A Travellerspoint blog

Sunday 20 May and Monday 21 May

Bath, the returning the Honda Jazz to Cambridge

semi-overcast 13 °C

Saying goodbye to my hosts at Cleveland's and to Abi as he headed off to the last day of the Quilt Show, GPS and I headed off to Bath (actually Bathampton) to visit the American Museum In Britain and to see the quilts on display as well as the museum rooms, each one of which is set out in a different era of American history. The textile and quilt display was first on my list to see ..... only interrupted by the need to eat something, damn it!  The quilts were very difficult to photograph because they were hanging on huge picture-type frames  behind the special type of acetate that archivists use; hence a lot of reflection from the acetate and the fluorescent lighting. I was told that there are over 200 quilts in the museum which are progressively rotated on display. Fortunately at home I have the reference book to refer to but I can't remember which of the quilts I saw are documented/ reviewed in the book. However, everything I saw in the museum will now have greater meaning now I've seen it in real life.

The display rooms for each era of history are so dimly lit that, while photography is permitted, the use of flash isn't. On entering the first room while my eyes were adjusting to the light, I saw someone sitting in a corner and thought it was a display model ..... until she spoke!!!! In each of the rooms is a volunteer guide some of whom turned a blind eye to the flash photography restriction. This sweet lady volunteer detailed many aspects and artifacts on display and had me guessing at some of the objects'd'art from the past. A wig stand on a pedestal I thought was a hat block ....  close; but the wooden rollers in a dish that accompanied it I had never heard of. The wooden rollers would have heated with hot water and rolled into the wig to create the waves!!! The small brass barrel shape attached to the wall was "the mystery item". Apparently mice used to like eating candle wax so this barrel shaped container was attached about a metre off the floor to hold the candles!!!!

The quilts and textiles (embroideries and cross stitches) were beautiful and I felt privileged to see them. Hopefully, these precious items from the past (some of which are as old as Australia!) are now preserved in a safe environment for future generations to appreciate.

I had arranged accommodation in Bathampton (outside the main town of Bath) because I knew that parking in Bath is restricted and, what is available, eats pound coins voraciously. Lyndisfarne B&B (has a nice name) advertised off street free parking and was really close to the American Museum. Finishing at the museum at 4:00pm, there was still time and lots more daylight to visit the main part of Bath. I dropped my bag at the B&B, met my hosts and ..... amazingly found a free parking spot on the outskirts of Bath. Because it was Sunday, the parking was free and untimed. Yah!!!!  Managed to walk to the Jane Austen Centre ....... fortuitously going in the wrong direction (again), I stumbled upon a house where Jane Austen had lived from 1801 to 1805. (4 Sydney Streeet). Photo opportunity dropped in my lap! Getting my bearings and walking up a long steep set of "public foot way" stairs connecting two of the many terraces in Bath, I arrived at the Jane Austen Centre with enough time to for a quick visit. I've been here in 2004 and I don't think the tea rooms had been built then. No time for tea tho. I 'd passed an interesting bookshop on the way so headed back there. A lovely, relaxing pastime on a Sunday evening when nothing else was open but pubs and restaurants AND I found a book from my wish list. 

Lovely Thai dinner .... fried duck with vegetables and rice from a quaint restaurant in a heritage building.

Tomorrow is another big day of driving. The car and Georgina Potter-Smithington have to be back by 4:00pm in Cambridge. My hosts at Lyndisfarne, whose son lives in Cambridge, tell me that it will be another 3 plus hours of driving as there is no direct route. Hopefully GPS knows where she is going because I don't have a clue ...... just a lot of confidence in Georgina and a lot of faith.

Thank you for reading this installment. I know I have missed a few episodes in the blog of both France and the UK but I have three hours at Heathrow on Thursday (boo hoo) before my flight leaves to return to Australia and back to reality! I will post some more episodes when I can.

Love Lyn xxx

Posted by Lyn Dennis 16:03 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged bath gps lyndisfarne jane_austen Comments (0)

Wednesday 16 May to Friday 18 May

More good fortune

rain 9 °C

Yesterday afternoon/evening was a long drive from York to Great Malvern..however, I stopped for dinner at a well-designed service station/series of restaurants which includegetting from earls court to chelsea flower showd services like ATMs, phones, toilets, a news agency, choice of four restaurants, games machines and a mobile phone shop!

By now, the girl in the GPS and I have a good working relationship AND she has a name ... I call her Georgina Potters-Smithington (or GPS for short). She is VERY British and polite. The drive from York was mainly on Motorways and I think she actually fell asleep with nothing to do for several hours! We are getting on very well now, although today she could not find the a Three Counties Showground so I had to buy a local map. Very disappointing .... but she didn't listen to my pleas or abuse!

Leaving the Rosehill Hotel at Burnley was a little sad and emotionally difficult, as I had such adventures in Burnley. Tuesday night was very busy in the Dining Room when I arrived ...... had to book a sitting for a table!!!!! The hotel was full. At breakfast the next morning I was to discover why ....... The Queen was visiting Burnley at 11 o'clock as part of the 60th Diamond Jubilee. That's amazing; because in 1977 when Alan and I were in York, the Queen was to visit York as part of her 25th Jubilee and in 2004 when I was in Westminster Abbey, she arrived through a side entrance as I was walking around the inside perimeter upstairs!!! Good luck or good planning. I had no idea she was going to be in Burnley but the locals were really excited. It turns out that the Royal Speechwriter and Royal Photographer were staying in the Rosehill Hotel as were loads of BBC and other reporters. As I was driving to Gawthorpe on Wednesday morning, I went past one of the venues Her Majesty was to stop at and there were police and Royal Guards everywhere. The guards were practicing marching!!!

I was booked into a whole cloth North County quilt workshop at historic Gawthorpe Hall on the other side of Burnley. It took a while to locate it as it was hidden in its own grounds behind well-treed woods and GPS took me to the housing estate next door as I typed in the post code of Gawthorpe Hall and there were two driveways and guess who took the wrong one! The workshop was held in what used to be the hay and stock building. Thick stone walls and pebbled floor in the common areas but a warm room with a flat carpeted floor in the sewing room. The teacher was Jean and I sat with Denise and Margaret. There werethen ladies in the class and Jean had provided me with the requirements to save me bringing them with me. She talked about the history of whole cloth quilting, the style, the shapes, the reasons why whole cloth quilts are peculiar to the North Country then gave us some patterns to draw on to the cloth and design our own pattern for a small wall hanging. It was fun and, because I won't be there for Part 2 next Wednesday, Jean showed me how to quilt using the 'rocking' method. I will have a nice project for Tuesday nights sewing to finish it off. I took a photo of the group before Denise and Margaret wanted to leave early as The Queen were to visit their town at 3:30!!!!!! I used my National Trust pass to view inside Gawthorpe Hall itself and there was a special event there that afternoon and some of the rooms that are not normally open to the public were open ...... including the kitchen. It was a real upstairs/downstairs environment with a four storey winding staircase from the kitchen to the top floor.

Unfortunately, photography was not allowed inside the building. I was there to view the textile and needlework collection of Rachel Kay-Shuttleworth. She is known by everyone at Gawthorpe Hall as Miss Rachel and the centenary of her 'vision' is being celebrated this year. Her vision was that Gawthorpe and it's buildings should become a place for the pursuit of crafts and needlework.

There was display case after display case of needlework tools, embroidery from all over the world that Miss Rachel had collected during her life. It was breathtaking and I felt so privileged to be there to view it.

The following day was my visit to study the quilts in the collection with the curator ... Gail Marsh. Gail is a very talented person. She has written three books on Embroidery, from 18th, 19 th and 20 th Centuries. The latter having only recently been published. Gail had prepared for my visit by getting the relevant boxes of quilts from the storage area and preparing four huge tables so that the quilts could be spread out to study. So, from 10 am until 3:30pm, It was like being in heaven. I studied 15 quilts from the collection, taking photographs and taking detailed notes. Gail and I had lunch together in a little kitchen behind her office. It took a lot of preparation for my study visit here and the study visit at Norwich but I am so appreciative of such an opportunity to further my knowledge of historic British Quilts. I also was the helper for the day .... refolding and putting the quilts back in their tissue and boxes. Gail is such a dedicated curator and passionate about her work and we got on so well it was hugs all round when I had to leave Gawthorpe. I will treasure these two days forever.

Thank you for reading this installment.
love Lyn xxx

Posted by Lyn Dennis 15:35 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged queen hall quilts burnley gawthorpe rachel-kay-shuttleworth north-county- Comments (0)

Tuesday, 15 May .. Tideswell, Eyam to Burnley, Lancashire

The Derbyshire Dales, the 1660s Plague town and another drive through two counties

rain 9 °C

After meeting the Australian man in the Fish and Chip shop last night, we got talking about the Church across the road from the shop. It was magnificent for a tiny village so remote from any major town. Before I went to Eyam, I drove back into Tideswell to explore inside the Church .... only 4 miles drive .....and did not use the GPS!!! The village is quite small and is very quaint. Typical village shoppes and the church is certainly the cente of the village.

Just about everywhere I have visited in both France and the UK, there has been renovation or restoration works in progress .... some of the photographs will have scaffolding, etc tho I have done my best to avoid capturing this in the photos but often it has been unavoidable ..... and the Tideswell Church was no exception. It's amazing that I have discovered memorials to WWI servicemen in all of the UK villages I have visited. From the smallest ....... North Stoke in the grounds of the Catholic Church there was a sundial dedicated to the nine serviceman who did not return to this smallest of farming villages on the edge of the Thames in rural Oxfordshire. Talking to a man who lived in North Stoke (the population of which would not have been more than 20 now); he told me that by the loss of these men, the village never recovered as the servicemen were farm labourers and farmers. Then, in the remote Derbyshire Dales village of Tideswell, inside the Church of England (also known as The Cathedral of the Dales) there was a large brass plaque with the names of 73 WWI servicemen from the village inscribed in beautiful old fashioned calligraphy "To the glory of God and in loving memory if the Officers NCO's and men of this Parish who died in the Great War 1914-1919. Their name liveth for evermore". There were the names of four men from one family, the names of two from another and the name Siddons. It is likely that this serviceman was a descendant of the family who lost members in the Plague of 1660 in Eyam, which was my next stop ...... only 5 miles away (10 minutes in the car). The name Siddons (Syddons) was a family from Eyam and descendants still live in Eyam!

Eyam is "famous" for being the village in 1660 in which most of the villagers died from the Plague. Reportedly, cloth delivered from London contained fleas from the rats in the ship which carried the cloth from Europe to Lndon. When the cloth arrived in Eyam, it was wet and the tailor who had ordered it unfolded it an hung it inside in front of a fire thereby releasing the fleas which then progressively infected the villagers with the disease. There is 11 miles between each market village; because the maximum distance villagers could travel with animals and goods to market walking was five and a half miles to the next village and the same distance back. So, there is a large stone called the Boundary Stone on the outskirts of Eyam where the villagers from the neighboring village would leave food for the folk of Eyam who, in turn, would leave coins in holes in the stone, covered the coins with vinegar supposedly to disinfect the coins in payment for the food. The history of how the villagers coped and what they believed would help cure the plague is well documented.

Whole families perished. The town has memorial plaques on many of the buildings detailing which families lived in which house and how many members perished. However, Eyam is a lively town .... larger than Tideswell but acknowledging it's tragic past. There is a Museum, Eyam Hall, a grand residence which is occupied by a couple who open their home from July to September to visitors. I was three months too early to view inside!

That was a really interesting day as I have wanted to go to Eyam since reading about it two years ago.

In the Derbyshire Dales, dry stone walls are everywhere .... Up hills and down the dales. keeping sheep in, sheep out or for no reason other than the stone had been quarried and walls built with it. Fields were all random shapes and sizes. The roads in the dales are very narrow and the grass verges soft from the unseasonal rains. Don't try to pull over onto the grass to let another car past otherwise you get bogged.

I had wanted to get to Chatsworth House too but decided to see Eyam properly (a bus load of tourists drove through but did not get out) .... what a
waste of time to come that far and not get out to see the museum at least. Pride and Prejudice the movie was filmed at Chatsworth House but I thought I should head off to Burnley in Lancashire to arrive before dark. It was extremely busy in this hotel when I arrived. It's a most beautiful hotel ..... One of the nicest English Hotels I have stayed in EVER. I thought I must have made a mistake with my booking as my budget is no more than $AU60 per night and just walking in I thought it must be expensive. I had to double check my reservation before I could relax!!!!

Well, was I in for a treat in Burnley. I am still here ...... in the Rose Hill Hotel, leaving tomorrow to go to York to the Quilt museum there. A big day of driving tomorrow over to York in the morning, visit the Museum until it closes at 4pm, then 3 hours to Malvern for two nights with John and Margaret in the Blue Room at Cleveland's where I stayed 8 years ago. The GPS girl and I have our work cut out tomorrow. Hope she takes me the quickest route. The options do not make sense in the GPS .... they are fastest route and shortest route. Am I missing something? Wouldn't the shortest route BE the fastest?

More on my two days adventure here tomorrow.
Thank,you for reading this installment.

Love Lyn xxx

Posted by Lyn Dennis 15:00 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged plague tideswell cathedral_of_the_dales eyam burnley rosehill_hotel Comments (2)

Monday 14 May: The White House, Abingdon to Bletchley Park

An achievable and educational day at Bletchley

rain 12 °C

Today was Bletchley Park day. Leaving Abingdon before 10am, I arrived at Bletchley Park about 11:45; paying my entry fee, carpark fee and booking in for the 12:30pm guided tour, there was just enough time to briefly check out the museum downstairs from the ticket office.  I was given a sticker to wear that said I was a Visitor and paid £1 extra to tour the National museum of Computing. Those visitors on the 12:30 tour were advised to meet at The Mansion. A sign at The Mansion advised Tours began at Block H .... but I couldn't see a Block H on the map. ..... it seemed that the buildings were Huts listed numerically. It was 12:30 so I joined the group that was milling around The Mansion. The tour guides are all volunteer ex serviceman from WWII and very informative. After a few minutes, I noticed everyone in the group had a different sticker badge than I had ..... they were all young people and looked like students and when the guide said they could spend only 5 minutes looking at the car museums, I realized I was in the wrong group. I looked for another group .... It was 12:35 and I found another group who were all about my age group and joined them. The tour guide was into his welcome and introduction so I thought I was in the right place. We were then ushered into Hut 8 where the guide detailed the history of the Bombe machine (a type of code breaker machine) and described how the cypher and decipher worked. After 10 minutes he ushered everyone to The Mansion for lunch!!!!!! Now I knew I was in the wrong group again as everyone had different stickers again and proper name badges!!!! I managed to find someone who looked important and had a name badge to indicate he was an employee (not a volunteer) and explained my dilemma. By this time, the 12:30 group had had their introduction and welcome at block H which turned out was the National Museum of Computing which was supposed to be the last of the buildings to visit ( as well as meeting outside there to commence). Well, I guess it made sense to the other folk in the group but I misses the logic. Anyway, I joined the "correct" group and all their badges looked like mine and I had already had the welcome and introduction in the other group. So, we all went into Hut 8 and I heard about the Bombe machine again!!!!! 

I really wanted to visit this unique site as it played such an important role in WWII and the codebreaking activities here are reputed to have taken two years off the ending of WWII. The history of the code breaking machines is phenomenal and the ultimate tragedy of one of the inventors is heart breaking. Alan Turing, mathematician and code breaker, committed suicide at age41. He, and his colleagues, we're really responsible for the logic of the "first" computer but because their inventions were of necessity secret, others (Americans) tended to claim they invented the first computer.

After the guided tour, we were able to view the exhibits in our own time. There is a working Post Office on the site, an extremely comprehensive and large Winston Churchill museum with an eclectic collection of memorabilia including a copy of the letter King George wrote to Churchill advising against being present on D Day. There were certainly gaps in my history knowledge which were partially filled, but further reading is essential as this tour really caught my interest. The involvement of women in the code breaking and in aspects of the activities at Bletchley Park was in a special Hut as was the use of homing pigeons to drop messages at the front.

The day just flew and I then had to drive through three counties to get to  tonight's accommodation in Litton in Derbyshire. It was raining heavily in Bletchley Park when I left ...... and peak hour. I would be absolutely lost without the GPS. The GPS girl is very patient and does not get cross when I take a wrong turn. She says ....... turn around when possible!  There are roundabouts ABSOLUTELY EVERYWHERE. Some are so big they have several sets of lights in them. The GPS girl tells me to take the fourth exit .....  and I wait for the lights to turn green and wait so long I forget which exit I was supposed to take. So, she recalculates the route and we go a different way!  When you are driver, navigator and photographer ..... the GPS is just essential. I drove for three hours to get to The Derbyshire Dales through some absolutely stunning and unique countryside.  I wanted to experience narrow country lanes and historic villages .....  and that's what it was like driving here. Just gorgeous ..... through another rainstorm and into a double rainbow!!!!!! before the GPS girl told me to turn left and the pots of gold were on the right. Didn't want to upset her again!

Random facts about driving in the UK:

A sign to a pub serving food all day called "The Butcher's Arms" ...... would you eat there? I wouldn't!

A sign to Weak Bridge ....... well I did get to the other side in one piece.

Road signs that look like a bra ..... always wondered what that meant until today there was a sign underneath advising the ground where the sign is located is unstable and the road could sink at any time!!!!!

You know you are driving in England 

.... because instead of signs with kangaroos on them, you have deer, people on horseback or pictures of cows and sheep

..... the town/village names are so quaint and have ham in them and ton, and ing and sometimes all three; also wold, barn, cot and mires.

........ the village names and road names have descriptive prefixes or adjectives in front of them ........ Upper, Lower, Green, Far, New (but it could be a town 400 years old!!!!!

I am staying in a B&B on top of a view that is indescribable. .... my photos will not do it justice. It's a cold wind blowing but the bed is sure comfortable and Janet, my host, is a typical Derbyshire lady with a broad accent. I arrived about 8:30 and she advised me to go to the next village for fish and chips for dinner as the pubs shut at 8:30 serving meals. Met a man from Ballarrat in the Fish and chip shop ... originally from Tideswell (where the F&C shop was) but lived in Australia for 18 years and had not lost his unique Derbyshire accent.

Thank you for reading this installment.
Love to all Lyn xxx

Posted by Lyn Dennis 17:00 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged b&b tideswell bletchley_park Comments (1)

London to Cambridge

Thursday, 10 May

rain 13 °C

Said goodbye to David this morning ..... maybe won't see him again until he returns to Australia next year. When I return from my road trip, he and Vicki and Graham will be on their road trip so I will be in his apartment on my own.

Using the Piccadilly Tube line as advised, I got to Kings Cross station well before the train was due to depart; used the efficient automatic dispenser to obtain my tickets without any difficulty and had a coffee while watching the departure board for my train. The platform numbers are only displayed 10 minutes before the train is due to depart. Interestingly, in France the departure platform is displayed 20 minutes before departure.  Checking the departure board every few minutes, suddenly all the trains to Cambridge flashed up cancelled!!!! There were trains scheduled every half hour. A train left for Cambridge just as I arrived but my ticket was for an off-peak service (cheaper and I did not need to get to Cambridge until 1pm to collect the hire car).  The information desk was besieged by travelers with Cambridge tickets. I felt sorry for the receptionist there but I gathered these cancellations must be quite regular. It was 10 minutes after the board flashed cancelled before a human voice announced the cancellation but without any contingency information.  The information receptionist was advising travelers to catch another tube train to Liverpool Street to get an all stations train to Cambridge. This train was well appointed with full tables in front of the seating on one side of the carriage and little pull down tables like the ones in France and on the Eurostar, on the other side and lots more space for luggage. The train terminated at Cambridge and I met an Australian couple in the lift on the way out of the station.  Taxis were running constantly from the station with the taxi queue filling up quickly. Buses were also available but as I didn't recognise the place names on the front of the bus, I joined the taxi queue.

I like the logic of the names of the roads. The car hire company was on Newmarket Road ...... which eventually ended up at, well ...... Newmarket. My accommodation in Cambridge was on Chesterton Road, which led to Chesterton!  The car is a Honda Jazz, black, auto, four door. It's in the "class" that I requested but I thought I was getting a VW Polo, auto three door. I've also hired a GPS with the car and it took me a while to get the hang of it as it's logic is different to mine. By the time I sat in the car trying to figure it out, the rain had started again. It was 1:30 pm and my original intention was to explore Cambridge on foot and by car. However, I now just wanted to find my way to my accommodation. It wasn't far away but it took a while to get my bearings and confidence behind the wheel in a different environment. 

The Hamilton Hotel where I am staying probably began it's life as a detached house and a semi- detached house next door. Now it resembles a quaint version of Faulty Towers. A rabbit warren of doorways, mismatched carpets, steep narrow winding staircases (getting used to these now) and stepping up three stairs, taking four steps, then down another three steps. My room for the two nights (B7) was through two doorways, through a lounge room, down a hallway, through another two doorways then up a steep flight of stairs. The breakfast room was lovely and light, with a generous English cooked breakfast. It suits my budget and location and the shared bathroom and toilet was always available as the twin and double rooms had ensuites, but not the singles. There were more rooms above mine with the staircase actually within the ceiling of my room. 

Chilled out in the hotel for the rest of the afternoon as it was vey unpleasant weather for photography and sight seeing. There were bicyclists EVERYWHERE ....... avec and sans helmets ..... because this is a Uni town ..... there were hundreds of bicycles at the station ..... and I've seen the ultimate in a young girl sans helmet, steering with one hand and texting on her pink smart phone with the other!!!

Planned tomorrow's drive to Norwich to visit the Shirehall Textile Study Room.  It's a 200km round trip and I have to be there by 11am. Mostly main roads as time is tight and I've never been to Norwich before nor Cambridge. But tomorrow is intended to be an educational trip not a sight seeing one. 

Thank you for reading this installment.
Love Lyn xxx

Posted by Lyn Dennis 13:51 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged taxi car cambridge hire australians Comments (0)

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