Monthly Archives: September 2013

Did you know Bath has two universities?

23rd June 2013

I thought I was so clever, got off the train in Bath, walked just outside and down a bit and there was a bus heading to the university, just what I wanted as I had booked a room at the uni for my stay here.

Going to the Bath Spa Uni

Going to the Bath Spa Uni

We headed off and kept going and going and eventually I started to wonder if I had read it wrong and it was going to Bristol university. But no, it didn’t take the Bristol exit from the big roundabout, it took the Bath Spa University exit.

By this time I was really getting as we were miles from anywhere and I was thinking. ‘bloody false advertising’ on the internet, saying it was close to the city.

Then I started asking people which stop I’d have to get off at for the accommodation and just got blank looks. Then one young guy asked me which university I wanted. Oooops, there’s more than one?? Yep, there sure is, and of course, I was NOT at the one I wanted. Ah, it’s a good thing I’d bought a return ticket, so I started my stay in Bath with a scenic tour halfway to Bristol and back again.

Oh well, what’s another English bus driver shaking his head at me; but at least he told me which bus to catch when we got back to the city. But then when I did get to Bath University, I spent 40 minutes wandering around looking for the West Accommodation Office. I’d find a sign pointing one way and I walk and walk then run out of signs and be nowhere. Eventually I found someone who pointed me in the right direction – and guess what, I’d walked past it but the sign on the building was facing the way I was walking so my back had been to it!!! Anyhowwww, I got there in the end.

I really cannot believe how much I saw after that day after the caffuffle of finding my room, I’d put any tour group to shame, I reckon. But…. I’m going to post this little bit because I haven’t posted anything for a while and make you wait with bated breath for the real thing!!!


Filed under England, Mid-life travel, Solo female travel, Travel

Visiting someone I know, woot woot!

20th – 22nd June 2013

I stayed the night in Birmingham because it was a bit far to go from Scarborough to my next destination, near Northampton, in one day. I’ve found that here in England, it’s not the kilometres you have to measure by, but the time it takes to do them, it generally takes so much longer than at home. Anyhow, I was heading south to visit with the lovely Elaine, Graham, their two gorgeous boys and assorted animals.

Stowe Wood, Northamptonshire

Stowe Wood, Northamptonshire

Elaine is a distant cousin by marriage, and I just couldn’t visit England and not try to see her. We’d met aeons ago when she & Graham were in Australia, and seeing them again was like catching up with long lost friends, it just felt so comfortable.  She kept me busy for the next couple of days. We drove all over the countryside, walked through Stowe Wood, had lunch at the Old Dairy in Upper Stowe, visited a beautiful church and graveyard, (that I can’t remember the name of), did the running around after boys with school and cricket and met her brother and some of her friends – just for starters!

The 'footpath' between Church Stowe and Upper Stowe

The ‘footpath’ between Church Stowe and Upper Stowe

While I was there I had the unique experience of walking from one village to another through paddocks – something you wouldn’t do in Australia, that’s for sure. I honestly thought Graham was pulling my leg when he was giving me the directions. But I found the ‘footpath’ that took me up hill and down dale (honestly) and came out right where he said I would, without being chased by any animals too, which I thought was a bonus.

Measuring the intended cricket pitch

Measuring the intended cricket pitch

And of course life with the boys is never dull, the day I left, Graham had them out helping him put posts into position for their cricket pitch. Let’s just say, things weren’t going completely smoothly! But it was cheap entertainment for me – and there wasn’t nearly as much friction as I’ve seen with my boys and their father trying to do similar things.

There’s some people who are just born nurturers. and Elaine is one of them, she welcomed and enfolded me in her warmth and I missed her hugely when I left. Sadly, my little visit only lasted a few days before I was on the road again, this time off to Bath.

PS: Bet you’ll like this lot of pics C!

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Filed under England, Mid-life travel, Solo female travel

Back to the big cities

17th, 18th, 19th June 2013

Another day just enjoying Scarborough, a day getting to Birmingham and one spent seeing just a tiny bit of that very cosmopolitan city!

Upscale beach huts at Scarborough, England

Upscale beach huts at Scarborough, England

Everywhere I went back to in Scarborough I found more interesting things to look at and take photos of, it really is a wonderful place and I just love the area around the Spa Complex, wish I could have seen it in it’s heyday.

Had to backtrack to York to get to Birmingham but it wasn’t a very long wait there and I met a girl and her Dad, who was from Australia. Strange to meet someone who emigrated to England from Australia, usually it’s the other way round. She was telling me her parents help out heaps with babysitting her little one, seems much more common over here than at home, but maybe it’s just that I don’t see how often it happens at home. It’s one of the sights that’s really made an impression, the oldies, men and women, out walking the grandchildren during the day.

Birmingham was a bit of a shock – obviously, I’ve been in the really English England for a while. It’s really the first place since London that I’ve felt in the minority, fair skin, hair and eyes, not that it worries me but you do tend to notice when you’re the odd one out. I didn’t realise it at first, but I was only a couple of minutes walk from the Bullring, which I think might be Birmingham’s major shopping centre, so went for a walk after checking in to apartment. I don’t know, but I think Australia has it all over England and Europe when it comes to shopping centres – ours seem huge compared to any I’ve seen here.

Birmingham's very own little version of the bridge of sighs

Birmingham’s very own little version of the bridge of sighs

Next morning I had a nice wander to the city, must have been reasonably early, not many people around and had to wait for the museum to open – wonder or wonders. I spent a couple of happy hours here ogling more fine works of art and trying to get some of the information to stay in my brain. But, guess what, one of the best parts was morning tea in the gorgeous café. I honestly think I could do an exhibition showcasing just the cafes attached to museums and art galleries in England – and be on a winner, because they are superb.

Wrought iron pieces in Birmingham museum

Wrought iron pieces in Birmingham museum

But, I have to say, I’ve gotten a few favourite artists since I started this trip. Birmingham has quite a few pieces of one of my favourites, Edgar Degas, he just gets ballerina’s doesn’t he? They also have a unique collection of wrought iron pieces, who’d have thought they’d be museum worthy one day? But they definitely are, and they’re works of art too.

Updated 'back to back' in Birmingham

Updated ‘back to back’ in Birmingham

Serendipity’s a funny thing isn’t it? I’d read about the ‘back to back’s’  of Birmingham, and thought I’d love to find them – well I walked past them near where I’m staying. They were a bit like Scotland’s tenements but built around a common courtyard. I thought this would make them better than the tenements but apparently the courtyards did nothing to help at all, just added to the dirt and filth because they were mostly mud.

The man doing the guided tour was lovely, and as they mostly are, full of little bits of personal insights. It’s really not that long ago, during the 60’s, that people were still living in the back to backs, before the council started knocking them down.

There were a couple of women from just outside Birmingham on the tour who could both remember visiting their grandparents living in back to backs too. They were a funny pair, reminiscing about bits they remembered and cracking themselves up laughing the whole time. It added to the tour for me because it was like having 3 tour guides instead of just one – perfect.

Must have been having a lazy day, because that was the sum total of my Birmingham sightseeing!

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Filed under England, Mid-life travel, Solo female travel, Travel

On the buses again!!

15th & 16th June 2013

Had a day just foofing around Scarborough yesterday and today was ‘on the buses’ again, but this time I didn’t let the bus decide,  otherwise I probably would have ended up in Whitby again! Today I went to Bridlington – at least I think I did.

And how green is England, still can't get over it

And how green is England, still can’t get over it

For a while there I thought I was stuck in a time warp or something, like Alice in Wonderland or Groundhog Day. BTW, not sure if Alice in Wonderland is the right analogy there, it’s a long time since I’ve actually read it, but anyway you’ll get my drift eventually.

Can you guess, what I’ve been doing prior to writing this? Yep, that’s right, writing the last post and having a glass or two of vino!! I’ve worked out how people are happy all the time – they just live in a fog of alcoholic haze, hahaha, just kidding – or maybe not!! I’ll keep you guessing.

Anyhooo, back to Bridlington, or maybe we’ll go a tad further back to one of the villages on the way from Scarborough to Bridlington. Don’t ask me the name, because I have no idea but I was sure the bus driver had amnesia or Alzheimer’s or was looking for his lost puppy, or something. We came to this little place, went left up the hill, right past a really interesting house with cute window, right at a T section, back through town and out the other side then another right and did it all over again – and again!!! Three times we did the same circuit, not joking, and nobody seemed in the least bit perturbed except me.

Then we stopped at a bus stop for a while – and took off again, never to return, I’m sure.  Strangest thing I ever did see.

Amusement park on Bridlington beach

Amusement park on Bridlington beach

Bridlington, when we got there, was a bit like Scarborough, for me. A big amusement place on the beach, even more rides though than Brighton, a harbour, yardahyardahyardah………… It was nice enough and I had lunch at a cute little café, but, you know, it really is just another nice little beachside town. Mind you, I’m not complaining, because I’ve had my entertainment for the day, just getting here. END OF POST!!


Filed under England, Mid-life travel, Solo female travel, Travel