London – Munich – Canberra

Headed out of Heathrow today, 6:00 am out of bed and off to Munich where we had a good tour of Hitler’s part of the country. All the more interesting because yesterday we had checked out Churchill’s bunkers in London. Thoroughly enjoyed running round the city on the blue on-off busses. Visited the markets where we bought some nice fresh food (including some nice gorgonzola cheese) for dinner after booking back in at the airport. Caught the evening plane to Singapore, Sydney & finally on to Canberra.

Last Day In London

Left the hotel at 9:30 so we could try and pick up some cheap ticket for a show this evening. Arrived in Leicester Square and came up with some options for Janette & Bruce when they arrived at 10:30. They agreed that Chicago would be interesting so we picked up some ₤38 tickets for the 8pm session. We then headed off for the Imperial War Museum – Churchill War Rooms which follows Churchill’s career as a ‘Cold War Statesman’ statesman from 1945-65 concluding with footage of his funeral in 1965. It then explorers his early life from 1874-1900, his developing political career as a maveric politician from 1900-29, his wilderness years from 1929-39 before returning in 1940 and then again in 1951 as the Prime Minister. We were in this museum enjoying the history lesson for about 4 hours before taking a walk over Westminster Bridge, passed the London eye and on to the Blackfriars Bridge. Caught the train from Temple underground to get to the theatre and have dinner before the shows started. Had a wonderful seared salmon and salad whilst Janette & Bruce had a pasta spagetti dish. Arrived at the show in plenty of time and had a wonderful evening. What a brilliant way to finish off our English holiday.

London & Addlestone

Had a little sleep in this morning after the latish night out and went off towards Waterloo, then Addlestone to see Charlotte and Ben who had visitied us in Australia some 8 years ago in Aus. Had a lovely afternoon with them both but went back to town early so we could check our bag weights for the plane flight on Tuesday to Munich and Sydney. Quite amazing that we met the Roes at Waterloo on the way home, shared a nice thin crispy pizza together before going back to our hotel for coffee. Funny how one has to go across the other side of the world to get the time to have dinner with friends from around the corner at home. Saw them to the station about 10pm so they could go home and we could sort out our bags.

Brum to Bushy & London

After a nice sleep in a big bed we had a typical Swiss breakfast of croissants and rolls with cheese, jams, coffee & tea. Played with a bit of familiy genealogy with 3rd cousin Terry and did a bit of PC refreshing on his notebook and PC. After lunch we headed off to New Street Rail to catch the train in to London which will take us about 1½ hours and will get us to Euston by 4pm so we can book into our hotel for the next 3 nights. Headed off to Bushy Watford Junction to have dinner with the Andrea, Graeme, Harriett & Grace. Text’d them from Bushy to say we had arrived and they went of to Watford Junction to pick us up. Eventually got the misunderstanding sorted before going for dinner then returning to their new home for coffee via a shop to collect essentials for breakfast tomorrow at the hotel. Caught the train back into the city at 00:17 but we arrived just as the last train was departing for our final stop. Tried to catch a bus to no avail and ended up in a taxi which got us home nice & safely.

Market Harborough to Brum

Left the boat and Rosie & Rob drove us and all the gear to Market Harborough Rail where we caught the train through to Leicester and then changed for Birmingham. Terry collected us and took us to his home where we had a nice cold lunch. Jennifer had quiet time in the conservotory doing her needlework while Terry and Tim did work on the genealogy whilst waiting for Susanne to arrive home from work. Had a traditional Swiss dinner of ‘Raclette’ which is a solid cheese square slice with various condiments added to it on a heating tray of the same name. Each ‘frying pan’ was about 4″ square. A brilliant meal and most different.

Foxton locks to Market Harborough

Early morning was dead quiet and we realised that it was already nearly 8am. The frost was on the grass, but the sun was shining with a little bit of warmth so went and talked to the Lock Master with a view to queueing up to take our turn. There was a boat already on its way up through the 10 locks and we could not move until after 9am when he arrived at the top. We had a quiet relaxed breakfast and the locks were ready for us about 9:10. We headed off down the locks and after mooring at bottom lock walked back up to top lock for our hot chocolates and clotted cream ice-cream then continued on our way towards Saddington. We arrived at the 2nd winding point where we turned around and moored up before heading off to walk into Saddington (about ½ a mile) checking out the old and not so old headstones in the churchyard, admiring the manor house and the converted stables. Into the Queens Head pub for an Everard’s beer (because, as they say; you’re never ‘ard after Everard) and crisps then back down the hill for an on board lunch of fried halloumi cheese, tomatoes and toast. Very Yummy.
Unfortunately, it is time for our return journey to Market Harborough after a most enjoyable narrow boat week. Our Final evening meal together was at the Waterfront Restaurant & Pub at the Marina – and what a long walk home it was – must have been at least 7 metres from the rear of our Narrow Boat. What a brilliant week it has been.

Crick to Foxton Locks

Headed off from Crick this morning rather early. The sun shining brightly and warming our backs. – needed to get a fair distance down the canal to be able to go through the Foxton Locks either last thing this afternoon or first thing tomorrow morning. Being realistic we would rather have a walk on the way. On the seas by 8am and the girls ran us in shifts to get through breakfast. Kept going until we arrived at Bridge 39 where we tied up and walked along the bridle path over the local fields to Welford. Feet totally blocked up with mud and we grew a little on the way. Arrived at the village and checked out the pub situation. Headed to “The Wharfe Inn” for a coffee & lunch – a nice tomato soup with a couple of slices of bread right beside the canal wharf. When we were done, we headed off along the tow path of the Welford Arm towards the Leicester Junction and then turned left with 2 bridges to pass before arriving back at No 39. Headed on again and collected Jen along the towpath and came back to the Welford Junction but turned left toward Foxton. We motored to the Foxton Locks arriving just before 6pm and moored for our early lock attack in the morning. We ate in, enjoying a home made pasta dinner and fruit salad & custard for dessert. Did a bit of genealogy work with Rosie and Rob before heading off to bed for a possible early start in the morning.

Braunston to Crick

Today we had an easy day on the narrow boat – started off from Braunston rather later than normal and headed back towards Norton Junction. It was a lovely warm and sunny morning. We travelled alongside a volunteer group that was working with some young, underpriveledged teenagers and we helped them as they learned to work the locks. It was an interesting 1-2 hours. They headed off right and we left at Norton Junction. We then went back up the Watford locks. The cloud was getting heavier, the wind stronger and halfway up the locks the rain poured heavily. We then had a reverse shot at the 2 Km Crick tunnel and obviously followed a wood fueled boat because we had to breath in his smoke throughout the tunnel. Finally arrived at Crick where we moored for the night. Checked out the local eatery near the tie up point to find that they would probably be closed for the night following a funeral lunch and the family refused to go home. Probably just as well as the menu pricing was rather exorbitant. We ended having a beer and drying out by the fire at The Wheatsheef before moving to the Red Lion for an excellent dinner and had Bumpy Lumpy (caramelised toffee sponge with cream cheese & served with ice cream) for desert. Arrived back at our boat and taught Rosie & Rob the card game we learned with Andrew & Susan Lodge.

Watford Locks to Braunston

Headed off (again) from Watford Locks and when we arrived at Norton Junction, we then turned right towards Braunston. Weather fine and sunny with periods of cloud. We had a pleasant walk around Braunston after emptying the sullage pump on the boat and picked up pork pies etc from the local butcher for lunch. The Church bells were ringing for the confirmation service as we walked to The Old Plough for dinner.

Watford Locks towards Watling Locks

Got out of bed by 8am and headed towards Watford Locks to meet up with Merv, Mike, Julie & Paul who would be coming for a day on the Narrow Boats.
They eventually arrived as we were heading down the locks and joined us for the completion. It was great to see them all again after 5 years and they seem most interested in our type of holiday. After the locks we floated towards Norton Junction before ring left in the direction of Watling street bridge. We found ‘The New Inn’ at Long Buckby Top Lock where we had lunch (anly pub lunch so far which left something to be desired) and an interesting desert – a banoffee pie (banana & toffee – bit sickly). After moving on down to Norton Junction we turned left and went through a number of locks & bridges towards the Whitton Bridge. We finally had the chance to turn round and headed back to the bottom of Watford Locks where we bid farewell to all the Franks so they could return to Manchester – some 3 hours north.

Foxton Lock through the Husband-Bosworth Tunnel

Talked to the lock master at Foxton Locks whose job it is to schedule who passes through the locks and when – we were added to a queue which would see us going up through the locks in 1½ hous time. The reason for this is that there are 10 locks connected to each other with no breaks in between so there is usually 5 narrow boats which come down the lock behind one another and each seperated by a 1 lock gap and then we lined up in the same way to go up the locks, 5 at a time. At the top, we found a little shop which supports the lock historical society – we all had hot chocolates and a couple of clotted cream ice creams (just beautiful). We continued on our way but will have no locks for the rest of the day although we did go through the Husband-Bosworth Tunnel which is 1070 metres long and wide enough for 2 boats which could pass in the middle. A walk into Husbands Bosworth stretched our legs and the local store gave us some essential provisions. The weather is chilly early morning but the sun is there and warms up even if there are small showers during the day. We have seen some lovely wildlife and we had some swans with 3 cignets chasing the boat hopeful of getting any little tid-bits we might have. Bread was quickly found for the babes.

Leek to Market Harborough & the Canal Boat

Eventually got going after breakfast and back towards Derby and Leicester where we returned the hire car and caught the train down to pick up the narrow boat from Market Harborough canal wharf. Received the run through about the idiosyncrasies of the boat and the canals before Rosie & Rob arrived from Filey. Jumped on and loaded up the narrow boat with all our necessities for the next week before placing the bags in Rob’s car as the space on board will be rather limited. Motored off towards Foxton Locks where we moored for the night right outside the Foxton Locks Inn. A great 2 course meal and then back to the boat where we had an early night.

ALERT: Boris is away again

Brisbane, 14 October 2010

All are to be awake and alert. There are reports that Boris is off again. He has been seen heading in the direction of the airport.

It seems the situation has been escalated. Someone in authority accidently signed a travel warrant. He is believed to be traveling to Paris. Sources reveal he will be departing on EK433 from BNE at 02:30 – surprised he is out of bed at that time – bound for DXB. From there he will transit to CDG on EK075.

It is believed he will be meeting with agents of that secret organisation, Alcatel, in Paris. Actually this resembles a dessert, commonly known as junket.

If he is seen sneaking into the Alcatel Dynamic Enterprise Tour as a representative of something important, all are to call the gendarmes.

That is all. More reports to follow.

Roundhay Park

13th October
A late start for the day due to essential washing etc but after collecting Violet and Doreen we drove up to Roundhay Park and enjoyed lunch in the sunny conservatory. We followed this with a lovely sunny walk around the lake and then went to see Anne and Vernon for afternoon tea. We shared a lovely salmon dinner with Jill and Andrew with many laughs.

Bolton Abbey

We headed off to Bolton Abbey and collected Violet & Doreen on the way. Started with a coffee after locating a book on ‘Brit Wit’ which has been a good laugh and then headed off on a bush track walk for 2½ hours beside the Wharfe River which ran along the valley from the abbey. Climbed the hill before dropping back down ready to cross the fjord which would have created very wet feet for most of us but we discovered an elevated footbridge which saved us this time. We went to the cafe beside the river Wharfe which was a brilliant outlook to peruse whilst we ate. Returning to the car via the road only took about 20 minutes (why did we not come this way in the 1st place?) and we travelled in the direction of Burnsell where we had a wonderful ice cream on the River Wharfe and on to Grassington where there were film crews filming a new show called “The Village” about pairs of couples who will be brought into the village to compete for a free house as a prize. They will be competing against the local village community. I was chased down the street by a huge tractor that is part of the show due to go to screen in February 2011. We finished of the day by coming home over Blubberhouses to Leeds.

Scarborough

Collected Violet and Doreen and headed off to Scarborough after much discussion. The sun was shining and warm but as we neared Scarborough there was this cloud cover descending on us. Walked along the beach and had a fresh fish & chip lunch – great to be eating fresh fish over frozen fish any day. Because the day had turned rather cold, we headed back to Leeds via Pickering enjoying the sunshine once again. We all shared a lovely dinner together at the Lawnswood Arms where Doreen told us many go for their “funeral teas”

Wentworth House

Headed off to see Malcolm & Carol for a mystery tour. They took us out to Wentworth House where we had morning tea and good look around the fake castle that was built for the children plus other buildings on the property and also a walk through the fields and woods filled with deer which were rutting around because it was the season. Down to the Fox and Hounds pub about 3pm for an excellent lunch and desert before heading off back to Leeds.

Ilkley in the Yorkshire Dales

Picked up the car in Hunslet and was lucky enough to receive a double upgrade because the previous hirer had failed to return the keys for the Ford Mondeo. Drove out to Ilkley in the Yorkshire Dales to buy a butter dish to replace the one that Jack the dog stole just days before we left home. We are yet to find the bottom of that old dish. Walked through the town and helped an 87 year old lady following a hard fall on her face until the ambulance arrived and then off to the “Cow & Calf” for a fish & chip lunch. Walked off some of the lunch on Ilkley Moor by going to the rocks and then returned to get ready to go out to see the ‘Merry Widow’ at Mirfield. Tried to leave the house at 6pm but the door handle just swivelled when turned. We had locked ourselves in as we knew the front was jammed and so we spent a quiet night watching the Olympics at Jill’s. Left a message with Malcolm & Carol about our predicament and we would see them the following morning. Malcolm called about 10pm to see if he could comeand ‘pop’ us out.

Leeds & York

Off to York with Jill by train and many lads going to either the York races or for a buck’s night. Had a good look at the National Train Museum and had lunch. The museum was great as was the one we saw in Denmark but different. Went off to do some shopping (I was with 2 girls afterall) and then to “The Coffee Shop” where I was presented with a menu showing all the teas sold but had trouble locating which variety of coffee I might like (was able to buy one anyhow). We returned to Crossgates on the train for dinner with Jill. (Andrew had gone for 3 days walking in the Lakes District with about 16 of his friends.)

Paris & Sacré-Coeur Basilica

After watching the news and finding that there was an accident on the road in to Paris, we held off our departure time to go and see the Sacré-Coeur.
We drove towards the Arc de Triomphe and of course, this particular roundabout has 5 lanes but there are no line markings at all – cars come at it from all directions and just push their way across the intersection – no wonder insurance companies will not cover any accidents that occur on it. An exhilerating experience but surprised we got through in one piece.
After parking the car under the building where the Mirage Jet is parked in the front yard within the centre of Paris we headed off and had a coffee. Julien had decided that carting our cases with us all day would be a good idea so there was to be a challenging walk with luggage up the hill to the Sacré Coeure
As I was taking photos I realised that this spot was the final scene for the film ‘Rendezvous’ which was filmed in 1976 and followed a car racing across Paris early one morning and the driver meeting his girlfriend at the top of the stairs.
Wondered off for a nice lunch and just inches away from the pass through traffic before wandering around the corner to have a look at Place de Tertre where the local artists hang out and ply their trade. Some most interesting paintings and what a variety of styles.
After coffee and sad farewells to all our French friends at Paris Norde station caught the Eurostar to London, St Pancras which ran the track at close to 300kms per hour and it only took about 2½ hours to arrive at London St Pancras. Waited for less than an hour before getting on the train through to Leeds where we were met by Jill and Andrew who took us to their home which would be a luxurious base from where we could go out each day to connect with the local area.

Mini France

Went to Mini France for the day – just fascinating. Silvie, Pierre, Mathilde & Julien had also not been here previously so it was extra special for them also. This village is just like Cockington Green in Canberra, only bigger (some 116 model replicas) – enjoyed hot dogs for lunch and were able to take our photos as if we were in a helicopter – see the ‘photos taken from the helicopter’ in the photo blog section for photos.
Yvette (Sylvie’s Sister) and Alex joined us for dinner – it was Yvette’s 65th – what a wonderful dinner yet again and a lot of fun as the birthday cake slipped down Silvie’s arm as she was taking it to the table. Pierre did his party trick and rescued it before it had to be eaten 🙂 😉

Château de Chambord at Chambord, Loir-et-Cher

Up early and into a lovely big people mover with Julien behind the wheel. Lots of rain as we drove along the freeway but the skies cleared as we arrived at The Château de Chambord: What a great place it was. We started with a blacksmith demonstration and a smithy who was just brilliant at ramping up the crowds – very well done before going in to see the show horses with demonstrations of jousts, coronations and acrobats on the beautiful show horses. A lovely lunch followed and then we went for a horse drawn carriage ride for an hour through the woods and the forest, seeing a wild boar and deer. Im enjoyed his afternoon siesta during the ride.
We then went into the château created by Francis I in 1519 when he was 25 years old. The château was set up as a hunting lodge but Francis died before its completion and what we see today was put in place by his son and grandson (Henry II & Louis XIV). The château had a coach room, chapel, the King’s chambers, State apartment and the Queen’s apartment and a double-spiral staircase in the centre which wind independently of one another, all in an estate of 5540 acres – the same area as inner Paris.

Ireland

1st October
Left our B&B in Bray after a pleasant night with internet access provided and all email etc. was up to date by the time we had gone to bed last night. Arrived in Roscrea and continued down the N62 but nothing looked familiar from 5 years back – road was too wide and well kept. Eventually we found a farmer and asked for Jean Talbot’s location. After a blank look I asked for Anthony Whitten. “Is he Frank Whitten’s brother?”, Yes – oh, that’s easy so we went back in to town and turned left at the lights and out the Limmerick Road, finding the turnoff to ‘Fancroft’ at the 3Km mark. We continued on for another 2Km and turned left at the pub then recognised Jean’s house and driveway from a photo supplied by Mary & Wes Whitten some 3 years ago.
We knocked on the door, and there was Jean with her brother Joe behind her (I had met Joe 3 years ago in Dublin). We had a nice cuppa and chatted for a while before being shown our room and getting our luggage in from the car. Sat down to a beautiful home cooked farm dinner before retiring to the loungeroom and Jean’s son David came in for a late lunch. Daughter Heather and her boy David came in for high tea which was served about 6pm but proceeded by a walk with David around the local streets looking at the cows etc.

2nd October
On Saturday evening we had Ned, Florrie and son Lester , along with Frank’s wife and son, Evelyn and William and we all chatted along with Anthony

3rd October
On Sunday after we had been to the Aghancon Irish Church and seen the most haunted house in Ireland we returned with Henry because Joe needed a quick lunch to catch the 2:30 bus back to Dublin. Went of to the Dungar Cemetary at Roscrea and returned via Billy’s where we spent a pleasant hour before returnng for tea with Henry, Heather and her David. Ned and Betty also joined us for supper.

4th October
Left jeans about 10am bound for Newbridge Silverware Factory & Dublin to see the Book of Kells in Dublin. Spent extra time at Newbridge because it was so fascinating what can be made using silver and then we enjoyed lunch using their silverware. Headed off to the Book of Kells and landed in the middle of Dublin before reslising that we just did not have enough time available to do the visit justice. Decided to head for the airport by fllowing the aeroplane signs and I think we went down every street and over many bridges because they all seemed to have one. We eventually succeeded but had to go right round the airport to fill up with fuel and then return the vehicle.
Caught the plane to Paris CDG where Julien & Mathilde collected us as promised. They had been driving for 7-8 hours to be able to get to Paris from Grenoble. Went home and finally met Syvlie and Pierre after numerous meetings via Skype over the last few months. Had a lovely dinner of Soup Feuilleteé (which was made up of Lotte fish – , wild duck with a follow up of a cheese board and some nice wine. We realised that it was 01:15 and very quickly had showers (Jen used the broken toilet which I guess is better than me breaking beds) and headed off to bed. Tomorrow looks like it will be a big and exciting day.

Leeds to Leek

Left Andrew & Jill’s home in Leeds and headed of towards Leek. We went down the M1 and branched off towards Derby finding accomodation beside the Black Sheep Baa in Ashbourne. With our bed sorted we headed towards Stoke-On-Trent where to have a look at some of the potteries’ sale houses. Not really impressed but picked up a few items to bring back home as a momento. Travelled through to Leek where we met up with Si & Julia, David & Lyn, Ben & Kimberley before going to the local pub for dinner. Also at the pub were Alan & Maureen and cousin Peter was noticed listening to the band a little later in the evening. After a lovely night we headed back to the motel for a good night’s sleep.