Birthday Weekend Day #7

It was a relatively slow start to the day today. The day after so to speak. Not sure any one in the house other than Lexi would pass the breath test for Drink/Driving.  Eventually everyone was up and the weather was not looking great.  So we all had some form of breakfast and worked out what the day would hold.  Jeanette and I wanted to head South a little to the underground caverns known as King Arthur’s Labyrinth. Dianne wanted to stay in the house as later that day Stuart, Cam and Lexi were heading off back to Cambourne.

King Arthur’s Labyrint

The journey south was about an hour and the day continued to look bleak. It became completely wasted when we arrived only to find the place closed as the underground caverns had flooded with all the rain Wales had been having.h

King Arthur’s Labyrinth

There was very little to see around here, but we did find the winner of the UK’s best gin for 2017.

UK’s Best Gin Maker

Some Medieval Sword were on Display among some very average stores at the Labyrinth in Corris.

Medieval Swords

Well disappointed we decided to head back to see what the others were up to. As it turned out we should have gone north today and visited the Castle at Conwy – No I haven’t spelt that incorrectly – There is no ‘a‘ in Conwy.  The weather set in pretty hard so it was difficult driving conditions.

Driving in North Wales in Autumn

We decided it was time for food and respite from the rain and found a rural pub/cafe called the Cross Foxes. We have seen so many references to Foxes here. Reminds us that we have our very own Fox back in NZ. Rhiain is Fox and her Husband Tim is Bear.

Cross Foxes

This was a surprising rural stop. Modern, Warm, Great Food and even a decent beer.

Beer @ the Cross Foxes

This is a great Blonde from the Wye Valley.  Fully refreshed we continued our return back to Portmeirion but because we had time we decided to work out where we caught the train next Wednesday for our Trip north to Manchester.  Thank goodness for Google Offline Maps. Cell and Wifi coverage all over the UK is so patchy it at times is unusable.  You can go from 5 Bars to no service in a mile.  Offline – Always On. Well done Google.  We found our way to Blaenau Ffestiniog station (Getting the spelling right is a mission!). We confirmed this is where we catch the train and confirmed which platform we needed to be on and by what time.

Blaenau Ffestiniog

While we where there a train came through. Didn’t know if it was the one we would catch on Wednesday but it was terrific. Steam Powered.

Steam Train @ Blaenau Ffestiniog

All chores done we completed our journey back to Portmeirion.   We caught up with the rest of the crew who had been out for lunch at Castle  Deudraeth down near the Portmeirion Village.

Castle Deudraeth @ Portmeirion

Their lunch was spectacular and with it came free entry to the village. So after they ate they all went for an explore through the village.  It appears their adventure was better than ours but that is life.   Being a miserable day Jeanette started a fire and I fetched some firewood in.  It gave me a great opportunity to catch up on some of this blog and enjoy a glass of wine in front of the fire.

Alan catching up on the Blog

Rick took opportunity to relax and get warm. It was quite a chilly day. He spent some time going through all the comments posted to photos from various others about the Peaky Blinders Photos.

Rick relaxing in front of the fire

As the afternoon drew to an end Jeanette and I decided we would cook dinner that night. Rick took us on a short drive down the road to the supermarket where we could buy the necessary items and restock some of the wine that had been consumed on Saturday night. We also took opportunity to take pictures of some of the local town signs (We have been doing this for a while now). We intend to make up a collage of these signs at some stage and only signs for places we have both been together get included.   So we finished off the day in quiet fashion with a wonderful meal, glass of wine and warm fire.  Feeling weary we headed off to bed early.


Birthday Weekend – Day #6

So we are now here in Portmeirion for a while to celebrate my older brothers 60th birthday. There are plenty of surprises left for Rick in the days to come. Dianne has done an awesome job organizing everyone and everything. The House is wonderful and the beds were really comfortable.  We were up early on Saturday morning and spent some time catching up on the Blog. I was five days behind because every day was so jam-packed with activities that there was no time or energy left to blog at the end of each day.  Today we decided to risk a journey out to the Portmeirion village. The forecast was for showers but hey we are in Wales.

Port Meirion Village Wales

The village was all of 1 mile away so we set off in the car and were there in no time.  12 Pounds each to get. Our photos are a little less bright being a cloudy day and all.  Our arrival started with a brief tour of the village.  This village was built entirely around the desires of an architects vision for an Italian style village in the mold of Portofino,  The village became the backdrop to numerous TV Shows and Movies but was made famous 50 years ago today with the filming of the TV Series ‘The Prisoner’  Can’t say I remember the Show but it put the village on the map.

Jeanette @ The Village

The village is fully populated but nobody lives here.  The architect had numerous friends who would come here and stay. People like Jools Holland who built his London studios around the village theme.

The Main Gardens

After the tour we took the village train on a little expedition around the outside of the village.

The Portmeirion Train

Needed a Chiropractor to fix our backs after that. It was slow and bumpy. Could easily have walked the distance in half the time.  part way round the train stopped so we could get photos overlooking the village.

Overlooking the Village

The showers had no yet materialized even though they were threatening.

Alan & Jeanette @ the Village

After the train ride  it was still not raining so we decided to do the coastal walk. This was a 45 minute stroll around the headland.  It was an easy walk and would be closer to 35 at our normal walk speed.  Beautiful scenery all around.

Alan on the Rocks – Better than Whisky some say!
The Hotel @ Portmeirion
Portmeirion Headland Beach
Jeanette and Rachel at the Lighthouse
Lilly Pond at Portmeirion
Alan on the Coastal Walk

Just as we were finishing the walk the showers started. Jeanette needed the Loo and so we decided a cup of tea and a coffee was in order. Went to the Cafe and relaxed for a wee while before hitting the pottery shops. We were told that Portmeirion pottery was famous world over. Some of it was OK, most of it was rubbish (or at least that’s my option). There were a couple of nice pieces and Jeanette ended up buying one. Hope it stays intact on the plane ride home!.

The rain started to fall heavily so we decided it was time to head back to base.  Rick did not know that today there was a party organised for him and that the next surprise  was friends of theirs from Cambourne (Where Rick and Dianne Live)  Stuart and Cam and Rick’s Goddaughter  Lexi, who is 11, were at the house when we returned.  Rick looked like a stunned mullet.  His only question was ‘What are you doing here?’  They were here out of context and he took a moment to put it all together. Jeanette and I made ourselves a little scarce so they could all have a great reunion as part of the surprise.  I went off and had a shower and Jeanette started on her makeup.  Dianne had set a ‘Peaky Blinders’ theme to the party. We had no idea what that was so found the show on Netflix and watched a couple of episode.

Peaky Blinders

The show is really good, set in Birmingham after the war. The Peaky Blinders are like the local Mob.  Sam Neill is the law.  I based my outfit on him.  There are very few women in the show but they all wore furs and gloves with Cloche hats.  A few were more along the Flapper line so Jeanette based her outfit on the former. How did we do?

Alan & Jeanette in Peaky Blinders Garb

Overall everyone dressed to the nines and looked fantastic. We did a wee photo shoot in ‘The Library’ to commemorate the occasion.

The Peaky Blinders Girls
Cam Lexi and Stuart
Rick and Dianne with Ricks Goddaughter Lexi
Dianne Rachel Stuart Lexi Rick and Cam
The Law and The Criminal
Dianne Jeanette & Rachel
Rick Cam Stuart Lexi Alan Jeanette Dianne & Rachel
Alan Dianne Rick and Rachel in Shropshire for Rick’s 50th 10 years ago
The re-enactment this time in Portmeirion for Rick’s 60th
The one Rick dotes over!
The guy who deserves all the fuss!

After the photo shoot the crew got down to the serious business just like on the TV Show. Food and a beverage or two. Don’t mind if I do, Thanks!. The night ended with cake and a very happy Rick.

Happy Birthday Big Brother

Road Trip – Day #5

It was supposed to rain all day today.  Guess what. Blue Skies. 16 degrees at 9:00am.  We must have brought the good weather with us leaving all the crap weather back in New Zealand.  We started the day with showers using the en suite’s  in our rooms.  Jeanette and I decided to get a short walk in before breakfast as we had agreed to meet at 8:30am.  We strolled around the grounds and discovered a fully automatic lawnmover attending to the grounds. It uses GPS and boundary sensors and when the battery gets low it self docks, recharges then heads out again. Brilliant!  I want one.  The area around the house is great. Rick returned from a much bigger walk down the hill to the village.  The walk back up the hill was pretty tough but he is used to doing this type of walking as he is very fit.

The House from down the Road

Being a Vicarage we thought there must be a church and we found it. Derelict and overrun with weeds.

The Church

We returned to the house at the agreed time for breakfast.  What a great spread.

Cooked Breakfast Menu

This was in addition to cereals, juices, yoghurt, fruits, teas and coffees. A real treat was real figs fresh of the tree.  Our host was genuinely a domestic goddess and everything was perfect.  Couldn’t have had a better start to our day.  After breakfast we packed the car and headed off.  Today would see us travel from Moylegrove to Portmeirion in Snowdonia.

Moylegrove to Portmeirion

First stop was the beach only 3 miles away.

The beach @ Moylegrove

This is not a beach to sunbathe at. the Irish sea is what we are looking at. The waves were breaking on the rocks including a blow hole on the right hand side.  We had to walk down to the beach from the road going across a very old stone bridge.

Stone Bridge @ Moylegrave


Alan @ Moylegrove Beach

Every where we go we are amazed at just how old everything is. Building, Fences, Bridges. All made of Stone, Block or Slate. Many hundreds of years old. In New Zealand we have nothing old. Also there is absolutely no grafitti anywhere.  The people respect the history and heritage of their environments.  Wish I could say the same for New Zealand.   After the beach we were back on the road and off to Cardigan.  Cardigan is a local market town that is very pretty and sports a Castle.

The view from the top coming down to Cardigan

Wales is spectacular everywhere. Being all new to us it was bound to impress and we have not been disappointed.  At the bottom of the hill we approached via an old stone bridge.

Cardigan Bridge

The castle is behind the wall over the bridge.  We didn’t have time to do the tour but we did go for a wander around the exterior and through the town.

Outside the Castle

This is a smallish castle as you can tell by the height of the walls compared to us.  It is really quite old but in pretty good nick.

Castle from Across the Bridge

We then went for a wander through the town down High Street. Seems every town has a High Street. Very narrow but very beautiful. Only problem is you can not tell what is in each shop until you are outside it.

Rick and Alan in the Heart of Town

Place names are also very interesting. This little road had very old shops held within. Nothing tempted us enough to part with any cash.

Jeanette on High Street Cardigan

Drivers here are very polite. They have to be as many roads are not wide enough to pass each other while in motion. Often one has to pull to the side to let the oncoming traffic pass. No one gets road rage or upset. Everyone just deals with it. Sometimes one car has to reverse several hundred feet to a bypass area to let the other car pass.  Some roads like this one deal with the problem by being only one way.  Cardigan was also a problem place as the car needed refueling,  We tried several places indicated on the SatNav but none sold diesel.  Eventually we found that the supermarket Tesco sold diesel but Rick has had a bad experience with the Citroen with supermarket diesel.  So he only put a little in. Just enough to get us to a major station up the road.   So off we went in search of our next destination New Quay.

New Quay from the Parking Lot

New Quay was a complete surprise.  This is a humming seaside resort that was very busy.  Numerous cafes, pubs, eateries.  A great marina and plenty to see.  We arrived via the scenic route by the ocean and had a great view of the marina.

New Quay Marina

Just as we we wandering around it started to rain a little so being lunch time we foudn a cafe for coffee and lunch.

The Blue Bell Deli & Bistro

We got a seat upstairs overlooking the marina and enjoyed fabulous food and coffee.  Couldn’t have asked for a better feeding house.

Photographing from the Bistro Balcony
The Ploughman’s Platter. Huge!

After lunch and the obligatory toilet stop, the rain has stopped so we resumed our wee walk around.  Very impressed by this place. Could easily spend a night or two here again.

Sea wall and beach on New Quay Walk.
Houses overlooking the beach at New Quay

Time came to leave so we jumped back in the car and headed off to Aberystwyth. Man the place names are very hard to say. This one sounds like Abber-Wrist-With. The town was again fantastic and the multi-coloured pastel houses were beautiful. As time was running out we decided not to stop but head on to our  final destination on the road trip at Portmeirion.  DIanne had pre organised everything for our arrival, Waitrose had delivered all the food, wine and beer and had unloaded it all into the fridge and cupboards for us.  Finding the house was a little tricky as Dianne had omitted to print out the directions. Fortunately I had looked closely at the area before we left New Zealand and We managed to find the property and breathe a sigh of relief at our arrival.

Hafod Cae Maen House

The house has four large upstairs bedrooms with 2 large downstairs lounges and is setup as a self catering holiday home. Here are a few shots of the inside of the house.

The whole week was a trip of surprises for Rick and here there should have been one more waiting for him. Rick and Dianne’s daughter Rachel had taken time off work in London and was driving up to meet us here as a birthday surprise for Rick.  Sadly she got lost as Dianne had omitted giving her the detailed directions to get here.   So after a few phone calls Rick and I were despatched to go find her to see her safely to the house.  She was parked awaiting our arrival about 4 miles away.  Rachel then followed us back to the House and a great family reunion followed.  Rick was blown away as for Rachel to get here she had to train from London to Cambourne, pack Dianne’s car then drive 4.5 hours to get here.

Princess Rachel

Dianne and Rachel then set about getting food together for the night.  A starter of Carrots and Celery Sticks with Dip  followed by Chicken, Carrots and Kale accompanied by beer and wine went down beautifully.

Dinner at the end of the Day

All tired off to bed we went to get ready for a huge day tomorrow.

Road Trip – Day #4

The forecast for today was all bad!  But we awoke to a beautiful day. Blue Skies and completely calm. Jeanette had booked us breakfast in the hotel and along with myself and Rick we met at 7:30 to reveal what the day ahead held. Dianne had organizing to do so was going to sort out the plans while we went off exploring.

We decided to visit Cardiff Castle but it did not open until 9:30 so we took a stroll the long way round taking in the sites and sounds of early morning Cardiff.  The place was buzzing with people going off to their day jobs.  Bars/Cafes were starting to setup for the day. Many Shops do not open until 10:00am.

Alan at the Royal Hotel

Our walk was rather short but we picked up a couple of pictures along the way.

Rick and Jeanette at a Sculpture commemorating the labour movement
Building Covered in individual tile mosaic
Monkey Operated Clock
St Mary’s Road near our hotel.

Soon it was 9:30 and we arrived at the Castle.  Very impressive. Was once a family home but several generations of owners ago it was gifted to the the people of Cardiff.

Cardiff Castle Gate

Over the centuries the caste has changed internally with walls removed and some buildings inside the walls taken down.  Essentially the only real remaining buildings that are left are the house and the keep.

Main House Cardiff Castle

Having purchased our tickets we strolled around the upper level walkway to get a good look down into the Castle grounds.  We got quite a few steps on the fitbit going around the top.

Us on the Top Walk

In the background of this photo is the Keep.  This has a moat around it and sits on a raised mound within the moat.  After walking all around the top we descended one level to find tunnels that ran under the top layers. These tunnels were used as a bomb shelter during World War II.  They installed bunks in them for the elderly and children.  After the ware they were returned to their original state.

Centurion on Duty

School trips drifted into the castle while we where there and they had one of these chaps as their tour guide.  We used an audio guide to work our way around the castle and went to the top of the keep.  There was a crew making a promotional film to promote the castle and they were on the top of the keep when we went up.  After the keep we went into the house.  Amazing construction. The stonework and artistry in the building are impressive given how long ago it was built.

A great tour with excellent history lessons.  We we just about done when Jeanette misbehaved a little so we had to punish her in the traditional way.

Bad Girl in the Stocks

All we needed were some rotten tomatoes and justice would be served.  We bade farewell to the House, The Keep and the Castle.

The House and Keep – Millenium Stadium in the Background
The Watchtower

And we made our way back to the hotel.  I took the opportunity to pose by Cardiff Arms Park aka Millenium Stadium aka Principality Stadium as this will possibly be the closest I ever get to going to an actual rugby game here.

Alan @ Cardiff Arms Park

The Welsh are passionate about their rugby.  More symbols of Rugby here than in New Zealand.  We saw at least two Rugby Shops within the 1 km walk from the castle back to the hotel.

So the time for the reveal of what else Day #4 held came.  We were travelling from Cardiff to Moylegrove (Near Cardigan).

Cardigan to Moylegrove

This was going to be a reasonably long day in the car but several destinations were near the seaside (Jeanette’s Happy Place) so we were looking forward to it. Also most of this was completely new to Rick and Dianne.

First Stop was Sandy Bay. For those who have watched the TV Show Gavin and Stacey, this place was just like the Welsh seaside resort where Stacey Lived except most of it was closed for the winter season.  Amusements and Games arcades were the order of the day.

Beautiful Beach at Sandy Bay
Settlement near Sandy Bay

It was only a brief stop at Sandy Bay as there was little to recommend it.  We decided to drive around to Port Talbot and take a look at Hollywood Park at Aberavon Beach.  The sea walls were massive and we were told that often the sea surged right up to the top of them.

Alan and Jeanette at Aberavon Beach – Talbot Bay – Hollywood Park

In the above photo we are on the lower level of the sea Wall.  The upper level is 10 feet higher than the path to the right of where we were standing.

Rick and Dianne at Aberavon Beach

The area is under development and when finished will be fantastic.

The Knotted Steel

This is the symbol at the beach. Nearby is a huge steel mill. Port Talbot is very industrialized but here there is a huge green space and a massive beach.   After a wander back and forth we were quite hungry so we consulted Tripadvisor for good places to eat.  The ones near the beach are more like Burger King than somewhere Jeanette can find food.  Tripadvisor recommended a Gastropub called the Brit.  We loaded up the GPS with the address and set off in search for great food.

The Brit – Port Talbot

The pub had ‘Free House’ written on it under the name.  We learnt that this means they are an independent pub and can sell whatever beers they want.  They are not tied to a brewery or limited to that breweries offerings.  The food here was fantastic.. Easy to see why they are #1 in the area.  The staff were very friendly and cooperated with Jeanette to get a photo.

The Staff @ The Brit

The decorating in the restaurant was very interesting with artworks and sayings doted around the place everywhere. One piece in particular stood out and is representative of the quirky nature of ‘The Brit’

Lamp at The Brit
Alan on the Footbridge at The Brit.

Outside the restaurant was a footbridge that Jeanette could not resit getting a picture of me on it.  And then we were back on the Road.  Off to see Mumbles Pier in Swansea.  It was a bit of a hike all the way through Swansea and again we were impressed by the sea walls.  Mumbles pier itself was in a state of disrepair.  It is being upgraded but because it is privately owned funds are limited.

Mumbles Pier Swansea

We parked quite a way away from the pier and walked to the end of the road. There were plenty of people out and about enjoying the day. It was beautiful with temperatures getting close to 21 degrees.  The size of the sea wall was impressive. They build Life Boat sheds high off the water to protect them when seas get high.

The old Life Boat Shed

The new life boat needed a new shed so they have built one at the end of the falling down pier.  They are renovating but they need several hundred thousand pounds to do the job properly. The new boat is bigger than the above shed.

The New Life Boat

I would not like to go out in the old boat.  I would be putting down the shark bait on the old boat but the new one looks great. Jeanette always wants me in the photos so apparently I made this wee lighthouse look go can vne

Alan @ Mumbles Pier

Kiwis are never far from home.  Who would have thought to call the Kiwis when moving house in Swansea Wales!

Kiwi Movers

Some say Rick made the lighthouse look better. Here he is on a renovated portion of the pier. The sign at the land end advised that you walk on it at your own peril!  The boards where rotton. They had mats over the worst part and even a bailey bridge over the completely rotton boards.  The Bailey bridge was only 20 Meters long!

Rick on Mumbles Pier

The Land end had this sign. We came via Swansea to Mumbles and left towards Carmarthen.

Signpost at Mumbles Pier

Time was running out on our afternoon.  We headed off to our final destination for the evening; Moylegrove near Cardigan on the West Welsh coast.  I had booked us into a B&B here called ‘The Old Vicarage’.

The Old Vicarage B&B

This place is amazing. It rates as the best B&B I have ever stayed at.  The rooms are huge. The facilities are amazing. The host (Her Family were away) went out of her way to ensure Jeanette had food for breakfast.  We unpacked for the night and walked around the grounds.  Our hosts husband is a joiner and they have done all the renovations themselves.  The Beds were so comfortable.  Just Brilliant!.  If you stay here make sure you book Dinner on the night or your arrival. We didn’t so our hosts made a reservation for us at a local Pub in Newport which was about 10 Minutes away.  It was getting latish when we left but the sunset was brilliant.

Pembrokeshire Sunset


The Golden Lion Restaurant / Bar in Newport Wales

Our host told us that the GPS will take us the long way round, just as it did to get to the B&B.  She gave me excellent instructions on how to get there.  10 Minutes in the car and we arrived.  Parking is a problem in these small old villages.  Rick went off to find a park after depositing us at the door.  The place was jumping. The menu was very good. The food was fantastic.  This part of the world is so interesting.  We finished our night and returned to the B& B all worn out.

Road Trip – Day #3

Day # 3 of the road trip started with Breakfast at the Hotel.  As far as breakfasts go – It was terrible!  The worst Eggs Benedict I have ever had. Jeanette faired better than me and with it behind us we packed the car and set off back into Bath.  This morning we were to get the first actual photo challenge sorted by going to the Sally Lunn Shop.

Sally Lunn’s World Famous Store

On our way to Sally’s we strolled near the weir which was very close to where we had dinner last night.

The Bath Weir
Alan @ The Weir

The walk also took us past the park where some very creative planting was in evidence.

Book in the Garden

In quick time we made it to Sally’s House.  The Oldest house in Bath.

Sally Lunn’s House

And it was here that we had two separate photographs to emulate.  One outside the shop and one inside.  So here are the results.

Peter and Julie outside Sally Lunn’s House
Alan and Jeanette outside Sally Lunn’s House
Peter and Julie Inside Sally Lunn’s House
Alan and Jeanette Inside Sally Lunn’s House

With the photo challenge done we could settle in and enjoy a Helping of Sally’s Products.  Served as a Half Bun with choices of toppings, I choose Blackcurrant Jam and Clotted Cream. The Sally Lunn’s in New Zealand are nothing like these.  These are light and fluffy and so so good.

Eating a Sally Lunn Bun

It was time to get on the road.  Day #3 takes us from Bath to Cardiff via Bristol.

Bath to Cardiff

The journey today was not far and much of it on Motorways.  The weather was also threatening to rain with 100% probability when we reached our destination. Rick told us about the Clifton Suspension Bridge so we decided to go via Bristol and take a look.  This was well worth the deviation. It also allowed us to drive through Bristol, a place we have heard much about over the years but never had opportunity to visit.  The Clifton Suspension Bridge and the story behind its construction is amazing.

Clifton Suspension Bridge

The ravine that this goes over is massive.  There is a One Pound toll to cross the bridge.  It is spectacular.

The Ravine Under the Bridge
Side View of Clifton Suspension Bridge
Alan & Jeanette at the Bridge

The weather started to close in so we decided to get back on the road and head to Cardiff.  This was going very well until we hit the M5 intersection where the traffic slowed to almost not moving.  It took us ages to get through and find out why there was a problem.  The off ramp to the port was closed as that morning the Police had stopped and Shot multiple times a driver in a car on the off ramp. It was big news here and there is now an investigation going on about it so nothing more is being shared on the news.

Arriving in Cardiff became an adventure in its own right.  The skies had opened up and it was raining hard.  The Hotel we booked had no parking but had a loading bay where you could drop luggage before heading down the road to park the car.  Only problem was it was so wet you could not read the road markings. We ended up using bus lanes (possibly illegally) and going round and round in circles. We ended up parked on a Bus stop and phoning the hotel to find out where the loading bay was. As it turned out it was right behind us but there was a massive Skip Bin dropped on it so you would never know.  The hotel sent 2 lads done to assist with the luggage and we checked in while Rick went off and parked the car in the parking building.

The Royal Hotel Cardiff

The rooms in this hotel were fantastic. Large and very well appointed.

Jeanette in our room

Although it was raining hard we decided to go for a wander as we were right in the heart of Cardiff.  Rick and Dianne booked a tour of the Millenium Stadium (Now known as Principality Stadium) and they report that they were the only two on the tour. Jeanette and I got soaked walking around the bars and restaurants, through the arcades and malls.  There is even a Kiwi Bar and Outback Bar.  Helps being so close to the National Stadium.

Soggy Man
An Arcade near our Hotel
Huge Circle and Spike – No Idea what this actually is.

Completely soaked we headed back to our room where a complimentary bottle of wine awaited us.  We relaxed while Rick & Dianne were out and made a booking for Dinner at Grey.

Grey Restaurant Cardiff

This is a restaurant in the Hilton Hotel. As it was raining we caught a cab.  We had a great meal out and as the rain stopped by the time we were finished we decided to walk back to the hotel.  We started off but went entirely the wrong way so ended up going around the block only to find we were 3 minutes walk from our hotel.  Everything looks different in the rain.

Back at the hotel and feeling a little weary so off to bed.  Bring on Day #4.

Road Trip – Day #2

Rick has no idea what lies ahead!.  Tuesday started with a walk around Bourton-On-The-Water at 6:30 for Jeanette and Myself.  We awoke to a beautiful morning with just a little mist around.  We walked for about 4 kilometres and found interesting stuff here.

Two Houses linked together in an arch to more housing behind

The river in Daylight was great.  Meandering through the centre of the village. We wondered what happens if/when it floods.

The Water in Bourton-On-The-Water
Bourton-On-The-Water with WIllows

Town sign posts rage from boring to quirky. Bouton’s sign was classy.


Even the houses are picture postcard perfect.

Just a House!

Bourton-On-The-Water also boasts a motoring museum which was not open when we walked by. Only able to get the ‘Living Mini’ in a photo.

The ‘Living Mini’

Back to the Hotel for a wonderful breakfast. I am sure we will come home heavier than when we left.  Oh well can always lose the extra kg’s we collect on this trip once we get home.

Today we travel from Bourton-On-The-Water to Bath.

Bourton-On-The-Water to Bath

But before we started South we decided to check out ‘The Slaughters’. Our friend Mike and Kay came here a couple of months ago and loved them.  We had to go see what the fuss was all about.  Lower Slaughter is much prettier than Upper Slaughter and the Manor House are just unbelievable.  We drove around both before parking for a walk around Lower Slaughter.  Beautiful village which has won the Most Beautiful Village three times over the last 15 years.  Jeanette felt tall for the first time in her life. Check out the height of the house door!.

Like Hobbiton

The pictures we show do not do this place justice.  It is idyllic in every sense of the word. If only those pesky tourists would leave and not come back!

The River through Lower Slaughter

We walked up to the old water wheel driven mill which is now a shop / ice cream parlour / cafe.  Here Jeanette bought a Red Leather handbag, but only after panicking for 20 minutes as she could not find the handbag she brought with her. She retraced all her steps and her fit bit showed her heart rate was way up from the stress from losing it with all her credit cards and Money in it. Eventually she calmed after finding Dianne had the handbag after Rick took our photo at the river.

Jeanette – After giving the handbag to Dianne to Hold!

Overall the scenery was fantastic. The Manor Houses are incredible. Huge – The class gap was significant yet the people of the area loved the Lord of the Manor because he provided employment and income for all the people in the area.  The same gratitude is often absent today as the employed feel that it is their right rather than their privilege to be working and earning an income to support their families.

Lower Slaughter

Dianne really wanted Jeanette to ‘Cool Down’ after losing her purse and tried to dunk her in the river.

Jeanette & Dianne Wrestling near the river


I resisted the encouragement to buy a sign for the Office Bathrooms that Jeanette Found. It Just Wouldn’t work because the Men’s is on the Right.

Who is Right?

Eventually we left ‘The Slaughters’ and continued on the journey.  It was again a beautiful day and the scenery was wonderful. We stopped at a small settlement called Aldsworth. This had very old houses and was very Quaint.

Old Row Houses

We climbed the hill and found a nice wee pub called ‘The Catherine Wheel’ where we stopped for a toilet visit and a beverage.

The Catherine Wheel Pub

Again the doors are really short.  Don’t know if it was the Saxons, Normans or Romans who were short, but so many doors you need to duck to go through.

White Swan Hotel near the Bridge

Back on the Road Again. Time for a Royal Visit. Went to Tetbury – Where? Yes Tetbury to Visit Charles and Camilla.  This is where he has his country residence.  Couldnt FInd hs house but found his shop ‘Highgrove’

The Ladies helping Charlie’s Charities

Dianne could have spent much longer in the store checking out all the essentials like Padded Jackets for the Corgi’s, housewares galore, even Charlies own special brew (Have you had one of these Tim Love?)

HRH Charlie’s Home Brew

Feeling Hungry we consulted TripAdvisor for Lunch Recommendations. Settled on Cafe 53 which was hard to find because the frontages give no clue as to what lies behind.  This one is effectively a Door.

Cafe 53 in Tetbury – Just along from Charlie’s Shop

Behind the door was a great Quirky cafe. Very Rustic with mismatched chairs, outdoor patio/garden seating and really good food.  With the hunger dealt to we got on the road again.  I wanted to go see one place purely because of its name.


Other than the sign and two houses there was nothing there. We wished we had brought some Tiddleywinks to Tiddleywink and had a game.  But we didn’t so we continued on through Castle Coombe famous for Motor Racing.

Castle Coombe Racing Circuit

No racing today and we were in the Citroen and not the Maserati.  On to Bath where we found and checked into our hotel; The Boathouse.

The Boathouse Bath

The rooms were large but the place was a tad run down.  Had a great relaxing time on the patio with a glass of Pinot Grigio before we took the Bus into the centre of Bath for a wander around checking out the sights.

The Patio at The Boathouse

Bath is an amazing place. Bustling yet compact. About the same population as Palmerston North but there the comparison ends.  Very popular with tourists, we walked up the hill to ‘The Circus’ and the ‘Royal Crescent’.

The Royal Crescent

As part of our trip our friends Peter & Julie set us some photo challenges.  We added to their challenges by replicating other photos that they posted online such as this one.  Peter and Julie live on Church Street and they have a photo of Julie exactly where Jeanette is in this Photo.

Julie on Church Street
Jeanette on Church Street








We picked a great time to wander around as there were fewer tourists around to get in the way.  Wandered past the Roman Baths and Bath Abbey before deciding on where to go for dinner.

Roman Baths
Bath Abbey

We tried to get a table at Trip Advisor’s highly rated SottoSotto Restaurant but they were fully booked. We ended up a couple of steps away in an underground Cavern Greek Restaurant called Opa’s.  We had never had proper Greek Food before and were really surprised that Jeanette could select straight from the Menu with no Changes.  Such a change for her with the dietary issues she has.

Opa’s Greek Meze Restaurant

After dinner we wandered the streets at night and with Bath mostly deserted the city was beautiful.  Buildings were lit up, the river was spectacular, the Abbey amazing.

Bath by Night – The River
Bath Abbey – All Lit Up
Inner City Hotel – Also lit up.

The Buses had stopped for the night so we called a cab, piled in and he nearly got us all killed attempting to run a red light. Fortunately out shouts caused him to stop Just in Time!  We made it back to our hotel and turned in for the night.  Another Big day coming tomorrow.

Road Trip – Day 1

So it is Monday morning and the first day of our road trip to celebrate my brother Rick’s 60th Birthday,  He does not know where we are going, how many days it will take or what adventures lie ahead.  The trip is a combination of Dianne’s planning of the event and I volunteered to sort out the daily travel itinerary.

The day started at 6:00am with a Massive walk around Cambourne knowing we would be in and out of the car for the day.

The car is Packed – We are ready to go!

The car is a big car but the boot is quite small.  This caused us plenty of anxiety when packing to leave NZ as we knew this and had to plan for it.  Everything was in and we were on the road from Cambourne to the Cotswolds, to a little picture postcard village called Bourton-On-The=Water.

Cambourne to Bourton-On-The-Water

Our first stop along the way was a Motoring and flight museum at Shuttleworth.  The place runs airshows and motor racing for classic planes/cars. but not today.  We could only get a brief look around.


You can get up close and personal with the equipment.  I was way to small for this cockpit!

The smallest Cockpit ever!

The planes are really well restored and all are still flying.

Just call me Biggles
Paper Planes anyone?

They also have a garden here that we just did not have time to look around.

Shuttleworth Gardens

We both really loved the composition of this photo. We think it might become the cover page of our Snapfish Book when we get home.

Our Holiday Book Cover Page

Back on the road after the obligatory cup of tea and coffee and we headed off to Woburn Abbey.  What an amazing place.  Essentially the family have single handedly brought back from near extinction a specific breed of chinese deer. At the lowest count there were under 10 left in the world. Now there are over 5000.  The main road in has them wandering free all around with very slow speed signs to make sure  you don’t hit them.  This one came very close.

Fabulous Deer at Woburn. One of 1500 here.

We did not have time to explore the house so did a walk around the gardens and outside of th e house.

Lake at Woburn Abbey


Really Interesting Trees


Woburn Abbey House

Jeanette wandered through the sculpture garden and was shocked by the nudity there.  She couldn’t let me photograph the sculptures with censoring the image.

Jeanette the Censor

It was a little damp around the gardens but nothing to deter us from exploring all that we could.  After we had been around the entire place we decided to move on to our next destination – Bletchley. Famous for running the code breakers during World War II.

Bletchley Park – Home of the Enigma Machine

It was quite amazing how nondescript this complex was considering the important role it played in helping win the war for Britain.  Apparently the ‘Committee’ who decided where it was to go had very special criteria in mind and Milton Keynes fit the bill perfectly.  It is so top secret that we can not show you pictures for fear of being interrogated by the officials at Bletchley.  So on we went to our next destination. Decided to ride a Cock Horse to Banbury Cross!  This was amazing.  Just to see a childhood nursery rhyme come to life before us.

The Cock Horse at Banbury Cross

Jeanette was very interested in why they call it a cock horse so went to investigate.

Jeanette the Vet.

For those who can not remember the words to the rhyme here they are:

Ride a Cock Horse to Banbury Cross

Banbury was fantastic.  So we all spent a penny (Actually 20 cents each) and used the Banbury Cross Toilets and set off on the final leg of our day 1 journey to Bourton-On-The-Water in the Cotswolds.  The region is beautiful.  We checked into our hotel ‘Chester House’ and prepared for our evening.

Chester House Hotel – Bourton-On-The-Water

The hotel was quirky and our room was very hot. Otherwise it was a perfect place for our first night on the road. We unpacked, and dressed for dinner where we went out to the Croft Restaurant for dinner with Rick and Dianne and two of their friends Chris & Deborah who recently moved to the Cotswolds.

Alan, Rick, Chris, Dianne and Deborah (Jeanette on Camera)

The food and the evening were fantastic.

The Croft Restaurant – Bourton-On-The-Water

By the time dinner was over it was dark and we went for a late night stroll around the hotel/restaurant.  It is beautiful at night.

My Beautiful Wife – Amazing

And the Scenery wasn’t that bad either…

The River through Bourton-On-The-Water

End of Day #1 – Goodnight




Bye Bye Jet Lag – Hello Cambourne and Cambridge

Our weary bodies luxuriated in a warm, comfortable, horizontal bed last night.  Surprisingly we woke at 7:00am and decided to check out the day and go for a stroll.  It was a very promising looking day and for the first time in forever we were able to walk without wind or rain jackets.  We only have one full day here in Cambourne so decided to check it out on foot.

Great Cambourne
Lower Cambourne

The place was deserted at this early hour of Sunday Morning. A couple of eager young women out on their bikes, a couple of guys with fishing rods out into the lake.  A couple of people walking their dogs…. and us.

Early Morning Around the Lake
Looking Great in the Early Morning Light
Early morning haze over the countryside
The mysterious glowing orb – so absent from our home for a few months
At the top of the hill overlooking Cambourne
The shared orchard
Allotments. There is a waiting list to get one of these

Cambourne is an idyllic little sleeper village where everything is pretty, well maintained, man made lakes, walking and bicycle paths and a 13 kilometer walk talks you completely around it.

Back to base for coffee, breakfast and a shower before heading out with Rick and Dianne to explore Cambridge.  The oldest College is over 800 years old. Some Buildings are over 1000 years old.  Not too many earthquakes here to knock them all down.

Mathematical Bridge – Designed by Issac Newton

So many bridges over the river Cam. This one was designed by Issac Newton and along with the bridge of Sighs are the most well known in Cambridge.

Punting on the River Cam

While we did not go punting this time, we had an awesome experience last time with Rick on the Pole.  Just need to steer clear of the Pro’s. They do not like self drive Punting so intentionally Ram you to knock you in.

Main form of Transport in Cambridge

Bicycles everywhere. Bells ringing, capes flapping, Bikes, Bikes and more bikes. But not a Boris bike to be seen.

Big Doors

Big Doors and ornate fences are everywhere.  Many of these lead to the colleges that make Cambridge famous the world over.  Like Kings College.  Recognize the nearly 1000 year old chapel?

Kings College Chapel from ‘The Backs’

Wandering down ‘The Backs’ there are plenty of little streams and we came across this wee Moorhen.  Looks a bit like a Pukeko but was smaller and had Green Feet.


Jeanette took a really great photo of the Moorhen. We suggested she try out for a National Geographic Wildlife Photographers job.  She said she would rather live the Wildlife than just take photos of it.  Fair Enough!.  Wandered through several back street that are filled with history.  Like past the Eagle Pub where the secrets of DNA were discovered by three people including a little know Kiwi born in the same town I was born in.  Who knew little old Pongaroa could be the source of so many amazing people.  Or streets like this one

Original Brickwork Buildings

All The Walls are straight and no cracks appear, but the roads are very narrow. This one is a highway for cyclists and double decker buses. Strangely it emptied just for our photo.  We even had a sneak peak at  an exclusive school for budding Harry Potters.  Could not believe what we were looking at when this crew emerged right in front of us.

Harry Potters in Training

Decided it was time for a Coffee Boost so found our ways to Brown’s (Downtown).  Great Place but the worst coffee ever. They had run out of coffee so only had decaf.  They did not know how to make a decent black coffee so Rick with all his wisdom ordered the English fallback: The English Breakfast Tea.  Very wise. We had coffee but wished we didn’t. A stroll through the markets to get some food. Went to a fantastic wee place just out of the main area called Baroosh

Baroosh – Bar and Restaurat

The food was great. The Wine was great. The Atmosphere was fabulous and the staff were very accommodating.  Recommend this to all Kiwis traveling in Cambridge.

Feeling a wee bit tired (The Remnants of Jet Lag) we decided to head back to base.  15000 Steps so far today and Jeanette needed a Nana nap.

Rick and I attacked and attached an orange berried, thorny bush to the side of his house (it is part of the security system as thieves wont go near them) and I spent some time putting today’s page together.  Depending what else happens today I may add to the page later in the day. If not tomorrow sees us head off on Ricks 60th Birthday Adventure. Will keep you  (and Him)  posted on the events as they happen.

The Longest Night – Palmerston North to Cambourne

So the adventure has begun! We subjected ourselves to a weird combination of excitement and sleep deprivation.  With all the recent issues in New Zealand with the Aviation Fuel Crisis, we had some serious doubts we could get on our scheduled flight from Palmerston North to Auckland let alone our flight from Auckland to Los Angeles then on to London.  However after working for much of the day we prepared for the journey with a final shower and meal then off to the airport courtesy of our taxi driver Anthony McGrath (Who secretly could not wait for us to leave so he could have the run of the place unhindered for 3 whole weeks). An Early check in at Palmerston North then off to the lounge for a Wine pre-boarding.

Koru Club Auckland

The flight was uneventful and On Time!   We decided to walk across to the international terminal. At 8 minutes we reckon we would have beat the bus.  Through security  and into the International Lounge for a Bottle of Water and cup of tea for Jeanette and a Bourbon and Coke for me. Again an on time boarding to Air New Zealand NZ2 to our upgraded Premium Economy Seats.

Our Seats

11 Hours and several movies later and we arrived in Los Angeles. 3:00pm US Pacific Time: And the the fun (NOT) began.  Even though we had a 2 hour transit before continuing on to London, we had to first go through US Customs. This involves a slow zig zag along with a few thousand others to use one of their machines for automated processing.  We eventually got to a machine and processed the questionnaire, gave them our fingerprints and allowed them to take a digital photo, only to be rejected by the system and having to line up again (Another massive zig zag line) for manual processing.  We arrived at the front of this line 1 hour 20 minutes after we arrived in the customs hall.  This time we were manually processed which included being fingerprinted again and photographed again and for our trouble we got a stamp in our passport then let through!  Almost an hour in a line with no questions, no issues.  At least we were through.  So into TBIT (Tom Bradley International Terminal we go.  We had wanted to have a shower in the lounge but there was now no time.  We had to return to our plane for boarding to London.  Easy…  No!  Another massive line to go through customs screening for Exit.  Shoes Off. Belts Off. Jackets and Jerseys Off.  Only three items in each tray.  Jeanette goes through the full body scan machine first and of course sets this off because of her titanium / cobalt knee joint.  Result – She had to be manually rescanned with   a hand scanner.  Then she must have really looked suspicious and had to be subjected to a very invassive body search (Outside the Clothes) but every body part verified for contraband!  Meanwhile I flew through the body scan and started assembling our trays back together to find one of our bags was missing.  To The side Jeanette was now being swabbed for various drug tests. I located our carry on bag off to the side waiting for a physical search.  Jeanette is given the all clear and we had to stand by while all our carry on was searched.  We knew there were no issues with anything we had but it is a little stressful when your flight is boarding already. Finally all ready and having to race via the lounge (For Chilled Water) to our gate where we took our seats for the Los Angeles to London Leg.bit of food for me (Nothing for Jeanette with her intolerances and allergies) and a wee bit of rest and we arrived safely on time in London.  It was such a contrast between the bedlam and chaos of Customs in USA to the cool, calm and super efficient entrance to the UK. It took Jeanette longer to goto the Bathroom than it took to clear customs.  a 10 Minute wait for our luggage and we were released into general population where my brother Rick was waiting.  20 Degree temperatures, and a short elevator ride to the Citroen C6 executive limo

In the C6

for the drive north to Cambourne where Rick and Dianne (The Domestic Godess)  live.

Rick & Dianne;s House

Settled in with a quick Unpack as we are only here for a couple of days. Bacon & Eggs for Lunch and a wonderful shower to freshen up after the journey.  A huge 500 metre walk to the supermarket for some essentials for the weekend.

Sea Bass and a wee wine for dinner before we head off to the land of Nod!. Until Tomorrow….

England & Wales 2017

Off to Old Blighty for the Northern Autumn

Shortly we head off to the Northern Hemisphere to England and Wales. Especially looking forward to Welsh Wales (as opposed to English Wales)

We will be travelling after two sets of our friends separately complete the Journey including setting / completing a couple of photo challenges along the way in London and Bath.

This trip is now close enough that the excitement is building!