Picture impressions

This time no long blog post about our holiday (at least not in words), just some pictures…

First off Lincoln, a medieval town with some beautiful medieval houses still there and a beautiful cathedral! My brother (who lives in London) later told me they have a beautiful Christmas market there every year. I think we need to come back for that one day…

Cambridge, university city. Very beautiful as well, with all its colleges and punting boats on the river, but totally overrun with tourists (like us). My brother who lives in London (the dark guy you can see from behind in some of these photos) came up to meet us there for the day and we had a lovely time together. Click on images to enlarge if (among other things) you want to see a street musician in a trash can!

MTA: even The Guarduan has something to say about how busy Cambridge is, in an article I was just reading here.

Today we left the kids at the campsite (and in the pool) while Mr Esther and I went off on our own. We first made a quick stop in Fotheringhay, where Richard III was born and Mary, Queen of Scots was beheaded.

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And afterwards visited Peterborough with its cathedral and 13th century original wooden ceiling, which is also the last resting place of Katherine of Aragon, first wife on Henry VIII.

Tomorrow we break up camp and go on to West-Yorkshire.

My brush with royalty

One of the first things people associate with England is royalty and yes, I had a brush with royalty on my family holiday!

Yesterday we visited Ely, one of the oldest cathedrals in England and the cathedral that was also used on the cover of Pink Floyd’s album “Division Bell”. You have to look really closely at the album cover (click to enlarge) to even see it, but my husband, as a medieval buildings and Pink Floyd fan, knows this stuff. 🙂

Here I am taking a picture of the roof inside the cathedral through a mirror:

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Oliver Cromwell, 17th century revolutionary against the crown, also lived in Ely for a while. The house is now the tourist office…

Then today we visited Althorp, the residence of Charles, the Earl of Spencer, Princess Diana’s brother (click on images to enlarge).

We had some tea there…

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… and we saw this sign…

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As we had arrived at 13:00, we decided to stick around and take a peek. We bought a book about the house anyway, so we had our book signed as well!

This is as close as I’ll ever be to English royalty I think – I exchanged a few words with the future King of England’s uncle! Conversation with Earl Charles Spencer wasn’t stellar but it was friendly; he asked where we were from and who to make the book out to and thanked us for coming. It was all very pleasant and over very soon.

We visited the house and, in a separate building, saw an exhibition of beautiful photographs of Princess Diana by Mario Testino (her last photo session before she died, the prints exhibited were huge). We weren’t allowed to take any pictures, not of the inside of the house and not of the Diana photos, but I found some of the images that were displayed easily enough on the internet.

We also walked to the island on the Althorp estate which is Diana’s last resting place and visited the little shrine in her honour opposite it…

Afterwards my husband and the kids went kart-racing for half an hour, about 10 minutes by car away from Althorp…

… and while they were circling the track I was talking to a young man who worked there. He told me that the Earl sometimes also comes to the track. Maybe the princes have been there as well? In any case, my brush with royalty feels complete.

Fangirling & family time

So, I am on a family holiday in the middle of England now with my husband and two teenage kids and already feeling very cheeful about it all! Every day brings new fangirl & family moments.

Leaving The Netherlands wasn’t too fangirly but it was family-time. We waited at the ferry that was to take us from The Netherlands to England, but we didn’t have to wait very long to board.

We had our own cabin for the 7 hour ferry trip and the kids reminisced about Titanic on board (although they refused to re-enact any Titanic scenes for me).

Once in England we had to drive on the wrong side of the road (yep, driving on the left feels wrong…)

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We camped just outside Colchester for our first night in England and did a little sightseeing there the next morning (yep, that’s me in the bottom picture)…

In Colchester I had my first real fangirl moment: we passed by a sweet shop called Darcy (of Pride and Prejudice fame)! Of course, this probably has nothing to do with P&P, but it made me smile!

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We also had our first scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam in Colchester… yumm!

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We then drove on to our current campsite, not far from Huntingdon (Cambridgeshire) and set up our camp for the one and a half weeks we’re staying here for. My 16 year old son gets his own little tent to sleep in.

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When I went to the bathroom here at the campsite, I unexpectedly had my second fangirl moment. See for yourself what brand the washbasins are…

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How lovely to have the thought of Richard Armitage with me every day when I visit the bathroom!

We went to dinner at a pub in a village called Perry, which made me think of our fellow RA blogger Perry over on Armitage Agonistes

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… and when we got back, in the tree right next to our camping spot, there was an owl hooting away! We never see owls in the wild where we live, it was quite an experience for us.

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After a day of lazing away, we passed through the town of Stamford, which gave me my next fangirling moment. Stamford was used as the town of Merryton in 2005’s Pride and Prejudice (the one with Keira Knightley… yeah, not my fave P&P adaptation, but I have seen it often enough nonetheless!)…

After a little walk through Stamford, which is quite pretty with all it’s old sandstone buildings, we went on to visit Burghley House, which was used as Rosings in that same P&P adaptation (the one picture here below is mine, the other is from the movie)!

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We visited inside the huge ‘house’ and the moment I walked into the kitchen, I was reminded of my favourite childhood film The Slipper and the Rose; there was a very similar kitchen in that movie with shiny brass pot and pans!

We saw some of the interior rooms…

…and when we exited we came across a lovely tree with a wooden seat surrounding the trunk and lots of lavender around it; it’s something I would love to have in my own garden, if only my own garden were large enough!

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There were some very pretty flowers/plants in the gardens there…

There was also an ‘adventure garden’ with fountains and a mirror maze.

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After we had all passed to and fro through a gate with a very fine spray of water that hardly got anyone wet…

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… I challenged my kids to jump through the ‘Exit curtain’ fountain (my husband and I walked around it) and the little sods actually did!

It took them a little while to get dry, they took their time in the sun for that…

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The current last picture on my camera is one my son took while playing around with said camera in the car. I quite like it…

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Our holiday has only just started, but already it’s goooood!

Holiday!

It’s been a long day at work today. This morning I had three back-to-back meetings from 8.30 a.m. till noon. Then, after a quick pita falafel lunch which looked something like this (yumm!)…

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… I had another mini-meeting, followed by some work I needed to get done, yet another meeting at 2 p.m., followed by even more work to do, in a mad rush to finish everything that needed to get finished. Finally, at 6 p.m., everything was under control and I was able to start my holiday!

I treated myself to a chai tea latte on my train ride home…

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… while enjoying the view from my seat window…

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… and this following song kept on running on repeat in my head (even though I am not a Madonna fan, it’s just a catchy tune)…

My husband has already been off work this week and now this evening my holiday finally started as well; I have 3.5 weeks off now. Tomorrow (Wednesday) is my regular day off and will be used for packing up. On Thursday we take our car and caravan (picture from two years ago, we won’t be taking bikes this time around)…

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… and we head for England by car ferry! We’ll be staying not far from Cambridge for about a week and a half and after that we go to West-Yorkshire for another week and a half. We return on Friday in 3 weeks time. After all the stress of the past few weeks I can’t tell you how much I am looking forward to this! Sightseeing, relaxing and family time – it’s one of my fave times of the year.

I’m not sure how much I’ll be keeping up with the outside world and blogging, but I’ve been pretty much out of it with the blogging for a few weeks now, so I’m sure no one will notice the difference. 😉

I’m off to make my yearly summer cd now, with music my kids have picked that we’ll be listening to in the car. It’ll be fun getting to know ‘their’ music better…

The end of the affair

And by “affair” I mean the love affair with my vacation… The fun we had in the first half of our vacation, continued during the rest of our vacation as well. The most difficult part was the visit to Auschwitz, which my son doesn’t want to talk about any more, and we had some drama too.

The drama… we had a bit of an adventure with Cracow. As Cracow in Poland was quite far from our campsite in the Czech Republic we had rented a self catering apartment there for two nighs. The drive that was supposed to be 4 hours took 8 hours due to several traffic jams… so, no scenic stops on the way like we had originally planned. Then the next morning, my nice Canon EOS camera was stolen from our apartment, while we were inside having breakfast in another room! Who thinks to lock the front door when you’re all inside? That meant that instead of sightseeing we spent a few hours trying to get the camera reported stolen at the police station. First police station we went to no one spoke anything other than Polish. We got to speak to a translator on the phone who asked us to be at another police station two hours later. Once there, we had to wait another hour. This is the family at the police station making fun of having enough of waiting…

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Being interviewed and having the report made up took another hour but as the office was too small, the kids and I had to wait outside. So, nope, never saw an actual Polish police officer’s desk myself but the officers we met were very friendly. After finally being able to make that report (we need it so we can claim the loss from our insurance), we had some time left to walk through Cracow for sightseeing and in the evening after dinner we took a little carriage ride through the city. All’s well that ends well.

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The kids had a little more adventure than I did on our vacation (I’m not so much of an adventurer when it comes to this speed & climbing stuff): they went motor-karting and tobogganing, they went down fast waterslides at a waterpark and my daughter even perusaded my husband to go climbing with her.

What makes this vacation extra memorable are the beautiful mountains and the beautiful views they provide. We usually have very cultural vacations visiting cities, churches and castles. While we had done some of that as well, it mostly was a nature vacation this time around and it was great! We went hiking a few times; one time we hiked down a ski slope (but without the snow)…

Another time we went up the highest Czech mountian Snezka (1600 m) in a cable car. The views going up were beautiful…

… and the views from the top were awesome.

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We also hiked up to the spot where the river Elbe starts. Basically that spot is a few pools of water and one pool that is walled and marked officially as the start of the river.

Even nuns hike up to the source of the Elbe… 🙂 I have a bit of a soft spot for nuns, I like seeing them around, but these nuns didn’t stay long to admire God’s miracle of creating a river (10 seconds at most) and quickly continued on their hike.

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We also went back to Wroclaw again and on the way stopped at an old medieval church with beautiful murals and painted wooden ceilings.

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In Wroclaw cathedral we lit candles remembering my dad and for my mom.

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I had the best iced tea ever there as well!

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I was also pleased to run into this little grafitti image of one of my heroes, David Bowie, on a wall in Wroclaw!

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Oh, and popping bubbles was fun too.

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We also visited a cave with an underground lake…

… and I played around with my camera (we bought a replacement camera even though we’re still awaiting an insurance refund) capturing the reflection in my son’s sunglasses or my daughter jumping into a ballpool…

The most heartwarming part of the vacation is that our kids still like to occasionally hug us, even though they are (almost) teenagers and basically too cool for this world…

And so the sun sets on our vacation (left is a view from our campsite, right a view from the pizzeria we had dinner at during our stopover in Germany on our way home)…

Yesterday I took my daughter and her bff to the beach (while my husband stayed home and my son went to see his girlfriend)…

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… and next week it’s back to school for the kids, back to work for my husband and on with job searching for me (my contract to my last job ended this past Wednesay, just as I finished my accumulated vacation days).  As always, I love these weeks I get to spend with just my husband and the kids and it’s always also a little sad when it’s over… seems like I will have to turn to Richard Armitage news (there’s been lots around lately I gather!) to soften the blow. 😉