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; what a great  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 visitied us in Australia some 8 years ago. 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.

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.


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.)

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.

London to Dublin via Wales – 24-30 September

24th September – on our way to London
Arrived at Andrew & Susan’s home early evening with the wonderful Lodge taxi service waiting at the station for us.

25th September
Jennifer & Susan, along with Harry went off on the train to Brighton to shop for some size 13 shoes for Harry (amongst other things) and walk on the ‘sandy’ beaches and also to the end of the Brighton Pier before returning home to do some baking. Andrew, Toby & I went swimming or to the gym, then off to lunch in town whilst waiting for the girls to return so we could have a quick 9 holes @ Cuckfield Golf Course. Enjoyed a lovely family dinner including two of Toby’s friends who stayed overnight. Enjoyed learning a new card game like whist during the evening.

26th September
Jen, Susan, Harry & Toby disappeared early with Harry off to a theme park for the day and the other 3 off to church. Andrew & I had a sleep-in before getting up and starting to prepare the roast for lunch. Toffee (the dog) and I had an hour walk around the farmer’s field perimeters – the fields still beautifully green and Toffee just enjoying the chance for a run and chasing twigs. The opportunity of another 9 holes came up so I guess it just had to be taken :). Jennifer & Susan had a quiet afternoon with Toby but Toffee missed out on another walk.We all enjoyed the evening together

27th September
Andrew & Harry off to work & school, Jen and I headed of to Carshalton, south of London where we connected with Michael & Rosalind. Joyce, Margaret and Terry joined us for lunch with the younger members all joining us for dinner at the pub.

Jennifer, Rosalind, Michael, Tim, Catherine, Terry & Joyce having dinner at the pub

Unfortunately Jenny is at University in Bristol so was unable to join us. Chased up more stories about Dad and Bob and their cycling days in England, Germany and France during the 1930’s and 40’s.

28th September
Jumped on the train heading for Victoria where we ventured the underground to Euston. Caught the Virgin train to Chester and were greeted by our dear friend Doreen and introduced to her new partner John. We had a lovely time together staying with them in their new home in Connah’s Quay. We spent the afternoon together catching up on old times and seeing the latest photographs. Enjoyed a gorgeous apple pie for tea , made with apples from the garden.

29th September
Started off with a rather damp morning but this was breaking up and looked promising for the rest of the day. Headed off south into inner Wales by first visiting Llantwst Church and having a look at the Horseshoe Falls followed by a coffee at the Chain Bridge Hotel. Whilst there we noticed an old steam engine coming in to the Berwyn station on the other side of the river Dee. From here we went on to Llangollen and a good wander around the village before enjoying lunch up at the canal station kiosk on the Shropshire Union Canal.

The Card Shop near the Bridge in the town of LLangollen

It is most interesting that all road signs and place show both Welsh and English language. We found the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct which is 1007 feet

John, Doreen & Jennifer on Pontcysyllte Aqueduct

across and 123 feet high above the river so we went across on the walking path and were able to cadge a ride back on an empty tourist narrow boat. It was Doreens first ride on a narrow boat. The captain gave us a quick history of the aquaduct and explained about the plughole to drain the excess water from the canal when necessary. Thomas Telford built the aquaduct over ten years from 1795 out of iron and steel sealing it with lead and boiling sugar. After driving back up the horseshoe pass we had a stop at the top and checked out the sheep that wagged their tail behind them and the magnificent view of the Llangollen valley as by now the sun was shining. The mountains here are very old and rock faces grey with slate.

John, Jennifer & Doreen on the Betws-y-Coed bridge

We continued on to Betws-y-Coed arriving as the shops were shutting so we enjoyed the window shopping and a look at the gushing water over the rocks/falls and saw a salmon jump. We enjoyed fish for dinner together and then John drove us all safely home after a wonderful day.

30th September
Up early, washing done and then the drive to Chester. It was now time to take the train to Holyhead and board the Stena Line Adventurer for our trip across the Irish Sea to Dublin.

We picked up the hirecar and travelled down to the Old Rectory in Bray where we stayed for the night after a wonderful salmon dinner on the waterfront.