Posts Tagged With: weather

Cambridge – Colleges and Cold

The last two nights of our trip were spent in Cambridge.  We had visited Cambridge during our last trip in the northern summer of 2014 and took a punt tour on the River Cam on a glorious sunny day (you can see the photos here) so the focus was slightly different this time.

It was about an hour and a half trip  from London on the train.  We arrived on Tuesday afternoon and had time to arrive at our accommodation, change and freshen up before setting out again.

Our destination was King’s College Chapel as we wanted to attend Choral Evensong.  The service was scheduled to begin at 5.30pm, by which time it is dark at the end of November.  We had a brief wait in  short queue in the quadrangle before we were ushered into the chapel.  This was most welcome as the weather was cold and drizzling with rain as well as being dark.

King’s College Chapel is the venue for the annual BBC program “A Festival of  Nine Lessons and Carols from King’s College” which is also broadcast in Australia so I was familiar with the view and layout of the interior of the chapel, however, nothing prepares you for the reality of actually being there.  Naturally, there are no photos permitted, however, here are a few that I took of the exterior during daylight hours.

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We also managed to squeeze in a couple of meals at beautiful historic pubs.  Unfortunately, I don’t have any photos.  The first one was The Free Press which is tucked away in a quieter corner of Cambridge.  It was the perfect spot for dinner after Evensong at the chapel.  Since it was well after dark I could not take a photo of the exterior of this historic pub so here is one with compliments of the internet.

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Grantchester is a tiny village outside Cambridge which we visited the next day.  We caught a bus to the urban fringe of Cambridge and then walked a couple of kilometres to Grantchester where we had a late lunch at the Red Lion.  Once again, I had to resort to the internet for an image as I had chosen to take a break from photos.  The thatched roof was of particular interest.

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On our final day we had a real taste of winter as the temperature struggled to 3C.  We rugged up and took a stroll around a few streets in the heart of Cambridge.

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There was even an historic windmill in the backyard adjacent to the rear of the property where we were staying.  Apparently it is over 300 years old and had fallen into disrepair but is being restored by the current owners.

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It is also worth noting that the temperatures dropped significantly during our 4 week trip with the second half of the month barely reaching double digits and the last few days were particularly cold.  It was time to go home!  In fact there were very light snowfalls in London within 12 hours of our departure.

The short days and cool weather were part of the reason that we chose November to visit London.  It was a completely new experience for us as each of our previous trips to the northern hemisphere have been during the summer.  As with everything, research and planning are the keys to success.  We were not bothered by the shorter days because most of our plans for for indoor activities such as galleries, museums and shows. The few outdoor activities were easily accommodated in daylight hours on a number of bright, sunny days with which we were blessed.

This is the penultimate blog entry for the trip with a final one tomorrow with the all important financial wrap-up.

Thanks for coming along for the ride and I hope you have enjoyed reading about our experiences.

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Ottawa in One Day

Like Montreal, we had just one full day in Ottawa.  Our run of luck with almost perfect weather ran out as the rain began on the evening we arrived and continued well into the next day.

After a slow start we braved the showery conditions and walked from our accommodation to Parliament Hill.

On our way we walked through the old market area of Bytown (the original name for Ottawa) and across the Rideau Canal.  The series of locks at the junction of the canal and Ottawa River proved irresistible as we watched a vessel make its way through.  It is all manually operated.  It took almost an hour for the boat to navigate all of the locks.

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Looking the other way along the canal.  In winter, the canal becomes a giant ice-skating rink as the entire waterway freezes.

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The Parliament Building has commanding position atop the hill on the southern bank of the Ottawa River and overlooks the city.

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As you can see from the sky in the photographs, it was not a great day for sightseeing but we persevered and took in as much of the city sights as we could.

The weather fined up late in the afternoon and we were able to go back to the Parliament Buildings to see the “Northern Lights:Sound and Light Show” set against the backdrop of the building.  It was well done with amazing technology and we really enjoyed it.

The next day was fine and sunny for our train trip to Toronto which is the final stop in our trip.  We have a couple of big events planned during our 3 nights there but more on that in the next post.

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An Historical Perspective

We spent 2 nights in Fredericton, the capital of New Brunswick with no particular plans in mind.

One of the first priorities was to locate a dentist who could take a look at a tooth which I had chipped a night earlier.  That proved to be relatively simple and with the jagged edge smoothed I could happily continue the holiday and make an appointment with my dentist when we get home.

Officers’ Square seems to be at the heart of the historic precinct in Fredericton and we happened to arrive there a few moments before the scheduled Changing of the Guard enactment which happens each day during July and August.  However, the drizzle decided to turn to rain and there was an announcement that it was cancelled.

There was still time to fire the muskets, though.

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The display boards offer some additional information.

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Unfortunately, it was too wet for much sightseeing so decided on a quiet afternoon.

The next day dawned overcast but fine and we set off for King’s Landing Historical Settlement which is about 20 minutes from Fredericton.  This village showcases life in New Brunswick during the period from about 1780 – 1910 and includes farms, a school and various commercial activites such as the printery, sawmill and the inn.  Seeing the sawmill in action was undoubtedly the highlight of the visit.

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The wheel that drives the sawmill with individually cut wooden cogs.

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The exterior of the mill showing the dam wall and the water wheel.

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Kitchen duties

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And the runaway oxen

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Once again, the drizzle turned into rain so we decided it was time to adjourn to the King’s Head Inn for lunch.

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A quick visit to the cottage by the lake and then it was time to say goodbye to John and Shari with whom we had spent the day.

Thank you for a lovely time and it was great to meet up with you again.




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Coastal Capers

On Sunday we headed down the coast from where we are staying at the Head of St Margaret’s Bay.  We drove as far as Lunenberg where we visited the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic.

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This was most interesting and the bonus was that it was covered by our museum pass that we had purchased the previous day.

We met this character on the wharf outside.

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A stroll around the town revealed many brightly coloured buildings.

On the way back we stopped at Mahone Bay, another waterfront township with a myriad of craft galleries and eateries.  There was a storm brewing.

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There was next to no rain and very soon it was bright sunshine and very humid again.


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Catching Up

We spent close to 24 hours travelling by train from Chicago to Boston so nothing too exciting to report.

In fact, the most memorable moment was when we both realised that we had left our hats behind on the train.  Oops!!  GMan had already decided that his had seen better days and he would probably replace it after this trip but we had do it rather sooner than that.  The temperature in Boston was well over 30C so we picked up these hats at the local chemist.

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Our accommodation in Boston was only a couple of blocks from the Bunker Hill monument so it was an easy stroll even in the heat.

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We climbed the 294 steps to the top of the monument.  At least it was not hot inside, thanks to the insulation properties of the huge granite blocks.  Here is a view from the top.

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In the afternoon we had a complete change of pace and took a tour of the Samuel Adams brewery.  It was interesting and informative as well as highly entertaining, thanks to our guide, Alicia.  We gained a bit of notoriety as those who had travelled the greatest distance to Boston.

I did not take any photos, however, these are the labels which also double as entry tickets.  They use different labels for each tour – there are about 10/day as it seems to be very popular.

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Popular Culture at Portmeirion

I had never heard of Portmeirion until we were planning this trip and The Duke was adamant that one place he definitely wanted to see was Portmeirion.  Apparently it is where scenes from a 1960’s television series called, “The Prisoner” were filmed.

The village is actually an architectural extravaganza created by one man, Sir Clough Williams-Ellis.  If you want to know more

Otherwise, scroll down and be amazed by the pictures.





This is just a small selection of the photos I took of the buildings.  However, the gardens and woodlands are also significant.





Like the previous day, the weather did not look particularly promising so we set out so that we were there when the gates opened at 9.30am.  We were able to get 1.5 hours of sightseeing in before the rain set in.  We could have spent longer there, studying the quirky architecture more closely and wandering more of the woodland paths but we very glad that we were able to enjoy some time at Potmeirion.  The Duke is very happy that he was able to visit and he also bought a souvenir – a pair of socks with a logo from “The Prisoner”.

It was just after 11am by the time we left and since we were rather limited by the weather we drove down to Aberystwyth where we had a mostly dry day and we just looked around the town and picked up a few essential groceries.

We would have liked to see more of Snowdonia and the old slate mines in the area and perhaps even taken a ride on the Blaenau Ffestiniog railway but that was not be due to the weather.  We will have to save those for another trip!

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Changing Countries

In Australia we tend to think nothing of driving long distances and of course it can be more than a hundred kilometres between towns.

England is quite a different story with villages often only 5 miles apart, narrow roads and much higher volumes of traffic.

Because of the places we wanted to visit we ended up with one day of a substantial drive.  We drove from Thirsk in north Yorkshire to Porthmadog in Wales.  It took about 8 hours which included a break of about an hour for lunch.  We could have covered the distance much more quickly if we had sped along the motorways, however, we chose to avoid them and stick to lesser roads, and in some cases, thoroughfares that were little more than a country lane.

We enjoyed seeing place names that we were familiar with such as Macclesfield, Ashbourne and Glossop which was where we had lunch.  We drove through another small town called Holmfirth about 25 km south-west of Leeds.  We know that this is the general vicinity of where some of The Duke’s ancestors came from so it was interesting to see it.

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This is view as we climbed the hills above Holmfirth.

Once we were approaching Chester we made our way onto the North Wales expressway which took us along the coast until we turned off at Conwy and headed south through Snowdonia National Park.

Unfortunately, by this time the weather was not terribly favourable and most of the mountain peaks of Snowdonia were shrouded in low cloud.  I did take this photo of some of the landscape.

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We came to Porthmadog for a very specific reason – The Duke wanted to visit nearby Portmeirion.

This post is almost devoid of photos, however, I will make up for that with the next post from Portmeirion.


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Hello London

It is now just 24 hours since we set foot in London.  What an amazing time we have had already.

We caught the train from Heathrow to Paddington via Earl’s Court with a short walk to our accommodation.  After a very welcome shower we headed out for a light dinner and called in at a local pub on the way back.

This morning we went back to Paddington Station to buy our Rail Pass and tickets for today.

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We also met a bear.

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The Paddington Bear shop was not open when we went past but we will definitely be going back as it looks amazing.

Then it was time for some sightseeing.

Marble Arch near the entrance to Hyde Park.

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3 London icons in one photo.

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As you can see it had been raining.  At first it was very light as we left our accommodation, however, when we got to Marble Arch it was steady and the next thing it was heavy.  We spent a bit of time under a shop awning while we decided our next strategic move as clearly it was not the weather for strolling.  We hopped on the Tube again to Westminster and headed for the Churchill War Rooms which was on our list of things to see while in London.  Standing in a relatively short queue was OK until the next downpour.  We spent about 2.5 hours at this venue which included a break for lunch at the cafe.

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A large mug of steaming hot vegetable soup was just what we needed.

Unlike most museums photographs were encouraged.  This was the War Cabinet Room.


When we came out the sun was shining so we continued our walk.

Big Ben

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and the Houses of Parliament.

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A stroll through the tranquility of St James’ Park.

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This really was the calm before the storm.  Within minutes of taking this photo, we could see a huge black cloud in front of us, we were nearly blown off our feet and the rain came down in torrents.  Oh, and there was a bit of thunder to make it really interesting.  It was all over in 5 minutes but by that time we decided that we had done enough for one day.

On the way home we stopped at the supermarket and picked up some meat and vegetables to prepare for dinner.  So it is a quiet evening with home-cooked dinner and doing some washing.

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