallery, Spamalot: our last full—and packed—day. I was about museumed out, but the Saatchi was another lucky find. The Army museum was just about one museum too many for me. That evening we saw Spamalot, after deciding we wanted to see the most “English” of the available shows. We loved it despite no dinner—the nearby pub (Sherlock Holmes) didn’t have a kitchen, so we had only crisps and drinks, but I got my Crabbies, a ginger-flavored beer I fell in love with when Kay and Phil took us to Sunday lunch at the Black Horse Pub. Their grandson Matthew let me have sip of his Crabbies and I had found my drink for the duration. It reminded me of the “Ginger Tom” at the late lamented Dux de Lux pub in Christchurch, New Zealand , closed after the 2011 earthquake.

Victoria and Albert Museum: last stop. I was too tired to appreciate this phenomenal museum. It features a beautiful oriental carpet that is only lit 10 minutes each hour (to preserve it), with comfortable sofas around it. I appreciated it (and the sofas) in both light and darkness.

Victoria and Albert Courtyard, where I was tempted to "paddle" in the pond with the kids

Victoria and Albert courtyard, where I was tempted to “paddle” in the pond with the kids

There was so much we wanted to do and didn’t get to: the Isle of Skye, Wales, Salisbury, the Cotswolds, many other London museums and sights. We will be back. Last shots just for fun:

Shop window near Covent Garden

Shop window near Covent Garden

Bar pretending to be a funeral home

Bar pretending to be a funeral home

Last picture of the trip, Victoria Bus Station on the way to Heathrow

Last picture of the trip, Victoria Bus Station on the way to Heathrow

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