We stayed a week in Bradford but knew we had to keep moving. Rather than return to Europe we decided to see the UK and Ireland, spend a few weeks with Julia’s parents and then head back to Europe in late July. So the plan was to head North to Newcastle, West along Hadrian’s Wall to Scotland and across to Northern Ireland by ferry from Stranraer.
Which we did………….in just a few days actually. We visited the magnificent city of York, had a very enjoyable night in Newcastle, bumping into friends of my relatives as we enjoyed Geordie hospitality in a Gateshead pub, and then a great lunch with my Dad’s cousin and her husband in Blaydon.
Hadrian’s Wall was impressive, followed by another Northumberland pub night and some great English weather the next morning to farewell us as we entered Scotland…….where the weather was equally bitter!
We tried to get the fast ferry to Belfast but found that the seas were to rough so after an hour half on the fast ferry we turned around and managed a berth on the slow ferry. Not that it takes long to get to Norhtern Ireland from Scotland, but one less hour on the Irish sea might have been preferable. Two football teams worth of drunk Scotsmen didn’t think so, cheering on every wave that broke over the bow and whited out the viewing windows in the lounge! Molly was green but kept her composure – the little fella next to us didn’t – nor did he keep down his fish and chips, rybena or orange juice…….
We hoped to get to Randallstown in Northern Ireland early enough for dinner. As the ferry got in after 7.00pm we weren’t sure. We soon discovered you can get to anywhere in Northern Ireland by dinner time if you set of by 7.15pm. We managed two laps by 9.30pm although still faiuled to find accommodation. I think the “troubles” there may have discouraged the B&B business………….
The thing that struck us most about our short visit to Northern Ireland was the prevalence of Union Jack’s, the lack of obvious accommodation and a strange passion for building oversized (3 storey high!) bonfires in the car parks of little town halls!??? Must have been the time of the year.
Next morning we went to the largest fresh water lake in the British Isles, Lough Neagh, did another lap of Antrim town and then headed South for Dublin. 3 hours later we were there!
Dublin is difficult to sum up. We met up with some friends, Joe and Elaine, who had lived down the road from us in Canberra and Joe very kindly gave us the full “Cook’s Tour” of Dublin, complete with his own tourist bus! The city is old but in many ways quite plain, having endured English rule and the mixed feelings that have grown out of that. Joe has a great knowledge of the city sites and gave us a great tour, inclusive of some time in Trinity College which is quite awe inspiring.
If in Dublin, find Joe through his Wicklow Tours website and see some amazing scenery. We drove up through Wicklow on our way out of Dublin and were impressed by the mixture of natural features combined with historical settlements. For us though, we were struggling to stop and see much as we felt compelled to keep moving as we knew that once in Cornwall we would be able to settle for several weeks – relaxation lay ahead!
We crossed back to Wales and stayed at Devil’s Bridge with Julia’s cousin Neil and his wife Anne. They have made a lifestyle choice and now live in a small Welsh village, surrounded by hills, forests and streams. The air was clear, cool and life is clearly not rushed – we had a great night, including a meal of Trout caught by Neil, with plenty of wines to wash the local fare down with.
After a day driving though Welsh drizzle, we spent another evening in Wales, this time watching a beautiful sun set at Jenny (one of Julia’s Aunts) and John’s house in Monmouth. Another relaxing evening and easy to see why people choose to move away from some of England’s economic and industrial hubs to enjoy the lifestyle of smaller villages.
Then despite our plans of seeing others, returning to the North and spending longer at every place we went to, we headed straight down to Cornwall from Wales.
For the 3 of us the need to stop in one place was getting stronger and stronger, particularly knowing how close it was to Julia’s parents, so it was inevitable that we would dash for Hayle and do our best to NOT live out of our backpacks for a few weeks.