Europe, Australia and Oceania · 44 Days · 41 Moments · May 2017

Prue's tour through United Kingdom

30 June 2017

Back home and loved having Sarah Benge visit in Melbourne.

25 June 2017

Last day in England but we still managed to visit a National Trust property on the way to Heathrow. It was called Wimpole and is in Cambridgeshire. The house was last owned by Kiplings' daughter and it was pretty impressive. It's on many many acres and the grounds were designed by Capability Brown. One of the photos is of the library where the enormous collection was gradually being cleaned, a book at a time by conservationists. It was amazing to see. Another is of the butlers pantry which was very large. Something to drool over. We are now in the very pleasant Etihad lounge and board the plane in an hour or so. Looking forward to seeing you all soon. This will be the last Journi entry for what has been a terrific trip. So pleased to have shared it with you.❤ Prue and Geoff

24 June 2017

Today we said sad goodbyes to Chris and Jo who have given us a wonderful insight into their part of Yorkshire. After breakfast we walked near their house and saw some men building a drystone wall. These walls are everywhere in Yorkshire so it was great to learn about their construction. The views in the area are quite stunning but we wonder how it is in winter! On our way south we visited a National Trust park called Clumber Park and stopped for lunch at their garden tea rooms. They were beautifully decorated and the loo was extra lovely so I took a photo of it! It had a stunning walled garden which served a stately home that was demolished long ago. Tonight we are at a lovely inn called The Abbots Elm. We stayed here just before Bundle and Percy's wedding and really liked it. It's in a little village called Abbots Ripton and is full of thatched houses and has a peaceful feeling to it. It's a quintessential English village and we saw partridges on the lawn outside. Heavenly!

23 June 2017

Firstly, I forgot to mention in yesterday's post that the photo you probably wondered about, was actually a village well that was dressed by the locals. It's to keep the waters sweet and plague free and is an old custom. This morning we visited a local genealogy office and found out lots more about the Stringers. It was pretty amazing and we felt like we were on Who do you think you are! We also visited the Standedge tunnel which is the longest canal tunnel in the world and goes through the mountains. The photos will give you more details if you expand them. Trains run above the canal tunnel. The sign was a bit of fun. The last two photos show us having a tour of Chris and Jo's mobile home. They enjoy touring England and Scotland in it and plan to take it to Europe in the future. It's so cleverly designed and has all mod cons.

22 June 2017

Yesterday we were out till late so I'm catching up. We headed out on a long and beautiful drive through the Peak District of Derbyshire. The scenery was stunning and misty after a cool change. We stopped in Buxton and walked through gardens and an orangerie filled with Aus type plants before retiring to a pub lunch. Later on we drove to Dovedale which is a very pretty National Trust park. We met up with some of Chris and Jo's family and some friends visiting from US. We walked along a lovely track beside The Dove river, crossed on stepping stepping stones, and chatted happily. The three children loved climbing trees and generally racing about. Needless to say, we found a nice pub nearby to have a drink at afterwards!

21 June 2017

Chris and Jo are terrific photographers and we visited an exhibition of the best photos taken in Yorkshire this year. Chris was delighted to have won an award for the best travel photo and it was taken in Sydney! Next was a visit to the church where great great grandfather Henry Stringer was christened. We found the family headstone and were delighted to add more names to the family tree. The church is All Souls in Kirkburton. As it's hot today, a visit to a delightful pub near by was needed by us all and was followed by a walk through beautiful Beaumont Park. Opposite Chris and Jo is a pretty cricket ground and there were children happily playing when we arrived home.

20 June 2017

Today we left our lovely cottage in Coxwold after a terrific week there. We travelled over the Dales to Ripplehead so we could photograph a train coming over the viaduct. As passengers yesterday we were able to see out over the area but it was quite spectacular to see how big the viaduct is from the ground. There are a few photos of Settle where we stopped for lunch and you will see all the buildings are made of local stone. We finally arrived at Chris and Jo Barton's in Linthwaite near Huddersfield for a long awaited catch up. Geoff and Chris are second cousins and they visited us a couple of years ago in Melbourne. You will see them having a good chin wag over a beer! Jo busily prepared a delicious dinner and we have been catching up till late.

19 June 2017

Today we drove for two hours across the Dales to Settle where the train for Carlisle leaves from. It is regarded as one of the most beautiful train journeys in England and we had seen Michael Portelli expound on its virtues on SBS. I don't think my photos do it justice because it is a glorious panorama of hills, sheep, cattle, villages and mountains. We went as far as Appelby where we stopped for lunch and then caught another train back to Settle. That was an hour each way and covered the most spectacular segment of the journey. Much to our delight a steam train came through whilst we were on the platform. Back at Settle, we looked at the water tower that has been converted into a house just by the station. It was featured on television on Restoration Man with George Clarke and you might have seen it. The people who did the project very kindly let us walk around it taking photos and were very happy to chat to us. They keep a visitors book and we weren't the first Aussies for the day.

18 June 2017

It's been another glorious summers day in Yorkshire. Just down the road from our cottage is Shandy Hall so we popped in to visit as the gardens were open today. Everything is lush and flowering profusely and the roses are stunningly beautiful. We drove to Harrogate next which was super busy as it's Fathers Day in England. Fortunately we had booked into Betty's tearoom for afternoon tea and you will see from the photos that it was delicious and substantial. In fact they boxed up the remnants and we are having them with a cup of tea for dinner. We certainly don't need anything else! They had a pianist playing popular music and it was delightful. Have just watched the Antiques Roadshow which is screened on Sunday night to complete our day.

17 June 2017

It was a glorious summer day today, about 24 degrees. We visited Goddards which is a National Trust property built in the 1920's and was previously the family home of the Terry family. They made confectionary and you might know their famous chocolate orange. The house overlooks the York race course and was set on about five acres of beautiful gardens. There is a photo of the drive and gate keepers cottage, and the front and rear of the house. The hall was used by their sons for cricket practice and the long case clock was stumps! The lawn tennis court was pretty nice too. After lunch we went back into the centre of York and Geoff explored the under croft of the Minster and also climbed 257 steps to the top of the west tower. Crazy! I pottered around the antique shops instead.

16 June 2017

We took the local bus into York today. A walking tour left at 11am from near York Minster and it was excellent. First we visited a Tudor building where Henry VIII lived at some stage with Katherine Howard as his wife till she fell from favour. Then we climbed up onto the ancient walls and the photo of the Minster is taken from there. Next spot of interest was a stroll down The Shambles and the photo of a jewellers is one of the oldest shops that were built in the 1300s. There is a photo of me standing outside the York Court House where my great great grandfather Henry Stringer was sentenced to seven years transportation to Van Diemans land for simple house breaking. Haven't timed changed! There is another photo outside The Merchant Adventurers Hall which was built in 14th century. York is packed full of amazing history and buildings and we have really enjoyed visiting here again after many years.

15 June 2017

It was the day for Castle Howard today. It's only about 15 miles away from our cottage in Coxwold. We started with an excellent guided tour of the walled garden. Originally it provided food for the large household but it's mostly roses and other flowering plants now. The castle itself is quite splendid. It sits above a lake and stands in immaculate grounds and we were reminded of Brideshead Revisited which was filmed there. Inside, the most interesting part is the entrance hall which is under the huge dome. It is decorated with beautiful frescoes by Pellegrini and the proportions are superb. A fire in 1940 damaged the dome and it was destroyed as was the east wing. Fortunately the dome has been restored but the rest hasn't due the exorbitant costs involved. Other rooms are filled with treasures and the guides were great at telling us about many generations of the Howard family. As usual, there were scandals as well as fine deeds and it is still in the family today.

14 June 2017

Coffee this morning was in the pretty back garden of our cottage. Rather a joy after the bustle of London. We ventured off to visit Robert Thompson's furniture business in the next village, Kilburn. He is famous for making Arts & Crafts furniture out of oak and carving a tiny mouse somewhere on each piece. Four generations on and it's still thriving with a small museum, showroom and viewing gallery to watch the men at work today. Later we climbed up to see the white horse on a near by hillside. It was better from the distance really as in the photo but the views for many miles around made it worthwhile.

13 June 2017

It was farewell to our conveniently located hotel in London this morning. It's a bit tired but it's location works really well. Thanks James and Bec for introducing us to Maida Vale all those years ago. We took the train to York, with a few delays, and finally picked up the hire car at 2.30. Our cottage for the week is about 30km north of York in the village of Coxwold. It is very pretty and the cottage is ideal for us. It's beautifully decorated and will form a good base for exploring North Yorkshire.

12 June 2017

Liberty opened at 10am this morning and we were right there waiting! Had a chance to potter today, fatal for the card of course. The top floor is now called Home and has room settings of modern and antique furniture but sadly no Arts and Crafts items any more. Still lovely and I've sent a few photos so you will get the drift. Then on to Greenwich to meet distant cousins Alec and Sue Benge. We lunched and chatted before joining an excellent tour of Greenwich Palace buildings and museum. As always learnt lots and especially like the decorative mural made out of Codestone. The lion is part of it so see if you can find him in the mural. Tomorrow we train to York but we're having a farewell dinner tonight at Red Pepper.

11 June 2017

Today we visited the extended Piper family for a delicious BBQ lunch. It was warm and sunny and we were able to sit outside in Liv and Diego's back garden. Elise aged 5, was very chatty and thrilled to show me her cubby/treehouse. Her little sister Sofia, clearly loves her and follows her about playing the same games. Diego cooked a yummy lunch and we talked extensively with Bill and Barbara, and Liv and Charlie too. Everyone was in fine form and it was lovely to see them all.

10 June 2017

Mazz picked these gorgeous peonies from her garden! Just imagine being able to do that. She took them to Jenny Newman today who is currently going through her second lot of chemo. Mazz also picked some stunning roses and alchamila mollis for our hotel room. Just lovely! Last night both Mazz and Alan came on board the ship for dinner. It was fun to show them around , share a cocktail and share our cruise with them. Today, the four of us took the train to Pluckley in Kent and were met by Martin and Jenny Newman. It was great to get together again and we lunched at their village pub and went back to have tea in their pretty garden. Today was warm and sunny so the flowers and greenery are delightful everywhere. Back in London now for a quiet night for a change!

9 June 2017

As you will see, today we travelled up the Thames to Tower Bridge. One photo is of the Thames barrier which prevents the city if there is a water surge. Then you will see us getting closer and closer to Tower Bridge and finally sail under it. The road goes up quite fast and back again too so traffic isn't interrupted for too long, We were given flags to wave and the area was crowded with onlookers cheering and waving, Rule Britannia played and its was quite an emotional experience for many of us. We are awaiting immigration clearance before going ashore to find Mazz and Alan and bring them on board for dinner. Security is tight but you can't blame anyone for that. An amazing finale to a fab cruise!

8 June 2017

Our last port in France today was Honfleur which is on the mouth of the Seine. It's very pretty with many old half timbered buildings and a large wooden church that was constructed by boat builders back in the 16 th century. We did a walking tour all around and our excellent guide showed us all sorts of interesting details we might have missed. Next we travelled to Deauville on the coast where wealthy Parisians holiday. The beach was vast and you will see the furled umbrellas ready for use along with beach furniture, all at a cost of course. There are little beach huts and you can see that they have been used by many rich and famous folk during their stays. Tomorrow, we sail up the Thames to London!

7 June 2017

It's been a great day today😍. We arrived in St Malo this morning and the tender took us in from the harbour. We toured to Dinard which is a beautiful medieval town. There was a little antique market near the church and lucky me, I found some hat pins there! Next we went to Dinan which is a lovely seaside town with a beautiful beach but less history. The afternoon was spent in St Malo and it certainly is a beautiful walled town. We walked around the ramparts admiring 360 degrees of views over the tidal beaches and fortified islands before tucking into moules with frites. Having read All the Light You Cannot See recently, it was wonderful that the buildings and houses have been restored in the original style after WW2. Tomorrow it's on to Honfleur.

5 June 2017

The last two days have been at sea. We are in Guernsey today but can't get ashore because of prevailing winds. We need to tender in to the wharf and it's too risky apparently. Really annoying! The seas were big last night in the Bay of Biscay and many people missed dinner, but not Geoff. I have taken a few photos around the ship so you can see that we are living it up despite the weather.

4 June 2017

Last night we were treated to a wonderful fireworks display from the Napoleonic bridge over the Garonne. Sadly dramas were unfolding in London about the same time. This morning we toured Bordeaux and one of the original gates is shown in a photo. The town has been cleaned up considerably from our last visit and feels safer too. The amazing modern wine museum was high tech and looks like a plane! Tasting happened here naturally. We went on a visit to Medoc during the afternoon and you will see Chateau Margaux in a photo. It was very beautiful but they don't take visitors so it was just a look at the building. Next stop was Chateaux Latour where we were shown over the castle and given a good run down of their wine production and also a tasting. As most of their wines need to be put down for years they weren't that nice to our palates. The area is very pretty and right on the banks of the Garonne. They use a soft sandstone for the buildings and they're most attractive. A delightful day!

3 June 2017

Today we sailed up the Garonne river for ages and finally tied up in the centre of Bordeaux. A bridge needed to open for us and a large number of yachts sailed through too as there is a maritime festival happening here. We strolled into town, had a coffee and enjoyed people watching. Visited Galerie la Fayette but it wasn't very different to David Jones really. Tomorrow we visit the wine museum here which is fairly new and meant to be amazing. Oh and do some tasting of course!

2 June 2017

There are lots of photos today from Bilbao. Went to see Puppy, the flowered sculpture at the Guggenheim, only to find they were changing the flowers and there was scaffolding everywhere! Still amazing as was the street theatre outside where three 'birds' performed for money. Very amusing too! Discovered a fabulous market place with great fresh food and also stalls serving pintxos which were delicious. They are little snacks and you pay by the toothpicks chosen. Sadly it's grey and cool again.

1 June 2017

Here we are in Gijon pronounced hee hon. It's a very green part of Spain where they get lots of rain coming in from the Atlantic. Our tour took us to Aviles first which is old and pretty. The biggest building in Spain is there and is a technical university. You will get the idea from the photos. We returned to Gijon and our guide explained the various sorts of architecture over many centuries. It has a lovely sheltered beach and the surfers were out on the waves. On to Bilbao tomorrow.

31 May 2017

We are in la Corunna in Spain today. It's a very attractive smallish town on the Atlantic coast. We took a walking tour this morning which was pretty easy because the ship is in port close to the town. Our guide was excellent and showed us some of the art nouveau architecture whilst explaining the history of the area. There were churros and chocolate along the way, a terrific fresh fish market and finally a tapas and wine tasting. It's a lovely sunny day but not overly warm, about 18 degrees.

30 May 2017

In Oporto today and have just been out to explore the town. We didn't book a tour for this port so took the shuttle bus organised by Silverseas into town. The tourist people gave us a map and we walked all around enjoying it. The station foyer is lined with beautiful blue and white tiles as you will see. Quite stunning. The river is the Douro and runs through the town so we walked along it enjoying a sunny day. There are lots of cafes lining the banks and an interesting bridge across it.

29 May 2017

We farewelled our beautiful hotel in Lisbon today and boarded Silver Cloud. Our suite had a bath with a shower over the top so we asked if we could change to one with a walk in shower. Yes! And we went to a much nicer suite instead on deck 7! Its beautiful sailing along the coast of Portugal and tomorrow we dock in Oporto. So nice to unpack and enjoy the bubbles etc.

28 May 2017

Today we have been on a tour with a private driver. Being Sunday all the group tours were fully booked and we wanted to see Sintra which is out of town. We visited Queluz Palace which was very grand and royal on the way. The Palace of Pena was next and is perched high on top of the Sintra hills. It was originally a monastery but was taken over and extended by the royals in early 19th century. One photo shows the stunning moulded plasterwork inside. The others give you an idea of the exterior. We had lunch in a restaurant serving traditional Portuguese food and you will see the hams hanging from the ceiling. Tonight we are going to hear Fado music and have tapas to eat. Love Lisbon and all it has to offer.

27 May 2017

We took a hop on hop off bus tour today to the historic part of Lisbon called Belem. Spent ages exploring St Jeronimos monastery where a wedding was taking place in the church. It was built 500 years ago and despite a massive earthquake in 1700s is still standing. Next stop was for lunch at the famous cafe where the best Portuguese tarts are made. There are a few photos of ours, the making of them and the never ending queues to buy them. Well worth the wait too! Also one of some traditional dancing we saw on the way home. It's a fabulous town to explore and very busy at present.

26 May 2017

I will start by telling you about last nights dinner. We booked it at the hotel because that's easy when you first arrive. Well, what an experience that was!! In a very smart dining room we were served 6 delicious courses with matching wines all reflecting the best of Portuguese produce. In fact, a degustation menu. Lucky us! Today's dinner was the other end of the deal and you will see it on one of the photos. There was a farmers market happening so we had a plate of charcuterie and sangria. Bought some cherries too and we are full now. What a contrast though! Pretty funny how travelling works out. This morning we visited the Gulbenkian museum which houses one mans extraordinary collection of treasures throughout the ages. Of particular interest to us/me was the large collection of exquisite jewellery made by Renee Lalique. The two men were close friends and many pieces were made personally for Gulbenkian. He clearly had an amazing eye for beauty and now we can share it too.

24 May 2017

It was great to have dinner last night with Julia, Percy's mother and Nick. Nick is pretty happy working in London and looking to buy a flat some time. We farewelled Mazz this morning before flying to Lisbon. Fortunately we will see her when we return to London. Have just arrived at our hotel and it's gorgeous! We were welcomed by charming staff who ushered us up to the deck for a drink at their bar, complimentary of course. And wow, it overlooks the old city and the bay! It's a beautiful setting in a gracious hotel that has been beautifully restored. Tomorrow, we will start exploring.
We visited Kensington Palace today to see the exhibition of Princess Diana's dresses. It brought back many memories of her and was fascinating to see her clothes up close. We liked the Catherine Walker ones best but maybe that's because they were more sophisticated and elegant. As you will see in the photos, some are quite famous. After lunch we walked to Chelsea to check out a few shops and then went on to Liberty. It was a quick visit but still fabulous. Hope to get time to go back again. Tomorrow we fly to Lisbon for a few days before boarding the ship. Love London as always and love sharing time with Mazz. Dinner tonight is with Nick and Julia.

23 May 2017

It seems that Brexit was announced just before the entries were submitted and many withdrew their applications because of the uncertainty of what lay ahead. The day was mild and overcast which made it very pleasant to wander about. Wildflower gardens are in vogue this year but displays of individual flowers were superb. It was a memorable day and we loved having Geoff Gole as our guide.
Chelsea Flower Show deserves the reputation it has as best in the world! We all loved it even though the number of Show gardens was smaller than normal.

22 May 2017

Arrived in London this afternoon and it's warm! We settled in to The Colonnade before popping down to Baker and Spice for a late lunch. Mazz arrived not much later and bubbles were the order of the day to celebrate a long time since we were together. Gorgeous to chat as always! The three of us went around to Red Pepper for dinner and more chat. Looking forward to our day tomorrow at Chelsea Flower Show.

21 May 2017

Sunday lunch was at the Kings Arms in Mickelton, a near by village. We both chose roast beef with Yorkshire pud and veggies and it was delicious! Our drive today took us to Broadway which is very pretty but filled with tourist type shops these days. We can't believe how lucky we are to have chosen Chipping Campden as our base because it's by far the nicest village. It's pretty but not over run with tourists and those tacky sort of shops. Sadly, we leave here tomorrow but feel excited to be heading for London and also seeing Mazz.

20 May 2017

We walked all around Chipping Campden today and took photos of some favourite parts. The yellow stonework is mellowed by the weather and the gardens are blooming with flowers making it a stunningly beautiful town. The planning authorities have ensured that no modern buildings spoil the ambience. One photo is Sam Wilsons shop. She is a textile designer and screen printer and turns her fabrics into delightful homewares. Needless to say, a piece will return home with me. The other shot is when we weakened and decided a cream tea was a essential experience in the Cotswolds. Yummy!

19 May 2017

This morning we visited Harts the silversmiths whose workshop is just near our cottage. It's been going since 1902 and currently the third and fourth generations are working there. David Hart recognised our Aussie accents and told us they had designed and made the altar pieces for Melbourne Grammar chapel in the 1950s. It's a small world! Our walking tour took us along Main St and our guide who was very knowledgeable, explained the buildings and who had lived and worked in them. It was based on the members of the Guild and C R Ashbee naturally. Can't believe how important Chipping Campden was in the Arts and Crafts movement! We met up with Sally and Keith Mahon for lunch in Burford. As always, they are good company and we dissected politics all around the world. We ate guinea fowl which was quite delicious and rather like chicken but a bit more gamey.

18 May 2017

Today was sunny! Hooray! We decided it was perfect to visit Hidcote which is a beautiful Arts and Crafts garden near by. It is made up of many garden 'rooms' and each is different to the last. The planting consists of many hedges made up of various trees around the edge. Within there is lots of box used to define garden beds and the plants are jumbled up cottage style. The tulips were stunning and so were the rhododendrons. Tonight we went to a concert of ancient music/baroque style in a beautiful church. It was bright and vibrant and we were lucky to get tickets that had been returned. The local folk were very friendly but wondered just who we were in their midst. Came home late and had a picnic supper.

17 May 2017

Today we visited Rodmarton Manor near Cirencester. It is a privately owned Arts and Crafts manor house with amazing Arts and Crafts furniture that was made specially for it. As you can see, the weather was rubbish but it didn't stop us enjoying it. The gardens were gorgeous and wisteria is in flower everywhere.