Saturday, May 25, 2024

UK Road Trip, May 2024

All over the place, UK. May-2024.

Well actually more of a rail trip. Mary booked tickets for Average White Band in Edinburgh almost a year ago so we always had planned a flying visit back from Italy especially for this concert followed by John Bishop in Newcastle. The original plan was a couple of days in Penrith then off to Milan for the start of a 6 day walking holiday. 

Sadly we had to cancel that holiday but, by a series of lucky coincidences, this turned a very short visit into a 11 day road trip back to the UK taking in the AWB concert, John Bishop show, a 70th birthday party, and a visit to my second cousin. 

We only had three days in Penrith which meant we had to cram lots into a short time window.

Friday 10: Edinburgh: a very long day. Our taxi picked us up at 9:30 in Cisternino to drive us to Bari airport. We flew to Gatwick and then caught the train all the way up to Edinburgh arriving at 21:30 (22:30 Italian time). A total of 13 hours travelling but we decided it was better that way because the direct flights from Brindisi to Edinburgh didn’t land till almost midnight.

Saturday 11: Edinburgh: Saturday morning was, of course, #parkrunday. Our choice was a bus ride across town to Oriam to give us an “O” towards our second parkrun alphabet. Mary's sister Sandra drove over from Glasgow to join us. That evening we went to see Average White Band at Usher Hall as part of their farewell "Funk Finale Tour".

Sunday 12: Newcastle: Before leaving Edinburgh we had a morning to spare so we walked down to Leith looking at old buildings. 

The 'Pilrig Muddle' These two large cable-winding wheels were constructed between 1898 and 1900 and were discovered nearby during the construction of the Trams to Newhaven Project in August 2021. Located at the junction of Leith Walk and Pilrig Street they formed part of the underground cable system for the Edinburgh and District Tramways Company's cable-trams.
Although Edinburgh and Leith had been connected by horse-drawn trams since the 1870's, Leith Burgh Council decided not to join Edinburgh's cable-tram system. Instead in 1905 Leith pioneered electric traction under the Leith Corporation Tramways.
However the use of two different tram systems meant that passengers travelling between Leith and Edinburgh would have to change tramcars at the Leith Walk / Pilrig Street junction, the boundary between the two Burghs. Known as the "Pilrig Muddle', this lasted until 1922 when the route became fully electric allowing passengers to travel without having to change.

Lamb's House: The present house is an example of early-17th-century architecture typical of harbour towns around the North Sea. The site was originally owned by Edinburgh merchant and shipowner Andrew Lamb. The Lamb family were reputed to have entertained Mary, Queen of Scots, somewhere nearby on her return from France in 1561. [wikipedia].

The signal tower, built by Robert Mylne in 1686, was originally a windmill for pressing rape-seed oil. It was converted c.1805. It stands on the shore where ships entering Leith landed their goods before the development of the modern docks in the 19th century.

On the way back into town, we passed an antique shop with two Parker Knoll chairs in the window which Mary could not resist. We then had the challenge of how to get them back to Penrith.

We had a lovely brunch at Brunswick Café and caught the train down to Newcastle to see John Bishop at the O2 City Hall that evening.

Monday 13: Penrith: After getting outrageous man-and-van quotes online for transporting the armchairs from Edinburgh we narrowed our options to a one day self-drive van hire or see if my car, a Kia Sportage, could accommodate two armchairs. We tested our existing Parker Knoll and it was a case of "Cinders, you shall go to the ball!" - two chairs would fit so that was my Wednesday morning decided.

Then I took my car into the garage for its MOT which had expired the previous day! You are allowed to drive with an expired MOT only provided that you are on your way to the garage to have the car tested. Even though it was only three minutes drive I found it anxiety inducing.

Tuesday 14: Penrith: Lunch with our friend Nigel in the GreenWheat cafe next door while we waited for a mattress to be delivered.

Wednesday 14: Penrith: Up bright and early to drive a 5-hour round trip all the way to Edinburgh and back to pick up the two armchairs. Meanwhile Mary waited in for a sofa to be delivered from John Lewis. A chunk of the afternoon was spent at the dentists, first hygienist then a review of a dodgy implant. After that I was chauffeur taking Mary to meet up with friends for a wild swim in Ullswater.

Thursday 16: Penrith: This day it was the turn of Mary‘s car to get its first ever MOT. Having dropped the Mazda MX5 off at the garage and returned Mary home, I went out with Eden runners for their regular Thursday social run through some very delightful Bluebell woods. In the afternoon our new living room curtains were delivered and hung. As expected the MX5 sailed through its MOT with no issues.

Friday 17: Ringwood: Leaving Penrith first thing, we took the cross country train all the way down to Southampton Airport Parkway where we picked up a hire car to drive to Ringwood. We stayed at the Star Inn in the Market Square in Ringwood and had a tasty Thai meal with Bob and Lynn.

Saturday 18: Ringwood: our chosen parkrun for the day was over the border in Dorset at Upton house giving us "U" towards our second alphabet. Back to the Star Inn for the usual post-run shower and change ready to stroll round to Bob and Lynn’s for Bob’s 70th party - an all afternoon and evening affair. It was great to catch up with friends we hadn't seen for ages. Then it was a late night stagger back to the Star Inn. 

Sunday 19: Ringwood: We went for a very pleasant walk around Breamore House near Fordingbridge with Bob and Lynn and that evening helped them finish off the leftovers from the night before. 

The walk included the Breamore Miz Maze:

The Miz-Maze is a quartered circular labyrinth about 84 feet in diameter, thought to have been cut in to the turf in the Middle Ages, possibly during the 12th or 13th Centuries. The design is Christian and similar designs can be seen on the floor of Chartres Cathedral in France and on a stone in Lucca Cathedral in Italy.

The Miz-Maze has been designated a Scheduled Monument under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 in order to protect this unique and fragile site. It is one of only eight surviving English turf mazes and the raised grass sections form the path which unfortunately is prone to erosion if used. The Miz-Maze on St. Catherine's Hill at Winchester is of similar design but the path is cut out in to the chalk.

Monday 20: Bournemouth: an opportunity to catch up with my second cousin, Effie, who is an amazing live wire for someone in her mid-80s. We went down to the town centre sea front for a superb seafood meal catching the bus there and back.

Tuesday 21: Cisternino: we returned the hire car to the airport caught the train up to Clapham Junction, had a nice lunch at The Banana Tree, and completed the rail trip down to Gatwick. An uneventful flight and a pick up from Brindisi airport where our local taxi man got us back home ready for bed.

An action packed road trip with a mixture of fun and useful stuff done.

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